Police: Williams forced witness to help dispose of body

Warning: The following narrative contains graphic details which may be disturbing to some.

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A judge set Ricki Williams’ bond at $750,000 Wednesday after township police arrested him and charged him with the murder of an Austintown teen whose body was found at a Mercer County landfill last week.

The U.S. Marshals’ service arrested Williams, 18, about 6 p.m. Tuesday in the stabbing death of Gina Burger, 16, who went missing June 23 from her Compass West apartment. He was arrested on the west side of Youngstown, according to Austintown Police Chief Robert Gavalier.

Authorities also charged Williams with criminal trespassing, kidnapping, intimidation of a witness, tampering with evidence, two counts of abduction, possession of criminal tools and abuse of a corpse.

A police narrative alleges that on June 23, Jacqueline Bacher, Burger’s mother, saw Williams carrying a Pack-N-Play out of the apartment complex where both live, unaware that her daughter’s body was inside. Williams asked Bacher if she wanted to buy the Pack-N-Play; she refused and saw the children’s play pen in the dumpster the next morning, according to the document.

Warning: this document contains graphic details which may disturb some. To see the full police narrative regarding the crime, click here.

Police found the words “Kill fo fun” carved into the wall in the hallway of the Compass West apartment building which they searched June 26. Austintown PD and members of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation searched an apartment within the complex on June 30, finding blood in several locations.

Police interviewed a female witness who lives at the apartment and said that Williams brought Burger to her apartment and began beating her on Monday, June 23. She said Williams gave her a knife and told her to stab Burger. When she refused, Williams stabbed Burger, pulled the knife from her chest, smelled it and poked Burger to make sure she was dead, according to her testimony in the police documents.

The female witness said she helped Williams dispose of Burger’s body in the Pack-N-Play because she feared for her life.

Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Ken Cardinal said Williams had no visible place of residency, no place of employment, little education, and was at risk for fleeing if he found out he was wanted for the murder, as he frequently bounces from place to place.

Williams is eligible for the death penalty in the trial if a grand jury sees fit to tack that on as a specification.

“I’ve been doing this 27 years, this is one that hits hard because she was an innocent victim,” Cardinal said. “All she was was an apartment dweller, and it made no difference whether it had been young or old… he would have killed the first person he came upon. She just happened to be a 16-year-old.

Williams is being held at the Mahoning County Jail.

Ricki D. Williams“He held her against her will at the Compass West apartments and she was murdered at Compass West apartments, I can tell you that. With a knife. We do not have the knife at this time,” Gavalier said.

He said police believe Williams acted alone. He also said Williams has a criminal history but did not know the specifics of his background.

Gavalier said Williams knew people who lived at the Compass West apartment complex and he was acquainted with Burger. He said police were led to Williams through evidence and talking to witnesses.

He did say there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Gavalier said Williams has not admitted to the crime and he is not sure of the suspect’s mental state.

“Basically he was homeless. He didn’t have an address, he just moved from friends to friends that he knew. Stayed for a week or two, then moved on to another friend’s residence,” the chief said.

He said police submitted several pieces of evidence to BCI and they are still waiting for results.

“Just based on what we have now, we are pretty confident that we have the person,” Gavalier said.

Burger’s body was found at the Tri-County Industries transfer site off Route 208 near Grove City. Police released a description of the victim after her body was found.

Police said Burger left the apartment to borrow tea bags from a neighbor and never came home.

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