The Farmville murders occurred in Farmville,
Virginia in September, 2009 – the quadruple bludgeoning homicide of
Mark Neiderbrock, his estranged wife Debra S. Kelley, their daughter
Emma Neiderbrock and her friend Melanie Wells.
Emma Neiderbrock shared a relationship with Richard
McCroskey, a troubled aspiring rapper. Together, Emma Neiderbrock,
McCroskey, her mother and father, along with friend Wells, attended a
horrorcore concert the week before. When Wells' mother could not
locate her daughter, she alerted police, who discovered the murders.
McCroskey, 20 years old, was subsequently arrested,
convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison. He is
serving his sentence at Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Virginia.
The murders took place at Debra Kelley's home,
where Kelley lived with her daughter Emma Neiderbrock. The bodies were
found just after 3:00 p.m. on September 17, 2009, the victims having
been bludgeoned to death with a hammer and maul. Three bodies were
found in a downstairs bedroom and one in a room upstairs.
Days before the killings Emma Niederbrock and
Melanie Wells joined McCroskey in Michigan for a horrorcore concert,
the Strictly for the Wicked Festival. According to police, Emma's
parents, Debra Kelley and Mark Niederbrock had taken Emma Neiderbrock,
Melanie Wells and McCroskey to the concert. Kelley had taken her
daughter to the concert hoping to keep an eye on her.
Prince Edwards County Prosecuting Attorney James
Ennis said McCroskey's anger over his relationship with Emma
Neiderbrock led to the killings. Ennis says McCroskey was angered by
some text messages Emma sent while they were in Michigan. They
returned to Virginia, and McCroskey became increasingly distraught
about the relationship, Ennis said. He had an expectation that he and
Emma were seeing each other exclusively and was unhappy with how
things were going.
Late in the evening of Sept. 14, 2009, or early the
next morning, McCroskey drank beer, smoked marijuana and might have
taken painkillers before he attacked the three female victims in the
house as they were sleeping, Ennis said. He killed each within a short
period of time around 3 a.m. on Sept. 15.
Ennis said that McCroskey first killed Wells, who
was on a sofa in a first-floor den, then Kelley in an upstairs room,
and finally Emma in her downstairs bedroom. He struck each victim
multiple times with the maul. "No one awoke," Ennis said, adding that
the victims had no defensive wounds.
Mark Niederbrock arrived at the home Sept. 17 about
5 p.m., and McCroskey attacked him with the maul in a living room,
Ennis said. McCroskey later moved Mark Niederbrock’s and Wells’ bodies
into Emma’s room, and he attempted to clean up the bloody den, Ennis
At some point, McCroskey used a digital camera to
record a video of himself, according to Ennis. In the video, he
indicated that he knew he had to pay for what he had done and
contemplated suicide, Ennis said.
A press release was issued to the public at the
time of the murders. An e-mail was sent to Longwood University
students. The following Monday, the Attorney General and Farmville
County Police Department held a press conference where the bodies were
The four people killed were Mark Neiderbrock; his
estranged 53-year-old wife Debra Kelley; their 16-year-old daughter
Emma Neiderbrock and her 18-year-old friend Melanie Wells:
Mark Neiderbrock was a pastor at a Presbyterian
church in Hixburg in northern Appomattox County, and father of
16-year-old Emma Neiderbrock. Neiderbrock had been heading Walker's
Presbyterian Church for the past six years. Born in Illinois,
Neiderbrock was an Eagle Scout and graduate of the University of
Illinois. Before he entered the ministry he worked as a graphic
designer. Neiderbrock and his wife Debra Kelley had been divorced for
about nine months.
Dr. Debra S. Kelley was a 53-year-old associate
professor of sociology and criminal justice studies at Longwood
University since 1994 and had started Longwood's chapter of Lambda
Alpha Epsilon, a criminal justice fraternity – often having students
over for cookouts. She lived with her daughter Emma Neiderbrock at the
house in Farmville where the murders occurred. According to Kelley's
colleague she was disturbed by her daughter's obsession with
horrorcore and they were in counseling.
Emma Neiderbrock was Mark Neiderbrock's and Debra
Kelley's 16-year-old daughter and the girlfriend of Richard McCroskey,
the convicted murderer. She had been home-schooled since middle
school. She was interested in the occult and macabre music – as well
as the Backstreet Boys and soccer. McCroskey and Emma Neiderbrock met
about a year before the murders, at a concert near San Diego.
Melanie Wells was the 18-year-old daughter of
Thomas G. Wells Jr. and Kathleen Wells, of Inwood, West Virginia, and
Emma Neiderbrock's friend. Wells and her family moved to West Virginia
from Louisville, Kentucky, just before Wells was to enter high school.
Wells dropped out and was studying for her high school equivalency
diploma. She attended Musselman High School. Wells had been staying
with Emma Neiderbrock and Emma's mother.
Richard McCroskey had been a graphic designer and
amateur horrorcore rapper and had been living with his father and
21-year-old sister in Castro Valley, California. McCroskey and his
sister had been raised in Hayward before moving to Castro Valley. His
father, a rock guitarist, introduced him to Insane Clown Posse,
Metallica and Primus.
In high school, McCroskey had been teased and
bullied because of his weight and red hair. Neighbors described him as
a loner. His sister Sarah recalled him as a mild-mannered and kind
person who never fought back or defended himself unless provoked.
McCroskey's MySpace page featured songs he authored with violent
lyrics, dealing with subjects including mutilation, death and the
thrill of murder.
McCroskey dropped out of Tennyson High School in
Hayward, then attended Hayward High School for a time before dropping
out again. About five months prior to the murders, McCroskey had been
devastated when his father asked their mother to move out. He was
excited for a planned trip to Virginia to see girlfriend Emma
Neiderbrock, whom he had dated online for almost a year and spoken
with almost daily by phone. He flew to Virginia on September 6.
Investigation, arrest and conviction
Prior to discovering the murders, Melanie Wells'
mother had called city police asking them to check on her daughter.
Each time Melanie Wells' mother had called the Kelley home and spoken
with Richard McCroskey, McCroskey had given her a different story.
When police arrived at the Kelley home, McCroskey
answered the door and told police Wells was at the movies with a
friend. The police left, and when Melanie Wells' mother called police
again they went to the house and discovered the bodies.
By that time, McCloskey had fled, stealing and
wrecking Mark Niederbrock's 2000 Honda. Unaware of the murders, a
deputy issued him a summons for driving without a license but did not
arrest him. Prince Edward Sheriff's Sgt. Stuart Raybold said at the
time there was no reason for the deputy to be suspicious. During this
time, McCroskey made a call to confess he had just killed the victims.
McCroskey was apprehended at Richmond International
Airport on September 18, where police found him sleeping in the
baggage claim area, about to fly back to California. McCroskey, who
had no prior criminal record, was first charged with first degree
murder, robbery and grand larceny (stealing the car), but later was
charged with six counts of capital murder. McCroskey was subsequently
held in Piedmont Regional jail, on suicide watch.
Police concluded the victims died from blunt force
trauma to the head. Police occult expert Don Rimer, brought in because
of symbols found in the music the teens listened, described the murder
scene as a slaughter house.
McCroskey did not initially cooperate with police
after his arrest. When asked about the possible motive, Police Sgt.
Andy Ellington from Farmville, VA Ellington said McCroskey said "Jesus
told me to do it."
The police took McCroskey's computer, house phones
and more than a dozen paper bags full of evidence from his home.
McCroskey was charged with six counts of capital murder because he is
alleged to have killed multiple people within three years.
On September 20, 2010, McCroskey pleaded guilty to
the four murders. Although facing the death penalty, he was sentenced
to life in prison. County Attorney James Ennis says that the victims'
families supported his decision to reach a plea agreement instead of
going to trial and seeking the death penalty.
McCroskey pleads guilty to Farmville murders,
gets life in prison
By Shawn Maclauchlan - Nbc12.com
September 21, 2010
FARMVILLE, VA (WWBT) - The man charged with killing
four people in Farmville in September 2009 plead guilty to all four
counts in court Monday and will serve the rest of his life in prison.
Richard "Sam" McCroskey was sentenced to life in
prison in a Prince Edward County Circuit Courtroom this afternoon. In
a plea agreement, he plead guilty to two counts of capital murder and
two counts of first degree murder. The judge recommended life in
prison for all four counts. He waived his right to an appeal.
The California rapper was arrested at Richmond
International Airport. He plead guilty to the brutal murders of
Longwood University professor Debra Kelley, her estranged husband,
Pastor Mark Niederbrock, their daughter Emma, 16, and her friend
Melanie Wells, 18.
Attorneys say this crime had nothing to do with the
horrorcore music McCroskey was into. Instead, he was angry his
relationship with Emma Niederbrock had soured. The commonwealth's
attorney says McCroskey told him the other three were simply in the
wrong place at the wrong time.
On his way out of the courthouse, Richard Sam
McCroskey smirked as he walked toward a van waiting to take him back
to jail. But his attorney says McCroskey isn't proud of what he did.
"I think it's both a relief and he's thinking about
the rest of his life," said Cary Bowen, McCroskey's Attorney.
McCroskey spent a day and a half with the bodies of
his girlfriend Emma, her mother Longwood professor, Debra Kelley, and
Emma's friend from West Virginia Melanie Wells.
"I think he was contemplating he was contemplating
the severity of what he had done and just not knowing what to do about
it," Bowen said.
Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Ennis says McCroskey
killed Wells first. She was sleeping on a couch in the den. Next was
Kelley, also asleep in her upstairs office. McCroskey killed Emma
third while she slept in her bedroom. That was on September 15, one
day after they'd returned from a horrorcore concert in Michigan.
When Mark Niederbrock went to Kelley's home on
September 17th to check on Wells, McCroskey attacked him from behind
with the same weapon he used on the other three-- a wood splitting
maul weighing about 8 pounds that McCroskey got from Kelley's
"He said that's what he picked up and he felt like
because of the weight of it that nobody would suffer," said Ennis.
Ennis says McCroskey was angry about his failing
relationship with Emma.
"I think he had a certain expectation of the
relationship with Emma Niederbrock; what it was going to be like after
a year on the computer and it did not turn out to be what he imagined
it was going to be like," Ennis said.
The victim's families declined to comment, but
issued a written statement saying their relieved the case is over and
that justice has been done. A statement by McCroskey will be sent to
the victim's families by the end of this week.
Update: Chilling New Details Emerge in Syko Sam
Horrorcore Murders Case
By Eric Arnold - Sfweekly.com
Tue., September 22, 2009
New revelations have come to light in the case of "Skyo
Sam" McCroskey, the 20 year-old Castro Valley wanna-be rapper, graphic
designer, and alleged Santanic cultist, accused of murdering four
people in Virginia last week, including his girlfriend, her best
friend and her parents, a professor and a priest.
Virginia law enforcement authorities have
determined the four were killed by blunt force trauma. News reports
have also described McCrosky's seemingly calm behavior in the
immediate aftermath of the murders; despite encountering law
enforcement officers on two occasions, once at the victim's house, and
once while driving a car belonging to one of the victims, McCroskey
was not arrested until after the bodies were discovered, a day later.
A truck driver who gave McCroskey a ride and made
small talk with him after the murders described the youth as having an
odor consistent with rotting flesh. "He stunk like the devil," the
driver told the Associated Press.
Despite reports that he was bullied, McCroskey's
sister has described him as "a quiet kid who got along with
everybody." Before deciding to become a horrorcore rapper a few months
ago, McCroskey apparently spent large amounts of time in his room,
playing violent video games and listing to heavy metal and horrorcore
music. His alter-ego, Syko Sam, made numerous references in his music
to "evil" voices in his head advising him to "murder continuously" and
"take lives on a killing spree." A YouTube video shows McCroskey
bragging about defiling graves.
But those aren't the most disturbing details to
emerge in this macabre case. According to Paul Calcagno, McCroskey was
part of a Satanic cult who engaged in ritual music videos and idolized
David Berkowitz, the 1970s NYC serial killer who called himself "the
Son of Sam." Calcagno is the author of a blog in which he describes
meeting Syko Sam in 2006: "As a result of my personal experience with
Sam and his affiliated "Horror Core" rap artists, I believe that New
Mexico Rap Label "Serial Killing Records" is behind the grisly mass
murder. Basically, I was an actor in one of their music videos. In the
video they killed a priest, a Rabbi, a Muslim Cleric, and the Pope.
Sam McCrosky killed a PASTOR IN REAL LIFE (Virginia pastor, Mark
In the video, SickTanick kills the clergymen one by
one by slitting their throats, masturbates onto a magazine, and is
sexually serviced by a chained woman. The video also shows what
appears to be the same woman committing suicide twice, by slitting her
wrists in a bathtub and jumping off a building.
According to Calcagno, "the video was actually a
Satanic ritual itself. The filmmakers were all members of the Church
of Satan (they showed me the red membership cards)."
He also embellishes the connections between
Berkowitz and McCroskey, who also went by the name Lil Demon Dog -- a
reference to Berkowitz' insistence that he took his killing orders
from a demon dog named "Sam." He also alleges that Serial Killin'
Records honcho "Sicktanik and company often joked that if any of them
were to go out and "pull a Manson", that they should "blame it on
Jesus," before pointing out that McCroskey allegedly told a reporter
"Jesus told me to do it" following his arrest.
Although SickTanic has claimed his music was simply
a form of expression, his MySpace blog lists his "experience in the
world of the occult," which he claims sets him apart from other
"Satanic Rap" artists. On it, he says he has conducted both Satanic
Baptisms and Satanic Masses. Creepy.
More details have also emerged about the victims
and the lifestyle they and McCroskey engaged in, which apparently
included heavy doses of sex, drugs, and occult practices. A comment
posted Monday on "LilDemondog"'s YouTube channel by "XxKinkySuicidexX"
appears to reference Emma Niederbrock, McCroskey's 16 year-old
girlfriend, who was among the victims: "i dont know what to think... i
thought u loved her... u said u loved me 2.. u would of killed Me too
wouldent you?! you had the chance u had the oppertunitys Why them? i
dont understand!? "
Hauntingly, several messages from Melanie Wells on
"LilDemonDog"'s MySpace page make references to the concert she
attended with McCroskey before her death, excitedly referencing
afterparties "in multiple hotel rooms." On June 9th, Wells wrote, "I
can't wait to get druuuuunk."
Melanie Wells' MySpace page--which has been filled
with poignant tributes from friends in the past few days-- describes
her as an "SKR Unholy Disciple" - a reference to SickTanick's Serial
Killin' Records, who McCroskey allegedly promoted for. She also calls
herself a believer in "Laveyan Satanism," notes "McDonalds,
cigarettes, caffeine and drugs keep me alive and healthy," lists her
interests as including "blood and gore, open graves, dead people,
and proclaims, "I'm a sinner and I repent not."
Wells' site also lists a poem, in which she
fantasizes about killing a cheating lover:
You're screaming and bleeding lying on the floor
I can't help it, I'm aching for more gore
Slowly I make an incision in your main artery
I feel the blood rush, gush all over my body
It's going deeper and deeper, your life is slowly fading
Your eyes roll back and your body starts shaking
Quadruple murder suspect brought back to
Farmville to face charges
Sep 20, 2009
FARMVILLE, VA (NBC12) - Murder rocks a small town
as Farmville police make a gruesome discovery-- four bodies inside the
home of a local University professor.
Armed and dangerous is how police described the man
they say is responsible for slaying four people.
And after a widespread manhunt, police at Richmond
International Airport arrested 20-year-old Richard McCroskey Saturday.
He's now facing murder, robbery and grand larceny
Farmville police found four partially decomposed
bodies at the home of a Longwood University professor Friday evening.
A short time later, police in the rural area filed
felony warrants for McCroskey.
Airport police found him around 11:30 Saturday
morning falling asleep in the baggage claim area.
He had a ticket to fly back home to California
Sunday, and reportedly had been trying to move the flight up but
didn't have the money to pay for the ticket change.
The murders have sent shock waves through the small
town, where police barricades and tape continue to block off the crime
While police have not released the identities of
the four victims, we're told professor Debra Kelley, her husband,
daughter and a friend were staying at the home.
"When it's friends, and loved ones," said Farmville
resident Michael Phelan. "I don't have the words. It's a sad day."
Phelan used to teach with the criminal justice
He says he spent hours inside their home discussing
her two favorite academic topics-- homicide and violence.
Neighbors and friends keep vigil around the home at
505 First Avenue, still in disbelief such horrific violence could
"Farmville, this is small town USA," he said.
"Nothing happens here."
Landon MacEachran went to grade school with
Kelley's daughter Emma.
"I wouldn't have believed it at all and if it did
happen," he said. "I wouldn't have believed it would have been her.
Such a sweet innocent person. Her family was sweet, her dad was sweet,
mom was too."
McCroskey's MySpace page has a September seventh
post from what friends say is 16-year-old Emma's username- it reads:
"The next time you check your MySpace, you'll be at my house. I love
you so much."
McCroskey last logged into his account, "lildemondog"
Friday, while Emma Niederbrock's account activity ends September 14.
One day after police discovered the bodies,
"Why would it happen? That's my question," said
MacEachran. "Why would he do it?"
Police are still not saying how the victims died.
They will likely release more information as they
continue to interrogate McCroskey.
More charges are expected.
Richard McCroskey Arrested: Murder Suspect
Posted Songs About "Thrill Of Killing" On MySpace
By Dena Potter - HuffingtonPost.com
September 20, 2009
RICHMOND, Va. — A California rapper whose lyrics
spoke about the thrill of murder and mutilation has been charged with
killing a Virginia pastor, whose body was found along with three
others inside the home of his estranged wife, authorities said Sunday.
Police on Saturday charged Richard Alden Samuel
McCroskey III, 20, of Castro Valley, Calif., with murder, robbery and
stealing the automobile of Mark Niederbrock, a pastor at Walker's
Presbyterian Church in Appomattox County.
Niederbrock has been tentatively identified as one
of four people discovered Saturday in Farmville, about 50 miles west
of Richmond, at the home of Longwood University professor Debra
Kelley. Niederbrock and Kelley were separated, said Farmville police
Capt. Wade Stimpson. He emphasized that the state medical examiner's
office would not officially identify any of the victims until at least
McCroskey will be formally charged with the other
three killings once the bodies are identified, Stimpson said. He said
"there are a number of factors relating to why" police couldn't
identify the victims. He would not say how they were killed.
Police went to Kelley's home Thursday after a West
Virginia woman called to say that it had been days since she heard
from her teen daughter, who was staying with Kelley and Niederbrock's
daughter, Emma, Stimpson said.
Investigators went to the home, where a man
matching McCroskey's description told them the girls had gone to the
movies. When the mother still didn't hear from her daughter Friday,
police went to the home and found the bodies.
Police arrested McCroskey at the Richmond airport
Saturday as he waited to take a plane back to California. He is being
held in the Piedmont Regional Jail and has an initial court appearance
on Monday to determine if he needs a court-appointed attorney.
Stimpson said messages posted online led police to
believe McCroskey knew Emma Niederbrock and that he may have been
On McCroskey's MySpace page, someone who goes by
Ragdoll, which friends identified as Emma Niederbrock, wrote several
messages to McCroskey. In a post dated Sept. 7, Niederbrock says she
is excited for McCroskey's visit to her house.
"The next time you check your myspace, YOULL BE AT
MY HOUSE!" the post reads.
A friend said McCroskey, Emma and her friend were
brought together by horrorcore music, which sets violent lyrics to
Andres Shrim, who owns the small, independent
horrorcore music label Serial Killin Records in New Mexico and
performs under the name SickTanicK, said he saw all three Sept. 12 at
an all-day music festival in Southgate, Mich.
Shrim said despite the morbid music he and his
friends loved, they were not violent people.
"You look at the music we do and it's kind of harsh
and somewhat brutal at times, but there's a different side of life
that people aren't normally accustomed to, and being an artist I think
it's important to see both sides of life," he said.
McCroskey recorded songs that spoke of death,
murder and mutilation under the name Syko Sam. His MySpace Web page
said he has only been rapping for a few months but has been a fan for
years of the horrorcore genre.
"You're not the first, just to let you know. I've
killed many people and I kill them real slow. It's the best feeling,
watching their last breath. Stabbing and stabbing till there's nothing
left," McCroskey sings in "My Dark Side."
Shrim asked others not to judge McCroskey by the
lyrics to his songs or his disturbing Web pages.
"This is not something from the Sam I know," he
said. "This is not something that I would ever, ever in a million
years envision him doing."
Stimpson called McCroskey's songs and writings "a
little disturbing," and said police were looking into that.
A phone message left Sunday at McCroskey's
California home was not immediately returned.