Billboard on missing woman comes down Nancy Lee Riggins, 38, was last seen July 1 at Columbia swimming pool

U.S. 1

April 08, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

An article in Monday's Howard County edition of The Sun incorrectly characterized the Howard County Police Department's classification of the case of Nancy Lee Riggins of Elkridge. It is a missing person case.

The Sun regrets the error.

To the friends and family of Nancy Lee Riggins -- the 38-year-old Elkridge woman who has been missing since July -- the sight of the 12-foot-high, 42-foot-wide billboard bearing her color photograph and the word "MISSING" was a reassuring symbol that she was not forgotten.

Now the billboard, which was posted along U.S. 1, north of Route 100 in Elkridge a little more than three months ago, has been taken down.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Although Nancy Riggins has not been found, and no one has been charged in connection with her disappearance, a spokeswoman for the outdoor advertising company that donated the space said that the billboard had accomplished its purpose.

But LeeAnn Kotler, a Giant Food co-worker and close friend of Nancy Riggins, said she was disappointed to hear that the billboard is no longer there.

"I don't know that the billboard helped as far as finding her and finding out who was responsible for her disappearance," Kotler said. "But it kept her face and name in everyone's thoughts. I'm sorry to see that go."

The billboard was the idea of Nancy Riggins' co-workers at a Giant Food store in Burtonsville, a group that has waged a tireless campaign since her disappearance to find out what happened to their friend.

Giant's corporate office agreed to pay $900 to print the yellow, self-adhesive vinyl sheet that is affixed to the board, and the Eastern Outdoor Advertising Co. of Baltimore paid for labor costs and donated the space.

A Giant spokesman said the company was not consulted about the billboard's removal.

Jean G. Smith, executive vice president for Eastern Outdoor, said the billboard was aimed at unsettling the woman's husband, Paul Stephen Riggins Jr., 39, who has acknowledged that he is a suspect in her disappearance and possible slaying.

Smith said Howard County police asked Eastern Outdoor officials in early December to post the billboard 2 1/2 miles from Riggins' Elkridge home in the 6100 block of Adcock Lane.

The idea, she said, was to display a giant photograph of Nancy Riggins along the husband's route to work. The decision to take the billboard down, Smith said, was made after Stephen Riggins -- as he is known to family and friends -- was arrested by Howard County police Feb. 4 on sex abuse charges.

The charges stemmed from his daughter's teen-age baby sitter telling police that she had sex with Riggins in Howard and Anne Arundel counties over four years.

"We vowed to keep up the billboard for as long as it was needed," Smith said. "But we felt that the need for the it [the billboard] had passed," indicating Stephen Riggins' arrest on other charges had ended the need.

"If we felt that keeping the billboard up would have helped, we would have," she said. Also, Riggins no longer drives past the site of the billboard since he was fired from the Viking Freight Co. in Elkridge in February, after he was arrested and charged with stealing clothing and other items from their trucks.

As of late last month, Riggins was unemployed and living in Anne Arundel County.

Riggins has not been charged in connection with his wife's disappearance.

Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman, said the Nancy Riggins case is classified by the Howard County police as a suspicious death -- although no body has been found.

Riggins was arrested again late last month in Anne Arundel County and charged with child sexual abuse, third-degree sexual abuse and common law battery in that county, charges that stemmed from the parts of the alleged relationship with the baby sitter that she said took place in that county.

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

Stephen Riggins told police that when he arrived home about 6 a.m. July 2 from his job, he found his daughter, Amanda, 5, sleeping and his wife missing.

He did not report his wife missing until the next morning.

Amanda is living with her mother's parents, Robert and Delia Cunningham, in New Castle, Pa., pending a child-custody hearing that is scheduled this summer.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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