The Richmond Register

March 8, 2007

Editor held at gunpoint in office

By Kelly Foreman

RICHMOND — Richmond Register Editor Jim Todd was held hostage at gunpoint for an hour and a half Wednesday in his office by his brother, who admitted he had shot his wife to death Tuesday night in Lexington.

John William Todd Jr., 62, turned himself in to deputies at the Fayette County sheriff’s department late Wednesday night. He was charged with murdering his wife.

Todd Jr. was waiting in Jim Todd’s office when he arrived at work Wednesday morning saying that he was having “marital problems.” John Todd then told his brother that he had shot his wife to death about 10:30 Tuesday night following a lengthy, heated domestic dispute.

John Todd said his wife of less than one year had launched into an unrelenting tirade against him the night before, and he told his brother that he “just couldn’t take it anymore.”

Todd then told the editor that he had come there to kill him and brandished a .38 caliber revolver, holding it about two feet away from the editor’s chest for about an hour and a half. The older brother indicated that he had harbored ill feelings toward his brother and his dad ever since their father’s death in 1989, concerning the father’s will.

“He said he knew he would be dead sometime today and that’s why he had come to kill me,” Jim Todd said.

But when the editor attempted to stand up, John Todd pointed the gun closer and ordered him to sit down or he would shoot him. He then recanted and said although he had come to kill him, he would not do so if he would do one thing for him.

“When I asked what that was, he said, ‘Only if you will tell my children that I did come here to kill you, but that I didn’t,’” the editor said.

Todd then borrowed the editor’s cell phone and called his daughter-in-law in Lexington and told her that his wife, Lynne, was dead, that he had killed her and that she was lying on the basement floor of their Lexington home.

“He said that he had pumped her full of four bullets and left her lying in a pool of blood, lying in the floor,” Jim Todd said.

The editor said he thought he could hear Todd’s daughter-in-law pleading for his brother not to kill the editor and to turn himself in. But her father-in-law said “I’m going to be dead sometime today anyway.” He also indicated to his brother that he would kill himself instead of being taken alive.

John Todd admitted that he had been drinking a lot of whiskey and that he had taken some drugs. The editor told Richmond police that his brother did not drink and had never taken drugs to anyone’s knowledge. Todd said that he had written letters to all five of his children and repeatedly asked the editor to tell them that he had come to kill him, but did not.

“He then had me walk him outside to his van, hugged and kissed me on the cheek and told me he wanted me to live so that I could see my grandson grow up,’ Jim Todd said. “He said, ‘Please don’t call the police.’ As he drove off, he stuck his arm out the window and waved to me,”

After the editor got back into the building, there was an announcement on the intercom saying he had an emergency phone call for him on his phone.

“When I answered the call, it was the Richmond police dispatch asking if I was in harm’s way,” Jim Todd said, “and I replied, ‘No, not now.’”

Dispatch then asked if he needed a police officer to come to the Register and the editor said ‘Yes.’ The editor does not know who alerted dispatch and officers arrived at the scene shortly thereafter. While the officers were in the editor’s office, John Todd called him twice and pleaded with him again to tell his children the story.

Several police agencies in the area were looking for John Todd on Wednesday afternoon and an all points bulletin was released throughout the state. About 12:45 p.m., Lexington police were called to John Todd’s Darien Drive home in Lexington, where SWAT team members later entered and found a woman shot to death.

John Todd had reportedly been at a home on Yellowstone Avenue on Wednesday. He is being held in the Fayette County Detention Center on a $500,000 full cash bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in Fayette Circuit Court today at 12:30.

Kelly Foreman can be reached at kforeman@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.