Emma Walker: Murdered by Stalker Ex

(Image via Knox News)

(Image via Knox News)

Gabriella Ruiz, Writer

CW: Abusive relationships, attempted suicide, murder

Emma Jane Walker was a really smart and beautiful girl who was born on March 20th of 2000 in Knoxville, Tennessee. She grew up in a small town. Her parents were Mark and Jill Walker and she had a little brother named Evan. Emma was described as being very sweet and down to earth. She was known as being a super kind and friendly person that people just loved. During freshman year Emma met a guy named Riley. He was two years older than her and a star wide receiver on the football team. He was very involved in his church and did really well in school. His friends described him as a “nerd” growing up, but as he got older he became very active in football. 

Emma had a huge crush on Riley, but at the time he had a girlfriend. Not long after finding out about this crush, he broke up with his girlfriend to date Emma. Everyone described them as the perfect couple, but that label didn’t last too long after they started breaking up on and off all the time. Emma’s friends started expressing concern that Riley never seemed interested in getting to know them and that was odd to them because he didn’t want to get to know them or her family. Riley actually started to become very possessive over her. He didn’t want her hanging out with her friends as much and didn’t let her wear certain things. When she was at work he would go to her work and just hang out there for hours waiting for her to get off. Whenever she did hang out with her family or friends, he would obsessively call and text her. He threatened Emma quite a bit that he would kill himself if she broke up with him, so her parents really wanted to try and end this relationship. 

After dating on and off for about two years, Riley ended up graduating high school and he attended Marysville College, which was about half an hour away from Emma, so her parents were happy that they had some separation. However, like most teenagers, they found ways to communicate. It got to the point where Emma’s parents didn’t let her leave the house unless it was for school or Cheer practice. After a while, her parents noticed this started to work and she was finally acting like her old self again and she seemed happier. This ended up taking a turn for the worse. It was right before Thanksgiving break in 2016 that Emma started seeing snap-chats of Riley with other girls on campus and this really made her upset. So Emma decided to break up with Riley for good. 

Riley did not take the breakup well at all. He decided to attempt suicide by drinking alcohol and taking a bunch of unprescribed pills. He didn’t pass away from this, but instead concerned his friends and family about his mental health. November 18th came along, it was a Friday night, and Emma’s high school had won a big game and one of her friends was having an afterparty at their house. Emma’s parents decided they would give her permission to go since it seemed like things had gotten a lot better and that she wasn’t talking to Riley anymore. 

She was at the party when all of a sudden she started receiving these super sketchy texts around 11:30 pm. The text messages were threatening her saying “I’ve got someone you love, if you don’t comply I will hurt them.” Obviously, she was very concerned, but she did think that there was a chance it was Riley’s friends messing with her. Shortly after she got a text saying, “He’s in the ditch beside her house. It’s a shame you can all of a sudden not value someone else’s life.” This is when Emma and her friend decided they were gonna go outside and check it out. When they went outside they saw a man face down on the ground next to the bushes near the end of this girl’s driveway. This guy was Riley. 

He started waking up trying to act confused, asking how he ended up there. He said someone had kidnapped him and he had no idea where he was or how he ended up there. After he got up he called one of his friends to pick him up and had told his friend that someone knocked him out, put him in a car and took him to this house, and even his own friend didn’t believe him. 

The next day around 10:15 am Emma was home getting ready to go meet her mom somewhere when someone started banging on the front door and this really freaked her out. So she actually ended up texting Riley and saying that she hated him, but she needed him. He decided to drive over to her house. When Emma’s mom realized she hadn’t met up like she was supposed to, her mom drove back to their house. This is when she saw Emma and Riley just sitting on the driveway talking to each other, she went over there and told him he had to leave and he did. The next day was Sunday and Emma was still really shaken up about the person banging on her door, the weird text messages, and Riley being “kidnapped,” all of it was just very intense. 

Sunday overall just seemed like a normal day. She went to work, got Sonic with her dad, watched TV, and went to bed like normal. That was until in the middle of the night: her dad heard a loud banging noise. He said it sounded as if someone was in the house and slammed a door really hard. At first, he was just startled until he heard it for a second time, then he went to go check on Emma and her brother, when he checked on them they both looked fine laying in bed asleep. Since everything seemed normal her dad went back to sleep. 

The next morning around 6:00 am her parents were getting up and getting ready, starting their morning routine and Emma’s mom went into Emma’s room to wake her up. Usually, she’s really easy to wake up, so her mom found it strange how she wasn’t responding, and that’s when her mom went to her face to check for a pulse. When couldn’t find one, she frantically called 911. Paramedics got there fast and at first, they thought it was some type of suicide or overdose, they had no idea what was going on though. Detectives showed up at the crime scene, and that’s when they noticed there was a hole in the wall of Emma’s room, but the hole was as wide as a pen. There were two bullets shot in her wall aiming for her bed, so detectives figured whoever shot into her room clearly knew that that was Emma’s bedroom and exactly her bed was. 

Detectives started to talk to her friends and peers, asking if anyone knew of someone that had anything against Emma or wanted to harm her, and the name that kept popping up was Riley. So detectives went to Riley’s dorm to talk to him, however, at this point nothing made police believe he was a strong suspect. That was until one of Riley’s friends had come forward and told detectives something Riley had told him the Saturday before Emma was killed. Riley had apparently told his friend Alex that he had stolen his grandfather’s gun to protect himself after he was kidnapped. His friends were really concerned for him since he had been suicidal, but he reassured them that he wasn’t suicidal and he only had the gun for protection. By that following Friday, Riley was now considered a person of interest in Emma’s case. When Riley was interviewed he seemed emotionless, and he didn’t seem sure about the story he was giving them. Nothing added up. Riley’s friends decided to work with the police because they were positive he committed this murder and it worked. May 2018 was Riley’s trial, surprisingly his defense team decided to say this was not murder, but a reckless homicide. On May 8th, 2018, Riley was convicted of first-degree murder.