FLORIDA Two Amsterdam teenagers face murder charges in the deaths of two fellow teenagers, whose bodies were discovered on Thursday in a field in the town of Florida, state police said today.
Charged with two counts of second-degree murder were Anthony Brasmeister, 16, and Matt Phelps, 15. Police say Phelps shot the victims with a rifle in the field where their bodies were discovered.
Phelps is believed to have taken the rifle from the home of a family member, police said.
Both boys were arraigned this morning in Town of Florida Court. Brasmeister was ordered held at the Schenectady County Jail, and the 15-year-old was sent to a secure juvenile facility.
The motive for the shooting is still under investigation, but police said they are examining one angle that marijuana was "loosely connected," police said.
The victims were last seen by their families on July 9, and they were reported missing the next day. Their bodies were discovered after authorities received a tip.
Earlier today, one of the boys’ grandmothers confirmed that it was the two missing teens whose bodies were discovered.
The victims were 13-year-old Jonathan Dejesus and 16-year-old Paul Damphier.
Deborah Tiano, of Gloversville, who is Dejesus' grandmother, said the families were notified late Thursday night that the bodies were those of the missing boys.
“Jon and Paul, it is them,” an emotional Tiano told The Daily Gazette by phone this morning. Tiano is the grandmother of Jonathan. “They’re not releasing any details except that it is them and there are two young boys who have been arrested.”
“We’re all in shock here,” she said.
The bodies were found in a secluded 35-acre soybean field off Snooks Corners Road near the New York State Thruway and the Chuctanunda Creek.
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Among those at the state police Troop G headquarters for today's news conference was Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo.
Perillo identified the suspects as students in the city school district. One he believed was in high school, the other entering high school.
He called the two victims "good kids to have in our school district. They will certainly be missed."
The district is responding with grief counselors for children at the middle school from 2 to 4 p.m. today. The hope is to have them available over the weekend into the coming week.
St. Mary's Hospital is also providing counselors to the district, he said.