Rae Carruth
BornRae Lamar Wiggins
(1974-01-20) January 20, 1974 (age 46)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Alias(es)Rae Theotis Carruth
Charge(s)Conspiracy to commit first degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, using an instrument to destroy an unborn child
Conviction(s)January 22, 2001
Penalty18 years, 11 months
StatusReleased from prison on October 22, 2018
OccupationFormer professional football player (1997–99)
ParentsTheodry Carruth (mother)
Samuel Carruth (stepfather)
Charles Wiggins (father)

Rae Theotis Carruth[1][2] (born Rae Lamar Wiggins; January 20, 1974) is an American convicted felon and former football wide receiver. After playing college football at Colorado, Carruth was drafted in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL) and spent three seasons with the team.

In 2001, he was found guilty of conspiring to murder his then-girlfriend Cherica Adams, who was pregnant with his child. Including pre-trial confinement, he served 18 years of an 18–24 year prison sentence at the Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina, and was released on October 22, 2018.[3]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Carruth attended Valley High School. He was accepted on a football scholarship to the University of Colorado Boulder.

College career[edit | edit source]

He played four seasons for the Buffaloes and was named a first-team All-America in 1996. His quarterbacks at CU were future pros Koy Detmer and Kordell Stewart. Carruth earned his degree with a double major in English.[4]

Professional career[edit | edit source]

Carruth was a first-round draft pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, taken by the Carolina Panthers with the 27th overall selection. He signed a four-year, $3.7 million deal that included a $1.3 million signing bonus.[5]

Carruth had a respectable rookie season in 1997 and started 14 games. Wearing uniform number 89, he caught 44 passes for 545 yards and four touchdown passes, tied for first among rookie receivers. He was named to the all-rookie team at wide receiver.[6]

He broke his right foot in the opening game of 1998, and did not catch another pass that season due to the injury. He ended the year with four catches for 59 yards (all on opening day). He played in the first six games of the 1999 season, with 14 catches for 200 yards.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

During Carruth's sophomore year at Colorado, his girlfriend, Michelle Wright, gave birth to their son Raelondo.[2] Carruth all but neglected Raelondo until Wright sued him for child support. Wright later testified that Carruth agreed to pay $2,700 in child support, half of what he was ordered to pay by a judge, on condition that he be a better father, something he failed to do.[7]

Crimes[edit | edit source]

On November 16, 1999, near Carruth's home in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cherica Adams, a real estate agent he had been casually dating, was shot four times by Van Brett Watkins Sr., a night club manager and an associate of Carruth. Adams managed to call 911, and said that Carruth had stopped his vehicle in front of hers, and that another vehicle drove alongside and its passenger had shot her. Carruth then drove away from the scene.[8]

Adams was eight months pregnant with Carruth's child at the time. Soon after her admission to the hospital, she fell into a coma. Doctors delivered the baby via emergency caesarean section. Carruth went to the police and posted $3 million bail, on condition that if either Adams or the infant died, he would turn himself in.[8] Adams died on December 14, 1999. The baby, named Chancellor Lee Adams, survived, but suffered permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy as a result of being without oxygen for 70 minutes before he was born.[7][9]

Carruth quickly fled after Adams' death, but was captured on December 15 in West Tennessee, found hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel in Parkers Crossroads.[10] The trunk also contained $3,900 cash, bottles of his urine, extra clothes, candy bars, and a cell phone. The Panthers waived him on December 16,[11] citing a morals clause in his contract, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely on December 17.[12]

At trial, prosecutors contended that Carruth hired Watkins and others to murder Adams because of her refusal to abort their unborn child.[13] Carruth's lawyer David Rudolf claimed that Carruth had been caught up in a drug deal gone bad. They claimed that on the night of the shooting, after Carruth had refused to fund the drug deal, Watkins shot Adams in a sudden rage when she "flipped him off" after he had attempted to ask her about Carruth's whereabouts.[14]

Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison. He was found not guilty of first-degree murder, and was spared the death penalty.[15][16]

Carruth sent a letter in 2018 apologizing to Saundra Adams, the mother of Cherica Adams, via WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina, for accusing her of lying about him in interviews for years.[1][17]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Rae L Wiggins". North Carolina Department Of Public Safety: Offender Public Information. http://webapps6.doc.state.nc.us/opi/viewoffender.do?method=view&offenderID=0712822&searchLastName=carruth&searchFirstName=rae&listurl=pagelistoffendersearchresults&listpage=1. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bamberger, Michael (December 27, 1999). "First-degree Tragedy". Sports Illustrated: 40. https://www.si.com/vault/1969/12/31/8113382/firstdegree-tragedy-rae-carruth-was-a-gifted-but-unassuming-wide-receiver-for-the-panthers-now-he-stands-accused-of-ordering-the-murder-of-his-pregnant-girlfrienda-horrific-crime-that-like-carruth-himself-remains-shrouded-in-my.
  3. CNN, Jill Martin,. "Ex-NFLer Rae Carruth released from prison". CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/22/sport/former-carolina-panther-rae-carruth-released-from-prison/index.html.
  4. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1999-12-21-9912210087-story.html
  5. Richmond, Peter. "Rae Carruth, The Women Who Loved Him, And The One He Wanted Dead". http://thestacks.deadspin.com/rae-carruth-the-women-who-loved-him-and-the-one-he-wa-747347792. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  6. "1997 PFWA All-Rookie Team". Pro-Football-Reference.com. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/awards/nfl-all-rookie-1997.htm. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Lake, Thomas (September 17, 2012). "The Boy They Couldn't Kill". Sports Illustrated. https://www.si.com/nfl/2015/01/07/si-60-the-boy-they-couldnt-kill-rae-carruth-son.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Investigative Reports episode, A&E
  9. Diaz, George (October 9, 2016). "Diaz: Human spirit lives in son Rae Carruth left to die". Orlando Sentinel. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/tampa-bay-buccaneers/os-tampa-bay-bucs-coach-rae-carruth-son-20161008-story.html. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  10. "Carruth turns up in trunk at motel". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press: p. C-1. December 16, 1999. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=19991216&id=loVIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=GnADAAAAIBAJ&pg=6119,176401.
  11. "Carruth waives extradition to return to North Carolina". Beaver County Times. Associated Press: p. B-1. December 17, 1999. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=naouAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EtoFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6281%2C4601223.
  12. Heath, Thomas (December 17, 1999). "Carruth to Return to N.C.". The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/1999-12/17/054r-121799-idx.html. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  13. "Rae Carruth Goes on Trial for Murder". November 20, 2015. http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/story?id=100160. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  14. Boghosian, Leslie (October 18, 2000). "Defense strategy: Carruth attorneys offer version of Adams' murder". CNN/SI. sportsillustrated.cnn.com. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/news/2000/10/18/munson_carruth/. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  15. CNN, Jill Martin,. "Ex-NFLer Rae Carruth released from prison". CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/22/sport/former-carolina-panther-rae-carruth-released-from-prison/index.html.
  16. "Former NFL player Rae Carruth out of prison after 18 years". Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/ap-former-nfl-player-rae-carruth-out-of-prison-after-18-years-2018-10.
  17. "Imprisoned former Panthers player Rae Carruth breaks his silence". https://www.yahoo.com/sports/imprisoned-former-panthers-player-rae-carruth-breaks-silence-195551499.html.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

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