‘Completely heartless’: Man charged with stealing Portland hero’s wedding ring as he lay dying

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Portland police say George Tschaggeny allegedly stole the backpack and wedding ring of Ricky Best after Best was fatally stabbed on a commuter train on May 26. Tschaggeny was wearing Best’s wedding ring when he was arrested on June 2, according to police. (Portland Police Department)

When police caught up with George Tschaggeny, they say he was wearing the wedding ring of a man fatally stabbed on a Portland train widely hailed as a hero for trying to aid two teen passengers.

That hero, Ricky Best, a 53-year-old Army veteran and father of four, will be

Tschaggeny, 53, will be arraigned on charges of second-degree theft, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse in the second degree.

Tschaggeny, who is homeless, removed Best’s wedding ring from his finger as he lay dying.

“It’s completely heartless,” Sgt. Peter Simpson told . “There is no other way to describe what happened.”

Tschaggeny is also accused of stealing Best’s backpack. “Some items were missing, including a wallet with phone numbers of some of Best’s long-time friends,” police said .

Police say they were able to track down Tschaggeny beneath an overpass Friday after receiving a tip from “an alert Domino’s Pizza employee.” A day earlier, tips from the public had come pouring in after police posted a  of the suspect, along with a plea for the public’s help in locating him.

Best, a Portland city employee, was on his way home when he and fellow passengers, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, intervened after a man began yelling slurs at the teens, one of whom wore a Muslim head covering. The man then turned his anger on them.

Meche was also fatally stabbed, while Fletcher was injured. Best was later pronounced dead at the scene.

After the stabbing on the train, Tschaggny took Best’s wedding ring and backpack, police said.

“It’s just unconscionable to do what he did,” the police spokesman told the .

“Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn’t know against hatred,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said afterward in a statement. “Their actions were brave and selfless, and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all. They are heroes.”

Police later arrested Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, in connection with the killings. He appeared in court last week, but did not enter a plea.

Christian has a history of making bigoted comments online, . The Southern Poverty Law Center as a “known white supremacist.”

Best, a resident of Happy Valley, Ore., whose military service included time in Afghanistan and Iraq, retired from the Army in 2012 after 23 years. At the time of his death, he worked as a technician for Portland’s Bureau of Development Services.

“He was always cheery,” his oldest son, Erik Best, . “After serving in the military, he’d usually say, ‘Hey, I’m not getting shot at, why shouldn’t I smile?’”

 

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