Manhunt for escaped murderer who killed his bigamous wife’s OTHER husband
A man convicted of gunning down a love rival in a bizarre bigamy case is on the run after escaping from minimum-security Alabama prison.
Timothy Richards apparently slipped out of State Cattle Ranch, a prison farm in Greensboro, early Sunday. He was found missing from his bunk during an inmate headcount taken at 1.30am.
At least one local official, who fears for the safety of his staff and the victim’s family, says a prison farm is no place for a convicted murderer to be held.
US Marshals and local police have fanned out across central Alabama where Richards, 42, disappeared but have been unable to find any trace of him yet.
Prison officials tracked Richards’ scent with dogs, though the trail eventually ran out, according to Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett.
Corbett would not comment on how Richards escaped.
Richards pleaded guilty in 2000 to murdering Randy McCullar, one of his wife’s two other husbands, as he changed a tire in the parking lot of a church in the small city of Jasper.
The strange bigamy case centered around Shonda Nichole Johnson, who by age 28 had three husbands and two ex-husbands and went by four last names.
Richards, Johnson’s fifth husband, avoided the death penalty by testifying against his wife, providing investigators information about the plot she had hatched with Richards to kill McCullar, her third husband.
Thanks, in part, to Richards cooperation, Johnson was convicted and sentenced to death. She is one of just four women awaiting execution in Alabama.
In Richards’ home town, Sheriff Mark Tirey told the Jasper Daily Mountain Eagle newspaper that his deputies were on ‘high alert’ searching for the convict.
‘We’ve been checking local addresses that would be familiar to him — the homes of family members and places he’s been associated with in the past,’ he said.
Richards was being housed at the State Cattle Ranch, which is a farm run by the Department of Corrections that raises cows that are slaughtered for meat fed to inmates across the state.
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair, who prosecuted Richards, said he is worried for his staff and the family of Richards’ victim, told the Daily Mountain Eagle.
Richards is a large man, standing six-foot-four and weighing 230 pounds.
He blasted stat budget cuts that landed Richards on a prison farm, rather than a high-security lockup.
‘The cattle ranch shouldn’t be a place where the state puts murderers,’ he told the newspaper.
Corbett, the prisons spokesman, said Richards was transferred to the farm, which is a minimum-security facility, in July 2010 because he was nearing a possible release date.
Before his escape, Richards had a clean record in prison with no disciplinary problems, Corbett said.