Produced by Gail Zimmerman and Stephen McCain
[This story was first broadcast on Dec. 10, 2011. It was updated on March 9, 2013.]
OAKLEY, Utah -- When the Tiede family headed off to spend a snowy Christmas at their remote family cabin, they had no idea what the trip would bring. Two sisters who survive a harrowing home invasion share the terrifying story in their first extended television interview.
Linae Tiede: My family owns a beautiful cabin in Oakley, Utah. The sound of the river, the horses that are down in the pasture, the birds -- it's absolutely heaven on earth to me.
My mom had given it a name: "Tiede's Tranquility," because of the serenity and peace.
Trish Tiede: The cabin was an awesome place to go to.
As a young child, I loved going up there, bringing aunts and uncles, and cousins.
The cabin was about 2-and-a-half miles off the road....And you have to snowmobile in during the wintertime. It was an escape from the world for our family.
Trish Tiede: It was the winter of 1990.
Linae Tiede: I was 20 years old. And my little sister was 16.
Trish Tiede: It was Christmastime. We're off for the holidays.
Trish Tiede: There's a large Christmas tree with lots of gifts around it.
Linae Tiede: My mom even had our Christmas stockings hung under the fireplace mantel, ready for Santa to come (smiles at the memory).
Three days before Christmas, our family had to finish up our Christmas shopping and head back up to the family cabin.
My mom and grams and I arrived at the cabin...first.
And my hands were freezing. ...it was a bitter cold winter that year. I asked my mom to hurry...and unlock the door. I needed to run in and run my hands under some water and I would be right back down to help her.
I got to the top of the stair...and I saw a gray flash...go behind the refrigerator. And the first thought that popped in my mind was, "Oh, a cousin's here already" ...and was going to jump out and say boo! ...It didn't turn that way.
Behind the refrigerator came...a frizzy headed man...in a gray sweatshirt with his pistol pointed at me. I assumed that he would just want to rob us. And be on his way.
As soon as my mom came to the top of the stairs, out from the back bedroom, another robber...with really thick, coke-bottle glasses on was pointing a g -- gun at my mother.
My mom was saying to 'em, "What is it you want? Why are you here? I'll give you anything." ...Seconds after she had said that, gunfire started imploding, exploding, explosion. From everywhere I saw my mom go down. I turned at that point. And looked over my shoulder to my Grams. And saw her get shot in the head. And blood spray everywhere. ...I heard her gasp for some breath.
And then it was just dead silence. I felt pretty certain that they were dead.
My thoughts were turned...to knowing that within minutes my dad and sister would be coming.
I can remember hearing snowmobiles coming in the distance. And my heart sinking to my gut. Knowing that [emotional] that was my dad and sister.
Linae Tiede: It felt like slow motion and quick, all at once. ...I can remember the screams and Grams falling off the...stool. And my mom reaching over her chest, "I'd been shot."
I started to think, plan ahead. I knew that there was a car. And I knew my dad left the car keys underneath the mat. ...I knew that if we got these men out of the cabin and into the car that my dad and my sister would be safe.
As the noise of the snowmobiles became closer, the man in the gray sweatshirt grabbed me from behind. Around the neck. Put his gun to my back.
Trish Tiede: Dad and I arrived at the cabin...As soon as we got off the snowmobiles, a man jumped out from the garage with a full ski mask on and a gun and demanded that we come inside right away.
"Don't move, don't move. Don't move, don't do anything."
Linae Tiede: My dad could see tears in my eyes. And it was an unspoken communication. And he knew, at that point, that something awful had happened to Mom and Grams.
The men asked my dad if he had any money. He reached into his pockets and pulled out what he had. And threw it down to the ground.
The man in the coke-bottle glasses was instructed by the other to shoot my dad. He pulled back the hammer. I heard it. And he refused to fire.
Trish Tiede: So then the other man restraining my sister pulled his gun out, pointed it at my dad... pulled the trigger. Once, click, no fire. Twice, click, no fire. ...And then, a third one, when it off, that blast was-- it was so close, I could feel it.
Linae Tiede: I had no doubt, in my mind, that he was dead. Just like Mom and Grams. I was terrified to think that the trauma would not stop. It kept going [sighs].
It didn't make any sense to me. I had no idea what was happening or why.
These men that were in the cabin. I knew that they had been there for a while. There was food eaten, there was Christmas presents open, it wasn't just that we walked in and startled them or scared them. They had actually...waited for our family to return home.
Their plan was to destroy their evidence, burn it to the ground.
There was always gas cans available. Full of gas. For the snowmobiles.
Trish Tiede: They immediately got busy doing things.
Linae Tiede: They poured gas everywhere and set the cabin on fire.
I can remember hearing the smoke alarms going off as the fire was already blazing in the cabin.
Trish Tiede: There was a sense of urgency to get out of there. They began telling us we got to hurry and load the snowmobiles and get out of here.
I had this feeling inside of me that we needed to listen and do what they said until the moment came to where Linae and I could make our escape.
Linae Tiede: My sister and I drove these awful men on the snowmobiles out of the cabin. ...I drove one man behind me and my sister drove the other man behind her.
Trish Tiede: I had all kinds of different plans of -- of how to wreck the snowmobile, how to throw him off into a tree, how to get rid of him. But all I could think of is I couldn't leave my sister.
Linae Tiede: I can remember wanting to stay close enough that I could still see my sister, that I...felt a sense of security, knowing that she was still -- still there.
Trish Tiede: There was no one to help us. There was nowhere to go - we were in the middle of the mountains on snowmobiles.
Linae Tiede: We headed up to the main gate. And saw my Uncle Randy.
Randy Zorn | Uncle: I seen the snowmobiles come up the trail, two snowmobiles, and I go, "Look, there are my nieces! ...I knew it was the girls with two people on the back. And I go, wow! They got boyfriends!"
I walked over there and tried to greet 'em ... and say hi. And I wave my hands in there and-- they just drove by me and I go hmmm...that's weird. ...that's not my nieces. They don't do that to me.
Trish Tiede: I saw my uncle. My uncle had pulled up and he waved at us, we just kinda looked at him and turned back. And the men said, "Who was that?" "Somebody that must live up here being nice."
I knew his life could be in danger. I knew if these men knew Randy was our uncle there that they would have killed him.
Trish Tiede: We were up there in the mountains, there was no one around.
It was just my sister and I and two men that were dangerous and had a gun. There was -- a feeling of being completely vulnerable.
When we reached the family car, they had two guns; each of them had a gun. The dark- headed man loaded his gun in the trunk. And as he loaded his gun in the trunk, he pulled his jacket open, and he had a knife. And he looked at me, goes, "Don't worry, I'm just as good with a knife as I am a gun."
Randy Zorn | Uncle: And then I seen the Lincoln come out across the street and I go, "Well there they are again."
I was walking up to the car as they were pulling out. And they seen-- I was actually looking in the back, and I -- I think I seen Linae in the back.
Randy Zorn: And I wave my hands again. I go, "Stop!"
Linae Tiede: I knew that if we were to-- call out or us plead for help or act like we knew Randy that Randy would be shot as well. So he was waving his arms and my sister and I just pretended we didn't know who he was.
Randy Zorn: The car just drove right by me... I knew something's -- something's wrong. ...I don't think it was a minute. ...I seen another snowmobile come up...with this person on it. And I look and I look and I go, "He has no coat on." You know, no gloves -- no helmet. ...I go, "Who is this?" I go, "Oh my God, it's my brother." Rolf.
And his face is just huge and full of blood and just-- just big. Eye swollen shut. Bloodcicles -- 'cause it was cold...he was in really bad shape. And he says, "I've been shot. My wife has been killed and my daughters have been kidnapped."
I start heading down the canyon as fast as I could. ...I'm in panic. Rolf's in the back full of blood, laying on the backseat.
Twenty years ago, your cell service did not work up there - whatsoever -- in that canyon. And I kept trying and trying and trying. ...there are two things on my mind. save the girls, get him on a Life Flight.
I come up to the back of the Lincoln... I know the girls are kidnapped. I know the guys have got guns in -- in the car there. You know, I'm going, "What do I do?" Do I run 'em off the road?
And my mobile kicked in. I got 911 on my mobile. ...she says, "Tell me what direction they're going. We got police; we got people in the area." I go, "Well, they're turning on the road. They're towards Kamus."
I go, "I need -- a helicopter," and the phone went dead. Phone went dead. ... I pulled into the gas station, went over to the pay phone and got 911-- back on the phone again. ...And I go, "Guys, I need a helicopter NOW."
Trish Tiede: We notice a cop car pass us and turn around and begin to follow us. Both men began to panic. ...I remember looking - the speedometer's goin' over 90 miles an hour.
We turned right down towards the canyon and went another mile or so and then fell -- the car fell off an -- embankment.
I remember looking up 'cause the car was at an angle and noticing in the entire road above us we came down was full of -- of -- maybe a couple cops, but mostly people in common clothes drawin' down with pistols and shot guns and rifles at us. And it -- I just remember how amazed I was that there was so many people there so fast.
Linae Tiede: There was cops pointing guns at me. And my little sister says, "No, no, that's my sister." And I don't think they'd received information that there was even hostages in the car.
Trish Tiede: I reached back for my sister's hand and grabbed her hand and said, "Duck!"
Linae Tiede: We both ducked and we were praying and just squeezing each other's hand.
We've always had a connection, even as little children. A special connection. Where we [emotional] can feel each other. She's always been a great comfort to me.
Joe Offert | Lead Investigator: The suspects...were taken from the vehicle...and then were secured by the officers who'd arrived at the scene.
These guys are -- obviously cowards. ...as long as they were in total control of the situation by use of fear and force -- then they continued to function. When that control went away, that's when it -- it stopped and they surrendered to authorities.
Linae Tiede: The men were down on their knees with their arms behind their neck. And the cops were, you know, yellin' at 'em to, "get down, get down," and surrender. ...I started to yell at the cops to kill 'em. I said, "Kill 'em. They just killed my mom, my dad and my grams. Kill 'em. K -- shoot 'em now. Kill 'em."
Trish Tiede: I remember a feeling of not necessarily being safe, but I've survived... We were no longer in the custody of those two evil men.
Randy Zorn: The helicopter showed up -- pretty quick actually ... and they got Rolf out of the back of my Blazer and -- got him into care and he was in pretty bad shape, critical condition. ...and when it lifted off I'm just praying that he makes it.
Trish Tiede: I can't imagine what had to have been goin' through Dad's head after he'd been shot and then shot again. And he's laying there, playing dead. Trying to breathe as shallow as possible.
I later learned that Dad had actually been doused with gasoline. ...And he caught on fire himself. And he had to run into the shower and tear off his snowsuit while on fire.
Having the strength to get on that snowmobile and race down that mountain to save my sister and I -- how much blood he lost, he couldn't see, getting down the mountain in freezing temperatures. ...My whole life of my dad was my hero. And that just put an exclamation point on that.
Linae Tiede: My dad was the most amazing hero that I've ever known.
...Beautiful, kind blue eyes. He...was extremely kind and generous in every way.
Joe Offert: The number one concern in this particular case is rescuing anybody who might need assistance... Secondly, is to preserve the evidence at the crime scene.
One of the most significant pieces of evidence...was a video camera. Inside the video camera -- was a videotape.
We had no idea -- what might be recorded -- on that. So, at a number of junctures in that -- in that-- film, I was saying, "Oh my God, oh my God."
Brad Wilde | Patrol Deputy: You know, hundreds of crime scenes later, it still ranks right up there. It's still very vivid to me.
...probably when I got about 10 feet from the door...I picked up a faint smell...it was kinda like burnt hair and maybe burnt fabric, like, clothes burning.
As I entered the garage, there was maybe a 12 to 18-inch puddle of blood that was fresh.
As I started up the stairwell...I could see holes in the walls -- bullet holes comin'...from one wall across the stairwell into the other wall.
There was -- blood smear on the wall. It looked like...a bloody hand had -- had wiped down the wall. ...it almost looked like a mini-war zone.
There was -- two bodies. ...I checked for a pulse... But I knew in my mind-- they were deceased.
I actually...walked into the smoke before I really realized that the top floor of that cabin was on fire. Then our mindset went to protectin' the victim's property 'cause we thought the cabin was going to burn down.
On top of the coffee table there was a VCR camera and some tapes.
Linae Tiede: There was a double funeral for my mother and grandmother. My grandmother's name's Beth Tidwell Potts. My mother's name is Kaye Tidwell Tiede.
I remember just so many people and family that came to love us and help us feel their love and support.
Trish Tiede: My Aunt Claudia was my mom's older sister and when mom passed, Aunt Claudia stepped in...letting us know that she was there. And it gave us all a sense of -- that we weren't alone.
Claudia Tidwell Nelson | Aunt: I wanted to be there as much as I possibly could because they needed support. This was a horribly traumatizing thing for them. And we were what they had left.
Trish Tiede: Grams had a lotta energy. She was full of life.
Linae Tiede: She was a very fun and vivacious, energetic, happy grandma. ...She would give me permanents. In my hair. And make it curly. Awful (laughs).
I remember Mom called the aspen trees "quakies." She loved the noise that the quaking aspen made in the wind...that was one of her fondest memories. ...and it is mine, as well.
Claudia Tidwell Nelson: My sister was one of the most devoted mothers that I have ever known. She would give up anything for her children. ...she was strong willed and they were strong willed. And, you know, that relationship is not without conflict. But they always worked it out
Trish Tiede: The morning of the...crime...I remember turning and walking over to give my mother a hug. And she and I had got in a little argument earlier that morning over something silly. She and I both looked at each other... I mean, at 16 years old -- just turned. Wasn't gonna give her a hug. And I turned and walked the other way. And that's the last time I saw my mom alive.
Joe Offert | Lead Investigator: You tell me what's your justification for taking these lives and doing this to these people that you don't even know.
When I watched the videotape -- that had been taken from the crime scene...I expected to see pictures of family talking, playing games, doing what family folks do. But as it turns out, there were the two suspects.
They were opening the family's Christmas presents.
Linae Tiede: I remember thinking of the pure malice and hate that these men must have in their hearts. What heartless jerks. Why would you do this to our family?
Joe Offert : The two men were in their early to mid-20s...both spent time at the Utah State Penitentiary.
Von Taylor had been previously convicted of an aggravated burglary. ...What I gather is, he was - [a] normal kid, a very normal and decent family. But that at some point, he...got into some conflict with the law.
I'm not aware of a violent history on Mr. Edward Deli. ...He'd...been convicted of an arson.
They'd been released...from the penitentiary to a halfway house facility.
Apparently, they were given the ability to go out and look for employment. ...at that point they...just absconded.
Trish Tiede: I later learned that these men...had hitchhiked their way up there and chose that area because one of the men had family that had a cabin in the area. They had robbed several cabins and eventually came to our cabin 'cause they knew that we were there. They wanted to...find a vehicle and get out of the country. They waited for us all night long to return.
Joe Offert : This might appear to be a slam-dunk case to some folks. But from -- from-- an investigator's point of view...it was very complicated and very complex.
Sure, it's not a whodunit...there's no question who committed the crimes. ...But being able to determine...what criminal act each suspect committed--that was a challenge.
Linae Tiede: Von Taylor and Ed Deli very much each took their own separate part in murdering my mom and Grams. ...I do not feel one man at any way, shape, or form was more responsible.
Thomas Brunker | Assistant Attorney General: They were charged with the murders, the aggravated kidnapping, the arsons, the -- high-speed chase.
I don't remember the exact number, but in addition to the murders there were something like eight to 10 felonies and some misdemeanors.
Trish Tiede: I wanted 'em both to be sentenced to the death penalty. I want both of them to know that they were gonna die.
Thomas Brunker: Approximately five months after these crimes, Von Taylor pleaded guilty to two counts of capital murder and the state dropped all of the other charges against him in exchange for that plea.
Linae Tiede: I believe Taylor pled guilty to his crime because there was so much cold evidence against him that that was all that he could plead was guilty.
Taylor was an evil man. He had no remorse. No regard for life whatsoever. You could see it in his eyes; you could see it in his countenance. From the moment we saw him to the last time we saw him in court, he had just had this air about him of anger and zero remorse.
Thomas Brunker: Taylor opted to go to sentencing in front of a jury instead of in front of a judge. ...the jury sentenced him to-- to a death sentence for both murders. So he has two death sentences.
Linae Tiede I felt...relieved that Taylor would be put to death for his crime. Justice had been served.
Joe Offert [A] short period of time after that -- couple of weeks, I believe, then Mr. Deli went to trial. ...we were as prepared, if not maybe even a little bit more prepared, to go into the Deli trial as we were with the Von Taylor trial.
Linae Tiede: I felt a great burden...I felt like they practically wanted me to be able to see the bullets coming out of the guns, that they expected me to point the exact gun in the direction of every bullet and where it hit at any given moment.
Hmmm, I actually just had a whole epiphany of new thoughts come to that, that I don't think that that was helpful for a victim to have to put a weapon that they watched their family murdered with, to even have to touch it. What is the point? The weapons were already on the table. ...Why would I have to touch it?
Trish Tiede: Those trails are somewhat of a blur to me. [I] was 16 years old and...I wanted to go back and live that life I loved and not having to keep reliv[ing] a nightmare.
Deli's lawyer argued that he didn't do any of the shooting.
These men were guilty. They committed a crime, they needed to be punished and we needed to move on.
Joe Offert: Linae and Trish Tiede -- were excellent witnesses...they were very sure about the things they had seen and very articulate. ...able to relate these very, very sensational things and in an unemotional way. ...extremely valuable witnesses.
But we had another survivor of the case -- Mr. Tiede survived the assault and the attack...incredible guy.
Trish Tiede: I remember...watching the look on Deli's face as he came in seeing my father. And it was very apparent to me that he did not know my father had survived. And the look on his face was just priceless like he had been defeated. My dad survived. We won.
Joe Offert: He's lucky -- that they used the wrong gun what they shot him. They used bird shot. Very ineffective. They didn't know that. ...I think his odds of having made it -- and survived an incident like that -- are probably, one in 1,000.
He was kind of an ace in the hole, and he brought the prosecution together in an outstanding way.
I expected Edward Deli...to be convicted of first-degree murder. ...the case had been thoroughly investigated, and the prosecutor's office had done an excellent job.
Randy Zorn | Uncle: I heard the verdict came out -- second-degree murder with life imprisonment. And I never really understood that. I was kinda, I don't know, resentful. And I don't know how to put this inside. Something's wrong...how can he be not sentenced to death?
Thomas Brunker: Deli was not convicted of first-degree murder, he was convicted of...second-degree murder and a death sentence was no longer an option once that conviction came in.
Linae Tiede: Edward Deli received second-degree murder instead of first degree, due to one jury member deciding to hold out.
I felt like the courts did an injustice to our family. I felt like that he deserved to be on death row as well, just like Taylor... Deli murdered. Taylor murdered.
Randy Zorn: This was such a horrific experience for everybody here that I think we all didn't know what to say or buried it inside to where we didn't talk about this a lot.
Trish Tiede: I went through periods of anger and frustration and not understanding why. ...And for years and years that follow, I cried in silence. ...I spent a good 10 years hiding that pain and suppressing that pain.
Linae Tiede: I went through trying to find happiness in areas where happiness doesn't exist. I went through fear, fear of -- putting my heart out there, fear of loving someone or letting someone love me, that they would -- abandon me.
I believe it was 2001 I received a letter from Deli... I thought about it for many, many years and would go to write him a letter and it just never felt right.
Linae Tiede: It took me over nine years to respond to Deli's letter.
I -- held on to the letter and I re-read it probably 20, 30 times. I basically wanted to get a feel if he was truly sorry. I was very careful and guarded with my feelings.
Deli has -- shared with me that he has grown into a man, not the same -- evil boy that committed the -- the crime. ...I believe that I gained my freedom back for myself by choosing to forgive Deli. For me, forgiving does not mean forgetting.
I do not believe Edward Deli has a place outside of prison....But when I came to the place of forgiveness...I felt a tremendous burden, relief off my shoulders [emotional]. I felt free.
Nathan Coates | Linae's husband Linae is flawed perfection.
Linae and I have been married a little over three years now. She is my best friend. ...She's everything to me...there is somethin' in her eyes that is just...it's like pure.
And she's as flawed as the rest of us. But she has this innocence that still is there - that I just love.
Linae Tiede: Nathan changed my life by opening his heart and sharing his true self and giving me the freedom to do the same.
I have four kids and five beautiful step kids. ...And I just feel like it's a beautiful start of a new beginning.
For me to be a survivor -- has become a beautiful gift. I believe that I can share it with others.
After the cabin had burn[ed]...we went and rebuilt it and made it even better than it was before. I can remember my dad. He would say this to me-- quite often. He would say, "Linae, I know lightning strikes." He says, "But lightning never strikes twice in the same location." And I would find great peace in that...Sometimes -- if I ever would have fear...I would just hear my dad say, "Linae...You're gonna be safe."
Trish Tiede: It's fabulous, we love it there. We actually go up there and enjoy family and friends. And we play and we relax. We bond.
They are not gonna take away from us the things that we love and -- and we enjoy in our life. They took our Mom, they took our Grams. But that's where it ends.
Linae Tiede: The cabin's magical. The cabin-- is healing [smiles].
Trish Tiede: When my father was diagnosed with cancer, our whole family came together. And that last six to eight weeks of his life were so absolutely incredible.
Nathan Coates: ...he pulled me aside. Spent about an hour, an hour-and-a-half with me. Just bein' him. ...Probably gave me one of the greatest compliments I ever had in my life. But I'm still just a touch uneasy about it. That he knew Linae would be OK. And that he could go -- 'cause he knew I would take care of her.
Trish Tiede: When my father passed, it was very peaceful. I had the privilege of being right by his side as he -- he took his last breaths. And his spirit has never left me.
Anytime I need my dad, he's there. ...He comes in some of the most unique and special times. ...I very much still feel that my father is there.
I have two beautiful little girls. And when I look into their eyes, I see both my mother and my father, and everything that's loving and pure. I have an awesome life. I love my life now and I wouldn't say that the incident in 1990 defines me. But I would say it's helped make me who I am today.
Claudia Tidwell Nelson | Aunt: I think my sister would be absolutely delighted if she looked down and to see the healing that Linae and Trish have gone through. And what they've done with their lives.
Linae Tiede: I feel very much so that this experience has changed me as a person. ...I choose that it's a part of who I am. It's my life story.
Trish Tiede: What we experienced together...that created a bond that obviously couldn't have with anyone else.
And I'm glad that we were there together...I couldn't ask for more.
Von Lester Taylor is appealing his conviction.
For more on the story:Claudia Nelson's "Murder, Death and Rebirth"
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