Cold Case Files: A Former Dallas Cowboy Murdered

Was the death of Colin Ridgway a murder-for-hire plot?

On the night of May 13, 1993, former Dallas Cowboys punter Colin Ridgway was shot eight times at close range after returning to his University Park home. Ridgway—an Olympic high jumper and the first Australian to play in the NFL—had been living in Texas since college and had been married for 15 years.

His wife, Joan Jackson, was watering flowers in the back, she later said, and did not hear the gunshots. Police were suspicious of Jackson from the start and pursued a theory that Ridgway’s death was a murder-for-hire plot, and that she was behind it. The case lacked evidence, however, and eventually unraveled. Jackson walked free.

Three years later, another puzzle piece surfaced: Kenneth Bicking, a known criminal who was linked financially to Jackson, happened to be in Texas on the night of Ridgway’s murder, and was turned in by his own wife. Police felt they were on the brink of a breakthrough. But the evidence was circumstantial. His charges, too, were thrown out.

In 2011, when DNA testing had improved, the University Park police sent untested evidence from the crime scene, along with Bicking’s DNA, to an FBI lab in Michigan, sure that this would hold their answer. But the samples didn’t match—and 22 years on, Ridgway’s death remains unsolved. 

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