- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009

UPDATED:

RICHMOND — A California man who rapped about the thrill of killing remained behind bars Sunday in Virginia, charged with killing a pastor and likely to face charges in the deaths of three others.

Police on Saturday charged Richard Alden Samuel McCroskey III with first-degree murder, robbery and stealing the automobile of the Rev. Mark Niederbrock, a pastor at Walker’s Presbyterian Church in Appomattox County. Farmville police Capt. Wade Stimpson said Mr. McCroskey likely would be charged with killing three others found in the home of a Longwood University professor on Friday once the medical examiner identifies the victims. That is not expected before Monday.

Police arrested Mr. McCroskey, 20, of Castro Valley, Calif., at the Richmond airport Saturday. The aspiring rapper in the horrorcore genre, which sets violent lyrics to hip-hop beats, was found sleeping in the baggage area as he waited for a flight back to California. He is being held in the Piedmont Regional Jail and has an initial court appearance on Monday. It was unclear if he has an attorney.

On Friday, authorities discovered the bodies in the home of Debra Kelley, an associate professor of sociology and criminal justice studies at the university in Farmville, about 50 miles west of Richmond. Capt. Stimpson said Mr. Niederbrock and Ms. Kelley were separated.

Capt. Stimpson said police were called to the home on Thursday by the parent of a girl who was visiting the couple’s daughter because she hadn’t heard from her child. A man at the house told police the girls were at the movies. When the mother in West Virginia still didn’t hear from her daughter on Friday, she asked police to go back. That’s when they found the bodies.

Police have declined to say how the four were killed and why they have not been able to identify all of them immediately.

Mr. McCroskey recorded songs that spoke of death, murder and mutilation under the name Syko Sam. His MySpace Web page said he has been rapping for only a few months but has been a fan for years of the horrorcore genre.

In a song called “My Dark Side,” Mr. McCroskey sings: “You’re not the first, just to let you know. I’ve killed many people, and I kill them real slow. It’s the best feeling, watching their last breath. Stabbing and stabbing till there’s nothing left.”

A friend who owns a small, independent record label that specializes in horrorcore confirmed the site and the songs were Mr. McCroskey’s. Andres Shrim, who owns Serial Killin Records in New Mexico, said others shouldn’t judge Mr. McCroskey by what they see on his Web site or hear in his music.

Describing Mr. McCroskey as a “great kid,” Mr. Shrim said he has known him for at least two years, and he last saw him Sept. 12 at an all-day music festival in South Gate, Mich.

“You would never, ever imagine that kid even being a suspect,” Mr. Shrim said. “If he is found to be guilty, I would be 100 percent shocked.”

Mr. Shrim said even though horrorcore focuses on murder and other morbid subjects, performers and fans shouldn’t be labeled violent.

On his Web page, Mr. McCroskey posted videos and pictures of a grave where a cross and miniature American flags had been turned upside down.

“We defiled the grave, and then lightning struck seconds ago. I think we were being warned,” he says in the video, laughing. In the photos, the gravestone identifies the person buried there as a Marine.

Longwood, a school of about 4,500 students, sent an e-mail to inform students when the bodies were found, but did not issue a full-scale alert because the crime happened off campus.

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