A Deadly Obsession

Because it includes Valentine’s Day, the month of February is known as the month of love. Of course, the 14th of February has already gone by, but for all the fans of True Crime stories out there, don’t you think that it is the perfect time for a gruesome love story? Well, here is the tragic love story between Emma Walker and Riley Gaul.

High School Sweethearts

It all started when the lovely cheerleader Emma Walker and the talented football player Riley Gaul fell in love. Their relationship began in 2014, when Emma was fourteen and a freshman in high school, and Riley was two years older than her. For quite some time, they were known as the “perfect couple.” They represented the stereotypical perception of the blonde cheerleader falling in love with the handsome football player. 

They were together for two years, but Emma was not always living the dream. As any typical high school relationship, there was a lot of drama, but theirs went even further. At first, Emma’s entourage was enchanted by the boy, but as time went on, they became suspicious of Riley’s intentions. 

A Toxic Relationship?

As the months went by, Emma started to forsake her friends. Riley was always with her and he did not like the idea of leaving Emma with other people. He then slowly started to control everything in her life from the way she dressed to the people she was allowed to hang out with. Whenever Emma was at work, he would wait hours for her shift to be done– he became overly possessive. 

Of course, Emma knew that it was toxic, but every time that she would break up with him, he knew exactly what to say to make her come back. After a couple of break ups, Riley started to threaten her with awful text messages saying that she was the most horrible person that he ever met or that he would kill himself if she does not take him back.

Witnessing how controlling Riley was towards their daughter, Emma’s parents installed some restrictions. They began by taking her cell phone to stop her from contacting him. Unfortunately, it did not work since he secretly gave her an iPod. Then, they banished him from their house, which also did not work because they could meet each other in other places. Completely out of ideas, Emma’s parents decided to put in place a stricter regulation: Emma was forbidden from going out, except to school and cheer practice. Slowly but surely, their efforts paid off. As time went by, she lost interest in Riley and broke up with him, definitely; she slowly became her own person again, started to see her friends anew and enjoy her passions. 

On the other side, Riley was not doing good. Convinced that he could not live without her, he once tried to kill himself. He was acting like an addict in withdrawal. 

Stalker: Real or Fake?

On the night of November 18th 2016, as Emma was out partying at a friend’s, she received a series of alarming text messages from an unknown telephone number. It was threatening to torture a loved one if she did not comply to their demands. It also explained that calling the police would make it worse. After she tried to ignore them, she received a couple of angry texts asking her to answer and to come outside, before it added that there was a body laying in the bushes outside of the house. Worried, she eventually complied. She went outside with a friend, thinking that the messages had to be from her ex. She found Riley ditched on the side of the road, confused. He told her that he had just been kidnapped. Of course, she did not believe him. He called his friends to come and pick him up, before she yelled at him, telling him to leave her alone. 

The following day, Emma was alone in her house when she heard noises coming from outside. She looked in the direction where the noises were coming from and she saw someone lurking around wearing black clothes. With the events of the previous day, she could not help but wonder if it was all somehow connected. She texted Riley telling him that she hated him, but that she desperately needed his help. He came and stayed with Emma until her mom arrived and asked him to leave. 

The Murder  

The weekend went by smoothly, and on Sunday night, Emma’s parents were happy to see that their daughter was safe. That night, she went to bed earlier since she had to wake up at 6 the following morning. When her mom went to wake her up that morning, she was not breathing. 911 was called, and after a short inspection of the bedroom, it was concluded that Emma had been shot in the head and bled to death.

The Murderer

Following the day of the murder, the police had collected some information from their interviews. One name kept being mentioned: Riley Gaul, the ex-boyfriend. Unfortunately, the police only had circumstantial proof against him. That is when two of Riley’s friends decided to collaborate with the police. One of them had previously confessed that Riley had taken a gun from his grandparent– a gun similar to the missing murder weapon. The two friends wore hidden microphones and cameras and were asked to discover the location of the gun. During the whole investigation, Riley wrote Emma sweet homage tweets, which was odd considering that in front of the police officers, he was emotionless and kept referring to her as “the girl.” Later on, with the help of the two friends, the police found the gun and arrested Riley for the murder of Emma Walker.

The Sentence

During his trial, he tried to defend himself saying that he was only trying to scare her off. Of course, the jury did not believe him and sentenced him with a life term with the possibility of parole after 51 years. 


Charlton, Victoria. “L’Affaire Emma Walker : Une Fin Tragique.” Youtube, 1 December 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Z9cWjCPpQ

Hendrix, Dani. “Emma Walker: The absolute tragedy of a 16-year-old killed by her ex-boyfriend.” Medium, https://dani-hendrix.medium.com/emma-walker-the-absolute-tragedy-of-a-16-year-old-girl-killed-by-her-ex-boyfriend-3656d23b9142

By Mérika Béland


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