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Court Records Link Couple to Death of Pizza Deliveryman

January 02, 1986|SAM ENRIQUEZ | Times Staff Writer

A substantial amount of evidence and eyewitness testimony has implicated a South Carolina couple in the torture slaying of a Domino's Pizza deliveryman Dec. 9 and the attempted murder of two other employees of the Glendale restaurant, according to court records.

Two employees of the Domino's restaurant at 1200 S. Brand Blvd. have identified from police photographs Mitchell Carlton Sims, 25, and Ruby Carol Padgett, 20, as the assailants who robbed the Glendale store, according to police reports. The pair held them at gunpoint, took $2,000 from a cash drawer and then left them tied up in a 38-degree, walk-in refrigerator, the reports said.

Two other employees of the Glendale restaurant, who stopped by the store to deliver a gift while Sims and Padgett were there and later alerted the restaurant manager at home, have also identified the pair from a police lineup, according to records on file at Glendale Municipal Court.

Choked and Drowned

Police allege that Sims and Padgett robbed the store after luring Domino's deliveryman John Steven Harrigan, 21, to their Glendale motel room, then choked him and drowned him in a bathtub.

Recovered as evidence were several pieces of white rope and a .25-caliber handgun believed to have been the same weapon used in the Dec. 3 robbery and slaying of two employees of a Domino's restaurant in Hanahan, S. C., where Sims once worked. The 1985 pickup owned by Harrigan that police believe was used as a getaway car by Sims and Padgett was found Dec. 21 in a Las Vegas casino parking lot.

Meanwhile, Domino's Pizza spokesman Ron Hingst said Monday his firm will present a $100,000 reward check to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Secret Witness Program, to be turned over to a Las Vegas man who helped police locate and arrest the fugitive couple there Christmas morning.

The man, who called police after he recognized Sims from newspaper pictures, has chosen to remain anonymous. He will be given the $100,000 next week, Las Vegas police Detective Nage Palmer said.

Sims and Padgett on Monday were granted a delay in arraignment proceedings until Jan. 13 by Glendale Municipal Judge J. D. Smith to give defense attorneys time to review the charges. The two, who could receive the death penalty if convicted, are being held without bail in a Glendale jail.

Witness statements filed with police give an account of how Sims, a former Domino's Pizza cook and store manager in South Carolina, allegedly took telephone orders and had a pizza made while Padgett kept an employee at knifepoint in a back office.

Domino's Pizza employee Richard Wagner, 23, said he knew something was wrong when he and his wife, Dianne, stopped by the store the night of Dec. 9 to deliver some furniture to Kory Spiroff, who was working that night along with Harrigan and Edmund Sicam. When he entered the store, no one was at the counter.

Wagner called out, "Is anybody here?" As Wagner began walking behind the counter, his friend Spiroff came out of the office and motioned him back. Spiroff asked him if he could take his order and pretended not to know Wagner, police reports said.

Unfamiliar Face

Working with Spiroff was an employee Wagner had never seen before. The man, later identified as Sims, was wearing a Domino's Pizza shirt with a name tag reading "John," the reports said.

Sims allegedly took a telephone order, identifying himself as "Mitch" to the caller, and explained what was on the restaurant's deluxe pizza. Then Sims had Spiroff make a pizza for Wagner, police reports said.

"Sims was real friendly," Dianne M. Wagner, 20, said in an interview Monday after a court appearance by Sims and Padgett. "He was so calm, he didn't give it away. He said we were lucky to get the order in then because they were going to close soon."

Wagner said he was suspicious because Sims was smoking a cigarette while working, which is prohibited by company policy, and because Spiroff did not give him an employee's discount on the pizza.

"I figured something was wrong, but I went along and pretended to be a customer," Richard Wagner said Monday in an interview.

Sims then asked the Wagners to wait in their truck, and said he would bring the pizza out when it was ready, Wagner said. Sims handed two soft drink cans to Wagner, which police later dusted for fingerprints.

Called Pizza Store

After getting their pizza, Dianne Wagner said, she and her husband drove around for about five minutes trying to decide what to do next. They finally stopped at a pay phone and called the Domino's store to ask for Spiroff, but there was no answer, Wagner said.

They then called store manager Steve Bergan at home and told him what they had seen. Bergan called the store, received no answer and finally called police, court records indicate.

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