We’re taking a time-traveling journey back to December 2006 in the sunny land of Phoenix, Arizona. Our protagonists? A young couple, Ryan Waller and his girlfriend of eight months, Heather Quan. Now, these lovebirds were planning to spend some quality time together during the holiday season. But here’s where things take a seriously dark turn.
Fast forward to the day after Christmas – December 26th. Both families expected to hear from Ryan and Heather because, well, it’s the holiday season, right? But silence reigned, which got Ryan’s father worried. He decided to do a wellness check at their house. What he saw through the window sent shivers down his spine – a lifeless body on the couch. Panic mode activated! The police were called, but instead of breaking in, they waited for a search warrant. Little did they know, it wasn’t necessary.
Now, here’s where it gets bizarre. Ryan and Heather’s roommate, Alicia, arrived home during this waiting game. She went straight to her room, oblivious to the horror in the living room. The police knocked again, Alicia answered, and they finally entered the house. What they found inside was nothing short of a nightmare. Heather Quan, just 21 years old, lay lifeless on the couch. Ryan, on the other hand, was there, alive but with a massive black eye and dried blood on his face. Suspicion fell on him immediately, with the police thinking it was a domestic dispute gone horribly wrong. Ryan was taken into custody while they processed the scene.
After spending four agonizing hours in the back of a police car, Ryan was finally taken to the station. It’s around 5:00 a.m. now, and they start a lengthy interrogation. Imagine this: Ryan, wearing a white jumpsuit (probably confiscated by the police), fidgeting in his chair with a severely bruised eye. His discomfort is palpable as he shifts and moans softly, almost like he’s got a killer headache – and with that bruise, who could blame him? Now, imagine waiting for nine long minutes in that room, cuffed to a table, trying to make sense of it all. Ryan starts reading a piece of paper on the table, anything to distract himself. Finally, someone enters the room, takes some pictures of his injuries, and even tells him he’ll eventually get some sleep. The lead detective, Paul Dalton, tries to make small talk, asking if Ryan’s seen cop shows or lawyer dramas. Ryan’s response? “I don’t know.” Yeah, it’s that kind of bizarre.
As the interrogation continues, Ryan’s speech becomes slurred, and he can’t answer questions directly. It’s a puzzle, really. The detective tries to extract information about what happened to his face, and all Ryan can muster is, “I don’t know.” It’s a frustrating cycle of confusion, and you can’t help but feel for the guy. Things take a strange turn when Ryan starts mentioning someone named Christina. Detective Dalton searches through the paperwork, trying to find any mention of this Christina character. Ryan stumbles through an explanation, tripping over his words before saying Christina was helping Heather with her hair.
And the rollercoaster of weirdness doesn’t stop there. Ryan keeps changing his story, mentioning people named Richie and his dad, claiming they came over and shot him and Heather with arrows, then revolvers. It’s like a script from a fever dream – utterly unbelievable. And then, the bombshell drops – Ryan says that Richie shot Heather. Ryan’s confusion continues as he suggests that Heather’s dad came and shot her. He even accuses Alicia, their roommate, of giving him that nasty eye injury instead of Heather. It’s like watching a surreal puzzle with pieces that just won’t fit.
At this point, you’d think Ryan might not be fully aware of what happened. But when Detective Dalton mentions that Heather is dead, surprise registers in Ryan’s voice. It’s like he’s piecing it together slowly. Suddenly, Ryan introduces new characters to the mix, claiming Richie and his dad came over on Christmas night and shot them with revolvers. The story becomes increasingly unbelievable. The detective is clearly skeptical but continues to listen as Ryan spins his strange tale.
Finally, after an hour of this bewildering interrogation, Dalton decides to examine Ryan’s injuries more closely. He inspects Ryan’s wounds, checks his face, and finally, they arrange for him to go to the hospital. But the damage is done. Ryan had been sitting there for over six hours without medical attention.
At the hospital, the grim truth emerges. Ryan had indeed been shot in the face. The bullet had entered his left side, causing brain swelling and lodging a bullet splinter behind his left eye. Additional damage came from bone fragments in his brain. He also had a broken jaw from being tackled during his arrest. An infection in his brain delayed surgery to remove the bullet, and he spent 35 days in the hospital, enduring unbearable seizures afterward.
Now, let’s get to the heart of this twisted tale – who were the monsters responsible for Heather’s death and Ryan’s near-fatal injuries? Richie Carver was arrested first. Initially, there were reports of a personal vendetta between Richie and Ryan, but it turns out they barely knew each other. Richie had a history of assault and domestic violence charges, along with a four-year prison stint for armed robbery. He was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. But here’s where it gets tricky. Richie’s dad, Larry Carver, fled to California after the crime, taking the murder weapon with him. Cheryl, Larry’s wife, initially claimed he confessed to the murders upon returning. However, she later recanted her statement, leading to Larry’s acquittal due to spousal testimonial privilege. It’s a legal loophole that protects spouses from testifying against each other in criminal cases for events that occurred during their marriage.
Heather’s family wasn’t about to let this injustice stand. They lobbied for a change, and “Heather’s Law” was born. It amended the marital privilege statute to compel a spouse to testify if they voluntarily provide police with information about the other spouse’s involvement in a serious crime. After a legal battle, Larry Carver was reindicted and ultimately sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2013. But hold onto your hats, folks, because the saga doesn’t end there. There are conflicting accounts about when the attack actually occurred. Ryan’s family and roommates testified that it happened on Christmas night, not the day before, as claimed by the police. Even Heather’s obituary and headstone list her date of death as December 25, 2006. There’s also the suspicion that the police might have altered the timeline to divert attention from their failure to provide timely medical care to Ryan.
Ryan’s family took the Phoenix Police Department to court, seeking $15 million for mishandling the case. However, just weeks before the trial, the case was dismissed, citing an expert opinion that the delay wouldn’t have made a difference to Ryan’s injuries. The Waller family disagrees, and they continue to hope for justice and a reopening of the case against the Phoenix Police Department.
Sadly, Ryan’s story took a tragic turn. He moved back in with his parents due to his ongoing health issues. He suffered regular injuries from seizures, and on January 20, 2016, Don Waller shared the devastating news – his son had passed away as a result of one of his seizures.
As we wrap up this mind-boggling tale, one thing is clear – the people responsible for Heather Quan’s death were held accountable, but it doesn’t erase the nightmare Ryan endured in police custody. Medical treatment should have been a priority, not an afterthought. Looking at those photos of Ryan’s face, it’s evident that he had gunshot wounds. Regardless of guilt or suspicion, he deserved immediate care. Justice might have been served, but the scars of that night linger on.
And so, dear reader, we leave you with this chilling true crime story that left us baffled, frustrated, and horrified. What are your thoughts on this twisted case?