Last Co-defendant in Pierce Biker Gang Murder Pleads Guilty
Published on December 18, 2017
GREELEY, Colo. (Weld County D.A.) – The last of seven co-defendants in the 2015 Pierce biker gang murder of Tera Lewandowski pleaded guilty today.
Thomas Vassil, 55, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and was immediately sentenced to 20 years in prison. Vassil, his son Michael and former Pierce Town Board member D.J. Meyer were considered leaders of the self-described “21 gang” and ordered the murder of Lewandowski for “disrespecting the gang.”
“It brings to an end one of the most senseless crimes I’ve dealt with as a prosecutor in Weld County,” said Assistant District Attorney Robb Miller. “Ms. Lewandowski was murdered for no apparent reason. Her body was hidden in the snowy hills of Wyoming for several months and left in an open, cold grave. We believe justice would be served by this sentence.”
Lewandowski was reported missing in September 2015 after she failed to show up for a doctor’s appointment. Her body was found nearly 100 miles away in Wyoming in April of the following year.
According to court testimony, Lewandowski was living in Meyer’s home for about a week when she got into an argument with Michael Vassil’s girlfriend Karly Hanchett over stolen prescription drugs. This argument set into motion an elaborate plan to kill Lewandowski. According to several members of the group, Thomas Vassil ordered the murder.
In the middle of the night on September 29, 2015, the group stabbed the victim multiple times, wrapped her body in carpet and dumped her body in Wyoming. They then burned all her belongings. It took authorities nearly six months to find her body.
After nearly two and a half years of court hearings, the case has ended with the final guilty plea from Vassil. Meyer was found guilty in May and is currently serving a life sentence. The other co-defendants, including Michael Vassil, Karly Hanchett, Scott Hanchett, Chad Iler and Crystal Griffin, are currently serving more than 160 years collectively.
“The murder of Tera Lewandowski will remain with us forever. The sheer hate and disregard these defendants had for human life is shocking and appalling,” said District Attorney Michael Rourke. “We hope these large sentences give some sort of closure to the victim’s family and law enforcement who tirelessly investigated and prosecuted this case."