Farmville is a sleepy little town about sixty miles west of Richmond, Virginia. It is a college town hosting Longwood University and the second oldest college in the country, Hampden-Sydney, just down the road. It's the kind of place where, as the saying goes, "nothing ever happens." Until something did. In September of 2009, the town became the site of the four brutal murders of a local college professor, a local church minister, and two teenage girls.
Local police were initially baffled and the residents of Farmville were horrified. Police eventually discovered the murderer was Richard Samuel "Syko Sam" McCroskey, a teenaged boy from California, who had been visiting his online girlfriend in Virginia. Several factors caused the young man's troubled mind to become completed unhinged, including a devastating rejection and a haunting concert by one of America's Horrorcore bands.
The Farmville murders were ferocious. Officials at the crime scene referred to the setting as that of "a slaughterhouse." The press quickly began calling it "the Horrorcore Murders," or the Juggalo Murders, since the young couple identified with the Horrorcore rap subculture ("Juggalo" is the label given to fans of Psychopathic Records hip hop groups). Some were quick to blame the music and the performers because of the history of violent Juggalo attacks. While music of all genres can serve as inspirations both good and bad, in this case, the real evil clearly lay in the heart and mind of Richard McCroskey.
Since the case never went to trial, any evidence of how McCroskey spent his time with the rotting corpses has not been revealed. Rumors abound that police had photos and videos in their custody of how the murderer desecrated the bodies. He may also have performed rap songs and recorded those in the presence of the dead. What is known is that his already fragile mental state deteriorated during the days and nights he spent watching and smelling the death around him.
Not that every person who enjoys or is involved with the so-called "horrorcore" rap scene (where performers rap about death, murder, and other atrocities) is a disaffected youth with low esteem, but Richard McCroskey certainly fits that profile. Described by his sister as a meek and humble boy with low self-esteem, McCroskey seemed to have become involved with the tough-looking, tough-sounding Horrorcore and Juggalo subculture as an attempt to project his own tough image. One might say he wore the persona and the gear as a type of armor, to protect him from a world that he felt misjudged and humiliated him.
He also appears to have lived in something of an online fantasy world, where he could project himself as a mean, tough rap artist. He clearly sought to present an image of a strong, confident, "in control" sort of guy. Some of his musical efforts remain online today, serving as reminders of how an online persona can prove to be fake and disastrous.
If taxi driver Curtis Gibson knew what he was in for, he probably would not have picked up Richard McCroskey and agreed to take him to the Richmond airport. To put it bluntly, a horrendous odor emanated from McCroskey's body. Gibson described the odor as "foul," and he had to drive the taxi with the windows down to keep from gagging. Others who encountered McCroskey during his escape attempt expressed similar sentiments, including a statement that the odor was akin to that of "rotting flesh." Apparently, the killer had neither bathed nor changed his clothes since the night of the murders several days earlier. His clothes were described by witnesses as caked in gore.
When Melanie Wells's mother finally contacted the Farmville police, two officers were sent to the Niederbrock-Kelly home. McCroskey opened the door and reassured the officers that the three women were out to the movies. The police bought the story, but when Wells's mother called again, the officers returned to the home. However, by then McCroskey had murdered Mark Niederbrock and left the crime scene, stealing the Reverend's car.
Within minutes, McCroskey wrecked the 2000 Honda. Police arrived to file a report, totally unaware, at that point, of the murders. McCroskey was released and caught a ride with the tow truck driver, then called a taxi for a ride to Richmond International Airport, which was about an hour's drive from Farmville. The murderer was at last heading home to California. Or so he thought. According to the taxi driver, Curtis Gibson, McCroskey "spoke calmly and never raised [any] suspicion." Gibson said that McCroskey told him Emma became angry with him when she caught him going through her phone and accused him of invading her privacy. So, McCroskey claimed he didn't want to argue with her anymore and wanted to go home.
McCroskey and Gibson continued on to the airport in Richmond, where the former hid in the baggage claim area until it was time to board his flight west. It would be a long wait, as the flight did not depart until late the next day. However, it was just enough time for police to locate and arrest McCroskey. He was indicted on six charges of first-degree murder, the two extra charges due to the intense brutality involved.