Suspect Arrested In Death Of Rineyville Man - News, Weather & Sports

Suspect Arrested In Death Of Rineyville Man

(LOUISVILLE, Ky., Saturday, June 28, 2003, 11:45am) -- A Leitchfield man was arrested Friday in connection with the death of a man whose body was found in a suitcase floating in Rough River Lake, authorities said.

Police arrested Joshua William Cottrell, 21, late Friday afternoon in the killing of Richie Phillips, whose body was found Wednesday. Officers found Cottrell in Grayson County through an anonymous tip, Kentucky State Police Trooper Steve Pavey said.

Phillips, 36, of Rineyville, has been missing since June 17. He was last seen eating lunch with a friend at an Elizabethtown restaurant. He was not eating with Cottrell, but the two did know each other, Pavey said.

"There's quite a distance between Rineyville and Grayson County," Pavey said. "We do know that Phillips has been to the Grayson County area before. I'm sure there was a connection there possibly or it may have been random."

Cottrell had last been seen earlier in the week in Grayson County, he said.

Police issued the arrest warrant based on statements by mutual acquaintances of Cottrell and Phillips as well as evidence found at the scene, Pavey said. He would not identify the acquaintances.

Cottrell was charged with murder and was being held in the Breckinridge County jail. Arraignment was scheduled for Monday.

Cottrell has a criminal background including receiving stolen property and criminal mischief, Pavey said.

Pavey said it didn't appear that robbery was a possible motive.

On Wednesday night, two fishermen found a piece of luggage floating in Rough River Lake. And when they unzipped it, they found a man's body, police said. The suitcase didn't belong to Phillips, but authorities didn't know who it belonged to, Pavey said.

State police Detective Mike Romagnoli said the tentative identification of the body as Phillips made Thursday was based on personal effects found with the body and on a wildcat tattoo on the shoulder.

Medical examiners confirmed the identification with dental records Friday and were still trying to determine the cause of death.

Breckinridge County Coroner Bob Rhodes said the man's body had been folded up and put into a wheeled suitcase with an extending handle.

"This thing, when closed I am going to say, is 12 inches deep and 24 inches long and from front to back 16 to 18 inches," he said. "Somebody got this person in a fetal position and stuffed him in a suitcase."

Phillips was about 5-foot-10 and 140 pounds, Romagnoli said.

Phillips' truck was found abandoned with items missing last week in southern Indiana. On Monday, his wallet was found in a stream that feeds into Rough River Lake about 20 to 30 miles from where the body was found, police said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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