Detective says Williams Amaya admitted killings during a phone conversation
EAGLE — Detectives wanted to ask Williams Amaya what happened the night he allegedly shot his aunt and uncle to death in their El Jebel living room, so while he was hiding they sent him a text then called his cell phone to ask him.
When he answered the phone he told them, detectives testified during a hearing Friday morning.
During his initial conversations with Lt. Det. Dan Loya, Amaya called himself “Willie,” and told Loya:
A. He was tired and wanted to sleep.
B. He hadn’t done anything wrong.
C. He “shot the bastards” because they were possessed by Lucifer, and were making fun of him for saying his parents are Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and his siblings Paris Hilton, the Kardashians and Chelsea Clinton.
D. His aunt and uncle were working for Lucifer, and he had been ordered to kill Lucifer.
E. He accused his nephews of killing their parents for the insurance money.
Bathed bullets in holy water
Amaya faces life in prison on first degree murder charges for allegedly shooting his uncle, Eliseo Lopez, 42, then his aunt, Mayra Lorena Lopez, 40, in their living room. He also tried to hunt down and kill their two sons. The dispute reportedly started with an argument over the family dog, which survived.
Amaya pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Dr. John Hearn, the psychiatrist who examined Amaya at the state prison in Pueblo, diagnosed him with “unspecified schizophrenia.”
“He didn’t just kill them. He already had the gun and went to a church and bathed the bullets in holy water,” Hearn testified in a hearing earlier this month.
Even if a jury finds Amaya insane, he goes to a mental facility for the rest of his life, said Thea Reiff, his public defender.
It was apparent, Reiff said, that they’d put Amaya’s mental state front and center.
Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan is prosecuting the case.
“If he’s talking to Lucifer, it’s in a very low voice. No one else has heard it,” Kirwan said.
Phone call away
As deputies and detectives swarmed the area after the shooting, some went to an El Jebel mobile home park and spoke with some of Amaya’s family members. Loya said they gave him Amaya’s cell phone number.
They told deputies that they had heard loud gunshots, and saw Amaya standing on the front porch with what looked like a gun in his hand. They were traumatized and scared, Loya said.
“They didn’t know if he was going to come back and hurt them, as well,” Loya said.
Around 3 a.m. Loya sent a text message to Amaya’s phone. Amaya responded around 5 a.m., and Loya called the number. Amaya answered from where he was holed up in his truck, parked in front of his employer’s building, Colorado Pool and Spa Scapes in south Glenwood Springs.
Amaya referred to himself as “Willie,” Loya said.
Amaya said he was tired and wanted to sleep, and said he had done nothing wrong, Loya said.
Gun was for deer hunting
As they talked, Amaya was pleasant and cooperative, Loya said. Their conversation started with Amaya’s morning coffee at Starbucks and a drive to Cabela’s in Grand Junction where he said he bought the firearm, a .380 handgun and ammunition, for deer hunting, Loya said.
He ate at the Olive Garden at Grand Junction’s Mesa Mall, then drove back to his aunt and uncle’s home in El Jebel and stayed in his room.
Loya said when Amaya came out of his room that night, Amaya his aunt and uncle started making fun of his made-up family claims.
Suspects sometimes lie during interviews, Loya said to Reiff during testimony. Amaya showed no signs of mental illness during their conversations, Loya said.
“Anyone who shoots two people in their own home and tries to kill their two young children, something is going on,” Loya said. “In a case of this magnitude, it’s not uncommon for people to come up with fictitious things.”
‘Because I killed the two bastards’
Loya said by the time he had Amaya on the phone around 5 a.m. police had identified the two victims at the scene, and had statements from their two sons, as well as statements from other witnesses.
“Do you know why you’re talking to me now?” Loya said he asked Amaya.
“Yes. Because I killed the two bastards,” Loya said Amaya told him.
In their phone conversation Amaya reiterated that he thought his aunt and uncle were witches, Loya said.
As they spoke on the phone, Amaya told Loya he could see the SWAT team around the parking lot. Loya told him, in Spanish, to keep the phone on and walk toward the police.
“Tell him to come out with his hands in the air!” SWAT team members said to Loya on another phone, as the arrest was unfolding.
“He’s going to have one hand up, because he’s on the phone with me with his other hand,” Loya told them.
By 5:30 a.m., Amaya was in the custody of Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies. He was transferred to the Eagle County jail, where he is being held without bail.
Amaya’s three-week trial is scheduled to begin April 11. The jury pool is expected to be more than 400 people.
Indicted Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters turned herself in to Pitkin County law enforcement authorities on Thursday after an arrest warrant had been issued.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.