William Amaya Insanity Ruling: Holy Water Bullets, "Possessed" Relatives

Update: We first reported about the arrest of William Amaya for the murder of his aunt and uncle in July 2014; our previous coverage has been incorporated into this post.

It's appropriate that we tell you about the resolution of the case on Halloween. The crime itself was horrifying, and Amaya claimed a supernatural motivation; he is said to have believed that his relatives were possessed by the devil and to have bathed the bullets he used to kill them in holy water.

These assertions, and the testimony of a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with schizophrenia, ultimately resulted in him being found not guilty by reason of insanity.

For most of early 2014, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office said, Amaya rented a room from his aunt and uncle, Mayra Lorena Lopez, 40, and Eliseo Lopez, 42, in unincorporated Eagle County near the community of El Jebel.

Then, at about 11:17 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, of that year, ECSO deputies were dispatched to the address in question: 160 Arapahoe.

The 911 call was placed by one of the Lopezes' sons. They were thirteen and fourteen, respectively, at the time of the crime. Neither was injured in the incident, with the caller fleeing the house and reportedly phoning from another location. But their parents suffered fatal gunshot wounds.

The Aspen Daily News noted that Amaya fled the scene in a 2009 Honda. But it didn't take authorities long to track him down. By pinging his cell phone, which he'd kept in his possession, they were able to track him to his place of employment, Colorado Pool and Spa Scapes, a business not far from Glenwood Springs — and a handgun was found in his car.

Here's an interactive graphic showing Colorado Pool's location.

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Amaya was taken into custody at 5:40 a.m. the following morning on suspicion of first-degree murder times two.

Such interactions with law enforcement were unfamiliar for him; his only previous arrest had been for underage drinking in 2001.

As for what spurred the tragedy, an ECSO spokesperson offered this comment to the Aspen Daily News: "It sounds like he just lost it."

Information that emerged about the case over the months and years that followed suggested that this observation was accurate.

In February 2016, an affidavit obtained by the Aspen Times revealed that prior to his arrest, investigators with the sheriff's office had texted Amaya, then phoned him — and he answered.

In conversation with a detective, Amaya allegedly maintained that he had been ordered to kill "the bastards" because they were under the possession of Lucifer. For that reason, he insisted that he hadn't done anything wrong.

He also said that his parents were Hillary Clinton and John McCain and his siblings included Chelsea Clinton, Paris Hilton and assorted Kardashians. And prior to the shooting, he later told a psychiatrist, Dr. John Hearn, he had purchased a gun, then taken it to a church and placed the bullets in holy water.

Dr. Hearn concluded that Amaya was legally insane at the time of the shooting — and earlier this month, a jury concurred. After they delivered their opinion, the Colorado Department of Human Services took custody of Amaya prior to his planned transfer to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, where he's been ordered to undergo treatment indefinitely.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts