Ex-marine charged with murder accused of 'torturing' 11-year-old girl who survived his shooting

Defendant faces allegations he tortured 11 year old girl whose family members he is charged with murdering

Clara Hill
Friday 10 September 2021 20:05
<p>Bryan Riley has been indicted on murder charges in Florida. </p>

Bryan Riley has been indicted on murder charges in Florida.

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A former US Marine is accused of “torturing” a 11 year-old girl on the same night he allegedly murdered four of her family members, according to Florida police.

Bryan Riley, 33, is charged on multiple counts, including murder and armed robbery, after he allegedly killed Justice Gleason, 40, Theresa Lanham, 33, their 3 month old baby and the baby’s grandmother Catherine Delgado, 62. Police also say he shot their dog.

However, the only survivor from Mr Riley’s alleged attack was Gleason’s daughter. She claims Mr Riley “tortured” her after, according to police. He is said to have repeatedly shot a gun at her.

It is believed that Mr Riley thought the girl was a girl called “Amber” who he thought was in danger in Gleason’s house, said law enforcement

“We know that he was seeking out Amber, who wanted to commit suicide, who was the victim of sex trafficking, and it was all a figment of his imagination,” Polk County Sheriff  Grady Judd told reporters at a press conference.

“Where is Amber?” Mr Riley is said to have asked the girl, according to Sheriff Judd.

The girl told investigators that Mr Riley believed she was Amber, despite her informing him she was not.

Police said after the girl told him she did not know where Amber was, Mr Riley is said to have become increasingly persistent. The witness told investigators that he counted to three and when she did not locate Amber he shot her twice; in the thigh and in the stomach.

Mr Riley then asked her if she understood why he had to kill her parents, according to law enforcement.

“Because they are sex traffickers,” Mr Riley is alleged to have said to her, according to investigators, when she did not answer him.

Police said he shot her again twice. When the girl failed once more to tell him what he wanted to know, he said: “I eliminated her”.

The girl attributed surviving to how she had “played dead and prayed,” police said. She was taken to hospital in a stable condition.

This update was provided after details emerged since Mr Riley was first alleged to have entered their home in a “reconnaissance” on 5 September, according to law enforcement. It is believed that he was on a mission from God to save ‘Amber’ from the family.

It is believed by authorities that in the evening before, he had come to the area to assist with the Hurricane Ida clear up effort. During this period, he came into contact with Gleason, who at the time was said to be mowing his front lawn, according to authorities.

Police said Mr Riley told Gleason about ‘Amber’, and how she was experiencing suicidal feelings and he refused to leave until he managed to talk to her. Confused by this, Gleason was said to become angry and then eventually Mr Riley left, said police.

Authorities alleged that Mr Riley went home, and plotted to kill them. He came back to the same house armed with various firearms and wearing a bulletproof vest early the next morning. Throughout his time in the house, authorities estimated he shot “dozens” of bullets.

Police estimated he left his house at 1am and said they received an alert about the incident at roughly 4.30am.

Mr Riley now faces four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, two counts of shooting into a building, two counts of armed robbery with assault/battery, second degree arson and one count of attempted murder in the first degree with a weapon, according to law enforcement..

According to jail records, Mr Riley was not permitted bail and is still in custody.  He is expected to enter a plea on 12 October during his arraignment hearing.

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