The trial opened with Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Talebi stating the evidence will show that Rider admitted to killing Whitney Hostler, 25, while Defense Attorney Gregory Harvey stated the defendant will proclaim her innocence.
Hostler was reported missing Oct. 1, 2020, after she missed an appointment and had not been in contact with family or friends, according to the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office. She was last seen around 6 p.m. Sept. 30 leaving her residence in western Champaign County.
The sheriff’s office found Hostler’s body in a wooded ravine near Kiser Lake Road. The investigation into Hostler’s death led them to Valerie and Rodney Rider, who were arrested Oct. 2.
Rodney Rider testified Monday afternoon that he woke up from a nap to discover his wife dragging a duffle bag into the house, which he said he opened and saw Hostler inside. He testified the couple put the body in their truck and then drove around for hours trying to find a place to dispose of her body, eventually leaving it in a wooded ravine near Kiser Lake Road.
Rodney Rider pleaded guilty in November to tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and possession of criminal tools, court records show. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 8. He remains in the Tri-County Regional Jail with a $500,000 cash-only bond.
Their son Randy Rider took the witness stand Monday ahead of his father . He testified he and Hostler, who was his ex-girlfriend at the time, had been living with his parents for about three years along with their 2-year-old daughter.
Randy Rider said on the morning of Sept. 30 he came home and he and Hostler got into an argument before she grabbed their daughter, went to their bedroom and started packing as she was planning to move out. At that time, Randy Rider said his mother went into the bedroom and started arguing with Hostler.
Randy Rider testified that his father eventually told him to leave because Hostler did not want him there.The younger Rider said he left and went to a friend’s house in Springfield. He and his friend went to the Urbana Police Department and requested a wellness check on Hostler after no one had heard from her during the day, Randy Rider testified.
Rodney Rider testified that he woke up that morning to his wife and Hostler arguing in the bedroom. He said he went into the living room to talk to his son , who he said was laughing about the situation. At that time, he said his wife called him into the bedroom where Hostler said she would stay if Randy Rider left. That’s when Rodney Rider said he told his son to leave..
Rodney Rider testified that it was several hours later when he woke up and saw his wife dragging the duffle bag.
Rodney Rider testified that after disposing of Hostler’s body, the couple returned home between midnight and 1 a.m. Oct. 1. Deputies were there looking for them and Hostler. They questioned the couple first at home and then later at the sheriff’s office. They were questioned again later that day and arrested around 4:30 a.m. Oct. 2.
The trial is expected to continue Tuesday before Judge Nick Selvaggio.