A Nightmare In Muskegon

It was early Sunday afternoon at Seth Privacky's house, just outside Muskegon, Mich., nearly time for the family's delayed Thanksgiving.

His mother is taking a shower.

His brother's watching TV.

His father should arrive with granddad anytime.

His brother's girlfriend will be there soon.

Upstairs, Seth, 18, is loading his father's 22-caliber Ruger.

Instead of a warm family gathering, five people are gunned down in bloody succession.

Autopsy results were completed Wednesday for the victims, reports Correspondent Christine Behrens of CBS affiliate WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo, Mich. The autopsies show that Seth's grandfather was shot twice in the back of the head. The three other family members and a friend had been shot once.

According to police, Seth confessed to the murders. He allegedly said that his family had been ganging up on him.

Privacky killed his brother Jed's girlfriend, April Boss, when she showed up unexpectedly and saw the bodies, police said.
Boss' family says the 19-year-old was planning to marry Jed Privacky. They said Boss got along well with everyone in the Privacky family, including Seth. "I just want to know why. I want him to tell me why. I can't believe April did anything to him," said Boss' stepfather, Tom Cooper.

Seth has confessed, authorities say, to systematically shooting each victim point-blank in the head, then calling his best friend Steven Wallace, also 18, to help him move bodies around the split-level house, even lugging one out to the driveway, to make it look like a robbery.


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Steven Wallace

Seth got rid of the shells; Steve owns up to tossing the gun into a pond before dropping off a video and attending a meeting of a church youth group, police say.

Seth says he was angry because his father had threatened to kick him out of the house.

Four days later, both suspects stand charged on five counts of open murder and face life in prison if convicted. The prosecutor describes them as "extremely dangerous."

"These were good families," says Randy Allen, whose son Shane attended high school with Seth and Steve in the western Michigan city of Muskegon.

"Their families were no different from any other. They offered a father and mother who were very professional, and the kids were good."

"As far as I knew, they were a Beaver Cleaver family," adds Shane, 17.

But more than a year ago, after two arrests for shoplifting beer and a compact disc, Seth was prescribed anti-depressant medication, sentenceto 10 days in the county youth home, and required to get counseling.

Authorities don't know if Seth was still taking the medication, Wellbutrin, but say no consideration was given to amending the charges because of his mental history.


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Stephen Privacky

Stephen Privacky, 50, taught fifth grade. His superintendent, Gloria Lewis, described him as a dedicated teacher who had told her "Seth was a fine young man ... and he was very proud of him."

Linda Privacky, 49, was a receptionist at a medical office. Her father-in-law, John Privacky, was 78 and lived on his own nearby.

Jed and April, both 19, were studying at Muskegon Community College to be teachers.


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Jed Privacky and April Boss

Jed apparently was the first to die.

Seth "took his father's 22-Ruger, loaded it and shot his brother in the back of his head while he watched TV," says Muskegon County Detective Sgt. Dennis Edwards.

When his father and grandfather came home, Edwards says, the teen-ager turned the gun on them.

"He shot his grandfather twice ... to make sure he was dead," Edwards says.


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Linda Privacky

"He then waited until his mother got out of the shower and shot her."

April arrived a few minutes later and apparently saw the bodies of the older men at the entrance, "so he shot her," Edwards says.

Next, investigators say, Seth called Steve and asked for help cleaning up, telling him, "It's done," in reference to a vow made Saturday to kill his father.

"The house was scattered with bodies, there was blood everywhere," says prosecutor Tony Tague. "This is the most serious and vicious attack on a household I have ever witnessed."

Store security photos show Seth twice trying to by .22-caliber bullets the night before the shootings, Tague said Wednesday. He was refused because he was underage. Authorities don't know where a box of ammunition found in the house came from.

After the shootings, Edwards says, Seth spent hours mopping up blood before driving to a gas station and dropping the spent shell casings into a trash can. A security camera at a nearby grocery shows him buying duct tape at 9:40 p.m.; police believe he planned to use the tape to set up the phony robbery scene.

Steve, meanwhile, drove 10 miles to a pond and threw the gun and clip into opposite ends, police say. Then he returned a movie to a Blockbuster Video store, went home, and attended an evening church meeting.

Both returned to the house for more cleanup. Late that night, April's mother and stepfather, Julie and Tom Cooper, came looking for her and saw someone standing over Stephen Privacky's body in the driveway. The figure ran.

The Coopers rushed inside, grabbed a portable phone, and took it outside to call 911. Shortly after police arrived, Steve ran out of nearby woods and was arrested.

Seth eluded searchers for almost 13 hours. Acting on a tip, police found him rain-soaked and shivering in a barn where he occasionally practiced bass guitar for Dimensia, the band he and Steve had formed.

In court Tuesday, where two dozen high school students and other friends of suspects and victims jammed a corridor after courtroom seating ran out, neither suspect showed emotion.

But at one point Seth leaned forward and whispered to the judge. He was asking, the prosecutor said, that he someday be allowed out of prison.

"One of his major concerns, as opposed to the welfare of his family, is he's never going to get out of jail," Tague says.

According to court records, Seth was a B student and was described by his parents as a good kid as recently as 1997. His mother told the court in 1996 that he always obeyed her and followed curfews, although she checked a box on a court questionnaire indicating that Seth, then 16, "sometimes" drank.

In an essay as part of his shoplifting punishment, Seth described an interest in science and his desire to marry and travel: "I would also like to have kids one day. Not to (sic) many, because I know how much trouble I get into and how much of a nuisance I can be sometimes."
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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