Shortly after the shocking killings of Shanna Vandewege and her infant son Diederik, Shanna’s father urged people not to rush to judgement in pointing the finger at Shanna’s husband, Craig.
Mark Riddle defended Craig Vandewege in the comments sections of various news articles about the killings, in which Shanna, 36, and 3-month-old Diederik were found at home with their throats slit.
“I believe in him and so do all of the other family members and friends gathered,” Riddle wrote on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram‘s website. “Until you have had to deal with the mixed emotions that we’ve been experiencing since this episode, do not be judgmental lest you be judged.”
But now, in the wake of Vandewege’s Dec. 21 arrest on murder charges, Riddle tells PEOPLE he has had “a change of heart.”
“I’ve seen the police report, and I am very confused,” Riddle explains, talking to PEOPLE just one week after his daughter’s funeral. “I can’t believe, after reading what I’ve read, that he’s innocent, but I pray that he is. I don’t know. I guess I have to leave this up to God and the law.”
Vandewege, 35, was apprehended by police in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a week after the bodies of his wife and son were found inside a Fort Worth, Texas, home.
According to his arrest affidavit, before he was detained, Vandewege allegedly told a man he met inside a 7-Eleven that he was bound for Las Vegas — where he said he planned to meet with President-elect Donald Trump to talk about the killings.
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Forth Worth police allege Vandewege told the unidentified man at the gas station that “he was on the run” and that “the government was trying to conspire against him by saying he had killed his family.” He also allegedly said he was getting together with Trump “to work it out with him.”
Vandewege allegedly showed “no emotion” as he explained to the arresting officers “it had been a long week and his wife and kid were murdered in Fort Worth, Texas,” the affidavit states.
Before taking him into custody in Colorado, local police searched Vandewege and allegedly found a loaded pistol in his waistband, another gun in an ankle holster, and “a number of condoms in his pockets,” according to the affidavit. He was in possession of his wedding ring, but it was not on his finger.
Inside his vehicle, officers allegedly recovered “camouflage, clothing, numerous bottles of medication and an AR-style rifle.”
Vandewege is still awaiting extradition to Texas, but authorities have not provided a timeline for when he may be returned from Colorado. He has yet to enter a plea to the charges against him and his attorney, Leslie Barrows, did not immediately respond for comment.
Allegations of Disturbing Dreams
Riddle tells PEOPLE his daughter moved to Texas in May — five months after Vandewege relocated to Fort Worth to find a house for them to live in.
“She was just gonna come up here for Christmas,” Riddle tells PEOPLE, fighting back tears. “I guess we had her home for Christmas … just not in the fashion we wanted.”
Riddle says he has been in touch with Vandewege’s family since the murders. Vandewege’s relatives attended Shanna’s funeral on Dec. 27 and Riddle says they have been “very supportive” since the double-homicide.
Riddle says he will attend all of Vandewege’s upcoming court appearances and acknowledges he’s still having a hard time wrapping his head around what happened.
“It’s a nightmare,” he says.
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Since the killings, Fort Worth detectives have interviewed several of Vandewege’s co-workers and learned that Vandewege allegedly often complained “about his wife and her appearance” and made statements about harming her, according to the arrest affidavit.
Days before the slayings, Vandewege allegedly told a co-worker he’d had a dream in which “he ‘sliced the heads of his wife and father like bologna.'”
Soon after learning Shanna was pregnant, he allegedly told the same co-worker “he wished he could push her down the stairs and kill her that way.” Vandewege also told co-workers he was taking prescriptions that made him “hear voices that tell him to kill people,” police allege in the affidavit.
His wife “could not do anything right and she dressed and wore her hair poorly” and “the only way he could tolerate his wife was by drinking,” Vandewege allegedly said at work.
The affidavit characterizes his interactions with investigators as “overly calm” and notes that trace amounts of blood were detected on the rims of two sinks in the Vandewege home, possibly suggesting someone attempted to clean the crime scene. Investigators further allege someone took steps to stage a robbery of the family’s home.
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