Crime does not pay. It is quite unfortunate that Cornell Richards would hit the headlines only after a cruel death that would not even be wished one’s worst enemy. Wait–am I diving in too fast? Let’s first find out who Cornell Richards was.
Cornell Richards Biography Summary
|Date of birth||1968|
|Date of death||1999|
|Reported missing date||February 2, 1999|
|Date found||March 4, 1999|
|Location||Okaloosa County, Florida|
|Cause of death||Stabbing|
|Suspected Killers||Kristel Maestas
|Court ruling||Renee Lincks – 15 years imprisonment
Ronald Bell- Life imprisonment
Kristel Maestas- Life imprisonment
Cordell Richards’s biography
Cordell was born in1968, to Ruby Richards, in the United States. Before his death, he was in the air force. Cordell left one daughter, who is believed to be raised by her grandmother, Cordell’s mother. For most of his life, Cordell was a resident of Florida, USA.
Cause of death
Cordell went missing at the age of 31, in February 1999. A month later, his body was found tied to a tree, in a sparsely populated area, in Fort Walton Beach. Fortunately, according to the jury handling the matter, sufficient fingerprints were remaining on the body to help identify the murderers.
According to the autopsy done on his body, he was brutally beaten with a baseball bat and burnt alive. He would have survived those injuries, but later, the murderers slit his throat, using a meat cleaver, resulting in death.
His body was left to decompose while tied to a tree. Those acts of cruelty are said to have happened in two days. His body was found in March 1999, by a 12-year-old boy in Fort Walton, Florida. According to the police report, the body remains were so extremely disfigured that it was quite tricky even to identify his sex.
The key suspects of Cornell Richards’s murder were a young couple, 16-year-old Kristel Maestas, 17-year-old Ronald Bell, and Renee Lincks.
After his family reported him missing, the police found Kristel and Ronald sleeping in one of his bedrooms. On questioning them, the couple said they had not seen Cordell but claimed it wasn’t new to them, due to his tight working schedule. With nothing solid at that time, the police resumed their investigation and search process for Cordell Richards.
A month later, after Richards’s disappearance was recorded, a body found in Fort Walton woods, was reported. On arrival at the scene of the murder, the police found his body tied to a tree. The police used Luminol, which detected blood evidence at the scene. At this time, Ronald and Kristel were nowhere to be found.
On further investigation, it was said that Renee Lincks, who was then only 15 years old, had informed her mother that she was in a room where an unidentified person was killed, which probably was the key reason why Lincks was said to be involved in the murder. However, on further probing, Lincks mother and her daughter vehemently denied the claims.
The police moved to Maestas’s home, but they noticed a parked vehicle containing two occupants, on their way. On getting closer, they saw the vehicle’s back window was bashed out and covered with a black garbage bag. In conjunction with that and other witness reports of a sighting of 3 suspicious teenagers in a car at the scene on the day of the murder, the police saw it wise to bring Maestas and Bell in for questioning.
On questioning the couple, neither could give reliable information. It was not until Maestas’ parents visited and advised her to tell the truth, that the story came out.
After Maestas agreed to tell all, she said it all began when she and Bell rented a spare room from Richards. As time went on, Richard started showing sexual interest in her. At one point, he went into her room scantily dressed, and at another time, he boldly asked her to have sex with him, clearly knowing that she had her boyfriend around.
Upon Maestas’s refusal to have sex with Richard, he pushed her to the wall, resulting in a bruise. She reported the issue to Bell, her boyfriend, who bought her a deadbolt and told her to call him the next time Richard puts her in an uncomfortable situation.
On February 2, 1999, Lincks was hanging out with Maestas when Richards started harassing Maestas again. They quickly fled to Lincks’ room as they tried to call Bell, who later arrived and started attacking Richards. Bell managed to choke Richards and later asked the ladies to beat him using a bat. They then set his body alight.
According to Maestas, they wrapped Richard’s body in a blanket, placed it in the trunk of the car, and drove towards the woods in Bell’s car, then tied him to a tree. The next day, Richards was still alive, but Bell was determined to kill him. Maestas continued, that Bell bought a meat cleaver which he used to slit Richards’ throat.
Court ruling conclusion
On listening to Maestas’ confession and after further investigations, the judge sentenced Lincks to 15 years for manslaughter. However, she only served 12 of those years before being released from prison. Bell was sentenced to death, while Maestas was given life imprisonment and 30 more years for kidnapping.
According to the Supreme Court decision, Maestas’ and Bell’s sentencing was later reviewed, and it stated that mandatory life sentences were unconstitutional. Nonetheless, they were both given life imprisonment.
After countless days of mourning, and in and out of court, finally, the family and friends of Cordell Richards were served with justice.