Date set for Grayden Denham's quadruple murder trial

A jury trial has been set for next summer for Grayden Denham, who stands accused of the murder of four of his relatives and the arson of the family home in Edgerton, Mo. 

Denham, 24, made an appearance Aug. 4 in Platte County court before Judge James Van Amburg, who will preside over the trial set to start June 19, 2017.

At his June 30 arraignment, Denham was unrepresented by an attorney.

Grayden Denham

Grayden Denham

Kansas City criminal defense attorney P.J. O’Conner was initially hired only to represent Denham for a charge of motor vehicle theft. O’Connor represented Denham at the Aug. 4 hearing. 

Originally charged only with car theft following the Feb. 19 murders, a total of 12 charges were later levied against Denham as the result of a June 24 grand jury indictment. Those charges were announced at a June 27 press conference held by Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd and Platte County sheriff Mark Owen. 

The charges against Denham include four counts of first degree murder and four counts of armed criminal action in the homicides of his sister Heather Ager, 32, his three-month-old nephew Mason Schiavoni, his grandmother, Shirley Denham, 81, and his grandfather, Russell Denham, 82. Denham is also charged with felony arson for destruction of the family home, a felony for tampering with evidence for using the fire to try and conceal evidence and a misdemeanor for animal abuse. The felony charge of stealing his grandparents’ vehicle also remained on the indictment.

At the press conference, Zahnd said the determination on whether the state will seek the death penalty has not yet been made. He also declined to give many specifics of the crime and because of the grand jury indictment, no probable cause statement can be made available to the media.

The four victims and the accused were residents of the same house at 4170 Buena Vista Road in Edgerton, although Grayden Denham has been called only an occasional occupant. 
When authorities responded to reports of a house fire at that address late on Friday, Feb. 19, they found four victims shot with the bodies still burning outside of the house. Three of the victims were found in the front yard, while Russell Denham’s body was located near an outbuilding with a red plastic gasoline container found nearby. 

A family dog was also found shot and burning at the scene.

Authorities apprehended Denham two days later while he was walking naked in Seligman, Ariz. They also located a brown 2012 Nissan Versa at a nearby hotel. The vehicle, belonging to Russell and Shirley Denham, was discovered missing during the fire/homicide investigation.

Denham was not a registered guest at the hotel, and authorities also found a pile of clothing outside of the vehicle.

Denham was charged in Platte County with the theft of the Versa, which when it was found bore Oklahoma license plates taken from a rental car. He remained in custody in Yavapi County, Arizona until an extradition process on that theft charge brought him back to Platte County in early June. Denham remains in custody at the Platte County Detention Center in lieu of a $4 million cash-only bond.