Story of ETX triple murder to premiere on ABC's Final Witness

Published: Jun. 26, 2012 at 2:15 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2012 at 2:15 AM CDT
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LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The story behind a horrific East Texas triple murder premieres Wednesday on ABC's docudrama, Final Witness.

In 2008, 16-year-old Erin Caffey and her 19-year-old boyfriend, Charles Wilkinson, plotted to kill Caffey's family, then set their house on fire. The plan was all because Caffey's parents forbade the teens from seeing each other.

Caffey's two little brothers and mother were shot and stabbed multiple times. Caffey's father was shot five times, but survived.

Erin Caffey and Charles Wilkinson are currently serving life sentences in state prison. Their friends and accomplices are in prison, too. Bobbi Gale Johnson is serving a 40 year term for being an accomplice that did not use a weapon. Johnson's boyfriend Charles Waid, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for helping Wilkinson carry out the murders.

The Longview native who plays the role of Caffey's boyfriend in Wednesday's episode of Final Witness says the show is intense, but tells an incredible story of forgiveness.

The morning of March 1, 2008 was nothing short of a nightmare for East Texas father Terry Caffey. That day he found himself the sole survivor of a slaying and house fire that claimed the lives of his wife, Penny, 13-year-old son, Matthew, and eight-year-old son, Tyler.

It was all a plan Caffey's 16-year old daughter, Erin, and her boyfriend created so they could be together.

"I went through so many emotions," Caffey said in an interview in September 2010. "Anger was one of them. I was just angry at Erin and angry at those who came in and murdered my family; I was even angry at God," he said.

Now, four years later, Chae Balistreri plays the role of Erin Caffey's boyfriend, Charles Wilkinson, in Final Witness.

Balistreri says the show stays true to the story, is intense and is not an easy thing to watch.

"There were many nights that I sat in the hotel room and literally cried because I had to imagine what was it like to kill two little boys, to kill a mother, to shoot a father, to steal from them, to burn down a house and to leave. How do you do that? It really ate me alive," he says.

Balistreri says he briefly met Mr. Caffey and is still in awe of his incredible forgiveness. He didn't only forgive his daughter, but he also forgave her friends who helped carry out the heinous crime that robbed him of everything but his life and his faith.

"I don't know how Terry got over it the way that he did. I don't think that I would have been able to handle it with the grace that he did," Balistreri says.

It's a story very few people could ever relate to, but it's a story Balistreri hopes will truly inspire others with a powerful underlying message amidst an unimaginable hardship.

"Forgive those who do what they may or may not be aware of; move on despite what happens and gain strength from that. It's not easy... having everything snatched away from you, not just your family but your home, memories, pictures, everything taken away from you in one fell swoop. I can't imagine that,' he says.

Terry Caffey now travels cross-country sharing his story and helping others find forgiveness and rebuild their lives through faith in God. He has also written a book called Terror By Night.

His daughter, Erin, will be eligible for parole in 2038 when she is 46-years-old.

Final Witness will air on ABC at 10/9 p.m. Central on Wednesday, June 27.

Balistreri is both an actor and a musician currently living in Longview. You can listen to his latest work HERE. Balistreri recently stared in an award-winning feature length independent film, "Camp Kickitoo," shot in Austin Texas.

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