Local News

NC Wanted: Compromised evidence may have hurt investigation of 90-year-old's murder

Posted July 21, 2018 10:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2018 11:11 p.m. EDT

— When a 90-year-old woman was found dead in her bed, her family thought she died of natural causes, but authorities ruled her death was murder. What happened next may have compromised the investigation.

Ruby Ryals was found in her home in Dunn, the week before Thanksgiving 1996. She had been suffocated with a pillow.

“They found her in her bedroom, on her bed, and the phone was off the hook,’ Ryals son, Wesley Ryals, said. “I thought maybe she had a stroke. It never passed my mind that she’d been murdered.”

Ruby Ryals’ wedding ring was gone. Authorities said the incident appeared to be a break-in.

“It doesn’t take a lot to overpower a 90-year-old woman, even though, by all accounts, she was very feisty,” retired SBI Special Agent Mike East said.

Investigations wanted to talk to Christopher Capps, a teenager with a criminal record, who lived across the street from Ruby Ryals and often did odd jobs for her, in connection with the crime.

“Yeah, I have a criminal background, but it’s nothing wild. I’m a very loving, caring person. I’m like a big teddy bear,” Capps said.

Capps denied being involved in Ruby Ryals’ death, despite the fact that he failed a polygraph and other stress tests conducted by investigators.

“I couldn’t understand how I failed, because I was telling the truth on every question they asked,’ he said.

Family members may have compromised evidence. When they found Ruby Ryals’ body, they thought she had died of natural causes, so they cleaned up the scene.

A tip from the public may help fill in the gaps of evidence and bring her family justice.

Anybody with information is asked to call the N.C. Wanted hotline at 866-439-2683.