Tucker Cipriano, left, and Robert Cipriano )
Farmington Hills — Robert Cipriano was to be the first to die. Then his wife. Then their twin 17-year-old sons.
That was the chilling plan hatched weeks in advance by two men charged with beating Cipriano to death and critically injuring his wife, Rosemary, and son Salvatore in their home April 16, a friend of the defendants told police.
In statements to police reviewed by The News, Ian Zinderman, 20, said he accompanied Tucker Cipriano, 19, and Mitchell Young, 20, on a "trial run" to the Farmington Hills home of Tucker's family the night of April 15.
There, Zinderman told authorities, he helped Cipriano get into the garage and steal a credit card, which Cipriano and Young used to buy and smoke synthetic marijuana known as "spice."
According to Zinderman's statement, after smoking the spice, Cipriano and Young tried to use the credit card to get money to buy more, then decided to return to the house to find money and kill its occupants.
Zinderman said he asked Cipriano why he wanted to mess up his life, and Cipriano told him "to quickly roll a jay so he could get higher because he didn't want to have second thoughts about killing his family."
Cipriano and Young are both charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and armed robbery in the baseball bat attacks.
Zinderman, who has not been charged with any crimes, told police that the two discussed plans for the attack at least two weeks before it happened.
In parts of his statement, Zinderman referred to Young by the nickname "Roderick."
"Tucker stated they were going to kill the father first because he was the biggest, then the mother," Zinderman told police. "Tucker wanted to kill the twin brothers while Roderick talked of killing the father and mother."
Police said both denied using alcohol or drugs the night of the attack.
But Zinderman told police that about 10 p.m. April 15, Cipriano and Young sat in a friend's driveway in Young's truck, "discussing how to get some money for gas and spice or K2 to smoke."
Spice and K2 are forms of synthetic marijuana. While state law bans products containing certain cannabinoids, producers have evaded the law by using different chemical structures.
According to Zinderman, the night of April 15, both Cipriano and Young discussed going to a neighbor's home near the Ciprianos and killing the occupants for money, but Cipriano said "his parents had more money compared" with the other family. Zinderman said he refused to be involved in any killings but agreed to go along to steal money from the Ciprianos' home.
Hours before the attack, the three went to the house, where Cipriano took a screen off the garage window, according to the report, and Zinderman said he helped Cipriano reach up and pull himself through. Cipriano returned with a Dearborn Federal Credit Union Card, some bank account information and a $265 gift card he found in his father's unlocked car.
Zinderman said they went to the Valero station at Grand River and Orchard Lake and Cipriano used the stolen credit card and bought spice, two packs of cigarettes and some cigarillos.
They headed north on Orchard Lake Road, with Young and Cipriano smoking spice and using the cigarillos as blunt paper. Zinderman told police he does not smoke spice.
Zinderman said after they smoked up the spice, they went to a Mobil station on Orchard Lake Road in Sylvan Lake, where Cipriano tried to use the credit card to buy more spice. Police records show at least four attempted transactions of $82.50 each.
"Cipriano came back out empty handed ... very upset about this and talked about going back to his parents' house to kill them and take money," he told police.
Zinderman told police he refused to help them and said he "didn't believe they would really do it." Cipriano and Young dropped him off at a house in Keego Harbor between midnight and 2 a.m., according to police reports.
Zinderman said Cipriano returned about 4 a.m. "and washed up and smoked spice. Talked about what happened but didn't give much detail."
He said when he asked Cipriano what happened, he said he "messed up" and "things went wrong, things went real bad."
Zinderman told police he knew someone had been killed because of how Cipriano "was acting and the blood on him."
More than two weeks after the attack, Rosemary and Salvatore Cipriano remain in critical condition at Botsford Hospital, but are showing "incremental" signs of improvement, said hospital spokeswoman Margo Gorchow.
"They're moving in the right direction," Gorchow said. "Rose is showing a bit more than Sal, but her injuries, although clearly severe, were not quite to the degree of Sal's. She is aware of her environment. She smiles at staff and is mouthing words."
The Rev. John Huber, principal at Detroit Catholic Central, where Sal and twin brother Tanner are students, has visited the two at the hospital. "Rose is smiling, and I was told yesterday that her nieces were playing guitar and she was tapping her foot," he said Thursday. "She does recognize her children."
Sal, 17, a baseball player at Catholic Central, "is showing little signs of hope," Huber said. "He opens his eyes when they call his name," he said. "He's been holding baseballs and squeezing them. I asked if that was reflexive or deliberate and they said it's deliberate."
According to police reports, during the attack Rose Cipriano begged Tucker to leave the house, telling him she loved him and she would give him money if he left.
Salvatore's 17-year-old twin, Tanner, hid and called police.
Tanner returned to school Monday.
A trombone player, he played in a band concert Thursday at Catholic Central.
Huber said people continue to donate to a trust fund for the family and more than 200 students have been attending the school's daily afternoon rosary.
Huber believes the reason people continue to reach out is "it's so horrific and so tragic."
"You want to change it because it's so bad but you can't. … People are doing what they can do, so they pray and they donate."