Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lawrenceburg, TN: 2 indicted in 1992 murder

By Tom Smith
Senior Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 9, 2010 at 10:53 p.m.
LAWRENCEBURG, TENN. - Two men, including the husband of a woman killed in a 1992 murder-for-hire case, have been indicted on murder charges, authorities said.

Phillip Rigling, 74, 341 Jackson Ave., Lawrenceburg, Tenn., and Curtis Staggs, 46, Fredericktown, Mo., were arrested on indictments issued Friday by the Lawrence County (Tenn.) grand jury, officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

The arrests are in connection with the June 19, 1992, murder of Joann Rigling, 52, who was shot and killed during what authorities said was disguised as a robbery at a convenience store in St. Joseph, Tenn.

Rigling is charged with criminal responsibility for first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated robbery. Staggs is charged with first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated robbery.

Jimmy Dale Hogan and Tammy Smith also were arrested in connection with the case. Smith pleaded guilty, while Hogan was found guilty of murder, but the verdict was overturned and he is awaiting a new murder trial. He is still in jail on a conviction of aggravated robbery.

TBI officials said it was during Hogan's 1997 trial that new evidence was developed about Rigling and Staggs' involvement in the murder.

TBI officials said Phillip Rigling is accused of approaching several different individuals about killing his wife. He is accused of offering Staggs, $50,000 to kill his wife.

Evidence in the TBI report indicated that money used as a partial payment was taken from inside the market.

Officials with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office said Joann Rigling was shot about 11 a.m. while she was working inside Phil's One Stop Market in St. Joseph.

She was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel and law enforcement officials. Authorities said she was shot above the right eye with a small caliber weapon.

A cash register with an undisclosed about of cash was taken from the store, officials said.

The store, which was owned by the victim and her husband, had been opened for less than five months when the shooting took place. The store was on U.S. 43, less than a mile north of the Alabama-Tennessee state line.

Reports indicate the victim was the only person in the store at the time of the shooting. The body was found by a woman who had bought gas, entered the store and got a pack of cookies, according to the investigation. When she laid the cookies on the counter, she noticed the victim on the floor.

Phillip Rigling told officials the day of the shooting that he had left the store about

10:30 a.m. to continue his route as an ice salesman.

Rigling is being held in the Lawrence County Jail without bail. Lawrence County District Attorney General Mike Bottoms said a bond hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.

Staggs is being held in the Madison County, Mo., Jail awaiting extradition.

Bottoms said he filed a petition with Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen on Monday morning in an effort to get Staggs brought back to Lawrenceburg. Extradition petitions are first filed with the governor's office, which will then contact the Missouri governor's office.

Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.

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