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Ohio Woman Kills Son’s Girlfriend After She Threatens to Take Away Granddaughter
“What sticks out to me from the whole story at this time is [Whitney’s] own daughter, the 2-year-old child, is in the vehicle with them when they’re trying to get rid of Whitney’s body,” said reporter Denae D’Arcy on Snapped.
An Ohio woman committed a horrifying crime while tormented by the thought of losing access to her 2-year-old granddaughter. Valerie Rider was convicted of strangling her son’s girlfriend, 25-year-old Whitney Hostler, and then dumping her body down a hill into a ravine with the help of her husband, Rodney Rider Sr.
“The Riders seemed to have their whole world wrapped up in that granddaughter,” Eric Holmes, Champaign Co. Sheriff’s Chief Deputy, said on Snapped. “I do believe that Valerie believed that she needed to control that situation.”
As suspicion for the murder fell on her own son, Randy, Valerie Rider also threw him under the bus to prosecutors. But how did the relationship between the Rider family and Hostler get so bad that Valerie was willing to kill to keep her granddaughter?
What happened the day Whitney Hostler was reported missing?
A little after midnight on Oct. 1, 2020, Randy Rider showed up at the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, a little north of Dayton, Ohio, to report his girlfriend, Whitney Hostler, missing.
“You could tell he was genuinely worried about her well-being,” said Daniel Fischer, former Champaign Co. Sheriff’s Deputy, on Snapped.
Randy described a fight between himself and Hostler around 11 a.m. on Sept. 30, in the home they shared in St. Paris, Ohio with his parents, Rodney Sr. and Valerie Rider, as well as Randy and Hostler’s 2-year-old daughter. Randy told deputies he left the home after the fight, but his mother and Hostler kept arguing. He hadn’t heard from Hostler in 12 hours.
Deputies went to the Rider home to do a welfare check for Hostler, and discovered she, her daughter, and the Rider parents were not at home, but Randy’s brother, Rodney Jr., was there.
“[Rodney Jr.] stated they were going for a drive to look for hunting spots, and they were taking the 2-year-old with them,” said Denae D’Arcy, reporter, on Snapped. “But six to seven hours later, they still weren’t home.”
Finding it suspicious that the Riders would take their toddler granddaughter out with them in the middle of the night, they waited for the Riders to come home. When they returned, they had their 2-year-old granddaughter with them, but there was no sign of Whitney Hostler.
Valerie Rider told deputies Hostler had been picked up by a friend the previous afternoon, and claimed she’d gotten a text from Hostler that she’d be gone for a while.
The couple insisted they’d been out looking for deer hunting locations. Still, deputies searched their truck.
“I looked in the bed cap, and I could see in the bed that there were wadded up trash bags with duct tape stuck to them … I pull open those trash bags and I see large clumps of blonde hair stuck in the duct tape,” Fischer said. “We knew that Whitney was a blonde female … when I saw the duct tape and the hair, I just had that feeling that this was not going to end well.”
Deputies found a nearly empty roll of duct tape in Randy Rider’s room in the home. They also found a dolly with the wheels covered in wet mud in the truck bed, as well as a rubber glove and a single women’s flip flop.
Valerie Ride claimed been cleaning that day, and cleaning up hair was normal in their home.
The Rider family was taken to the sheriff’s office for questioning.
Valerie told deputies after her son left, Hostler packed up her things and left with a friend, leaving her child behind.
Both Valerie and Rodney Sr. denied killing Hostler.
What did Randy Rider tell police happened the day his girlfriend disappeared?
When Randy Rider was questioned again about what happened the day Hostler disappeared, he offered more details to deputies, including that Hostler was leaving with his daughter.
“I heard Whitney in my room saying, like, ‘We won’t ever see her,’ and that she was taking me to court for child support and all that,” Randy said in police interview. “Saying that she hates our family and that we’re disgusting.”
Randy admitted losing their granddaughter from their home would be a blow to his parents.
“According to Randy, Rodney Sr. and Valerie had the baby with them virtually all the time,” Holmes said. “They were the caretakers of that child. The child would frequently sleep in their room with them. Everything in his parents’ world revolved around that little girl.”
Randy told deputies he heard Whitney yelling at his mother in his bedroom, then it was silent. That’s when his father left the bedroom.
“He grabbed me by my wrists, he pulled me up, he said, literally word for word told me, ‘You need to leave for a few days and make sure everyone knows where you’re at,’” Randy said in police interview. “In my head, I took it as I needed, like, an alibi or something. He looked like he’d just walked in and seen something that he probably never thought he’d ever see.”
Hostler’s sister and mother told law enforcement she suffered from postpartum depression after her daughter was born, and struggled to care for her. They added that Hostler had many problems with her daughter’s grandparents, and was supposed to move out of the Rider home into her own apartment with her daughter the day she disappeared.
“Whitney had issues with Valerie, on the point that she was trying to take over her daughter,” Kimberly Long, Hostler’s mother, said on Snapped. “And keep her for herself. At one time, she wanted Whitney and Randy to sign her over to them. So they could raise her. Because I guess they felt that Whitney and Randy wasn’t capable enough of raising her, which was so false. So false.”
How did Rodney Rider Sr. turn against his wife, Valerie?
In the afternoon of Oct. 1, 2020, a man called 911 in Champaign County to report a woman laying face down at the bottom of a ravine near Kiser Lake State Park. The body was identified as belonging to the missing Whitney Hostler. The medical examiner determined Hostler had been strangled.
When deputies questioned the Riders a second time, Rodney Sr. admitted his wife murdered Hostler. He alleged he’d been napping and woke up to the argument. When he went into Hostler’s room, Hostler was laying on the bed with a bag over her head, his wife beside her.
“Valerie put her in a trash bag … I couldn’t do it,” Rodney Sr. told deputies.
He admitted to helping his wife carry the body to the truck, and helping to take the body to the state park.
Valerie, meanwhile, said she struggled with Hostler, and at some point realized she wasn’t breathing, but claimed to not know how a bag got on her head.
In December 2020, Rodney Rider Sr. took a plea deal for obstructing justice and tampering with evidence and was sentenced to 36 months in prison. He was released from prison on March 28, 2023.
When Valerie Rider went on trial in February 2021, her husband and son, Randy, were witnesses for the prosecution. The glove located in the truck turned out to be crucial evidence. Hostler’s DNA was found on the outside of the glove, while Valerie’s DNA was found on the inside.
Valerie’s defense team, meanwhile, argued her son Randy was the one who killed Hostler.
“Wanting to put her own son under the bus to save her own skin, yeah, what mother does that?” Long said. “That’s no mother to me … she denied it all the way to the end.”
On Feb. 25, 2021, a jury found Valerie Rider guilty of murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse. She was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison. She’ll be eligible for parole in 2041.
Her son, Randy, was never charged in connection to the murder.
“She didn’t show any type of remorse,” Chelsea Hostler, Whitney’s sister, said on Snapped. “She just acted like she would never hurt my sister. But, she did.”
Chelsea Hostler was given custody of her niece.
Watch all-new episodes of Snapped on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen and the next day on Peacock.