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Richard Lee TINGLER Jr.





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: September 16/ October 20, 1968
Date of arrest: May 19, 1969
Date of birth: December 1940
Victims profile: Tavern proprietor Joseph Zoldman, two of his part-time bartenders, and a young female prostitute / Susan Pack and Jimmy Stevens (bar employees)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Cleveland/Columbus, Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to death, 1969. Commuted to life in prison, 1972

Born out of wedlock in December 1940, Richard Tingler was raised by a mother who beat him regularly, interspersing punishment with frequent reminders that her son was "born in sin."

Enlisting in the air force to escape from home, Tingler experienced his first run-in with police in June 1959, while stationed in Alaska. Going AWOL with a friend, he was arrested on a charge of burglary in Anchorage, and wound up pleading guilty to four break-ins. 

Transferred several times during his two-year federal sentence, Tingler was released from Chilicothe, Ohio, in February 1961. Six months later, with the same air force crony, he was busted in Portsmouth, Ohio, on thirteen counts of breaking and entering. Packed off to state prison for a term of one to fifteen years, Tingler was paroled in August 1964. More burglaries sent him back to prison, as a parole violator, but he was finally released in February 1968.

On September 16, early-morning joggers found four bodies laid out side-by-side in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park. The victims, slain by multiple gunshots from two different weapons, included tavern proprietor Joseph Zoldman, two of his part-time bartenders, and a young female prostitute. Authorities surmised that the four had been taken hostage in a tavern robbery, conveyed to the park at gunpoint, and murdered there to eliminate troublesome witnesses.

A month later, on October 20, a lone gunman entered a dairy bar in Columbus, Ohio, near closing time. Scooping $562 out of the register, he ordered manager Phyllis Crowe and two teenage employees -- Susan Pack and Jimmy Stevens -- into the back room. Binding their hands, the bandit was about to leave when he paused in the doorway, his face contorted by sudden rage, and snarled, "What the hell, I ain't got nothing to lose. I'm gonna kill you all."

Ripping the door of a safe from its mountings, the stranger advanced on Pack and Stevens, pounding their skulls in a frenzy. Turning on Phyllis Crowe, he twisted a coathanger around her neck, choking her into unconsciousness and leaving her for dead. When she woke and struggled free a half-hour later, Crowe found that both her employees had also been shot in the back of their heads. Ballistics tests matched the bullets to one of the guns used in Cleveland on October 20, and Mrs. Crow identified a mug shot of Richard Tingler as her assailant.

Indicted on six counts of murder, Tingler was added to the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list on November 8, 1968. By that time, using the name of "Don Williams," he had secured employment on a farm owned by Alvin Hoffman, near Dill City, Oklahoma. Hoffman thought it strange that his employee packed a pistol everywhere he went, but "Williams" was a decent worker, and a love of firearms does not make a man stand out in Oklahoma.

On March 30, 1969, Tingler's photograph was broadcast following an episode of "The FBI" television series. Viewing the program, "Don Williams" realized his time was running short. He became increasingly nervous on the job, and one morning he failed to report for work.

On April 27, 49-year-old Brooks Hutchenson checked into a motel at Gilman, Illinois, accompanied by a new acquaintance, "D.L. Williams." Next morning, the maid found Hutchenson dead in his room, shot four times at close range, with his cash and late-model Ford LTD missing.

On April 29, "Don Williams" returned to the Hoffman farm, driving Hutchenson's car. He left again the next morning, but returned -- minus the car -- on May 2. By this time, his erratic behavior was drawing attention from neighbors, and Tingler's time was running out.

By mid-May, the Washita County sheriff's office was receiving complaints about "Williams" and his indiscriminate gunfire. A neighbor's dog had been killed without provocation, and the farm hand was fond of shooting glass insulators on high-tension poles lining the highway. Deputies investigating the complaints were warned by locals that the gunman bore a strong resemblance to a wanted fugitive .

On May 19, a team of federal agents joined sheriff's deputies on a second visit to the farm. They found Tingler working in a field, relieved him of an automatic pistol, and took him into custody without resistance. Tried on six counts of murder in Ohio, the fugitive was convicted and sentenced to die.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans



VENUE: Cleveland/Columbus, Ohio


MO: Executed victims of both sexes during robberies

DISPOSITION: Condemned, 1969 (sentence commuted to life, 1972)



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