Transcribed Episode / S4 EP37: The Murder of Craig Rideout
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Welcome back to Episode 37 of The Crime Shack Podcast! I took a short break just to regroup and re energize, but I’m so happy to be back with you! I hope you’ve had an enjoyable Christmas and holiday season and are looking forward to the upcoming New Year!
Alright, let’s get into this new episode…
As we know, divorce can be one of the most painful and frustrating processes in our court systems today. Two people who have spent years or even what seems like a lifetime together, can quickly become enemies during divorce proceedings. And if there are numerous assets and children involved, things can become even more complicated and can get very ugly between the two parties.
Cases that involve child custody issues are not uncommon. The most recent one that’s been in the news is the Wagner family of Pike County Ohio where eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families were shot and killed in their homes in 2016 - the reason behind the heinous murders was to gain full control and custody of a small child.
In divorces, children are often caught in the middle and are usually the helpless victims. But in this episode we’ll be discussing a case where the children who are stuck in the middle of their parent’s divorce, make a choice to become involved in their parents' contentious battle, and quickly become the aggressors.
Craig Wallace Rideout was born in 1966 and raised in Pittsford, New York, a suburb of Rochester. His father, Richard Rideout was a WWII Navy Veteran who died of cancer in 2003. Craig’s mother Agnes - also known as Nes or Nessie, was a travel agent for corporate executives.
Craig had one sibling, an older sister - born 18 months apart, named Robbyn. The two were close as children, but grew somewhat apart in high school, then reconnected in their adult years when Robbyn came back home after attending college in Vermont. Robbyn described her brother as being a very giving, kind person who had a mischievous sense of humor.
Craig went on to attend Union College in Schenectady NY where he studied economics. After he graduated college in 1988, he met Laura Asam in a pub in Rochester and the two began dating.
Laura attended college in Buffalo, and had moved to the area from Syracuse along with her parents and four siblings.
In 1989, Craig got a job working as a programmer and analyst for the Rochester financial services firm, Federated Clover Investment Advisors. He also volunteered for a Catholic ministry and youth group that recruited prospective students for Union College.
Craig and Laura eventually married in January 1993 when Craig was 27 years old and Laura was 22.
In October of that same year, the Rideout’s had their first child, Colin. They would have six more children over the next several years - three additional boys and three girls: Andrew, Alex, Elizabeth, Julia, Patrick and Madeline.
To support their growing family, the couple bought a four-bedroom house on six acres in Pittsford New York. But as the family expanded, the Rideout’s began struggling financially to make ends meet and money started to get very tight in the Rideout household.
Although Laura was in charge of the family’s finances, she was a bit flighty and irresponsible, so Craig would have to remind her constantly to keep track of their spending, their bills and other household expenses. For whatever reason, Laura didn’t fully trust her husband - she never believed that they were actually struggling financially, but thought that Craig was lying about their situation and that he was hiding money from her.
With the couple facing possible bankruptcy, they made the unfortunate decision to sell their four-bedroom home and move into a much more modest home.
As the financial stress in the household continued to build, Craig’s way of coping with it all was to go into a room by himself, shut the door, and spend hours a day playing video games. Craig and Laura’s marriage began to disintegrate, and it became apparent to the rest of Craig’s family as well. Laura and some of the kids would skip out on holiday get-togethers at Craig's parent’s house or his sister Robbyn’s house. Laura would tell them that they would be coming, but only a few kids would show up, telling Craig’s family that their mom just wasn’t feeling well enough to come. Then one of the kids would finally break down and tell the family members the truth and say “that’s not true, mom didn’t want to come.”
It was 21 years into their marriage when things finally escalated and in 2014, Laura filed for divorce. A short time afterwards, she moved in with a family friend Paul “P.J.” Tucci. Paul had known Craig for years - they’d lived in the same neighborhood growing up. The Rideouts would often spend time with Paul and his wife Jennifer, and their children grew up together - the Tucci’s were even appointed as Godparents to some of the Rideout children. In 2014 Paul had lost his wife Jennifer to health issues, so Laura quickly became a comforting friend and partner.
For the next two years, the Rideout’s would battle the terms of the divorce, which included custody arrangements for the seven children. The oldest children, Colin, Andrew, Alex, Elizabeth and Julia chose to live with their mother, and Craig was awarded custody of the two youngest children, 12 year old Patrick and 6 year old Madeline.
As the divorce continued to be finalized and settlement offers were sent between the attorneys, tensions continued to build between the two, and coparenting became increasingly more difficult. Craig would complain to his lawyer about Laura missing scheduled pickups, or showing up at the wrong times. She would also have her oldest children, mainly Colin, take the younger kids to school and other appointments. She began to complain to her children about their father, and Colin became the “go-between” with his parents.
Robbyn said that Craig would do his best to make it appear on the outside that had it all together and that the turmoil he was having with Laura wasn’t bothering him. He’d often ask his sister for parenting advice - as now he was faced with the task of being a single parent.
By 2016, Craig was living alone in a townhouse in Penfield NY, close enough in proximity to Laura so that they could exchange the children.
In January 2016, strange incidents started happening. Craig got home from work one day and found that his home had been trashed. Light bulbs were broken, there was broken glass and broken plates all over the place, eggs had been thrown around the house and there were holes in the walls - and his two children had locked themselves in their rooms.
Not knowing what was going on, Craig called Robbyn in tears asking her for her help. Desperate, he also called child protective services to find out what he could do.
But little did Craig know that the entire trashed scene was staged by his estranged wife and his own son. Colin and Laura had begun exchanging text messages, where they plotted to try to get the two youngest children to somehow frame their father.
Their goal was to have the children insight a bad reaction from Craig, so that he would show abusive behavior and as a result, Laura would gain custody of the children.
Colin sent texts to the younger siblings giving them a play by play on what they needed to tell the police when they arrived after their father became angry and violent: “Tell them you’re afraid your dad is going to kill your younger siblings when he gets home.”
Colin also texted them: “Don’t hesitate to call 911…if…he’s ever screaming because that would play well in court.”
Their plan ultimately failed, as Craig failed to react to the chaotic scene and show any signs of anger or abuse towards the children.
Then, two more incidents occurred - Craig’s laptop mysteriously disappeared from his home, and it was never recovered. And one night while Craig was sleeping, someone dressed in a black hoodie broke into his townhouse, plucked a hair from his arm and took off with his house keys and his Blackberry work phone. The next day his keys were found on his neighbor’s planter by their patio door and a bottle of chocolate was found on his lawn. He had reported the incident to 911, thinking afterwards that the intruder could be his son Colin playing a prank.
[911 Call: Craig Rideout]
My name's Craig Rideout
I wake up at midnight with a sharp pain in my arm, I jump up, this will sound crazy, a hooded black figure, not a black man, was running out of the room, the reason I have to file a police report is my Blackberry which was taken that night.
On July 15th, two days after the break in at the townhouse, Craig decided to reach out to his son Colin via email:
[Email from Craig Rideout read by Host]
I was trying to determine what really happened in and around my house Wednesday night, as not only was I awakened in a poor manner, but my neighbor also was awakened by noises during the night outside her home and in the morning found keys in a planter by the patio door. As luck would have it, she asked if they were mine, and fortunately they were.
As a result of the mystery person that made their way into my home and into the townhouse community, I've had to let the property management know to keep an eye out for the future.
Harmless prank or criminal trespass?
What is even more distressing to me is the fact that someone was in my new home. Thank God Madeline and Patrick were not there and no one was hurt. I enjoy talking with you and am generally proud of you as my son. I would like to think that you and I could have a relationship without all the bullshit and drama associated with your mother.
Colin’s response to his father was to lay out the numerous wrongs that he felt his father had committed against him and his siblings, and against his mother.
[Email from Colin Rideout read by Host]
This is ridiculous. I'm tired of your duplicity, your constant lying and your disgusting attempts to keep my mother and siblings under your thumb. While you may be generally proud of me as your son, I'm not at all proud of you as my father. The things you do, especially your actions during this divorce, are despicable.
I'm glad nobody was harmed during your alleged burglary, and I hope that the police investigation will clear things up. I've attempted to stay relatively uninvolved, because despite all of your abuse of my family, I still inexplicably sought your approval.
However, I have also been fully aware of the mountain heap of lies you told regarding the divorce. Sometimes it's been difficult to keep a straight face while you tell baffling lies to me. I'm done keeping my mouth shut about what kind of person you are. Apparently it's common for the families of abusers to do that, and I only wish that I had stopped seeking your approval earlier and stood up for my younger siblings.
I cc'd Aunt Robbyn on this email, because while I really appreciate all her kindness to us over the years, I think its about time that everyone knew just what kind of father you have been to us.
Colin accused his father of sending away the family cat and of emotionally abusing him, his siblings and his mother. He reminded his father about a time when his sister and mother locked themselves in his room while Craig tried to force his way in and Colin had to hold the door shut for hours.
And to add insult to injury, Colin cc’d outside family members, including Robbyn, in his email response to his father.
It was during that summer of 2016 that things began to come to a head. Colin, who was now 23, had been attending the State University of New York Maritime College for the past two years, when he decided to leave school and move back in with his mother and Paul.
By this time, Laura and Paul’s relationship was becoming more serious, and they were talking about moving from New York to North Carolina…..and bringing ALL of the Rideout children with them.
Obviously taking the children didn’t fly with Craig and he told her she couldn’t do that.
But In spite of that, Laura and Paul finalized their plans to move to North Carolina and signed a lease on an apartment. On July 19th, they rented a moving van and began to pack.
The same day that Laura and Paul were packing to move, Robbyn spoke to Craig on the phone at around 7pm. She’d seen that Alex, then 19 years old, had posted on Facebook the entire email exchange between his father and his brother Colin from the prior week. Nothing like airing out your dirty laundry on social media. Craig told her not to respond to the post, and that he'd bring up the issue at his next custody hearing. Robbyn said okay, and told him that she’d check in with him the next day.
The next morning, July 20th, Robbyn sent an email to Craig from her work, but got no response. She tried calling his direct line at work, and his cell phone, but again got no response. She called his main work number, and they told her that they’d received an email from him the previous night, that said: “My daughter remains ill. I may not be able to answer the phone as I will probably be taking her to the doctor’s office.”
That was strange, that email didn’t sound like Craig - he wouldn’t say his daughter ill, he’d say she was “sick”. During her lunch, she decided to drive over to his townhouse to check on him and her niece. When she arrived, she walked up to the sliding glass patio doors and spotted someone inside - the person waved at her. She was relieved thinking ‘oh thank god, it’s Craig, he’s at home, he’s okay,’ but then suddenly realized it wasn’t Craig - it was Laura.
What in the world was Laura doing at Craig’s townhouse?
Inside the house, Laura was wiping down the kitchen counter. According to the court orders, she wasn’t supposed to be in his house, and not only that - she hated Craig, so why would she be there at all….and why would she be cleaning?
Robbyn stepped into the house, and Laura immediately said “I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone came looking for him. I don’t know where he is.” She then showed Robbyn text messages from her son Patrick (one of the youngest who lived with Craig) asking to be picked up, but the text was coming from Alex’s phone. Laura said that’s because Patrick was using Alex’s old phone. She said that Colin had just picked up Patrick and their younger sister from Craig’s house, but that she had stayed behind to clean up because the kitchen smelled bad.
Robbyn knew something was very wrong but tried to maintain her composure in front of Laura. She quickly looked around the house, and spotted Craig’s three pairs of shoes - literally the only shoes he had - lined up neatly near the front staircase. So where was Craig?
When the two women left the townhouse together, Laura seemed frazzled and was carrying a trash bag out of the house with her. Robbyn then watched her get into the passenger side of a maroon Ford Fusion that was parked in Craig’s designated parking space. Craig’s Honda Odyssey minivan was also mysteriously gone. Laura then moved into the driver's seat of the Ford and drove away.
When Robbyn arrived back at work, she told her boss what she’d witnessed, and he told her to call Craig’s lawyer right away, and to call 911 and report her brother missing:
[911 Call: Robbyn Drew]
My brother has not been answering texts or cell phone calls or emails, and I could be making a mountain out of a mole hill!
Meanwhile, just before dawn that same morning, in a small town called Penn Yan, roughly about 45 miles south of Craig’s townhouse, a Mennonite farmer was heading to work on his bicycle, riding along a two-lane country road surrounded by wooded fields.
Penn Yan New York, with a population of about 5000, is immersed with Mennonite and Amish culture and many of their members have purchased farmland in that area.
When the farmer rode up to two cars that were parked near the intersection of Yatesville Road - he noticed two people standing near the vehicles. On his way back home three hours later, he spotted a shovel by the side of the road, near the same area where two cars had been earlier.
He got off his bike and walked into the woods a short distance, where he spotted a brown tarp - under the tarp he could see a human foot.
The farmer contacted Yates County Sheriff’s office. Deputies quickly arrived at the scene along with the farmer. When they pulled back the brown tarp, they discovered the body of male - and it appeared that some kind of chemical had badly melted his face, making him unrecognizable.
Aside from the shovel found near the body, deputies also found a groove in the dirt - whoever had dumped the body out there also had attempted to dig a grave, but because the dirt was so dry, they abandoned the idea.
Suddenly everyone at the scene heard a phone ring. The ring sounded like it was coming from somewhere near the body.
Back at Craig’s townhouse, Sheriff’s deputies had arrived based upon the 911 call from Robbyn. She asked the deputies to force open Craig’s bedroom door, as it was locked, but they said they couldn't do that without a warrant.
At around 5pm that night, a victim advocate from the sheriff’s dept spoke with Robbyn and told her that Craig may have been the victim of a violent crime and that they thought he was most likely, dead.
Monroe County Investigator Dave Bolton was one of the first investigators to arrive at the townhouse. While he was there, Laura and Paul drove up with Patrick and Madeline. They told Bolton that they were dropping off the children, as per the custody arrangement, and Laura admitted that she’d even been at the townhouse earlier that day, that she’d cleaned up because “ "it was not up to her standards of cleanliness.” She said she’d also put a box of books on the piano in the basement, and that they didn’t know where Craig was.
Back at the scene of the discovered male body, a phone was ringing. When deputies located the origin of the sound, they found a cell phone inside the dead man’s pocket, and “Robbyn Drew’s” name was on the screen. Back when Craig’s blackberry work phone was stolen from his townhouse, Robbyn had bought her brother a prepaid cell phone, and Craig had never mentioned that phone to Laura. This little fact, would turn out to be crucial.
The remains were brought into the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office in Brighton NY, where an examination by Dr. Nadia Granger would be conducted.
The man’s facial features were unrecognizable - an acid or caustic chemical had been poured on the face, and animals had also scavenged and done their share of damage to his features. His upper chest, which had also been doused with the same caustic chemical, was almost black, and had the consistency of old shoe leather. The chemical had been used to melt off his fingerprints. There was severe blunt force trauma to the head and neck, exposed bone as a result of the caustic chemical, and multiple facial fractures. A deep indentation of the skin all the way around the neck showed a ligature was used to strangle him. So much force was used that the ligature broke the small High oyde bone and ripped open a blood vessel in his neck. The body also had multiple lacerations to the forehead and cheek, a fracture of the right orbit, and abrasions to the lower back.
Testing of the caustic chemical proved to be Liquid Lightning Drain Cleaner.
Granger put the cause of death as strangulation and blunt force trauma. She stated that there was an intense struggle at the time of death.
Although it was apparent that whoever murdered the man did their best to hide his identification, investigators had a pretty good idea who he could be - based on the name that was on the phone found in his pocket and the prior 911 missing persons call from Robynn Drew.
Matching an x-ray of the teeth to dental records, the man was confirmed to be… Craig Rideout.
In the basement of Craig’s apartment, investigators found a ligature or garrotte made out of duct tape and paracord. On a plastic tote box and on a wood shelf, they found traces of blood. And in garbage bags in the home, they found bloody clothes, cleaning liquids and gloves. Luminol sprayed in the basement showed that blood had been cleaned up in an area on the basement floor.
The day after Robbyn saw Laura cleaning up in the townhouse, a witness contacted police saying that they saw two young men throwing away black garbage bags into a pond about 7 miles south of Craig’s townhouse called Devil’s Bathtub.
Police quickly dispatched officers to the pond and found Colin and Alex Rideout there. They questioned them about the bags, and the two boys told police that their mother had just simply asked them to get rid of the bags. They also mentioned that their father had threatened to disappear, saying that they thought he might be on his way to Mexico.
When officers checked inside the bags, they found empty bottles of drain cleaner, bloody latex gloves, bloody clothes, and paracord that matched up to that on the ligature found in Craig’s basement.
The bags were confiscated as evidence, and inside the trunk of the Chrysler the boys had driven to the pond, was a pair of work gloves covered in blood. Colin and Alex were then arrested for tampering with evidence. Shortly thereafter, police arrived at Paul Tucci’s home and also arrested Laura and Paul for tampering with evidence.
[WHEC News Media Arrest Announcement]
A father of seven dead, his estranged wife and two sons charged with covering up his murder, but who actually killed him.
Earlier this week we told you about the disappearance of Craig Rideout from Pittsford, he went missing Tuesday night. Just one day later his body was found wrapped in a tarp in Yates County and now three of his family members are charged in connection to his death.
Although the four were arrested for evidence tampering, no one at this point had been charged with murder, as authorities had to wait for the forensic testing to be completed.
Cell phone records were pulled and it showed that the prepaid phone that was in Craig’s pocket had pinged near his townhouse, then left the home around 3am, then pinged near the country road where his body was found.
Video footage from the surrounding businesses was pulled, and showed two vehicles driving to and from the location where Craig’s body was found - one of the vehicles was Craig’s minivan….and the other was Paul Tucci’s car.
On July 26th, sheriff deputies located Craig’s missing 2010 gray Honda Odyssey - it was parked at the Bushnell’s Basin Park & Ride lot located on Route 96 near Route 490 - about 8 miles southwest from Craig’s house. Gray duct tape was on the front bumper passenger side of the vehicle. Investigators couldn’t say how long the vehicle had been there, but said it was not likely that it was in that lot the entire time investigators searched for it.
DNA testing was conducted on two pairs of bloody jeans, bloody underwear, bloody shoes, and four pairs of work gloves - all evidence that was collected from Craig’s basement, and when Colin and Alex were arrested for dumping the bags into Devil's Bathtub.
The DNA testing came back, and was a match to Colin, Alex, Laura and Paul. One of the pairs of gloves was so soaked with blood that analysts couldn't determine which person wore them. The pairs of bloody jeans - which were soaked in Craig’s blood - had DNA that matched to Colin and Laura. A key to Craig’s townhouse was also found inside a shoe with Alex’s DNA on it.
Prosecutors then charged each of them with the murder of Craig Rideout.
Investigator Bolton began to piece together what had happened the night of July 19th. Laura and Colin had brought the two youngest children to Craig’s townhouse, not picked them up like Laura had said previously to investigators. Once the children were put to bed, Colin called his father down to the basement. When Craig walked into the basement, Colin was standing near a cement-walled storage area that was stacked with U-Haul boxes - he was holding either a hammer or some other hard tool and struck his father in the face with it.
Craig had been strangled in the basement of his home by having a garrotte wrapped completely around his neck. It was apparent that the killers didn’t expect the ligature to cut open his neck, but because it did, an excessive amount of blood squirted out all over the basement, which they then had to spend more time in the house, to clean up.
Then came the matter of transporting the body out of the house. Investigators speculate that Colin, Alex, and possibly even Paul Tucci dragged the body out of the townhouse and transported it to the wooded area near the country ride. They believe that it most likely was more than one person, as Craig wasn’t a small guy - he was 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds. Laura was certainly small at about 106 pounds and Colin and Alex weren’t very large men, and taking his body out of the house meant traveling up a set of staircases - no easy task for one person.
In October 2017, Paul Tucci, Laura, Colin and Alex Rideout were tried together.
At trial, the prosecution zeroed in on the custody battle between Laura and Craig as being at the center of the murder plot. They introduced 700 pieces of evidence. Included in that, was surveillance video that was pulled from a local Walmart, that showed Laura and Paul purchasing several bottles of Liquid Lightning Drain Opener, a tarp and bungee cords. At the register, Paul handed Laura cash to pay for the items.
Also played was video footage of Colin leaving a different Walmart store purchasing a square-edged shovel and work gloves - the same type of shovel that the farmer found on the side of the road.
The prosecution presented a pretty solid case against the four:
-The fact that Robbyn spotted Laura at the townhouse cleaning - when she wasn’t even supposed to be in Craig’s house
-The farmer finding the shovel and the body
-The prepaid cellphone that Robbyn gave Craig that pinged at his townhouse and then at the crime scene
-The witnesses seeing the Rideout boys toss the bags full of evidence into Devil’s Bathtub
-DNA evidence matching all four suspects to the scene of the crime
Several friends of Craig’s testified on his behalf, claiming that he was a great guy, had a good sense of humor, was a gentle person, and that he was a devoted father who loved his children.
The defense attorney's position was that the four defendants had nothing to do with Craig’s actual murder. They claimed that the items purchased at Walmart by Laura, Paul and Colin, were needed for the pending move to North Carolina and were items needed to fix up repairs in Paul’s house before they moved out of it, and Paul denied ever even being in Craig’s house at all.
For his defense, Colin claimed that although he had nothing to do with the murder of his father, he did admit to helping his mother clean up the blood evidence. Laura’s attorney tried to argue that the evidence pointed to another assailant altogether.
The defense also claimed that the DNA evidence that pointed to the four defendants was contaminated because of the way it was collected. They argued that the deputies who stacked the items on top of one another at the crime scene, potentially transferred DNA from one defendant onto another piece of evidence.
But the jury didn’t agree with the defense’s argument, and on July 25, 2017 they found Colin Rideout Guilty of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. Laura Rideout was also found guilty of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence; In addition she was found guilty of a burglary charge for being inside Craig’s apartment after he was murdered.
As the abuse allegations could not be brought up during the trial, Laura’s defense attorney, Michael DiPrima was given the opportunity to allege at the sentencing hearing that Craig had been abusive to Laura and to the children.
During sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Moran stated that even though friends and family had said that Craig was a great guy and amazing person and his sons and ex-wife said that he was an awful person, that based on his experience, Craig probably fell somewhere in between those two categories.
The judge stated that Laura, Colin and Alex were ALL in the basement when Craig was murdered, that the crime was evil and premeditated, and that it was one of the most heinous crimes he’d seen in his 30 years in law enforcement.
Judge Moran sentenced 24 year old Colin to a minimum term of 25 years, and 1 ⅓ to 4 years in consecutive sentences. He will be 50 years old when he is eligible for parole in 2043.
46 year old Laura was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to life, 1 1/3 to 4 years and 15 years in consecutive sentences. She will be eligible for parole in 2055 when she is 83 years old.
20 year old Alex Rideout was acquitted of the murder charge but found guilty of evidence tampering - he was sentenced to ⅓ to 4 years. After serving 3 ½ years of his sentence, he was released from prison on March 16, 2021 at the age of 24.
And Paul Tucci was found innocent, and was acquitted of ALL charges and is currently a free man.
Following Paul’s acquittal, he spoke with a news media outlet, saying that he still believed that Laura and her sons (as well as himself of course) are completely innocent:
[Paul Tucci Interview]
You're a free man, but others that you care about are not.
I'm relieved that the jury found it in my favor. I don't agree with their findings with the other people that I care about, and they're incarcerated.
This family that's now torn apart, how do the other kids recover from something like that?
Well we know where Colin is, Andrew's in the military, he's in the marines, so he has his life. Alex will be out hopefully sooner than later, he has a bright future ahead of him, he's a very smart individual and I think he's really come on his own in the last few years.
Elizabeth's going to college, Julia's finishing school and she's in high school. The two little ones have flourished with her sisters, they have stability in their lives. They are now what I would say happy children which they weren't at one point, and now they are.
I don't see that the kids have lost anything there, other than they miss their mom.
Well they lost their father too, was that not a loss?
I didn't see those kids shed a tear anyway, not one of them.
Tucci sold his five-bedroom house in Fairport New York in 2019 and has since moved - no, not to North Carolina but to South Carolina and according to LinkedIn is the Founder and CEO of Telebill, a telecommunications billing company. He would visit Laura several times a week in prison, but I’m not sure if he still makes the effort - or the drive.
As of this year, Colin and Laura have been in prison for 5 years. In an interview shortly after his incarceration, he expressed his feelings towards his father saying quote: "I did not respect or admire the man, he was likable, I could have enjoyable conversations with him and we could talk about history or economics or philosophy, but at a certain point I felt it was irresponsible of me to separate that from his personal conduct."