Guilty plea in murders of two boys

February 8, 2008 7:19:57 PM PST
A man who had been taken in as a boarder by a Stafford Township couple pleaded guilty Friday to brutally killing the couple's two sons.

Richard Toledo pleaded guilty to two counts of murder. He also pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping for abducting the boys' mother at knifepoint after the killings, which happened on Jan. 19, 2006.

Authorities were alerted around 8 p.m. after Wanda Gonzalez managed to break free and call her estranged husband from a rest area along the Garden State Parkway where Toledo had stopped for gas.

The husband, Carlos Gonzalez, then went to the couple's home and found the bodies of their sons, Karlo, 14, and Zabdiel, 7, in the basement. The boy's skulls had been smashed with a hammer.

Toledo fled into a wooded area near the Monmouth Service Area in Wall. He surrendered to state police around 4:30 a.m. after a nightlong search.

Toledo entered his guilty pleas before Ocean County Superior Court Judge Barbara A. Villano.

He faces 30 years to life in prison for the killing of Karlo Gonzalez and life without parole for killing Zabdiel Gonzalez. He also faces up to 30 years in prison for the kidnapping.

Toledo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who authorities said was 24 years old when he committed the crimes, had once worked for a cleaning service with the boys' mother.

Prosecutors said Toledo was minding the boys the day of the murders.

When their mother returned home from grocery shopping about 7:15 p.m., Toledo told her the boys were fine, then forced her into her minivan and made her withdraw $500 from a bank ATM machine, authorities said.

Defense attorney Cathy Waldor told the judge that Toledo was suffering from depression and asked her to help get him treatment.

Villano said she would make the request to the Ocean County Jail administration.