The Sugar Land Conspiracy

An All-American Family Is Gunned Down In A Bizarre Plot

This story originally aired Oct. 20, 2007. It was updated on Aug. 18, 2009.

For John Flores and his best friend Kevin Whitaker, life was sweet in Sugar Land, Texas. "Sugar Land is very middle class/upper class, white collar," Flores explains. "It's a nice place, everything's new. You hang out with your neighbors. You hang out with your neighbor's kids."

But as correspondent Peter Van Sant reports, that sweet life was shattered on the night of Dec. 10, 2003, when Kevin and his family were gunned down in their home.

Marshall Slot was the lead detective assigned to the case. "It looks as if it's a burglary gone wrong. You know, family coming home from dinner. It's plausible that they could have surprised a burglar," Slot says.

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But as Slot combed through the Whitaker home, he realized things weren't adding up. "In the master bedroom the dressers all had drawers open on them, but they were all open equal distance. It was very neat and orderly," Slot explains.

Slot began to suspect the burglary had been staged. "None of the items of value inside the house had been moved around; the electronics, laptops, jewelry, none of those items typically taken in burglaries," he recalls.

And then there was the murder weapon: it was the Whitakers' own gun. "The gun safe had been pried open and it was in a very isolated part of the household," Slot explains. "This is looking more and more like this person knew this gun was here and obtained it for a specific reason."

Slot turned his attention to the family's history, hoping it might provide some answers. He started with Kent Whitaker's relationship to his wife Trisha.

"We met on a blind date," Kent remembers. "Walked in her house and … I didn't know what I was expecting but she came down and I thought I've never had a blind date like this before and we hit it off very well right from the start."

Within a couple of months, Kent says he realized he was in love with Trisha. And the feeling, he says, was mutual. Later, the couple would have two sons, Bart and Kevin.

The Whitakers were doing well. Kent was a successful account, Trisha, an elementary school teacher. "Trisha had a great rapport with children. Parents adored her. The staff adored her. She was just fun," remembers Barbie Harrington.

Harrington and Peggy McLane, Trisha's close friends and coworkers, knew her true love was being a mom. "They were everything. That's all she talked about. She loved those boys," Peggy remembers.

Bart, the eldest, did well in school and had a quirky sense of humor. "He seemed like a nice kid. He was fun. He was witty. He was respectful," Peggy says. And she says he was a good son.

Bart shared a passion for biking with his dad. "It turned out to be a sport that we both loved. He and I would spend hours and hours on training rides and organized rides," Kent tells Van Sant.

Kevin was the sensitive one. "Kevin was man at a young age. He would not back down from injustice. But he would be so quick to forgive," Kent says.

Then came Dec. 10, 2003. "Bart was supposed to be graduating from college," Kent remembers. "He called and said he was through with his finals and he wanted to go out to eat and celebrate."

"We all celebrated. We laughed. We told some jokes. We teased each other and took some pictures and gave Bart his graduation gift, which was an expensive watch," Kent recalls.

After dinner the Whitakers headed home, where they were met with unimaginable horror: four shots were fired. "I start praying and I said, 'Father, you know, if it's my time to die, I'm ready. It's ok. But protect my family,'" Kent remembers. "It was just awful."

Cliff Stanley, the first person on the scene, remembers finding Kent lying down. "I went up to him and he was shot. And says, 'I'm bleeding very badly,'" Stanley says.

Stanley then went to check on Trisha. "She was still alive. She was kind of moaning," he says. "I said, 'What happened?' And Tricia said, 'He shot us.'"

But Stanley says Trisha didn't say who the shooter was. Bart was lying in the living room, wounded. Kevin, Stanley says, was dead at the scene.

Kent, Trisha, and Bart were rushed to the hospital but Trisha didn't survive.

"I lost a friend that taught me how to be a better teacher and a better mother. She was just a really good person and I miss her so much," says Trisha's friend Peggy, crying.