Months after his arrest for allegedly attempting to murder his ex-girlfriend’s father this summer, police say a North Carolina man bonded out of jail and killed her mother.
Michael Steven Ricker, 36, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of 63-year-old Lesa Armstrong Rose, per the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
Ricker was free at the time while facing charges for allegedly shooting Armstrong Rose’s husband in June, which hit him with counts of attempted first-degree murder, shooting into an occupied dwelling and possession of a firearm by felon.
Ricker was initially denied bond on the attempted murder charge but had his bond set at $55,000 for the two additional charges, according to the Hickory Daily Record. WSOC-TV reported, though, that Ricker was released on $25,000 bond 12 days after that arrest.
“I’m very angry at the justice system, especially since they were out there sooner that day [that her mother was killed] and [police] they didn’t do a whole lot to help, which allowed him to still be out there,” Armstrong Rose’s daughter, Amber Rose, told Fox News Digital.
“I think we have a failed justice system – they worry more about the wrong things,” said Rose, who was in a relationship with Ricker for about seven years before things ended. “There’s people in jail for getting caught with meth that have a million dollar bond. But a bond on attempted murder being that low just… makes you question… what goes through their head when they set the bonds, how they feel at night knowing someone’s life could be on the line because they didn’t do what they needed to do.”
Armstrong Rose’s body was recovered on the bathroom floor of her home on Ginger Lane in the town of Maiden on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Lincoln County emergency services, who initially received reports of a cardiac arrest, contacted police after finding that woman had “wounds not consistent with a natural death.”
Rose said that her 17-year-old daughter – who had previously seen Ricker as a father figure before his relationship with her mother deteriorated – was the first to find her grandmother’s badly beaten body in their shared kitchen.
“My parents loved him, my daughter loved him, she was part of our family,” Rose said of her now-incarcerated former boyfriend, who she said she knew since third grade and only became violent within the past three years. “Now, [my daughter] has seen things that nobody should ever see – she walked into a violent crime scene… My mom was basically like a second mom to her – [now] she’s seen the horrors of somebody taking a loved one away.”
“I didn’t know of him being like this. Like I said, the first couple years it was great, we got along great,” she continued. “He got along with my family great. My family treated him as one of the family members, they treated him no different. A lot of times he told us we treated him better than his own family did.”
Rose said her mother was a “caring” and “feisty” woman who “would do anything for her friends and family” and loved country music like Alan Jackson.
The next day, police apprehended Ricker in a shed on the same property, WSOC-TV reported. Somehow, Rose told Fox News Digital, he became trapped inside the structure in the backyard after allegedly killing her mother.
Although Armstrong Rose’s cause of death has yet to be determined, Rose said that pronounced injuries could be clearly seen on her mother’s head. She has already begun the difficult process of reviewing the “very detailed descriptions and timelines” of what happened to her mother at the hands of the man she once trusted.
“I feel we need to hear what happened to start moving forward… [and] just for the simple fact that we plan to be in court and need to prepare ourselves so it’s not a shock,” Rose said. “I’ve informed detectives I would like to know when every court date is – as hard as it’s going to be, I want to be there and confront [Ricker], to see him pay for what he’s done.”
“I feel that if I did not go and stand up in these trials that… I don’t want him to see me weak,” Rose continued, emotional. “This is my last chance to stand up to him and I want to have that.”
Three days before the fatal attack, Rose said in an account confirmed by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, someone “lit [her] car on fire.”
“We don’t have evidence and [Ricker] won’t admit to it. But we know it was him – the car was burned to the ground,” Rose said. “If you light someone’s car on fire at three o’clock in the morning, what’s stopping you from lighting their house on fire?”
Earlier on Oct. 21, before her mother died in the home she shared with her daughter and granddaughter, Rose said Ricker came to the property.
“He ran into me, we got into an argument and he hit me in the back of the head with brass knuckles,” Rose alleged. “I was able to get away and the police couldn’t find him. They told me the best thing I could do would be not to be at home – [Ricker] was obviously after me, they said. So I got my stuff and left… I expected him to hurt me, not my mother.”
Rose said she is still handling “should’ve’s” and “what-ifs” after that night. Her father, Teddy Rose, is also feeling the survivor’s guilty – he was supposed to take Rose’s mother to the store, but instead packed up his daughter and moved her to his house.
“Me and him both have a lot of guilty in our hearts… what if we stayed?” Rose said. “We didn’t expect [Ricker] to escalate to this.”
Rose accused Ricker of beating her in June. After Teddy Rose got wind of it, she said, he called Ricker and the two fought – Rose said her former boyfriend even “bragged” about the attack.
At that point, she said, Ricker drove to her father’s house in Sherrills Ford in Catawba County. Ricker allegedly shot Teddy, who survived.
Ricker was arrested two days later at the Maiden property where he allegedly killed Rose’s mother last week, and where he formerly lived. He was charged with attempted murder, shooting in an occupied dwelling, and criminal possession of a firearm by a felon.
Fox News Digital was unable to determine what Ricker’s former convictions were, though Rose said on Friday that he had previously been arrested for growing marijuana. Although she began her campaign to try to leave Ricker well before the June attack, she said, she never filed charges against him.
The Lincoln County District Attorney’s office would not disclose the magistrate judge who lowered Ricker’s bail to Fox News Digital. A representative from the office said that the Lincoln County DA was not involved in setting the earlier bond amount.
This time, Ricker is being held at Lincoln County Jail without bond, and is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 9, per online jail records. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.
Meanwhile, Rose buried her mother on Friday.
Rose implores other women in abusive relationships not to “overlook red flags” earlier on.
“Don’t think it’s just one time… don’t make excuses for them. Don’t make them think you did anything wrong… No matter what they say, no matter how much they beg and say they’re sorry and cry or how good you think it will be, if somebody cares and loves you they would never put their hands on you.”
“Keep you family safe, with you,” Rose continued. “They’re not always just going to attack you.”