Executed in cold blood: threats kept their killers from justice

Washington State, USA in 1985 and the day after 83 and 81-year-old Minne and Ed Maurin had been reported missing, witnesses reported that they had seen their car abandoned on Stearns Hill Road near Adna. When the police went to examine it, they made a harrowing discovery. The inside of the car was covered in blood and the keys were still in the ignition.

Ed and Minnie Maurine

On Christmas Eve, five days after they were last seen, the couple’s bodies were discovered in a wooded area in Chihalis, Washington. The police quickly established that they had both been shot from behind with a shotgun. As further witnesses came forward, the events of that fateful night became clearer. The police received reports that the car had been seen at the Sterling Savings and Loan bank on the night of their disappearance, and discovered that Ed had made a withdrawal of $8,500 from his account. This immediately suggested to the police that the Maurins had been forced to withdraw money by their assailant, before he killed them and dumped their bodies.

Two primary suspects were quickly established by the police. These were two local brothers, John and Rick Riffe, who were known to the police for their involvement in a range of criminal activity. The police were desperate for more witnesses to come forward, someone had to have seen or heard something that could place the two brothers at the Maurin’s house or in their car. The investigation continued, and by the 1990s the police were almost certain that the Riffes were responsible for these horrific crimes, but didn’t have sufficient evidence. Detectives even interrogated the brothers and gave both of them a polygraph, which they both failed, but still there were no prosecutors that were willing to charge them with the murders. In the early 2000s, Minnie’s son Dennis Hadaller decided that enough was enough. He was furious that the Riffes were still at large, and decided he would hire private detectives to look into the case.

Turning point

Hadaller was relentless in his search for the truth; he had decided that he would do whatever it took to get to the bottom of his parents’ death, even if it bankrupted him. In 2005, a young, dedicated investigator by the name of Bruce Kimsey took over the search for evidence, and spent the next eight years reviewing thousands of pages of information from the time of the murders and the years that followed. He began to re-interview the witnesses who came forward at the time, and asked the many people who had known the Maurins and the Riffe brothers during the 1980s. People started to reveal more and more detail about what they had seen that night, and what they knew about the Riffe brothers.

When Jonathan Meyer was elected as the new Chief Prosecutor for the area in 2010, things really began to move forward. He was not afraid to go after the two brothers, and knew he had one shot at putting them away for good. His efforts helped even more witnesses to come forward, and with the help of the current police team and the team that had worked to original case, they finally had enough evidence to take down the Riffes once and for all. The evidence was suddenly overwhelming; it was time to make an arrest.

Aftermath

Ricky Riffe was give a 103-year sentence

The police quickly made arrangements to travel to Alaska to arrest the brothers, where they had both moved to in 1987. Ironically, John passed away just a week before the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office travelled to make their arrest, leaving only Rick Riffe to face arrest and prosecution.

During the six week trial, Rick remained silent and motionless, showing no remorse as his and his brother’s horrific crimes were exposed by the prosecution. It was suggested that the Riffe brothers’ reputation at the time of the murders had made witnesses scared to come forward; both were dangerous, small-time drug dealers during the 1980s who weren’t to be messed with.

John Riffe died the week before the arrest

 

They had a reputation of finding and hurting anyone who gave information against them, and had reportedly threatened to kill anyone who spoke to the police about the Maurins. The police and private investigators involved in the case had finally succeeded in convincing people that the Riffes were no threat; 90 different witnesses attended the trial and testified against both of them.

On November 18 2013, Rick Riffe was found guilty of the kidnapping, robbery and murders of Ed and Minne Maurin. The couple’s son was finally able to fulfil a promise he had made to his parents on the day of their funeral; he would find the people responsible for their deaths. Riffe was sentenced to just shy of 103 years in prison, ensuring that he will spend the rest of his life locked up.

Although the family feel some degree of comfort now that the killers have been brought to justice, there is no way that a guilty verdict can minimise the destructive damage that the Riffe brothers caused the Maurin family. Their family was torn apart, for a measly $8,500.

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