Man who killed parents, stored them in freezer

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, OR -- Three days after he shot and killed his mother and father, Jeremy Ringquist purchased a large chest-style freezer where he stored his parents' bodies for three weeks "to help with the stink," Ringquist told Springfield police detectives.

A $775 receipt from the Eugene appliance store was one of many items collected by police from the Nicholas Drive home after the bodies were discovered late last month, according to a police case report obtained Monday about the now-completed investigation.

Other items recovered included thousands of dollars in cash; notes by Ringquist about the deaths; Powerball tickets that he purchased the day after the murders; a slew of prescription and illegal drugs; shotguns, handguns and rifles; and a dead cat that was wrapped in duct tape and stored in a backyard shed.

Ringquist was eventually charged with two counts of aggravated murder, following treatment at a hospital for a drug overdose - he ingested 30 prescription sleeping pills and shot up heroin - and a superficial self-inflicted cut to his arm.

Before he was taken from the hospital to the Lane County Jail, Ringquist asked hospital staff if he could speak to a priest, the police report said. But before hospital staff could make arrangements for such a meeting, Ringquist was discharged from the hospital and taken to jail, the report said.

One week later, Ringquist killed himself in his jail cell, according to authorities.

The police case report outlines how the bodies were found - duct-taped and partially stuffed with packing material - and what Ringquist told police before he was taken to jail, including that he had started using heroin just six weeks before the murders occurred.

Ringquist was interviewed by detectives at the hospital, and he drifted in and out of sleep throughout his hospital stay, the report said. At one point, Ringquist asked a detective if he was in the hospital because he had shot himself in the head.

When told that he had not, Ringquist said he had wanted to.

The next day, when police again sought to interview him, Ringquist declined to speak to detectives without a lawyer present.

A previously filed search warrant affidavit stated that an argument about immigration between Jeremy Ringquist and his father, Randy Ringquist, is what sparked the double murder on May 31. Jeremy Ringquist's interview with police on the day of the bodies' discovery addressed that topic.

"I'm at a loss. My father ... he's been a racist all my life," Ringquist told a detective from his hospital bed. "He's mad about all the immigrants. I talked to him about that. It made him mad."

Ringquist told the detective, according to the report, that his father has always been disappointed in him, and that the immigration argument was just another reason for disappointment.

Asked what happened next, Ringquist told the detective, "I made poor decisions. I did try to take his life, OK? I'm sorry for what I've done. It's not what we've been taught. ... I screwed up real bad. I did something you're not supposed to do."

Springfield police had been called to the home for a welfare check on Ringquist's mother, Karen, multiple times during the weeks leading up to the discovery of the bodies.

But Ringquist told detectives that he had expected police to arrive much sooner - on the very day of the shootings. He had planned to get in a shootout "with the cops," he told the detective from his hospital bed, because at the time of the shooting, the doors to the home were open and he was sure one or more neighbors must have heard the gunfire and called police.

He said he found all of the guns in the home, loaded them, and waited. But officers never came.

"I had all the guns ready to go," he told the detective, according to the report. "But the cops never showed up that day. How is that ... possible? None of the neighbors called the police."

Ringquist said he then tried to clean up the mess.

Ringquist told police his mother was killed when he fired his gun down the hallway during the argument with his father, just as she emerged from a bedroom. She was shot in the chest and died instantly, he said.

His father "knew I killed my mom. I had to kill him, too."

Ringquist said Randy Ringquist got up when he heard the gunshot and yelled, "What the hell's going on out there?"

Ringquist told the detective he wasn't thinking straight, and when his father came into the hallway, Ringquist shot him in the arm, and then the chest.

Ringquist said his father then told him, "Just ... finish me!" So Ringquist shot his father in the head, he told police.

After three days, the bodies started to smell, so Ringquist purchased the freezer, he told police.

An appliance salesman who sold the large-size freezer to Ringquist later told police that he innocently joked that it was a "two-body" freezer. The salesman told detectives that it's a comment he often makes jokingly about that size of freezer.

But Ringquist snapped back at him, asking, "What did you say?"

The salesman told detectives that he feared he had offended Ringquist with his joke. But the two of them then "chuckled about it" before Ringquist bought the freezer, the salesman told detectives.

Ringquist used his father's truck to bring the freezer home, the police report says. When placed in the freezer, each parent had a copy of their passports in a plastic bag taped to their bodies, the report said.

Ringquist had moved in with his parents following a divorce. His ex-wife was interviewed by police, and she told detectives that he had been verbally abusive to her and their daughter, 11, before the couple separated in 2011 and divorced two years later.

Ringquist developed a prescription pain medication addiction following a back injury, she told detectives, and was unable to hold down his job as an engineer. The couple's relationship was rocky, she said. Ringquist had threatened suicide in the past and had suffered a breakdown in 2004 in which he relinquished his shotgun to his parents for safekeeping, the ex-wife said.

The ex-wife - corroborating the comments of neighbors and friends - said Jeremy and Randy Ringquist did not like each other, and that Randy Ringquist was verbally abusive toward his wife and son.

The ex-wife, who lives in Illinois, said Jeremy Ringquist called his children - they also shared a 6-year-old son - about once every six weeks. But Karen Ringquist called once or twice a week to speak with her grandchildren, the ex-wife said.

The ex-wife told police she felt something was wrong when she hadn't heard from Karen Ringquist in a couple of weeks. She requested a welfare check on her mother-in-law on June 14, one day before a cousin from Southern California also called police asking for a welfare check.

On June 21, two days before the discovery of the bodies, the children called Ringquist to wish him a happy Father's Day, the ex-wife told police. The phone call was on speaker and the conversation was fairly short, she told police.

During the call, Jeremy Ringquist told his daughter that Karen Ringquist had lost her phone and that's why she hadn't called, the ex-wife told police.