AP: Friend says jealousy fueled WVa rampage

AP News
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Posted: Sep 07, 2011 8:23 PM
AP: Friend says jealousy fueled WVa rampage

Long before the bloodbath that left five dead in a rural West Virginia home, the suspected 22-year-old gunman visited nursing homes and tried to cheer up patients. In his own eyes, Shayne Riggleman was outgoing, a friend to both strangers and animals.

By the end of the rampage that left two others injured miles away, Riggleman took his own life along a Kentucky roadside Monday, police on his tail. It ended more than three years of run-ins with the law.

Police won't say what they believe provoked Riggleman, but one victim's close friend says it may have been jealousy over an ex-girlfriend who sometimes lived in the run-down home in the woods a few miles west of Morgantown.

As for Riggleman's friends, they created a Facebook tribute page to him and struggled to reconcile the violence with the man they knew who wrote on his own page, "I want to accomplish something great in life. I want to help people."

"I just want people to know that he wasn't a monster," said Amber Faulknier, 24, who went to Morgantown High School with Riggleman. "... Something had to have happened to make him snap."

Faulknier was Riggleman's partner in a certified nursing assistant class in vocational-technical school. Together, they visited nursing home residents.

"He was always laughing and joking and trying to make sure they had a better day and a better life than what they think they have," she said.

Though Faulknier defended her old friend, she said she suspected Riggleman had mental problems because she'd seen two sides of his personality.

"He was that really nice, funny guy that would do anything for you," she said, "but when that time came that you would make him mad, he was a totally different person. He was almost uncontrollable."

Police believe all those slain were shot with a high-powered rifle. Killed were: 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.

Detectives believe they know Riggleman's motive but won't comment until they complete their investigation, said State Police Capt. James Merrill.

"The `why' is always an important question," Merrill said, "but when the suspect commits suicide, we can't ask him that question."

A close friend of Karin Richardson, however, thinks jealousy drove Riggleman's rage.

His ex-girlfriend, Brittany Harwood, had moved in with the Richardsons about a month ago to get away from Riggleman, whom Harwood claimed was being abusive, Shelby Quintiliani of Waterbury, Conn., told The Associated Press.

About a week ago, Quintiliani said, Riggleman discovered that Harwood had started dating Kevin Hudson.

Harwood wasn't at the home the time of the shootings, Quintiliani said.

Despite Harwood's worries, Hudson's parents did not seem to be aware of any danger signs. Karin Richardson was supposed to leave for Connecticut on Wednesday and arrive Thursday to attend the Bethlehem Fair this weekend with Quintiliani, something they did every year.

"The last time I talked to Karin was that day, and she didn't give me any indication of any trouble," Quintiliani said. "She didn't give me any indication there were any problems, that he had made any threats."

Kevin and Katrina Hudson were Karin's children from a previous relationship, Quintiliani said. Her other three children live in Connecticut. Raber was the father of Katrina's unborn child, a girl they'd planned to name Alexis Paige.

After the shootings, Riggleman drove to Harwood's father's house about 20 miles away in Fairchance, Pa.

Harwood did not respond to messages from The Associated Press, but she told the Dominion Post that Riggleman had a bipolar disorder, wasn't taking his medications and began stalking her after they split. She moved in with the Richardsons, and split time staying there or with her father.

"I consider them my family. ... I'm so devastated," she said of the slain family.

When he came to her father's house, Riggleman was driving Karin Richardson's silver Jeep, and when Harwood asked him why, he said Richardson let him borrow it. Harwood didn't believe him.

He wanted her to go with him, but she refused. He had threatened her before, she said. After he left, she tried to call the Richardsons to tell them about the Jeep, but got no answer. She said she knew something was wrong and called police, who discovered their bodies.

Riggleman left Harwood's father's house and soon crashed into a car, police said. He then ran down driver 58-year-old Sidney Lee Bush when she got out to check the damage, Pennsylvania State Police said. Authorities said she was seriously injured.

His last victim, police say, was at an Exxon station about 30 miles from the West Virginia state capital of Charleston, where he shot and severely wounded attendant Don Nichols, who was expected to survive.

After the gas station shooting, Riggleman continued south into Lewis County, Ky., where a deputy tried to pull him over for reckless driving. He gave chase for about a half-mile and found Riggleman's body, said Lewis County Sheriff Johnny Bivens.

Merrill said Kentucky authorities found three weapons in a silver Jeep that Riggleman had taken from the Richardson home. They were a high-powered rifle, a second rifle and a .22-caliber handgun they believe he used to kill himself.

Riggleman did have a criminal past.

He spent 14 months in a prison for young offenders after a first-degree armed robbery conviction in Monongalia County, said Susan Harding, spokeswoman for the state Division of Corrections.

He was sentenced to the Anthony Correctional Center in December 2008, and began serving time at the White Sulphur Springs prison for offenders aged 18 to 24 in January 2009. He was released in March 2010 and was still on probation at the time of the slayings.

He also had a string of lesser offenses.

Morgantown police charged him in October 2007 with first-offense, underage drunken driving. He pleaded no contest and was fined $200. Then last fall, city police arrested Riggleman again. He was charged Sept. 29 with obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct. He was convicted of the misdemeanors in municipal court Oct. 13 and fined $135 for each offense.

State Police say they were asked to check on the Richardson 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, trash strewn across the porches and yard.

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

One was that of Karin Richardson.

Her friend, Nick Holliday, a trucker from Park City, Kansas, said she had hurt her back while driving for FedEx and had recently gotten the OK to start to be on the road again. Holliday was trying to talk her into working for him, driving coast to coast. He spoke to her on Sunday, he said, and she seemed upbeat, excited about the Connecticut visit.

"She seemed like a really, really genuinely sweet person," Holliday said. "Why somebody would want to harm her or her family out of rage like that is just appalling."

The two became friends on Facebook, Holliday said, and he often sent her song lyrics by email when she seemed depressed.

She never talked about any problems the family was having, he said. Nor did she ever mention Riggleman.

"I'm totally flabbergasted right now," he said.

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Weber contributed to this report from Atlanta.