Fellow Ki-Be student thwarts teens' murder plot against classmat - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fellow Ki-Be student thwarts teens' murder plot against classmate

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16-year-old Jeremiah Cunningham 16-year-old Jeremiah Cunningham
Good Samaritan Dalton Pullum Good Samaritan Dalton Pullum

BENTON CITY, WA - A Benton City 16-year-old who plotted to stab a classmate to death will be charged as an adult.

Jeremiah Cunningham made his first appearance before a Benton County judge today, and is now charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. 

Cunningham, along with two other teens, planned to lure an 18-year-old male student to the back of the Ki-Be Market during lunch on November 15th, where they were going to stab him to death.

Benton County Sheriff deputies say 18-year-old Ryan Vaughn was new to the high school and the three teens believed he had "disrupted the flow" of the social order.

Things could have unfolded much differently if it wasn't for one classmate.

Reporter Jaclyn Selesky spoke with one of the two Ki-Be students who chased off Cunningham behind the Market, and possibly saved a life.

"I think it was just luck of the draw," said student Dalton Pullum. "We happened to be in the right place at the right time."

It was just a normal day for Pullum. He and his friend were grabbing lunch at the Ki-Be Market, but then they noticed something suspicious.

"There was some kid standing out there with a mask," said Pullum. "So we looked over and saw him propped between two cars."

That masked boy was Cunningham. Knowing something wasn't right, Pullum decided to follow him to see what was going on.

"So after sitting there for a few minutes and seeing that we weren't going to leave, he just took off and ran away and I think he just gave up on whatever he was trying to do," Pullum explained.

According to court documents, what Cunningham was trying to do was sneak up behind 18-year-old Vaughn, stab him in the chest, drag him up a hill and hide him in a bush.

Fortunately, Pullum got to Vaughn first, and told him to go back to class.

"He went back to the school and we had the same class after lunch, so our teacher sent him down to the office to tell him what we had all seen."

Vaughn has since returned to school since all of this has happened.

As far as the two other students who were involved, the Benton County prosecutor tells us this is an ongoing investigation, and at the end of the day, their goal is to hold everyone accountable.

Cunningham's omnibus hearing will be on December 26th. His trial is set for January 16th and bail is set at $500,000.


BENTON CITY, WA - On November 21st at about 9 a.m., the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division was made aware of three 16-year-old students - two males and a female - at Ki-Be High School that had devised a plan to kill an 18-year-old male classmate.

The incident occurred on Wednesday. November 15th. Through the course of interviews with school staff and several students it was learned that the plan was to lure the 18-year-old victim to the back of the Ki-Be Market during lunch, where the attack was to take place and the victim would be stabbed with a knife.

The plan began to unravel when two uninvolved students saw someone wearing a red mask in the orchard behind the market. The uninvolved students began challenging the person in the mask and when they would attempt to approach the masked person, the masked person would run into the orchard. The 18-year-old victim was able to return to the school without incident.

School officials learned about the incident that same day and on Thursday, November 16th, one of the males and the female were emergency expelled from the school. School officials were not aware of the third 16-year-old male’s involvement until November 22nd.

The investigation is ongoing and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with any knowledge of the incident to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 735-6555 or through the dispatch center at 628-0333. Please refer to case #17-17565.