Judge orders suspect in Lothian murders held without bail

A District Court judge in Annapolis on Monday ordered a man to be held without bail for a double murder earlier this month in Lothian.

Appearing via closed-circuit TV from Jennifer Road Detention Center, 18-year-old Gabriel Struss of Annapolis said little during the hearing, except to tell Judge Shaem C.P. Spencer that he understood what was happening.


Struss, of Annapolis, is one of three people charged with the murders of Anthony Anastasi, Jr., 40, and Jacqueline Riggs, 25, on Oct. 4 in the 600 block of West Bay Front Road.

The story has drawn national attention as charging documents reveal a love triangle between Anastasi, Riggs and Anastasi's wife, Ann Anastasi, 42.


The situation ultimately soured, charging documents state, and Ann Anastasi plotted with the couple's 13-year-old daughter and Struss – the daughter's boyfriend – to kill her husband and Riggs.

"We do believe Mr. Struss is the person who committed these murders," State's Attorney Wes Adams said Monday.

Struss faces nearly a dozen charges, including first- and second-degree murder.

Ann Anastasi was ordered held without bail Friday on nearly a half dozen charges, including two counts each of first- and second-degree murder.

The couple's 13-year-old daughter was remanded to the custody of a juvenile detention facility on two charges of first-degree murder and accessory after-the-fact, police said.

Police said Riggs had been involved in a sexual relationship with Anthony and Ann Anastasi. Over the summer, Riggs moved into the Anastasis' home on West Bay Front Road, which caused tension within the household, police said. The Anastasis have five children.

Anthony Anastasi continued to engage in a relationship with Riggs, charging documents state, but Ann Anastasi was excluded.

Ann Anastasi and her 13-year-old daughter hatched a plan to kill Anthony Anastasi and Riggs, according to charging documents. They then brought Struss into the plan, the documents state.

On the night of Oct. 3, Struss waited outside the Anastasis' home for Anthony Anastasi and Riggs to come home, but they didn't appear and the plan to kill them was postponed, Adams said.

On the night of Oct. 4, the plan was carried out, Adams said.

Anthony Anastasi was shot in the head, according to charging documents. Riggs was stabbed to death in the basement.

Ann Anastasi called 911 the afternoon of Oct. 5 and reported that her husband had committed suicide.

A gun was found on the bed next to Anthony Anastasi, but ballistics tests show the gun didn't fire the projectile found in his head, charging documents state.

Interviews with Ann Anastasi and her daughter revealed "inconsistencies" in their stories, police said in charging documents.

What first appeared to be a murder-suicide turned out to be a double murder, police said.

Text messages between Struss, the Anastasis' daughter and Ann Anastasi discussed the murders, according to charging documents. The group discussed the exchange of a handgun, transportation to the crime scene and concealment on the property, charging documents state.

Struss also told the Anastasis' daughter not to talk to police, and if need be, to "take the fall" for him so the case would remain in juvenile court, Adams said.

Struss told the daughter he could be imprisoned "for life" if convicted of first-degree murder.

David Fischer, Struss' attorney, said little after Monday's hearing, except that he is reviewing the allegations and preparing a defense.

"My client looks forward to his day in court," Fischer said.

About an hour later, Struss' brother, Michael Struss, 21, sat on a picnic table in the front yard of their grandfather's house in Annapolis. He painted a different picture of his brother than that laid out in court.

Gabriel and Michael were adopted by the Struss family of Annapolis when they were children. A story about the family ran in The Capital in 2007. There were nine kids in the household, Michael Struss said.

Growing up, Gabriel Struss was a Boy Scout, his brother said. He strove to impress others and be accepted.

In his free time he enjoyed playing football, hockey and soccer with his friends.

Gabriel Struss attended Broadneck High School before ending up at the Phoenix Academy,  a public school in Annapolis that offers special and alternative education programs. He was "book smart," his brother said, but also had a rebellious side.

At 18, Gabriel Struss moved out of the Struss house and ended up at his biological grandfather's house.

Michael Struss said he doesn't know how his brother could have gotten mixed up in the situation in Lothian.

"It doesn't seem like he could do this," Michael said.

The Struss house was covered in Halloween decorations Monday afternoon. "No Trespassing" signs lined the front yard.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun