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Alleged 1998 shooter set to appear in court

McClaney

Angel Chaney stood outside the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday with a button pinned to her blouse.

The button had a picture of Arthur “Artie” Rittenhouse III.

The father she never met.

Rittenhouse was shot in the head April 1, 1998, and it would be 14 years before police would find enough evidence to bring charges against the man they believe is responsible for the then-19-year-old’s death.

Nicole Chaney found out she was pregnant two days after Rittenhouse was killed. “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.”

Nicole and Angel Chaney and Rittenhouse’s parents met with prosecutors to learn of the timeline for court appearances of Bernard McClaney, who is accused of killing Rittenhouse.

Sharon Rittenhouse 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.

Artie Rittenhouse was dead when police arrived at the house at 724 Hamilton Ave., near Weisser Park Avenue on the city’s south side.

Police didn’t find a weapon at the scene, and no one came forward with information.

After a new detective was assigned to the case in 2009, 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, an affidavit filed last week said.

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

In September 2011, police received a lab report that showed 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 to investigators that he shot Rittenhouse when police interviewed him in August 2011. McClaney said he went there with an amplifier he wanted to trade for marijuana, the affidavit stated.

McClaney was 22 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.

After meeting with the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday, the family spoke briefly about how they are dealing with the arrest so many years later.

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

dadams@jg.net

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