Crime Junkie - MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF: Molly Young

Episode Date: October 23, 2023

On March 24th, 2012, Molly Young rushed to her on-again, off-again boyfriend Richie Minton's aid, only to be found dead hours later in his Carbondale, Illinois apartment with a gunshot wound to the Did she take her own life, or was she the victim of foul play? With lingering doubts about the investigation's integrity, the search for answers continues.  Join the “Justice for Molly” Facebook group to learn more.If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic abuse of any kind, you are not alone. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788 for help.If you or anyone you know is thinking about suicide, emotional support can be reached by calling or texting the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Did you know you can listen to this episode ad-free? Join the Fan Club! Visit to view the current membership options and policies.Source materials for this episode cannot be listed here due to character limitations. For a full list of sources, please visit: Don’t miss out on all things Crime Junkie!Instagram: @crimejunkiepodcast | @audiochuckTwitter: @CrimeJunkiePod | @audiochuckTikTok: @crimejunkiepodcastFacebook: /CrimeJunkiePodcast | /audiochuckllcCrime Junkie is hosted by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat. Instagram: @ashleyflowers | @britprawatTwitter: @Ash_Flowers | @britprawatTikTok: @ashleyflowerscrimejunkieFacebook: /AshleyFlowers.AF Text Ashley at +1 (317) 733-7485 to talk all things true crime, get behind the scenes updates, random photos of Chuck, and more! 

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Hi, crime junkies. I'm your host Ashley Flowers, and I'm Britt. And the story I have for you today is about a talented young woman whose tragic death has been shrouded in mystery and controversy for more than a decade. This is the story of Molly Young. It's around 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 24, 2012, and the Dispatch Center for the Carbondale Police in Illinois doesn't quite have the coverage it's supposed to because one of their dispatchers, 23-year-old Richie Minton Jr. hasn't shown up yet. His shift started in an hour or two ago, but he never showed. One of the other dispatchers, Amber, has been trying to reach him when suddenly she gets a call like through the 911 system.
Starting point is 00:01:16 And it's from Richie. Now the 911 call recording has a lot of background noise and chatter, so I'm not going to play the whole thing, but I will play a little snippet for you. A couple of places that you can actually hear him, because Richie is calling to report that he just found his girlfriend dead, and I need you to hear it because he's eerily calm. The full context of the call is that there's someone else with Richie, his roommate Wesley Romack. And Wes is the one who originally called for help, but he quickly passed the phone over to Richie, and Richie told 911 that his ex-girlfriend was dead.
Starting point is 00:02:07 He said that he woke up and she was covered in blood that she had overdosed and bled out through her nose. Then, he says the part that you just heard when he tells Amber it's his girlfriend who died by suicide. Now, the girlfriend slash ex-girlfriend that he's referring to is 21-year-old Molly Marie Young. And he's saying that she died by an overdose and blood out through her nose? Okay, so he was saying that, like, on the first call.
Starting point is 00:02:36 And they hang up whatever they're sending ambielenses. But then, just minutes later, at around 9.10, Richie calls again, this time on a non-emergency line directly to Amber. I have enough, please. Hey, Amber. Yeah? Hey, um, you sent the sergeant sheet in O.D. I just sent my gun laying underneath her.
Starting point is 00:03:00 OK, is it Molly? Yeah. OK, yeah, we've got the sergeant on the way there. Alright. Thanks, Amber. I'm sorry that I'm late. Hey, no, don't worry about it, Ritchie. It's not a problem. Alright, thanks. Alright, you're welcome. They're on their way. Alright, good night.
Starting point is 00:03:19 Paramedics arrive at 913 and discover Molly's lifeless body in Richie's room. She's face-up on the floor of Richie's small bedroom on top of some posterboard between his bed and the closet. She's fully clothed and there's some dried blood around her nose and mouth and lots of blood by the gunshot wound, which is about an inch and a half above her eyebrow on the left side of her forehead. Richie's 45-hand gun is kind of tucked under her left side, and her cell phone and a bottle of the antibiotic amoxicillin are near her feet. I guess I'm confused. How did he not see the gunshot wound to her head the first time he called?
Starting point is 00:03:58 I don't know. That's the first of many questions you're going to have. Now, when police get to the apartment, he's in the living room, he's wearing pajama pants, and he doesn't have a shirt on. According to police reports, he seems distraught as he starts telling a sergeant about how Molly came over
Starting point is 00:04:15 because he had drank too much and threw up on himself the night before. And then he says he passed out after that. And when he woke up, he just found her on the floor. So she shot herself in the bedroom where he was sleeping, and he didn't wake up? So, I guess it was he saying that it was because he was so drunk. But you'd think a gunshot just a few feet away from you?
Starting point is 00:04:38 That would wake you up. Well, he says it didn't, and again, he didn't notice the gaping wound in her head when he called the first time. Honestly, I don't know when or if he ever says anything about recognizing that as a gunshot wound. Like he never talks about the wound. What his story is is that basically after 911 was called the first time, he moved Molly around to try and give her CPR and that's when he spotted the gun. And that's when he kind of put it all together. Okay, is he still drunk? I mean, none of this makes sense. I know, I don't know.
Starting point is 00:05:11 What about that? West dude, the roommate. What's he saying? Well, not much yet, but police are planning to clear the scene and bring both of them to the station for questioning. But get this, Richie wants to get dressed first. And when he asks a sergeant, do is basically like, yeah, go ahead. So Richie just picks up some shorts from the kitchen floor, ducks into the bathroom and changes. I mean, I have a question as to why the shorts
Starting point is 00:05:37 are in the kitchen, but also, are we just saying, f***, basic crime scene protocol now? Right, like, I don't know why they're letting him change his clothes and go into a promotion. Or like supervising him. I know. I mean, is it like a professional courtesy?
Starting point is 00:05:51 I mean, he does work, I guess, closely with the police department. There is no explanation in any of the records that our reporter Nina got through FOIA, or even the one she got from Molly's dad, Larry Young, as to why they let him do this. But you might be on to something with that, because carbon-dail PD realizes that there is a conflict of interest at some point, and that's going to be an issue, so they call Illinois State Police to take over the case. But for now, carbon-dail PDs still got their hands in the pie, so to say. They kind of have to babysit Richie until the state police investigators arrive and they
Starting point is 00:06:25 can help out with some of their early tasks. Right, everything's kind of just paused for now. Right. And they're letting him, like, in rooms by himself to do whatever changes goes. Oh yeah. Now down at the station, an officer stays with Richie as he calls his dad and tells him what happened. And for the most part, his story stays the same.
Starting point is 00:06:44 But he does elaborate on something. He says that at some point after he conked out last night, Molly must have taken his gun out of the safe that he keeps it in, which he says she has the combination to. Then he asks his dad to contact their family attorney. And according to an internal state police email that Molly's dad Larry got in a records request, this is an immediate red flag for law enforcement. But can you read this for us? Sure, so this was sent from a state police investigator to a bunch of others at 10-16am.
Starting point is 00:07:17 It says, quote, The victim is the girlfriend of a carbon-dale PD dispatcher. The death of the victim was initially believed to be a suicide. However, when questioned, the dispatcher suspiciously loyered up. The incident is being investigated as a homicide." Ashley of all the suspicious things you've mentioned so far? Honestly, this isn't the one that stands out to me. You mean him getting a lawyer?
Starting point is 00:07:41 Yeah. Yeah, it's a crime-dunkey life rule. Always see a lawyer. Yeah, he's being held-dunkey life rule. Always see a lawyer. Yeah, he's being held by the police. That's the next logical step. But that's probably not the only reason that they're questioning Richie's story. So they're looking at the whole picture,
Starting point is 00:07:53 supposedly sleeping through the gunshot, loering up right away. I mean, again, I didn't sign this email, but they're thinking something, right? It's being investigated as a homicide is what they said. Now Richie does drop a few details while waiting for his parents and attorney. He tells detectives that his and Molly's year-long
Starting point is 00:08:12 on-again, off-again relationship had currently been off. You see, earlier that month, Molly found out she was pregnant and according to Richie, she decided to end the pregnancy against his wishes. So they broke up like a week ago, but in true messy breakup fashion, they still had been seeing one another. Seeing like hanging out or seeing each other like romantically.
Starting point is 00:08:37 I mean, there was definitely still an emotional component to their relationship. I don't know if there was anything physical at the time, though. But last night was one of those like emotional support nights or whatever, like that's why she came over. And she did have to come over because they didn't start the night out together. Richie went out with some friends, including a woman who were gonna call Crystal, whom Molly didn't particularly like. And throughout the evening, Ritchie and Molly exchanged texts, and she told him that she
Starting point is 00:09:08 was having thoughts of suicide. She mentioned that she had tried to overdose on Thursday, but said that she must have fallen asleep before anything could happen. Had she ever expressed thoughts of suicide before? Well, according to Ritchie, at least, yes, she had. So they're going back and forth in these texts, leading up to when Richie came home drunk and started calling her. Once he started doing that, she ends up coming over, and he passed out, and when he woke
Starting point is 00:09:34 up, I mean, you know where the story started. But that's about all the information police get, because Richie's lawyer and parent show up soon after he says all of this. But investigators have better luck talking with his roommate Wes, who gives them permission for everything, like search the apartment, check his phone, do a gunshot residue test whatever. And he also tells them a bit more about Richie and Molly. He says that he and Richie are like brothers and have been friends for nearly a decade. He only moved in with Richie just a few weeks ago, and since then, he and Molly had actually gotten closer too. But he says that he'd been worried about them lately, because over the past week, they both
Starting point is 00:10:13 talked about suicide. Neither had been coping well after the abortion. Richie recently told West that the only way he'd be able to get away from Molly was to kill himself, and West says it's common knowledge that Molly had thoughts of suicide for a while. In fact, he says she had just told him about what she referred to as a recent suicide attempt. Did he hear anything that morning though? Well, at the time, police think Molly was shot, which is around 445 or so. West actually wasn't there at the house. He works overnight as a baker, and he didn't get home until like 545 that morning. And when he got there, he says he saw what he assumed were Molly's shoes and purse
Starting point is 00:10:55 in a living room, but no Molly. And even when he passed by Richie's open door and glanced in, he just saw Richie asleep in bed alone. But she must have been there by then because he tells police that when he plugged in his phone, which had died during his shift, he got a few texts from her like all at once. He sees that the first one was sent at 3.54am, and Molly told West that she was at their apartment taking care of Ritchie because he called her for help. A couple of minutes later, she said that R Richie was so drunk he couldn't even walk. And the last text was sent at 440. And Molly said that she was upset because she had found out that Richie was texting
Starting point is 00:11:36 Crystal asking her to sleep with him. Wes tells police that Molly then apologized if he came home to anything dramatic. So after Wes gets all these all at once and he reads them, he replied to let Molly know that he was home, that Richie was sleeping, but he says that she didn't reply after that. And then he says he didn't hear anything strange, no arguing, certainly no gunshots. He says he's asleep by 730 and he he woke up to Ritchie panicking, saying Molly was dead, and he couldn't find his phone. So that's why Wes called 911,
Starting point is 00:12:11 and then he went into Ritchie's room where he found him shaking Molly, begging her to wake up. And Wes says that he was so rattled, he couldn't even remember their address, which you can hear on the call. So that's when he passed the phone to Ritchie. Mm-hmm. Afterwards, they waited in the living room for first responders, and he says he tried to keep Richie out of his room, mostly because West knew that he had a gun, and he didn't want him to shoot himself.
Starting point is 00:12:35 But at some point, Richie did go in. And when he came out, he said that Molly had shot herself. So did West ever see her body or the gun? Well, he did. At some point, he followed Richie into the room, but he says that he didn't see the gun, right? He just saw Molly, and he said that was really dark, and the only light in the room came from a string of Christmas lights that was hanging on the wall. So this is like the most information police have at this point.
Starting point is 00:13:01 They obviously want to check his story out, or as much of it as they can, so they start with those texts that he says he got when he plugged his phone in. Wes gives them his passcode and tells them to just have at it. But when they dive in, the investigation takes a whole new turn. Brick, can you read the last text that Wes got from Molly's phone? Yeah, it says, quote, he was texting Crystal, saying he needed her, and asking her to sleep with him. I think I'm going to shoot myself in the head.
Starting point is 00:13:34 I'm really, really sorry if you come home to that. End quote. Uh, I feel like Wes kind of glossed over all that, right? Yeah, he says he doesn't remember her saying that. I mean, if you remember, he told police, like dramatic, yeah, that he might come home to something really dramatic, something like that, right? Which sounds kind of like if we're in a fight,
Starting point is 00:13:54 I'm sorry, if you're like walking into that. I feel like this text would be super relevant to mention, especially knowing now how she died. And I don't know, maybe when he initially read it, it didn't really register. I mean, if he's reading this while at the apartment, the apartment is quiet, roommate sleeping. I mean, the last thing on your mind would be
Starting point is 00:14:14 that that actually happened. I guess, do police have Richie's phone? Well, they do, but here's the weird part, kind of along the lines of like changing your clothes, he had it with him at the station for at least a half hour before they took it from him. Awesome, and just to triangulate everybody, what about Molly's phone? So that's still back at the apartment. What's weird too is Richie actually called Amber that 911 dispatcher while he was at the
Starting point is 00:14:44 station and he asked her to have someone get Molly's cell phone from his apartment presumably to bring it to him so that he could get her family's numbers he says and contact them because at that point they didn't know what had happened. In Amber passed this message along to cops but thank god the cops at the apartment were like, yeah this is a crime scene, so no. So you're not getting the victim's cell phone crime person of interest?
Starting point is 00:15:09 Yeah. They're asking, no. Right. But Richie was right about one thing. Molly's family doesn't know what is happening yet because police haven't notified them. It's actually not until early afternoon that troopers go to her grandma's house
Starting point is 00:15:23 where Molly had been living with her grandma and her mom. That's when they break the news to them both. But her mom, Kathy, had already been worried. Molly was sick and throwing up last night. She told her mom that she thought she had the stomach flu. But when Kathy checked on her earlier this morning at around 5.30, Molly was gone, and she wasn't responding to her mom's texts, which was totally unlike her. Kathy went out searching for her and even cruised by what she thought was Richie's apartment complex, but she couldn't actually find his specific unit. According to Crime Watch Daily, it's Kathy, who has to break the news to the rest of the
Starting point is 00:15:57 family, her ex-husband, Molly's dad Larry, and Molly's two sisters. So, what are they thinking right away? I mean, do they think suicide is possible? I mean, they don't know what to think about anything yet. They know she had some struggles. Molly was artistic and creative and talented, but she had experienced bouts of depression since she was younger.
Starting point is 00:16:17 Her grandfather died by suicide back in 2006 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and then actually Molly had a cancer scare of her own in 2010. She had this mass removed from her neck, which turned out to be benign, but the whole ordeal took a toll on her both physically and mentally. And her loved ones don't think that Richie helped. In fact, just the opposite. They tell detectives that he was verbally and emotionally abusive.
Starting point is 00:16:44 He would insult her, isolate her from her friends, and often use threats of suicide to manipulate her. Her sister says that he's got a nasty temper, and Molly was flat out scared of him. But they were stuck in this toxic cycle of breaking up and getting back together. At least, maybe until this most recent breakup, because to her family, it seemed like even though she was upset about the split, she might have been trying to break away from him for good.
Starting point is 00:17:13 And one of the things that doesn't really add up for them about this is that according to her family, Molly was terrified of guns. They doubt that she'd ever even held one. So the idea of her actually using one to them is pretty much out of the question. So are investigators planning on doing any GSR testing? I know, it's not super reliable, but it's something. Yeah, I mean unreliable is like a key term here.
Starting point is 00:17:40 Gunshot residue testing isn't the be-all-endal. A lot of agencies don't even bother with it anymore. This case, at least in this one, they try. They test Molly, Richie, even Wes. But there's a big problem when it comes to the GSR testing on Richie and Wes. Richie admitted to crime scene texts that he's already washed his hands, presumably, while he was in the bathroom changing his clothes.
Starting point is 00:18:07 And we know at some point West did too. So surprise surprise, they don't get any offerichies hands or West's. And like you said, they check Molly's, right? They do, and unreliable or not, this forensic scientist tells investigators that if Molly shot the gun, there should be at least some residue on her hands. But there's only residue on her right sweatshirt sleeve. That's it?
Starting point is 00:18:34 No residue on anything else? Well, not on her hands, but it is like about everywhere else in the room. Like they end up finding some residue on parts of Richie's pajama pants, and the shorts and shirt that he wore to the police station, too. Just not his hands. No, right. But, no, stuff his hands had touched, right? Yes, so right, like even the new shorts that he pulled from the kitchen and put on.
Starting point is 00:19:01 And let me tell you about when they collected those clothes to test because something interesting happened to them too. So they take Richie to the locker room because he's got some spare stuff in there. Because again, he works here. And when he starts undressing, police spot this. I want you to take a look. Those seem really fresh. Right?
Starting point is 00:19:29 They're like long and right on his back kind of near. Wait, wait, okay, hang on. So if you're in the app, you're seeing the picture, but for those of the listeners who aren't in the crime junkie app, oh, yeah, what is it you're looking at? So I'm looking at these two long, again, super fresh looking scratches on Richie's back kind of near his armpit. Police determine they're like six inches long. Holy cow, and how the hell does he explain them?
Starting point is 00:19:53 Okay, the explanation is so bizarre, there isn't a world where you can actually guess it, but I want you to try. What do you think his explanation is for how he has these two fresh scratches on him at the police station after his girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, has died in his bedroom? Um, he fell on a nightstand.
Starting point is 00:20:13 I don't know. I honestly don't even know. I have no idea where to start with this. He says that he got these scratches while he was giving Molly CPR. I'm sorry, what? Mm-hmm. How?
Starting point is 00:20:26 I- that doesn't make sense. And by the time he wakes up, Molly is deceased. Like, I just want to make that clear. Right. Again, like, I feel kind of vindicated in that. The nightstand is the only thing that could have done it at this point. You could say a lot of things that make a lot more sense than what he said, but that was his excuse.
Starting point is 00:20:45 Now, I can't bring up Richie Scratches and not tell you that Wes had Scratches too. And here, I'll send you a picture of those. These are weirdly kind of similar. I know, so it's like, again, two Scratches, like side by side, kind of like similar size length, but Wes's are in the middle of his back, more like in a diagonal direction, like then Richie's, which are to me like horizontal. And West's look older scratches,
Starting point is 00:21:14 like they've kind of been healing a bit scabbed over. Yeah, not like as pink and raw. And when he gives an explanation, he says that his job as a baker is fairly physical, so he thinks that he must have gotten his scratches somewhere at work. Okay, I don't work as a baker, but I do bake a lot. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, calling all bakers.
Starting point is 00:21:35 Oh, we have some questions? Yeah, I don't know. I mean, again, like you back up into something. Truthfully, I've gotten scratches worse than both these guys and I'm a podcaster. I've right, nick myself at work with my kid, getting to rady with Chuck, like I'm no dainty lady.
Starting point is 00:21:53 So for me at least, it's not the scratches in general, it's the placement on the back and specifically the freshness of Richie's and his story, the unbelievable story that went with them to like try and explain them away. Right, there's like too many things that are describing and connected to these scratches
Starting point is 00:22:12 to make it make sense. And not to give this guy any ideas, but, I mean dude, you were out last night supposedly black out drunk. So saying, I don't know, I got them while I was drunk is actually a way more believable story than Yeah, while you were giving your deceased ex girlfriend CPR I mean was he that drunk though? Is that something they ever even tested for while they cat him in custody? Fine, we'll go back to the story and not talk about all these weird things. I could spiral. I know
Starting point is 00:22:42 I know I know, but this is not what we're here for. So they do kind of test his blood alcohol level, but in actuality kind of not. Basically, one of the paramedics told investigators that she didn't smell any alcohol on Richie. But by the time paramedics were at their house, that was hours after he'd stopped drinking. And then by the time they were legally able to check his blood alcohol content, it was
Starting point is 00:23:09 Saturday night. So, yes, they checked it, but the results were totally useless. It's not going to tell them if he was actually drunk, right? Blackout drunk when Molly was there. After the GSR testing and finding the scratches, police start working on getting warrants, which means that they aren't fully processing the scene until after 4 o'clock that afternoon. Somali's body has been there all day. Now, when we talk about the scene itself, the place is messy, but there are no signs of
Starting point is 00:23:37 a struggle. From the looks of the blood near her body, investigators think that her head hit the closet door or fell really close to it when she was first shot. And there's a trail of blood leading to where she is now. So she was moved? Yes, by Richie. He admitted to moving her when he said he was doing CPR.
Starting point is 00:23:58 Besides that, though, there's not much blood in the room, just a little on the comforter and the muzzle of the gun. And there's a casing by the bedroom door. Now Richie's gun safe is still there in the room, too. It's on a table shelf beside his bed with the key right outside on the table. But there's something about the way that the books and papers and stuff are stacked on and around it that makes investigators doubt that the gun was actually in the safe before the shooting. So like there's stuff that would have needed to be moved
Starting point is 00:24:31 for the safe to open and it's all kind of still there. Yeah, we actually have, again, if you're in the app, you can see the picture right now. Otherwise, you can go to our blog post. We have a picture of this and there is. There's stuff all over it that you wouldn't imagine you would take it out and then like reposition everything Right, right. So something's off but Not really off enough for a place to be like yes, this is exactly what happened exactly And unfortunately when they do an autopsy on Molly It's kind of the same thing the pathologist determines that her injury is a contact wound, which is kind of expected But there's no blood on her hands, which I guess usually you see that when a gunshot is fired at close range, especially a self-inflicted one.
Starting point is 00:25:12 There's usually some blood spatter on the person's hand from the recoil. And even stranger is the fact that the pathologist determines the bullet entered two inches above her ear, angling slightly downward. And this is strange because statistically self-inflicted gunshot wounds are more likely to have a side to side trajectory. Plus, Molly was right-handed and her injury was on the left side. So, I mean, again, probably statistically, it's less likely that she would hold the gun
Starting point is 00:25:44 in her non-dominant hand. Non-possible, but just not the most expected thing. Well, and it doesn't make sense that she'd be holding it in her right hand across her body over her hand. Right. Does that make sense? Yeah, it does. And I'm going to, again, not impossible, probably, but against statistically doesn't seem
Starting point is 00:26:02 likely. Right. And either way, there's no residue, right, or cast off or whatever, of the bloodspatter we expect to see on either hand. But despite all the lingering questions, the pathologist summarizes his findings like this. Quote.
Starting point is 00:26:15 The investigation conducted by the agencies involved indicated self-inflicted wound. The manner of death is classifiable as suicide. Wow. End quote. I was at least expecting, like, an undetermined. self-inflicted wound. The manner of death is classifiable as suicide." Wow. End quote. I was at least expecting, like, an undetermined. I kind of was too.
Starting point is 00:26:31 But I guess something had changed for investigators when they searched Molly's room the day before this autopsy. One thing they point to as evidence of a suicide was a note written in Molly's handwriting. According to Crime Watch Daily, it says stuff to Richie about wanting to be with him and apologizing for trouble they had. She tells her parents that she loves them, and it's not their fault. Police also have Molly's journal, which goes back several years and is filled with entries about wanting to end her life.
Starting point is 00:27:06 And I guess they even have digital evidence by this point. Investigators discover more than a dozen suicide-themed searches on her laptop from Friday, March 23, which is the day before she died. And that same day, she chatted with an ex-boyfriend on Facebook Messenger, this guy named Brayton. And she told him that she had been feeling suicidal for weeks. The last post on her Tumblr page from 1030 Friday night says, quote, I never want to take another pill again. Time for a new method as soon as I'm done throwing up."
Starting point is 00:27:40 And her text match up with Richie and Wes's stories too. And her text match up with Richie and Wes's stories too. So, that note you mentioned was that written the night before her death too? Well, so this is the thing that doesn't totally work. Like, the note wasn't laid out for her family to find. It was under a jumble of stuff and there's no date on it. Her dad eventually hears from one of her friends that he'd seen that very no months ago. So her family kind of wonders if that wasn't like this goodbye no because she planned to do something that night, maybe she wrote it back when she had that cancer scare.
Starting point is 00:28:16 As for the journal, even the newest entries are from months back, and even though her toxicology test reveals a low level of the anti-anxiety medication that she was prescribed and some benadryl, the pathologist didn't find any evidence of recently digested capsules or pills of any other kind. So despite what she might have told Richie in West, there's no apparent physical evidence at least in her digestive system that she actually ingested anything to induce some kind of overdose. But regardless, it appears like the findings in her room played into the manner of death ruling, although investigators deny that they pushed a suicide narrative when they spoke
Starting point is 00:28:52 with the pathologist. In fact, there is an investigation still underway, and detectives want to nail down Richie's alcohol intake during the hours leading up to the incident, because if he really did drink a lot, it could lend credence to his claim that he passed out and slept through an actual gunshot. So detectives interview Richie's friends, they try and reconstruct the hours leading up to the shooting, and they learn that he spent a few hours at a local bar with a group of people, including that girl Crystal.
Starting point is 00:29:22 Now, accounts vary on how much he drank, so investigators try to get the bar's security footage, but the surveillance system wasn't working. Ugh. But they actually have a legit reason. So I guess, you'll never believe this, this was struck by lightning and wasn't operable anymore. Truly, what are the odds? The odds.
Starting point is 00:29:42 Ross by lightning, I'm so serious. So they have to piece the night together as best they can without that. They learn that once the bar closed at around 2 on Saturday morning, Ritchie and his friends all went back to a friend's place and Ritchie actually drove there. But once he was inside, it became clear that he was pretty intoxicated. Crystal says that he was trying to get her to sleep at his place. He even texted her about it while they were both still at the friend's house. But even though they used to have a physical sexual relationship years ago, she said that
Starting point is 00:30:14 now was not the night. She could tell that Richie was upset about Molly. He was upset about the recent abortion. So she just wanted to be there for him as a friend, so she told him that she couldn't stay overnight. She did drive him home though after seeing him trip over a coffee table and realizing that he definitely shouldn't be on the road. Now they get to his place at around three, she doesn't go inside, but another guy either
Starting point is 00:30:40 walks Richie to his door or even went in and like used the bathroom, not totally clear which, and then this guy and Crystal leave Crystal says that she thought Richie was just gonna go to sleep, but according to phone records It was right around then that he started contacting Molly asking her to come over and help him So it does sound like he was pretty drunk. Yeah, I feel like the best indicator of this would be his text messages If we know what he said, but like how did he text them? What was the typing? What do you mean? You know like you know you're getting a drunk message from someone?
Starting point is 00:31:13 Oh, like misspellings or like it doesn't like doesn't even make sense when they're that drunk. Yeah, just like hot Mess text. Were his messages in drunk person type I? Oh, well, so there's this one. So 328 AM, he texts Molly quote, H-E-space-P, which end quote. So presumably that's help, but into your point, maybe in like drunk person texts, or honestly, I love you so much Ashley texts, that's a really easy way to make.
Starting point is 00:31:42 Yeah, well for I am the exception, like all my texts are drunk people tech, but here's what's weird. Okay, so we a really easy way. Yeah, well, I'm the exception, like all my texts are drunk people, tech, but here's what's weird. Okay, so we have this one from 328, but actually, I can't tell you a lot of his other ones, like if they were in drunk speak, Ashley speak regular text, whatever, because investigators can't see most of his text messages,
Starting point is 00:32:02 but they have his phone. Yeah, problem is, when they go to look at it, virtually everything seems to have been deleted. By him, that's the assumption. But since police don't get to interview him at all after that first day, I don't know what his story is about why there's nothing on his phone. Okay, is it like everything, everything, just everything about Molly with Molly or like all
Starting point is 00:32:30 the stuff on his phone? From what Larry, Molly's dad told us, Larry says all of it, everything's deleted off his phone. If Molly genuinely sent that text, it has to mean that she saw the text between Richie and Crystal on his phone, and they were erased after that. If she sent it, yes. But here's kind of a theory that her loved ones have. They don't think that she did send that text.
Starting point is 00:32:54 To then, it all seems to on the nose. That text to Wes saying, I saw this message, I'm going to shoot myself in the head, yet they don't think she sent that. And that's actually something that Richie brings up sometimes when he talks to people about Molly's death. While talking to her ex, that Brayton guy Richie says how devastating the whole situation was, but he also tells him, you know, if Molly hadn't sent that text about shooting herself in the head, I'd be in jail right now.
Starting point is 00:33:21 And there's other stuff that he's doing or saying that her family doesn't like or finds suspicious. This doesn't mean they're right. Word, it's just strange. Questionable. Yeah, like Larry checks Richie's Tumblr page and he sees that weeks before Molly's death, actually the day she found out she was pregnant, Richie reposted a quote from the infamous son of Sam serial killer. Brick, can you read that part I highlighted on the police report? Yeah, it says quote, and huge drops of lead poured down upon her head until she was dead.
Starting point is 00:33:53 End quote. What the fuck? Yeah, I don't know why he was reposting that, but it's chilling to Molly's family, especially considering how she died. Now, the more time that passes, the more convinced Molly's family, especially considering how she died. Now, the more time that passes, the more convinced Molly's family becomes that Richie orchestrated the whole thing. And they worry that investigators will either be swayed by his version, or even protect him since Richie is one of them. I mean, he may not be a cop himself,
Starting point is 00:34:21 but he does work with them as a dispatcher and his fathers-in-law enforcement, too. So what her family does is they actually organize a Facebook group called Justice for Molly. Larry tells KFDS reporter Carly O'Keefe that they want to raise awareness about Molly's death and hopefully bring in new tips. It's actually a group, a Facebook group that I know a lot of our crime junkies are in because you all referenced it a ton when submitting this case to us. So, fast forward to mid-September. Police call Molly's family in to go over some lab results that have finally come back.
Starting point is 00:34:56 You see, up till now, the family's been kept pretty much in the dark, so a lot of the stuff I'm telling you they didn't even know about at the time. So, when they get called in, they're thinking that they're finally going to get some answers, but Larry told us that the meeting went sideways when investigators started reading heartbreaking entries from Molly's journal instead of sharing any forensic findings. And when Larry finally gets a look at those results after the emotional rollercoaster of a meeting, he feels vindicated. He finds out there's DNA from three different males under Molly's fingernails.
Starting point is 00:35:32 One of them was Richie, but it's not clear who the other two are. It sounds like police only sent Richie's DNA in for comparison. Do we know any of the specifics on the DNA? Was it blood or just skin cells? No, all I know is that her fingernails were like intact. So no visible injuries, no blood on her hands, stuff like that. No sign of a fight or a struggle. No, not on her hands.
Starting point is 00:35:56 I mean, there are other ways she could have gotten as DNA under her nails. If scratching, fighting is like the key way to get DNA under nails. Shouldn't they be trying to identify who the other two male samples are? I mean, they probably should be. I don't know if they are, but to your point, yeah, I mean, there are tons of other ways his DNA or these other two men's DNA could have gotten under her nails. And I don't even know how much DNA we're talking about.
Starting point is 00:36:23 Like, I've heard in so many different cases that, again, like touching someone, like even just transfer. So to me if they're not looking for those other two, I almost think you have to say it doesn't matter, right? But I don't know. Now, this is when the family learns that there's a lack of gunshot residue on her hands. Remember, it was just on one of her sleeves. But then her family also learns that her fingerprints are nowhere to be found on the gun. And actually, not just hers,
Starting point is 00:36:51 investigators couldn't make out any prints. But Larry says that police didn't send Richie's or Wess's in for elimination. Another thing that they find out is that there was blood on the lower part of Richie's pajama pants, which if you recall, they found GSR on those pants. Now I guess they can't tell if the blood is spatter, which might indicate he fired the shot, or if it's transfer, which he easily could have gotten from moving her. So when police are sharing all these results with the family, are they telling them that they're in line with the pathologist or are they saying they don't know what's the tone here?
Starting point is 00:37:30 I'm not sure if they share any thoughts on homicide versus suicide, but behind the scenes, the lead investigator on the case, this state police special agent named Erin Cooper, he thinks that based on the bullet's trajectory, Richie was either standing over Molly when she was shot or standing on his bed, which, to me, implies that he thinks Richie fired the shot. But 2012 still ends in a question mark. No one's been charged. They're still not sure if she was killed or took her own life.
Starting point is 00:38:08 So in January 2013, the coroner holds an inquest, basically a court hearing where a jury can hear all the evidence and determine her manner of death. Now it's at this point that a lot of the details finally come to light, but it's not what her family expected. Agent Cooper reads a series of grim texts between Molly and Richie and her and Wes leading up to the last one sent from her phone. Then he outlines the suicide-related searches that they found on her computer.
Starting point is 00:38:38 Then he reads a bunch of her journal entries detailing a history of depression and thoughts of self-harm. And then he goes over the undated letter that they found in her room, the one that police have been calling her suicide note. He tells the jury that the gunshot wound is consistent with suicide. Although, ultimately, they don't know who pulled the trigger. He says they couldn't pull any fingerprints on the gun, couldn't pull any fingerprints on the magazine or the rounds because fingerprinting guns can be pretty tricky.
Starting point is 00:39:08 And he even has an explanation for why Richie might have slept through the shooting. He says that the sound of a contact gunshot wound can be muffled because the body absorbs and obstructs some of the sound waves. Plus depending on how drunk Richie was, he might have heard the shot, but didn't even realize the gravity of the situation or what he was hearing. Agent Cooper also points out that none of the residents in Richie's building that they spoke with heard a gunshot either. So maybe it's not that weird that he didn't wake up. Although, just a side note, Tim Corbett, a private investigator working pro bono with Molly's
Starting point is 00:39:46 family, told us that the decibel level of a 45 caliber gunshot is literally louder than a jet engine taking off. And that's happening in his bedroom while he's there. So going back to the inquest, after 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury makes its call. Or should I say no call? The manner of death is undetermined due to lack of evidence. Now, considering the pathologist initially ruled this as suicide, the ruling is kind of a victory for Molly's family, but they're still mad, because they think that the hearing was totally slanted. Because for all the focus to be on the journal entries, there were a lot of things that weren't
Starting point is 00:40:30 brought up at all. For instance, there was no mention about the DNA found under Molly's nails, or the scratches on Richie's back. And even when they went over Molly's social media, they never mentioned any disturbing posts from Richie until Molly's uncle asked about it. So to them, it seems like police are more interested in investigating Molly than Richie. Well, wasn't Agent Cooper the one who had the theory about Richie standing on the bed for the trajectory?
Starting point is 00:40:57 Yeah, so he was, but that doesn't come up at the Inquests, and the thing is, I don't even know if the family knew about his theory at the time because it's not until after this in quest, like when they're feeling so frustrated they feel like it was slanted. That's when Larry does this big FOIA request and everything he gets is like heavily redacted which I know our reporters can definitely sympathize with. And this is when he's really starting to piece together all of the stuff I've already told you about, like this is when he gets the 9-1-1 call and finally gets to listen to it. And it makes her whole family sick to hear Richie's flat tone as he's telling dispatchers
Starting point is 00:41:34 that Molly is dead. And speaking of dispatchers, remember Amber? Yeah, she was the one who got the call. Then Richie called her back directly with the update about the gun. Yeah, right. So if you remember the call, Amber had tried to contact him that morning because he hadn't shown up for work, right? Like before she knew anything happened.
Starting point is 00:41:53 Well, Larry gets his hands on a statement that she made to police later that same day, explaining all of the calls and texts that were going back and forth. But, and keep in mind, this is still the same day Molly died. Amber told investigators she didn't know exactly what times she messaged Richie because she had already deleted the texts.
Starting point is 00:42:15 What? Why? She says that she didn't know she would have to write a statement. Okay, does she just delete all her texts every day or something? I don't know, but Larry thinks it's strange. Same.
Starting point is 00:42:28 In fact, he asks Jackson County State's attorney, Michael Carr, if it could be considered obstruction of justice. But apparently, that doesn't sit well with Carr because Larry says that he threatens to shut down the case if he keeps pushing. That's on July 1st. And then a couple of weeks later, in response to a new foyer that Larry submitted, Larry gets a letter from state police saying, exactly that, basically, it's being shut down,
Starting point is 00:42:53 the case is closed. But when media gets word of the situation and questions car about this, he insists that it was just an error, the case isn't actually closed. I don't know what happened, whatever. Sounds like backpedaling, okay. But at the same time, he says that he's also not going to be filing any criminal charges,
Starting point is 00:43:11 that he's thoroughly reviewed the case, and even though there are lingering questions, there's just not enough pointing to homicide. In fact, car thinks that there is compelling evidence suggesting it might have been self-inflicted after all, and he reiterates all of the stuff that came out in that inquest. But he has this caveat. He's like, you know, that's not necessarily conclusive either. And basically, if something new comes along, he'll consider it. I'm gonna be honest. That sounds like a very long-winded political way to say, I'm not having anyone work on it. Which is like kind of closed a little bit, right?
Starting point is 00:43:46 Yeah, no, it's closed, but like we're just sit back and wait. He talked in a circle. But they don't have to wait for long because actually a couple of weeks later something new does come along when another tenant who lives in Richie's apartment complex throws a wrench into the timeline that they've been working with. This anonymous woman tells Crystal Britt, who's a reporter with KFES12's Heartland News I team that on the morning of Molly's death, a female officer knocked on her door just after seven and told her that there had been a homicide.
Starting point is 00:44:20 Shut up. I know. But the 911 call didn't come in until a few minutes after 9. I know. And it's not just this one isolated account. There's this other woman who apparently doesn't even know the first tenet. She vouches for a similar timeline. She tells Crystal Brit that she clearly remembers that same officer at her door between 7 and 8 that morning. And she's adamant about the timing because she says that she is always up early with her kids.
Starting point is 00:44:50 But the carbonyl police chief insists that no officers were at the complex for Molly's death before night. He says maybe there's a slim chance that someone was sent to check on Richie when he didn't show up for work, but even if that's the case in no universe with that officer, checking up on potentially oversleeping dispatcher, would then go canvas the neighborhood and tell people there was a homicide. Right. And like, you don't jump to homicide unless you somehow were like in the place and if
Starting point is 00:45:19 you were in the place, then we're not getting a call at nine. Right. But then it begs the question like, where are these accounts coming from? Why would someone even be there? And if it was some kind of cover up, like, oh, oh, he's got connections to police, someone's coming to like take care of things before police actually get there.
Starting point is 00:45:38 This isn't a cover up. Why would an officer go around announcing a homicide that you're trying to keep a secret? This is giving me major Joanna Matuk flashbacks. I mean, will both cases have connections to law enforcement? So maybe that's not a coincidence? I don't know. But Mystery Officer announcing a homicide aside.
Starting point is 00:45:58 Her family thinks it speaks to a bigger issue, which is the thoroughness of the investigation. Larry says a lot of Richie's neighbors were never interviewed at all, and he's frustrated because he feels like authorities are just waiting for evidence to fall into their laps. At one point, Larry publicly calls for Michael Carr to recuse himself and turn the case over to a special prosecutor, which after some back-and-forth car actually does. Enter Ed Parkinson. His marching orders are to leave no stone unturned. Review all the evidence, do more investigating the whole nine yards, and determine if there
Starting point is 00:46:37 is enough to go for an indictment. Which is something at least. Yeah, to Molly's loved ones and the growing legion of supporters that have joined the justice for Molly movement, this feels like a flash of hope. Maybe fresh eyes can reinvigorate this case. According to Carbondale Times reporter Jeffrey Ritter, a detective speaks with 10 other witnesses from nearby apartments. Tries to speak with one of the anonymous tenants who told the media police were on the scene
Starting point is 00:47:04 prior to the 911 call, but she apparently gave them the run around and then they didn't learn anything new from the other residents. So, she's scared or she was straight up lying? It's one of the two, right? Like, so maybe we just have to like discount that. Maybe there was never a mystery officer like focus on the people we actually know were there. They interview Wes again. Who this time mentions a totally new detail. He now says after he got home that morning, he found Richie's phone in the bathroom.
Starting point is 00:47:37 And he says that he started going through Richie's phone, like through the text, to see how his night went because he was worried about Richie. But he also says he didn't erase or send any texts. And he's just now remembering all this, I guess. Again, it's like one of those, he already downplayed the text that he got, and then he just forgot to mention that I don't know, it's weird, right? But I don't know what it means. Yeah, either he has been keeping it intentionally
Starting point is 00:48:04 or he has no proper hierarchy of information. Now, even during this re-investigation, it's not like Larry and the detectives become buddies. He often hears updates on his daughter's case from the media rather than police. And there are endless FOIA fights. But it finally all culminates to a wrongful death lawsuit in June of 2014 that Larry files against Richie hoping that This is gonna compel people to release the information he's looking for
Starting point is 00:48:33 In his complaint he alleges that Richie lured Molly over to his apartment in order to do something Bad or illegal Like what let's say it doesn't say like the lawsuit doesn't mention what he thinks this bad or illegal. Oh, like what? Let's say it doesn't say, like the law who doesn't mention what he thinks this bad or illegal thing is. And did he tell Nina our reporter? No, based on everything I learned, it sounds like he's accusing Richie
Starting point is 00:48:56 of calling her over so she could be killed. So like, I think he's saying that maybe illegal activity is like murdering her. It's very confusing to me. Anyway, Larry alleges that while she was there, he caused her death, meaning Richie, either by shooting her or giving her the gun. And afterward, he says Richie did everything he could to conceal the shooting. Wipe his prints off the gun, waited hours to call for help, told 911 she overdosed. He even suggests that Richie planted the pill
Starting point is 00:49:26 bottle of antibiotics that was at her feet to push some kind of narrative and then refuse to cooperate. Now, when this gets filed in the courts, Richie asked the court to dismiss it because it's past the two-year statute of limitations. And in November 2014, while their arguments are under review, special prosecutor Ed Parkinson finally releases a report on his investigation. But it's not good news for Molly's loved ones. Parkinson says there's not enough proof to charge anyone with murder. And I'm not going to go over every detail because a lot of it has already come up and will have links to his
Starting point is 00:50:04 report along with the family's rebuttal in our show notes. But to sum it up, Parkinson says that a lot of the evidence Molly's supporters see as indisputable proof that she was killed is actually open to interpretation. Take the scratches on Richie's back. Combined with his DNA under Molly's fingernails, that could mean that the two of them got into an altercation, sure, but there might also be an innocent explanation like if Molly accidentally scratched him while helping him to bed or if his DNA under her nails didn't necessarily come from that at all. Right, or there are two separate things.
Starting point is 00:50:42 Ultimately, the prosecutor thinks pretty much everything is inconclusive. Although, whatever happened, he doubts Richie deliberately lured Molly to his apartment to kill her. And he says there's not a shred of proof to suggest Carbondale PD or State Police ignored or manipulated evidence to protect Richie or his family. But Larry pushes back and says that Parkinson's report is filled with omissions and half-truths. He told Crime Watch Daily that he definitely thinks it's possible that evidence was tampered with, specifically by Ritchie's father. Okay. And what he's basing it off of is back when they got Ritchie's phone and saw that all of
Starting point is 00:51:24 that stuff was deleted. I guess they tried to recover his data, but for some reason, his phone wouldn't connect to the extraction tool. And listen, there are a lot of good reasons why that could actually happen. But there are also nefarious reasons. We don't know what the reason was in this specific instance, but what Larry finds interesting is that at the time of Molly's death, Richie's dad was a detective supervisor in a nearby county sheriff's office, and he specialized in digital forensics and cybercrime.
Starting point is 00:51:57 Oh. Yeah, according to his own LinkedIn page, he has testified in court as an expert witness in digital examinations, and he knows how to use the exact data extraction system that failed to connect with Richie's phone. So have his parents ever been connected to any of this in any way? I feel like this is the first time you've even really mentioned them. No, investigators have asked them about whether they even went to help him or helped tamper with electronics or whatever, and his mom and dad both deny it.
Starting point is 00:52:26 So they have never been officially connected. And again, there's no link here. It's just like he had experience with this connection device, the end, right? It's not a hugely strong link. Right, right. At the end of the day, Tamali's family and supporters, their bottom line is this. No matter how Molly felt emotionally, even if she said she wanted to take her own life, honestly, even if she did want to take her own life, they believe that the forensic evidence
Starting point is 00:52:55 points to homicide. But two different state's attorneys have said otherwise. So, where does this leave the case? Well, according to an article in the Illinois bar journal by Matthew Hector, after Larry's wrongful death lawsuit was dismissed because of the statute of limitations, he advocated for legislation changes. In 2016, Molly's law was passed to strengthen Illinois' foyer process and extend the time that people have to file wrongful death lawsuits in certain cases.
Starting point is 00:53:26 But is Molly's case just closed? I mean, it's actually never been closed. In fact, it's finally active again. A man named Joe Servantes unseeded Mike Carr for state's attorney in 2020. And when he was running for office that year, Servantes told Daily Egyptian reporter Gaten Yates that if he was at the helm when Molly was killed, based on what he knows of the case, he would have prosecuted Richie. And this year, he filed a motion to basically unrecuse the Jackson County office from the
Starting point is 00:53:59 case, so the case is back under his jurisdiction. When Nina spoke with him over the summer, he was trying to tie up some loose ends and run down some leads and he says that he knows that this would be a difficult case to prove. The evidence is complex and there are questions that still need to be answered, but he believes that there are paths forward to at least explore. Does he thinks that there was foul play involved in Molly's death. And although he thinks the investigation could have gone better, he doesn't believe that there was any intentional misconduct on the part of law enforcement. Now, we reached out to Richie for this episode, but never heard back.
Starting point is 00:54:40 As far as we can tell, the only public statement he made was in 2013 when his lawyer told reporter Crystal Britt, quote, "'Sadly, nothing that Richie or I can say or do will change the feelings of those who refuse to accept the facts of this tragedy. That this lovely young lady took her own life. So please do not mistake the lack of comment as evidence of wrongdoing.'" End quote. He's not with the Carman Dale Police Department anymore. He's got two DUI convictions and at some
Starting point is 00:55:11 point we know he moved to Missouri and he now works as a lead dispatcher for the St. Louis Fire Department. Richie has never been charged with anything related to Molly's case. Neither has Wes, who's never even been called a suspect, but we couldn't get in touch with him either. If you want to check out the Justice for Molly Facebook page, we will link out to that in our show notes if you're interested in learning more
Starting point is 00:55:36 about the case and what's next. And if you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts or is a victim of domestic violence, help is available. We have contact information for the National Suicide Hotline and National Domestic Violence Hotlines in our blog post and show notes. You can find all the source material for this episode on our website, And you can follow us on Instagram at CrimeJunkiePodcast.

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