Six weeks after three young people were found shot to death in the Jupiter River Estates neighborhood on the night of the Super Bowl, police on Monday announced an arrest.
Christopher Vasata, 24, of Jupiter, faces charges of three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder with a firearm, and one count of a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition. Vasata is expected to appear before a judge Tuesday morning at the Gun Club Road courtroom in West Palm Beach.
“The case continues to be active and ongoing,” Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow said in a Monday evening news conference.
Kelli J. Doherty, 20, of Tequesta; Brandi El-Salhy, 24, of Gainesville; and Sean P. Henry, 26, of Jupiter were killed in the rented home at 1105 Mohawk Street in the neighborhood, north of Toney Penna Drive and east of Maplewood Drive in Jupiter. The chief said the three were in the back yard of the property when they were attacked.
Authorities found Vasata, who was shot, in the Paseos neighborhood later that February night. Since the slayings, Vasata has been recovering in a local hospital. Another person may be involved in the triple homicide, according to police.
As of Monday evening, it was unclear how Vasata may have been connected to the three who died, though Vasata, El-Salhy and Henry all attended Jupiter High School. Vasata played volleyball for the school in 2010, according to reports at the time. The Jupiter resident also has a history of drug arrests and convictions, according to court records.
Kitzerow, who was with Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg and Jupiter Mayor Todd Wodraska at the news conference at the town’s police station, would not comment when asked whether Vasata was attending the Super Bowl party or any other details.
“The one question I get asked is what is going on with the triple homicide,” the mayor said. He thanked the law enforcement teams working on the case.
Kitzerow noted that the investigation is ongoing.
In the coming days, the FBI is likely to offer a reward for information about the case, the police chief said.
Jennifer Foster, a 13-year resident of Jupiter River Estates, said she and other neighbors welcomed the arrest.
“Things are slowly getting back to normal. I still get jolted when I hear fireworks go off at night. But I feel safe. I’m happy for the families that there has been an arrest,” Foster said.
The Mohawk Street home where the shootings happened is owned by Jeffrey Vorpagel. He is the father of Charles Vorpagel, who was renting the house. Charles Vorpagel, 27, was arrested Feb. 9 on a federal firearms charge. According to the federal criminal complaint, more than three pounds of marijuana was found bagged for sale inside the Mohawk residence along with 914 Xanax tablets and 16.9 grams of cocaine along with other drug paraphernalia.
Vasata’s previous encounters with police include:
In July of 2015, he was arrested for possession of marijuana and later pled guilty. Jupiter police said they found Vasata and a woman in a Mercedes along Indiantown Road and found marijuana in the vehicle.
In 2013, Vasata was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell after police say he bought 15 pounds, or $36,000 worth of marijuana to sell.
Jupiter police worked with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to monitor a drug deal between Vasata and another individual in Stuart. Jupiter police followed him to a home on the 1100 block of Cherokee Street and handed two pounds of marijuana to someone who drove it to Stuart to be sold, according to the report. The residence is just blocks away from the triple murder on Mohawk Street four years later.
“I know what I did,” he reportedly told police about the drug deal. “I’m going to handle this like a man,” Vasata said. “I don’t need to do it any more, I have enough money to pay for school and get a real job.”
He told police he had been selling marijuana for a year and sold about 15 pounds a week.
In 2012, he was arrested for possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He told officers he was trying to sell them because he didn’t like them, according to the police report.
Back in the Jupiter River Estates neighborhood, the white house with a blue front door has been vacant since the shooting.
Anyone with information is asked to call (561) 746-6201 or Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at (800) 458-TIPS (8477). Callers remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
Palm Beach Post staff writers Hannah Winston and Mike Stucka contributed to this story.