(Fort Worth, TX) – A Tarrant County jury on Thursday found Craig Vandewege, 40, guilty of the capital murder of his wife and their three-month-old son. He received an automatic sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the crime.
Craig Vandewege called 911 about 9:30 p.m. December 15, 2016, to say he found his wife, Shanna Riddle Vandewege, and their son, Diederik, dead at their Fort Worth home. Both Shanna and Diederik had their throats slashed and were pronounced dead at the scene.
Shanna was in her bed; Diederik was nearby in his bassinet. The home appeared staged to simulate a burglary.
“This is not a burglary. This was never a burglary,” Tarrant County Assistant Criminal District Attorney Lisa Callaghan told the jury. “Why would a burglar ever kill an infant? … It’s absurd. It doesn’t add up, no matter which way you look at it.”
Vandewege was arrested days later in Colorado, on his way to Las Vegas, for a speeding violation. “He was running from the law,” Callaghan said.
Craig Vandewege’s coworkers testified about how disparaging he was about his wife. They also detailed comments he made such as he would get more time off work if his wife and their baby died.
Investigators found that Craig Vandewege stood to claim more than $700,000 in life insurance after the deaths of his wife and son.
Callaghan and ACDA Emily Dixon both explained to the jury that this case is similar to a puzzle – you just have to put the pieces together to solve it.
“All these pieces … show you a picture of only one thing, that he’s guilty,” Callaghan said. “There are no other answers.”
Investigator Danny Nutt worked on the case, as did victim advocate Elizabeth Garcia. Visiting Judge Robert Brotherton presided over the trial.