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Kai Kelly, thirteen-year, accused of executing his dad, living with his body for days

The house where Joseph Kelly Jr. died. More photos and a video below.
The house where Joseph Kelly Jr. died. More photos and a video below.

When a juvenile commits a crime, the press typically refrains from naming him. But some of the most prominent mainstream news agencies are identifying thirteen-year-old Kai Kelly, likely due to the shocking nature of his alleged crime and the fact that he's been formally charged with first-degree murder.

The teen is accused of executing his father, Joseph Kelly Jr., and living with the body for days. And while a motive hasn't been formally established, one likely reason is an upcoming hearing involving graffiti.

ECO Transit in Eagle County, where Joseph Kelly Jr. worked.
ECO Transit in Eagle County, where Joseph Kelly Jr. worked.

No photos of either Kai or Joseph have surfaced since news of the tragedy broke -- a surprise in this age of social media, where so many of our lives are documented online for all the world to see.

Thus far, the main visual information available involves locations such as ECO Transit, the Eagle County public works operation at which Joseph was employed -- it's seen in the photo above -- and St. Claire of Assisi school in Edwards, which Kai attended.

A photo from the St. Claire of Assisi website.
A photo from the St. Claire of Assisi website.

And then there's the Kelly home in Gypsum, seen in the image at the top of the post, culled from 7News coverage, as well as in this pic, showing a law-enforcement notice on the door -- an indication that the residence is regarded to be a crime scene.

The front door of the Kelly home in Gypsum.
The front door of the Kelly home in Gypsum.

What happened there?

On Monday, May 5, according to the Vail Daily, a member of the sheriff's department was contacted by a staffer at ECO Transit.

The caller was concerned about Joseph, who'd been absent for the better part of a week. In the interim, his son, Kai, had phoned to say his dad was ill and wouldn't be coming in -- but so much time had passed that Joseph's co-workers had grown concerned and requested a welfare check.

The sheriff's department had reason to wonder about Joseph's whereabouts, too. He'd been scheduled for an April 30 meeting to discuss a graffiti case under investigation, with Kai among the reported targets.

Authorities went to the Kelly's home in Gypsum and discovered Joseph's body in an office area.

Eagle County coroner Kara Bettis.
Eagle County coroner Kara Bettis.

Eagle County coroner Kara Bettis, speaking at a news conference covered by the Daily, revealed that Joseph had been shot twice in the head. One bullet entered from behind, with the shot fired at a distance, while the second was at close range directly into the temple. The weapon is said to have been a .22 caliber rifle.

The time of death hasn't been pinpointed precisely, but Bettis says Joseph had clearly expired days earlier. The Daily notes that his body had begun to "decompose and stink," making the presumption that Kai had been living in the house during this period all the more chilling.

Eagle County Sheriff Joseph Hoy.
Eagle County Sheriff Joseph Hoy.

When youths commit the most serious crimes, officials are frequently under pressure to charge them as adults. Note the speculation about whether the thirteen-year-old Burlington boy who murdered parents Charles and Marilyn Long back in 2011 would face adult justice. In that case, the teen was eventually convicted as a juvenile due in part to his emotional immaturity; he's said to have been playing in a sandpit shortly before the killings.

When it comes to Kai, however, Eagle County District Attorney Bruce Brown, who's charged the boy with murder, is already downplaying such speculation. In his words, "This is a young child, so we would be very reluctant to charge him as an adult. We haven't even finished our investigation. Once you get past the questions of what happened, you get to why it happened."

Look below to see 7News coverage of the case.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa September 2011: "13-year-old killer of parents Charles & Marilyn Long played in sandpit shortly before attack."


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