Suspected murder of Derby Wagner-Richardson by Fred Wagner-Richardson investigated on Cold Justice

Mugshot of Fred Wagner-Richardson
Fred Wagner-Richardson is accused of killing his wife 37 years ago. Pic credit: Racine Police Department

Cold Justice with Kelly Siegler is examining the abduction and murder of Derby Wagner-Richardson, a security guard who was taken from her workplace and killed nearly 40 years ago in Racine, Wisconsin.

The murder of 28-year-old Derby had long remained a mystery until March 2024, when the police finally arrested her estranged husband, Fred Wagner-Richardson, and charged him with the crime.

On March 22, 1987, Derby was working the night shift at Styberg Engineering when she failed to make a check-in call. The Racine cops investigated the scene and found evidence of a struggle. The officers also discovered some of Derby’s personal belongings.

Derby’s remains were later located in the trunk of her car about a mile away. She had been bound and gagged with duct tape, and her wrists and neck had been slashed.

Fred Wagner-Richardson was a prime suspect at the time. The couple was going through divorce proceedings and had suffered a difficult marriage.

The previous January, Fred had actually assaulted his wife in front of their two children. He was given a restraining order and was later charged with battery.

Derby Wagner-Richardson feared Fred Wagner-Richardson might try to kill her

The couple’s divorce was all set to be finalized on the day of her murder. They had met the day before with their attorneys present, and Derby had felt her life might be in danger. Her attorney agreed and asked the Racine cops to pay her special attention.

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Derby was dead a few hours later.

Derby Wagner-Richardson smiles in a family pic
Derby Wagner-Richardson was murdered 37 years ago as she worked as a security guard. Pic credit: Racine Police Department

Fast forward 37 years, in March 2024, the cops searched Wagner Richardson’s home and recovered four handguns, two tasers, and a set of bolt cutters. The investigators said the bolt cutters could be linked to Derby’s murder.

Fred Wagner-Richardson faces lengthy sentence if found guilty

In April 2024, 83-year-old Fred Wagner-Richardson was charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Wagner-Richardson is out of custody on a $50,000 bond. His passport was confiscated, and his next court appearance is expected in July 2024.

Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson admitted that much of the evidence is circumstantial, but she insisted “That while the case is circumstantial, certainly there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and it’s not like a case I would present today with hours of video and surveillance cameras, but ultimately I think that Derby deserves for a jury of her peers to make a decision on this case.”

Derby’s aunt, Ellie Schmidt, said at a press conference, “I can speak for our entire family in expressing deep gratitude to everyone who is involved in making it possible for us to be here today.” Her brother Bryon Linder admitted, “It’s been really hard on all of us.”

Cold Justice airs Saturdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.

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1 month ago

The truly broken”criminal justice” system sets and allows pre-meditated murder suspect out of custody on a $50,000 bond? WTF

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