July 10, 2012 — — Washington state officials have apparently solved the 1985 cold-case homicide of an elderly couple with an arrest that fulfills a grieving son’s promise to his parents.
Wilhelmina “Minnie” Maurin and Edward “Ed” Maurin’s dead bodies were found Christmas Eve 1985. They had been shot to death and dragged into a wooded area.
“At their funeral, I laid my hand on their casket and I said, ‘I will find out who did this,'” the couple’s son, Dennis Hadaller, said at a news conference Monday.
A team of investigators from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office in Chehalis, Wash., was dispatched to Alaska July 8 to make an arrest in connection to the slayings.
Rick Riffe, 53, of King Salmon, Ala., was arrested and will be processed for extradition back to Washington to stand trial for what Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield called “horrific crimes.”
Minnie and Ed Maurin were 83 and 81 years old, respectively, when they were reported missing by family members Dec. 19, 1985. The family became worried when the couple were not home, as planned, for a family Christmas party, according to police.
The next day, witnesses reported to police they spotted the Maurins’ car and authorities found “a large amount of blood stains and the keys were in the ignition,” police said.
When the investigation into their murders opened, several witnesses reported seeing the car at the Sterling Savings and Loan bank.
“We have developed evidence that Rick and his now deceased brother, John Riffe, kidnapped the Maurins from their residence and drove them to the bank, forcing Ed to withdraw $8,500 in cash,” Mansfield wrote in a news release.
Five days after their disappearance, the couple’s bodies were found in a wooded area at the end of a road in Chehalis. The investigation revealed that they had been shot inside their car with a shotgun and then dragged to a wooded location where they were found by a passerby, according to police.
Mansfield said the Riffe brothers were their primary suspects from the beginning of their investigation, but they did not have evidence of probable cause “until much later on.”
“Detectives feel many witnesses did not come forward during the time of the initial investigation due to being fearful of the Riffe brothers and possible retaliation for speaking out,” Mansfield wrote in the news release.
Both Riffe brothers moved to Alaska in 1987 and John Riffe died “ironically” the week before investigators bought tickets to travel to Alaska for the arrests, police said.
“I believe in karma, these are bad, evil people,” Mansfield said at Monday’s news conference.
The prosecutor in the case told ABC News’ Seattle affiliate KOMO that he did not plan to pursue the death penalty for Riffe because of his failing health.
“The Maurin/Hadaller families suffered a horrific and tragic loss of their family members and now will be able to see justice served,” Mansfield wrote.
For the Maurins’ family, the arrest provided long-sought closure.
“People should never give up hope,” son Hadaller said. “There is always hope out there.”