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DSS to murder suspect parents:
Give up 2 kids

Couple accused of overdosing their 4-year-old
in their Hull rental home


The Patriot Ledger

State officials want Michael and Carolyn Riley, the couple accused of murdering their 4-year-old daughter in Hull, to give up their remaining two children for adoption.

Department of Social Services social workers have formally asked the couple to agree to adoption for the couple’s surviving children, a 12-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl, Carolyn’s mother, Valerie Berio, said yesterday.

Department spokeswoman Denise Monteiro said the agency has proposed to the Rileys a “service plan with a goal of permanency for the children” but declined to give specifics. The department sent copies of the plan to the couple in jail and asked them to sign it, she said. Employees also visited Carolyn Riley in jail, Monteiro said.

DEBEE TLUMACKI i photos/
The Patriot Ledger

Carolyn Riley


Michael Riley


Valerie Berio

Berio said both refused to sign.

Carolyn and Michael Riley are accused of deliberately overdosing their 4-year-old daughter Rebecca on powerful prescription drugs. Michael, 34, and Carolyn, 32, have been held without bail since they were arrested Feb. 5. Police found Rebecca on Dec. 13, lying on the floor of a Hull home the Rileys had rented for a month.

If the Rileys don’t agree to free their children for adoption, the state can ask a judge to terminate their parental rights.

Social workers had been investigating abuse allegations against the Rileys before Rebecca died. “We were trying to work with the family,” Monteiro said. “Subsequently the goals for the family have changed.”

Prosecutors said the couple repeatedly gave Rebecca overdoses of psychiatric drugs, one of which caused her death. A psychiatrist had diagnosed her with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at 2.

Defense lawyers for the couple blame the psychiatrist who made the diagnosis and prescribed the medicines, Kayoko Kifuji of Tufts/New England Medical Center. Kifuji voluntarily agreed to stop practicing while the state Board of Registration in Medicine investigates. She has not been charged in the case.

Kifuji had made the same diagnosis for Rebecca’s older sister and brother and they took the same drugs, investigators said. The children have been in foster care since their parents were arrested.

The Rileys appeared yesterday in Plymouth Superior Court in Brockton, looking dazed when court officers brought them in. They sat at separate tables in the courtroom while their attorneys, John Darrell and Michael Bourbeau, argued with Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton over records in the case.

Bourbeau said prosecutors had not turned over all documents to which the defense should have access, while Middleton said he had provided everything requested. Judge John B. Connor ordered the lawyers to confer and return to court May 24.

Berio, who has steadfastly said her daughter and son-in-law are innocent, sat alone in the back row of the nearly empty courtroom. In an interview outside the room, she said she sees her daughter every Thursday at South Bay Correctional Center in Boston.

Jail officials allowed them to meet without a glass barrier on the last two visits, Berio said. “I finally got to give her a hug,” she said.

Michael Riley is being held at the Plymouth County jail. He and his wife were allowed to write to each other for the first time this past weekend, Berio said.

Berio has seen her grandchildren only once, on the boy’s birthday in March, she said. Social workers made an exception because grandparents have no visitation rights, she said.

She has asked for more visits, but “I haven’t pushed it,” she said. “It’s hard to know whether I can hold it together,” Berio said as she wiped away tears.

Sue Reinert may be reached at sreinert@ledger.com.