Fugitive sighted at NIU

By Greg Rivara and Bill Schwingel

A one-time NIU student on the run for more than a year after allegedly slaying his girlfriend’s parents was positively sighted Tuesday in DeKalb.

Richard J. Church, Woodstock, Il., was seen shortly before 11 a.m. by two female NIU students at the intersection of Normal Road and Lucinda Avenue. The women told the University Police they saw Church turn onto Normal Road and head north.

“They have convinced us that they have sighted Richard Church,” James Webster, operations commander of the UPs, said.

Church is wanted for the brutal Aug. 21, 1988, murders of Raymond and Ruth Ann Ritter. Church, then 19, also allegedly attacked Colleen, his girlfriend at the time of the incident, and one of her brothers. Reports of the incident claim an argument between Church and the Ritter’s daughter might have been part of the reason for the attack.

Although Church was seen alone driving a dark blue, four-door Chevrolet Citation, the women could not identify the vehicle’s license plate, Webster said.

According to the two females who spotted Church, the only apparent differences were that Church had long hair, which was cut over his ears. Church did not have any facial hair, Webster said.

Following the spotting of Church, the Woodstock Police Department arrived at NIU but downplayed the sightings.

Sgt. Joe Marvin said there have been plenty of reports of Church, “this is just another sighting.” Illinois State Police also have been notified of the sighting.

Police would not speculate on why Church was in DeKalb or where he might be going.

If found, Church will face charges for the murders of Raymond and Ruth Ann Ritter and the attempted murders of Colleen and Mathew.

Church also will face charges on unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. A fugitive warrant was issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigations on Aug. 25, 1988.

At the request of the women who spotted Church, their names were not released by the UPs.

The UPs and the DeKalb Police Department did not assign any extra personnel to search for Church.

The intersection of Normal Road and Lucinda Avenue is located at the heart of the NIU campus next to the Holmes Student Center.