Real Name: Richard J. Church
Wanted For: Murder, Attempted Murder
Missing Since: August 21, 1988
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: Richard "Rick" Church is wanted for the murder of ex-girlfriend Colleen Ritter's parents, Raymond and Ruth Ann Ritter. Colleen and Rick were childhood friends who began dating in 1987. Rick was involved in sports but was quiet and seemed friendly. They both were students at a local Catholic high school. At the time, she was a sophomore and he was a senior. The two dated for over a year; however, when Rick went away to college, their relationship became strained.
Rick apparently did not take the relationship troubles well. From his college dorm, he would call Colleen, upset and on edge. When she would say that she was busy doing homework or other activities, he would become upset with her. In June 1988, Rick came home from college. Shortly after learning that his parents had separated, Colleen told him that they had to break up. She claimed that he was too possessive and did not want to be in a relationship. However, she still wanted to remain friends with him.
Two months later, on the night of Saturday, August 20, 1988, Colleen had a friend sleeping over, as did her brother Matthew. Their parents were out with friends, and their brother Steve was away. Rick called her, and asked what she was doing. Again, he acted possessive, so she told him that she didn't want to talk to him until later. At the time, however, she did not suspect anything was seriously wrong.
At around 5:15 am the next morning, Rick broke into their house and brutally attacked her and her family. He first went into Ray and Ruth Ann's ground floor bedroom and stabbed them to death. Next, he went upstairs and stabbed Matthew twice in the hallway. Colleen awoke and saw Rick in the hallway. She ran to another room to call 911. However, Rick broke into the room and began to stab her. She laid down on a cedar chest and played dead. Still, he continued to stab her, so she ran outside to try and get help. Finally, she collapsed in the middle of the street. Fortunately, neighbors came to her aid before Rick could attack further.
Matthew was able to give the 911 operator their address, so police arrived just seconds after the attack. A neighbor had falsely believed that Rick had gone back into the Ritter home. A police officer searching the scene found an injured Matthew upstairs, with his friend, who was not hurt. Colleen's friend was also uninjured. Unfortunately, Ray and Ruth Ann were pronounced dead at the scene.
At the same time, Rick Church had ran the twelve blocks home and began packing his belongings. At 5:45 am, he took his mother's truck and vanished. As authorities started a search for him, doctors worked to save Colleen and Matthew's lives. Matthew was treated and released the next day. However, Colleen had been seriously injured, receiving a total of twenty stab wounds. Many of the wounds were inflicted on the back of her head. Two days later, while she was still in the ICU, her parents were buried.
Fortunately, Colleen survived her wounds; however, Richard has yet to be brought to justice. His car was discovered abandoned in West Hollywood, California.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 7, 1990 episode. The case was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted.
Results: Captured. After three years on the run, Richard Church was arrested in a fast food restaurant in Salt Lake City in November of 1991. A detective had recognized him from an FBI wanted poster. He was living under the assumed name "Danny Lee Carson". Interestingly, while on the run, he spent time with the Alamo Cult, headed by former Unsolved Mysteries fugitive Tony Alamo. In July of 1992, he pleaded guilty to the murders to avoid the death penalty. As a result, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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