Crime & Courts

Hutchinson teenager charged in murder, arson waives hearing

The attorney for the teenager accused of killing his mother and sister in a fire at their home waived his right to a detention hearing Monday in Reno County District Court.

Sam Vonachen, 14, faces two first-degree murder charges, a charge of attempted first-degree murder and a charge of aggravated arson. Investigators have accused him of setting the fatal fire last week that killed his mother, 47-year-old Karla Vonachen, and sister, 11-year-old Audrey Vonachen. The attempted murder charge relates to his father, 48-year-old Steve Vonachen, who was home at the time of the fire early Thursday morning but escaped.

The fire at the family’s two-story home on East 19th Avenue started just before midnight Thursday. Investigators said that the first floor of the home was engulfed in flames and that an accelerant had been poured in several rooms on the first floor. Karla and Audrey Vonachen were found in a second-floor bedroom, investigators have said.

Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder has said he intends to prosecute Vonachen as an adult.

Schroeder had no comment Monday about the case. Vonachen’s court-appointed lawyer is Greg Bell. Efforts to reach him Monday were unsuccessful.

Vonachen’s next hearing is a pre-trial conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 22.

Chief Judge Patrick Macke Dick is presiding over the case.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle