Child’s murder gaining attention

PARKERSBURG – The search for a man accused of killing a 1-year-old Parkersburg girl is getting attention around the state and beyond.

Parkersburg Police continue to receive information and follow up on tips regarding the whereabouts of Curtis Dean Richards II, 30, of 906 Fourth St., St. Marys. They say he was last seen Aug. 5, withdrawing money from an ATM in the 2900 block of Pike Street in Parkersburg. That was the same day police say he killed 1-year-old Ariella Noel Merinar while she and her nearly 3-year-old sister were left in his care at their mother’s apartment at 3850 Central Ave.

He’s also accused of breaking into the office of Five Guys in Vienna, where he used to be a manager, early the next morning.

Although police have been unable to locate Richards, Martin said they are still receiving tips, including from as far south as North Carolina.

“The information’s still coming in,” he said. “I don’t think I can recall a case that we’ve gotten so much attention from the public.”

Martin said he’s been contacted by reporters from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. That’s why the department recently posted an update, including multiple photos of Richards and his tattoos, to its website,

“It’s working, slowly getting beyond the borders of West Virginia,” Martin said.

The online release makes reference to associates of Richards in St. Marys, Huntington and Beckley. Articles about the case ran recently in the Charleston Daily Mail and Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

“Daily we talk to agencies in Kanawha County and Cabell County” as well as Raleigh County, Martin said. “They’re more than willing to run down leads.”

The release says Richards was last seen driving a black, 1994 Toyota single-cab truck with a great deal of primer on it. It has a West Virginia license plate, 4XA886.

The man has access to firearms and should be considered armed and dangerous, police said.

Although investigators had suspicions, Martin said there was not enough evidence to arrest Richards the day of the child’s death.

Richards initially claimed the child had been choked by her older sister. An autopsy at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Charleston on Aug. 7 revealed Merinar suffered severe head injuries and injuries to her neck and her death was a homicide. At that point, police obtained a warrant for Richards’ arrest on a murder charge, but he had apparently fled the area.

The chief said he thinks the nature of the case helps explain the attention it’s getting.

“Anybody with an ounce of compassion in their body doesn’t look very favorably on an individual that would do this to a child,” he said.

Anyone with information about Richards’ whereabouts is asked to contact Parkersburg Police Detective K.M. Day or Detective L.R. Board at 304-424-8440 or 304-424-8444. Anonymous tips can be left online at