The Victims The Place Time It Was The Crime The Investigation The Convicted
The Victims The Place Time it was The Investigation The Crime The Convicted

Boys pants placed on branch 
"Boy pants" (Police description from back of photo).

A Twilight Kill, Part Three: Detective Bryn Ridge

    It all went wrong with the discovery of the cub scout cap. Police Lieutenant Bryn Ridge, then in his early thirties had wide expressive eyes, thick arching brows, and a low-slung belly. He was called in to explore the ditch, to retrieve the victims and their clothes. In a case where very little physical evidence was to be found, the cub scout cap had a hair and a fiber that didn't belong to the victims or their clothing. It was vital to ensure that contaminants didn't come from an outside source and a long series of 68 questions at the trial addressed this matter. Ridge was unequivocal: each of the items of clothing were immediately set inside of paper sacks. And yet there, in a sequence of photographs, the cap floating in the water, Ridge is holding the cap in his bare hand and the cap is sitting atop a bundle of clothes on the bank.

Defense attorney Paul Ford: Was the cap dripping when you pulled it out of the water?
Ridge: Yes sir.
Ford: And you placed it directly into the sack?
Ridge: Yes sir, I did.
Ford: Was someone holding these sacks for you or - how did that procedure take place?
Ridge: Yes, Sergeant Allen was there with me - holding the sacks as they were being placed in. [Ridge testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]

Ridge recovering the cub scout cap
Cub scout cap in the water, being recovered by Det. Ridge, set on the river bank with other clothes - and not in a sack.

    Defense attorney Robin Wadley picked up something was wrong, but did not use the photos to contradict Ridge. Instead, he focused on why, if wet clothes were placed inside of the paper sacks, the sacks had no water markings.

Robin Wadley: You took the clothes out - you described how you put the clothes, dripping wet, in the sacks - is that correct?
Ridge: Yes sir.
Wadley: Now we've gone through and we've looked at all these sacks today - did you have a chance to look at all of these, Detective, as we were going through them?
Ridge: Yes sir, I did.
Wadley: And on any of the sacks that you looked at, did you see any water marks on any of these sacks?
Ridge: I don't visibly see any, no sir. [snip]
Wadley: How do you explain that, Detective?
Ridge: I can't explain it. [ibid]

    Ridge, who would play a central role in the investigation, was also a true believer. When asked why he believed the murders were cult-related he ticked off a long list of reasons including, "The bodies were in the nude, the Satanic term for that would be "skyclad." Stab wounds, patterns, may have been done for the purpose of bloodletting." [Ridge in camera testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]. A large portion of the police investigation involved interviewing children about the rumored cult. One recorded interview was with 13-year-old Tiffany Allen.

Ridge: Do you know of a satanic group that exists [at] Lakeshore?
Allen: No sir
Ridge: You don't know of one at all?
Allen: No sir  [Tiffany Allen, interview October 7, 1993]

    Unsatisfied with this, Ridge went on to ask her about rumors of its existence. 

Ridge: Now the talk is that one does exist and there are things that happen
Allen: Yes sir [ibid]

    As was often the case, Ridge's summary of his interviews reflected his thoughts rather than what appeared in the recordings. "Tiffany admitted that she was aware that a cult like group did exist..." and "She seemed afraid for her safety and reluctant to give any information concerning these activities..."  [Ridge, summary notes, Tiffany Allen interview.]  

    During the trials, Ridge recounted interviewing one member of the alleged cult, Ricky Climer. The text of the interview was not presented at trial - perhaps because of its absurdity, including Climer's claim that during the meetings they were attacked by Smurfs. 
Climer: Yeah, Smurfs, things like that and the next thing you know, you be, all of a sudden somebody will be running at you, and the Smurf has a heart on his arms and he will be running at you and stuff, you know. [Ricky Climer interview, June 16, 1993]

    Ridge summarized Climer's interview. "Rickey is a 16 year old white male who seemed to be in good physical condition and to me appeared to be quite street wise and able to carry on a conversation with me that appeared to be normal for his age group." [Det. Ridge, Climer interview summary]

    Detective Ridge took the stand repeatedly during the trials. In one visit the sum of his testimony was devoted to the color of the t-shirts of the accused.

Prosecutor Fogleman: What color are these shirts by the way?
Ridge: Black, with different designs and colors.
[cut - four more black t-shirts were presented]
Fogleman: And what color were these shirts again?
Ridge: Black. [Ridge testimony, Echols/Baldwin trial]

    Black t-shirts were deemed to be evidence of interest in the occult and became a symbol of a trials.

Continued in, A Twilight Kill, Part Four: The Compromised.

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