Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Russell Obremski: A Killer's Luck

The Day Turns Deadly

At 3:30 p.m., he came home to find police at his house and his murdered wife on the couch. They'd been married less than a year.

About the time Cliff Lowe was arriving home, Obremski, his brain clouded from inhaling model airplane glue fumes, had already kidnapped Betty Ritchie, and was driving her car out of the pharmacy parking lot. He headed south, along back roads.

Traffic on rural Carberry Creek Road is intermittent. Everybody knows everybody else, what cars they drive, and usually, what their business is. Witnesses in that backwoods area just north of the California border saw a red 1967 Impala go down Carberry Creek Road with two people in it, and a short while later, saw the car come back with only one man driving.

When the news bulletins hit describing Obremski, Mrs. Ritchie and the car, calls came in to the local sheriff's office.

It wasn't long before Mrs. Ritchie's body was found. According to the Medford Mail Tribune, Obremski later said that he forced her to undress to delay her reporting her car stolen, but when she became hysterical, he lost patience and shot her in the face, threw her down a snowy embankment, tossed her clothes after her, and went to buy some beer.

He stopped at the Copper Store for a six-pack. When asked by the clerk if he didn't just go by with a woman in his car, he got a little testy and said that he was giving a relative, Betty Rodriguez, a ride home from Klamath. But the store clerk knew that wasn't true. No Betty Rodriguez lived up Carberry Creek Road.

The next tip for police came the following day from Santa Cruz, California. Two surfers said Obremski had offered them a ride. They saw his gun on the front seat of the red Impala, saw the blood all over the back seat, declined the ride, and called the police.

Russell Obremski, never known for being bright, was easy to find. California police identified the red car, stopped it, and knowing that the suspect was armed, approached the vehicle with shotguns drawn.

Obremski gave himself up without incident.


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