Two innocent children dead, and a desperate mother’s attempt to end her own life….But was this really a tragic murder suicide attempt or was Christina Riggs a selfish mother who just wanted her children out of the way?
Christina Marie Riggs had something a lot of women longed for- two beautiful children. A single mum to, Justin, 5, and Shelby, 2, she also worked as a nurse.
But deep down, Riggs was miserable. Overweight, she was insecure and blamed her size for her lack of love and relationships. She also complained she was skint, struggling to get by on her nurses salary.
Then on 4 November 1997, Riggs did the unthinkable. She gave her son and daughter anti-depressants in a cup of water to sedate them. Then she injected a large dose of potassium chloride into her son’s neck with the aim of putting him to sleep.
But when he woke crying and in pain, she smothered him to death with a pillow. It was reported that she’d failed to dilute the drug meaning her son’s veins would’ve burnt, causing him tremendous pain.
After suffocating him, Rigg’s turned to her daughter. But knowing the pain she’d caused Justin, Riggs spared her daughter the injection and smothered her to death. Finally she wrote suicide notes before attempting to overdose on anti-depressants.
Her attempt failed though and she recovered in hospital after being found by her mother.
Riggs claimed she was chronically depressed and that’s why she’d killed her children. She told police she’d worried her children would be separated after her suicide, so that’s why she killed them too – so they could all be together.
At her June 1998 trial she contended she was not guilty by reason of insanity. But the prosecution painted a very different picture. They portrayed her as a cold-bloodied killer to whom her children were an ‘inconvenience’.
Riggs was accused of leaving her children locked in their room for hours while she went out at night to karaoke bars. Her defence argued she was severely depressed as a result of abuse as a child and a series of failed relationships with men. They believed lack of money and self-esteem because of her obesity contributed to her mental state.
But prosecutor Larry Jegley argued this was just an excuse to cover up the selfishness and callousness of her crime. ‘She claims she was horribly depressed, she was overweight and she was a single mom, and she didn’t have enough money,’ Jegley said. ‘My response to that is ‘welcome to America’. Plenty of folks are in far worse situations than she was.’
Riggs was found guilty of killing her children and sentenced to death. But Riggs apparently welcomed the sentence, reportedly saying ‘I want to die. I want to be with my babies. I want you to give me the death penalty.’ She spent two years on death row. And on 2 May 2000, her time was up.
She was strapped to a chair but her execution was delayed when executors struggled to find a suitable vein to put the catheters into. After 18 minutes, Riggs agreed they could be inserted into veins in her wrists.
It was reported her final words were. ‘There is no way, no words can express how sorry I am for taking the lives of my babies. Now I can be with my babies, as I always intended.’
Riggs was executed by lethal injection – potassium chloride, the same heart-stopping drug she attempted to kill her children with.