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Why Did Cody Posey Kill His Family? Murder on a New Mexico Ranch

Antonia is a writer who is fascinated by mysteries and psychology. She writes many articles about criminal cases.

The Killer: 14-year-old Cody Posey.

The Killer: 14-year-old Cody Posey.

A Cold-Blooded Killer, or a Victim Pushed Too Far?

The tale of Cody Posey and the murder of his family is a sad and tragic one. The strange twist in the story is that what makes it so exceptionally sad and tragic is not what you might think. Any murder is tragic, but it is not the murders themselves that are the heart of this story; rather, it's the events of Cody's life leading up to the day when he took a gun and shot and murdered his father, stepmother, and stepsister.

The day he would kill his family probably started much like any other day for Cody. It was July 5th, 2004; a hot summer day in Hondo, New Mexico. Cody lived on a ranch owned by famous newsman Sam Donaldson, and he lived with his father, Paul Posey, 34; his stepmother, Tryone, 44; and his stepsister, Marilea Schmid, 13. Cody's father Paul ran and worked on the Chavez Canyon Ranch for Mr. Donaldson.

From the outside, to most people, the Posey's blended family seemed to be happy and normal. To others with a closer view, there were obviously a few dark demons that were hanging around. Yet, no one but the family themselves knew of the true horror and evil that went on behind Chavez Canyon's walls. It was only when Sam Donaldson discovered the bloody crime scene that Cody left behind that the secrets kept hidden for so many years came tumbling out.

A Slap and a Murder

Considering all that happened beforehand, it is hard to believe that the final straw that broke Cody Posey came in the form of a slap in the face from his father. That slap on July 4th was the last time Paul Posey would ever hurt his son again. At that moment, Cody finally snapped, went outside, and grabbed a shotgun from his sister's saddlebag. He came up behind his stepmother, Tryone, who was reading a book on the couch, and shot her twice in the back of the head. When his father Paul walked in the house, he shot him, and his stepsister Marilea, who had walked in behind his father, was last.

Cody then proceeded to try to cover up his crime. He loaded the three bodies up in a backhoe and buried them in a shallow grave in a manure pile. On July 6th, the day after the murders, Sam Donaldson stopped by the ranch and was greeted with a sight right out of a horror movie; blood and broken glass littered the crime scene. He immediately called the police, and it didn't take them long to locate the shallow graves. It was the next day, on July 7th, 2004, two days after the murders occurred, that Cody was arrested and charged with the murder of his family.

I don't know what I was thinking, I can't tell you, I myself wish I knew.

— Cody Posey

What Happened and Why?

At first, Cody denied any involvement in the murders. He told police he had last seen his parents on the morning of July 5th, when he left after a fight with his father. The police continued to question him, and it didn't take long for Cody to start telling the truth, and confess to the murders, but the more he talked, the more twisted and horrific the story became.

Cody's tale of being verbally and physically abused started after his parents' divorce, during the custody battle. Fortunately, Cody's mother was awarded custody of her son, and they were set to start a new life together, including her new husband, Cody's stepfather. It was just three months after she gained custody, and the new family was driving to Washington to start over when the three were in a tragic roll-over car accident; Cody survived, but he watched his mother die. He was just 10 years old. As if that was not horrible enough for young Cody, he then learned that he was to be put back in the custody of his abusive father; he was absolutely terrified. He begged them not to go.

Abuse and Threats

The story Cody told of the abuse he suffered after that was unimaginable. Belittled and psychologically abused every day, he was forced to work long hours on the ranch without food, water, or rest. He told of being kicked, punched, slapped, and smacked around by his father nearly every day. He told them about being woken up with an electric cattle prod, whipped with a lasso, being dragged behind a horse, and being smacked on the back of the hand with the pointy end of a hay hook.

He recalled his father's threat to tear his balls off if he popped the clutch in the truck. He said that his stepmother participated in his mental and physical abuse, and his stepsister, Marilea, was encouraged to tattle on him and rewarded whenever he screwed up. The last tale of abuse he told was the most shocking and disgusting, and it's what Cody says really sent him over the edge—not the slap—on the day he killed his family.

Cody recalled the previous night before the shootings. His father had burned him with a welding iron for refusing to go through with his sick and twisted demands; he wanted Cody to have sex with his stepmother, Tryone. When Cody could not be coerced into the act and refused to participate in Paul's sick incest fantasies, he was burned by his father with the welding iron. This, claims Cody, was the final sick act that caused him to break down emotionally and kill his family.

I felt dirty, I felt disgusted.

— Cody Posey

Trial, Verdict, and Sentencing

In January of 2006, at the age of 16, Cody Posey stood trial for the murders of his father, step-mother, and step-sister that had taken place a year and a half before. He was being charged as a "youthful offender", which gave the judge the choice of sentencing him as a juvenile or an adult upon conviction.

Cody maintained composure at the start of his trial. It was when his defense lawyer gave his very emotional opening statement, and told the court of the tragic death of Cody's mothers in the car accident, that Cody broke down crying. The psychological torture, physical, and attempted sexual abuse of Cody by his father and step-mother became the core of his defense at trial.

Cody's claims of abuse were corroborated by the testimony of various witnesses to his father's cruel and abusive behaviour towards him. His former stepmother testified that while she was married to Paul Posey, she had to stop him from being mean and abusive towards his son on many occasions. Multiple ranch hands who worked under Paul's leadership testified to the abuse they had seen Cody subjected to at the hands of his father.

In addition, Cody took the stand in his own defense, and testified to the torture he had endured, the horror of what had occurred the night before, and the day he murdered his family. When he spoke of his father attempting to force him to have sex with his step-mother, he said "I felt dirty. I felt disgusted." He described how his father called him into the bedroom, and Tryone Posey was lying in bed naked, and his father told him he was going to have sex with her.

Posey spent two days on the stand testifying about the abuse, and what drove him to murder. When asked what was thinking when he killed them, he said "I don't know what I was thinking, I can't tell you. I myself wish I knew what I was thinking". He said he felt overwhelmed, and lost all control of his emotions at the time of the murders. He had reached a point of despair on that morning, his defense lawyers argued, and his judgment was impaired.

The prosecution presented witnesses that stated they had never seen a bruise or any sign of abuse whatsoever in regards to Cody. They had never seen his father act abusive, they said. They showed the jury the gruesome, bloody crime scene photos. They claimed that Cody allegations of abuse were just "more manure" piled on top of the bodies of the victims.

When the verdicts came back, Cody sobbed. He was found guilty of first-degree murder in the case of his step-sister Marilea, second-degree murder in the case of his step-mother Tryone, and voluntary manslaughter in the death of his father Paul. Many other members of Cody's family, who had stood by him during the trial, broke down and cried as well. His maternal aunt was so distraught she had to be carried out of the courtroom on a stretcher.

With pleas of leniency coming from Cody's family, as well as from the father of the step-sister, whom he had murdered, the judge chose to sentence Cody as a juvenile for the murders. Had he been sentenced as an adult, he would have been given life in prison. Instead, Cody was sentenced to psychiatric treatment, and to remain in a juvenile facility until he turned 21 years old. Jake Schmid, Marilea's father, said of the judge's decision, "Thank you. I do not believe that Marilea would have wanted Cody to be punished. He was already and she knew that."

He was committed to a juvenile facility on until April of 2010, when he was then transferred to a transitional rehabilitation facility. On October 9th, 2010, Cody Posey's 21st birthday, he was officially released, and he is now living somewhere amongst society.

Was Cody Let Off Too Lightly?

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


sheila on September 07, 2020:

The people who are supposed to be protecting these poor kids with their lives, are instead making their lives a living hell. When these children have finally reached their breaking point, and believe there's no other way out, they're the ones punished, instead of the adult who inflicted the pain. The system is seriously broken needs to be overhauled.

Bill W Harris on April 28, 2019:

I know Cody very well, he is one of the most straight up persons that i have ever known. He is a honest hard working young man who has accomplished so much in his young life with no emotional scars of the past. I am proud to call him a friend.

Bernice Stine on December 28, 2018:

i belive after following the trail,that this young man was pushed over the edge,he was also on an anti depressant that they now claim can cause a persons actions to be dangerpuse to them selves and others.It was proven through witnesses that this young man was treated poorly and abused ,combine all of this and it results in a disater.I am not condoning Cody's actions ,but if i had been in his shoes ,i'd have probally snapped and done the same thing.

TessS on October 30, 2018:

I am married to marileas cousin. Jake is my husbands dads brother. The whole ordeal is sad. But speaking for myself we all know cody was just a child who suffered unimaginable abuse. He cant be held responsible for what that torture made him do.

BrandonJ on May 29, 2018:

In my opinion, they need to just make trying kids under 16 as adults completely illegal. The brain is just not developed enough at 13-15 to be able to reason enough. Most kids are just beginning puberty. That is why they need better supervision to keep things like teen crimes from happening.

Lin on May 08, 2018:

I'm glad he's a free YOUNG MAN.

He was just a 14 yr.-old boy when incarcerated.

I read the book and can't believe what that prosecuter did during the trial.

It must of been difficult for her to defend child abusers of the worst kind.

Bad enough have one parent abuser but both of them is just attroscious.

I truly think he was mentally/emotionally/physically/spiritually no longer able to cope.

It's so sad that he thought he had no choice than to kill the step-sister.

I'm sure she was a victim of her mom and stepdad as well. Just different types of abuse

Lisa dawn herder on October 12, 2017:

I hope for only the best for thus young man. What happened to his family is a misfortune, he was put thru the darkest of hell and had to survive. I pray for him everyday.

Bindi on August 22, 2017:

I remember watching this trial every day in Court TV and really prayed for this boy. I am glad that he is released from the facility now . I hope he is leading a productive, meaningful life. He suffered a lot in the hands of his father and step mother and finally he snapped off one fine day. If his Mom was alive, I do not think he had to go through this. Anyway, he got his life back together!!!! Hope and wish that Cody is leading a meaningful, productive life now... All the Best, Cody!!!

Tammy on June 23, 2017:

I watched the trial, and I'm so happy he got to start his life over. His rotten father and stepmother put him through hell. His step sister got caught up being a productive of the parents. If you watched the trial his whole community stood behind him and his step sisters dad. He had no where to go and no one to to turn to. God Bless him! I hope he ends up having a good productive life.

Coaster on March 05, 2017:

He is a freaking hero! Nothing I hate more than a child abuser and the people who aid in it continously.

..... on December 16, 2016:

Nope he lied about what happened. He sold the jury lies and they believed it. Now he uses women

Crystal on December 12, 2016:

I watched the court case. Regarding his step-sister Marilea, apparently she was treated as the "golden child" that could do no wrong, which could be why she got a bullet too. If Cody kills as an adult, we'll know the judges' decision was wrong.

Deidre Hughes on November 21, 2016:

I remember EVERY detail of this case ....

This is truly the justice system at work...wherever Cody is I hope he knows of his extended family and the prayers we put through ~

Be blessed Cody~

I often think of Corliss (so) too ...


... on November 04, 2016:

He lives in colorado now. He uses women and when their money runs out he cheats and leaves them after promising them futures. Hes a conartist and i serious question what happened when he was a child because hes a great salesman.

EAPRN on August 01, 2016:

I distinctly remember watching this case on Court TV as I was recovering from surgery. As a registered nurse for over thirty years at that time, with over 23 of those years practicing in psychiatric nursing for children, adolescents, as well as adults, this young man's story became imprinted in my mind. I am glad for the judge's decision to sentence him as a juvenile, after taking into account his horrific childhood. I can honestly say I am happy for this young man, wish him the best, and have prayed for a positive outcome many times over the years. Do well, Cody. There are people who believe in you!

Jeff on July 26, 2016:

It sounds like the father and step mother probably got what they deserved. It's just too bad poor Marilea had to pay the price for someone else's crimes.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 13, 2016:

Cody's life would have been so different if his mother lived. I especially feel for the father of Marilea, who appealed on Cody's behalf despite his daughter's death. In the deepest darkness, you do see tremendous goodness, sometimes.

Rota on January 27, 2015:

goodness, you never know when these things will occur - everything seems fine on the outside so often..

Melissa Reese Etheridge from Tennessee, United States on January 26, 2015:

Thank you for such a horrifying, tragic story. I read it with grim fascination. It sickens me just to think about it.

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on October 15, 2014:

This is very interesting and shocking to think what goes on in society without us knowing it.

Morgan on August 13, 2014:

Wow. Even if you can understand the killing of the parents there is no excuse for him killing that young girl. He should've paid for that at least. Shame.

DJ on February 25, 2014:

Thank you Palma - so grateful that the Lord gave him another chance at life. Thankful that he was strong enough to make it a success. Understand Cody was inspired to become an attorney - has than been realized?

prince on September 26, 2012:

this is sad the way kids are killing their perents

palma on July 02, 2012:

I Was in jail wit him he is a good kid had fuked up parents what he did was wrong but he has a good heart i see him now and he has accomplished wat he planned he goes to school and is about to get married he had another Chance at life and he took it... god bless cody

Yogurt on February 07, 2012:

It's sad that he had to do something like this to get the help he needed. I'm glad the justice system treated him fairly, though.

CemWolf on December 23, 2011:

This guy is a serious ghoul. He shouldn't ever get out of jail, he will kill again!

Joe on December 17, 2011:

Yes, let us all feel bad for someone that killed a young girl. This guy should of rot in jail!

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on November 26, 2011:

What a fascinating, horrible story. Poor boy, I believe he was pushed over the edge. How sad that the person who is supposed to care for you and keep you safe can do this to a child.

Sage on November 24, 2011:

Look at the photo! Look at the girl's body language. Her arms are crossed in a defensive posture. The step-father pulling her towards him. Many, many, many girls are molested by step-fathers who marry Mommy, and then desire the daughter. Look at the photo!

freann faith on September 25, 2011:


ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on June 28, 2011:

It is sad when such things happen. Why didn't anyone report the abuse?

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