20-Year-Old Woman Takes Plea in Killing of 48-Year-Old North Carolina Cop She Dated in High School, Gets Sentenced to 24+ Years in Prison

Pictured: Caitlin Ridgeway

A former sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina was found dead in a park more than two years ago. 

Now his 20-year-old ex-girlfriend is going to prison on a charge of second-degree murder, media outlets report.

Caitlin Ridgeway entered an Alford plea on Friday, meaning she did not admit guilt but accepted prosecutors had enough information to convict her, WITN reported.

Her plea deal included charges of second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon, according to the media outlet. A Superior Court judge in Onslow County sentenced her to between 24 and 32 years in prison, WITN said.

Another suspect, William Welch Jr., pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon in March, WCTI 12 reported.

Pictured: William Clifton

William Clifton, 48, was found dead in a park by a jogger in 2017, according to the media outlet. Investigators determined he had been shot multiple times.

Clifton had left the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department in early 2016 and was working as a school resource officer at a high school in Jacksonville at the time of the murder, according to WNCT.

He had been in a romantic relationship with Ridgeway for two years before, the Jacksonville Daily News reported.

“Prosecutors say there was no evidence that the relationship was not consensual, and the legal age of consent is 16,” according to WITN.

But the relationship appeared to have soured, and Ridgeway sought a protective order against Clifton before he resigned from the sheriff’s office in 2016, WNCT reported.

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SOURCE: Raleigh News & Observer – Hayley Fowler