When Ryan Champion was questioned about the Oct. 31 murders of his mother, father and sister, as well as the shooting death of the man he said had burst into the family’s Kentucky home and started shooting, he boasted that by killing the shooter, he had “turned the tables” on him. After further investigation, authorities believe that Champion, 36, hired the man to murder his family, but instead of paying him, Champion killed him. He was indicted Wednesday in Trigg County on one count of capital murder, three counts of complicity to commit capital murder and one count of complicity to commit capital kidnapping.
The bodies of Champion’s father, mother and sister, as wells as the body of Vito Riservato, 22, were discovered in the Champion home, located in western Kentucky approximately 80 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, in the town of Cadiz. Authorities were notified of the murders last Sunday after Champion went to the house of a family member located just across the street from the Champion house and asked the resident to call police. Dean Patterson, sergeant with the Kentucky State Police, said that the relative wished to remain anonymous. Police found four victims – all dead from gunshot wounds.
Because he was exhibiting signs of shock after the shooting, Champion was taken to the hospital. After he was released, he remained in the area. Patterson would not say whether police interviewed him during that time or when he became a suspect in the murders.
Officials continued to report that Riservato was the lone suspect in the murders until Oct. 31, when Champion was taken into custody. During that time, Champion gave radio and TV interviews boasting that when Riservato entered the Champion home and began shooting, Champion turned it around on him, shooting him dead. He also reported to media that he barely knew Riservato and had only met him once prior to the murders.
After the deaths of his family, Champion updated his Facebook account to say that he had survived the shooting and was healing. He also used Facebook to ask for work, saying that he was short of money and needed cash to pay for gas and bills.
Trigg County Prosecutor G.L. Ovey says that officials believe Champion recruited Riservato to kill his family in exchange for payment, but “it didn’t end up that way.” Ovey plans to ask for the death penalty in the case.
Ovey declined to offer a motive as to why Champion may have killed his 62-year-old father, Lindsey Champion; his 60-year-old mother, Joy Champion; and his 31-year-old sister, Emily Champion. Joy Champion was a Trigg County schoolteacher for 30 years. Emily Champion worked in Louisiana as a veterinarian. She was in Kentucky visiting her family when the shooting occurred. The indictment for kidnapping was filed against Ryan Champion because duct tape was used to restrain her during the assault.
Ryan Champion is currently in the Christian County Jail and is being held on a bond of $5 million. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 10.
A funeral for Lindsey, Joy and Emily Champion was held on Sunday, Nov. 2nd. The service was held at the Trigg County High School Gym. Meanwhile, in Cadiz, Kentucky, three crosses have been laid in front of the Champion home.
By Jennifer Pfalz