A man imprisoned in Oregon has confessed to killing his girlfriend and the couple’s infant son, who were reported missing in 2009 in Los Angeles, CNN reported Thursday.
Thomas Riffenberg, 31, who is serving a life sentence for stomping a cellmate to death, confessed to suffocating 23-year-old Jennifer Anne Walsh and her 16-month old son, Alexander, in a letter to an Oregon Department of Justice agent, who Riffenberg later met face to face and provided hand-drawn maps showing the supposed locations of the buried bodies, according to the CNN report.
Details of Riffenberg’s confession were contained in a search warrant affidavit filed in Los Angeles, CNN reported.
When Walsh’s mother Joanne Fern reported her missing on Jan. 11, 2009, she told Los Angeles police that Riffenberg told her he last saw the young woman when he drove her to an unemployment office in the San Fernando Valley.
Riffenberg showed up with the child at Fern’s Palmdale house and told her that her daughter had been caught with a bag of marijuana while at the unemployment office and ran out to where Riffenberg was waiting in a van and handed him the boy and told him to flee so that the child would not be taken by authorities, according to CNN.
After three days, Fern filed the missing persons report, but when she returned home Riffenberg and Alexander were gone.
Fern later learned Riffenberg, her daughter and grandson had stayed at the Palm Springs area home of another of her daughters, but that the three had left.
About a year later, Fern learned that Riffenberg had been arrested for burglary in Oregon about a month after Walsh and Alexander went missing, CNN reported.
Riffenberg told a detective in Oregon that his girlfriend and son had been killed in a car accident, but police there did not connect him to the missing persons case, according to CNN.
In June 2013 Riffenberg’s cellmate was found beaten and unconscious and he died soon after, according to CNN.
Riffenberg was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of aggravated murder in 2015 and phoned the agent two years later, CNN reported.
Riffenberg’s maps pointed to Walsh’s sister’s backyard, where remains believed to be Walsh’s were found, and the 14-acre property in Palmdale where Fern lived as the supposed location of the boy’s buried remains, which have not been found.
Testing is pending on the remains thought to be Walsh’s, Fern told CNN.
As for the motive for killings, Riffenberg said he did it out of loyalty to former prison mates, who he called “his family,” according to CNN.
Riffenberg told Jodi Shimanek, the Oregon DOJ agent to whom he had written, that he had promised his prison family they would always come first and he couldn’t make good on that vow with his girlfriend and son in his life, according to CNN’s report.
–City News Service
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