- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2004

RICHMOND — Richard A. Ausley, who was convicted of burying a 13-year-old boy in a box and sexually molesting him, was found dead in a cell he shared with another inmate, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections said yesterday.

“This looks suspicious, and we are investigating,” spokesman Larry Traylor said, adding that he could not elaborate.

Paul Martin Andrews, who Ausley buried and sexually assaulted for more than a week, said the state Attorney General’s Office informed him that Ausley was found strangled in his cell.

“I’m shocked,” said Mr. Andrews, a computer technician who now lives in Miami. “This is not what I wanted for him. I don’t hate Richard Ausley.”

In a statement, Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said his office would investigate the death.

“Richard Ausley’s crimes were properly handled by the commonwealth, and he deserved to be kept away from society for the rest of his life,” Mr. Kilgore, a Republican, said. “However, we have a legal system for a reason, and we cannot condone the circumstances of his death.”

Mr. Traylor said Ausley died at about 10:30 or 11 p.m. Tuesday at Sussex I State Prison in Waverly, where Ausley had been since November. Both Ausley and his cellmate were in the cell during that period, he said.

Ausley, 64, previously was serving his sentence at Brunswick Correctional Center. He could have been released from prison as early as March 2007.

Mr. Traylor said Ausley’s body was found by a prison employee. An autopsy was to be conducted by the state Medical Examiner’s Office.

Ausley had suffered from health problems that were serious in nature, according to the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Mr. Traylor said he was unable to comment on Ausley’s health issues because of privacy laws.

Ausley was sentenced to more than 47 years in prison in 1973 for abducting Mr. Andrews in Portsmouth and burying him in a wooden box in Suffolk.

He had been scheduled for release from prison last November, but five years were added to his sentence in August after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting another teenager, Gary Founds of Portsmouth, in 1972.

Mr. Founds, now in his 40s, has said he stepped forward after hearing about Ausley’s scheduled release.

Ausley’s impending release prompted legislators to approve funding last year for the state’s civil commitment program for sexual predators. Mr. Andrews lobbied state legislators to pass the law, which allows authorities to hold offenders indefinitely in a secure treatment center after their prison terms end.

Mr. Kilgore’s office filed court papers to have Ausley committed after his release.

Ausley also had been convicted in 1961 of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Suffolk boy and leaving him hogtied in the woods. He was sentenced to 26 years, but was released on parole in November 1971.

Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Earle C. Mobley said his office was trying to contact Mr. Founds to let him now what had happened. He called Ausley’s death a “sad ending to a very sad story.”

“I’m just glad that it has finally come to an end, and we’re assured now that he’ll never harm anyone again,” said Mr. Mobley.

• Associated Press writers Adrienne Schwisow and Larry O’Dell contributed to this report.