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Man held in Rotterdam double homicide

Thursday, April 11, 2013
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Police continue to investigate the deaths of Jessica McCormack and her mother, Tammy, who were found in their home on Inner Drive in Rotterdam Wednesday. Inset photo shows Jessica, left, and Brice Rivenburgh, who has been charged with burglary in connection with case. (inset left photo from Facebook).
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Police continue to investigate the deaths of Jessica McCormack and her mother, Tammy, who were found in their home on Inner Drive in Rotterdam Wednesday. Inset photo shows Jessica, left, and Brice Rivenburgh, who has been charged with burglary in connection with case. (inset left photo from Facebook).

— A Rotterdam man believed to have once had a relationship with the younger of two women found dead inside an Inner Drive home was in custody Thursday on a burglary charge connected to the home and the women, authorities said.

Brice C. Rivenburgh, 28, of 2501 Oaklawn Ave., though, has not been charged directly with killing the mother and daughter. For now, Rivenburgh faces one count of first-degree burglary, a high-level felony.

Police at a Thursday morning news conference regarding the deaths of Tammy McCormack and her adult daughter, Jessica, did not go so far as to call Rivenburgh a suspect in the killings, but they said further charges are pending.

Documents filed in court, though, spell out the burglary accusations against Rivenburgh, connecting the charge directly to injuries suffered by the women. According to the document, while inside the Inner Drive home, Rivenburgh “caused physical injury” to two occupants of the dwelling.

Also Thursday evening, police announced the results of the autopsies on the women. Both deaths have now officially been classified as homicides, though police are withholding the exact causes of death.

Rivenburgh was arraigned before Rotterdam Town Justice Kevin Mercoglan and sent to the Schenectady County jail without bail.

Police said Tammy McCormack did not show up for work Wednesday as a human resources specialist with the Schenectady City School District. A district official contacted her son, Brad, who first tried calling her and then drove to the home at 1142 Inner Drive. He told police some items were missing from the home, according to Rotterdam police spokesman Lt. Michael Brown.

“Upon entry, he observed some suspicious items within the first floor of the residence and decided to call police,” he said.

Brown would not discuss what McCormack found nor what was taken from the residence.

Police found the bodies in separate upstairs bedrooms, according to Brown.

Brown confirmed that Jessica McCormack had a relationship with Rivenburgh.

“We’re still investigating exactly to what extent that relationship was,” Brown said.

That relationship led police to Rivenburgh, who was arrested without incident while coming out of the home he shares with his mother.

Brown would not get into specifics about what exactly made police think Rivenburgh was responsible nor how he gained entry to the residence. Brown said it is still early in the investigation.

“We’re not going to be able to release a lot of details right now,” he said.

There was a report of a black automobile stopping in front of a neighbor’s house at 6 a.m. and throwing out some material that appeared to be on fire, according to Brown. He did not know what that was. The Carman Fire Department was called but left after a half-hour.

Rotterdam and state police collected evidence and interviewed neighbors Thursday at both the victims’ and Rivenburgh’s house. Brown would not discuss what evidence was collected.

Police are asking anyone who may have noticed anything suspicious at either the Inner Drive or Oaklawn Avenue sites to contact them at 355-7397.

Such a horrific crime is unusual for Rotterdam, according to police.

“There’s been nothing of that nature in my 16 years,” Brown said.

The town’s last homicide came when the body of Crystal Glasper was found under the back porch of a Cedarlawn Avenue drug house in December 2004. No one has ever been charged in Glasper’s death, though authorities have named two suspects, both of whom are serving long drug sentences.

The latest killings were a shock for the relatively quiet Coldbrook neighborhood. The victims’ house is less than a mile from the vacant Curry Road Shopping Plaza.

Dan Taylor of 1001 Inner Circle said neither he nor his wife saw anything unusual Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. He was still in shock over the deaths. He estimated that the family had lived there at least 30 years.

“They’re great people. They’re friendly to everybody,” he said.

Jessica McCormack graduated from Mohonasen Central School in 2009, then attended Schenectady County Community College, where she was on the dean’s list in the spring and fall of 2010. She also attended the University at Albany for one semester in the fall of 2011, according to college records.

Brad McCormack owns Lyle’s Hoagies on upper State Street in Schenectady. He took over the business after his father Keith’s death from a heart attack in 2009. Keith McCormack had been a partner in the business.

A second daughter, Marie, lives in Arizona, and attends Arizona State University, according to her Facebook page. She is to graduate with a master’s degree in May, according to the page.

Brice Rivenburgh attended Mohonasen until the fall of 2001, according to district spokeswoman Adrienne Leon. His Facebook site claims he works as a stock manager for Lowe’s in Mooresville, N.C., though an employee there didn’t recall anyone with that name. His interests include movies and the New York Giants.

No attorney was listed for Rivenburgh in town court Thursday. He is due back in court Monday.

Both the Inner Drive murder scene and Rivenburgh’s residence remained taped off Thursday, with police holding both scenes. Inner Drive in front of the McCormack’s home also remained blocked off.

On Oaklawn Avenue, the Rivenburgh home had a wreath on the front door and a light on in what appeared to be the dining room. Next door, a neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he first saw police at the home about 5 or 6 p.m. Wednesday, but didn’t ask why they were there.

The man said he’d known Rivenburgh and his mother, Verna “Joanie” Rivenburgh, for years.

“He was a quiet kid,” the man said. “He was here, when he had a job, he would go to work, never bothered us really.”

The younger Rivenburgh has been arrested at least twice, records show, once last year in Scotia and once in 2010 in Rotterdam.

Scotia police charged Rivenburgh on Sept. 25, 2011 with fourth-degree criminal mischief after he threw a glass bottle at someone’s car on Third Street. He wasn’t arrested until October 2012 because police were not able to locate him, according to Scotia Police Chief Pete Frisoni.

Rivenburgh pleaded guilty in December 2012 to a reduced charge of attempted fourth-degree criminal mischief and paid $405 in fines, according to the village court clerk’s office.

Rivenburgh was also arrested in July 2010 in Rotterdam and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.25 percent or more, driving while intoxicated, failure to keep right and consuming alcohol in a vehicle. He paid a $500 fine in satisfaction of all charges.

 
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