3 charged in SC murder of Fultonham man
By David Avitabile
Three South Carolina men have been arrested in the shooting death of a Fultonham man who was driving a milk truck down south last week.
Jason Rivenburg, 35, of Tetterbark Road was found shot to death Saturday morning inside a tractor-trailer he was driving in South Carolina.
Mr. Rivenburg apparently stopped to rest at a closed down gas station off Interstate 26 in Calhoun County, South Carolina on Thursday at about 10:30pm, said Calhoun County Sheriff Thomas Summers.
Mr. Rivenburg was apparently shot during a robbery attempt, Sheriff Summer said. The robber apparently only got $7.
Two men were arrested in connection with the murder on Saturday and another was arrested on Sunday, Sheriff Summers said.
Mr. Rivenburg, a part-time driver for VanderVeen Trucking in Delanson was hauling organic milk when he parked his 18-wheeler Thursday night to rest when he was shot through the window, police said, as he was talking on a cell phone.
Mr. Rivenburg was supposed to call in Friday morning and representatives of the truck company reported the truck missing Friday night, police said.
A local citizen reported he saw the interior light of the truck on at about 5am Saturday and reported the incident to police, Sheriff Summers said.
Police conducted an intensive investigation from 5am Saturday through midnight Sunday making three arrests, the Sheriff said.
The coroner said Mr. Rivenburg died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Sheriff Summers said Monday afternoon that Willie Pelzer, 22, who is on parole for grand larceny, was arrested Saturday and allegedly was the shooter.
Mr. Pelzer was charged with murder, police said.
Mr. Pelzer, Sheriff Summers said, apparently did not plot the crime but “just happened to see the truck at the station and thought to himself, ‘What an easy target.’”
Also arrested Saturday was Jim Haygood, 21, while Willie Reed, 21, was arrested on Sunday, Sheriff Summers said.
Neither Mr. Haywood nor Mr. Reed were at the scene of the murder but helped Mr. Pelzer dispose of the gun and come up with an alibi, the Sheriff said.
The two men were charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder, Sheriff Summers said.
Money was found by police in the truck and Sheriff Summers said police were not sure if the robbers “got away with anything.”
Mr. Rivenburg, a 1991 graduate of Schoharie Central School, worked for the trucking company in 2003 and returned a few weeks ago when he was laid off from his job as an equipment operator, said Frank VanderVeen, owner of the trucking company.
Mr. Rivenburg expected to be called back to his job in April, Mr. VanderVeen said Monday.
The run down south is a weekly route and one that Mr. Rivenburg had done the week before, Mr. VanderVeen said.
He added that he spoke to Mr. Rivenburg on Thursday morning and expected to hear from him again at 8am on Friday.
When Mr. Rivenburg did not call in, Mr. VanderVeen said he called Mr. Rivenburg’s cell phone at abut 8:30am and the call went right to voice mail.
“I thought that was strange,” Mr. VanderVeen said.
Later Friday morning, Mr. VanderVeen said he called Mr. Rivenburg’s wife, who is expecting twins very soon. Mr. Rivenburg also leaves behind a 23-month-old son.
Mr. Rivenburg’s wife also had not heard from Mr. Rivenburg and was getting nervous, Mr. VanderVeen said.
He contacted police near where Mr. Rivenburg was supposed to make his last stop and was told that the truck had not made its scheduled stop in South Carolina.
Mr. VanderVeen said he then called the State Police in South Carolina.
Mr. VanderVeen said he heard about the shooting death on Saturday and about the arrests over the weekend.
“They got them, thank God,” he said.
Mr. VanderVeen said he traveled to South Carolina to retrieve the truck.
One vent window was shot out and police had to remove some of the upholstery to retrieve bullets, Mr. VanderVeen said.
Mr. Rivenburg did not carry a wallet, Mr. VanderVeen said.
Mr. VanderVeen said he had given Mr. Rivenburg some cash and a credit card for expenses and the thieves apparently did not find them.
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The friends of Jason and Hope Rivenburg have set up a memorial trust fund at TrustCo Bank. Contributions in Mr. Rivenburg’s name can be made to any TrustCo Bank. The fund was set up for Hope and the Rivenburg children.