AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

July 11, 2014

Police: 'Cool customer' arrested in girl's murder

PINE — An Ohio man charged in the murder of Gina Marie Burger, 16 - whose body was found at Tri-County Industries waste transfer station in Pine Township June 25 - stuffed her body in a playpen bag and carried it past her mother before disposing of the remains in the trash, police said.

"He's a cool customer," said Austintown (Ohio) Township police Chief Bob Gavalier, describing the closed manner of Ricki D. Williams IV, 18, after his arrest by U.S. Marshals Tuesday evening.

Police also found "kill fo fun" freshly carved into the stairwell of the 200-unit Compass West Apartments in Austintown where Williams is accused of stabbing Burger, as well as three holes in the drywall that compared in size to her stab wound, according to the Youngstown Vindicator.

Williams was arraigned on charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping, intimidation, tampering with evidence, abduction, possession of criminal tools, abuse of a corpse and misdemeanor criminal trespass in Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown on Wednesday, Gavalier said.

Among the charges are felonies that will be handled in the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in Youngstown, he added. Williams is being held on a $750,000 bond in the Mahoning County Jail.

The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force arrested Williams at his friends' residence on Lakeview Avenue on the west side of Youngstown, the chief said. "He has no permanent residence. He moves around and stays with different people all over the Youngstown area," he added.

The task force got involved just before Williams' arrest, Gavalier said. "We considered him dangerous. We never had an exact address and they are good at hunting people down."

Lakeview Avenue is about three miles from Compass West Apartments, where Burger lived with her mother, Jacqueline Bacher, as well as an older sister and niece. Bacher reported Burger missing at 11 p.m. June 23, saying she hadn't returned three hours after she left to borrow tea bags from a neighboring apartment.

A police report said Bacher told officers that while she waited outside for an officer to take a missing person's report, she saw Williams walk out of another apartment struggling to carry what appeared to be a bag used to store a portable playpen.

Bacher told police that Williams asked her if she "wanted to buy a baby thing." An officer soon arrived and Bacher did not see what Williams did with the bag, the police report said. She said she saw what appeared to be the same bag in a trash container outside the apartment complex the next day.

Burger's body was discovered in Pine Township around 3 p.m. June 25 after it was dumped from a garbage truck onto the floor of Tri-County's waste transfer station building. She was fully clothed, but had a single stab wound to the chest.

During an initial investigation by state police in Mercer County, the Erie County Coroner's Office identified Burger through a serial number found on rods in her back, which led to records of a surgery she had at a medical facility in Texas.

On June 26, police went to the apartment of a woman Burger sometimes visited. A manager of the complex let them inside and police discovered blood stains throughout the house.

Investigators found the woman who lived in the apartment the next day. She told officers she helped Williams dispose of Burger's body in the bag for her son's playpen after Williams threatened to kill her.

The woman said Williams forced her and Burger into the woman's bedroom and allowed them to smoke a "last cigarette," the police report said. Williams then tried to force the woman to stab Burger. When she refused, Williams grabbed the knife and stabbed the teen once in the chest, the report said.

Gavalier said he was relieved the investigation turned around so quickly. "We kept pounding, kept interviewing, kept following leads that led us to (Williams)."

A strong lead in the case was learning that the homicide happened in an apartment building at Compass, he said.

"From doing interviews with friends and acquaintances and witnesses, we were able to pin (Williams) at the location at that time," Gavalier added.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation took samples retrieved by police from the scene on Tuesday, Gavalier said. The BCI "said within a day or two they would be able to process who was where ...."

Williams' criminal history includes aggravated assault, Gavalier said.

When Burger went to the neighbor's for the tea bags, the 6-year-old daughter of the woman who lived there answered the door but not the mother herself, Gavalier said. "We know she made it to the apartment. We feel somewhere at that time, (Burger) came across (Williams) or he came across her."

The two knew each other and formerly hung out together at Compass, the chief added.

Burger was adopted when she was 2 years old and lived in Texas, Gavalier said. "Gina moved here to be with her real mother," he added, after the girl accused her adoptive mother's second husband of sexually assaulting her.

That case "hasn't gone to court yet," he added. "The family for the adoptive stepfather said (Burger) made it all up. Whether that's true or not, it's up for the courts to decide."

As for the murder investigation, citizen comments on Youngstown news sites congratulated the force for its tenacity.

"I had the whole detective division working on this," Gavalier said.

Court dates for Ricki D. Williams IV can be viewed on the Mahoning County Integrated Justice System website at courts.mahoningcountyoh.gov

Published July 5, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

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