CAÑON CITY, Colo. - An Indiana sex offender has pleaded guilty to killing his former girlfriend and her two young children in Cañon City.
Jacob Vanwinkle, 31, pleaded guilty to 36 counts as part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. He will be sentenced Sept. 29.
Vanwinkle stabbed 35-year-old Mandy Folsom, 9-year-old Marissa and 5-year-old Mason on March 9. According to court documents, Mason was found lying face down in a crawl space. Marissa was in bed with a sock taped in her mouth. Mandy was found with her hands tied with tape and above her head.
Police found Vanwinkle in an upstairs bedroom.
Police say Mandy Folsom's other daughter escaped and ran to a neighbor's for help.
Family members made emotional statements to the judge Monday, begging him to consider the death penalty for Vanwinkle.
The judge said nothing could be gained by taking Vanwinkle to trail other than "the remote possibility of a death sentence."
The family was united in grief, but divided over Monday's plea deal.
Danny Stotler wanted the death penalty for his sister's killer and is disappointed that won't happen.
"It will allow healing, it will allow time, but it doesn't allow for justice," said Danny Stotler.
Stotler said the plea deal is a failure of the Colorado state judicial system.
"I feel like they do no process these types of criminals appropriately," said Danny Stotler.
The victims' grandfather and father Jim Stotler agrees.
"It definitely should have been the death penalty," said Jim Stotler.
Mandy's mother Dawn Wassel was the only family member who stepped forward, saying she agrees with the district attorney's decision.
"I agree with them, I think the death penalty is suitable, but in Colorado we don't kill people and it's not a guarantee," said Wassel.
Wassel said this decision is best for her granddaughter that survived the attack.
"I don't want to put her on that witness stand to face him. She doesn't need to be there. She has been through enough," said Wassel.
Wassel didn't want her family to relive this tragedy in court for years to come.
"It's going to give me and her some peace," said Wassel. "This way he is gone and out of our lives and we can start healing."
Vanwinkle was convicted in Indiana of child molestation and other sex crimes involving girls as young as 5 and 7 in 2004. He failed to register as a sex offender after moving to Cañon City.
Vanwinkle will be back in court for sentencing on Sept. 29th.