The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

December 10, 2013

Carthage man’s death deemed suspicious

CARTHAGE, Mo. — An 87-year-old man whose body was discovered inside his home Monday night may have been a victim of foul play, according to Carthage police.

A neighbor checking on the well-being of Raymond R. Ritchhart made the discovery and called 911 at 6:04 p.m. The neighbor thought Ritchhart might have fallen.

Emergency medical technicians and police officers responding to 1237 Douglas Court apparently found reason to believe otherwise. Police said Tuesday that Ritchhart had “died under suspicious circumstances.”

The Tri-State Major Case Squad was activated for the investigation, and the Jasper County coroner’s office ordered an autopsy conducted at Frontier Forensics in Kansas City, Kan. But, by late Tuesday, investigators had yet to reveal how Ritchhart had died.

“In the next 24 hours or so, I think we’re going to have a clearer picture of what’s going on here,” Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan said about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Dagnan said investigators have their suspicions. But until they are able to confirm them, it would not be prudent to say what they are, he said.

Ritchhart, a retired farmer and World War II veteran, was “liked by everybody” on the street where he lived, and his neighbors were in the habit of checking on him, the police chief said.

His son, Denny Ritchhart, who farms near Jasper, told the Globe that he became concerned when he called his father’s home repeatedly on Monday and no one answered. He said his dad had recently undergone some surgeries and was still recuperating, but was able to get out and about on his own.

Raymond Ritchhart is survived by his wife, Margaret “Marnie” Ritchhart, who lives in a nursing home in Carthage.

“The highlights of his life were going to see Mom and going to the (Can Do Senior Center) to see his friends,” the son said.

His father served in the Army and saw action in the Philippines during World War II, and farmed all his life near Jasper. He and his wife had three children, one of whom preceded them in death.

“We’re all in shock,” Denny Ritchhart said of surviving family members.



Arrangements

DENNY RITCHHART said funeral arrangements for his father are being handled by Weng Funeral Chapel in Jasper.

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