Richard Heeringa, 57, was sentenced April 12, 2012 in Douglas County’s 18th Judicial District Court to 576 years in prison after laughing openly at Judge Paul King.
Heeringa, who had fled to Detroit just hours after a Douglas County jury found him guilty on 17 counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust in April 2010, was extradited back to Colorado 17 months later.
According to authorities he had spent more than a year living in Michigan under the alias Tim Thurman. A citizen, who had seen Heeringa’s photo on the America’s Most Wanted website, recognized Heeringa and tipped off authorities, leading to his arrest.
Two years to the day after he was found guilty in a Douglas County courtroom, Heeringa found himself back in the 18th Judicial District Court, where he laughed out loud at King when asked if he wanted to address the court.
“If you're laughing now stay tuned,” King told Heeringa. “You deserve every century that I’m going to give you.”
Heeringa had previously been convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison in Michigan following a sex assault conviction there. Shortly after being released from prison in 2004, he met a single mother from Colorado.
He moved to the state in 2005 and began living with the mother and her daughter in Highlands Ranch. He soon began sexually abusing the then 12-year-old girl and continued the abuse until 2008, when the child came forward with allegations of sexual abuse resulting in Heeringa’s 2010 conviction.
“He (abused) me emotionally, sexually and mentally,” the victim said during the sentencing. “This man took away my childhood, my innocence and for many years my will to live. I am a silent sufferer, but a strong survivor.”
At the time of his extradition Heeringa had two other sex assault cases also pending in Colorado. He had been placed on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted list in July 2011 because police believed he was an immediate danger to children everywhere due to his pattern of sexual assaults.
“What sticks out most in my mind about this case is the degree of planning Heeringa used to plan, accomplish, and try to get away with his crimes,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Sugioka, who along with Deputy District Attorney Christopher Gallo prosecuted Heeringa. “It’s more premeditation and forethought than I’ve ever seen in a murder case, or any other type of case, all for the express purpose of molesting a child.”