Woman Held in Soldier’s Death May Not Have Been Legal Wife

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Toni Cato Riggs, 22, was ordered held without bail at an arraignment Wednesday on charges of murdering Army Spec. Anthony Riggs, whose shooting death just days after he returned from the Persian Gulf War originally was believed to be the result of urban street violence.

In another twist to the case, court records showed that the defendant apparently was not legally married to Riggs because she had not divorced her first husband.

Judge Robert K. Costello entered a not guilty plea on Toni Riggs’ behalf and set an April 5 hearing. She is charged with first-degree murder in the March 18 shooting of Riggs.

Her 19-year-old brother, Michael Cato, was arraigned Tuesday in the slaying and ordered held without bond. He also faces an April 5 hearing. Both face mandatory life imprisonment without parole if convicted.

Inspector Gerald Stewart said he would not discuss reports that the suspects killed Riggs to cash in on his $50,000 military life insurance policy and a private policy that Riggs bought before leaving for the Persian Gulf.


Court records show that Anthony and Toni Riggs apparently were not legally married because she was married to another man at the time of their Las Vegas wedding on Oct. 2, 1989.

The then-Toni Cato had married Marcus E. Butler in El Paso on Feb. 2, 1987, according to court records. She did not file for divorce from Butler until March 14, 1990, in Detroit. Wayne County Circuit Court granted her a divorce Nov. 2.

“The second marriage is not a valid marriage,” said attorney Richard Victor, head of the domestic law section of the State Bar of Michigan. “You must be free to marry, not married to another” in order to wed, he said. “That’s called bigamy.”

Toni Riggs reportedly spent the soldier’s savings, crashed his car and greeted him upon return to Ft. Bliss, Tex., with a demand for a divorce and $500 a month in alimony.