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Family speaks out about 1998 slaying

McClaney

FORT WAYNE -- The family of Arthur “Artie” Rittenhouse III said they still don’t have closure despite the fact that police believe they finally caught the man responsible for Rittenhouse’s death.

Rittenhouse was 19 when his mother came home the afternoon of April 1, 1998, and found her son slumped on the couch with a gunshot wound to his head, Fort Wayne police told The Journal Gazette at the time.

After meeting with the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday, the family spoke with media.

“There’s no closure,” said his mother, Sharon Rittenhouse. “It’s more like a healing process. You learn to live with it after all this time.”

Artie Rittenhouse was dead when police arrived at the house at 724 Hamilton Ave., near Weisser Park Avenue on the city’s south side. No weapons were recovered at the scene.

Initially, no one came forward with information about the shooting.

In 2009, a new detective, Cary Young, was assigned to the case. He reviewed the case and met with Rittenhouse’s mother, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday.

Sharon Rittenhouse told the detective she left home that morning and returned after 2 p.m. to find her son dead. A black bag that did not belong to her son was near him. The bag, which contained a car stereo amplifier, was not there when she left, the affidavit stated.

The detective had fingerprint and DNA tests done on the bag and the amp. While waiting for the results, he started conducting interviews and learned that the shooter’s nickname was “Sabu.” This nickname led police to an Ohio prison inmate named Bernard McClaney, the affidavit said.

In September 2011, police received a lab report that showed that the DNA from the bag was consistent with McClaney’s. Police conducted interviews with people who were with McClaney that day. They told police a similar story: McClaney went into Rittenhouse’s home, they heard what they thought were gunshots, McClaney came out and they drove away, according to the affidavit.

McClaney later admitted shooting Rittenhouse. McClaney said he went there with an amplifier he wanted to trade for marijuana, the affidavit stated.

McClaney was 22 for at the time. He is now 36 and serving a sentence at the Toledo Correctional Institution on unrelated convictions for aggravated robbery and voluntary manslaughter. He has been in prison since 1999 and is slated for release as early as 2016, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Nicole Chaney found out she was pregnant two days after Rittenhouse was killed. Angel Chaney, now 13, wore a button with a picture of her father on Monday.

“It’s been extremely difficult. My daughter has never had a chance to meet her dad,” said Nicole Chaney, who was engaged to Rittenhouse at the time of his murder and delivered their daughter eight months after his death. “It helps, but for me it doesn’t really change anything because it can’t bring him back. What would help – being able to bring him back – at least let her meet him.”

For more on this story see Tuesday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.

dadams@jg.net

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