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Suspect in W.Va. house rampage served robbery term

A 22-year-old man suspected of shooting five people to death in their West Virginia home and killing himself had served 14 months for armed robbery, corrections officials said.
Image: Charles Richardson Jr.
Charles Richardson Jr. stands in the rain outside a rural home near Morgantown, W.Va., Tuesday Sept. 6, 2011. Richardson's son and four other family members were shot to death at this house on Monday Sept. 5, 2011.Vicki Smith / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A 22-year-old man suspected of shooting five people to death in their rural West Virginia home and killing himself during a police chase had served 14 months for armed robbery at a state prison for young offenders, corrections officials said Wednesday.

Authorities say Shayne Riggleman of Morgantown is also suspected of running down an elderly woman in neighboring Pennsylvania after fleeing the Monday slaying scene, then wounding a gas station attendant as he crossed back through West Virginia. He took his own life on a roadside in Kentucky.

West Virginia Division of Corrections spokeswoman Susan Harding said Riggleman was sentenced to the Anthony Correctional Center in December 2008 for an armed robbery in Monongalia County, where Morgantown is located. She did not have more details on the crime.

She said Riggleman began serving time at the White Sulphur Springs prison for offenders aged 18 to 24 in January 2009 and was released in March 2010.

The prison requires probation for up to five years after an offender completes the program. But Harding said Wednesday it was unclear whether Riggleman was still on probation when he allegedly shot the victims near Morgantown on Monday.

Riggleman's alleged streak of violence was "one of the most heinous crimes I've ever witnessed," State Police Capt. James Merrill said Tuesday at a news conference.

Merrill would not comment on a motive or say how Riggleman was connected to any of the five shooting victims at the blood-spattered house, in the country a few miles west of Morgantown.

Charles Richardson Jr., whose son was among the five shooting victims, told The Associated Press he didn't recognize Riggleman's name or know his connection to the family. Nor was he aware of his son having trouble with anyone.

Richardson said his son worked for FedEx and liked to tinker on vehicles and computers. The two were not close, he said, even though the elder Richardson lives in a mobile home within sight of his son's house.

"He went about his business and I went about mine," he said, "but I loved my son."

Police identified the dead as: 49-year-old Charles Richardson III; his wife, 50-year-old Karin Richardson; her children, 17-year-old Kevin Hudson and 22-year-old Katrina Hudson; and 30-year-old Robert Raber.

Katrina Hudson was six months pregnant.

Raber lived in the house, but Merrill would not otherwise elaborate on his relationship to the other victims.

Merrill said investigators believe all five victims in the ramshackle house were shot with a high-powered rifle. Autopsies were under way Tuesday.

Troopers had been asked to check on the family around 5:30 p.m. Monday and arrived about an hour later. They found two bodies in the kitchen and one in the living room once they reached the home at the end of a deeply rutted dirt drive.

Merrill said troopers secured the site, determined the shooter was no longer inside and found two more bodies in a bathroom after searching further.

Merrill said the call about the family's welfare came from a friend who grew concerned after Riggleman traveled to see her in Pennsylvania.

Authorities said Riggleman apparently shot the victims around 3:30 or 4:30 p.m. Monday, then drove about 20 miles to Fairchance, Pa., and met with that friend. Authorities would not identify the woman but credited her with preventing more deaths.

"It's unfortunate it ended the way it did," Merrill said, "... but I do not believe that he would've stopped."

After leaving the woman around 5:30 p.m., police say, Riggleman crashed into another vehicle near Fairchance and then ran down the elderly female driver as she got out of her car to exchange information. Authorities did not identify that victim but said she was seriously injured.

Riggleman then fled south on Interstate 79, Merrill said. At an Exxon station near Amma, about 30 miles from the West Virginia state capital of Charleston, Riggleman "randomly shot and severely wounded" attendant Don Nichols, police said.

Nichols, who was in critical condition, is expected to survive.

Riggleman continued south into Lewis County, Ky., where a deputy tried to pull him over for reckless driving.

The deputy chased the driver until he pulled over about a half-mile down the road. The deputy found Riggleman with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Lewis County Sheriff Johnny Bivens said.

Merrill said Kentucky authorities found three weapons in a silver Jeep that Riggleman had taken from the Richardson home — a high-powered rifle, a second rifle and a .22-caliber handgun.

Authorities searched Riggleman's Morgantown apartment and were studying his Facebook page. Riggleman apparently lived alone, and police did not immediately know whether he was employed.

He does have a criminal history but Merrill declined to elaborate, saying only that "he was known by law enforcement."

On a public Facebook page for a Shayne Franklin Samuel Riggleman, a string of Wall Posts from the past week seem to hint at a troubled relationship.

"There is a direct correlation between the amount of love you have for someone and how crazy you go when you lose them," reads one.

"I mate for life, not like a penguin though," reads another. "I mate for life like a praying mantis."

And one, ominously, says only, "We're not promised tomorrow."

Riggleman's profile page, meanwhile, contained several quotes.

At the top of the list, unattributed, was this one: "I ain't goin' out without a fight. I'm with whatever. it WILL be YOUR LIFE before MY LIFE."