Accused abductor returned to Howard Commissioner sets bail for Righter at $250,000

October 01, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

A Howard County District Court commissioner set bail at $250,000 last night for John Robert Righter, the man accused of assaulting and abducting a woman outside her Columbia home last month.

Righter, 22, was returned to Maryland from Ohio yesterday to face state and federal charges stemming from the abduction of 21-year-old college student Stephanie Musick.

Dressed in baggy, loose-fitting jeans, worn work boots and a dirty white T-shirt, Righter was questioned by Howard police detectives about his alleged involvement in the abduction before he appeared before Court Commissioner John H. Lewis Jr. at the District Court building in Ellicott City last night.

Carole Righter, his mother, sat stone-faced during the 10-minute bail hearing. She displayed no emotion as the commissioner read the charges filed against the younger of her two sons.

L The charges include kidnapping, weapons and assault charges.

Righter was being held at the county jail last night. He was scheduled to appear before a District Court judge this morning for a bail review hearing.

Musick was abducted at gunpoint early Sept. 19, handcuffed and forced into a car after a brief argument with a man in the driveway of her home in Columbia's River Hill village.

Righter and Musick were found 19 hours later in his 1989 Dodge Raider in a shopping center parking lot in Englewood, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. Musick was handcuffed to a seat belt but was otherwise unharmed. Righter was asleep in the back seat, authorities said.

DTC After spending 10 days in a Dayton jail without bail, and waiving extradition, Righter was flown back to Maryland, arriving yesterday afternoon at Martin State Airport in Middle River.

Police drove him to Howard County police headquarters in Ellicott City. Handcuffed, he was escorted into the building about 5: 15 p.m. past reporters and cameras. He said nothing.

Righter's sport utility vehicle will be brought to Maryland from Ohio, police said.

Righter, a co-worker with Musick at the Sears department store in Columbia, had followed her and made unwanted advances for some time, police have said. Righter was fired from the store in August, allegedly after an argument with a Sears manager.

Weeks before her abduction, Musick, a senior at Western Maryland College in Westminster, filed a police report complaining that Righter had been harassing her, allegedly sending her electronic mail messages, letters and gifts.

Although Maryland has laws against stalking and harassment, there were no grounds for charging Righter with either, according to police.

Howard County police got in touch with Righter the same day Musick filed her report and warned him that he could face criminal charges if he contacted Musick again.

Police and federal authorities say that on the morning of Sept. 19, a Friday, Righter approached Stephanie Musick as she left her house to go to work. After a brief argument, Musick walked to the home of a neighbor to ask him for help, saying she was feeling sick and asking if she could come into his house.

Righter allegedly pulled a gun and said to Musick, "If you don't go with me, I'm going to shoot this guy," according to documents filed in court by federal and Howard authorities.

She then entered Righter's vehicle and was driven away, police charge. The neighbor was not harmed.

Righter also faces a federal charge of kidnapping. He will likely face a federal magistrate within the next 10 days.

Pub Date: 10/01/97

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