Location of Farmville in the U.S. state of Virginia.
505 First Avenue|
Farmville, Virginia, United States
|Coordinates||37°17.7971 N 78°24.0735 W|
|Attack type||Mass murder|
|Weapon(s)||Ball-peen hammer and wood-splitting maul|
Mark Neiderbrock (age 50)|
Debra S. Kelley (age 53)
Emma Neiderbrock (age 16)
Melanie Wells (age 18)
|Suspected perpetrator||Richard Samuel McCroskey (age 20)|
The Farmville murders occurred in the town of Farmville, Virginia, United States, on September 17, 2009, where four people were murdered. Two days later, 20-year-old amateur horrorcore rapper and graphic designer Richard Alden Samuel McCroskey III, also known as Syko Sam, was arrested for the suspicion of killing Mark Neiderbrock, a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Appomattox County. Neiderbrock's body was found along with three others at the scene.
Richard Alden Samuel McCroskey III|
December 26, 1988
(Currently held in Piedmont Regional jail)
|Occupation||Amateur rapper, graphic designer|
|Known for||Accused murderer of 6|
Richard Alden Samuel McCroskey III aka Syko Sam
The suspected perpetrator of the Farmville murders is Richard Alden Samuel "Sam" McCroskey III of Castro Valley, California. McCroskey has been charged with six counts of capital murder for the four murders. McCroskey is an amateur horrorcore rapper and graphic designer. As a rapper, he uses the names Syko Sam aka LiLdEmOnDoG. He had been interested in horrorcore since he was ten-years-old. His rapper names are both references to David Berkowitz, the 1970s serial killer who called himself "Son of Sam." McCroskey's sister, Sarah McCroskey, has denied reports that her brother admired or was obsessed with Berkowitz.
At the time of the murders, McCroskey was 20-years-old and lived with his father and 21-year-old sister in Castro Valley, California. McCroskey and his sister were raised in Hayward before moving to Castro Valley. His father, a rock guitarist, introduced him to Insane Clown Posse, Metallica and Primus. In high school, McCroskey was teased and bullied mainly because of his weight and "ginger" hair. McCroskey spent most of his time in his bedroom, composing music on his computer, designing Web pages or playing video games. Neighbors have described him as a loner who almost always wore a black hooded sweatshirt or other black clothing. According to McCroskey's sister Sarah, McCroskey was a mild-mannered and kind person who never fought back or defended himself against bullies and would not act violent or defensive unless provoked. According Sarah McCroskey, he was way too passive and the bullying he endured broke his confidence. McCroskey dropped out of Tennyson High School in Hayward, then went to Hayward High School and dropped out again.
McCroskey's MySpace Web page said he has only been rapping for a few months but has been a fan for years of the horrorcore genre. McCroskey's horrorcore style rapping is said to have consisted of violent depictions in its lyrics. His music deals with things such as mutilation, thrill of murder and deaths. One of McCroskey's songs titled “Murderous Rage” starts out with the sounds of dragging and dumping a dead body and in other titled “My Dark Side” McCroskey talks about how he likes to mutilate and murder. In “My Dark Side” he raps:
|“||You're not the first, just to let you know. I've killed many people and I kill them real slow. It's the best feeling, watching their last breath. Stabbing and stabbing till there's nothing left.||”|
McCroskey's MySpace page has satanic symbols and a portrait of him holding an axe, posed as if he were about to strike. He is hooded, his face obscured by a skull bandanna and he stands before a Gothic church in a lightning storm. On his MySpace page his status reads "I hate everything and I hate everyone." His MySpace page listed horrorcore rapper Mars as his favorite rapper. In his YouTube video McCroskey flipped over a cross on the grave of a U.S. Marine.
McCroskey was devastated when his father asked their mother to move out about five months before the murders but he was excited for a planned trip to Virginia to see his girlfriend Emma Neiderbrock. McCroskey and Niederbrock had been dating online for almost a year. They talked by phone almost daily. Emma Niederbrock's 18-year-old friend Melanie Wells had been staying with Emma Neiderbrock and Emma's mother, Debra S. Kelley, in Farmville. McCroskey flew to visit Emma Niederbrock on September 6. Days before the killings Emma Niederbrock and Melanie Wells joined McCroskey in Michigan for a horrorcore concert called the Strictly for the Wicked Festival. According to police Emma's parents, Debra Kelley and Mark Niederbrock had taken Emma Neiderbrock, Melanie Wells and McCroskey to the concert. Kelley had taken her daughter to the concert hoping to keep an eye on her.
The four people that were found killed in Farmville, Virginia were 50-year-old Pastor Mark Neiderbrock; his estranged 53-year-old wife Dr. Debra Kelley, an associate professor of sociology and criminal justice studies at Longwood University; and their 16-year-old daughter Emma Neiderbrock and her 18-year-old friend Melanie Wells, of Inwood, West Virginia.
Pastor Mark Neiderbrock
Mark Neiderbrock was a 50-year-old pastor at a Presbyterian church in Hixburg in northern Appomattox County, and father of 16-year-old Emma Neiderbrock. Neiderbrock had been heading Walker's Presbyterian Church for the past six years. Born in Illinois, Neiderbrock was an Eagle Scout and graduate of the University of Illinois. Before he entered the ministry he worked as a graphic designer. Pastor Neiderbrock and his wife Dr. Debra Kelley were divorced. They had been separated for about nine months. Neiderbrock's daughter Emma Neiderbrock lived with his wife.
Dr. Debra S. Kelley
Dr. Debra S. Kelley was a 53-year-old associate professor of sociology and criminal justice studies at Longwood University and estranged wife of Pastor Neiderbrock. She lived with her daughter Emma Neiderbrock at the house where the murders occurred. Kelley had taught sociology and criminal justice studies at Longwood since 1994. She started Longwood's chapter of Lambda Alpha Epsilon, a criminal justice fraternity, and often had students over for cookouts. According to Kelley's colleague she was disturbed by her daughter's obsession with horrorcore and they were in counseling.
Emma Neiderbrock was Pastor Mark Neiderbrock's and Dr. Debra Kelley's 16-year-old daughter and Richard Samuel McCroskey's girlfriend. She was home-schooled since middle school. Emma Neiderbrock dabbled in the occult and obsessed about macabre music but also listened to the Backstreet Boys and played soccer. Online she used the name RagDOLL.
McCroskey and Emma Neiderbrock were brought together by horrorcore music. They met about a year before the murders, at a concert near San Diego. According to friends, neighbors and social network sites, McCroskey was dating Emma Neiderbrock whom he met online on MySpace. "You are my one and only everything," "I cant waiiiit to see you baby its like 6:17 AM, and ive been up since 4ish filled with uber amounts of excitement I can't wait. i leave to pick you up in five hours. gahh . . . ," and "My insides feel all squishy. I love you sooo SO much baby; forever and for always." wrote Niederbrock at McCroskey's MySpace Web page. Later someone apparently accessed McCroskey's MySpace page and deleted many messages, including those from Niederbrock.
Melanie Wells was the 18-year-old daughter of Thomas G. Wells Jr. and Kathleen Wells, of Inwood, West Virginia, and Emma Neiderbrock's friend. Wells and her family moved to West Virginia from Louisville, Kentucky, just before Wells was to enter high school. Wells dropped out but was studying for her high school equivalency diploma. She attended Musselman High School.
Like Emma Neiderbrock Melanie Wells was also a horrorcore fan. She listened to the same horrorcore as suspect McCroskey. On her MySpace page Wells lists her religion as LaVeyan Satanism, and posted well written poems and photos which show her cavorting in cemeteries and lying atop gravestones. Under interests, Wells listed, for example "cigarettes, alcohol, partying, sex, metal, SKR (Serial Killin' Records), lust, restorative arts, blood and gore, open graves, animals."
It appears that like Emma Neiderbrock, Wells got to know McCroskey online.
The murders took place in Farmville, Virginia, about 50 miles west of Richmond. The site of the killings was Debra Kelley's house at 505 First Avenue where Emma Neiderbrock lived with her mother. The bodies were found just after 3:00 p.m. on September 17. The victims were bludgeoned to death. Authorities believe a hammer and a maul were used on each of the victims. Victims were bludgeoned beyond recognition but not dismembered.
A day before the bodies were found the police came looking for Melanie Wells. McCroskey answered the door at the home of Debra Kelley and Emma Neiderbrock and calmly told police looking for Wells that she was at the movies with a friend. Wells' mother had called city police asking them to check on her daughter. Every time Melanie Wells' mother had called Neiderbrock's house and spoke to McCroskey, McCroskey had told her a different story. Before McCroskey's arrest he stole Niederbrock's 2000 Honda, wrecked it and deputy issued him a summons for driving without a license but they did not arrest him. Prince Edward Sheriff's Sgt. Stuart Raybold said there was no reason for the deputy to be suspicious. McCroskey also made a call to confess he had just killed the victims and the individual he called contacted McCroskey's record label. When Melanie Wells' mother called police again they went to the house and discovered the bodies. Three of the bodies were found in a downstairs bedroom and one in a room upstairs. The bodies of the victims are said to be badly decomposed.
Arrest of McCroskey
McCroskey was captured at Richmond International Airport September 18 after 11:00. Police found him sleeping in the baggage claim area. He was about to fly back to California. McCroskey did not have a criminal record. He was first charged with first degree murder, robbery as well as the stealing of a car, but later charged with six counts of capital murder. McCroskey is currently held in Piedmont Regional jail. He has been placed on suicide watch.
Police have stated that each of the victims died from blunt force trauma to the head. Police occult expert Don Rimer, who was brought in because of symbols found in the music the teens listened, has described the murder scene as a slaughter house. Police know that Pastor Niederbrock died early Sept. 17 but it is unknown when the other victims were allegedly killed. According to police pastor Neiderbrock was not killed at the time the others were. Their deaths were possibly earlier. Investigators say McCroskey acted alone.
McCroskey has not cooperated with police since his arrest. When asked about the possible motive, Police Sgt. Andy Ellington from Farmville, VA Ellington said McCroskey responded sarcastically with "Jesus told me to do it."
The police have taken McCroskey's computer, house phones and more than a dozen paper bags full of evidence from his home. McCroskey has been charged with six counts of capital murder because he is alleged to have killed multiple people within three years. According to Farmville police Capt. Wade Stimpson authorities are also looking into McCroskey's "disturbing" songs.
The murders shook the community of Farmville. Residents were alarmed not only at the cruelty of the crime but also its utter strangeness. Well over one hundred people attented Mark Niederbrock's graveside funeral service outside Walker's Presbyterian Church in Hixburg. 300 people attended Debra Kelley's service, and about 100 came to Emma Niederbrock's. About 150 of Melanie Wells' friends and family attented Wells' funeral at the Brown Funeral Home's South Berkeley Chapel.
"I just don't understand this," Pastor Jeff McLeod of First Baptist Church said speaking on behalf of the Wells family. "Like all of you here today, I struggle to understand times like this." The Rev. Sylvia S. Meadows of Farmville United Methodist Church said that the small college town has come "face to face with evil." and that "We can no longer live as though certain groups don't exist. We can no longer pretend that darkness and forces of evil aren't right under our noses."
According to Wade Stimpson, a press release was issued to the public although it was not widely known about throughout Farmville. An e-mail was sent to Longwood University students, and that night many calls were made to the station at both Longwood University and the Farmville Police Department.
The following Monday, the Attorney General and Farmville County Police Department held a press conference where the bodies were identified. Not much other information was disclosed in order to keep the details of the case private due to its state of investigation. Many Longwood students and townspeople felt they were left in the dark and uninformed as to the progression of the investigation. The bodies were found and later, broad information was sent out to the public in the form of articles from the Richmond-Times Dispatch as well as a short clip being showed on CNN. Memorial services for all victims were held in Farmville.
- Bulwa, Demian (September 23, 2009). "Bay Area suspect allegedly bludgeoned victims". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/23/BAF619QQT5.DTL&type=printable. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- Said, Carolyn (September 21, 2009). "Slain girl on Bay Area rapper's MySpace". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/20/MN3M19Q1TP.DTL&tsp=1.
- "Chilling New Details Emerge in Syko Sam Horrorcore Murders Case". San Francisco Weekly. September 22, 2009. http://blogs.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2009/09/update_chilling_new_details_em.php. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- Drash, Wayne (2009-10-06). "'Horrorcore' singer suspected in Virginia killings". CNN (CNN). http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/10/06/virginia.horrorcore.killings/index.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06. Cite error: Invalid
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- "Castro Valley man arrested, suspect in the killing of four people in Virginia". Tri Valley Herald. September 20, 2009. http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_13379099?source=most_viewed. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- "'Syko Sam' rapper held in four slayings". MSNBC. September 21, 2009. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32955138/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- Martinez, Edecio (October 6, 2009). ""Syko" Sam's Alleged Victims Remembered, Suspect Was Horrorcore Rapper". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/10/02/crimesider/entry5358544.shtml.
- WTVR: Timeline of Events Leading to the Arrest of Richard "Sam" McCroskey III in the Farmville Murders
- NBC12: Farmville murders (Articles and videos)
- WTVR Farmville homicide story (Videos)
- "Syko Sam" Video, Bedroom Show Disturbing Obsessions (Video)
- LilDemonDog’s Channel at YouTube
- LiLdEmOnDoG’s MySpace profile
- Syko Sam at Last.fm