16-year-old Emma Walker began her relationship with 18-year-old William “Riley” Gaul when she was only 14-years-old. Today, Riley is on trial for her murder.
He was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated stalking for the manipulative behavior he displayed prior to the weeks leading up to Emma’s death. The reason for killing her: He wanted to scare her so she would get back together with him.
In the winter of 2015, Emma’s mother reportedly said that Riley was seeing his ex-girlfriend while he was also with Emma. The parents warned Emma and monitored her text messages and snaps, saying that Riley spoke inappropriately to their daughter.
The parents discouraged Emma from seeing Riley and set limits when they could see each other.
When Riley left for college, Emma was in an on-and-off relationship with him until the fall of 2016.
Emma had decided that she wanted to move on and made the decision to break up with him. Riley refused to accept it.
The Friday before Emma was killed on Monday, she started receiving texts from an unknown number. The texts read, “Go to your car with your keys. Go alone. … I’ve got someone you love. If you don’t comply I will hurt them.”
“We have him now,” another text read. “If you don’t care about him anymore then it shouldn’t bother you. Call the police, and he dies. Your choice. … If you’d like to hear his final screams, give me a call. He’s in a ditch beside [the] house. It’s a shame you can all of a sudden not value someone’s life.”
When Emma stepped outside with some of her friends, they found Riley lying on the ground with his face covered.
“He told me he was hit over the head, and he didn’t recall anything,” a friend who was there testified this week. “But then later he remembered [the kidnappers] said, ‘Call Emma.’ I told her it was probably made up. It was the type of behavior he’d exhibited before.”
The next day, Emma was terrified when she was alone at home and found a man dressed in black with his face covered. She called Riley for help and her friends speculated that the ex-boyfriend was actually the intruder.
Both stunts were allegedly done to win Emma back and the third stunt was to make sure she’d go back to him thereafter. Riley stole his grandfather’s pistol and crept into the Walker’s fenced backyard where he fired two shots into the home.
Riley’s attorney said that he did not intend to kill anyone, but Knox County Sheriff’s Office Major Michael K. Maclean told reporters that Riley knew where she was when he shot through the house.
The gunfire woke Emma’s father as he thought the sound was a door being slammed. He checked on Emma and as she appeared to be asleep, went back to his room.
Riley’s defense team wants him to be charged with reckless endangerment instead of first degree murder since they argue that he didn’t intend to kill Emma. The Walkers testified that Emma asked them to turn on their security system that weekend, expressing that she was scared of Riley.
The trial for her murder is still ongoing.