Theft warrant issued for Riggins Elkridge man charged earlier in sex case

February 07, 1997|By Caitlin Francke and Jill Hudson | Caitlin Francke and Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

A theft warrant was issued yesterday for Paul Stephen Riggins, Jr., the 39-year-old Elkridge man suspected in his wife's disappearance and charged earlier this week with having sex with his daughter's teen-age baby sitter.

The charge of misdemeanor theft -- meaning the amount involved is under $300 -- came just after Riggins was allowed by a judge to have strictly regulated monthly visits with his 6-year-old daughter, Amanda. The girl has been staying with her maternal grandparents since her mother disappeared in July.

Court officials and police yesterday would provide no details of the theft warrant, which was issued a few hours after Riggins attended the child-visitation hearing in Howard County Circuit Court. As of yesterday evening, he had not been picked up by police.

During the short hearing yesterday, Robert Cunningham -- the father of Nancy Lee Riggins, who has been missing since July 1 -- repeatedly glared at his son-in-law, Stephen Riggins, who admitted in court documents relating to the child-custody dispute that he is the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance.

Since Nancy Riggins' disappearance, the Cunninghams have had temporary custody of Amanda and her father has been allowed only to speak to her by phone. In yesterday's hearing, he was seeking the right to have more contact with her.

"I don't ever want him to even hold her hand," Cunningham said of Stephen Riggins outside the courthouse. "But, by law, he is entitled."

Under two orders signed by Circuit Judge James B. Dudley, Riggins can visit Amanda one weekend a month under the supervision of an adult appointed by Amanda's attorney, Tobey Brehm. Riggins must plan the visit one month in advance and must travel to the Cunningham home in New Castle, Pa. The order states that the appointed supervisor must pick up the child from the house no earlier than 10 a.m. and meet Riggins at a designated place away from the Cunningham home. The girl must be returned to the home no later than 6 p.m. Riggins and the Cunninghams are to share the costs of the supervisor's fee.

Brehm also was appointed temporary guardian of Nancy and Amanda Riggins' property, according to the order.

Nancy Riggins was last seen at a Columbia swimming pool July 1.

Stephen Riggins, 39, told police July 3 that he realized his wife was missing the day before when he came home from work at 6 a.m. His daughter was asleep, but his wife was not there -- having left behind her purse and other belongings.

Neither Riggins nor his attorney, Howard E. Goldman, would comment as they left the courthouse yesterday.

Riggins had been released from the Howard County Detention Center on Wednesday morning after posting $1,000 of $10,000 bail on the sex charges which police said they uncovered while investigating Nancy Riggins' disappearance.

District Judge James N. Vaughan set that amount after Riggins' attorney argued that Riggins could not afford the $100,000 amount set by a court commissioner since he was fired from his job as a truck driver earlier this week.

Family members who attended yesterday's hearing said that Nancy Riggins knew that her husband had extra-marital affairs, but stuck with him because of Amanda.

"She wanted a nice marriage and child. She wanted to keep it all together," said her older sister, Denise Keenan, who was at the hearing yesterday.

Nancy Riggins had been married once before. In June, she traveled with Amanda to visit the Cunninghams. There, she told her mother that her husband wanted a separation, Delia Cunningham said yesterday.

"She loved him and she didn't want a failed marriage," Cunningham said.

Pub Date: 2/07/97

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