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Cops and Courts

'I killed my parents': Virginia homicide suspect arrested in Avon (VIDEO, UPDATED)

  • Raff-jpg

    Robert Raff



AVON — Avon police confirmed that they arrested a Virginia man wanted for the killing of his parents.

Robert Raff, 53, of Midlothian, Virginia, was arrested Saturday evening following a traffic stop about 9:20 p.m. on state Route 83 near GooGoo Express car wash in Avon. A man had called police after seeing Raff driving a Honda Accord with no lights, no license plate and a missing rear tire.

In talking to dispatcher Jennifer Dyke, the caller said he had tried to talk to Raff, who was stopped and looking in the passenger side of his own vehicle with a flashlight.

“He asked us if there were any hotels in the area, and we said we aren’t from around here,” the caller said. “And I started walking toward his car and said ‘What’s wrong with your car?’ and he said ‘Don’t worry about it man, don’t worry about it.’”

According to body cam footage from Avon Officer Troy Goscewski, the first to arrive on scene, Raff cooperates with police, telling him he doesn’t have any “booby traps” on him, but cries while telling Goscewski he is afraid. Raff was wearing body armor and he tells police he has a compass, “work tool” and ax on him.

“Officer, I have things to confess to you,” Raff said as he was being handcuffed.

An officer asks, “What’s that?”

“I, I killed my parents,” Raff tells him.

According to a report from Virginia law enforcement, police arrived at Raff’s parents’ house on Castle Hollow road at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday for a welfare check to find Raff’s father, Jan Ralph, 86, dead.

Raff’s mother, Victoria Sophia Ralph, 79, was later found dead in the home as well.

Raff goes on to say to Avon police he was “very frightened” of being locked up by his parents and had an altercation with his father, Jan Ralph.

“I got into a confrontation ... If you want me (to) I can tell you what happened,” he said. “OK so I’ve been recently recovered from (post-traumatic stress disorder). And I’ve been noticing really strange things about their behavior, and also it goes very deep with those two.”

He goes on to say his father worked for the United Nations for 30 years, later telling officers that Jan Ralph tortured him psychologically and subjected him to “extreme sexual abuse as a child,” as well as using him as a “political pawn” to get ahead in his job at the United Nations. He said he was afraid his parents were plotting to kill him for the insurance money.

When an officer asks him how he ended up in Avon, a roughly eight hour drive from Midlothian, he said he was running away from trouble but was lost and didn’t know “how to get out of this bungle of where I am in terms of geography.” He guessed he was somewhere around Lake Erie or Kent State University.

“And you know I wanted to get far enough away and I’m not — you know there’s no way you can evade the police,” Raff said. “I work with computers, I know there’s no way to evade a factual truth.”

He adds later, “I’m very happy to be in your custody, I’m terrified of being shot out here.”

During the traffic stop he repeatedly tells police he’s afraid of being shot and has seen a lot of “very frightening people” including “Latin gangs.”

Officers found survival gear in his vehicle, and a stun gun on his person. Raff tells them there is a medical bag in the car but no medication in it, as he had “finally recovered from the mental drugs they had me on for decades.”

A warrant was issued for Raff through the Chesterfield County Police Department. He was transported to the Lorain County Sherriff’s Office, pending extradition to Virginia.

Web Editor Vince Guerrieri contributed to this report.

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or

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