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Bail set at $1 million in homicide west of Mancos

Debra Gaylyn Riddle suspected of killing Arizona man
Debra Riddle is accused of killing her common-law husband. On July 4, David Mooney was found dead at a home at 7850 County Road 37.

Bond for Debra Gaylyn Riddle, suspected in the July 4 shooting death of her common-law husband, was set at $1 million Wednesday in Cortez.

David Mooney, a 60-year-old man from Arizona, was found dead just west of Mancos on the morning of July 4, according to the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office. According to court documents, he had been shot in the head.

Riddle, 56, who resided at the same home, was arrested Tuesday and will face a charge of second-degree murder, according to Sheriff Steve Nowlin.

“There is every reason to believe the state has a very strong case in this matter,” prosecutor Matthew Margeson, deputy district attorney of the 22nd Judicial District, said at Wednesday’s hearing.

Montezuma County Court Judge JenniLynn Lawrence agreed with the DA’s Office and set bail at $1 million cash. Riddle’s next appearance is scheduled for July 26 in district court.

The investigation at the scene

According to the arrest affidavit, the Sheriff’s Office responded to a call stating that a man was unconscious and not breathing at 7850 County Road 37.

When deputies arrived, they found Mooney’s body inside an RV trailer on the southwest corner of the property. Riddle was seated inside a green and white Ford Bronco, according to the affidavit.

Deputy Ryan Liska, who interviewed Riddle at the scene, discovered that Riddle had gone to the P&D Grocery Store in Mancos about 3:45 p.m. July 3 after Mooney told her he had a headache.


When Riddle returned home about 45 minutes later, Riddle told deputies she found Mooney “face planted” on the steps and snoring, Liska reported. Later that night, Liska said, Riddle texted an acquaintance that she could not wake Mooney and wondered whether she should call an ambulance. According to the acquaintance, Riddle said Mooney was intoxicated when he fell, and she suggested that Riddle should let him sleep it off.

The text messages were sent about 8:38 p.m. July 3, according to the acquaintance. Investigators who seized Riddle’s phone reported that only her final texts, in which she stated that Mooney was dead, had not been deleted. The texts remained on the acquaintance’s phone.

Riddle told Liska she found Mooney the next morning “in the same position ‘right there where he’s at.’” She said she “called for help because David was not breathing.”

Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers estimated that Mooney died about 9 p.m. on July 3, about 12 hours before he arrived at the scene.

“David Mooney appeared to have a skull fracture, and there was a contusion above his right and left eyes,” the affidavit states. “Moreover, a piece of lead, which appeared to be that of a bullet fragment, was found underneath of David Mooney’s body.”

An autopsy on July 8 found two gunshot wounds in Mooney’s head and back, leading to the skull fracture initially found by Deavers, according to the court documents.

After obtaining a search warrant for the RV trailer and Ford Bronco, the Sheriff’s Office found another bullet in the trailer frame and several weapons belonging to Mooney and Riddle.

“The bullet located in the head of David Mooney and the trailer had consistent markings, leading investigators to believe they were similar to each other,” the court document states. “Coroner George Deavers believes the bullet located in the head of David Mooney and the bullet located in the trailer window frame are consistent with a .357 round or a possible .38 firearm.”

A .357 Ruger Blackhawk was found in the Bronco along with several rounds of ammunition and casings. According to court documents, the rounds “appear to be consistent with the bullets located in the body of David Mooney and in the trailer.”

Other evidence presented

Riddle and Mooney lived together in the fifth-wheel trailer. He was a truck driver for L.D. Baugh, according to court documents.

During the Sheriff’s Office investigation, a history of jealousy and violence between the couple appeared to surface.

Detective Yvonne McClellan said she obtained permission to look into Riddle’s phone and found angry emails sent to another woman, accusing her of texting Mooney.

Interviews with other acquaintances and with Riddle herself indicated acts of physical violence between the two, according to the affidavit. Another acquaintance told the Sheriff’s Office that Riddle had told her “they think I shot him.” But at no point during Riddle’s interview in Mancos, the affidavit says, did the investigators say anything about someone being shot or the weapons used.


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