Trace Riff once traveled the world and shared the stage with some of the modeling industry’s biggest names, but now the 31-year-old’s life has taken a drastic turn.
Riff is charged with felony attempted aggravated battery after allegedly kicking a 1-year-old black boy to the ground, shouting the “N-word,” and repeatedly claiming to be a white supremacist at a Kansas grocery store late last month, according to local newspaper Wichita Eagle.
Riff appeared in court in Sedgwick County Monday and mumbled incoherently before clearly announcing he understood the charges being filed against him.
Riff is accused of kicking a young toddler in the back and knocking the small child to the ground while the boy shopped with his family at a local Dillions grocery store on Dec. 23, KAKE reports.
Witnesses reported the man yelled obscenities and racial slurs at the time. He was initially charged with less serious charges, before prosecutors decided to charge him with the felony attempted aggravated battery charge. Riff is also facing interference with law enforcement charges and two counts of disorderly conduct for the incident that day after he reportedly struggled with a Wichita police officer trying to arrest him, Wichita Eagle reports.
He was arrested again on Jan. 3 after someone reported the door to a vacant apartment had been forced open. When officers arrived at the scene, they found Riff in the apartment and arrested him for criminal trespass, possession of meth, and unlawful abuse of toxic vapors KAKE reports.
The mother of the young boy, Lashantai Whitaker, told the Wichita Eagle that she was pleased the more serious charges had been filed.
“I am happy,” she said, “because I thought they were going to blow it off.”
Riff’s family said that while the former model was once modeling alongside Gisele Bündchen in Harper’s Bazaar and traveling across Europe, drug use and mental health issues derailed his career. They say he’s been homeless for years.
“Everyone in the family has tried to help Trace, but the problem is bigger than us. It seems like that Trace can maintain for a short amount of time, and then he just goes off,” his grandmother Twila LaRue told The Wichita Eagle in an earlier article.
She said the racially charged comments Riff is accused of making don’t make sense for the man she knows, especially because Riff has some black family members.
She also said her grandson, who was once a “real pretty boy,” headed to New York at the age of 18 to model, but eventually fell into drug use.
“I think he just wants to be out of reality,” she told the paper.
His older brother Jeremy Seven told the paper there was “no justification” for what his brother is accused of doing.
“He has reached bottom,” he said. “The sad thing is, no one knows what to do with him.”
[Photo: Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxgen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.