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Cedar Rapids police: Teen stabbed parents to death to ‘take charge of his life’
Parents worked at McGrath Auto in Cedar Rapids
CEDAR RAPIDS — Neighbors talked to each other Thursday to try to process the horror that had happened behind the sweeping bay window and Halloween pumpkin on the porch of a home on Carnaby Drive NE.
Hours earlier, Ethan Alexander Orton, 17, found by officers soaked in blood outside the house, told authorities he had slashed his parents to death. He stabbed them both, he said according to a criminal complaint, but then turned to an ax when his mother was still alive.
He said he killed them “to take charge of his life,” court records show.
Orton was charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Misty Scott Slade, 41, and Casey Orton, 42, in their home at 361 Carnaby Drive NE. Both worked for McGrath Auto in Cedar Rapids.
During Orton’s initial court appearance Thursday, 6th Judicial Associate District Judge Angie Johnston set his bail at $2 million cash-only for both counts.
Neighbors interviewed by The Gazette said they hadn’t heard anything unusual that night. A few of the neighbors had lived on Carnaby Drive since the 1980s, but said the Ortons moved there only a few years ago. They said they didn’t know the family well — more like acquaintances with them.
Lee Koelker, who lives a few houses down, said he woke up about 5 a.m. but didn’t look outside until later. Then, he saw crime tape around the house and a crime scene van, which he knew “wasn’t good.”
“It’s very sad … Just hard to stomach,” neighbor Jean Garett said. “They were generous people. Misty always had pumpkins for Halloween. They would decorate the house and have (spooky) noises. I can’t imagine this happening.”
Neighbor Michael Rinaldi said he didn’t know the couple well but would talk to them sometimes and Misty would bring over “candies and trinkets” for his girlfriend’s kids. He would see Ethan catching the bus for school.
“They were kind people,” Renaldi said.
Cedar Rapids police received a 911 call about 2:10 a.m. Thursday about suspicious noises coming from the Orton house, according to the complaint. Officers found the teenager sitting outside, covered in “what appeared to be blood.” He told them he had killed his parents, the complaint states. Officers found their bodies inside the house.
Casey and Misty both worked for McGrath Auto, general manager Gavin McGrath told The Gazette in an email. Casey was a technician in the Chevyland department since 2018 and Misty started a few months ago in the company’s business development center.
McGrath said the couple moved from the Salt Lake area of Utah to Cedar Rapids about 4-1/2 years ago.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic passing of Casey and Misty,” McGrath said.
“Casey was an absolute ray of sunshine and someone that everyone loved. Not only was he an extremely accomplished technician, he had a passion for mentoring young aspiring technicians and he did it with great patience and mentorship. Every interaction with Casey you left feeling better and there are no words to describe how much he'll be missed.”
The dealership named Casey Orton as one of its “emerging leaders” for 2018-19, according to a company blog. “Being a person who loves to learn and teach is a driving factor in why Casey wanted to become an emerging leader,” it said. “Casey is always looking for ways to better himself and opportunities to be a leader. He truly believes if you work hard, the rest will follow.”
The blog said Casey met Misty in Utah when he had started working on cars. She brought in her car for maintenance and had an “adorable” 3-year-old girl, Nina, who Casey spent time coloring with as they waited for repairs. The two eventually married.
McGrath said in the short time that Misty has worked with the company, she made an “immediate and positive impact.” She was always smiling and looking for ways to “make your day better.”
“The world lost two great people today,” McGrath said. “We are thinking and praying for strength for their family.”
This is the city’s second murder investigation in four months where authorities say a young man killed his parents.
“It’s jarring that we have charged two cases, within months, where parents have been killed,” First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said. “Every murder is shocking but these interfamily incidents hit closer to home.”
In June, Cedar Rapids police arrested Alexander Ken Jackson, 20, after they say he shot to death his father, mother and sister — also in a northeast quadrant home. Jackson initially tried to cover up his crime by telling what authorities called a “transparent lie” about an intruder breaking in.
A criminal complaint stated Jackson’s father had recently told him he needed to get a job or move out of the house.
Maybanks said the Orton case will be prosecuted by Assistant County Attorney Mike Harris. Assistant County Attorney Monica Slaughter is prosecuting the Jackson case.
Both Harris and Slaughter were at the Carnaby Drive crime scene Thursday talking with officers about the killings. Slaughter said it’s important for the prosecutors to visit the scene to learn as much as possible, and the office has started doing this as part of its mentoring for younger prosecutors.