Front yard slaying: Two felons arrested in dog-shooting case

Two and a half months after a 10-month old Siberian Husky named Mattie was shot and killed in an Earlysville-area front yard, police have made two arrests.

Twenty-six-year-old Justin Tyler Riggs of Charlottesville was arrested Tuesday, March 29, and charged with possession of a firearm as a violent felon, cruelty to animals, and illegal hunting for his role in the January 15 shooting. Twenty-one-year-old Brian Charles Tichner of Dyke, arrested March 30, has been charged only with possession of a firearm as a violent felon, suggesting investigators believe Riggs pulled the trigger.

In the days after the incident, Mattie's owners, Yvonne and Ed Scarborough, put up a $10,000 reward and expressed their horror that someone would have killed the friendly pup, who was contained by an electric fence in their Fray's Grant subdivision yard.

"He probably called her," Yvonne Scarborough theorized of the shooter in a pre-arrest interview. "He shot her right in the chest. He just shot her in cold blood."

When the family beckoned their dogs in that night, only Max, Mattie's littermate, responded. The Scarboroughs' teenaged son went out looking for Mattie and discovered her in the yard, lying dead in a pool of blood.

"She probably thought he wanted to pet her," said Scarborough, breaking into tears.

The human members of the Scarborough family weren't the only ones to mourn her passing. Littermate Max was despondent.

"He wouldn't even eat; he just lay on her grave," Scarborough sobbed. "He won't play, he won't eat, he searches for her– he knows where she is."

The Scarboroughs' $10,000 reward swelled to more than $25,000 after community donations, according to the Newsplex, which reports that the money may not be paid out since the arrests were a result of police investigation, not a community tip.

Albemarle County court records show four prior criminal convictions for Riggs:

2003 - launching a missile into an occupied vehicle
2005 - unlawful wounding
2005 - felon in possession of a firearm
2005 - probation violation

Tichner holds a pair of felony convictions of his own. In 2008, he was found guilty of grand larceny and breaking & entering.

Both Riggs and Tichner are being held at Albemarle/Charlottesville Regional Jail, and both are scheduled to appear in Albemarle County General District Court on May 5.


How awful. As a pet owner and animal lover I feel really bad for the Scarboroughs. Animals are innocent. I'm happy they were able to figure out who did this.

OMGoodness. I hope these two rot in jail. They sound dangerous.

Those two look like they'd just as soon kill a person as an animal!

The criminal justice system will never seriously deal with these two until they murder somebody. And based on their criminal records, this murder will most likley be a violent one. Hopefully violent enough to get them life in prison or death row.

I had a huskie friend too and he was my best friend. Him and I had been through 11 states. He loved me unconditionally. I knew waht he thought, he knew what I though If someone like these two clowns now in containment at the regional jail every pulled any of that on him, they would received similar outcomes. I hope they sit and rot for a while in the jail.

Don't serial killers usually get their start by killing animals? Go Dexter!

I think the punishment should fit the crime. 5 years each cleaning up after police dogs(excrement) and if I was in charge their meals would consist of 2 day old roadkill.

@ Dahmius

Yes, they do. As well as general socipaths/psychopaths. Lack of empathy, demonstrated first on animals and helpless creatures around them, moving up to humans.

I'm wondering how police figured out that these were the guys responsible? It was the "result of police investigation," but how, if nobody tipped them off? Does anybody know?

There are so many evil people in this world. It gets awfully depressing.

Well at least when they get out of prison they will be entitled to free healthcare that all the pet owners can subsidize with their taxes...

Hang em High!

Quite the contrast to The Great Wave Art. We are such a diverse town.

You know it's a funny thing, but when a convicted violent felon is released from prison, his first acquisition always seems to be a gun, which we find out about when he commits and gets caught for his next violent felony. People re-offend at such a high rate that one asks the question of why violent felons are ever released and also why the penalties for having a gun aren't more draconian, but I don't suppose the penalties matter much to individuals who are impulse driven and don't really think about getting caught. I've long held the view that certain categories of offenders shouldn't be released without physical modifications that make re-offending difficult or impossible for them. This also includes aggressive sexual offenders (I don't include in this category folks who's sexual offender status comes solely from downloading the wrong stuff on their computers).
Some people are either just born this way or are raised this way so that they simply don't "get" the whole "social contract" thing that makes possible any sort of human community, and the revolving door prison thing just keeps putting them out in the world until they either do something that gets them put away for good or someone else puts an end to them for us.
The recent case of John Wesley Morris illustrates this as does the case of another Morris whose first name was Leon or Leroy. He served time for second degree murder back in the seventies and eighties, was paroled and subsequently fatally capped by his estranged girlfriend when he broke into her apartment. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I do believe the craziness of Virginia law which used to limit murder 2 offenders to 20 years has been corrected. GBSOE may know the details of this.

Angel Eyes.....

§ 18.2-32. First and second degree murder defined; punishment.

Murder, other than capital murder, by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or in the commission of, or attempt to commit, arson, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration, robbery, burglary or abduction, except as provided in § 18.2-31, is murder of the first degree, punishable as a Class 2 felony.

All murder other than capital murder and murder in the first degree is murder of the second degree and is punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than five nor more than forty years.

(Code 1950, § 18.1-21; 1960, c. 358; 1962, c. 42; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 503; 1977, cc. 478, 492; 1981, c. 397; 1993, cc. 463, 490; 1998, c. 281.)

@billmarshall: I'll bet you ten bucks these characters share your political views.

I'd like to cast my vote for catman as posting the absolute dumbest comment this year. Why does it not surprise me that he supports Obamacare?

I'd like to nominate realist for second dumbest.

"You're the dumbest!"

"No, YOU'RE the dumbest!"

"No, YOU are!"

"YOU are!"

"No way!"


Really people? Seriously? ???

Anyway, once again, condolences to the family for the loss of their beloved dog and it's good that the perpetrators were found.

"You're the dumbest!"

"No, YOU'RE the dumbest!"

"No, YOU are!"

"YOU are!"

"No way!"


Really people? Seriously? ???

Anyway, once again, condolences to the family for the loss of their beloved dog and it's good that the perpetrators were found.

I don't think I've ever seen any two people look as stupid or as brainless. The dog was probably smarter, lacking only an opposable thumb to pull a trigger. Dumb and dumber. They needed to be culled at birth.

Blue Damsel

White trash trailer park scum! Both of them need to do a nice, long stretch in a hellhole like Sussex I down in Jarrett.

Send 'em to Red Onion along with Huguely after they're all convicted. Essbags all.

Who would ever think about harming such a cute dog, or any dog in general. These people are very sick. Violence against innocent, and harmless animals is DISGUSTING. People like this shouldn't ever be allowed to roam the streets freely. I hope they are in jail for a long time, but I know they won't get the time they really deserve. I hope they have to pay the owners and do a lot of community service. Scum like this shouldn't even be alive, they aren't good for anyone.

Condolences to the family who lost this most likely sweet dog. ]: