Thursday, April 26, 2001

Woman's death tied to deal gone bad

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Rebecca Ritchie's parents worried that drugs would one day kill their daughter.

        But they expected her death to result from a drug overdose, not from a drug deal gone bad.

        A search warrant filed in Boone District Court attributes the 22-year-old Newport woman's death to a dispute over drugs.

[photo] Carole Carlton counsels at the Women's Residential Addiction Program in Covington.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        According to the search warrant, Richard Adam Lambert of Petersburg told his girlfriend that he went to Covington on Feb. 27 to buy some Valium from a woman “previously unknown to him,” and he became angry when the woman tried to “rip him off.”

        Mr. Lambert told his girlfriend that he punched the woman, grabbed her and strangled her. According to the search warrant, he put her body in the bed of his 1998 Dodge Ram pickup, drove to the Petersburg boat ramp in western Boone County, backed the truck up to the boat ramp, and dumped her body into the river.

        On April 11, Ms. Ritchie's body was pulled from the Ohio River near Petersburg.

        Mr. Lambert was arrested before the body was found, after authorities said they found blood on a boat ramp and in the bed of his pickup. Blood removed from his truck bumper and the boat ramp is being tested by authorities to see if it matches Ms. Ritchie's.

        Mr. Lambert remains in the Boone County Jail under $50,000 bond, charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence. Boone County police are awaiting the results of Ms. Ritchie's autopsy and other lab tests before pursuing additional charges.

        In November, Ms. Ritchie was sent to the Women's Residential Addiction Program (WRAP), a long-term residential drug treatment program in Covington, as part of a sentence for crack cocaine abuse, her parents said. The program is run by Transitions Inc., which operates four other residential treatment programs for substance abusers.

        In mid-February, Ms. Ritchie ran away from WRAP, her parents said.

        “Even with treatment, the relapse rate for crack cocaine is extremely high, probably above 80 percent,” said Mac Bell, program administrator for the Kentucky Division of Substance Abuse.
       That doesn't stop treatment programs like WRAP from trying, though.

        “What we do is plant the seeds,” said Karen Rumsey, program director for WRAP. “You never know when that light will go off.”

        WRAP receives its referrals from several sources — the court system, other social service agencies and the recovery community — said Karen Hargett, assistant executive director of Transitions Inc.

        “Our clients learn something each time,” Ms. Hargett said. “When they come back, they pick up where they left off.”

        Tiffany, a 20-year-old Shelbyville, Ky., native who has struggled with crack cocaine addiction since her mother introduced her to the drug at age 15, agreed.

        Tiffany, who has tried residential drug treatment four previous times, said she went directly to WRAP after her latest release from jail. For her, the motivation to get clean and enter a job training program was the loss of her baby daughter.

        “From my relapses, I've learned more about my weaknesses,” Tiffany said Wednesday, as she took a break from her daily routine at WRAP. “I've made mistakes in my life, but here is where I get another chance.”


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