Grand jury formally charges Florida man in family slaying
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A man accused of massacring a Florida family under the delusion that they were child sex traffickers has been formally charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
Court documents show a grand jury’s 22-count indictment was filed Tuesday in Polk County Circuit Court against Bryan Riley. Other charges included attempted murder — one 11-year-old girl survived the Sept. 5 rampage and Riley got into a gunfight with police — kidnapping, arson, burglary and animal cruelty for killing the family dog.
Riley, a 33-year-old former Marine, could ultimately face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted of the killings. Prosecutors have not announced a decision on whether they will seek the death penalty.
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.
Riley chanced upon the family after seeing a man mowing his lawn with a young girl out in the yard that he thought might be the trafficking victim, Judd said.
Officials say 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.
The victims are Justice Gleason, 40; his 33-year-old girlfriend, Theresa Lanham; their baby boy, Jody, who was born in May; and Delgado, who was Lanham’s mother and owned the property. Gleason’s daughter survived despite several gunshot wounds.
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.