NEW: Man who survived Jupiter triple murder sentenced for guns, drugs

Feb 20, 2018
Charles Vorpagel

Charles Vorpagel, the man who escaped a triple murder on Super Bowl Sunday in Jupiter on 2017, has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison on drug and weapon charges.

Vorpagel, who faced up to life in prison, was sentenced Friday on federal charges for possession of a firearm, possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possessing a firearm “in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.”

Once the 28-year-old is released from prison, he will be under supervision for five years and will have to undergo both mental-health and substance-abuse treatment.

In the days before Vorpagel’s sentencing, family and friends sent the court letters asking for leniency. His father, Jeff, said he believed his son was not a threat to anyone, and that he is a good soul.

“Charlie will forever live with the memory of witnessing the brutal murder of close friends and the aggressive attempt on his life while peacefully sitting around a campfire,” he wrote in his statement.

His grandparents, Charles and Sue Vorpagel, wrote, “Charlie has made mistakes and made some choices he should not have made. But he is not a bad person.”

Vorpagel’s former math teacher, Sharon Krall, said she thought Vorpagel’s life was spared for a reason on the night of the shooting and that she looks forward to what he will do with his life once he is out of prison.

“He has an obligation to his friends that died to turn his life around and do something good for this world,” she wrote.

On Feb. 5, 2017, Kelli J. Doherty, 20, of Tequesta, Sean P. Henry, 25, of Jupiter, and Brandi El-Salhy, 24, of Gainesville were shot and killed in the backyard of a home on Mohawk Street. Vorpagel, who rented the home, made it out alive. Police investigations indicated that drugs were at the center of the slayings.

As local and federal authorities investigated the scene over the next few days, they found a total of six guns — including an assault rifle and a loaded semi-automatic pistol — in the Jupiter home. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said there were hundreds of rounds ammunition and a high-capacity magazine capable of holding up to 100 rounds, according to a federal affidavit.

Additionally, the FBI agents said there was more than 900 Xanax pills, 16.9 grams of cocaine, 3 pounds of marijuana already separated for sale. Vorpagel told investigators he bought and sold the weapons with an unnamed person and that many of the guns were purchased at gun shows. As for the drugs, he said he sold them out of the house.

Vorpagel was previously arrested on guns and drug charges in Palm Beach County. Several of those arrests led to convictions, according to court records.

After Vorpagel”s arrest, two more Palm Beach County men were arrested in connection to the fatal shootings of Doherty, Henry and El-Salhy.

Christopher Vasata, 25, was arrested March 20 on first-degree murder charges. Up until then, he was recovering from gunshot wounds from the scene. To this day, it remains unclear who shot Vasata or why.

Marcus Steward, 25, was arrested Nov. 28. Though Steward had been a suspect in the fatal shootings since the beginning, investigators said new DNA technology that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office began using in August helped make the arrest possible.