Residents of Trigg County are coping with a tragic loss in the aftermath of a shooting that left three members of the Champion family dead.
Last Sunday, Kentucky State Police found the bodies of 62-year-old B. Lindsey Champion, 60-year-old Joy A. Champion, and 31-year-old Emily K. Champion at the family’s residence. An unrelated fourth victim was also found and identified as 22-year-old Vito Y. Riservato of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Lindsey and Joy’s son Ryan Champion was also present at the house, but survived.
KSP Spokesperson Trooper First Class Jay Thomas said an investigation is underway and troopers are trying to determine the relationship between Riservato, who suspected in the shooting deaths, and the Champion family. Thomas said they believe Riservato lived in Hopkinsville. According to his Facebook page, Riservato was a Hopkinsville High School graduate and was employed by the companies of Metalsa and Martinrea.
According to Thomas, Riservato could have been introduced to the family sometime last week but may have known some of the family for longer. Autopsies were originally scheduled for Monday but were conducted in Madisonville Tuesday. Thomas says he can’t release information concerning Ryan Champion as he is being treated as a witness/victim.
Trigg County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development Janeen Tramble knew Joy and Emily through their involvement in 4-H. She remembers Emily as a child.
“I had Emily in 4-H for 10 years, she was very active in the 4-H horse project,” Tramble said. “She also completed the veterinary science project and then went on to be a vet. I was so proud of her!”
Dr. Emily Champion was a 2001 graduate of Trigg County High School, 2004 graduate of West Kentucky University, and graduated Auburn University in 2008 as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She practiced at Baronne Veterinary Clinic in Sunset, Louisiana.
Tramble said Emily’s mother, Joy, served as the 4-H Horse Club leader for several years on top of teaching 4th grade students at Trigg County Intermediate School. Tramble credits Joy the existence of Trigg’s farm safety program, which is still an annual event 12 years later.
“Joy was my daughter’s favorite teacher and now my daughter is a 5th grade teacher at Trigg County Intermediate School,” Tramble said. “As you can see, the Champions had a huge impact on our community in areas of agriculture, education, and with 4-H. They are dearly loved and will be dearly missed in this community.”
Joy and Lindsey Champion attended the Cadiz Church of Christ where Randall Evans is preacher. Evans had known the Champions for about 7 years. He said Lindsey was a church elder and preached in his place just last week.
“He was a shepherd of the flock. He was somebody we looked to for guidance. Lindsey was involved in virtually every aspect of the church,” Evans said.
He said Joy taught his daughter’s bible class and the Champions were active and loved in their county.
Evans said, “Lindsey had a truck he had fixed up and he worked on the farm. Even though he was retired he was still working on the farm and busy doing those things. Joy liked animals. They had things they liked to do but really a lot of their free time was spent doing work for the church and just being involved in the community.”
According to Evans, there has been an outpouring of love and support from the community, and he says many people have visited with grieving family and church members to pray for and comfort them.
Ryan Champion, the sole survivor of the shooting, told Nashville’s WSMV-TV that while his family was being attacked he was waiting for an opportunity to “turn the tables” on Riservato. He said it is hard for him to return to his parents’ house where his family was killed and he said he believes he survived because Riservato did not see him as a threat.
Funeral services will be handled by Goodwin Funeral Home of Cadiz. Arrangements are incomplete at this time.