Murder of John and Ruth High by Richard Duncan examined on Prosecuting Evil With Kelly Siegler

Mugshot of Richard Charles Duncan
Richard Charles Duncan was put to death by lethal injection. Pic credit: Texas Dept. of Justice

Prosecuting Evil With Kelly Siegler is investigating the barbaric murder of elderly couple Ruth and John High, who were callously killed by their son’s lover, Richard Charles Duncan, at their home in Houston, Texas.

On October 8, 1987, Ken High, an adult son of John and Ruth, became concerned when he couldn’t contact his parents. Ken went to the home, and looking through a window, he saw his mother lying dead on a bed. He also noticed a strong smell of gas.

When the police arrived, they found 72-year-old John and 74-year-old Ruth were both dead. A gas stove had been left on, and the cops speculated the couple had died from gas inhalation.

However, an autopsy soon revealed John had died from six blunt trauma blows to his head, and Ruth had been suffocated. The police suspected the gas had been turned on to make the murders look like an accident.

Unfortunately, the detectives were left baffled by the murders. There was no sign of forced entry, and nothing had been stolen. The couple’s wills were left open on a desk, which, in hindsight, would prove to be a significant clue.

A breakthrough finally came in 1993 when Robert Alexander contacted the Houston police, stating that he had to clear his conscience. Alexander explained that at the time of the murders, he had been in a homosexual relationship with the High’s other son, Gary High, and a third man, Richard Duncan.

Richard Duncan confessed to lover to killing John and Ruth High

The three men had been living together as a family, with Duncan as the head of the household. Alexander told the police that Duncan had admitted to killing his lover’s parents and that John had fought hard for his life.

Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel

The killer allegedly told Alexander, “I did it. I did it. They’re gone. Ruth and John. They’re at peace.”

Alexander agreed to tape a conversation with Duncan, which led to an arrest after he incriminated himself.

The killer concocted a bizarre story claiming that Ruth had asked him to kill her and John because of their failing health. Duncan said he paid a man called Oscar Rodriguez to do the killing.

The police believe Rodriguez didn’t exist and that Duncan killed Ruth and John in the hope of claiming up to $500,000 from his lover’s inheritance.

The cops suspect Duncan smothered Ruth with a pillow and then waited three hours for John to come home before attacking and killing him.

Alexander and Gary High were not implicated in the murder plot.

Richard Duncan seemed an unlikely individual for death row following John and Ruth High murders

Duncan was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection in December 2003.

At the time of the execution, Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Siegler described Duncan as a seemingly unlikely figure for death row. He was considered handsome, well-groomed, and clever, but also a stone-cold killer. Siegler told the press, “The thing that jumps out at me is he’s not the typical defendant anyone would expect to see on death row.”

Siegler is now returning to the scene of one of her first cases as the former prosecutor, once again, investigates this horrific case.

Prosecuting Evil With Kelly Siegler airs Saturdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x