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Emma Walker was murdered by Gaul Riley after she broke up with him

The tragic end of Emma Walker

By Rare StoriesPublished about a year ago 4 min read

16-year-old Emma Walker fell in love with 18-year-old Riley Gaul in 2016. She was a cheerleader at Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Riley was a football player. When she broke up with him, he came for her life.

The Beginning

Emma Walker first noticed Riley Gaul, a wide receiver on the Central High School football team, when she started cheering as a freshman.

Emma's parents, Mark and Jill Walker, first thought he was a great match for their daughter. Jill said he was "very likeable," and Mark said he was a good-mannered, good-looking young man.

Emma's parents thought he was a very good fit for their daughter

But Walker's friends and family soon saw that Gaul could be very bossy. He became more possessive and clingy with her, and he stopped her from doing some things. Throughout their two-year relationship, Gaul and Walker repeatedly broke up and got back together, frequently engaging in very intense arguments.

Following a series of disputes, Gaul once sent At one point, Gaul sent her Snapchat messages that read, “I hate you. I hate everything about you,” and “you’re dead to me… I’ll check the obituary… f— you.”

When Walker's parents discovered these messages, they immediately barred Gaul from their home and confiscated their daughter's cell phone. But, Gaul gave Walker's daughter an iPod Touch so they could continue to communicate.

During Halloween of 2016, Walker broke his relationship with Gaul for good.

Emma Walker would only have a few short weeks to enjoy her newfound freedom before Gaul took it away from her.

Riley Gaul Tries To Win Her Back

Emma Walker went to a party at her friend's house on November 18, 2016, just a few weeks after she broke up with Gaul. She got a text message from an unknown number at 11:30 p.m. that said,“Go to your car with your keys. Go alone… I’ve got someone you love. If you don’t comply I will hurt them.”

Walker thought the texts were from her ex, so she and a group of her friends went outside and found Riley Gaul lying facedown in a ditch. He said he'd been taken and hit in the head by his captors, so he couldn't remember anything. Walker didn't believe him and walked away.

The next day, Walker saw a strange man dressed in black standing in front of her house.

She called Riley Gaul because he was the only person she could think of at the time. She told him, “I hate you but I need you right now,” and he replied, “I’m coming… I’m speeding just give me a minute.”

Emma's parents

As soon as Walker's mother returned home and found her daughter outside with Gaul, she was enraged. She asked him to go and informed Walker that the black man was likely Gaul all along.

The following day, on Sunday, November 20, Walker's parents accompanied her to and from work to assure her safety. She went to bed at midnight, and it was the last time anyone saw her alive.

Emma's Death

Jill Walker entered her daughter's room at 6 a.m. on Monday, November 21, 2016, to wake her for school and saw her motionless.

She called the police immediately, who raced to the residence to investigate. Initially, they suspected Walker had killed herself, but then they discovered a suspicious hole in her bedroom wall.

Further examination found a second hole in the wall and two shell casings outside in the yard. It was evident from the small amount of blood on Walker's pillow that she had been fatally wounded behind her left ear.

Investigators started interviewing friends and family; everybody kept mentioning the name of her ex-boyfriend.

Gaul's Twitter profile

Meanwhile, Gaul was posting about Walker's death on Facebook and Twitter.“Rest easy now sweetheart,” he wrote in one tweet. “I love you forever and always.”

Even though Gaul sent sad messages, police brought him in quickly to question him about Emma Walker's death.

Riley Gaul is Convicted and Sentenced

Two of Riley's friends, Alex McCarty and Noah Walton, told investigators that he had been behaving strangely since he break up with Emma. They recounted how he even tried to kill himself by ingesting several pills of Vicodin.

Alex McCarty and Noah Watson who helped to arrest Gaul

Earlier, he had told Alex that he stole his grandfather's gun in order to protect himself. He then asked Walton how to get fingerprints off a gun, and he finally asked both of his friends to help him get rid of the gun.

Gaul swore to his friends that he didn't kill Walker, but he wanted to throw the gun into the Tennessee River because he was afraid the police would unfairly blame him for the crime if they found it.

Riley Gaul was convicted and sentenced to life in prison

McCarty and Walton joined forces with investigators to find out what Gaul's real goals were. They were given cameras and microphones and went with Gaul to throw away the gun he used to kill Walker. The police arrived just in time to find Gaul with the murder weapon, gloves, and black clothes that matched the ones Walker had seen the stranger wearing outside her house.

Riley Gaul was found guilty at his trial of first-degree murder, stalking, theft, and possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to life in prison.

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