Riley Ann Sawyers
March 11, 2005 - July 24, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial
On October 29, 2007 a fisherman found a
container that had washed up on the shore of an island in Galveston's
Bay. A medical examiner said that he the chills skull was fractured and
a forensic dentist estimated the age of the child to be two or three
old. Police call the child Baby Grace and circulated a sketch of the
A call from a grandmother in Ohio would solve the mystery of who Baby
On November 7, 2007 Sheryl Sawyers
saw the police
sketches of Baby Grace and she thought the child looked a lot like
Sheryl then contacted the police in Galveston and told them she thought
it might be her missing granddaughter:
"No, I never did think it would
end up like
this. I guess
knowing is better than not
Sheryl asked if there had been a
report filed for her granddaughter, she learns that there has not.
says that she and her family have not seen or spoken to Riley since May
25, 2007. On November 20, 2007, Robert Sawyers and his mother were
to have DNA samples taken in Ohio, to be sent to Texas. on November 30,
2007 the DNA samples prove that the remains were those of Riley Ann
Riley Ann Sawyers suffered at the
hands of her mother,
Kimberly Dawn Trenor and her husband Royce Zeigler. Riley was beaten
a belt, grabbed by the hair, thrown across the room and held under
before she died. All of this because she wasn't leaning how to say
thank and yes sir, fast enough.
Kimberly Trenor and Royce Zeigler
were arrested and
charged with injuring a child as well as tampering with physical
Each of their bonds were set at $350,000.
Kimberly told police how Riley had
died that day.
After she died, they went to Walmart to buy things they would need to
rid of her body. At Walmart they purchased the blue container with
and wheels, a shovel, some concrete mix, latex gloves, bleach, a chain
and a clip to lock the chain. They put Riley into the container and
her in a shed for about two months. The container was later taken to
Galveston waterway and they threw it in. The sight of the container
off would be the last Kimberly saw of her daughter until the container
On November 23, Kimberly gave a video
in the presence of her lawyer and told about her part in the death of
daughter. The statement said that she and her husband had beat Riley
a belt and held her head under the water in the bathtub. Royce then
Riley up by her hair and threw her across the room where she hit her
on the tile floor. Riley died and they put her body into a plastic
and that they later disposed of it into the Galveston waterway.
then said that Royce tried to kill himself leaving a note that said:
"My wife is innocent of the
sins that I committed."
Kimberly eventually admitted that after
had been found, Royce had made her type up a fake letter from the Ohio
Department Of Children's Services that stated Riley was going to be
away from them. In May of 2007, Kimberly had left Ohio after filing a a
report claiming that Robert Sawyer had been violent towards her.
Robert Sawyers, was in tears as he talked about and remembered his
saying that she was a fun loving girl with a big imagination for her
Robert said that she could play with any thing and have fun with it.
Robert said that Riley was
active and she was hyper,
but, that she was a very well behaved little girl. Riley loved to play
with the hose on the patio. She would spray their patio until she
everything. Robert's mother said that she and her family were all
to find out about Riley's death.
"It's hard to think that
I'll never see her
Ray Tuttoilmondo, of the
Galveston County Sheriff's
Department, was investigating if Child Protective Services had, at one
time, taken Riley away from Kimberly and Royce since this is what
had told them. Ray say that he didn't believe it had ever happened.
Kimberly was given custody of Riley and
given visitation rights. After that, Kimberly and Riley disappeared.
Ray Tuttoilmondo said that the Sawyers
been very helpful in the solving of this case. Laura DePledge, the
lawyer, learned that Kimberly had become pregnant as a teenager and
she and Robert lived with his mother for two years. Laura also said
the Sawyers family would like Riley's remains to be returned to Ohio
so that they can have a memorial service:
"What Riley needs is to be
brought home. I
family needs some closure."
Ray Tuttoilmondo had asked that
anyone who knew Riley
or any of her family to come forward with information so that they can
put together the events in her life that lead up to her death. Ray said
that Riley's case has touched even the hardest of police officers:
"Any way you look at it, we
carry a piece of
her with us
and we'll always carry a little
piece of her
Holding up a child's pink and white
shoe, like the
ones that Riley was wearing when she was found, Ray said:
"That says it all. A
"That's my heart, my
granddaughter. I grew
up in a family of all brothers. I had two sons, no
daughters. That's my baby"
Sheryl Sawyers, speaking of Riley.
Kimberly who is only 20 years old and
Royce who is
25, were charged with capital murder and are being held in a Texas
At this time, January 2009, Kimberly's trial is just beginning.
plead guilty to tampering with evidence, she plead not guilty to the
murder charge. A capital murder conviction would carry an automatic
sentence. Kimberly gave birth to another baby, a boy named Shawn, while
she was in jail and that baby has been living with relatives. Kimberly
gave up her rights to this child, Royce did not.
Tom Stickler, Kimberly's attorney
said that Kimberly
could NOT be convicted of capital murder since she never
to kill Riley. He also said that Royce was the one who actually caused
her to die. I guess in HIS mind, it's okay to beat your
throw them up against the wall, hold them under water and participate
of their death, as long as you are NOT
one to deliver the final blow to that child who can't take any more and
gives up on life.
Royce and Kimberly will each face
their own trial
and jury. Prosecutors were not going to seek the death penalty for
of them based on their feeling that they could not prove that either of
them would be a future danger which is a requirement for the death
How is it that a child can die, brutally after suffering for over six
at the hands of those who are supposed to take care of her and someone
can see those people as NOT being a danger to other children,
the future? Royce has not yet been arraigned.
In July of 2008, Kimberly gave birth
to a son, while
in prison. The court was trying to decide who would get custody since
had the nerve to refuse to give up his parental rights. Child
Services took emergency custody of the baby after he was born. CPS
to get into court and have a judge take away Royce's rights
to his son.
A couple in Dallas had already gone
through the background
checks and CPS was going to try to conduct an interview with them so
they could take immediate custody if the judge allowed it. If the judge
did NOT allow it, the baby would go into foster care. Royce
have avoided all of this if he had just signed adoption papers.
The baby, who was named Shawn, was
in the home of Kimberly's Uncle and Aunt. CPS still had custody
Guilty verdict in 'Baby
Monday - February 2, 2009
GALVESTON, TX (KTRK) -- A mother was
of murdering her own two-year-old daughter. And now, we're hearing from
the jury who made the decision to send her to jail for the rest of her
Kimberly Trenor is now a convicted
killer. She will
never get out of prison. A Galveston County jury found the 20-year-old
mother guilty of capital murder after just a couple hours of
Prosecutors say Trenor and her
husband, Royce Zeigler,
tortured Riley Ann Sawyers to death in July 2007 while disciplining
Riley was known as "Baby Grace" until her remains were identified. The
toddler's paternal grandmother in Ohio, Sheryl Sawyers, saw an artist's
sketch of the girl and told authorities in Texas she thought it was her
Trenor never denied beating Riley.
Her defense is
that she never actually killed her.
"I'm not necessarily sure that she
didn't know what
was going to happen, and was willing to accept that a long time ago,"
defense attorney Tom Stickler after the verdict was read.
The verdict was the culmination of an
"I saw that little shoe that I held
up. That's all
I saw," said Major Roy Tuttoilmondo with the Galveston County Sheriff's
Office. "That's what it's all about, that little child."
Riley's paternal grandmother arrived
at the courthouse
for the verdict and left afterwards distraught.
"I think for Sheryl, it's difficult,"
spokesperson Laura DePledge. "She looked at Kimberly like a daughter
she found it absolutely incomprehensible that Kimberly would be
for something like this."
As for the prosecution, this was only
point as the trial of Trenor's husband, Royce Zeigler, still looms.
"This is just one trial. We've got
another one to
go, but today, our thoughts and prayers remain with Ms. Sawyers and
individual, every person who came forward to help identify Riley," said
Galveston County DA Kurt Sistrunk.
Zeigler's trial date has not yet been
set. He, too,
is charged with capital murder.
During closing arguments, we noticed
of the seven-woman, five-man jury get emotional, wiping away tears. We
heard from the jury foreman after the verdict.
"It's an emotional trial," said Randy
"And because of the victim, you know, the victim was a two-year-old
And that was hard to set aside and simply stick to the facts, but I
we did that."
At one point the jury foreman put his
his hands, simply staring down at the floor.
When the defense got hold of things,
moved along pretty quickly. The defense's total case was argued in
45 minutes and 50 minutes was spent on closing arguments. The jury got
the case at 4:05pm and were done about an hour and a half later. That
the jury spent more time deliberating than the defense spent arguing
case. Trenor never took the stand.
"They had no defense," said KTRK
legal analyst Joel
Androphy. "There's no defense for what she did. The only defense that
have existed would be a psychiatric defense, but they had no
Our legal analyst pointed out the
case of Andrea
Yates, the Clear Lake woman who drowned her five children back in the
of 2001. She pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Androphy is
the mental health card wasn't played in this trial, as well.
"I'm sure her lawyers went out to
search for doctors
that can come to her aid," said Androphy. "And in this day and age,
doctors are willing to do anything for anybody for a fee, I'm shocked
there wasn't a doctor that said, 'I will help you with a psychiatric
Androphy also says Trenor didn't take
the stand because
she probably couldn't do anything to help herself. But he says, in one
way, she did get a good deal.
"By going to jail for the rest of her
life, she got
a good deal because most people under those circumstances would have
put to death," Androphy said.
Prosecutors didn't seek the death
penalty in this
case. Jurors also could have also convicted her of two lesser charges,
but opted not to.
During closing arguments, the
prosecutor told jurors,
"It shows you how manipulative she is. She was manipulative when she
into the police department. She came there for one reason -- to blame
else for Riley's murder."
Prosecutors went on to say, "She
tells you she whipped
Riley, that she pushed her head under water. But she says she didn't
a killing blow. Should we believe that?"
Trenor's defense told jurors, "I'm
not saying she's
not guilty of nothing. But not guilty of capital murder? This was
abuse, but not capital murder."
Perhaps one of the most disturbing
pieces of evidence
is contained in one of Trenor's journals. The notebook was given to the
jurors to review in deliberations. A letter in the journal reads in
"I just kept hitting her with the belt again and again. I don't know
long, but I remember her trying to get away and me knocking her back
"I told her to stand up and face me,
but she couldn't
stand up," reads the letter. "She was black and blue from head to toe,
barely able to squeeze my fingers. All I could do was hold her and feel
her go cold."
The letter wasn't specifically read
to jurors, but
the journal was introduced as evidence.
Guilty verdict for 'Baby Grace'
Friday - November 6, 2009
GALVESTON, TX -- Two years after the
remains of a
toddler who came to be known as "Baby Grace" were dumped in Galveston
the child's stepfather was convicted of capital murder in her beating
The remains of Riley Ann Sawyer --
weighing 12 pounds
and stuffed into a plastic container -- remained unidentified for
a month after they were discovered October 2007. Investigators dubbed
child "Baby Grace."
Then Sheryl Sawyers of Mentor, Ohio,
suburb, saw an artist's sketch and told Texas police she thought the
might be her missing granddaughter.
"I wish I hadn't been right," Sheryl
Riley's stepfather, Royce Clyde
Zeigler II, was convicted
of capital murder Friday and will receive an automatic life sentence
parole because prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. Jurors, who
deliberated for 4 1/2 hours after an eight day trial, could have
Zeigler of a lesser charge of manslaughter.
Riley's mother, Kimberly Trenor, was
capital murder in February and is serving a life sentence.
"The two people responsible for her
murder have been
convicted," Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said.
a good day for Riley."
Prosecutors said Zeigler and Trenor
killed the toddler
at their home in Spring, a suburb north of Houston, during a July 2007
discipline session intended to teach her proper manners. Zeigler was
the 2-year-old didn't consistently use "please" and "thank you,"
Trenor and Zeigler beat Riley with
her head in a cold bath water and threw her onto a tile floor,
her skull, prosecutors said. An autopsy determined the child died of
After Riley's death, the couple
stuffed her body
in a plastic box and hid it for months in a storage shed at their home.
Then they drove about 75 miles southeast to Galveston Bay, where they
the container and body in October 2007, according to authorities.
Riley's remains were discovered by a
a small island in the bay.
"I wish it never had happened but I'm
glad it's over
and I'm glad we got the verdict we did," said Sheryl Sawyers, who had
in her eyes. "I can try to move on."
Sistrunk said Riley's death "was a
that hit us all."
The impact of her death was still
One of the investigators in the case, Lt. Tommy Hansen of the Galveston
County Sheriff's Department, took off his glasses and wiped away tears
after the verdict was read. Another, Sgt. Mike Barry, pumped his left
into the air in celebration.
Zeigler didn't react after the
verdict was read.
But his mother, Nellie Zeigler, slumped into one of the courtroom's
benches in tears and repeated, "I just want to see him for a minute,"
her son was taken away.
Dee McWilliams, one of Zeigler's
said his client was "pretty devastated" by the verdict.
"From day one, we knew what we were
up against ...
how he had been demonized in the media. We did everything we could to
that," McWilliams said. "We are very disappointed in how things turned
Ziegler's attorneys told jurors their
in another room when Riley died and there was no evidence he killed her.
But prosecutors said Zeigler lied
repeatedly to investigators,
giving them conflicting statements on the girl's death. Prosecutors
the Galveston County jury video of Zeigler admitting dumping the
body in the bay.
Trenor and Zeigler met playing an
online video game
and married in June 2007 after Trenor moved with her daughter from Ohio
to live with Zeigler in his home in Spring.
here to return to Riley's story
here for pictures of Riley's memorial services
here for the verdict on the trial
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