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October 15, 2011

Inmate denies selling son for drugs

Writing from jail, man defends turning over 4-month-old to another couple

LOGANSPORT — A Cass County Jail inmate denies trading his 4-month-old son for money and drugs, saying he and his wife turned the child over to another couple because they could not care for him.

“In no kind of way did we sell our baby. Not money, not drugs, nor a simple car have any part in the adoption process,” Brandon Riggs wrote in a letter to the Pharos-Tribune.

Police say Riggs and his wife, Anna Riggs, sold their son for $13,000, a car and drugs to Stephen P. Lynch Jr., and his wife, Melissa D. Lynch. All four were charged with Class A felony conspiracy to deal in a narcotic, as well as conspiracy to commit child selling and profiting from an adoption as D felonies.

The Riggses also were charged with welfare fraud for allegedly receiving nearly $3,000 in food stamps and assistance from December 2009 through July 31, 2011, even though their child no longer lived with them.

Brandon Riggs is being held in Cass County Jail on unrelated drug charges, and his wife was arrested Oct. 8 in California. Stephen Lynch was arrested Oct. 6 in Howard County, but his wife has not been located yet.

The child, now 2 years old, has been placed in the care of Child Protective Services.

Writing from his jail cell, Brandon Riggs denies the accusations. He also defends he and his wife’s decision to turn over their little boy and praises the couple who have been raising him, calling the Lynches “good people, as well as parents.”

“Of course, everyone can point a finger at the next person and say, ‘They’ve got problems.’ But who’s perfect? Everyone has problems. Some worse than others,” Brandon Riggs wrote.

“Then there’s breaking the law. In this case, I don’t see where we broke the law. All we attempted to do was the right thing. In everyone’s best interest. At the time, we were in no way capable of caring for a newborn, let alone a newborn with medical complications. We couldn’t keep up our own lives together.”

According to a probable cause affidavit filed Oct. 6, Stephen and Melissa Lynch gave Brandon and Anna Riggs $13,000, a car valued at $3,531 and drugs in exchange for the child.

Police say the Lynches also delivered drugs such as OxyContin, oxycodone, morphine sulfate, Xanax and methadone to the Riggs in March, knowing the couple were addicts, police say. The affidavit also states the child was born with a methadone addiction.

Brandon Riggs acknowledges in his letter that the couple was “trapped” in addiction.

“The news and newspapers have made us out to be ‘strung-out monsters,’” Brandon Riggs wrote. “One could say we were ‘strung out.’ I guess that’s part of addiction, but far from monsters.”

That's what prompted the couple to turn their son over to the Lynches, in what Brandon Riggs refers to repeatedly as an “adoption.”

“We went to an attorney and signed legal documents for the adoption,” he wrote. “After that, I don’t know where things stopped. I thought that’s why people used lawyers.”

An investigation by a Howard County sheriff’s deputy showed that a petition for adoption had been filed in March in Howard Circuit Court, but no background check or home study had been done, which is a requirement of the adoption process, according to the affidavit.

Brandon Riggs said he was writing the letter to “clear up and/or clean my name as well as my wife’s.”

“I simply want people to evaluate this situation in a different light other than the light shown by authorities,” he wrote. “You can’t just read the back of a book and get the whole story. You do have to read it all the way through to understand the whole story.”

The last sentence of his letter reads: “I hope I have changed at least a few people’s perceptions.”

• Dustin Kass is associate editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5150 or dustin.kass@pharostribune.com.

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