This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Rickey Herriage was the ultimate big brother to his family.
Virginia Culpepper, Rickey’s younger sister, still remembers the time he stood up to a friend of his for cussing in front of her, even though they were all adults.
“He always tried to be the protector, the big brother, for all his family and his siblings,” she said.
Rickey was a protective big brother but also a father to his two kids. Virginia remembers Rickey loving his “little family,” which included his daughter and stepson.
On March 7, 1987, that little family lost a big part when Rickey never came home from a Saturday night out. His body was found the next morning.
More than three decades later, his murder has still not been solved.
Rickey worked as a carpenter to make a living but was actively trying to get a higher education. Although he had dropped out of high school in his junior year, he later received his GED and was recommended by the program to go to college. Virginia says he was starting to look into different universities, and hopeful to attend, when he was murdered.
“He was street smart, and he was book smart,” she said. “You don’t find many that are both.”
Rickey enjoyed playing cards with friends and going out to clubs on the weekend in his free time. In the small town of Athens, Texas, everybody knew everybody.
Two weeks before his murder, Rickey was jumped by five guys and one woman. Virginia says that the men were friends of a woman from Rickey’s past, and they beat him until “he was too sore to go to work,” she recalled. It is unclear whether his murder was connected to this earlier incident.
Days later, he was shot multiple times in his hometown of Athens after a night out at a club. His lifeless body was thrown off the County Road 1500 bridge. He was 29 years old. To this day, the police have no information on who killed him or who he was with beforehand.
“We don’t know who, what, when, where, or why,” said Virginia. She still feels the pain of his death years later.
Virginia says that she and her mother try to avoid talking about Rickey’s murder in front of her two other brothers. The thought of it “tears them up,” she said.
Rickey’s little family has grown a lot in the years since his death. He would now have four grandkids, five step-grandkids, and a great-grandson.
Her brother may have died 34 years ago, but Virginia has not yet given up hope on finding justice for him.
“I’m not gonna let it lie and be covered up in dust, I’m gonna keep it open, I’m gonna keep it out there,” she said.
Virginia continues working to keep her brother’s memory alive and remind the community that the case remains cold. She started a Facebook memorial page in 2015 where she posts regularly.
“I know if it was the other way around, and it was me who was murdered, my brother would not let this murder die,” Virginia said. “He would be the one getting it solved.”
May 31, 2015
For over 28 years Rickey Herriage’s family has fought to bring his murderer to justice. The ripple of violence left a daughter and stepson to grow up without the father they loved.
Holidays came and went with an empty chair at the table and no resolution for the family.
On Sunday, March 8, 1987, the body of Rickey Herriage was found in Henderson County, Texas.
He had been shot multiple times and tossed off a bridge on County Road 1500 near Walnut Creek.
Investigators received a number of leads and developed multiple theories but ultimately no motive, suspect, or arrest has happened in this case.
If you have any information about this murder, no matter how small you think it is, please contact the Henderson County Sheriff`s Office at (903) 675-5128.
Those who wish to remain anonymous and possibly receive a reward can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 545-8477.
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