‘I wish there was some way we can undo this:’ St. Paris man says at sentencing

A St. Paris man apologized to the family of a Champaign County woman during his sentencing hearing for his role in trying to cover up her death

“I am truly sorry to Whitney’s family... I don’t blame you for hating me, you don’t hate me as much as I do,” Rodney Rider, 54, said during his sentencing. “I’m sorry. I wish there was some way we can undo this.”

Rider was sentenced to 36 months in prison and a $750 fine in connection to the death of Whitney Hostler, his son’s ex-girlfriend. He appeared before Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Nick Selvaggio on Monday.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Hostler’s mother, Kim Long, and sister, Chelsea Hostler, addressed Rider during the hearing.

“You took someone who meant the world to us. You took your granddaughter’s mother away from her,” Chelsea Hostler said. “Prison will never be enough because we can’t replace Whitney.”

Rider pleaded guilty in November to tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and possession of criminal tools, court records show. Since then, he had remained in the Tri-County Regional Jail with a cash-only $500,000 bond.

Hostler, 25, was reported missing on Oct. 1 after she had not been in contact with family or friends, and was last seen on Sept. 30, according to the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies 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.

Hostler shared a two-year-old child with the couple’s son, Randy Rider.

Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said during sentencing that Rodney Rider “regrets getting involved and wishes it would have never happened,” but “is not generally remorseful” and had a “callous and uncaring attitude” in his involvement.

Talebi requested the court impose a consecutive prison sentence.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Defense Attorney Christopher Bucci said Rodney Rider “is remorseful and sorry for what he’s done” and “accepts responsibility for it.”

“He’s sickened and saddened for what he’s done... he’s sickened and saddened for the role he played,” he said.

Bucci requested the court impose a maximum community control sanction of five years so that Rodney Rider “can continue with trying to deal with his physical health issues and the harm that he did cause Whitney’s family.”

Rider was sentenced to 24 months and a $500 fine for the tampering with evidence and obstructing justice charges and to 12 months and a $250 fine for the possession of criminal tools charge, a total of 36 months with 158 days of jail credit, and a total $750 fine. After his prison sentence, he will then be on post release control supervision which is the same as parole, for up to three years. He is subject to 18 additional months in prison if he violates that post release.

Valerie Rider, 52, was found guilty on Feb. 25 following her trial for murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, gross abuse of a corpse and three counts of possession of criminal tools. She was found not guilty of aggravated murder.

She is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. on April 1.

Rodney Rider, Randy Rider and the couple’s other three children, testified during Valerie Rider’s trial.

Rodney Rider testified that he saw his wife dragging a duffle bag, with Hostler inside, across the floor of their house after he woke up from a nap. When he asked what she was doing, she said she and Whitney had an argument and she was dead. The couple later put the duffle bag in their truck and drove around for hours until they found a place to dispose of it, according to his testimony.

While deciding the sentence, Selvaggio said he took into consideration the whole case as well as Rider’s health issues that he’s had for at least 20 years, the family dynamic and his role in the investigation.

Rodney Rider’s “testimony was critical in the successful prosecution (of Valerie Rider)” and that is “resentful of the position Valerie Rider put him in,” the judge said.

Selvaggio said Rider “shows genuine remorse for his offenses,” but that a “prison term is warranted.”

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