The 14-year-old son of the manager of a ranch owned by ABC television journalist Sam Donaldson was arrested on charges of murdering his father, stepmother and stepsister after the bodies were found at the ranch in southern New Mexico, authorities said.
Cody Posey was arrested at a friend's home near the Chavez Canyon Ranch Wednesday evening, Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan said.
The bodies were found after Donaldson went to the manager's house on Tuesday and discovered an "obvious crime scene," Sullivan said. Deputies searched the area and found the three bodies in a shallow grave. No other details of the slayings were released.
Donaldson said on "Good Morning America" Thursday morning that he saw a cap and a pair of eyeglasses on a red-stained porch when he went to the family's home.
He said he saw "a great mass of congealed blood" in the kitchen. He also says it appeared people had been dragged across the floor.
Donaldson then called authorities.
The dead were identified as Delbert Paul Posey, the teen's father; stepsister Mary Lee Schmid, 14; and stepmother Tryone Posey.
Cody Posey was detained on three counts of murder and four counts of tampering with evidence. An initial court appearance was scheduled for Friday, Sullivan said.
In a prepared statement, Donaldson said he and his wife, Jan, hired Paul Posey to work at the ranch in October 2001. "Jan and I are so very, very sorry about the loss of these fine people," he said.
Donaldson said that the family was an "all-American ranch family" and that he didn't see trouble beforehand.
"Paul was a little hard on his son, but that's the way ... you raise young men. I never saw Paul raise his voice or his hand in anger to his son," Donaldson said. "He clearly expected a lot of him."
District Attorney Scot Key said Cody Posey would be tried in juvenile court but could face an adult penalty if convicted. He said punishment could range from probation under juvenile law to 30 years in prison, the standard sentence in New Mexico for an adult convicted of murder.
"We've never seen a triple murder, and the circumstances of a juvenile committing a crime against family members hasn't been experienced here," Key said.
The Donaldsons were in Santa Fe in northern New Mexico during the Fourth of July weekend, when the slayings apparently occurred.
"We didn't see them Tuesday morning or Tuesday afternoon, so I went over — and on the porch was a large stain that was instantly recognizable," Donaldson told Albuquerque television station KOB-TV. He then called the sheriff's office.
Donaldson described Cody Posey as "withdrawn, like any typical teenager."
Donaldson, a journalist with ABC since 1967, owns three ranches in south-central New Mexico and has extensive ties to the state.