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Guy linked to McGreevey calls is 59, overweight, kind of scary
The Record (NJ) ^ | Sunday, October 27, 2002 | CLINT RILEY AND WENDY RUDERMAN

Posted on 10/27/2002 9:07:19 AM PST by dead

On first glance, Robert "Jay" Ritchie hardly looks capable of harming anyone.

At midafternoon, Ritchie, 59, comes to the door of his Phoenix, Ariz., apartment clad in boxer shorts, his basketball-size belly hanging over the waistband. He agrees to talk but needs a cigarette first.

Douglas MacArthur Clark, his roommate of more than a dozen years, sits by his side throughout the interview in a red bathrobe.

Yet as Ritchie puffs through four cigarettes, a sense of menace emerges.

"I was waiting for someone to come to me," Ritchie says. "I've been waiting on you or somebody."

"Jay knew somebody would come," adds Clark, 60, who occasionally calls Ritchie "Dad."

It's been three months since New Jersey State Police investigators linked the men's names to two telephone death threats against Governor McGreevey. How one of them ended up calling the governor of a state he has never visited more than 2,400 miles away is something of a mystery - even to them.

They each suggest Ritchie was either drunk or off his psychiatric medication.

Later Ritchie mutters his disdain for "all the gambling in Atlantic City" and says he "probably" called McGreevey because of it. He's written to Donald Trump. He's written to lots of famous people.

Late-night talk-show host Johnny Carson. Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The late billionaire Armand Hammer, who had extensive dealings with the former Soviet Union - who, Ritchie says he still believes, may have left him stock in Occidental Petroleum Corp.

He signs all his letters "Jay Ritchie - The King of Israel, the Messiah of Israel" simply because, as he puts it, "nobody else claims the title."

Ritchie was raised Lutheran and was taken to church in Ohio every Sunday, says his older sister, Constance Herman. "Somehow,'' she says, "he got off on a Jewish tangent."

He says he's on a lot of Jewish mailing lists. It's possible Ritchie got McGreevey's name off a newsletter from a New Jersey Jewish organization.

Ritchie was always trouble, Herman says.

"My mother used to say, a mother is the only one who can love a guy like that," she recalls.

An alcoholic, Ritchie says he took his first drink at age 14. He was kicked out of high school for fighting and ran away from home at 16. He claims he was visited by the FBI in 1979 after writing the mother of U.S. Marine Sgt. Jimmy Lopez, one of the American hostages in Iran.

"I offered myself for Jimmy Lopez," Ritchie recalls. "They said I was harassing her."

Ritchie married in 1973 but was divorced just three years later, the same year he was honorably discharged from the Army. He claims to have worked as a salesman, but since at least the early 1980s, court records show, he and Clark have lived on Social Security disability payments.

In 1989, Ritchie had just been released from jail, having served time for shooting and wounding a neighbor, and was living in his car when he met Clark, said Herman.

Both men have been in and out of mental hospitals, and doctors have prescribed a variety of psychiatric medications for Ritchie over the years, records show. The records also indicate he has repeatedly failed to take the medication regularly.

Clark also has a troubled past. Court records show his father sexually abused him. As a child, he lived in foster homes and attended Valley of the Sun School for Retarded Children in Arizona. A doctor diagnosed him as suffering from "mild mental retardation with some psychosis," the records say.

As an adult, Clark worked a series of janitorial jobs. He was working in the yard at the Gospel Assembly Church in 1974 when he coaxed two boys inside the restroom and molested at least one of them. Clark spent a few months in the county jail and hasn't been in trouble in the last 28 years, court records show.

Last month, Ritchie and Clark moved into a two-bedroom unit at Northern Point apartments, a stucco complex in a working-class neighborhood on the north side of Phoenix. It's several miles from their old apartment complex where Ritchie had serious run-ins with at least two neighbors - shooting a man in 1987 and waving a knife at a pregnant woman Aug. 30.

Inside the cluttered, darkened apartment, boxes remain unpacked and a fax machine is set up on a living room table.

"I sent a letter to Ariel Sharon at the Knesset from that fax,'' Ritchie says. "I told Ariel Sharon to put a bullet through Yasser Arafat's head.''

The reporter, they say, is the first to ask them about the phone calls to McGreevey.

"I'm not a threat to anybody," Ritchie says.

"If he made a mistake,'' says Clark, "I'm sure he is sorry."

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: New Jersey
I'm wondering if I inadvertently took acid this morning.

Or did you read what I just read?

1 posted on 10/27/2002 9:07:19 AM PST by dead
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To: dead
Ooooh, the colors........yeah, man....that's it., I guess I did read it.
2 posted on 10/27/2002 9:15:04 AM PST by EggsAckley
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To: dead
We're supposed to believe these people are really better off living on their own (and we're safer too) than if they were in a mental hospital somewhere?
3 posted on 10/27/2002 9:38:07 AM PST by Amelia
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To: Amelia
I was just thinking about stuff like that! It is just awful that people with mental problems are allowed to roam among society. It's not their fault they're goofy, but it's the authority's fault they are allowed to act out that goofiness on innocent people.
4 posted on 10/27/2002 11:01:31 AM PST by JudyB1938
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To: JudyB1938
Thank the liberals...we wouldn't want to violate these people's Constitutional rights by confining them against their will, just because they are ill.
5 posted on 10/27/2002 11:10:33 AM PST by Amelia
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To: Amelia
Thank the liberals...we wouldn't want to violate these people's Constitutional rights by confining them against their will, just because they are ill.

Sorry, Amelia, but there's plenty of blame to pass around on this issue. In Missouri, many mental-health facilities were shut down by then-Gov. John Ashcroft, triggering the release of hundreds of mentally ill patients. Liberals, in turn, insisted on trying to "mainstream" these patients, when many (if not most) needed continued hospitalization.

None of this, of course, diminishes my admiration for your screen name, which happens to be one of the most lyrical words in our language.

6 posted on 10/27/2002 11:33:41 AM PST by rond
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To: rond
I was thinking that the facilities were shut down because mainstreaming (brought on by a federal court case) caused many of the facilities to be unused, but I'm not in the mood to go look it up today. I know that Reagan wrongly received much of the blame from liberals.

And thank you, a spoonful of sugar DOES help the medicine go down! :)
7 posted on 10/27/2002 1:45:24 PM PST by Amelia
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To: Amelia
Too bad they just found this guy....he may have been the replacement on the ballot instead of Lousenberg....
8 posted on 10/27/2002 2:09:53 PM PST by bioprof
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To: rond
And in CA Jerry Brown's Daddy who was Gov released all the patients who were there under MediCal. It is a shame.
9 posted on 10/27/2002 2:19:58 PM PST by wingnuts'nbolts
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To: All
10 posted on 10/28/2002 3:21:00 PM PST by dead
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