Fredericktown man arrested in 18-year-old murder for hire plot

Curtis Staggs (Source: Madison Co. Sheriff's Office)
Curtis Staggs (Source: Madison Co. Sheriff's Office)
Phillip Rigling
Phillip Rigling

By Crystal Britt - bio | email

MADISON COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A murder 18 years ago in southern Tennessee now has ties to southeast Missouri.

A rural Madison County man is now behind bars, accused in a plot to murder another man's wife.

Newman Lake in rural Madison County is a quiet community tucked away from the hustle and bustle of life.

For the past several years it's where Curtis Staggs has called home since he left Tennessee.

Heartland News reporter Crystal Britt spoke with Curtis Staggs on the phone from the county jail.

He was talking to his longtime girlfriend on the phone when Crystal knocked on his door.

The woman handed Crystal the phone.

Curtis Staggs said, "I am innocent, I've been set up."

He wouldn't comment further as he said he needed to consult an attorney.

Curtis is charged with first degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated robbery.

Phillip Rigling, 74, of Tennessee is charged with criminal responsibility for first degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated robbery.

Rigling's wife Joann was shot to death at a convenience store that she owned with her husband. That happened 18 years ago in 1992.

Curtis Staggs is accused in carrying out a murder for hire scheme.

Phillip Rigling allegedly paid Staggs thousands of dollars to kill his wife.

Staggs was arrested last week, and remains behind bars in Madison County as he awaits extradition back to Lawrence County, Tennessee.

Two people have already served time in connection with this crime.

A man named Jimmy Dale Hogan was convicted in the late 90's on murder and robbery charges. He's been granted a new trial on the murder count.

A woman named Tammy Smith also served several years in connection with the case. According to District Attorney Mike Bottoms, Smith has since been released.

While preparing for Hogan's new trial, investigators say new information emerged which led to the arrests of the victim's husband and local man Curtis Staggs.

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