Spree nets 10 years

A woman who stole thousands of dollars worth of cash, jewelry, and guns from local homes during a two-week burglary spree with her husband was sentenced Thursday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to 10 years in prison.

Misty D. Bennett-Riggs, 25, and her husband, 28-year-old Calvin Riggs, started forcibly entering homes in mid-May and successfully burglarized 10 Washington County residences before being arrested June 6.

Bennett-Riggs heaved heavy sobs Thursday as three of those victims told stories about how they had come home to find their homes ravaged and priceless possessions stolen.

“May 31 was a special day for my children and myself. I was volunteering during their last day of school,” recalled Vivian Baumgard.

But their celebration quickly took a shocking turn when the family returned home to find their front door smashed and their family dog seriously injured by the broken glass.

“My family has been greatly hurt by your actions. When I made a list of things taken, my 10-year-old son made sure I added to that list-peace of mind,” said Baumgard.

Several sentimental items, including a necklace and gun handed down from generation to generation, were among those never recovered, she said.

“Who has that gun now? Will it be used in another appalling crime?” Baumgard asked.

Bennett-Riggs and her husband also stole a jewelry box from Bobbie Jo Janic that had belonged to her mother. Janic, with the help of a good Samaritan and detectives from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, later recovered some of the jewelry in the woods behind her home.

“You took things from my home and tossed them in the woods like junk. They obviously had no value to you, but they had a lot of value to me,” said Janic.

Janic also had a tablet computer stolen. It was with Bennett-Riggs when she was arrested, she said.

“What disgusts me most wasn’t the pictures or videos. It was the pornographic material I had to have removed. You let your children play on it with that filth just one click away,” said Janic.

Four of Bennett-Riggs’ six children had been traveling with the couple. Those four children are now in the custody of a relative, said Bennett-Riggs’ attorney Shawna Landaker. Two other children had been previously adopted, she added.

The jewelry stolen from Steve Walker’s home had belonged to his young daughter, who had recently passed away.

“She was your age. She was 26,” he told Bennett-Riggs.

Walker told Bennett-Riggs he hopes she gets the second chance that his daughter never had.

“I hope you do make a better life,” he said.

Bennett-Riggs’ crying grew louder and louder through the tearful statements.

By the time she was allowed to give her own statement, she could barely be heard through her sobs.

“I just want to tell everybody I’m sorry,” she said before becoming inaudible.

Bennett-Riggs pleaded guilty July 18 to 10 third-degree felony counts of burglary and a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Washington County Judge Randall Burnworth sentenced her to 30 months in prison on each of the 10 burglary counts. The 30-month sentences for the first five charges will run concurrently with one another but consecutively to the 30-month sentences for the final five charges, meaning Bennett-Riggs will serve a total of five years on the burglary charges.

She was also ordered to serve an additional five years on the corrupt activity charge, for a total of 10 years.

Finally, Bennett-Riggs and her husband will be jointly responsible for $4,531.25 in restitution to the victims.

Bennett-Riggs’ husband pleaded guilty Tuesday to the same 11 felony charges and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 11. A 10-year prison recommendation was part of Riggs’ plea agreement as well.