A Kentucky man has been indicted for hiring a hit man to kill his parents and sister – and then killing the alleged hit man.
Ryan Champion, 36, was charged with one count of murder, three counts of complicity to commit murder, and complicity to commit kidnapping.
It all started when an alleged gunman, Vito Riservato, entered the Champions’ farmhouse on Oct. 26. What happened next was a mystery. Champion told police that Riservato tied him up, but that he freed himself and overpowered Riservato before escaping. He claimed that Riservato shot his parents and sister before turning the gun on himself.
After the shootings, Champion went to a relative’s house across the street and asked a family member to contact authorities. When they arrived at the scene, investigators found the bodies of Lindsey Champion, 62, Joy Champion, 60, and Emily Champion, 31, in various rooms of the house. The body of Riservato, 22, was found near the front door. Ryan Champion was taken to a hospital for symptoms of shock, but was uninjured.
Shortly after the killings, Champion told WSMV-TV a similar story. “He got close enough to me that I could turn the tables, and that was it,” he said. “Every minute the entire thing was going on, that’s all I was waiting for. I was waiting for an opportunity.”
But prosecutors say that his story doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Police collected evidence and soon focused their attention on Champion.
According to Prosecutor G. L. Ovey, authorities believe that Champion had initially hired Riservato as a hit man, but killed him so he wouldn’t have to pay the fee. “It was a murder for hire; he would have gotten paid,” Ovey told reporters on Wednesday. ” But it didn’t end up that way. He was murdered.” Ovey declined to speculate on Ryan Champion’s motives for killing his family.
Riservato’s roommate, Ariel Lower, told WSMV that he had recently lost his job and needed money. “He told us that somebody told him that he would pay a certain amount of money, like an extreme amount of money, to kill somebody,” said Lower. “I told him he was crazy if he did it.”
Champion maintains his innocence. “I know what happened. I know who was where, and who did what,” he told WKDZ/WHVO Radio. “Their evidence is not as strong as they led everyone to believe. This is a good time to celebrate. This is the first chink in their armor.”
“I really look forward to a time when I can get out of here,” he continued. “But I’m really looking forward to, either way, leaving all of this behind me and trying to dig back up a normal life and grieve for my family in a way that I have not yet been allowed to.”
Champion will be arraigned on Dec. 10. He is being held on $5 million bond.