'Cautious' investigators study gunshot death of kidnap suspect

September 18, 1996|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

ANDES, N.Y. SUN STAFF WRITER ROBERT A. ERLANDSON CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — ANDES, N.Y. -- The body of fugitive parolee Richard Paul Elliott remained unclaimed yesterday at a small community hospital near the Catskill Mountain hamlet where he had fled last weekend to hide from a nationwide manhunt.

Elliott, 57, of Rosedale -- charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting two Baltimore women last week -- was fatally shot Sunday night at the remote home of Robert Webster, 45.

Capt. Thomas P. Kelly Jr., of the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, refused to discuss details of the case yesterday at his office in Sidney, N.Y., about 50 miles from the town where the shooting took place.

Kelly said an autopsy was performed on Elliott's body Monday night at Lourdes Hospital on the outskirts of Binghamton, N.Y., about 80 miles from Andes.

"The cause of death of Elliott was multiple gunshot wounds," Kelly said. He hesitated to describe the shooting as an open-and-shut case. "We only have one witness [Webster] and we have to be cautious."

Kelly said his investigators are gathering forensic evidence from Webster's weather-beaten modular home on Weaver Hollow Road, and from Webster's vehicle and the 1979 Pontiac Firebird that Elliott drove from Baltimore. Both cars have been seized as evidence.

"We're still putting together the sequence of events that led to the shooting," Kelly said.

He would not say where the weapons used in the shooting came from.

Elliott died after being shot in what police have called a "confrontation" with Webster. A neighbor, Robert Wayman, said Webster told him that he shot Elliott in self-defense -- and that a wounded Elliott then used a .44-caliber Magnum to kill himself.

The two apparently had met previously through a proposed real estate deal.

Elliott's death ended a nationwide manhunt that began after two prostitutes escaped from his Rosedale home Thursday and pleaded for help in the streets of a Baltimore housing project.

Elliott had been charged in a warrant with using chains and shackles to imprison the two prostitutes in a dimly lighted, hidden room in his Rosedale home. One of the women was held for five days, the other for less than a day.

Elliott, who had an extensive criminal record, was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for kidnapping and torturing a California teen-ager nearly 30 years ago. He spent 14 years in prison before being released on parole.

Within three years, he was sentenced to four years in federal prison for conspiring to transport stolen securities across state lines.

As the investigation into Sunday's shooting continued, regulars in Andes said they have no recollection of seeing Elliott around town in the past.

But Linda Jones, editor of the Delaware County Times in Delhi, N.Y., said she has known Webster for a long time. She described him as a muscular man who "looks like a biker type, but he isn't."

She said he owns an auto-body shop, which he runs on his property. The shop specializes in vintage Corvettes, she said.

Webster, a neighbor said, is separated from his second wife.

Pub Date: 9/18/96

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