February 13, 2006 "Ice Pick Murderer" Release Date Extended

State Attorney Norm Wolfinger returned from a Tallahassee Parole Board hearing earlier this week with exactly what he went after—another extension of murderer Michael Riding’s presumptive parole date.

Riding was found guilty for the ice pick murder of Realtor Lois Higbie in March 1977. Unfortunately, life sentences then did not mean natural life and Riding has appeared before the Parole Commission twice in the past five years seeking earlier release dates.

Both State Attorney Wolfinger and Mrs. Higbie’s children have appeared before the Commission each time to protest any lowering of the release date. Riding did have a release date of 2037, but the two trips to the Commission now mean he will not be considered for release before August 16, 2063. Riding is 52 now.

Mrs. Higbie was a realtor in Melbourne who agreed to show a client she had never met a vacant house on her day off. Her body was found by another realtor a day later. She had been beaten and stabbed 43 times. Her death brought about an increased awareness of the risks to which realtors are exposed and an increased emphasis on safety measures.

State Attorney Wolfinger recommended realtors take the opportunity to re-evaluate their safety practices and to update them based on new technology.

"Mrs. Higbie’s murderer will never walk the streets if we have any say in the matter, but for all those young professionals out there entering the field, take a lesson from this sad history. Realtors must deal with people they barely know at times and in remote locations, so have your safety plan in place and never circumnavigate it,’’ he said.

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