WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - The Capital Murder affidavit for Byron Rickard, 42, is providing new information into the death of Ruby Ditto, 91.
According to court documents, on Sunday just before 4:30 p.m. a neighbor called 911 to report that Ditto has possibly passed out in the yard of a home in the 200 block of N. Beverly.
When medical personnel got to the scene they believed she had actually been assaulted. Officials said Ditto was bleeding from the head. She was rushed to the hospital but died early Tuesday morning.
During the investigation, a neighbor told police a man she only knew as “BJ” had been helping Ditto clean up a property of hers. According to the neighbor, Ditto was allowing this man to stay in a trailer house on the property.
The neighbor told police she last saw Ditto talking with “BJ” in the yard. When she looked out her window, she could not see Ditto or “BJ” and Ditto’s truck was gone.
After 20 minutes had passed, the neighbor went outside and found Ditto lying on the ground bleeding from her head. The neighbor told officers that Ditto was also missing a fanny pack she used as a purse.
At that time, officers swept the home and found a piece of mail that belonged to Byron Jack Rickard. Officers were familiar with him and went to his last known address in the 2100 block of Garfield.
Officers caught up with Rickard in Ditto’s truck and her fanny pack was inside. Officers took a statement from Rickard. He said he met Ditto the day before when he found a tree laid over in her yard.
Rickard told officers he felt compelled to help because Ditto had handicap plates on her car. He said he began cutting up the tree when Ditto came out of the home and told him she could not pay him for his work.
At that time, Rickard said Ditto offered him a place to stay at an address in the 200 block of N. Beverly, which was one of her rental properties. Rickard said he stayed the night there on Saturday and woke up on Sunday and began doing work around the property.
Rickard said Ditto brought him lunch sometime around 11 a.m. He told detectives after lunch he borrowed Ditto’s truck to go to his old residence on Garfield to get more of his belongings around noon and never returned.
The neighbor corroborated Rickard’s account up until his claim of leaving the home at noon. The neighbor said she saw Rickard and Ditto speaking in the yard around 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
A search warrant of Rickard’s home on Garfield led to the discovery of Ditto’s truck key in a set of cabinets. A photo lineup was shown to the neighbor with a photo of Rickard.
She identified Rickard as the person she saw with Ditto but said she was only 80 percent sure. She was able to identify the truck keys found in Rickard’s home as Ditto’s truck keys.
Officers found suspected blood spatter on the side and seat portion of the driver seat, steering wheel, and inside panel of the driver’s door. A presumptive test was positive for blood, according to police.
Surveillance video from near the scene show Ditto’s truck leave at 4:03 p.m. which was consistent with the witnesses account and not Rickard’s. When confronted with the discrepancy, Rickard said he had problems his whole life with losing time and did not know what happened to Ruby Ditto.
After Ditto passed away, her body was sent to Dallas for an autopsy. A WFPD detective attended the autopsy and learned Ditto was hit seven to eight times in the head with a blunt object that could be consistent with a hammer.
The pathologist said the degree of force used and the injury would have caused Ditto’s death, despite her age. Detectives believed Rickard intentionally murdered Ditto while trying to rob her.
A Capital Murder warrant was issued for Rickard on Wednesday, May 1. At the time this story was published, Rickard remained behind bars on a $1.5 million bond for the murder charge.