Pastor describes Ryan Riggs' murder confession at Brownwood church


LAKE BROWNWOOD, Texas - Pastor Ron Keener at the North Lake Community Church was one of the first to learn of Ryan Riggs' involvement in the death of Chantay Blankinship before the news broke Wednesday.

Keener told KTXS what happened when the 21-year-old Riggs brought up the 2016 killing before Wednesday night's service.

"He said, 'I need to confess something,' and in that confession, he said, 'I've done something real bad. I murdered her,'" Keener said.

Keener said Riggs then went before the entire congregation and confessed to killing fellow church member Chantay Blankinship. He then went with his parents to the Brown County Law Enforcement Center to turn himself in.

"In his own tears, he shared what he'd done, and he talked about the last few days while he'd been on the run, and that yesterday he felt like he needed to make things right," Keener said.

Brown County authorities had released a composite based on the suspect's DNA last week. Sheriff Vance Hill said that computer-generated image spooked Riggs.

News of Riggs' arrest is traveling fast throughout the small, tight-knit community. Many said they're shocked, but also relieved.

Chantay's mother called Judy Shank, Chantay's former babysitter, late Wednesday night to break the news.

"I was just screaming and yelling, crying," Shank said. "I couldn't even talk to her. I was very, very relieved."

"It's a shock of who it was," said Denise Campbell, a North Lake Brownwood resident. "I'm just really thankful something's been done. It shows that they never gave up looking."

"It's a bittersweet moment," said Tonja Ledbetter, a North Lake Brownwood resident. "I feel sorry for the family of Ryan Riggs. It shouldn't be blamed on them for his choices and what he did. I'm glad that they found somebody -- that they found the killer."

As his congregation moves forward, Keener said they'll never condone what Riggs confessed to, but they will try to forgive him.

"I think what will happen now -- that we will grieve," Keener said. "There will be moments of anger, moment of disgust, but more than that, I think our church will reflect the love of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Chantay sang in the choir at the church where Riggs confessed. Chantay's memorial service was also held at the church.