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“Evil thing to do” Georgia teen guilty of murdering mother, brother in house fire

FORSYTH, Ga. — A Georgia 18-year-old pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder and arson in the death of her mother and brother.

Candace Walton, who was 16 at the time, admitted that she killed Tasha Vandiver, 36, and Gerald Walton, 21, by burning them alive in a Feb. 2020 house fire.

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A Monroe County judge sentenced Walton to life in prison with the possibility of parole on the murder charge and 10 years in prison for the arson charge.

“This was not a crime of passion or a drug deal gone bad, those you can kind of explain away... This is something where a 16-year-old child got a plan with her boyfriend to murder her mother and disabled brother,” Towaliga Judicial Circuit district attorney Jonathan Adams told WGXA.

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The fire happened during the early hours of Feb. 27, 2020. Firefighters responded and found the bodies of Vandiver and Gerald Walton inside the home.

The sheriff’s office said Vandiver’s car was stolen by her daughter. Candace Walton was later taken into custody in western Kentucky.

Adams told WGXA that his office had a strong case built against Walton with thousands of texts between Walton and her boyfriend Kaleo Pangelinan. Authorities believe Walton was trying to drive to Oregon to live with him.

Adams also reported that the fire was not the first time Walton attempted to kill her family.

“Putting medicine, mixing medicines in their food and drinks. It was making them sick but it wasn’t killing them, so that’s why they decided to move on to the arson,” Adams told the news station. “That’s an evil thing to do.”

"This was not a crime of passion or a drug deal gone bad, those you can kind of explain away... This is something where...

Posted by WGXA.tv on Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Walton was given two life sentences to be served concurrently. She will be eligible for parole after 30 years.

Adams told WGXA that the state recommended the sentences be served consecutively, meaning one after another, ensuring the teen is not eligible for parole for another 60 years.

Pangelinan was arrested in May 2020 in Roseburg, Oregon, and charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths. He’s expected to be tried later this year

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Information from WGXA and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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