Ricki Williams, 22, was sentenced Thursday to 62 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing 16-year-old Gina Burger in 2014. Video screengrab from WKBN-TV
Ricki Williams, 22, was sentenced Thursday to 62 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing 16-year-old Gina Burger in 2014. Video screengrab from WKBN-TV

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She saw him carrying a playpen. She didn’t know her teen daughter’s body was inside

By Crystal Hill

chill@mcclathy.com

February 09, 2018 10:04 AM

Gina Burger’s mother told police she’d seen Ricki Williams IV struggling with a bag used to carry a portable playpen at an Austintown, Ohio, apartment complex in June 2014, authorities said.

Jacqueline Bacher said Williams, 22, even asked her whether she wanted to “buy a baby thing,” WTAE reported. Bacher had been waiting for an officer to come take a missing-persons report on her daughter. She didn’t see what Williams did with the bag, the news station said.

She saw what looked like the same items in the Dumpster the next morning, WFMJ reported.

She didn’t know her daughter’s body was inside.

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Burger’s body was later found at a landfill in Mercer County, Pennsylvania (about 45 miles north of Pittsburgh), WKBN reported.

Days earlier, Burger, 16, had left her home to ask a neighbor for tea bags, her mother told police, according to The Youngstown Vindicator. At some point she encountered Williams, who brought her to Ronisha Johnson’s apartment, Johnson told police, WFMJ reported.

Johnson said Williams forced her and Burger into her bedroom and allowed them to smoke a “last cigarette,” a police report said. Williams tried to force the woman to stab Burger, but she refused, the report said, according to WTAE.

Johnson told authorities she then witnessed Williams stab Burger in the chest, WFMJ said. He pulled the knife from Burger’s chest and smelled it as the girl collapsed onto the floor, Johnson said.

Johnson said Williams forced her to help hide the body in a portable playpen and put it in a Dumpster outside the apartment, WFMJ reported. She told police she was afraid he’d kill her, too.

Police said officers think Williams might have carved the words “kill fo fun” into the wood of a stairwell at the complex, The Vindicator reported.

“His purpose was to kill someone that day; didn’t matter who it was,” said Ken Cardinal, an assistant county prosecutor, according to The Vindicator. “He would have killed the first person he saw.”

Williams pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated murder and other charges, WKBN reported. He was sentenced to 62 years to life in prison, the news station said.

At the hearing, Burger’s adoptive mother, Michelle Bennett, cried out in relief when the judge handed down the sentence, The Vindicator reported. She’d come all the way from Texas to face Williams.

“You’re a waste of oxygen,” Bennett said to Williams in court, WKBN reported.

Bennett told Williams he’s “evil masquerading as a human being,” The Vindicator said.

“We agreed to the plea agreement because we want you to live in hell for the rest of your life,” Bennett said.

Williams has maintained his innocence, saying he only pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, WKBN reported. “I didn’t kill that girl... I just want to put that on the record,” Williams said.

Bacher died of a heroin overdose months after her daughter’s death, The Vindicator reported.

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. Nicole L. CvetnicMcClatchy