The family of a 16-year-old boy who was beaten to death at a Halloween party has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the seven people accused of his murder.

Preston Lord's parents accuse their son's alleged attackers of assault and “aiding and abetting.” Their behavior led to his death when they chased him, threw him to the ground and took turns hitting, kicking and stomping on him.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, also names the owners of the Queen Creek home where the Oct. 28 party at which Lord was attacked was held, and charges the parents of one of the teens with murder, alleging negligence.

The lawsuit alleges that Travis and Rebecca Renner “knew or should have known” that their son had a violent past and had beaten and bullied at least two other children before his involvement in the gang attack on Lord was reported.

“The Lord family is seeking justice and accountability for all those who contributed to Preston's death,” Andrew and Bryn K. DeFusco, attorneys for the Lords, told The Arizona Republic. “This lawsuit brings them one step closer to that goal. They are grateful for the community's support and are determined to see this case through to the end.”

Unlike many civil suits, no specific amount of damages was set. A jury would have to decide the amount of compensation.

The lawsuit comes four months after Queen Creek police arrested four adults and three juveniles in connection with the attack on Lord. Maricopa County prosecutors have charged them with first-degree murder and kidnapping. All have pleaded not guilty.

Fatal beating of Preston Lord triggered an investigation into the cases of “Gilbert Goons”

Lord's fatal beating electrified the southeastern valley, sparking community outrage and leading to marches, vigils and protests demanding accountability from police, school officials and politicians for their failure to act sooner.

A December investigation by The Arizona Republic found that Lord's death was linked to the “Gilbert Goons,” a gang of teens who documented their blitz attacks on youths in parks and parking garages, outside fast-food restaurants and at house parties. The attacks, which occurred mostly in Gilbert, went undetected by authorities for more than a year.

The lawsuit alleges that Preston Lord's parents, Nick Lord and Autumn Curiel, “have suffered harm, including loss of love, affection, companionship, care, protection and guidance; and pain, grief, sadness, fear, stress, shock and emotional distress, all as a result of Preston's death.”

It states that the seven alleged attackers, individually and collectively, “intended and did make harmful or abusive contact with Preston and therefore physically injured him.”

The seven defendants are Treston Billey, 19; William “Owen” Hines, 18; Jacob Meisner, 17; Talan Renner, 17; Taylor Sherman, 19; Dominic Turner, 20; and Talyn Vigil, 18.

In March, police released an investigative report detailing the role of each of Lord's alleged attackers in the beating. According to the report, the attack lasted only a few seconds and began with an argument in the backyard of the party house. When it was over, Lord stopped breathing and was unresponsive. He died two days later at Phoenix Children's Hospital from traumatic brain injuries.

Witnesses described Renner as one of Lord's primary attackers, according to the report. They say Lord was knocked to the ground and Renner stood over him and delivered four “hammer blows” to his face. He then stood up and kicked him once before the others continued the gang attack, witnesses told police.

The lawsuit alleges that Renner's parents knew of their son's “tendency toward violence and physical violence toward others.” The lawsuit cites three incidents:

  • During the 2017-18 school year, as a fifth-grader in the Gilbert Unified School District, Renner threatened to “raid” his school.
  • Between 2019 and 2021, Renner was involved in a fight or bullying incident while a student at Sossaman Middle School in the Higley Unified School District.
  • Between March 2022 and March 2023, while living at the Diamond Ranch Academy residential treatment center in Hurricane, Utah, Renner assaulted another resident, “causing serious bodily injury.”

The Renners could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Owner of the house in front of which Lord was attacked also named in the lawsuit

The lawsuit is against Roberto and Emily Correa, the owners of the home where the party was held in the Queen Creek Ranchettes ⅠⅠⅠ subdivision near Sossaman and Chandler Heights roads. They are accused of “failing to supervise the activities of all party guests.” It says alcohol was served at the party and the homeowners should have known. The lawsuit also says the Correas failed to ensure the safety of party guests.

According to police reports, hundreds of children were partying in the garage of an RV and in the home's backyard while the Correas watched television and drank wine inside. They later told police they thought only a few of their daughters' friends were in the garage and were unaware that crowds of children were gathering in the backyard and on the patio on the other side of their sliding glass door.

Roberto Correa told police he had no idea Lord had been attacked on the street outside his house. He said he only noticed the group of teenagers when he heard a girl screaming. He ordered everyone out of his backyard, yelling, “Fuck off, now!”

He told police he didn't see anyone drinking alcohol or any evidence of it in his backyard. Correa said he wasn't paying much attention. He was more concerned with breaking up the party. But he did admit to getting out his garden hose to spray puddles of vomit off his patio.

Correas could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

This is the latest civil lawsuit involving Preston Lord and the Gilbert Goons. In February, Scottsdale attorney Richard Lyons filed lawsuits on behalf of two beating victims. In his lawsuits, he accused 17 people he identified as Goons of attacking unsuspecting victims, recording attacks and sharing photos and videos of them on social media.

A lawsuit also named 26 parents of 13 Goons who Lyons said were minors at the time of the attacks.

He described the Goons as a gang made up mostly of “rich, spoiled white kids who want to be gangsters.” Lyons said parents are legally responsible for their children's actions.

Nick Lord recently told The Republic he was angry about the Gilbert police's failure to intervene in the Goons' attacks months before his son was beaten to death.

He said a police report released in June showing that Gilbert police had information about gang attacks involving members of the Goons in early 2023 raised questions about accountability. He said he was angered by Gilbert's negligence in investigating fights among youths.

Preston Lord was described in his parents' lawsuit as a model student, a three-sport athlete and a member of the student council at Combs High School.

Robert Anglen is an investigative reporter for The Republic. You can reach him at [email protected]. Follow him on X @robertanglen.

Elena Santa Cruz is a crime reporter at The Republic. You can reach her at [email protected]. Follow her on X @ecsantacruz3.

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