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‘Inseparable’: Widow of murder victim Jonathan Riddle remembers him as fun-loving, family-oriented

Jonathan Riddle pictured with his family.
Jonathan Riddle pictured with his family. (Family Courtesy)

Taneytown resident Jonathan Riddle lived within a 1-mile radius of his parents and five siblings.

At parties, he was more likely to play with children than talk to adults.

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He was skilled with his hands and worked for a number of construction companies throughout his career. He dreamed of starting his own business.

On March 31, he would have celebrated his two-year wedding anniversary with his wife, Diana. On April 4, he would have witnessed his stepson Gabe’s bar mitzvah, along with stepdaughter Madeline, age 10. In August, he would have taken a second cruise with his family.

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These moments will never occur in the way they were planned. Riddle was murdered last month, police say.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office found the 33-year-old Riddle’s body in Rippon, West Virginia, about 40 feet from a road on March 18. Police say Riddle had been stabbed and lit on fire. Four Carroll County residents have been charged in connection with his killing.

“He was the sweetest person. He would give the shirt off his back for anyone," Diana Riddle said in an interview Monday. “I just can’t imagine that anyone would have any sort of issue with him that would warrant this.”

To the best of her knowledge, Diana said, her husband did not know any of those accused of killing him.

He did know Heather Grogg, she said. Police wrote in the criminal complaint that Jonathan Riddle had gone to see Grogg the night of March 17. Grogg’s sister, Brandie Hebb, told the Times Grogg was a live-in babysitter for one of the men accused of murdering Jon. She’s been missing since April 6.

Diana, originally from New York, met Jon in Westminster a few years ago. They started out as friends, then when their relationships with other people naturally came to an end, Jon and Diana became closer.

They had their first date on April 23, 2016, the day after Diana’s birthday. They visited waterfalls in Thurmont.

“We were pretty much inseparable after that," she said.

Jonathan and Diana Riddle engagement photo
Jonathan and Diana Riddle engagement photo (Jennifer Fahnestock)

They wed at a mansion in Frederick in 2018, then went to a resort in Cancún as an official family of four. It was Jon’s first time flying, according to Diana.

Last summer, they bought a camper and took to the outdoors almost every weekend, sometimes bringing some of Jon’s seven nieces and nephews.

Family ties

Despite living so near to Jon’s family, Diana and her children are not able to go to them for support in person. The coronavirus pandemic forces them to keep their distance.

After Jon was cremated, Diana brought some of his ashes in an urn to his mother’s house. Diana couldn’t go inside, so she left the urn on the porch.

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“He was really, very close with his mother," Diana said. “He was quick to be there if she needed anything.”

Diana said she knew something was amiss March 18 when she saw Jon’s work clothes were still at home. She wondered why he hadn’t gone to work. By the afternoon, she was calling police departments and hospitals, searching for her husband.

She filed a missing person report with Taneytown Police around 4:30 p.m.

About an hour later, the police were at her door. Diana was surprised to see West Virginia law enforcement.

“I feel incredibly lucky that they found him so quickly," she said. “At least I knew. I didn’t have to sit here wondering.”

At a time when hundreds of Carroll County residents are filing for unemployment, the Riddle family is also affected. Diana said she was furloughed from her job in advertising about a week after her husband died.

Her friend, Timothy Wilson, set up a GoFundMe titled, “Funeral and other expenses for Diana Riddle,” to assist the family. Diana said she’s not usually one to ask for help, but she’s been amazed by the strangers who’ve made donations without knowing her.

The family is taking life one day at a time.

“The kids have been OK. Gabe is my protector. When I start crying he comes and hugs me," Diana said.

She hopes people remember her husband for the person he was, not for how he died.

“I want him to be remembered as the fun-loving person who would, you know, drop everything at a minute’s notice to help anyone, to be there for anyone," she said. “He was very loved. He was loved by everybody.”

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