DNA evidence leads to charges in 24-year-old South Seattle murder case


    Victim Kenny Ruffer (Photo: King County Sheriff's Office)

    Prosecutors charged two people Wednesday with the murder of a man found dead in White Center almost 24 years ago.

    Christopher Wright, who also goes by Ceshawn Dade, 52, and Nichole Asphy, 48, were arrested and booked into King County Jail Wednesday morning after detectives said they matched DNA evidence of Wright and witness statements to the shooting of Kenneth Ruffer, 26.

    King County Prosecutors said in an email that "due to the continuing hard work of the King County Sheriff's Office, Christopher Wright and Nicole Asphy have now been charged with Ruffer's murder."

    On Nov. 27, 1995, King County authorities were called to the 200 block of SW 97th Place in White Center on reports of a "suspicious vehicle." They found Ruffer's Chevrolet Tahoe with blood smeared on the side, the engine running and shell casings from .380 caliber bullets on the ground, documents said.

    In the car, Ruffer was found face up and partially clothed with two gunshot wounds in the back of the head, documents said. Rice or grits were scattered all over the car.

    Documents said that detectives interviewed several of Ruffer's associates, including Asphy and those who knew her, and Wright.

    His girlfriend told them he was a known drug dealer who always wore gold jewelry. Detectives determined through the course of events on the day before his murder that Ruffer had a large amount of cash in his wallet.

    He had no jewelry or cash on him when he was found dead.

    In 2003, an inmate at the Federal Holding Facility in SeaTac told police that he used to buy cocaine from Asphy and she told him about the murder and what led up to it, documents said.

    Allegedly, Asphy told him in 1995 that she set Ruffer, who was supposed to have $80,000 on him, up for the robbery. She told Wright and a second suspect, who was murdered in 2001, he was an "easy target." She told him that they shot Ruffer twice.

    Asphy told detectives that at the time she and Ruffer were in an intimate relationship. The night before his murder he had been at her place gambling with her and associates. Ruffer and Asphy went out to breakfast in the morning and he passed out in his SUV on the way home while she drove. She said she left him in the vehicle outside her house.

    She was living in the 9000 block of Olson Place SW, about a six minute walk from where Ruffer was found dead.

    Interviews with the then-girlfriends of Wright and the now-deceased second suspect confirmed the two men had run to the former's house after the murder, with blood on their clothes and a semi-automatic pistol.

    Documents said the two women were told to throw the gun into the Green/Duwamish River. The second suspect threw a plastic bag containing his bloody clothes and shoes into a ravine behind Wright's house. Documents said the man had been wearing Converse shoes, blue khaki pants and a light-colored shirt.

    Detectives searched the ravine in 2011 and found a plastic bag with the remnants of Converse shoes and some blue fabric inside.

    Prints were found on the driver's side rear door of Ruffer's Tahoe that matched the second suspect. Further DNA analysis from an examination of Ruffer's pants created a DNA profile that matched Wright.

    Wright and Asphy remain in jail on charges of first-degree murder with $1,000,000 bail each. They have an arraignment hearing on Feb. 25.

    SeattlePI.com is a media partner with KOMO News.

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