The Florida man accused of murdering a family of four, including a newborn baby in his mother’s arms, because of a delusion that involved sex trafficking will face the death penalty, prosecutors said.
The state attorney’s office said in a Friday news release that the bizarre slaying of a Lakeland man, his girlfriend, their newborn son and the child’s grandmother were “committed on a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.”
Bryan Riley, a former Marine, is accused of fatally shooting Justice Gleason, 40; his 33-year-old girlfriend, Theresa Lanham; their baby boy, Jody, and Catherine Delgado, 62. Delgado, Lanham’s mother, was in the family’s home on September 5.
Gleason’s 11-year-old daughter survived multiple gunshot wounds and is the only person in the home who made it out alive. Riley trespassed on the family’s property earlier on the day of the shooting after seeing Gleason mowing the lawn with his daughter nearby, whom Riley believed was a sex trafficking victim named Amber.
The Washington Post reported that after shooting the entire family, he tortured the 11-year-old, dragging her to another room and demanding to know where “Amber” was in the house.
He shot the girl in the thigh and stomach when she failed to hand over the information he wanted.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
A grand jury’s 22-count indictment was filed Tuesday in Polk County Circuit Court against Riley. Other charges included attempted murder of the 11-year-old girl, along with kidnapping, arson, burglary and animal cruelty for killing the family dog.
Riley is being held without bail and has not yet entered a plea to the charges.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd previously said Riley falsely believed the family was involved in child sex trafficking and that he had been told by God to rescue a purported child victim named “Amber.” There was no child by that name at the home.
Officials said Riley, wearing body armor, had three weapons with him and fired at least 100 shots in the main home and a smaller one in back where Catherine Delgado, 62, was the first to be killed.
Law enforcement officers fired about 60 shots in a gun battle that left Riley with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Riley surrendered after that.
Riley served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan and was working as a security guard in the Lakeland area, including at a church. After that recent job, his girlfriend of four years told investigators Riley began talking about communication with God but not about violence.