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Thomas William RIGTERINK

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Drugs
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: September 24, 2003
Date of arrest: October 15, 2003
Date of birth: December 29, 1971
Victims profile: Jeremy Jarvis, 24 and Allison Sousa, 23
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Polk County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on October 14, 2005. Overturned 2009
 
 

 
 

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Florida Supreme Court

 
opinion SC05-2162
 
 

 
 

On September 24, 2003, Rigterink stabbed to death Jeremy Jarvis and Allison Sousa.

According to reports, Jarvis ran from his home to a nearby office after being attacked and stabbed by Rigterink. Sousa, who worked as a secretary, tried to call for help, but Rigterink entered the office and attacked Sousa, stabbing her. Both Sousa and Jarvis died from the stabbed wounds. Jarvis was stabbed 22 times and Sousa was stabbed six times.

Rigterink was arrested on October 15, 2003, and during a police interview which was videotaped, Rigterink admitted to having "snap shop" recall about the attack and provided police with a hand drawn diagram of where the attack took place.


High Court Halts Rigterink Retrial

At issue is whether he was adequately notified of rights.

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court has halted the retrial of Thomas Rigterink, issuing an order Wednesday to stay the case.

The Florida Attorney General's Office now has more time to file a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the case, particularly whether rights waiver forms adequately notify people of their rights.

But whether the nation's highest court will grant such a request and what impact a Supreme Court decision would have on Rigterink's case remain unknown.

In 2005, a jury found Rigterink, a former model and Warner Southern College student, guilty in the stabbing deaths of Jeremy Jarvis and Allison Sousa on Sept. 24, 2003. He was sentenced to death.

In January, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the convictions and death sentences. The court ruled that detectives did not properly advise Rigterink of his right to have a lawyer present during his interrogation.

Rigterink, 37, was advised verbally and on a written waiver of rights form that he had a right to a lawyer "prior to" questioning.

Prosecutors argue Rigterink doesn't deserve a new trial and he was properly advised of his rights.

Rigterink's new lawyer, David Parry of Clearwater, declined to comment. Bartow lawyer Robert Norgard, who along with his wife, Andrea, handled Rigterink's successful appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, filed a March 17 response for Rigterink to the Florida Attorney General's application for a stay.

He wrote the application should be denied because Rigterink was not advised of the "quintessential essence" of his right to have a lawyer present "prior to, during, and after interrogation."

Prosecutors say Rigterink attacked Jarvis during a robbery at a warehouse unit where Jarvis lived near Winter Haven. Jarvis ran for help to the nearby offices where Sousa worked. Rigterink burst inside and continued his attack, prosecutors said.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's office sought a stay in the retrial of Rigterink to have more time to file a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

The application states the Rigterink case presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to resolve the issue of whether rights waiver forms advising people of their right to a lawyer "prior" to questioning "reasonably conveys the right to counsel."

 


Fla. Supreme Court overturns murder conviction

Bay News 9

Friday, January 30, 2009

POLK COUNTY -- The Florida Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of Thomas Rigterink for the stabbing deaths of two Polk County residents in 2003, according to Bay News 9's partner The Ledger.

Rigterink was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2005 for killing Jeremy Jarvis, 24, and Allison Sousa, 23, near Winter Haven.

The court also decided that Rigterink's taped confession would be thrown out for his retrial.

Prosecutors for the state attorney's office say they will put Rigterink on trial again.


Thomas Rigterink – white, age 31  

Sentenced to death in Polk County, Florida

By: A jury voted 7-5 to impose a death sentence 

Date of crime: 9/24/03 

Prosecution’s case/defense response: Rigterink regularly bought marijuana from Jeremy Jarvis and decided to steal a shipment of marijuana from him.  He went to Jarvis’s apartment and stabbed him, but Jarvis fled to a nearby office building.  Allison Sousa worked in the office building and was attempting to help Jarvis when Rigterink stabbed her death.  Jarvis was stabbed 22 times, but survived the attack.  Rigterink’s fingerprints linked him to the scene, and an employee identified Rigterink as the attacker.  He also admitted to the slayings for detectives, but he later testified a drug dealer threatened him.  No mitigating factors were present; Rigterink had a happy childhood but started using drugs.     

Sources: Tampa Tribune 8/25/05 (2005 WL 13843590), 9/1/05 (2005 WL 14091579), 9/10/05 (2005 WL 14604569), 9/15/05 (2005 WL 14888230), 9/16/05 (2005 WL 14940407), 10/15/05 (2005 WL 17134161)

Ajs.org


Ex-Model Rigterink Is Sentenced to Death

Adopted son of PCC professors becomes Polk's 14th death row inmate

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

October 15, 2005

BARTOW -- Thomas Rigterink was sentenced Friday to die for the brutal stabbing deaths of two people at a Winter Haven office complex in 2003.

Before bailiffs escorted him from the courtroom, the 33-yearold former model from Winter Haven turned around to face his family. He smiled and flashed a hand gesture.

Rigterink's lawyer, Byron Hileman, said he interpreted the gesture's meaning to be a sign of love for his family.

But Rigterink's behavior meant something else to the families of Allison Sousa and Jeremy Jarvis -- the victims of Rigterink's relentless knife-wielding attack.

"He laughed and smiled through this whole trial," said Jarvis' stepmother, Darleana Preast Jarvis. "He had no remorse for us or Allison's family."

Jarvis' father, Jim, said the two death sentences were appropriate, but don't take away the pain. "It's a sad day for everyone," he said.

A "LIFE OF DECEPTION AND MANIPULATION"

To accommodate a sizeable crowd, Rigterink's sentencing was held in the largest courtroom available at the Bartow courthouse.

Rigterink stood before Polk Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance, who read aloud from a 17-page order.

Durrance commented on how Rigterink pursued a "life of deception and manipulation."

The judge gave no weight to the defense argument that Rigterink should receive a life sentence because he was able to recognize his mistakes.

"From the testimony of family members and friends, the defendant was considered Mr. Perfect and could do no wrong," Durrance said. "From the jury's verdict, the defendant was found to be a liar, a deceiver, a manipulator, and a double murderer who did do wrong and refuses to recognize it."

On Sept. 9, a jury convicted Rigterink on two counts of firstdegree murder in the slayings of Sousa, 23, and Jarvis, 24.

Six days later, the same jury recommended by the narrowest of margins, two 7-5 votes, that Rigterink should die for the killings.

The judge acknowledged that Rigterink's family and friends saw a "kind, caring, loving and peaceful person" who even would help turtles cross the street.

After the death sentences were read, Rigterink's parents remained inside the courtroom to avoid reporters and to accept comfort from friends and family.

Rigterink, the adopted son of two Polk Community College professors, James and Nancy Rigterink, was one semester away from a biology degree at Warner Southern College.

He also worked for a time at a prestigious Miami Beach modeling agency. Before the killings, Rigterink had no past criminal history.

But Rigterink's lawyers insisted he was living a "double life" in a violent drug culture. He admitted to experimenting with drugs, using marijuana regularly and even growing some for a time in the attic of his condo.

Prosecutors said Rigterink had been fired from his job for stealing. He also recently had separated from his wife, who worked two jobs to bring in extra income.

Prosecutors accused Rigterink of planning to rob Jarvis, his regular drug supplier, on Sept. 24, 2003, at the warehouse unit where Jarvis lived on County Road 542 and Jimmy Lee Road, near Winter Haven.

Investigators later would recover about five pounds of marijuana from Jarvis' home.

Shortly after 3 p.m., prosecutors said Rigterink began attacking Jarvis with a knife at least 10 inches long. When Jarvis escaped to a nearby office, Rigterink also killed Sousa because she was attempting to call for help, prosecutors said.

Durrance described Sousa as a "Good Samaritan" whom Rigterink repeatedly stabbed because he feared she could identify him.

Sousa's husband, Tim, agreed that his wife and mother of his 4year-old son was always the type of person who wouldn't think twice about helping another.

Durrance concluded that the murders of Jarvis and Sousa were "heinous, atrocious or cruel" -- an aggravating circumstance that can provide the legal basis for a death sentence.

As Jarvis and Sousa struggled to escape Rigterink's onslaught, each suffered defensive wounds.

Jarvis was stabbed 22 times, and Sousa was stabbed six times. Both were conscious for several minutes before bleeding to death, according to Durrance's order.

RIGTERINK'S DIFFERENT STORIES

Critical evidence in the trial was a videotaped statement of Rigterink speaking with detectives on Oct. 16, 2003, the day of his arrest.

On the videotape, Rigterink offers details about how the fatal attack occurred, volunteers to draw a diagram of where events took place and demonstrates his struggle with Jarvis holding an imaginary knife.

Rigterink said he managed to keep up a relatively normal life after the killings and had no problems sleeping.

"After the fact . . . honest to God, I didn't feel bad," Rigterink said.

But during his trial, Rigterink denied any responsibility for the killings while seated for more than eight hours over two days on the witness stand.

Rigterink said he was innocent and that detectives had pressured him to confess.

He claimed to have stumbled upon the bloody scene and saw the real culprits, violent drug dealers, who threatened to harm his loved ones if he told.

"I didn't do it," Rigterink said. "I am not heartless. I am not a psychopath, a sociopath, whatever. I had nothing to do with it."

He pleaded with jurors to believe his testimony.

"Basically, God knows what's in my heart," Rigterink said. "There's no bitterness, there's no anger, there's no hatred, there's no hostility and above all, there's no guilt. I didn't do it."

Durrance wrote that Rigterink's testimony was "completely rejected" by the jury, which convicted him beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.

Including Rigterink, Polk County now has 14 people on Florida's death row.

 


Death Penalty Recommended For Rigterink

udge will sentence convicted murderer Oct. 14, weighing jury's input heavily.

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

Friday, September 16, 2005

BARTOW -- Jurors recommended Thursday by the narrowest of margins that Thomas Rigterink should die for the brutal stabbing deaths of Allison Sousa and Jeremy Jarvis.

After three hours of deliberations, the jury returned with two 7-5 votes recommending death in each killing.

Juries must reach unanimous decisions in rendering a verdict, but death penalty recommendations require only a majority vote.

Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance will make the final decision on Oct. 14, but Florida law requires that judges give a jury's recommendation "great weight."

The victims' families left the courtroom hugging each other and expressing approval of the jury's recommendation.

"This is what we wanted," said Sousa's mother, Alice Diggett.

She and her husband, Michael, said the four-week trial has been tough on all families, including Rigterink's family.

The same jury convicted Rigterink on Sept. 9 on two counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 24, 2003, killings at an office complex on County Road 542 and Jimmy Lee Road near Winter Haven.

Over the last two days, the trial went into its penalty phase with testimony and arguments regarding whether Rigterink should die for the killings.

Rigterink, a 33-year-old former model from Winter Haven, had the faint traces of a beard on his usually clean-shaven face. At times, his eyes became red with tears as his family members spoke on his behalf.

"I think the reality of it all came crashing in," said Byron Hileman, one of Rigterink's lawyers. "It obviously upset him."

Rigterink's family members expressed confusion Thursday about how he could be responsible for the two killings.

His mother, Nancy, expressed sympathy for the families of Jarvis and Sousa, and said that life has been difficult since their deaths. "I feel like my life has ended," she said.

Before his arrest, Rigterink -the adopted son of two Polk Community College professors -was one semester away from a biology degree at Warner Southern College in Lake Wales. He also spent some time at a prestigious Miami Beach modeling agency.

Family members recalled Rigterink performing in plays with his cousins, participating on baseball and soccer teams, roughing it on family camping trips and helping turtles cross the street.

Rigterink's father, James, described his son as a caring and kind person. "I can't imagine having a better kid than Tom," he said.

But his lawyers contend he was also living a "double life" in a violent drug culture.

His parents said they suspected their son was abusing drugs and attempted an intervention shortly before the killings.

Rigterink testified that he wasn't the one responsible for the killings but stumbled upon the bloody scene afterward. He said the real killers, drug dealers, threatened to harm his loved ones if he told.

But Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo said Rigterink manipulated everyone in his life and lied to fulfill his self-centered purposes -- including lying to the jury while on the witness stand.

Prosecutors say Rigterink planned to rob Jarvis, 24, of drugs and attacked him inside his home with a knife at least 10 inches long.

Investigators would later recover about five pounds of marijuana from Jarvis' home.

When Jarvis escaped to a nearby office, Castillo said Rigterink quickly decided he need to kill Sousa, 23, because she was attempting to call for help.

Jarvis was stabbed 22 times and Sousa was stabbed six times. Jarvis and Sousa bled to death.

Castillo described Rigterink's relentless assault against Jarvis and Sousa as "extremely wicked and shockingly evil."

He said it couldn't be explained away by external reasons like extreme poverty, physical abuse or lack of opportunities in life.

"It is an evil that emanates from within the individual," Castillo said. "It is an evil that is part of the individual."

The prosecutor said Rigterink wasn't worthy "to remain on the planet" and deserved to die.

Defense lawyer David Carmichael argued that the jury's guilty verdicts already provided a death sentence for Rigterink, who would either way spend the rest of his life in prison.

He urged jurors to consider giving Rigterink "a chance to make amends" by using his education to teach other inmates and deter them from using drugs.

 


Rigterink Guilty of Murders

He could get the death penalty for the 2003 slayings near Winter Haven.

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

Saturday, September 10, 2005

BARTOW -- As jurors took their seats, the crowd inside the small courtroom Friday seemed to hold its breath.

Some struggled to hold back tears and sobs. Others sniffled quietly and held each other tight.

Standing up straight, Thomas Rigterink, 33, listened as the jury found him guilty in the brutal stabbing deaths of Allison Sousa and Jeremy Jarvis on Sept. 24, 2003.

The jury spent more than nine hours deliberating over two days before convicting Rigterink on two counts of first-degree murder.

The trial moves into the penalty phase Wednesday, when the same jury will listen to testimony and arguments about whether Rigterink should be executed or sentenced to life in prison.

Before being taken to a holding cell, Rigterink nodded at his parents, James and Nancy, sitting in the courtroom's front row.

The family and friends of Sousa and Jarvis fought hard to control their emotions. Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance had previously warned everyone inside his packed courtroom that he wouldn't tolerate any outbursts.

Once outside, they let their feelings loose, hugging each other and crying openly.

"It's so hard to sit in there and control your emotions," said Lee Sweeney, Jarvis' mother. "You're dying inside," she said.

Sweeney said she traveled from Akron, Ohio, to sit through the trial, which she described as "torture" for every family involved.

Sweeney said her 24-year-old son was an easygoing and bright young man who was always wellbehaved.

Alice Diggett, Allison Sousa's mother, and other members of her family wore decorative butterfly pins throughout the trial to silently honor her 23-year-old daughter's memory.

Diggett has described Sousa as an outgoing person who wouldn't think twice about helping someone in trouble. She enjoyed writing poetry, cooking and taking care of her son, who is now 4.

Before his arrest, Rigterink -the adopted son of two Polk Community College professors -had once worked for a prestigious Miami Beach modeling agency. He was one semester away from a biology degree at Warner Southern College.

But prosecutors say Rigterink's life took a turn for the worse shortly before the killings. He was fired from his job and separated from his wife, who worked two jobs to bring in extra income. He also had a drug habit.

Prosecutors say Rigterink planned to rob Jarvis of drugs at the warehouse unit where Jarvis lived at County Road 542 and Jimmy Lee Road, near Winter Haven.

Investigators would later recover about five pounds of marijuana from Jarvis' home.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on the day of the killings, prosecutors said Rigterink attacked Jarvis with a knife at least 10 inches long, but Jarvis escaped to the nearby offices where Sousa worked as a secretary.

As Sousa attempted to call for help, Rigterink burst inside the office and continued his attack.

Jarvis was stabbed 22 times, and Sousa was stabbed six times. Jarvis and Sousa bled to death.

During the trial, a key piece of evidence was a roughly 40minute videotaped statement of Rigterink speaking to detectives on Oct. 16, 2003, the day of his arrest.

On the videotape, Rigterink talks about having "snap shot" memories of the knife attack.

He offers to draw a diagram of where events took place. He demonstrates for detectives his struggle with Jarvis -- even holding an imaginary knife and raising his hand over his head.

Rigterink said on the tape that he kept up a relatively normal life and had no problems sleeping after the killings.

"After the fact . . ., honest to God, I didn't feel bad," Rigterink said.

Defense lawyer Byron Hileman said the case consisted mostly of circumstantial evidence with the exception of this videotaped statement.

Rigterink took the witness stand and claimed he was pressured by detectives to confess. He testified that he arrived shortly after the killings and saw the culprits -- violent drug dealers -who threatened to harm his loved ones if he told anyone.

Throughout his more than nine hours on the witness stand, Rigterink repeatedly denied killing anyone.

Sousa's 33-year-old husband, Tim, said Rigterink deserves the death penalty, and his testimony only proves that he is a liar.

Sweeney said she has thought about what Rigterink's punishment should be since her son's death.

"I've left it in God's hands," she said.

 


Rigterink to Jury: 'I'm Not the One'

Deliberations expected to begin today in trial of ex-model in 2003 double slaying.

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

Thursday, September 8, 2005

BARTOW -- The jury is expected to begin deliberations today in the double murder trial of Thomas Rigterink.

Rigterink is accused of stabbing Jeremy Jarvis, 24, and Allison Sousa, 23, to death on Sept. 24, 2003.

If convicted as charged, the 33year-old former model from Winter Haven, who faces two counts of first-degree murder, could be sentenced to death.

No testimony in the trial was presented Tuesday. On Wednesday, Rigterink finished his testimony on the witness stand, which totaled more than nine hours spanning more than three days. Rigterink claims to have come upon the crime scene after someone else attacked Sousa and Jarvis.

Rigterink said his presence afterward accounts for physical evidence left at the scene, including DNA.

He testified that he saw the real culprits -- drug dealers -who threatened his loved ones if he said anything.

Rigterink's lawyer, Byron Hileman, asked his client why the jury should believe his account of what happened.

"Basically, God knows what's in my heart," Rigterink said. "There's no bitterness, there's no anger, there's no hatred, there's no hostility and above all, there's no guilt.

"I didn't do it."

After acknowledging some key evidence against him, Rigterink continued to urge the jury to believe his testimony.

"It looks bad," Rigterink said. "There's no doubt about it."

"But I pray that you search your heart and see what's in mine that I'm not the one that committed this horrible act."

On the day of the killings, prosecutors maintain that Rigterink was attempting to rob Jarvis of drugs. Investigators recovered approximately five pounds of marijuana from Jarvis' home.

Prosecutors allege Rigterink used a knife at least 10 inches long to attack Jarvis at a warehouse unit where Jarvis lived at County Road 542 and Jimmy Lee Road near Winter Haven.

Jarvis managed to escape to the nearby offices where Sousa worked as a secretary, prosecutors said.

Jarvis was stabbed 22 times and Sousa was stabbed six times. Jarvis and Sousa bled to death.

During the trial, prosecutors presented physical evidence against Rigterink, including bloody fingerprints found at the crime scene that match Rigterink's.

Prosecutors also describe genetic material found underneath the fingernails of Jarvis' right hand as matching Rigterink.

In addition, investigators discovered Jarvis' blood on the wheel, driver-side door and seat belt of the blue pickup truck belonging to Rigterink's father, according to testimony.

Rigterink had borrowed the truck on the day of the killings.

Prosecutors presented another crucial piece of evidence: a videotape of Rigterink speaking with detectives on Oct. 16, 2003, about the brutal attack.

On the tape, Rigterink talks about details of the attack, which prosecutors say only the killer could know.

Jurors have watched this roughly 40 minutes of black-andwhite footage on two occasions during the trial.

Rigterink insists detectives pressured him to confess to the killings and said he succumbed because of being exhausted and under the influence of anti-anxiety medication.

"I believed, in the course of events, that I would be vindicated," he said.

"I had faith in the system."

 


Rigterink Denies Insanity On Stand

Suspect calm during a cross-examination that lasted more than five hours.

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

Saturday, September 3, 2005

BARTOW -- Thomas Rigterink denied being insane and continued to calmly answer questions Friday in his double-murder trial, despite spending more than eight hours over two days on the witness stand.

At times, Rigterink smiled and appeared to verbally spar with Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo during an intense cross-examination that lasted more than five hours.

"I came on the stand knowing the questions would be like this . . . I'm not hiding," Rigterink told the prosecutor.

Rigterink is accused of stabbing Allison Sousa, 23, and Jeremy Jarvis, 24, to death Sept. 24, 2003, at an office complex near Winter Haven.

Rigterink's testimony is expected to continue Tuesday.

Before his arrest, Rigterink was one semester away from a biology degree at Warner Southern College in Lake Wales. The 33-year-old adopted son of two Polk Community College professors also worked for a time at a prestigious Miami Beach modeling agency. But Rigterink's lawyers said their client also lived "a double life" in a violent drug culture. Rigterink said he experimented with drugs and regularly used marijuana, even growing some in the attic of his condo.

On the day of the killings, prosecutors say Rigterink was broke and intended to rob Jarvis of drugs at the warehouse unit where Jarvis lived at County Road 542 and Jimmy Lee Road near Winter Haven.

Shortly after 3 p.m., prosecutors said Rigterink attacked Jarvis, who ran to the nearby offices of Total Construction Management Inc., where Sousa worked as a secretary.

Jarvis and Sousa were repeatedly stabbed with what prosecutors describe as a knife at least 10 inches in length.

Throughout his testimony, Rigterink has repeatedly denied being the knife-wielding attacker. He insists that he stumbled upon the bloody crime scene afterward and saw the real killers, who threatened to harm his loved ones.

"I didn't do it," Rigterink said. "I am not heartless. I am not a psychopath, a sociopath, whatever. I had nothing to do with it."

A key piece of evidence for the prosecution is a videotape of Rigterink speaking with detectives about the brutal attack.

Rigterink claims that detectives pressured him to confess, and he succumbed due to lack of sleep and being under the influence of anti-anxiety medication. Rigterink said he felt detectives would eventually figure out who the real killers were, and he would be set free.

"I figured it would work out in the end," he said.

On Friday, Castillo took Rigterink line-by-line through his roughly 40-minute videotaped statement with detectives on Oct. 16, 2003.

On the tape, Rigterink talks about details of the attack, stands up to imitate a struggle with Jarvis, and sketches a diagram of the crime scene and where events took place.

"I knew . . . I knew I'd done it," Rigterink said on the videotape.

Rigterink describes having "snap shot" memories of the attack, but says he doesn't remember stabbing Jarvis and Sousa.

During his testimony, Rigterink denied he was setting up an insanity defense by talking about the memory lapses, but agreed that he told detectives statements to look "crazy."

"There is no psychological problem," Rigterink said. "There have never been psychological problems."

"You're fine?" Castillo asked.

"As fine as I can be under the circumstances," Rigterink replied.

But on the videotape, Rigterink told detectives that he suspected there was something psychologically wrong with him because he kept up a relatively normal life after the killings.

"Mr. Rigterink, would you agree that making a statement that `I did not feel bad and I did not have a problem sleeping' is heartless?" Castillo asked.

"And that's so far from who I am that it makes no sense . . . I am certainly not a heartless individual," Rigterink replied.

Rigterink said he decided to "play a role" of a killer in the police interview.

He said detectives gave him information about what to say and he began embellishing the story.

"Mr. Rigterink, would you say you are a liar?" Castillo asked.

"I lie from time to time," Rigterink replied.

"And you lie under very, very serious circumstances?" Castillo asked.

"Sure," he said.

"And you lie when it suits your purpose?" Castillo asked.

"From time to time, yes," Rigterink said.

 


Murder Defendant Takes the Stand

Thomas Rigterink tells jurors he played no part in double slaying.

By Jason Geary - The Ledger

Friday, September 2, 2005

BARTOW -- Thomas Rigterink took the witness stand Thursday in his double murder trial, provoking tears from his mother, Nancy, and intense questioning from prosecutors.

For more than four hours, the 33-year-old Winter Haven man told jurors that he had nothing to do with the brutal stabbing deaths of Allison Sousa and Jeremy Jarvis on Sept. 24, 2003, at an office complex.

His testimony continues today.

Rigterink, a former model, said he arrived at the crime scene after the killings and witnessed the carnage firsthand.

"It was the most horrific scene I could imagine," he said, speaking slowly and calmly. "There's nothing I could compare it to."

Jarvis, 24, was stabbed 22 times and Sousa, 23, was stabbed six times. Both bled to death.

After the killings, Rigterink said he was trying to stay away from ruthless drug dealers who threatened to retaliate against him and his loved ones for seeing the real killers.

Meanwhile, Rigterink was also evading investigators who were interested in speaking with him. "I was trying to figure out what to do," Rigterink said.

After a couple days of hiding up on his parents' roof, Rigterink said he knew his mother would be worried, and he climbed down on the morning of Oct. 16, 2003.

"She thought I was hurt or dead," Rigterink said, crying. Sitting in the back of the courtroom, Nancy Rigterink, 63, also began to shed tears.

Prosecutors say Rigterink wasn't avoiding drug dealers but detectives who wanted to take his fingerprints and compare them to bloody prints left at the crime scene. Rigterink's fingerprints did prove to be a match.

On the day of the killings, Rigterink said he planned to get some marijuana from Jarvis. Rigterink, who was one semester from graduating with a biology degree, said he was friendly with Jarvis, his regular drug supplier, and wanted to install a grow room at Jarvis' residence to cultivate marijuana.

Rigterink drove in his father's pickup truck to a warehouse space where Jarvis lived on County Road 542 and Jimmy Lee Road near Winter Haven.

"When I got there, the door was open with what appeared to be blood on the door," Rigterink said.

He said he picked up a burgundy t-shirt on the sidewalk that was covered in blood. "Obviously, something terrible had taken place," he said.

Rigterink said he noticed Jarvis' unit was in disarray and a large patch of blood was on the wall near the door.

He tracked a trail of blood into the nearby offices of Total Construction Management. There he discovered the bodies of Jarvis and Sousa covered in blood.

He said he heard what sounded like vehicle doors slam.

"I freaked out, ran back through the warehouse, down the hallway and out the front door with every intention of getting away as fast as possible," he said.

Once outside, Rigterink said he heard a vehicle accelerate and saw three people in a van drive away.

Rigterink faces two counts of first-degree murder. If convicted as charged, he could be sentenced to death.

Under cross-examination, Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo grilled Rigterink for more than two hours about his story. Castillo's questioning is expected to resume this morning.

The prosecutor pointed out Thursday that Rigterink's reaction to arriving upon a bloody scene was not to call for help.

Castillo questioned why Rigterink didn't immediately call 911 but, instead, followed a bloody trail that ended with Sousa and Jarvis' bodies.

Rigterink said he was "trying to figure out what happened" and that at the time "not a lot made sense."

"Particularly your testimony," Castillo replied.

Rigterink agreed that he never picked up a telephone in any office to call for help or even later when he left the area.

"Is it true, Mr. Rigterink, that the last thing you wanted was for help to get there?" Castillo asked. The prosecutor further inquired if Rigterink was trying to finish what he set out to do.

"I didn't kill him," Rigterink said.

Prosecutors accuse Rigterink of attempting to rob Jarvis of drugs.

Investigators recovered approximately five pounds of marijuana from Jarvis' home.

Castillo on Thursday portrayed Rigterink as a man whose life had taken a turn for the worse in the months before the killings.

Although an education trust fund paid some of his bills, Rigterink said he had been fired about a month earlier from his job. He had recently separated from his wife, who had worked two jobs to bring in extra income.

"You had to make due with less, didn't you?" Castillo asked.

"Yes," Rigterink said.

"But your appetite for drugs continued, didn't it?" Castillo asked.

"Yes," Rigterink said.

Shortly after 3 p.m., prosecutors allege Rigterink used a knife at least 10 inches in length to attack Jarvis, who escaped to the nearby office of Total Construction Management where Sousa worked as a secretary.

Jurors have seen Rigterink's videotaped statement, which shows him providing details of the deadly struggle.

Rigterink said detectives pressured him to confess and gave him instructions on what to say. Rigterink said he agreed because he thought everything would "work out in the end."

"I figured they would be able to tell I had nothing to do with it," he said.

Rigterink said an old friend, Marshall "Mark" Mullins, threatened to kill Rigterink's parents and girlfriend if he said anything about what he had seen.

Prosecutors have dismissed the defense's theory that Mullins, an air-conditioning technician who died in an April 2004 motorcycle accident, was responsible for the killings.

In a previous hearing, prosecutors presented two alibi witnesses who say Mullins was installing an air conditioner at the time of the killings.

Rigterink said he still fears retaliation for testifying.

"My family is still out there," Rigterink said. "I'm still vulnerable, not as much as they are. But, at this point, I've got nothing to lose."

Rigterink said he didn't know if Mullins was directly responsible for the killings or was just part of a group.

"I still don't know who did it," Rigterink said.

"Have you looked in a mirror lately?" Castillo asked.

Rigterink replied that he does so everyday.

 


Stabbing Suspect Arrested

Authorities say Thomas William Rigterink admitted to being involved in two slayings.

By Amy L. Edwards - The Ledger

Friday, October 17, 2003

BARTOW -- Detectives have arrested the man they say is responsible for the Sept. 24 stabbing deaths of a man and woman at a Winter Haven-area office park.

Thomas William Rigterink, 31, of Firestone Place in Winter Haven, was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder Thursday afternoon by the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Rigterink was linked to the stabbing deaths of Allison Sousa, 23, and Jeremy Jarvis, 24, when detectives matched his fingerprints to bloody ones found in Jarvis' apartment, said Polk County Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow Jr.

Under questioning from detectives, Rigterink admitted to being involved in the slayings, said sheriff's Col. Grady Judd.

However, Rigterink refused to give investigators a motive for the stabbing, investigators said.

He said his memory of the slayings is like a "Polaroid," Judd said.

Rigterink told investigators that "when he came to, he had a knife in his hands and observed blood everywhere, and observed two victims lying on the floor of Suite No. 1," according to an arrest report.

"He claims to have blacked out," Judd said. "He's trying to create a defense."

The Sept. 24 killings started with an argument between Jarvis and Rigterink in Jarvis' unit at a business and residential complex near Winter Haven on County Road 542 and Jimmy Lee Road where the slayings occurred, the Sheriff's Office said.

After being stabbed in the fight, Jarvis ran to the nearby offices of Total Construction Management Inc. for help.

That's where Sousa and Amanda Short were working.

Detectives withheld Short's name until Thursday for her protection.

As Sousa went to Jarvis' aid in the front of the office, Short ran to get a towel to help the bleeding Jarvis.

According to Rigterink's arrest report, Short told investigators she then heard Sousa "pleading, `Please don't hurt me,' and saw a white male advancing toward Sousa in a threatening manner."

Short then locked herself in an office and called 911.

She didn't come out of the office until deputies arrived.

Deputies found Sousa, who was stabbed six times, and Jarvis, who was stabbed 13 times, both dead.

Investigators actually interviewed Rigterink within a day of the Sept. 24 stabbings because he was a known acquaintance of Jarvis, possibly through drug use, Crow said.

But at that point he was not considered a suspect, he said.

Detectives asked Rigterink that day if he would be willing to provide the Sheriff's Office with his fingerprints, Crow said. Rigterink said he would, but never showed up to give the prints.

Since then, Rigterink has been avoiding detectives, Judd said.

Early in the investigation, bloody fingerprints were found on Jarvis' apartment door, which was just a few rooms down from the construction office where Sousa was working in.

Those prints were "good quality prints" Crow said, and they were submitted to a database.

The fingerprints didn't match any others in a database, which "tended to indicate that the suspect had never been arrested," Crow said.

After releasing a composite sketch of the stabbing suspect the day of the murders, Crow said the Sheriff's Office received hundreds of tips.

Investigators followed up on more than 100 of those tips.

"We embarked upon what has been an around-the-clock investigation," Crow said.

One witness reporting seeing a blue pickup truck leaving the area, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Carrie Rodgers.

That led investigators to Rigterink because they knew his parents own a blue pickup truck.

Thinking there would be traces of blood in the truck, detectives Wednesday went to Rigterink's parents' home in Lake Hamilton, informed them that they suspected their son in the killings and impounded the truck, Judd said.

Judd said Rigterink's parents, James and Nancy Rigterink, were very cooperative.

Judd said there is "no indication at all" that James and Nancy Rigterink knew about their son's involvement in the slayings until they were contacted by investigators.

In fact, James and Nancy Rigterink are both professors at Polk Community College and work with Sousa's mother, Alice Diggett, who works in administration at the college.

James and Nancy Rigterink even attended Sousa's funeral, Judd said.

"They are absolutely not suspects," Judd said.

Investigators said Rigterink borrowed his parents' truck on the day of the slayings and drove it to the County Road 542 complex.

Judd said after Rigterink stabbed Sousa and Jarvis, he drove the truck directly to his home in the Cypresswood Golf and Country Club community, where he washed himself of the blood and cleaned the truck.

Even though there was no blood visible to the human eye in the truck, Judd said, investigators were able to see "significant traces of blood" by using a lightaltering device.

Knowing that their son was wanted, James and Nancy Rigterink were able to locate their son and bring him to the Sheriff's Office substation in Bartow on Thursday for questioning.

It was there that he "admitted to being involved" in the homicides, Crow said.

He also admitted to sleeping on his parents' roof for two nights in his attempt to avoid law enforcement, Judd said.

The Rigterinks did not know he was hiding there, detectives said.

Rigterink was an acquaintance of Jarvis, Judd said, and told investigators that Jarvis sold "the cheapest marijuana" in the area.

Investigators have said the stabbing could have been drug related because they found several pounds of marijuana in Jarvis' room.

But Rigterink would not confirm that, they said.

According to Rigterink's arrest report, he told investigators Thursday that "he can remember images of him holding the victim, Jeremy Jarvis, against the wall in Suite No. 5 with the knife in his hands and blood everywhere."

The arrest report said Rigterink told investigators he "fled from the scene in his father's blue pickup truck."

While Rigterink was being interviewed Thursday, detectives searched his home in the Cypresswood Golf and Country Club community.

Judd said Rigterink likely used a knife with a "very long blade," but said investigators were still working on recovering the weapon.

On Thursday, the Sheriff's Office released the 911 calls that Sousa and Short made.

The last person to hear from Sousa was a 911 dispatcher, who only heard a few seconds of cries and screams. Then the phone went silent.

Background noise can be heard on the tape, but no other voices are audible.

Short had called 911 when she locked herself in the office, however, she could not see what was going on outside.

"Please somebody hurry," Short said. "Oh God, please hurry."

On Thursday night, Sousa's husband did not want to comment for this article. Attempts to contact James and Nancy Rigterink were unsuccessful.

Judd said Sousa's parents were "elated and relieved" that Rigterink was arrested.

Neighbors of Thomas Rigterink said Thursday night they were stunned by the arrest.

A woman who lives in the same duplex as Rigterink said he was "just the nicest guy."

"It just makes me sad," she said.

Polk Community College President Larry Durrence said Thursday night that the homicide is tragic for the college's faculty and staff.

"It is of course a tragic event for both families," Durrence said.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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