Updated a 6:10 p.m.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – After Ricky Allen Riffe appeared briefly in a Chehalis courtroom his afternoon, his lawyer said his client looks forward to clearing his name in the 1985 kidnapping and slaying of Ed and Minnie Maurin of Ethel.
“He definitely did not do it,” attorney John Crowley said.
Riffe, 53, was arrested earlier this month at his home in Alaska and brought back to Lewis County where he is charged in the decades old case.
Normally someone booked into the jail would have made a first appearance before a judge much sooner, but Crowley was out of town on another case last week.
Today’s appearance was only to set a date for arraignment and address bail conditions. Riffe’s attorney however did not ask for any reduction in his client’s $5 million bail.
Riffe did not speak.
His mother, father, brother and two other family members were in the courtroom, but chose not to talk with the news media.
Also in the courtroom was Elaine Amos of Toledo and her sister.
Her brother-in-law is a primary witness in the case, Amos said.
“I haven’t been able to sleep, worrying about my brother-in-law,” she said. “We’re worried he’s going to get off.”
Riffe and his brother John Gregory Riffe – both former Lewis County residents – moved to Alaska in 1987.
The Lewis County sheriff says they have long been suspects in the case. Sheriff Steve Mansfield has said detectives felt many witnesses did not come forward out of fear of the Riffe brothers.
Authorities believe the elderly couple was kidnapped from their home on U.S. Highway 12, forced to drive to their bank and withdraw money, before being shot in the backs and dumped near a logging road west of Adna. Their bodies were found days later on Christmas Eve in 1985.
Ed Maurin was 81 years old, his wife 83.
The Seattle-based defense attorney was adamant about his client’s position when he spoke outside the courtroom this afternoon.
“I want people to know whenever Ricky Riffe gets his opportunity to testify, he’s going to take that opportunity,” Crowley said.
Riffe wants to clear his name and will strongly deny any involvement or knowledge of the murders on his part or his brother’s, according to Crowley.
John Riffe died last month died just a week before detectives purchased tickets to travel King Salmon, Alaska to arrest the brothers. He was 50.
Sixteen pages of charging documents describe numerous people who were interviewed both after the deaths and over the years since. None of the witnesses are named.
A truck driver who was contacted in 1991 pointed to Ricky Riffe and offered several pieces of information, including how he gave a shotgun to Ricky Riffe which he asked him to cut down so he could carry it on the job, according to charging documents. He said he had trouble getting it back, until two or three months after the murders, the documents alleges. The gun was later tossed in Mayfield Lake, according to one witness.
The unnamed truck driver spoke of Ricky Riffe having no money and then suddenly buying a commercial-type fishing boat, as well as getting an odd call from Rick Riffe’s wife Robin Riffe, who said, “You wouldn’t believe what Rick’s done,” the document states.
Another man who came forward in 2004 told detectives he saw the Riffe brothers in a car with the Maurin couple near their Ethel home, but was afraid for his life because they threatened him if he told, charging documents state.
Crowley said today his client feels bad for the people who were killed, but to his knowledge, nobody has identified Ricky Riffe in photos to detectives.
There’s no physical evidence and no DNA evidence, Crowley said.
Riffe worked as a heavy equipment operator in the small fishing community, but hasn’t been able to work for about a year because of a breathing disorder. He has COPD and uses oxygen, Crowley said.
Lewis County Prosecutor Will Halstead said he wanted to set the arraignment the week after next, but Crowley won’t be a available.
That is scheduled to take place on Aug. 23, at 3 p.m.
For more background, read “Maurin homicide: Accused murderer’s lawyer says no new evidence in old case” from Thursday July 26, 2012, here