Saturday, November 22, 2008

Woman in Minnesota Planned to Return to Indiana and Leave Her Troubled Marriage Behind

Submitted by Pat Minelli on November 14, 2008 - 9:34pm.
By Shannon Fiecke and Pat Minelli, Shakopee Valley News

Ruth Anne Maddox was only weeks away from being free from her troubled marriage and back in her home state of Indiana when she was found beaten to death in her Prior Lake home Wednesday last week.

The Shakopee Valley News reporter’s husband, Charles Anthony “Tony” Maddox Jr., has been charged in her death. On Friday, bail was set at $1 million in the 43-year-old man’s initial appearance in Scott County District Court. He remains in custody in the Scott County Jail. Maddox faces one count of second-degree murder with intent, but without premeditation. The Minnesota Regional Coroner’s Office, in its preliminary findings, concluded that Ruth Anne Maddox, 45, died of blunt-force head and neck injuries sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday.

Tony Maddox is alleged to have killed his wife in their townhouse and hid her body in the garage. Police, after three visits to the Maddox home and two conversations with her husband, who refused to allow them into the house, obtained a search warrant and entered the residence at 3:17 a.m. Wednesday. Tony Maddox faces a maximum 40 years in prison if convicted. A grand jury must be convened if the county attorney’s office decides to pursue a first-degree murder charge.

Bail has been set at $1 million, cash or bond. A bondsman who attended the hearing told a reporter afterward that a bail company would likely require $100,000 to be put up, but he doubted one would be willing to issue a bond.

The defendant allegedly told police he and his wife had a fight and she came at him with a screwdriver and a knife. He said he put his knee on the arm holding the knife and choked her. The couple was going through a divorce and Ruth Anne Maddox had
expressed concern for her safety on several occasions to friends.

She recently informed her supervisor that after the divorce was final, she planned to resign and return to her native Indiana to be closer to her daughter. According to court records, Ruth Anne Maddox’s 19-year-old daughter, Kelsey, told police she had recently received two text messages from Tony Maddox, saying he would never allow her mother to leave him.

Supervisors reported Ruth Anne Maddox missing Tuesday afternoon of last week after she failed to show up for work. A supervisor had received a text message from her phone that morning, saying she had a doctor's appointment and would let him know when she would be in. That was uncharacteristic, supervisors said, because Maddox would normally call, not send a text message. A male acquaintance in Indiana said he too received a text message from Ruth Anne Maddox's phone on Tuesday morning, also unusual, and the message said, "I'm not having a good morning."

According to the criminal complaint: A neighbor, Sabrina Norrbohm, told police both Maddox vehicles were parked in the driveway when she left for work Tuesday morning. Norrbohm last spoke with Maddox at about 11:30 p.m. Monday. She told police Maddox was home alone and that she had been at a Shakopee School Board meeting Monday night and had three stories to finish for the newspaper’s deadline Tuesday morning. Norrbohm said she was aware of past violence in the Maddox home, but police were never previously involved.

After Prior Lake police were alerted, officers went to the home about 4:40 p.m. Tuesday but there was no answer. They returned about 6:11 p.m. and were met at the door by Tony Maddox. He told officers, who noticed two scratches on his nose, that he didn’t know where his wife was. He said he received a text message from his wife saying she was headed out of town and wouldn’t be back until Sunday. The defendant would not allow police inside the home and spoke to them from the front steps. He refused to sign a missing-person report and said he wanted to see if her family members in Indiana called to report that she arrived there.

Tony Maddox also told police he was watching football at a friend’s house Monday evening. At 9:14 p.m. Tuesday, police visited the home again, and spoke
with Tony Maddox outside the home. It was windy and sleeting at that time, and officers asked if they could go inside the house. He refused. At 3:17 a.m. Wednesday, police entered with a search warrant.

Shortly after police entered the home, Tony Maddox told police without being questioned: “I might as well save you the trouble; you will find Ruth Anne’s body in the garage.” Police found her body wrapped in what appeared to be a tent,
covered by a blanket.

Maddox was last seen at a School Board meeting she was covering for the Valley News on Monday night. When she left the meeting, it was with a wave and a smile on her face, School Board Chair Kathy Busch told the newspaper. At a Veterans Day program the next morning, Cristina Oxtra, communications coordinator for the Shakopee School District, was excitedly waiting to show Maddox her military uniform and introduce her to friends. But no one could find Maddox.

A school administrator tried calling and only got voicemail. There was no response to e-mails Oxtra sent throughout the day, which was uncharacteristic for her, Oxtra said. It was also deadline day at the Valley News, and therefore highly
unusual for Maddox, known for her responsibility, not to show up. Co-workers grew more anxious about her whereabouts as the day progressed and went to the Prior Lake Police Department Tuesday afternoon after driving past the Maddox home, where her green Subura Outback was missing from the driveway.

Always friendly and humorous, Maddox had been especially chatty Monday evening. She and the assistant to the superintendent, Sarah Koehn, talked during much of the meeting, which ended about 9:20 p.m., and Maddox lingered longer than usual afterward, until about 9:45 p.m. The pair’s conversation Monday evening eventually moved to chit-chat, but it started off serious, with Maddox recounting the latest updates in her pending divorce and Koehn helping brainstorm to make sure all the bases were covered — financial, legal, personal, etc. “She seemed OK, like she was getting things taken care of,” Koehn said.

Koehn remembers the conversation ending with her offering to take Maddox’s dogs until she was permanently settled. Maddox had expressed concern that night about the pets, and Koehn now wonders to what extent she might also have been concerned for herself.

Maddox had been preparing in the previous few months to leave her husband. On Oct. 22, she filed for divorce in Scott County and asked for temporary possession of their home, stating in an affidavit she “cannot imagine living under the same roof with him while we wait for the case to be concluded.” Acknowledging that the townhome likely would be foreclosed upon because neither she nor her husband could afford to live there on their own after the divorce, she asked to continue staying there in the meantime without her husband, stating it “will prevent the likelihood of me being domestic[ly] abused by Charles. This is a real threat with which I am faced.”

In a divorce affidavit, Maddox expressed concern about how her husband would react to the breakup, based on an incident of abuse about a year prior when the possibility of divorce was discussed. She wrote, “Charles hit me and pulled me down the stairs” and “more recently he threw keys at me after he thought I was going to file for divorce. Charles is chemically dependent and I do fear Charles’ reaction to the fact I have now started this divorce case … ” A divorce hearing scheduled for Nov. 6 was postponed when the couple’s attorneys came to an agreement.

Ruth Anne Maddox had told co-workers her husband initially agreed to consent to all of her demands, not requiring a court battle, so long as she let him stay in the home a few weeks longer. Peter Horejsi, Ruth Anne Maddox’s attorney, didn’t respond to a call for comment. Last Thursday he told the Times-Union Newspaper in Indiana,
where Ruth Anne Maddox had worked for 16 years, he expected the divorce to become final that week and that Tony Maddox had agreed to be out of the home by the end of this month.

Maddox moved to Prior Lake from Warsaw, Ind., about five years ago after marrying Tony Maddox. The couple attended high school together in Hammond, Ind., and reconnected at a high school reunion. She got a job at the Savage Pacer newspaper, and just over a year ago started working for the Shakopee Valley News. Both papers are part of Southwest Newspapers, based in Shakopee.

The two had been married since May 2003. Ruth Anne is survived by a daughter, Kelsey, from a previous marriage, who lives in Indiana, and two sisters and a brother and her parents.

In court on Friday, Scott County Attorney's Office prosecutors requested $1 million bail, citing the domestic-abuse allegation and because they considered Tony Maddox a flight risk. The defendant’s attorney, Larry Rapoport, disputed allegations
of domestic abuse, saying no record of such abuse exists. “One million dollars [bail] is too exorbitant,” he told the judge. The next court hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 29 in Scott County District Court.

Tony Maddox spoke politely to the judge and was composed throughout the hearing, until after acknowledging his family members as he left the courtroom, at which time he began to cry. His family — there were five members at the hearing — declined comment. The victim’s family members, who were not at the hearing and held a funeral for Maddox in Indiana on Monday, were too shaken last week to comment.

Since 2003, nine people have been charged with murder in Scott County, according to the county attorney’s office. There were five victims among the cases. Three cases involved more than one defendant. The last homicide that occurred in Prior Lake was Jan. 27, 2002, when a man killed his wife and then committed suicide. Two other homicides occurred in Prior Lake in 1997. The first involved a man who killed another man on Feb. 8, 1997. The second was a man who killed a woman while the two were in a relationship on Dec. 30, 1997.

Shawn Hogendorf and Lori Carlson contributed to this report.

Story originally from Shakopee Valley News.

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