North Sound News

Man who murdered sister as teen wants record wiped clean

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — A Skagit County man who was convicted of murdering his 8-year-old sister in 2001 will go before a judge on Thursday with the hopes of wiping the conviction from his record.

Steven Rickards filed a motion to seal records and vacate his conviction as a juvenile offender.

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On November 14, 2001, Rickards admitted to investigators with the Mount Vernon Police Department that he stabbed his sister, Samantha, nearly 20 times inside their Fir Street home, according to an arrest report. Rickards told police he then placed his sister’s body inside of a freezer.

The teen explained to investigators that voices in his head told him to kill his sister. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and treated for mental health issues, according to court documents.

Rickards, who is now 29, says he has been working hard to better himself after his release. Court documents say he’s working as a licensed electrician. He says he’s trying to pass a background check in order to become a licensed hearing instrument specialist.

Skagit County prosecutor Richard Weyrich released a statement regarding Rickards’ request, saying his office is, “sensitive to juveniles being able to rehabilitate themselves and have their records sealed but this is not one of those cases.”

Weyrich hopes to ask the Legislature in the upcoming session to correct what he considers, a mistake in the wording of the current statue.

It has been 16 years since the brutal crime occurred and the people who live in Mt. Vernon still want answers.

Hollie Van Esch’s grandparents lived next door to the Rickards at the time of the murder. She says Samantha would often visit the house.

“She was just the sweetest girl,” Van Esch says. “She used to come over and help my grandma with meals for my grandpa.”

People still stop by the home and ask her about what happened.

“It’s heartbreaking to sit there and know what happened in that house,” she says. “We just never understood. We wanted to know why did he do it?”

Memories of Samantha, her childhood friend, still hit home.

“It’s still in the back of my mind all the time. To this day, it’s shocking that something like this could hold on so strong.”

Rickards’ hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Skagit County Superior Court.