The Story Of Erin Caffey, The 16-Year-Old Who Convinced Her Boyfriend To Murder Her Entire Family

Published April 2, 2021
Updated April 6, 2021

After Erin Caffey’s parents told her she couldn’t see her boyfriend anymore, she sought revenge — by having them all brutally murdered in their sleep.

Erin Caffey

Public DomainThe mugshot of Erin Caffey, taken after she orchestrated the murder of her own family.

On March 1, 2008, two men broke into the Caffey home in Alba, Texas, and set out on a horrific killing spree that left two young children and their mother dead. The only survivors were 16-year-old Erin Caffey and her father, Terry Caffey, who was shot multiple times before the two intruders set the house on fire.

The murders shocked the nation — especially when the police revealed that Erin Caffey was the mastermind behind the entire massacre.

Erin Caffey And Charlie Wilkinson’s Dangerous Relationship

Erin Caffey And Charlie Wilkinson

Courtesy Terry CaffeyErin Caffey with her boyfriend, Charlie Wilkinson.

The tragic fate of the Caffey family was set in motion five months before they were killed, when Erin Caffey began dating 18-year-old Charlie Wilkinson.

The pair met while Caffey was working part-time as a waitress at a Sonic fast-food joint, and the relationship got serious pretty quickly. Wilkinson even gave her a promise ring that had belonged to his grandmother and was open about his desire to marry her.

However, the relationship didn’t bode well with her parents, with Terry Caffey noting that he had reservations about Wilkinson from the start. “There were just things about him that didn’t sit right with me,” he later said. His gut was right.

The Caffey Family

MurderpediaThe Caffey family, with Erin on the far right.

The Caffeys were also heavily involved with their local church, and this merged with their passion for music. Erin Caffey’s brothers, eight-year-old Tyler and 13-year-old Matthew, played the guitar and the harmonica, respectively. Their mother, Penny Carrey, played the piano at church. Erin Caffey was the vocalist of the family — until she met Wilkinson.

At that point, the church-going teen began to slip up in school. Her parents decided to take to the internet to learn more about this bad-news boyfriend. What they found convinced them that they had to separate him from their daughter.

Wilkinson’s Myspace page was littered with sexual references and talk of drinking alcohol. When Caffey broke her “phone curfew” in February 2008, the Caffeys insisted that she end the relationship.

That same month, Erin Caffey started talking about killing her parents in front of friends. Her belief was that it was the only way she could be with Wilkinson.

The Caffey Family Massacre

Burnt Caffey Home

MurderpediaInvestigators at the Caffey house after the fire.

Erin Caffey consequently hatched a murderous plot with Charlie Wilkinson and his friend Charles Waid.

Accounts differ as to who, exactly, was the mastermind behind it, but Terry Caffey rebuffs the notion that it was his daughter’s idea. Meanwhile, Wilkinson claimed that he had offered for him and Caffey to simply run away together, but Caffey insisted on the murders instead.

On the day of the massacre, Wilkinson and Waid pulled into the driveway of the Caffey home. Outside, Erin Caffey and Waid’s girlfriend waited in the car.

Before entering the property, Wilkinson warned Caffey that he had to kill her younger brothers so that there would be no witnesses left. “I don’t care,” she reportedly said, “just do what you gotta do.”

Once inside, Wilkinson made his way to Terry and Penny’s room and fired away at the sleeping couple with a .22 pistol. After taking multiple bullets himself, Terry Caffey watched his wife die as he lay beside her, unable to move or speak.

Wilkinson’s gun then jammed, so Waid pulled out a samurai-style sword and used it on Penny, almost decapitating her.

The pair then headed upstairs to where Tyler and Matthew were hiding. Terry heard his son Matthew cry out, “No, Charlie. No. Why are you doing this?”

The helpless father drifted out of consciousness as Tyler was shot in the face and Matthew was brutally killed when the pair took turns using the sword on him.

Wilkinson and Waid then looted the house for valuables as Wilkinson had promised Waid $2,000 for his help. Finally, they poured lighter fluid on the furniture and lit the house on fire.

Terry Caffey miraculously gained consciousness as the fire engulfed the house and crawled out of a window. It took him an hour to crawl to his nearest neighbor’s house where the authorities were called. When the police asked the neighbor where Terry was bleeding from, he replied, “where isn’t he bleeding from?”

Terry was rushed into emergency surgery, after which he was stable enough to talk. He told sheriff’s deputies that it was Charlie Wilkinson.

Authorities immediately tracked down Wilkinson and brought him in for questioning. Then, they discovered Erin Caffey in the trailer where he was living, and she appeared to be in a state of shock.

She told the police she’d been kidnapped.

The Trial And Sentencing Of Erin Caffey

Caffey In An Interview

YouTubeErin Caffey being interviewed by Piers Morgan for his show Killer Women.

Less than 24 hours after authorities responded to the murders in the Caffey home, all four suspects were in police custody, and they were all talking.

It didn’t take long for Erin Caffey’s kidnapping story to fall apart. Wilkinson and Wade both told police the same story: the murders were all her idea. But Caffey insisted to her grandparents that she had nothing to do with the murder of her family.

Wilkinson testified that he had insisted they run away together. In the end, Caffey, Wilkinson, Waid, and Waid’s girlfriend were all charged with three counts of capital murder.

Wilkinson and Waid were given life sentences without the possibility of parole. Caffey was also sentenced to life, though she will be eligible to apply for parole after 40 years.

Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty against Wilkinson and Waid, but Terry Caffey stepped in and requested otherwise. Despite all he’d been through, he still believed in the forgiveness that his faith had taught him.

Terry Caffey has maintained a relationship with his daughter, even after the massacre. It reportedly wasn’t easy for him at first, and Erin Caffey still denies her role in the planning of the murder. She insists to her father that she tried to run away from Wilkinson the night of the murder, but was forced to wait in the car.

Her father believes her.


After learning about Erin Caffey, read about another teen murderer, Zachary Davis, who bludgeoned his mother to death and tried to set his brother on fire. Then, read about the heinous murder of a nine-year-old at the hands of her 15-year-old neighbor, Alyssa Bustamante.

Danielle Tinning
A freelance writer from the UK, Danielle Tinning studied media & communications at the University of Cumbria before beginning her career at a small publishing house in 2013. She has since published several books and her writing interests include culture and true crime, on which she has a book due out in 2022.