WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Michael Parker, Larry Dean Ripa’s best friend and volunteer at the Cape Fear Serpentarium, described his best friend of more than 40 years.
“He was probably one of the most talented and brilliant men I have known in my life,” said Michael Parker.
Ripa, 60, was found dead Saturday afternoon at his home above the museum in which he created and owned. His wife, 40-year-old Regina Ripa, has been charged with first degree murder in his death. She is currently in the New Hanover County Jail under no bond.
“I am devastated. My world has been shattered,” said Parker. “The Ripas were like my family, the only family I had.”
“He was was great at anything he tried,” Parker said. “His main thing of course was herpetology, but he was also a very talented artist. He also used to have his own swing band.”
That talent was missing Sunday, as Parker somberly greeted guests of the museum. The absence of Dean that was not just felt locally said Parker, but all around the United States.
“He was internationally known, and as far as the field of herpetology, he was one of the top experts,” said Parker.
An expert who will be greatly missed by friends and colleagues in the herpetologoical field and at the first of its kind museum he created.
“This is a monument to him,” said Parker. “We are going to keep it open and care for the animals.”
Regina Ripa will make her first court appearance Monday morning in New Hanover County.
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