Local News

Police: Ex-worker confessed to killing Applebee's manager

Posted June 18, 2009 11:11 a.m. EDT
Updated June 18, 2009 8:11 p.m. EDT

— Roanoke Rapids police said that a former Applebee's employee confessed to killing a manager who a co-worker found dead inside the restaurant Monday.

Police Chief Jeff Hinton said that Joshua Lindell Rouse, 22, of Roanoke Rapids, made the confession after being arrested Thursday on first-degree murder charges in the death of Sandy Denise Riedel, 29.

Riedel was found in the restaurant, at 210 Premier Blvd.,  around 7:40 a.m. She was last seen alive about an hour earlier when her boyfriend brought her coffee, authorities said. She had gone to work early to open the restaurant.

Riedel had cuts and stab wounds, Hinton said. The chief said that although an undisclosed amount of money was taken from the scene, indicating a robbery, investigators still had not determined a motive for the crime. It did not appear there was forced entry into the restaurant.

The "speedy capture of the man who committed this terrible event" reassured Applebee's employees, said Elizabeth McGee, chief people officer of Apple Gold Group in Raleigh, which owns the restaurant.

McGee said Rouse was a "recent" employee and that company officials were still looking up his employment records.

Riedel’s sister, Cindy Riedel, said Rouse was fired Thursday morning, and that he was was an Applebee's employee when the murder happened.

Hinton did not say what led to Rouse's arrest, but said it was the product of "very thorough investigative techniques" and "very long hours" by officers and special agents with the State Bureau of Investigation. The case hasn't been closed, he said.

According to state Department of Correction records, Rouse served more than four years after being convicted of attempted armed robbery and assault charges in Halifax County. He was released in May 2008 and was on parole until February.

McGee described Riedel as a caring woman and a conscientious manager who was well-liked by employees and the community. A native of Jacksonville, Riedel was hired by Applebee's in October 2008 and moved to Roanoke Rapids in November to serve as that restaurant's general manager.

"Anyone who met her knew she was an enthusiastic, hungry, eager woman here to set the world on fire," McGee said. "She wanted to have the best restaurant, because she wanted to be seen as a winner, someone who gave back."

McGee said Riedel "absolutely cared about every employee who worked for her" and gave her own money to coworkers in financial need.

"There hasn't been a place I've gone that hasn't said how much Sandy and the restaurant meant to the community," McGee said.

The Applebee's reopened at lunch Thursday, allowing coworkers and patrons "to, as much as they could, move forward," McGee said. "Sandy would have wanted that."

The restaurant will hold a celebration of Riedel's life in a few weeks when her family feels ready to participate, McGee said.

"For now, we continue to grieve for the loss of Sandy, who was one of our most integral parts of our community," she said.

Born at Camp Lejeune and a graduate of White Oak High School in Jacksonville, Riedel is survived by her parents, a brother, two sisters and five nieces and nephews, according to her obituary.

A memorial service will be held at Jones Funeral Home in Swansboro at 2 p.m. Friday.

The family asks that donations in her memory be made to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, either by calling 512-794-1133 or mailing them to P.O. Box 161810 Austin, Texas.