Originally created 10/17/00

Fourth victim's identity revealed



Even in death Tabitha Leigh Bosdell's story is not an easy one.

It took authorities three days to identify her body using dental records, two days to find her mother, and her father sits in a middle Georgia prison.

And Monday police publicly identified Miss Bosdell, 18, of Timberwoods Apartments on Skinner Mill Road, as the fourth victim of Reinaldo J. Rivera.

"She was sweet. It's a damn shame," said Brian Alwin, a fellow telemarketer with Miss Bosdell at Futurecall just before she disappeared. "The worst stuff always happens to the best people."

Miss Bosdell's skeletal remains were found Saturday afternoon. Police say Mr. Rivera led them to the body: it was just a couple of miles off Interstate 20 near Pumpkin Center - about 300 yards from the pavement, hidden among thick brush behind an open field next to a murky pond. Police canvassed the area Saturday and found no personal items near the body, said Columbia County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Authorities say the Future Call employee was strangled to death and had been left in the wooded area for two to three months. She had not been seen since early July, a couple of days before her 18th birthday.

Mr. Rivera - a husband and father of two - faces murder charges in the deaths of Sgt. Marni Glista in September, Tiffaney Wilson in December and Melissa Faye Dingess, who has been missing since July 17, 1999. Capt. Morris said police have not determined where Miss Bosdell was killed but charges are pending.

Mr. Rivera also faces various charges in Richmond and Aiken counties including criminal sexual conduct and aggravated assault, aggravated sodomy and rape in last week's attack on Chrisilee Barton in her South Augusta home. She was stabbed in the neck three times, but survived - and her description of the attacker led police to Mr. Rivera, who was found with slashed wrists in a bloody South Carolina hotel room Thursday.

He is being held without bond at the Richmond County Jail.

Mr. Alwin, 24, shared a cubicle wall with Miss Bosdell at Futurecall, and spoke often between calls. Turnover at the company is high, so no one took much notice when she suddenly didn't show up for work, he said.

"All of the sudden out of nowhere, she wasn't there anymore," he said. "I didn't think much of it. People quit there all the time."

"At that place, if you report someone missing who doesn't show up for work, you'd be busy doing that all the time."

She worked the night shift - from 3:45 p.m. to midnight - less than three months, and likely made around $9 per hour, he said. She had blue eyes, dark blonde hair and braces.

She was petite and beautiful, Mr. Alwin said.

A woman who said she was the foster mother of Miss Bosdell and her younger sister declined to comment on the details of the case. She said they were waiting for all the family to be notified. She did however describe Miss Bosdell's family situation as "complicated."

District Attorney Danny Craig said authorities had difficulty locating Miss Bosdell's mother and her father, James Presley Bosdell, is currently serving a four sentence for possession of cocaine.

Department of Corrections officials were checking Monday to see if Mr. Bosdell had been notified of his daughter's death. They had not returned phone calls late Monday.

Calls to the director of the Richmond County Department of Family and Children's Services were not returned Monday.

Tabitha Leigh Bosdell

Saturday: The skeletal remains of Tabitha Leigh Bosdell, 18, are found by Columbia County deputies near Pumpkin Center in Harlem. The Augusta woman, who worked at Futurecall, was last seen in July, but had not been reported missing. Authorities say she was strangled.

Law enforcement authorities in Columbia, S.C., and Fayetteville, N.C., begin investigating any connections Reinaldo J. Rivera may have had to the disappearance of several young women and the deaths of others.

District attorneys in both Aiken and Columbia counties are considering seeking the death penalty for the slayings of four young women.

Authorities release the identity of the fourth victim, Tabitha Leigh Bosdell, whose remains were discovered Saturday in Columbia County.

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 109

Staff writer Johnny Edwards and Peggy Ussery contributed to this story.