Every week the “Saturday Night Denny’s Club” would meet up to discuss a variety of topics. For most members of the clique who considered themselves to be part of the gothic subculture, this included various role-playing games and their fixations with the darker sides of life. Two members of the group had even expressed an interest in murder but those conversations were quickly dismissed as an attempt to be “edgy.” No one took the boys’ off the cuff comments seriously until the group was called in for questioning by the police.
On January 4, 1997, two young boys playing at a park stumbled upon what they initially believed were a pile of clothes. It wasn’t until the boys looked closer that they realized that they were looking at a dead body. The boys immediately ran home to report their discovery and the police went to investigate the scene.
The body was later identified as 20-year-old Kimberly Wilson, who had lived with her family only a few blocks away from the park. Investigators collected themselves and prepared to deliver the grim news to Wilson’s parents, but nothing could prepare them for what they would uncover at the Wilsons’ home.
When officers arrived at Wilson’s residence they found several cars in the driveway and the Christmas lights on. Officers knocked on the door several times but no one answered. Detective Jeff Gomez decided to go around to the back door to see if anyone would answer there. He could see that the house was dark but proceeded to knock again. When there was still no answer he opened the sliding patio door which he had found unlocked and called out inside. Again, there was no answer.
Drawing his gun, Det. Gomez crept into the home and proceeded to look around for any signs of life. Once he reached the top of the stairs he would uncover one of the most grisly murder scenes he had ever encountered in his 23 years on the force.
Walking into the master bedroom, Gomez immediately noticed that blood had splattered all over the walls and the ceiling. The body of a middle-aged woman was found lying on the bed where she was presumably met by her attackers. She appeared to have sustained multiple blows to the head and multiple stab wounds were visible to her neck. In the same room, the body of a middle-aged man had also been found. Like the woman, he appeared to have sustained multiple blows to the head as well as multiple stab wounds to the head, face, and neck.
In a second bedroom down the hall investigators would come across another grisly scene. The body of a teenage girl was found and had sustained injuries simlar to the middle-aged man and woman found in the master bedroom. It appeared that she had put up a fight against the attackers prior to meeting her fate. Defense wounds were found on her hands and wrists and one arm had been broken in an attempt to fight off the perpetrators.
Neighbors were later able to identify the victims as Kim Wilson’s family which included 17-year-old Julia Wilson and her parents, William and Rose Wilson.
It was after multiple interviews with friends and family of the Wilsons that they learned of the “Saturday Night Denny’s Club.” Kim, though she did not consider herself to be goth, had regularly associated with members of the goth clique. While most members of the group were primarily interested in gaming and rebellion, investigators learned that there were two members of the group who spoke often of murder and death.
Alex Baranyi and David Anderson, who were both 17-years-old at the time of the Wilson family murders, were met with by investigators at their homes. Both of the young men claimed that they had been at Baranyi’s home playing video games on the night of the murders. After speaking with other residents at the Baranyi home, however, it was learned that this claim was false and Anderson had not been at the Baranyi home the entire night as the boys had stated.
Five days later detectives called Baranyi down for another interview. This time they revealed to Baranyi that they had a suspect in the murders and wanted to know more about what Baranyi knew about that night. Baranyi confessed that he and an accomplice who he refused to name had been responsible for the murders.
He told investigators that he initially only intended to murder Kim. Baranyi had spoken with Kim prior to the murder and told her to meet with him at the park. There, he proceeded to strangle and beat Kim Wilson to death.
After Wilson was dead, Baranyi said he began to panic because he believed that she may have told her family that she was going to meet him at the park. He and his accomplice then went to the home where he found both Rose and William Wilson in their beds. He beat and stabbed Rose first before attacking and killing William. The boys then went to the bedroom of Julie where they repeated the process. Before leaving they took a few things from the home including a CD player, a phone and a VCR.
The day after Baranyi confessed to the murders, detectives called David Anderson back in for questioning. Anderson initially claimed that he had been with Baranyi that entire night but quickly changed his story. He claimed that he had borrowed a truck that belonged to his girlfriend’s father and spent the night driving aimlessly between Seattle and Bellevue.
Anderson did tell detectives that he knew Baranyi had been planning to murder Kim Wilson. According to Anderson, Baranyi had no real connection to the Wilsons and to his knowledge had never been to her home. The only reason Baranyi had known Wilson is through their mutual friendship with Anderson.
Anderson’s story would again fall apart when residents at the Baranyi home confirmed that they had witnessed Anderson and Baranyi leave the home on the night of January 3, at approximately 10:30 pm. According to the witness, Anderson had been wearing a trench coat and appeared to be concealing something long inside of it. This same witness claims that they were awake until 3 am on the morning of January 4 and neither of the boys had returned.
According to Anderson’s girlfriend, Anderson had borrowed her father’s truck on the night of January 3. She told detectives that the story Anderson told her is that he sat at the park for several hours and that she had noticed that he hadn’t used much gas that night.
After obtaining a search warrant, police uncovered a pair of boots at Anderson’s home. The boots, which were confirmed by Anderson’s girlfriend as being his, had suspected blood spatter on them. Testing would later confirm that the blood found on the boots was a DNA match for the Wilsons and the bottom treads matched those also found at the crime scene.
Anderson was further tied to the crime after detectives learned that he and Wilson had dated on and off but Wilson had allegedly confided in friends that she was a lesbian, something Anderson refused to accept. Apart from their torrid love affair, Anderson had also accrued a $500 debt to Wilson. Police learned about the debt after obtaining a promissory note from Anderson giving his word that he would pay the debt back. Anderson had confided in friends that he wanted to kill Wilson had discussed a plan where he would lure her somewhere in order to strangle her to death.
The trial began for both boys in 1998. Though both Anderson and Baranyi were minors at the time, the state decided to try them both together as adults. However, this initial trial would be postponed after Washington Supreme Court issued a ruling making it easier for both of the young men to use the diminished-mental-capacity defense. It was also decided that both of the young men would stand trial separately.
Further complicating the case was the judge’s ruling that any mention of an accomplice by Baranyi during his confession had to be redacted from his statements. This pressured prosecutors to leave Baranyi’s confession out of the trial completely, as to not confuse the jury that Baranyi had acted alone when all the evidence pointed to two perpetrators. Instead, medical experts were called in to indicate that two different weapons – a sword and a baseball bat – had been used in the murder of the Wilson family, indicating two attackers.
From there, prosecutors were able to connect Anderson to the crime on account of his close relationship with Baranyi. Prosecutors were able to argue that Baranyi would have no reason to kill Kim Wilson unless he had been pressured by Anderson.
Baranyi’s psychologist later told the courts that Baranyi had been in a state of depression for months before the slayings and had even told his mother that he had been contemplating suicide. During this time Baranyi leaned to his only friend, David Anderson, who he had told police he would do anything for. She also claimed that Baranyi had been suffering from bi-polar disorder and had difficulty separating role-playing games from reality.
After three weeks of hearing testimony from various friends and other witnesses, a jury found Baranyi guilty on four counts of aggravated first-degree murder. He was sentenced to four life terms without the possibility of parole.
A week after Baranyi’s sentencing it was Anderson’s turn to stand trial for his hand in the murders. Prosecutors spoke of Wilson’s short-lived relationship with Anderson and his anger over Wilson insisting that Anderson paid him back after she had loaned him money. After a series of delays, a jury would eventually determine that Anderson was guilty on four charges of aggravated murder. Like Baranyi, he was also sentenced to four life terms without the possibility of parole.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that minors were ineligible for mandatory life sentencing. While Baranyi and Anderson are both behind bars, some have expressed fear that both of their sentences could be changed within the near future, leaving the possibility that these cold-blooded killers could be back out on the streets.