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Unsolved Murder of University Student Michael Riley
Michael Riley

Unsolved Murder of University Student Michael Riley

Unsolved Murder

A man named John Grey (42) working as a courier for Bankers Dispatch Corporation in Indianapolis. He made a remarkable and surprising discovery on July 14, 1976, during his regular route. As John veered off at 9:30 in the morning, adjacent to Spring Mill Road in the nearby town of Carmel, Indiana. He noticed something that captured his attention, nestled in the woods. It was roughly 40 feet away from the road. This initially looked like a bundle of opaque plastic. However, when John got closer to it, he found a pair of feet slightly protruding from one end. Using the radio in his car, John promptly informed his dispatcher, who in turn contacted the authorities.

The unidentified body discovered in a small, densely woods area was in NorthEast of the intersection of 116th Street and Spring Mill Road. The area was inadequate population at that time. The body, covered in multiple layers of sturdy, industrial-grade plastic and secured with three electrical cords. For a post-mortem examination, shifted to a nearby hospital Noblesville, Indiana.

Underneath the enveloping plastic “shroud” lay the extensively decomposed remains of a young man in his early twenties. He was entirely unclothed and devoid of any adornments. The autopsy revealed a head injury that caused a bruise on his skull, but it was not severe enough or fatal. Detected injuries were none. While the pathologist at the hospital anticipated the uncover the identity of the deceased. However, due to “health reasons,” the victim promptly interred in a cemetery in Carmel.

Three days later, dental records employed to identify the body as that of Michael Dean Riley. He was a 22 year old psychology student in Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Michael was reportedly missing on the 9th of July. He failed to resume his summer classes. Investigation revealed that on the 2nd of July, Michael completed his shift at the United Consumers Club. Then he hitched a ride home with a co-worker. While changing his attire, the coworker dropped Michael off along Interstate 69. Michael resorted to hitchhiking in order to reach a friend’s residence in Indianapolis.

According to the unnamed friend, Michael stayed at his house on that evening. On the night of the 4th, the pair attended a July 4 celebrations together. Allegedly, Michael left the party on foot. He presumably hitchhiked back home in Muncie. Subsequently, Michael disappeared until the discovery of his body ten days later.

Several witnesses came forward. They state that they detected a pungent odor in the area for several days. However, they had dismissed the smell as nothing more than that of a decaying animal. An individual informed investigators that he observed an older vehicle parked near the lane almost a week prior. According to the witness, there were two men inside the vehicle. One of them opened the trunk and carried something into the woods before returning.

The toxicology results revealed that Michael succumbed to an overdose of alcohol. His bloodstream contained alcohol, along with a significant amount of Doriden. Doriden is a sleeping pill typically prescribing to individuals with insomnia. Michael might be dosed between 10 to 13 tablets, each measuring 1 milligram, of the medication.

Michael was an exceptional scholar. He regarded as an exemplary student at Ball State. He never faced any disciplinary issues and never been subjected to arrest. While acquaintances acknowledged his occasional consumption of alcoholic beverages, they denied ever witness him using of any kind of drugs.

Two years prior to his death, Michael entered into matrimony with Rebecca. Unfortunately, I was unable to acquire further information about their relationship. Michael’s father passed away in 1960. His mother Mary, and stepfather, Forrest resided in Florida. However, they returned to Indiana temporarily during the course of the investigation. After Michael’s remains exhumed and relocated to a cemetery in Indiana, the couple returned to their home in Florida.

The investigation into Michael’s death endured for a brief period. Nonetheless, despite conflicting testimonies from attendees of the party on that fateful evening, no arrests made. Ultimately, Michael’s case remained unsolved. The grand jury stated in its final report.

“After interrogating approximately 17 or 18 witnesses, the grand jury has arrived at a consensus that Riley perished due to a drug overdose. I either self-inflicted accidentally consumed, or as a result of a malicious prank played on him. The jury concludes that, in light of the prevalence of drug use among the deceased’s associates, a decision was made to dispose of the body. Someone thus conceived the plan to discreetly dispose of the body in a secluded location. There is little doubt that assistance required in ‘packaging’ the body.”

The report concluded by determining that, given the occurrence of drug use in Indianapolis, the case would be transferred to the Indianapolis Police Department for further investigation. Unfortunately, no suspects were ever identified, and no one arrested.

The murder of Michael Dean Riley remains an unsolved mystery.

Fehmeeda Farid Khan recounts another case The Disappearance of Roberta Martucci

About Fehmeeda Farid Khan

A freelancer, blogger, content writer, translator, tour consultant, proofreader, environmentalist, social mobilizer, poetess and novelist. As a physically challenged person, she extends advocacy on disability related issues. She's masters in Economics and Linguistics along with B.Ed.

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