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Jay Eugene Rothe has been arrested in connection to Riley's murder

Authorities in Springfield have made an arrest in connection to a woman who went missing from her W. Chicago Street residence on February 27th.

According to a news release from the Springfield police department, Jay Eugene Rothe, 65, of Springfield is being held on a 24 hour investigative hold for second-degree murder for the death of  fifty three year-old Linda Riley. (UPDATE- Rothe has been charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping and felonious restraint.)

Riley was reported missing from her Springfield home by a neighbor on February 27th.   Police said the woman "disappeared under suspicious circumstances," and an endangered missing person's alert was issued. 

A friend of Riley's, April Robertson, told investigators that she last saw her friend Sunday when she was on her way to a store.  Robertson says Riley attempted to call her three times that evening, but she had fallen asleep and did not answer the calls.  When she returned the calls, there was no answer, so she and another friend went to her neighbor's house. 


Linda G. Riley, who had been missing nearly a week, was found murdered near Stockton Lake


Robertson could hear the phone ringing inside 713 W. Chicago, but got no response when she knocked on Riley's door.  Thinking her friend was in trouble, she entered the unlocked house and found signs of a struggle.  There was a broken necklace on the floor, a tea glass that had been knocked over and other belongings, including Riley's purse, scattered on the floor.

Robertson told detectives Riley didn't have a car and never went anywhere without her phone.

Rothe told police he picked up Riley and a male friend, R. Goetz., on February 26th and gave them a ride to the woman's house after she allegedly called and asked him to pick them up, according to court documents.

Robertson told cops she saw Rothe's silver mini-van parked in her next door neighbors driveway just after midnight on the 27th.

About fifteen minutes after they arrived Goetz asked Rothe for a ride back to the residence he and Riley were picked up from.  Rothe allegedly asked Riley if she was going to bed and she said, "probably not" and he said he "might stop back by."

Goetz told cops that Riley was "leery" of Rothe because he had allegedly assaulted her in the past. 

A check of police records show that Riley reported that she was assaulted by Rothe in November of 2011 after she refused to have sex with him.  "Riley reported Jay grabbed her by the neck and tried to force his fist in her mouth during the incident."

When he was first interviewed by detectives on Febrary 28th, Rothe said he returned to Riley's house about 1:00 a.m. and stayed until a little after 3 a.m. and when he left Riley was getting ready for bed. He said he sent Riley a text at 3:46 a.m. and she did not respond.  He told cops he got up around 10 a.m. and went fishing at Stockton Lake.

On the 29th Rothe voluntarily returned to police headquarters to be interviewed and agreed to let authorities process his vehicle for possible evidence.  While the van, in which the back two seats had been removed, was being combed over for clues investigators took Rothe to Stockton Lake so he could show them where he had been fishing.

When they returned to headquarters detectives were informed that a patch of carpet in Rothe's vehicle appeared to have blood on it. On March 1st tests confirmed it was human blood.  That same day Detective Neal McAmis went to Lead Hill, Arkansas and got a buccal swab from each of Riley's parents.  DNA tests say that the blood found inside Rothe's vehicle could not be excluded as belonging to Riley and that the probability of it being hers is 99.99%.

On March 3rd Rothe again voluntarily returned to police headquarters to be interviewed.  This time he offered detectives several different scenarios for Riley's blood being in his van, "but he could not explain why fresh blood would be in the van."

When Rothe was informed that a search warrant was being executed at his home he appeared "visibly shaken" and eventually admitted to killing Riley, but claimed "it was an accident."

Rothe told detectives that he and Riley got into a heated argument after he returned to her house about "other male subjects" Riley was spending time with. 

Rothe says when grabbed Riley's shoulder and spun her around she lost her footing and fell and struck her head on a coffee table, causing her to loose consciousness.  He says he carried Riley to his van and was on his way to his home when Riley began to wake up.

He told detectives he helped her inside and they talked for about 20 - 30 minutes before going to bed.  Rothe said he took Riley to his residence in a trailer park at 3600 W. Farm Road 112 #32 (Norton Road,) "because he was worried Goetz would return to Riley's residence" and that he sent the text message to Riley's phone because "he did not want anyone to know he had her."

 After the pair allegedly woke up around 10 a.m. Rothe became angry when Riley allegedly pushed the man's cat off her lap.  "He said it was at that time when Riley got up and tried to walk around him to get to the front door."  Rothe says Riley "swung at him" and he "backhanded" her.  The force of the blow knocked Riley backward and she "fell and smashed her head into a cabinet near his sink."

After cleaning up the blood in his residence, Rothe transported Riley's remains to Aldrich, MO where he burned the woman's body for three to four hours while he went fishing.

Court documents say Rothe led detectives to the campfire where they recovered Riley's remains.

This is the third murder in as many years to be committed in the 700 block of W. Chicago. In January of 2009, six people, including the estranged wife of Stephen Rash, were charged in the murder conspiracy of the elderly man that happened in his home at 711 W. Chicago (the house next to Riley's. All six have pled guilty to taking part in his murder, and five of the six have been sentenced.

In March of 2010, Kody Ray was gunned down on his porch at 716 W. Chicago, while several children were inside the house attending his little brother's birthday party. That house sit across the street from Riley's house. Two men are still awaiting trial in that case.

Authorities are now investigating an arson fire that destroyed Rothe's mobile home today (03-05-12.)

Rothe, who is being held in the Greene County on $500,000 bond, will be arraigned in circuit court tomorrow in Springfield.

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