Zaccheus Blanding pleads guilty to fatally shooting best friend

A 19-year-old who shot his best friend twice in the head and set his body on fire pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in court Friday.

Zaccheus Blanding (also known as Zakias) will face 18-26 years in jail as part of a plea agreement, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The body of Heineken McNeil, 19, was found burning in a trash can on June 23, a day after he was killed. Police could not initially identify the body because it was so badly burned.

According to police, Blanding was staying with his McNeil in an apartment shared with Blanding’s mother.

Though Blanding admitted to the crime and was arrested, according to his charging documents, he also told police the shooting had been an accident and he put his friend’s body in a garbage can and lit it on fire because he panicked.

But according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Blanding taped a video of himself in which he said “This is going to be the last video I’ll ever make. I plan on killing three people – my best friend, my mother and her girlfriend . . .” a day before he killed McNeil. He consistently referred to McNeil as his best friend, according to police.

Police recovered the gun used in the crime in the room McNeil and Blanding shared.

As part of the plea deal arrangement, Blanding pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while armed. He is scheduled to be sentenced December 11.


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated where Heineken McNeil was living. McNeil was living, and was later shot, in a home with Zaccheus Blanding, and not in McNeil’s home as was originally reported.


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