Subscriber Login

Beloved Skipper Ryle implicated by author in murders

By John Estridge, Editor

For those who fondly remember Cincinnati-based children's programming host Glen “Skipper” Ryle, hold onto your seats.

Cincinnati true-crime author JT Townsend spoke at the Brookville Public Library Wednesday evening, Oct. 3. A frequent presenter for the library, Townsend spoke about the Bricca murders which occurred on Cincinnati's West Side sometime Sunday night, Sept. 25, 1966.

It remains unsolved.

Townsend wrote about the case in his book, Summer's Almost Gone.

Found dead in the house on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 1966 were: Jerry Bricca, 28; Linda Bricca, 23; and 4-year-old Debbie Bricca.

Linda was known to be a little loose with her favors. She and Jerry had tried a trial separation a few months prior to the killings and had then reconciled.

Earlier the week before the killings, Linda, a pretty, ex-airline stewardess, had started to work for veterinarian Dr. Fred Leininger. Leininger was also known to have affairs. One night after working for Leininger, Linda came home very late and more than a little drunk, causing Jerry to be very upset. They had a fight. Linda and Leininger knew each other before her going to work for him, there is also a chance that she thought she was pregnant by Leininger.

Leininger had a nice life: married, with five children and doing well financially. Townsend said a pregnancy could really complicate Leininger's life and his personal relationships. In the autopsy report, it did not state Linda was pregnant, but she believed she could be.

On Sunday night, was the debut of the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai, on network TV. Cincinnati residents were also being inundated with information concerning a serial murder case called the Cincinnati Strangler.

After the murders, police were quick to say this was not the work of the Cincinnati Strangler, who was believed to be a black man. It was causing racial strife in the city.

The Cincinnati Strangler attacked and killed seven women between the months of October 1965 to December 1966. He attacked more women, but some were able to escape.

Such was the fear of Cincinnati officials and residents Trick or Treat was moved to daytime hours for that year.

Two of the Bricca family's neighbors were concerned they had not seen any of the Briccas since Jerry was viewed putting out his trash Sunday night. On Tuesday night, Sept. 27, 1966, they went to the Briccas' front door. It was unlocked so they went inside. The first thing they noticed was the stench of death.

They immediately called police.

Then, the police made the two male neighbors go into the house and identify the bodies. All three Bricca family members were killed with multiple stab wounds. Police described it as a horrific crime scene. The children of one of the neighbors said that neighbor was never the same again. He had been a happy-go-lucky type of person with a very good sense of humor. All that ended on that night, and the relatively young neighbor was dead within a year. His children told Townsend they believed the trauma from finding and viewing the bodies killed the neighbor. They consider him the fourth victim.

Jerry and Linda were found in their bedroom. At first, it was thought Linda had been raped, but it was only determined she had intercourse with a man who was not her husband one day before the murders. Debbie had been dragged out from beneath her bed in her bedroom and stabbed four times.

Jerry was 5-9, 190 and very muscled. This led police to surmise there was more than one killer involved.

Because of the location of the murders, it was a Hamilton County Sheriff's Department case. Townsend said the Cincinnati Police Department was much better suited to handle a multiple-murder case. The lead detective was Herb Vogel. It took him 90 minutes to arrive at the scene. It is believed between 25-35 police, firefighters and even a relative of a firefighter walked through the house looking at the bodies before Vogel arrived and secured the scene.

While the house had been ransacked, there did not seem to be anything missing. There was no sign of a break-in or forced entry so it is considered the Briccas let the killers in or they came in through an unlocked door or window. The neighbors heard no loud noises from the Bricca house on that night.

Jerry and Linda had been bound. The ligatures had been removed from the scene. The weapon is believed to be a seven-inch butcher knife missing from the home. It was never found.

Eventually, 30 boxes of evidence were sent to the FBI for analysis. A DNA profile of the killer was made several years ago. The DNA profile came from hairs in Linda's hand and Marlboro cigarette butts at the scene. The Briccas did not smoke. Sometime between the murders and now someone put 10 cigarettes on Linda's grave.

A list of possible suspects included: the Zodiac Killer, Ted Bundy, Della Sutorius, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Bernie Carbo, Cincinnati Strangler, Jack Rauss (he murdered another family in Price Hill in 1961), Fred Malchow, mafia, someone from Monsanto, a police officer, mysterious stranger, a co-worker of Jerry's, Skipper Ryle, one of the two neighbors who found them, a Satanic cult, an elephant trainer, Linda's lover and one of a number of West Side veterinarians.

However, the best suspect was Leininger.

Adhesive tape found on Jerry's chin was veterinary tape. Debbie knew Leininger and called him Uncle Fred, necessitating her elimination if he was the one doing the murders. Leininger was spotted on the night of the murders one half mile away from the murder scene at a convenience store. It was around 10:30 p.m., and Leininger was acting erratic.

During questioning, Leininger incriminated himself by being asked twice where he was the night of the murder, he was caught in lies and then he lawyered up.

One of Leininger's best friends was Ryle. Ryle was a former special forces military man. He served at the end of World War II and during the Korean War. Townsend said a group including Ryle was thought to do LSD during this time period.

Eventually, Leininger committed suicide along with his wife. They had been living in Florida, drove up to Cincinnati, got a hotel room in downtown Cincinnati. They each took overdoses of morphine. His wife was in ill health, and Leininger lost quite a bit of money in Enron.