Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Richard Church

Real Name: Richard J. Church
Aliases: Rick
Wanted For: Murder, Attempted Murder
Missing Since: August 21, 1988


Details: Richard Church is wanted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Colleen Ritter's parents, Raymond and Ruth Ann Ritter. They were childhood friends who began dating in 1987. He 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. They dated for over a year; however, when he went away to college, their relationship became strained.
Richard apparently did not take the relationship troubles well. He would call Colleen from his college dorm, 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, he 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 spending the night, as did her brother, Matthew. Raymond and Ruth Ann were out with friends, and their brother, Steve, was away. Richard 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 5:15am the next morning, Richard broke into their house and brutally attacked them. He first went into Raymond 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 him in the hallway. She ran to another room to call 911. However, he broke in 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 Richard could attack further.
Matthew was able to give the 911 dispatcher their address, so police arrived just seconds after the attack. A neighbor had falsely believed that Richard had gone back into the Ritter home. A police officer searching the scene found Matthew injured upstairs, with his friend, who was not hurt. Colleen's friend was also unharmed. Unfortunately, Raymond and Ruth Ann were pronounced dead at the scene.
At the same time, Richard had run the twelve blocks home and began packing his belongings. At 5:45am, he took his mother's truck and vanished. As authorities started to 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 them were inflicted on the back of her head. Two days later, while she was still in the ICU, Raymond and Ruth Ann were buried.
Fortunately, Colleen survived her wounds; however, Richard has yet to be brought to justice. His mother's truck was discovered abandoned in West Hollywood, California.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 7, 1990 episode. It was also profiled on America's Most Wanted.

Richard Church in Prison

Results: Captured. After three years on the run, Richard was arrested in a fast food restaurant in Salt Lake City in November 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 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.