11 Indicted in 2016 Triple Murder to Silence D.E.A. Informant

The crime scene was grisly. Three people, tied up with plastic zip ties, were shot execution style and set on fire inside a barn in a small town in rural Pennsylvania on a summer day two and a half years ago. One clung to life, but died the next day.

Now, the authorities say they have found the culprits behind the gangland-style killings.

In an indictment unsealed last week, 11 people who federal prosecutors said were members of the Black Guerrilla Family, a nationwide gang active in drug trafficking, murder and other crimes, were indicted in connection with the killings.

The authorities said the deaths began as part of a plot to silence a police informant that grew to include the killing of two others. The defendants have been charged with a range of crimes including murder, attempted murder, witness tampering, robbery, drug trafficking and illegal possession of a firearm by a felon.

One of the defendants, Jerell Adgebesan, was tied up one year after the killings by several other defendants who wanted to kill him because they suspected he was cooperating with law enforcement, according to the indictment. He has been charged with murder, witness tampering and drug trafficking.

The primary target of the killings was Wendy Chaney, who sold drugs for the gang — including cocaine hydrochloride, crack cocaine and heroin — in Franklin County, Pa., prosecutors said. They also said she was an informant for the Washington County Drug Task Force in Hagerstown, Md., part of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the indictment, three of the suspects — Devin Dickerson, Kevin Coles and Torey White — began to suspect that Ms. Chaney was cooperating with law enforcement in June 2016 and quickly hatched a plan to kill her, recruiting other gang members from Baltimore and Hagerstown to assist them. All three have been charged with murder, witness tampering, robbery and drug trafficking.

Prosecutors said Mr. White, who had been in a romantic relationship with Ms. Chaney, lured her on June 25, 2016, to a barn in Mercersburg, Pa., that was owned by Phillip Jackson, a local drug dealer whom the group planned to rob.

Once there, prosecutors said, the defendants attacked Mr. Jackson, Ms. Chaney and a third person, Brandon Coles, binding their wrists before shooting them each in the head or back. The indictment does not describe Mr. Jackson or Mr. Coles as suspected informants, but says each man was shot once. Ms. Chaney was shot twice.

In a separate matter, Mr. White was sentenced last year to more than 10 years in prison for drug possession and illegal possession of a firearm. At his sentencing hearing last February, both he and the prosecutor, William A. Behe, addressed the killings at the barn, which were still being investigated.

Mr. Behe said law enforcement officials first encountered Mr. White when police officers arrived at the barn on the day of the killings and found him there with “three people bound behind their back with zip ties, shot in the head and in the back, their bodies set on fire, murdered execution style.”

But according to a transcript of his sentencing hearing, Mr. White said he had been trying to help the victims and was too high when the police arrived to tell them what had happened.

“I was the one that actually called the police to come save one of the victims that was living when the officers got there,” Mr. White responded in court. “Those were my friends.”

Officers released Mr. White on the night of the killings but later searched his home, Mr. Behe said at sentencing. The prosecutor said they found crack and powder cocaine, marijuana, digital scales, an AK-47 rifle, a Dan Wesson .44 magnum handgun, a box of .44 caliber ammunition, a pouch of .762 caliber rounds of ammunition and 6.44 magazine rounds.

The indictment does not mention Mr. White’s presence at the scene of the killings when police officers arrived. It said the defendants fled after the shooting, stopping at a nearby convenience store to pistol whip and rob a customer there on their way home.

Prosecutors said when the police arrived at the barn on the day of the killings, Mr. Jackson was still alive. He died of his injuries the next day.

Prosecutors said Mr. Coles and Mr. Dickerson were arrested in July 2016 in Hagerstown on drug trafficking charges. In the meantime, the other defendants began to suspect that Mr. Adgebesan was cooperating with homicide investigators. Prosecutors said that they tied him up and planned to kill him, but that he escaped.

A lawyer for Mr. Coles did not respond to a message seeking comment on Monday, and Elisabeth K. H. Pasqualini, who represents Mr. Dickerson, declined to comment. It was not clear who, if anyone, was representing Mr. White or Mr. Adgebesan.

The office of the federal prosecutor, David Freed, has not issued a statement about the indictment, and Mr. Behe said by email that he was unable to comment on Monday night.

A spokesman for Mr. Freed did not respond to a message seeking comment on Monday evening. A notice on the office’s website said its public affairs operations would be “very limited” during the partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22.

Brent Miller, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police, said that all 11 suspects were in custody. He also said the state police would not answer questions about the case until the end of the government shutdown, when they planned to hold a news conference with federal law enforcement officials.

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