Two granddaughters of a man whose 1988 homicide in Williamson County remains unsolved spoke out publicly Monday for the first time about what it was like to live with the pain of his death.
“I was the one who answered the phone that night my grandmother called, and I went around the corner at 9 years old and saw my grandpa covered in blood,” said Jennifer Ritchey, one of the granddaughters of S.E. Ritchey.
“That is something that stuck with me and knowing there was never any closure and seeing how it changed our family,” she said. “The anger that was there, the not knowing that was there.”
Jennifer Ritchey spoke at a news conference at the Williamson County sheriff’s office on the 30th anniversary of the assault on her grandfather, who was 77.
He was attacked in the driveway of his eastern Williamson County home at 2150 County Road 479 in Thrall while unloading groceries with his wife on March 5, 1988. He was hit with a blunt object and died 17 days later after undergoing surgery for a fractured skull. His wife also was attacked and was unconscious when first responders arrived.
Whoever attacked the couple took cash from them and Ritchey’s wallet with the initials S.E.R. on them. The Ritcheys had returned from a laundromat they operated at 218 W. Fifth Street in Taylor when the attack happened.
“My grandfather was a simple Christian man who would never have hurt anyone,” said granddaughter Carla Ritchey Scruggs. “If these people would have said, ‘Give me your wallet, old man,’ he would have given it to them. He didn’t deserve to die like this.”
There were no witnesses except for Ritchey’s wife, Ethel Ritchey. She could not remember what happened, but after her husband died she was “never the same,” Scruggs said.
“She started putting bars on her windows and doors,” said Scruggs. “I stayed with her for months; she was scared to be alone.”
Ethel Ritchey died in 2000.
Sheriff Robert Chody said his cold case unit has interviewed 20 “people of interest” in the case.
He said investigators had some evidence that was not new but had never been sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety for testing so they sent it in. “Things are going in a positive direction,” Chody said. He declined to say what the evidence was.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call cold case unit Detective John Pokorny at (512) 943-3739 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.