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Doctor: Clonidine too risky for kids

Dr. Sam Kelley of Cohasset, a child psychiatrist and medical director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said he wouldn’t prescribe Clonidine for anyone younger than 4 years old.

Police say that was one of the drugs found in the system of Rebecca Jeanne Riley, 4, the Hull girl whose parents are charged with murdering her.

“Too much of this medication is dangerous. It has to be carefully monitored and given in low doses.”

Clonidine had been prescribed for Rebecca by a psychiatrist treating her for hyperactivity and bipolar disorder, authorities said.

Kelley said Clonidine is usually given to children to help them sleep or reduce aggressive behavior. Clonidine is also used to lower blood pressure in adults.

“Before I would prescribe it, I would want to consult with a number of doctors, including the child’s pediatrician,” Kelley said. “I would make sure the parents would give the right dosage. Too much of this medication is dangerous. It has to be carefully monitored and given in low doses.”

Kelley said it was too early to diagnose someone as young as 28 months old with bipolar disorder.

In addition to Clonidine, Depakote and Seroquel, two other drugs used to treat bipolar disorder, and two over-the-counter cold medicines were found in Rebecca’s system, the state medical examiner’s office said.

-Dennis Tatz

Cops: Mom and dad killed girl, 4
Michael Riley
Carolyn Riley
Michael Riley
Carolyn Riley
Charged in the death of their daughter, Rebecca.

Hull pair charged with giving daughter deliberate overdose
of prescription pills

The Patriot Ledger

In a case that defies comprehension, a husband and wife from Hull appeared in court today on charges of killing their 4-year-old daughter with a deliberate drug overdose.

Police said Michael Riley, 34, who was awaiting trial for attempted child rape, and Carolyn Riley, 32, gave their daughter, Rebecca Jeanne, a fatal dose of prescription pills on Dec. 13.

Rebecca Riley
Rebecca Riley

In an affidavit filed with the court, State Police Trooper Anna Brookes said there was evidence of a "slow and painful killing of Rebecca Riley over a period of days."

Brookes said the Rileys refused to accept help from agencies that had identified problems with the way Rebecca was being given medicine.

The affidavit said the couple was indifferent to her "obvious pain and suffering," and failed "to provide any medical care to their own daughter as she lay visibly suffering, drowning in her own bodily fluids on the floor beside their bed."

The state medical examiner's office said the girl died from the combined effects of three drugs used to treat bipolar disorder, including Clonidine, and two over-the-counter cold medicines.

"This occurred as a result of the intentional overdose of Rebecca with Clonidine," the Plymouth County District Attorney's office said in a statement announcing the charges.

The Clonidine was prescribed by Dr. Kayoko Kifuji, Tufts New England Medical Center psychiatrist, to treat the young girl for hyperactivity and bipolar disorder. The other two drugs were Depakote and Seroquel, which are also used to treat bipolar disorder.

Authorities said the girl was diagnosed with both disorders when she was 28 months old.

James McGonnell, Carolyn Riley's half brother, and his fiancee, Kelly Williams, who lived with the family, told police they had repeatedly asked the Rileys to take Rebecca to the hospital or to a pediatrician.

They said the Rileys told them they has made an appointment, but only offered excuses for not going. They said Michael Riley told his wife to medicate the children when he determined that they were acting up.

The state medical examiner's office said the girl died from the combined effects of three drugs used to treat bipolar disorder, including Clonidine, and two over-the-counter cold medicines.

The state Department of Social Services placed the Rileys' two other children, Gerard, 11, and Kaitlynne, 6, in foster care about 10 hours after Rebecca's death.

"There were mitigating circumstances," department spokesman Denise Monteiro said yesterday. "We had to take custody of the children. I can't say any more."

Carolyn Riley obtained a restraining order against her husband in October, but allowed it to lapse after a few weeks.

McGonnell and Williams told police they saw Michael Riley grab his son by the neck and bang his head against the back window of a pickup truck "in an apparent uncontrollable rage," the affidavit said.

McGonnell said Riley was not allowed to live with his family in Weymouth public housing because of a court order issued after he was arrested on the sex charges in 2005.

Police were called to the Rileys' home at 70 Lynn Ave. in Hull's Kenberma neighborhood, opposite Nantasket Beach, at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 13. They found found Rebecca dead on the floor of her parents' bedroom.

An obituary prepared by the couple and published in The Patriot Ledger said the little girl had died in her sleep.

The Rileys will be arraigned today in Hingham District Court on charges of first-degree murder.

The couple was arrested yesterday at Michael Riley's mother's home on Fallgren Lane in Weymouth. He was held overnight at the Plymouth County jail and Carolyn Riley was held at the Marshfield police lockup.

Michael Riley was indicted in September 2005 on charges of attempted rape of a girl under 14, four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child and giving pornography to a child.

Weymouth Police Lt. George Greenwood said Riley was arrested in June 2005 after police searched his apartment at 43 Memorial Drive in Weymouth and confiscated a computer, diaries and notebooks.

He was scheduled for trial on May 29 in Norfolk Superior Court.

He was free on $2,500 bail posted by his wife.

Court records show Riley has a bullet hole and the letters "RRR" tattooed on his back.

Michael Riley graduated from Weymouth High School in 1991 and his wife, the former Carolyn DiSalvo, graduated in 1992.

On Dec. 30, two weeks after their daughter's death, they attended his 15th high school reunion at the Weymouth Elks Club. Michael Riley told a friend he and his wife needed to get out so they would stop thinking about Rebecca.

Hull Police Chief Richard Billings praised State Police Sgt. Scott Warmington, State Police Detective Anna Brookes and Hull Police Detective John Coggins for their investigation that led to the arrests.

A neighbor, Phyllis Lipton, said Carolyn Riley, her three children, Carolyn's stepbrother, his girlfriend and their son, moved into a home at 70 Lynn Ave. in mid-November.

Lipton, 51, said the family told her Carolyn's husband, Michael, wouldn't be living with them although he appeared to be there all the time.

"They moved in during the middle of the night," Lipton said. "All I could hear was foul language coming from the house."

Lipton said either Carolyn's stepbrother or his girlfriend told her that Rebecca had a twin who died at age of 2 weeks.

Lipton rarely saw the children, she said, but added Gerard Riley once returned hedge clippers he had taken without asking.

"He had obviously gone into my shed to get them," she said. "He said his cousin was the one who got them from the shed."

Lipton said when she heard someone had died in the Riley home her first thought was that Michael Riley had killed his wife.

"No one knew there was a child sick in the house," she said. "We thought they had moved out."

Lipton said the Rileys left about two weeks after their daughter's death. Carolyn Riley's stepbrother and his family followed a few weeks later.

Lipton said all three Riley children had special needs.

Rebecca attended the Elden H. Johnson Early Childhood Center in North Weymouth. The school provides full- and part-day classes for children ages 3 to 5. The center's principal, Victoria Silberstein, declined to comment.

Michael Riley's mother, Kathleen Riley, would not comment on the case when a reporter arrived at her home last night.

Dennis Tatz may be reached at Sue Reinert may be reached at

Concerns raised before death of 4-year-old girl

Teachers, a social worker, a nurse and a therapist had noticed something wasn’t right about Rebecca Riley. A chronology:

bullet 1991-92: Michael Riley graduates from Weymouth High School in 1991; Carolyn DiSalvo graduates in 1992.

bullet 1994: Michael and Carolyn are married.

bullet April 11, 2002: Rebecca Jeanne Riley is born.

bullet June 2005: Michael Riley is ordered to leave his family’s home at 43C Memorial Drive in Weymouth after charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl. He lives with his mother at 14 Fallgren Lane in Weymouth through November 2006.

bullet September 2005: Michael Riley is indicted on charges of attempted rape of a girl under 14, indecent assault and battery on a child and giving pornography to a child.

bullet January-June 2006, September-November 2006: Rebecca is a student at Elden Johnson Early Childhood Center in North Weymouth. Teachers raise concerns about her physical and mental state.

bullet May-July: A social worker from South Bay Mental Health Services in Weymouth works with Rebecca Riley and her 6-year-old sister in their home. The social worker discusses her concerns over Rebecca’s medication levels with Carolyn Riley and Rebecca’s psychiatrist, Dr. Kayoko Kifuji. After the social worker files two abuse or neglect orders with the Department of Social Services; Carolyn Riley ends the family’s involvement with South Bay.

bullet Oct. 9: Relatives tell investigators that on this date, Michael Riley slammed his 11-year-old son’s head against the back window of a pickup truck. Carolyn Riley obtains a restraining order but allows it to lapse a few weeks later. 2006: Rebecca is described by her school nurse as “lethargic every day” and her gym teacher also expressed concern.

bullet Nov. 14: Carolyn Riley moves to 70 Lynn Ave. in Hull with her half-brother, his fiancee, and the fiancee’s 7-year-old son. Michael Riley moves in with them in early December.

bullet Dec. 9: Rebecca becomes ill; her parents refuse a family member’s request to take her to the doctor or the hospital.

bullet Dec. 13: Rebecca Jeanne Riley, 4, is found dead in her parents’ bedroom. The Rileys’ other two children, Kaitlynne, 6, and Gerard, 11, are placed in foster care.

bullet Dec. 30: Michael and Carolyn Riley attend his 15th-year high school reunion at Weymouth Elks Club.

bullet Feb. 6, 2007: Michael Riley, 34, and Carolyn Riley, 32, are charged with killing their daughter, Rebecca Jeanne, with a fatal overdose of prescription pills. They both plead innocent.