Testimony: Bever brothers ordered arsenal online, attacked family to launch killing spree

A judge ruled that Robert and Michael Bever will stand trial on first-degree murder charges for the 2015 slayings of five family members.

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Robert Bever, on Feb. 23, 2016. Courtesy News on 6
Robert Bever in Tulsa County District Court on Tuesday. Courtesy NewsOn6

The killing spree was supposed to begin at midnight.

But about 11:30 p.m. on July 22, 2015, April Bever asked her 13-year-old daughter, Crystal to remind her older brothers to do the dishes and “help with the cats.”

When Crystal walked into Michael and Robert Bever’s room that night, a detective testified Tuesday in Tulsa County District Court, her brothers were trying on body armor and had several knives laid out on their beds.

She passed along mom’s orders and walked out, but heard her brothers say: “We need to get her back in here.”

She wondered why, she told police, and went back in. Look at what Michael’s doing on his computer, they told her.

As Crystal looked over her 16-year-old brother Michael’s shoulder at his computer screen, 18-year-old Robert Bever reportedly snuck up behind her, put his hand over her mouth and tried to slash her throat.

She was supposed to die quickly and quietly, a Broken Arrow police detective testified Robert Bever told him.

Then the brothers would slay the rest of their family in a similarly stealthy fashion, steal the family SUV and take off on a multi-state killing spree with an arsenal they ordered online.

But things weren’t going as planned.

Crystal screamed, she fought, she made a lot of noise and there was blood everywhere. Their mom came running in, so Robert started stabbing her, too, while April Bever begged someone in the house to call 911.

It was at that point, Robert Bever allegedly told police, that he “realized killing people was a lot harder than he thought it would be.”

The teens’ plan was to kill a lot of people: Their father, David; their mother and Crystal; their brothers, Daniel, 12, and Christopher, 6; and their youngest sisters, Victoria, 5, and 1-year-old Autumn.

Only Crystal and Autumn lived; Autumn because her brothers reportedly “forgot” their plans to chop off her head with an axe, police testified, and Crystal because she somehow survived attack after attack by her older brothers.

This was the case presented by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether the state had sufficient evidence to proceed with a first-degree murder trial of both teens. Special Judge Martha Rupp Carter ruled Tuesday the state had met that burden, and both teens will be arraigned Monday.

Michael and Robert Bever showed little emotion in court Tuesday as detectives described the brutal crimes they are accused of committing.

Michael Bever, on Feb. 23, 2016. Courtesy News on 6
Michael Bever in Tulsa County District Court on Tuesday. Courtesy NewsOn6

Broken Arrow police officers testified that Michael and Robert planned to make Youtube videos documenting their killings and aspired to have a Wikipedia page documenting their crimes. They reportedly wanted to be more famous than James Holmes, the Colorado movie theater shooter convicted of killing 12 and wounding 70. More famous than Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 12 fellow students and a teacher (and then themselves) in a 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado.

That was the same year Michael Bever was born, and Crystal Bever told Broken Arrow police that her brothers shared a fascination with mass casualty movie theater and school shootings.

Defense attorneys for Michael and Robert Bever agreed to the unusual step of police detectives testifying to what Crystal Bever had told them in interviews, in order to spare the girl further trauma of testifying in open court against her brothers at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing. She is expected to testify at the murder trial, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said.

While Crystal Bever lay in a hospital bed recovering from numerous stab wounds, she told Broken Arrow Det. Chane Cothran that Robert frequently said there “were too many people in the world,” and Michael said many times he would kill their family and steal their money.

Crystal Bever told the detective that her mother’s reaction to Michael and Robert Bever building an arsenal of knives and body armor was: “That’s just what boys do.”

They’re looking for attention, her mother told her.

They were also looking for guns, Broken Arrow Police Detective Eric Bentz testified. He interviewed Robert Bever hours after most of his family was slain, and said the teen (now 19) planned, budgeted and journaled his plans for slaughter.

He worked for months at a Broken Arrow call center until he had saved several thousands of dollars to buy body armor, Kevlar sleeves and helmets, what he described for police as a “life preservation rig.”

The schedule for killing his family was bumped up, Bentz testified Robert Bever told him, because he learned you could purchase guns online and pick them up at a local gun dealer. He lied and checked a box asking if he was 21 or older, ordered a Mossberg shotgun and two Glock pistols; one for him and one for Michael.

The guns were ready to be picked up at a Broken Arrow shop, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition for the pistols and 250 rounds for the shotgun were scheduled to be delivered July 23 at 709 Magnolia Court.

So they would kill their family, wait on a Fedex package to arrive, pick up their guns and leave Oklahoma to begin a shooting rampage, Bentz testified Robert Bever told him.

The goal was to kill as many people as possible, he reportedly told Bentz.

But despite the Kevlar sleeves, the helmets and shields, they never made it out of Broken Arrow before being surrounded by police and K-9 officers, lying in the dirt behind their home. It was a house the Bever children, all homeschooled, were rarely allowed to leave, police said. They had few, if any, friends and limited social interaction outside the home.

Crystal Bever told police that she ran outside the house after she escaped her brothers and their knives because she hoped it would trigger an alarm. It did, Michael Bever reportedly told police, but he quickly entered a code and silenced it.

She had tried to grab a cell phone on her way out, but looked down at her own wounds and saw “an organ hanging out or something,” she told police. She ran outside screaming and hoped to run to a neighbor’s house for help, but collapsed on the lawn. She could hear her brothers inside the house, continuing their rampage, she told police.

April Bever was stabbed as she was running away from her sons. She tried to defend herself, biting Robert and attempting to grab the knife away, but he was stronger, he told police.

Michael Bever tricked his younger siblings into opening their locked doors by pretending Robert was attacking him, too, detectives testified.

Michael stabbed Victoria and Christopher, then Robert made sure to finish them off, police said.

They tricked Daniel into opening the door, and then Robert stabbed him, detectives testified. It was Daniel who managed to call 911 before he died and likely saved two of his sisters’ lives.

The alarm went off, and Robert ran outside to find Crystal bleeding on the lawn, still alive, police said.

When interviewed by detectives, Robert Bever reportedly said he heard Crystal whispering: “My brother’s dead.”

He bent down and said “Shhh!” and then picked her up. She started kicking and fighting, so he dropped her on the ground, police said, and started to strangle her, to finish her off.

Robert Bever said he hated to have to do that “in front of the neighbors,” detectives testified. He asked Michael to drag Crystal’s body back in the house.

Their father, who had been asleep downstairs, came down and asked “What’s going on?”

Robert and Michael Bever hid in their bedroom and attacked David Bever when he came in, detectives testified.

Bever brothers
Police mug shots taken of Robert and Michael Bever shortly after they were arrested in connection with the slayings of several family members in July 2015.

Sirens were blaring, police were pounding at the door and Crystal was trying to tell the police she couldn’t open the door. Robert and Michael couldn’t find their mother’s purse or keys, so they decided to run out the back door to the woods behind their house.

Robert told police he was tired from all the stabbing at this point, and dropped one of the metal body armor plates.

The brothers reportedly laid down in the dirt in the woods and talked about how their plan didn’t go as it was supposed to.

Michael told his older brother they should have used guns instead of knives, a police detective testified.

Robert reportedly told his younger brother: “It was a pleasure doing business with you.”

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Cary Aspinwall

Creative Director / Staff Writer

During more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, Cary has written about everything from reality TV stars to inmates on death row. She's twice been named Great Plains Writer of the Year and was recently honored as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting. Contact: cary@readfrontier.com or 918-928-5835.
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