WB Dwight Riddle, Treasurer of Benevolent Lodge 3 in Milledgeville, Georgia, committed suicide at his lodge building on Sunday afternoon. He was 58 and and had served as Master of the lodge in 1994.
The case is being investigated independently of the local sheriff's department by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to avoid any potential conflict of interest, as the lodge has several police officers as members, including the local Chief of Police.
From the article posted Monday night on the Milledgeville Union-Recorder website:
Joe Wooten, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 6 Office in Milledgeville, identified the victim as Dwight Riddle.
Wooten told the newspaper Monday morning that Riddle was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m. Sunday from a gunshot wound. The shooting took place in the parking lot of the local Masonic Lodge, near the U.S. Post Office downtown.
The cause of death has been ruled a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Wooten said an autopsy would not be performed.
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said he had received a call Friday night about a large sum of money reportedly missing from the Masonic Benevolent Lodge No. 3.
Riddle served as treasurer of the local Masonic Lodge, Massee said.
Massee said he requested that the GBI work the financial investigation, since he was a member of the local Masonic Lodge, along with Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord.
“We’ve got deputies in the lodge, too,” Massee said, noting he decided it best to seek the outside assistance of the GBI to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
The sheriff said he later telephoned Swicord to inform him of his decision and that the police chief agreed that seeking the GBI’s assistance was the best idea.
“On Sunday, the Grand Lodge of Georgia had requested that the local lodge here contact Mr. Riddle and ask him to bring the checkbook in because they wanted to do an internal audit,” Massee said.
After learning of the request, Riddle went to the local lodge and turned in the checkbook, Massee told the newspaper.
“He then returned outside to his car and committed suicide,” Massee said.
“Even with Mr. Riddle’s suicide, there will be a continuing investigation concerning the finances at the Masonic Lodge No. 3.”
The sheriff said when he learned that officials with the Grand Lodge of Georgia wanted to see the checkbook Sunday that he sent a deputy sheriff to the Masonic Benevolent Lodge No. 3.
“I called (Deputy Lt.) Nick Goddard and I said, Nick, can you go down and meet with them,” Massee said. “So, Nick was there when the shooting happened.”
Massee said after Riddle returned the checkbook that he reportedly said he had to get something else out of his car.
While the deputy was standing nearby, Riddle emerged from the car with a pistol and was told by the deputy on two different occasions to put the pistol down, Wooten said.
The case remained under investigation Monday afternoon by the GBI.
Benevolent Lodge 3 was established in 1817, originally as the ninth Masonic lodge in the state of Georgia. Their temple is the oldest Masonic building in Georgia that has been in continuous use as such since its construction. They are celebrating their bicentennial anniversary this year, but this is a certainly a doleful footnote to that chapter in their long history.
Funeral services for WB Dwight Riddle will be conducted at 11 AM on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 in the Chapel of Williams Funeral Home of Milledgeville.
Regardless of the outcome of any investigation, this is a senseless tragedy. A Brother's column has been broken, and his Brethren mourn.
Riddle's obituary has been updated HERE.