11, 2002 -
December 13, 2006
December 13, 2006
at around 6:30am, a 911 call came in and the man, Michael Riley told
passed away in the night"
went to the
home where Rebecca Riley had lived and found her lifeless body, laying
on top of a clothes and a stuffed brown bear, she was wearing only a
Pullup. Later, there would be an investigation into why Michael Riley,
who had been court ordered to stay away, had been home alone with
when police arrived.
from DSS filed a request, a few days later, with the Probate And Family
Court so that a review could be done of the treatment of the children
the home, by an independent medical agency:
a second opinion on everything"
a second opinion was asked for due to concerns about other
in the home, a six year old and an 11 year old. Rebecca had been taken
medication and in the past, there had been concerns of her taking too
of the medication. The agency had learned that the other two children
the home had both been
same problems as Rebecca and were possibly taking the same medications.
DSS took custody of both children and
them in foster
homes, for their own safety.
had diagnosed five year old Rebecca with Bipolar disorder, Attention
and Hyperactivity Disorder. Rebecca was prescribed Clonidine, which is
a blood pressure medication that is, at times, used to calm aggressive
children. Also prescribed were Seroquel which is an anti psychotic drug
and Depakote which is an antiseizure drug. Rebecca died from an
of a mixture of these medications. Clonidine and Depakote are not even
approved by the FDA for treatment in children, only adults.
child died, there was so much questioning about medication, we decided
to seek an independent second opinion. We hadn't received an autopsy
about her death, and we were concerned that the two children could face
Billings said that an investigation into the death of Rebecca would
though he didn't say if charges would be brought against Dr. Kifuji or
any of the pharmacists who had given the medications to Rebecca.
the dates of August 15 and November 27, 15 refills for Clonidine, which
is the drug that killed
at Walgreens. Michael Polzin, the spokesman for Walgreens said that
company was not under investigation:
saddened to hear about this. As far as the medication that was taken,
filled a valid
authorized by the patient's physician, and all of the appropriate drug
were given to the family"
to me. A Pharmacist SHOULD know if a drug is appropriate for a
or if the FDA approves it for children or not. Questions SHOULD
have been asked and reports to the appropriate people SHOULD
been made saying that a child had been given medication meant ONLY
Of Social Services had received a report that stated concerns about
taking too many drugs, the summer before she died. The case was dropped
after Rebecca's mother and her doctor said that the treatment was
A therapist had been the one to make the report and DSS chose NOT
to do a review at that time. That review wouldn't come until it was too
late to save Rebecca.
not be the first to come in about the Riley family. DSS had been
with them since December of 2002, though not always about medications
about Rebecca. Another complaint was filed in June of 2005 when the
child in the home was taken to the hospital. Doctors told DSS that he
put into the
a medical condition.
July of 2005 DSS
met with doctors, neurologist and other medical professionals who were
treating Rebecca, her siblings and Carolyn Riley, their mother. A
who had visited their home had told DSS that Carolyn was sluggish and
to be drugged up. It was later revealed that Carolyn was taking Paxil
that the levels and the amount were within the guidelines. We were
doctors as well that the mother was not receiving too much medication"
South Bay Mental Health Center told police that she was concerned about
the type and amount of medication that had been prescribed for Rebecca.
Oddly, Dr. Kifuji said he was also concerned, during a phone
Why would a man who had been the one to prescribe the medications, then
turn around and say that he was concerned about them?
October of 2005,
another complaint came in saying that Michael Riley had grabbed one of
the children by the neck and slammed his head against the back window
his truck. Carolyn agreed to file a restraining order against him to
him away from her and the children. She later allowed the order to
though on November 19, 2005, DSS contacted her and she said that the
was current and that she had plans to move:
to meet with her and the children and reassure that things are going
us that the husband would not be coming to live with the family"
had told Michael
Riley that he was NOT to be around the children without
In spite of that and the supposed restraining order, Michael moved back
in with the family only two weeks before Rebecca's death. Rebecca's
brought about the arrests and charges of first degree murder against
and Carolyn stating that they had given her a fatal does of an
drug, that drug was Clonidine.
office ruled that Rebecca had died from "Intoxication due to combined
of the drugs she was on:
as a result of the intentional overdose of Rebecca with clonidine. The
manner of death was determined to be homicide"
to hold a meeting where Psychiatrists, Physicians, Pharmacists and
would discuss if children were being over- prescribed power medications:
Riley case represents a tremendous failure by the state, parents,
and pharmacy, and highlights the need for closer scrutiny of the
Peter J. Koutoujian
on Child Abuse and Neglect
wanted to know
why the agency was unable to save the life of Rebecca with the history
they had with the Riley family. Peter said that her parents, the
and the pharmacies that filled the prescriptions all played a part in
four levels that could have caught something, and the confluence of
window for tragedy"
also said that
he wanted Pharmacists, Physicians, Psychiatrists and other medical
to testify a a hearing that would take place that March:
this committee will not be to assess blame. We've got to know what went
is never replicated in the future"
mothers of Michael
and Carolyn stated that they were both innocent and would never hurt
children. Valerie Berio, Carolyn's mother said that they had known each
other since they were very young and had gotten married in 1994.
said that Michael was on disability and was unemployed. She also said
Rebecca had been hyperactive in school, but, school administrators had
recently described her as being "a little too quiet". Valerie said that
the charges against Michael and Carolyn were ludicrous:
treasure, their angel. They loved her more than life itself. They
to make her go to sleep and not wake up. Michael is the sweetest kid in
the world. They would have never wanted to hurt their daughter. I love
him like he's my own kid"
Kathleen Riley said that Michael and Carolyn were great parents:
this is happening. It's a terrible disgrace. I have no idea how anyone
deliberate. I'm shocked. They loved their children"
how Carolyn had miscarried six years ago and they had been living
for about a year before Rebecca had died, though they were both home
morning she had died:
a wonderful father. All the charges against them are false. He cried at
live with me for the past year. He's been under such pressure. The poor
kid. I don't
going to handle this. They just wanted to be together"
of 2007, Michael Riley was in court over allegations that he
tried to rape a 13 year old girl. The court ruled that even though
had written down fantasies about sex between adults and children, he
try to make the fantasies real.
who was 35 at that time, was found guilty of giving explicit stories to
the 13 year old child, to read. Michael was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in
prison for that. The child is the daughter of Carolyn, from a previous
relationship. Michael was found innocent of sexual assault with intent
to rape a child under the age of 14 and four counts of indecent assault
and battery on a child under the age of 14.
girl who had
been 13 at the time, was now 15 years old and had accused Michael of
her during an overnight visit. The girl said that Michael had given her
the binder with Michael's fantasy stories that was titled "Fantasy Porn
By Michael J. Riley", he told her to read the stories that he had
in the binder, about sex
Julian Hernon, asked the jury to consider that there were
in the story of the 13 year old girl when she had told about what
The girl had testified that she had heard about the binder and the
Michael had written before he had handed it to her and claims he told
NOT to read them. Juliann said that she believes the child found
binder and read a story in it and later used that story as a basis for
handed that open binder, she was curious, as any adolescent would
Traub, a spokesman
for Norfolk County District Attorney, William Keating, had nothing but
praise for the 13 year old girl who had testified against Michael:
here to recognize the courage of the victim. She stood up there
through to a verdict. Without that victims courage, we would
this 2 1/2-year sentence”
Carolyn was ordered released from jail on her own recognizance. She
have to prove to the judge that she had a place to live before she
actually be released. She was released in November of 2008 after a
reduced the charges that
would face from first degree murder to second degree murder. Michael
held without bail.
prosecutors were trying to get Carolyn back into jail after an appeals
court reinstated that original charge of first degree murder, claiming
there was new evidence that the death of Rebecca was premeditated.
District Attorney, Frank Middleton, asked the judge to keep Carolyn in
jail without bail. A
date has been
set for August 10, 2009.
seven page ruling
said that there was evidence that Michael had often told Carolyn to
the children more medication than what was prescribed in order to
them down and make them pass out":
began to annoy him, he told Carolyn to shut them up with
to 'give them their pills and give them their meds. Michael was
his car to the children"
Jon Darrell, said that he is going to appeal the ruling to the state
evidence was insufficient to establish first-degree murder or any prong
request was that this should be reduced
and that's still my position"
with the ruling, Carolyn's lawyer, Michael Bourbeau said he would not
die of a drug overdose, which would make it not a homicide. This
Attorney Timothy Cruz said that prosecutors are happy with the ruling.
2009, a lawsuit was filed against Dr Kayoko Kifuji saying he
be held responsible for the death of Rebecca and that he had diagnosed
Rebecca too quickly, with Bipolar Disorder. The claim also states that
he did not monitor her closely enough. Lawyers say that Rebecca's
are to blame since they gave her more than was prescribed of the
the attorney who represents the estate of Rebecca, said that the amount
of power drugs that were prescribed by Dr Kifuji turned her into a four
year old zombie and were responsible for her death. The school nurse at
the Johnson Early Childhood Center had talked to Dr Kifuji as well as
about how the medication was leaving Rebecca lethargic and she wasn't
to participate to the full extent, in school.
Kifuji was not
charged in the case, however, she voluntarily gave up her medical
while the case is being investigated. She still says the blame is on
parents who gave Rebecca too much of the medication which had been
trial Dr Kifuji was asked if she had any second thoughs about how she
gone about the
and she said:
not, based on the information I received and on my observations of the
changed my mind about her diagnosis and treatment”
any wrong doing in her handling of Rebecca's case.
suit against doctor in girl’s death for $2.5m
/ January 25, 2011
for the estate
of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley announced last night that they have settled
their medical malpractice lawsuit against the girl’s psychiatrist, Dr.
Kayoko Kifuji of Tufts Medical Center, for $2.5 million.
Novotny said the settlement will be distributed to Rebecca’s two
now 15 and 10, with whom she had lived in Hull before her death four
ago from an overdose of psychiatric drugs prescribed by Kifuji.
Carolyn and Michael Riley, were convicted last year in separate trials
of murdering their daughter through their reckless dispensing of the
used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar illness.
works with Novotny, said the settlement did not contain any admission
wrongdoing on the part of Kifuji, but he said the doctor’s lawyers’
to settle for $2.5 million, which Meyer said is the maximum paid out by
Kifuji’s malpractice policy, suggests culpability. He said the hospital
self-insures many of its doctors, including Kifuji.
which continues to employ Kifuji as a child psychiatrist, said
chose to settle to spare the siblings more heartache.
trial would once again subject Rebecca’s siblings and everyone who
about her to the painful details brought forth during the criminal
of her parents,’’ said a statement released last night through
role in Rebecca’s death has been a source of intense controversy.
after Rebecca died in December 2006, Kifuji entered into a voluntary
with the Board of Registration of Medicine to halt her practice.
two years later,
after the grand jury declined to indict her and the licensing board
its own initial inquiry, the board allowed her to return to practice.
has been seeing patients over the past year.
many in the
medical and legal community questioned why Kifuji was not held
accountable. When Rebecca died, Kifuji was the psychiatrist for all
Riley children, diagnosing each with ADHD and bipolar illness and
similar mood-altering drugs.
during the trials, Kifuji had been fooled by the parents into believing
the children had serious psychiatric illnesses, in part so the parents
could collect federal disability checks for the youngsters’ alleged
and mental disorders. Many jurors questioned why Kifuji, who had
about the parents’ dangerous conduct, did not do more to protect the
to testify only after being granted immunity from prosecution, said in
court that she was following diagnostic criteria and treatment
followed by many well-established child psychiatrists. She said she had
no idea that the parents were giving extra medication to their children.
estate chose not to go to trial because any judgment beyond $2.5
would have to be recovered from the psychiatrist’s personal assets, and
they assessed those were relatively limited.
child from a previous relationship had also been involved in the
malpractice case, but the judge ruled that that child was not entitled
to any of the settlement, Novotny said.
the final settlement included language requiring Tufts to set up
and outreach programs to help provide more mental health services for
He said he was pleased that the case is settled, but added, “There’s no
amount of money that can right this wrong.’’
a picture of
the memorial card passed out at Rebecca's funeral.
Return To Rebecca's
A Timeline Of Events Surrounding Rebecca's Death
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