PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — When the body of 45-year-old Robert Gagliardi was discovered Tuesday along Worthington Creek, police said the apparent suicide likely was linked to the death of his roommate three days earlier.
Gagliardi had been interviewed by Parkersburg detectives Saturday when his roommate, Daniel Whipkey, 54, turned up dead. Police chief Joe Martin said Gagliardi’s initial alibi seemed plausible until Whipkey’s autopsy returned Monday from the state medical examiner.
“The ME’s office explained Mr. Whipkey’s death was ruled a homicide,” said Martin. “It appeared he had been beaten to death.”
That led police to re-examine Gagliardi’s story.
“It appears he was apparently feeling some guilt over the incident with Mr. Whipkey from Saturday,” said Martin. “We didn’t expect Gagliardi to take his own life or we would have brought him in sooner.”
Martin said police learned after Whipkey’s death, Gagliardi had gone to a friend’s home in Parkersburg on Monday and stolen a 9mm pistol. That was the same pistol found beside his body on the river bank.
Martin said when he first heard of the suicide, he anticipated the victim would be Curtis Richards, who is wanted in the death of a 1-year-old baby from Aug. 12 and hasn’t been seen since. The baby and a 3-year-old sibling were left in Richards’ care by his girlfriend. He claimed the older child strangled the baby. However, police said his story didn’t add up and he soon disappeared.
A nationwide manhunt involving the U.S. Marshal Service, FBI, and U.S. Secret Service is now underway. Police said Richards has ties to Beckley, St. Marys and Huntington.