Man charged in old murders appears in Alaska court

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By RACHEL D'ORO, Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A longtime Alaska resident charged in the 1985 slayings of an elderly Washington state couple declined Wednesday to waive extradition proceedings.

"Not at this time," Ricky Riffe told a judge in Anchorage during a hearing in a jailhouse courtroom. The bespectacled Riffe, who has silver hair and a long gray beard, wore yellow prison garb.

The 53-year-old Riffe is charged in Washington with first degree murder, kidnapping and other counts in the deaths of 81-year-old Edward Maurin and his 83-year-old wife, Wilhelmina Maurin. The couple died from shotgun blasts, and their bodies were found at the end of a road in Chehalis, Wash., five days after their family reported them missing.

The Lewis County Sheriff's office says Riffe, of King Salmon, Alaska, and his brother, John Riffe, were the primary suspects all along , but probable cause for their arrest was not developed until much later when additional evidence was uncovered and witnesses came forward.

"Detectives feel many witnesses did not come forward during the time of the initial investigation due to being fearful of the Riffe brothers and possible retaliation for speaking out," Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield said in a statement earlier this week.

The brothers moved to Alaska in 1987. John Riffe died just before the sheriff's office bought tickets to Alaska to arrest both men.

Washington investigators attended the brief hearing Wednesday and declined to comment afterward. So did Paul Miovas, an assistant attorney general for the state of Alaska.

During the hearing, Miovas told the judge that the Washington authorities were present and "they are interested in talking (Riffe) back to Washington."

Ricky Riffe is being held on $5 million bail. He told District Court Judge Alex Swiderski on Wednesday that he was in the process of hiring a lawyer.

"I don't want a public defender," Riffe said.

According to authorities, the Riffe brothers kidnapped the couple then drove their car to a bank and forced them to withdraw $8,500. The couple was then shot inside their vehicle and their bodies were dragged to a wooded area, authorities said.

On Dec. 19, 1985, Maurin relatives reported that the couple was not home as expected for a family Christmas party, Mansfield said.

When their car was found, there were large blood stains inside and the keys were in the ignition.

Mansfield said authorities are seeking to bring Riffe back to Lewis County to stand trial.

In Alaska, Riffe is charged with being a fugitive from justice. An affidavit signed by an Alaska State Trooper shows the trooper assisted Lewis County investigators in the arrest.

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