Meanwhile, the revelation that antique guns and collectible coins were stolen from the home has sent police to take a closer look at people who live next door to Riggins, the 72-year-old retired railroad worker found beaten to death Nov. 17.
And his stepdaughter, Rhonda Rallios of Lathrop, has spent time in recent days posting fliers asking for help in searching for her stepfather’s killer.
“I’m inclined to believe somebody had to see something somewhere,” she said.
Rallios said it is likely whoever killed her stepdad not only knew him, but also knew he kept antique guns and collectibles in the house. She said they were hidden in a spot where a stranger in the home, even a burglar or robber, would be unlikely to find them.
If that’s the case, it seems to narrow the field of potential suspects.
Perhaps that’s why investigators went back out to the neighborhood Friday to ask for fingerprints and DNA samples from all the neighbors in two homes just west of Riggins’ house, said Tina Wellman, 42, the woman who found Riggins’ body in a pool of blood inside his house.
Wellman, a Eureka resident, is staying with her daughter and son-in-law in one of two houses on a lot just west of Riggins’ property. Several people live in those two homes. Police had already taken fingerprints and a DNA sample from Wellman, because she found the body, but investigators only questioned some of the other neighbors early in the investigation.
Wellman said she had heard from fellow neighbor Mario Rodriguez, 32, that Riggins kept guns in an unlocked safe somewhere in his home.
It’s not the first time Riggins’ guns have been targeted, Rallios said.
When Riggins lived with her in Lathrop about 10 years ago, she said, a burglar broke into their home there and loaded up a few of Riggins’ prized guns. But the firearms were so heavy that the burglar couldn’t lift them over a fence and had to leave them in the backyard when he made his escape, Rallios said.
Police caught the man who committed the crime, and he’s now in state prison, Rallios said, so he couldn’t have killed her father. She didn’t know the burglar’s name.
Ever since then, though, her stepfather was shy about letting people into his home, she said.
“He knew he had things in the house that could be targets,” she said.
Still, he was friendly with the neighbors. Rodriguez called Riggins his best friend in town since he moved from Merced two years ago. The younger man helped the retiree with various projects around the house, and the two went fishing together.
Rodriguez, who was away from his home Friday and couldn’t be reached for this story, has looked in on Riggins in the past when he hadn’t been seen for a few days, an act Rallios said she appreciated.
Wellman said Rodriguez has been out of sorts since his neighbor’s death and feels guilty that he somehow didn’t do more to save Riggins’ life. None of the neighbors heard or saw anything when Riggins was killed, they’ve said, and it’s not clear exactly when he died. Rodriguez, Wellman and her daughter, Amanda Aills, 25, said Riggins was last seen Nov. 15, a Sunday. His body was found two days later.
Tracy police spokesman Sgt. Tony Sheneman declined to discuss details of the case because it’s still being investigated, though he said it’s reasonable to suppose detectives are looking closely at people who knew Riggins.
But Rallios also remembers a time when she lived in the Carlton Way home, and a swimming pool that was set up in the backyard. One day, she said, its rubber liner was slashed to shreds in an act of vandalism that scared her.
Though neighbors say the block on which Riggins’ home sits is mostly peaceful and quiet, when it comes to the surrounding neighborhood, “I know there are dangerous people who lived there,” Rallios said.
• Contact Tracy Press City Editor Eric Firpo at 830-4223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.