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How to Catch A Criminal: Tainted Love

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Jan. 29, 2023 This month, two women’s desire to find companionship and the terrible price that came with it.

Source officer.com News

Every officer with a decent amount of time on the job knows the unexpected turns an investigation can take. Seeing a major case through to completion often involves giving up on a theory and taking your investigation in a different direction as new information becomes available. In How to Catch A Criminal, we look at the many ways not-so-perfect crimes are solved. This month, two women’s desire to find companionship and the terrible price that came with it.

Online dating is fast becoming the most efficient way to begin a new relationship. Thanks to free apps, paid dating services, social media interactions, and scandalous website of every kind, lonely hearts in modern times can be brought together with minimal effort. Simply fill out your dating profile and let the internet take care of the old fashioned courtship for you. No need to waste time making small talk on a first date. Just scroll through your date’s profile and get the gist of their personality.

Wade Ridley
Wade Ridley

Surely that’s all you really need to know. However, just because online dating is the fastest, easiest way to meet your next potential spouse, it is not always the smartest, or the safest. All who dare enter the digital tunnel of love should be aware that it is much easier to lie or exaggerate about yourself online than it is in person. Domestic abuser’s can begin manipulating and conditioning their victims long before meeting in person, giving them a huge psychological advantage when it comes time to date. Sexual predator’s can carefully select only the most vulnerable victim’s so as to minimize the risk of getting caught. Then there are the violent criminals who can use the allure of a too good to be true profile to con a victim into walking into a robbery, kidnapping, murder, or any other sort of attack. As these online interactions have become the norm, naturally the headlines have begun to display the horror stories behind the hugs and kisses.

On January 21, 2011, Las Vegas real estate agent Mary Beckman arrived at her home after a night out with friends. As she approached her front door, she was ambushed and savagely attacked. The unknown attacker began stabbing her, over and over again causing her to collapse, screaming in terror. A neighbor looked outside after hearing the screams and saw a male standing over Mary Beckman in her driveway, plunging a knife down into her a total of ten times. The male finally stopped stabbing Beckman, not because he was satisfied with his attack, but because his knife broke. He then began kicking and stomping on Mary Beckman, rendering her unconscious with multiple blows to the head. Beckman’s assailant fled the area as her neighbor called 911. Incredibly, Mary Beckman was still alive when police and medics arrived, and she made it to the hospital in critical condition. Though her purse was stolen in the attack, this was a far cry from a random mugging. The severity of the attack indicated there was a highly personal motivation behind the stabbing. While Mary was recovering, detectives tried to narrow down who would do such a thing, but according to her family, Mary didn’t have any enemies. As is often the case, the victim’s significant other becomes a prime suspect in an attack like this. However, Mary’s boyfriend was cleared as a suspect because his alibi was solid: he was on the phone with Mary as she arrived home and was attacked. For the moment there was no clear indication of who could have done such a horrendous thing to Mary Beckman.

On February 10, 2011, in Phoenix, Arizona, a man entered a grocery store and headed to the pharmacy. The man brandished a machete and threatened the pharmacist, forcing her to hand over prescription drugs. The man fled the store, but would resurface later that day inside the nearby home of Anne Simenson. After forcing entry through the back door the man waited inside until Anne came home. As soon as she arrived she was ambushed, struck with the machete over and over. The attacker then retrieved a butcher knife from the kitchen and used it to stab her until he was certain she was dead. Much like the attack on Mary Beckman, valuables were stolen, including credit cards belonging to Anne’s boyfriend and Anne’s car. Also like the Beckman stabbing, Anne Simenson’s murder was clearly a personal attack. The difference in the two cases came in the identification of the suspect. When detectives asked Simenson’s family who would want to kill her, they gave the name Wade Ridley.

In 2003, Anne Simenson was looking for love using Match.com. She was matched with a man named Wade Ridley. The pair hit it off quickly, but the relationship wasn’t always pleasant. Ridley wasted little time trying to isolate Anne from her family, insisting she spend all of her free time with him. Wade became extremely jealous any time Anne dared interact with anyone that wasn’t him. Over time he grew increasingly controlling and aggressive, resulting in Anne breaking up with him. Unfortunately, ending a relationship with someone like Wade Ridley can often make the situation much worse. Ridley would continuously harass Anne Simenson for four years, threatening her over the phone, causing a scene at her work. Ridley wouldn’t give up on terrorizing Anne, resulting in her obtaining a restraining order in 2007. That same year, Wade ran into additional trouble thanks to his irrational behavior. Wade worked as a professional golf caddy and had an abundance of work available at Phoenix’s many golf courses. After being confronted by his boss for his poor attitude, Ridley became violent, punching the man in the face before storming out. Word quickly got around to nearby golf courses that Wade Ridley was not only a bad employee, but potentially dangerous. Unable to get hired anywhere else, Ridley headed for Las Vegas, Nevada for a fresh start and plenty of golf courses unaware of his volatile personality.

In September 2010, Wade was back on Match.com, seemingly moved on from Anne Simenson. He was matched with Mary Beckman, and appeared to have turned over a new leaf. On his first date with Beckman Wade was ever the sweetheart, holding the door for her and asking permission before planting a gentle kiss on her cheek. As far as Mary was concerned, she’d found a proper old fashioned gentleman. Sadly, for both Beckman and Simenson, Ridley was back to his old ways before long. Just 10 days after their first date, Mary Beckman called the relationship off due to his controlling and jealous behavior. Mary received frequent texts and calls from her realty clients, and this proved to be more than Wade could stand. After he attempted to snatch her phone away from her, insisting she was talking to another man, Mary saw Ridley’s true colors and quickly moved on.

By December, Wade Ridley was on a downward spiral, having lost Anne Simenson and Mary Beckman, as well as his prestigious caddy position in the Phoenix golf scene. After a brief stay in the hospital due to his fractured mental state, Ridley attempted to return to normalcy. That is to say, his idea of normalcy: harassing Anne Simenson. This time however, his calls were answered by Anne’s boyfriend, who warned Ridley to back off and move on from Anne. This was the last straw for Wade, and he decided it was time to take out his frustrations on the people who had wronged him. First on his mind was Mary Beckman. Already aware of where she lived, Wade Ridley hid in her garage for hours on the night of Jan. 21, 2011. He sprang from his hiding spot when she returned from her night out, and left her for dead after the attack. Ridley hitchhiked to Phoenix where he robbed the pharmacy and broke into the Simenson residence, killing her in her kitchen on February 10. Ridley was checking names off his kill list, but made the mistake leaving the list at the scene of the crime. Apparently as he broke into the back door, Ridley’s notebook fell out of his pocket. Detectives seized the notebook and found the names of Anne Simenson, her boyfriend, Ridley’s former boss who blackballed him from the golf business, and Mary Beckman. Las Vegas law enforcement were asked to be on the lookout for Anne Simenson’s stolen vehicle, as the stolen credit cards had been tracked at gas stations between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Fittingly, Wade Ridley’s crime spree came to an end on Valentine’s Day when officers located the vehicle near the Las Vegas strip, Ridley inside. He was arrested without incident and charged with the attempted murder of Mary Beckman. During interrogation, Wade Ridley confirmed his role in the murder of Anne Simenson, and what he thought was the murder of Mary Beckman. He was shocked to find out she had survived his attack. In 2011 Ridley would take an Alford plea in the Beckman case, not admitting any wrongdoing, but acknowledging the case against him would likely result in a guilty conviction. Ridley was destined to spend the rest of his life in prison, earning a 28- to 70-year sentence in Nevada, and awaiting extradition to Arizona where he would stand trial for Anne Simenson’s murder. In May of 2012, Ridley was found dead in his prison cell. Evidently he took his own life.

As modern dating and romance continues to trend in the direction of online first, in person second, hopeless romantics need to tread carefully. It is extremely important not to be blinded by romance and differentiate the red flags from the rose petals. Sadly for both Mary Beckman and Anne Simenson, ending their involvement with a deranged lover is what put them in danger. No matter if its business, friendship, or love, you should always know who you are getting involved with before you get involved.

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