Man Convicted of Killing Wife Directs Police to Human Remains

By Raymond McCaffrey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Howard County man serving a life sentence for killing his wife more than a decade ago directed authorities recently to a wooded area where they found what he said were her remains, police said yesterday.

Paul Stephen Riggins Jr. told authorities "approximately 10 days ago" that the remains of Nancy Lee Riggins, who was 37 when she disappeared in 1996, were in Hanover, in northwestern Anne Arundel County, Howard police said. A search later found "human remains that may be those of Nancy Riggins," police said in a statement.

Police described the Nancy Riggins murder as "the first 'no body' homicide case in Howard County." Nancy Riggins, who worked at a Giant Food store in Burtonsville, was last seen July 1, 1996, two days before her husband reported her missing.

Denise C. Keenan, a sister of Nancy Riggins, said the discovery of the remains was "extremely important."

"Because for 11 years you go to bed at night and wonder where your sister is," Keenan said. "There's always that awful feeling. You don't know what he did with her."

Tina Leisher, one of Riggins's former co-workers, praised police for pursuing the case. She said Nancy Riggins's friends at Giant "never gave up looking for her. Never ever."

"She had a heart of gold. She had a heart of gold," Leisher said. "She was someone you couldn't help be friends with. She loved life."

Leisher said she hoped the events of the last two weeks would provide solace for Riggins's daughter. "Hopefully, Amanda can have her mother back," Leisher said.

It was unclear yesterday how Paul Riggins, 50, was persuaded to disclose the location. Robert Ackley, a county police duty officer, said he could not provide an exact date of when the remains were discovered. Scientific tests to confirm the identity of the remains are pending, police said.

In interviews after Nancy Riggins's disappearance, co-workers said they believed she would not have abandoned her daughter, who was born prematurely in 1990.

The case was featured on Geraldo Rivera's and Maury Povich's TV shows and in Redbook magazine. Co-workers also persuaded Giant to place Riggins's picture on a billboard.

The investigation quickly focused on Paul Riggins, who was indicted by a county jury in 2000 and convicted of murder the next year.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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