Widow Held in Murder of Gulf Veteran : Crime: The victim’s brother-in-law also is charged in the Detroit street shooting. Dead man’s mother says couple had marital problems.


Army Specialist Anthony Riggs, whose murder on a Detroit street less than a week after he returned from the Gulf War provoked a national outcry over urban violence, was killed by his wife and brother-in-law, police charged Tuesday.

Police Chief Stanley Knox said first-degree murder warrants were issued against Toni Riggs, 21, and her 19-year-old brother, Michael Cato.

Cato was arraigned Tuesday afternoon on the murder charge and one count of possession of a firearm. Magistrate Robert K. Costello ordered him jailed without bond until an April 5 court appearance.


Riggs turned herself in Tuesday afternoon. Police said she would be jailed overnight and arraigned today.

Anthony Riggs, 22, had been loading belongings into a van to move his wife from where she was staying with her family to a new home in a Detroit suburb when someone shot him twice in the head and stole his car in the early morning hours of March 18.

He had returned the week before from eight months in Saudi Arabia, where he helped operate a Patriot missile battery.

Last week, police found the stolen car abandoned less than two miles away from the Catos’ home. They also found a handgun in a trash bin near the house.

“We traced the weapon through several hands and finally got to Michael,” homicide Inspector Gerald Stewart said.

Police refused to speculate on a motive for the killing, but Anthony Riggs’ mother said her son and his wife had been having marital problems while he was in the Gulf.

“I’m not at all surprised,” said Lessie Riggs, who lives in Las Vegas. “When he was in the Gulf, he found out she had drained the bank account, she had wrecked his car. She was never there when he called her at 2:30, 4:30 in the morning. Where could she be at those hours? He dreaded even coming back to a marriage like that.”

Soon after her husband’s death, Mrs. Riggs said she would use the proceeds of his $50,000 military life insurance policy, plus a private policy, to attend nursing school.

Riggs’ death seemed at first a chilling symbol of the tragedy of random violence in the United States. The story of a GI coming home from war and being shot to death on the streets of his own country drew international attention. The Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy at Riggs’ funeral, calling for an end to violence in black communities.

“We were too quick to judge and draw conclusions,” N. Charles Anderson, president of the Detroit Urban League, said Tuesday. “The steady negative messages that we get about our community made it too easy for us to accept the fact that someone hungry for drug money or a quick fix would actually walk down the street and shoot Anthony Riggs in the head.”

But Jackson said Riggs’ death still symbolizes the plight of black men in America.

“Whether his death was targeted or random, the easy access to guns is still leading to increased violence on our streets and in our neighborhoods,” Jackson said in a statement.