Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Russell Obremski: A Killer's Luck

The Trial

There was little doubt about who killed LaVerna Mae Lowe and Betty Ann Ritchie. In spite of a failed motion by the defense attorneys for a change of venue, the trial opened in Medford on Sept. 9, 1969.

According to testimony, at 1:30 p.m. on the day of the murders, Don Slaughter called Mrs. Lowe and told her he didn't want Obremski to drive the hay truck.

An hour later, Slaughter saw Obremski drive the truck past his hospital room window toward the shopping center, where Mrs. Ritchie had her prescriptions filled. He also identified the murder weapon, a .22 handgun, as his own, which he kept in the hay truck; it was the same gun that had wounded him in the leg as they drove down from Klamath Falls.

The neighbor who had heard screaming testified that she saw a man drive a green hay truck away from the Lowes' house that afternoon.

The coroner testified that sperm was found during the autopsies. Whether it was found in the widow Betty Ritchie or the pregnant LaVerna Lowe was not clear. There was no evidence of "sexual assault," to either woman, and in those days of pre-DNA evidence, sexual assault or rape charges were never filed.

While Obremski did not testify at this trial, in later interviews, he claimed that he does not remember killing either woman, nor kidnapping Betty Ritchie, nor committing sexual assault on either of them.

Obremski remembers a lot about his crimes, for having no memory of them.


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