It was the 21st of January, 2003, when 19-year-old Beau Maestas and his sister, 16-year-old Monique Maestas, went to the home of Tamara Bergeron and her boyfriend, Robert Schmidt. The couple lived at the Casablanca RV park in Mesquite, Nevada, with Tamara’s two young daughters, 3-year-old Kristyanna and 10-year-old Brittney. The Maestas were allegedly there to purchase what they believed was $125 worth of methamphetamine from Tamara and Robert. However, when they returned home with their purchase, they found that the little bag of white substance contained salt, not methamphetamine.
They were ripped off and they were infuriated.
The bitter siblings made their way back to the family’s home with large butcher knives in hand. Beau knocked on the door but soon realised that only Kristyanna and Brittney were home; Tamara and Robert were gambling at a nearby casino, leaving the children home alone. Brittney refused to open the front door to Beau, stating she didn’t open the door to strangers. Monique then knocked on the door and told Brittney that she needed to open the door because her mother was hurt. “Your mom has been hurt really bad. You need to come with me!” exclaimed Monique. The ruse worked and Brittney opened the door to Beau and Monique.
As soon as the door was opened, the little girls were brutally attacked by the siblings. Kristyanna’s throat was slit and she was stabbed with such brutality that the knife was shoved halfway through her head. Her foot was severed from the tendon and she suffered another stab wound to her lower leg. Unfortunately, Kristyanna died from her wounds at the scene. Beau grabbed Brittney from behind and told her: “We can do this easy or we can do this hard!” He then plunged the knife into her small body a total of twenty times. Two stab wounds to her back severed her spinal cord. When police arrived at the scene, Brittney was pleading: “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!”
Miraculously, Brittney survived her injuries but was left paralyzed from the waist down.1
After fleeing the crime scene, the siblings discarded their blood-stained clothing and knives in a small Utah town. They were soon apprehended after Beau’s girlfriend was able to place them at the scene that evening. In a jailhouse letter, Beau confessed to “slaughtering those little piggies. I flipped out and went and killed that lady’s youngest daughter and I paralysed the older one. Three used to be my lucky number. Now, when I think of three, I see a little body hanging eye-level from a knife that’s half her size that’s in my bloody hand. That was some of the most brutal shit I’ve ever seen.” Monique also confessed “I should have sliced the girl’s neck. I just kept stabbing her. I just kept trying to stab major organs.”2
In the wake of the murders, Tamara and Robert denied any involvement in the bogus drug deal. They were charged with child abuse and neglect for leaving the children home alone for several hours at the time of the stabbing. Tamara was sentenced to a minimum of four years in prison.
Beau pleaded guilty to first degree murder in a plea deal that did not spare him from a possible death sentence. His defence lawyer, Pete Christiansen, said that his client had pleaded guilty quite simply because he wanted to confess to what he had done and take responsibility for his crime. During his sentencing phase, his defence lawyers urged the jurors to show him mercy. They said that Beau and his siblings had been subjected to an abusive upbringing at the hands of his father, Harry Maestas, who was a twice-convicted killer.
While Harry spent most of their childhood in and out of prison, he would sent ex-convicts to the home to check up on the family. During one of these visits, the ex-convict molested Misty Maestas, Beau and Monique’s 12-year-old sister. Later on, when Misty went to visit her father in prison, he too molested her in the visiting room. Monique too was sexually assaulted as a child; between her ninth and 13th birthday, she was molested by her mother’s 6 foot 3 inch, 300 pound boyfriend.
They argued that Beau’s mother, Marilyn Maestas, constantly belittled her son and exposed him to drug and alcohol abuse. As a young boy, his parents used to blow marijuana smoke in his face in an attempt to calm his hyperactivity. While in the second grade, his teacher wrote to his parents: “Beau is very smart. He needs lots of help getting his energy in the right direction. He’s still an angry boy. Please get the help you talked about.” By 12, Beau was using marijuana, alcohol and methamphetamine. When Marilyn didn’t want her children hanging around with a gay man who lived on their neighborhood, she skinned his cat and nailed its head to the door. The man subsequently committed suicide. “The children loved him,” said Marilyn’s sister.
By 2000, Beau had attempted suicide. “I felt like killing myself,” he told a mental health professional. “My life is a burden. My life is messed up.” When his father was released from prison, he attempted to reconnect, but Harry rejected his overtures. “What we are going to present to you is who Beau Maestas is… We are going to take you through his life and hopefully make you understand what got him to the point where he would make such a tragic, tragic decision,” said his defence lawyer, Tom Ericsson.
Roger and Clark County prosecutor, David Schwartz, on the other hand, pushed hard for the death penalty. He told the jurors that the death penalty was the only adequate punishment for such a cruel crime perpetrated against two defenceless children. “When you have a young child, 3 years old, who was never given a chance to enjoy all that life has to offer, that is very sad. Going in there with a butcher knife and doing this to those girls over $125 was horrific. Those little girls were no match for him,” he said.
During the sentencing phase, Beau addressed the court in his first public statement since the attacks. “I’m sorry for the heartache. Because of my actions, Brittney will forever be confined to a wheelchair, and she has lost her sister. I’m sorry. I can’t believe this happened,” he said. Addressing his own family, Beau said he was “sorry for the heartbreak, and I’m sorry for the shame I’ve brought.”3 Neither his mother or father were in court; when asked to testify on behalf of his son, Harry declined and made it clear “he would have nothing to do with these people,” referring to his children.
Eventually the jury sided with the prosecution and sentenced Beau to death for the murders. He was expressionless as he was escorted out of the courtroom by corrections officers.
Shortly after the verdict was announced, Monique Maestas agreed to plead guilty to the murder of Kristyanna and the attempted murder of Brittney as part of a plea deal. In 2005, a U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes cannot be sentenced to death for those crimes. Since Monique was 17 at the time of the murders, she was sentenced to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 40 years. According to Schwartz: “From my perspective, she deserves to be on death row with her brother, but the United States Supreme Court saved her.” During her sentencing, she too apologised for her actions. Addressing Brittney – who was not present – she said: “My heart goes out to you. I’m sorry for everything. The only positive aspect of this entire situation is the courage and perseverance you’ve demonstrated.”
In the wake of the attack, Brittney was fostered by Judy and Bill Himel. In 2008, Tamara granted Brittney her long-life wish when she relinquished her parental rights and signed an open adoption agreement with the foster parents who had taken care of her following the attack.