03-09-2008, 02:59 AM #1Former Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
Rilya Shenise Wilson (4) - Miami FL, 2001
Missing Since: January 18, 2001 from Miami, Florida
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: September 29, 1996
Age: 4 years old
Height and Weight: 3'0, 40 - 50 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: African-American female. Black hair, brown eyes. Rilya has a scar approximately five inches below her navel. Her ears are pierced. Some agencies give her middle name as "Denise."
Details of Disappearance
Rilya and her two siblings were removed from their mother's custody when Rilya was an infant. They were placed with Geralyn (alternatively spelled "Gerrilyn") Graham, their alleged grandmother or godmother, in Miami, Florida in 2000. Their mother, Gloria Wilson, abused cocaine and neglected her children. Her parental rights were eventually terminated. Photos of Gloria and Graham are posted below this case summary. Florida's Department Of Children and Families (DCF) was obligated to check on the children's well-being during monthly visits. The final recorded visit for the family took place in early January of 2001, when their counselor, Deborah (sometimes spelled "DeBorah") Muskelly, stopped by Graham's residence.
Graham told authorities that an unidentified African-American female arrived at her home in the 10100 block of southwest 145th Place on January 18, 2001. The individual claimed to work for the DCF and said that she was removing Rilya from the home for an evaluation. Rilya was reportedly diagnosed with behavior problems prior to the visit. She has never been heard from again. Graham said that the alleged abductor spoke with a thick accent that may have been African in origin. Graham claimed that the woman was extremely familiar with Rilya's history and said that Muskelly was aware of her visit. Graham stated that two other people visited her home in February 2001 and requested additional toys to help Rilya become accustomed to her new surroundings.
Muskelly and her supervisor, Willie Harris, resigned from the DCF in March 2002 amid accusations that records of home visits were fraudulent. The agency contacted Graham during its investigation into Muskelly's records. Authorities learned about Rilya's possible abduction in April 2002, 15 months after the child disappeared. Graham said that Muskelly was not one of the individuals who visited her home one month after Rilya disappeared. Muskelly's attorney said that his client offered to cooperate with authorities regarding Rilya's case. He also claimed that Muskelly was being used as a scapegoat by the DCF to mask its own internal problems.
Graham told several media outlets that she contacted Muskelly several times after Rilya was removed from her home. She claimed that Muskelly told her that the child would be returned shortly. Graham admitted that she continued to cash checks from the state of Florida for Rilya's care after the child had disappeared. Graham said that she called the DCF to report the error, but maintains that she was instructed to keep the money due to the difficulty in the re-application process. DCF officials said that they have no record of Graham's phone calls and only learned of Rilya's disappearance on April 25, 2002, which is the date when she was reported missing. Graham said that she believes Muskelly was aware of the circumstances surrounding Rilya's disappearance, but nothing has been proven.
The DCF has been under scrutiny for some time as bureaucratic mistakes in other situations were discovered. The agency has since acknowledged that it failed Rilya. Investigations into the DCF's errors are ongoing and are resulting in political problems for some of Florida's elected officials.
Investigators believe that Rilya was a victim of foul play and are treating her case as a possible homcide. Authorities noticed that Rilya's physical characteristics were similar to those of "Precious Doe," an unidentified African-American child who was brutally murdered and discovered in the Kansas City area in April 2001. DNA tests ruled out any match between Rilya and the unidentified child in May 2002. In 2005, Precious Doe was identified as Erica Michelle Maria Green, a three-year-old who had never been reported missing.
Gloria told reporters that Graham was not Rilya's paternal grandmother. Graham refuted the statement, but admitted that her son, Kenneth Epson, never took a paternity test to confirm if he fathered the child. Graham maintains that Gloria has claimed several men fathered Rilya, but none of the allegations have been proven. Gloria said that she met one of Graham's daughters in a substance abuse rehabilitation center prior to Rilya's birth. She said that she elected to name Graham as Rilya's godmother. The actual relationship between Graham and Rilya is unclear.
Manville Cash claimed to be Rilya's father in early May 2002. He is currently imprisoned after being convicted of automobile theft and drug charges. Cash was named as Rilya's prospective father on papers terminating Gloria's parental rights. He has never taken a paternity test to prove his claims. Cash told the media that he saw Rilya three times a week prior to his incarceration. He said that he saw the child for the final time at her third birthday party at Pamela Kendrick (often referred to as Pamela Graham, but she is unrelated to Geralyn Graham)'s home in Brownsville, Florida.
Kendrick is Cash's aunt and Gloria allowed her to take custody of Rilya shortly after her birth. Rilya was removed from Kendrick's house in April 2000 after allegations of neglect surfaced. Kendrick denies any wrongdoing in Rilya's case. Rilya and the other children were placed in Graham's custody shortly thereafter. Kendrick and Graham are also sisters and Kendrick occasionally uses her maiden name.
Authorities removed Rilya's siblings from Graham's care in early May 2002. Graham hired an attorney and claims that there was no reason for the custodial change. Investigators have reportedly adminstered polygraph exams to several of Rilya's relatives, but the results have not been publicly released.
Investigators stated that Graham failed a polygraph exam that was conducted in early May 2002. Kendrick also showed signs of deception in the results of her lie detector test. Authorities said that neither Graham nor Kendrick were considered suspects in Rilya's case, but mentioned that the investigation was revolving around those closest to the child. Muskelly's attorney told the media that Graham did not tell his client about Rilya's behavioral problems. He also claimed that Graham failed to report an accurate account of her conversations with Muskelly after the child disappeared. Graham's lawyer denied the allegations and emphasized that polygraph results are not admissible in court.
In mid-May 2002, a judge ruled that Rilya's younger sister, Rodericka Wilson, was neglected by DCF officials and by Graham and Kendrick. The judge stated that Rodericka suffered from developmental problems and an untreated eye condition. Neither the DCF nor her caregivers provided needed medical care when necessary.
Media sources speculated that authorities may begin searching locations in the Miami area for possible evidence in the near future. The reports have not been confirmed. Investigators said that they have not received any tips regarding Rilya's whereabouts. America's Most Wanted profiled Rilya's case in mid-May 2002, but the producers omitted a sketch of the unidentified female Graham claims abducted the child in 2001. The series's representatives stated that the most accurate sketches were created before witnesses viewed lineups or photos of possible suspects. Graham looked at numerous photos at the DCF's headquarters after Rilya's disappearance was reported; the sketch was considered compromised as a result.
Media reports stated that officials located a witness who may have seen Rilya and Graham together in February 2001, one month after Graham claimed a DCF worker removed the child from her home. A medical worker reportedly told investigators that Rilya accompanied Graham and Rodericka during the latter's checkup. Graham denied that Rodericka's physician saw Rilya. In addition, sources allege that Graham may have falsified Rilya's vaccination records in 2001 to continue receiving state benefits for the child's care. Documents reportedly state that Rilya was vaccinated after she disappeared. Sources claimed that the doctor who signed the papers never saw Rilya on the specified date.
Authorities stated that both women have consistently failed lie detector tests in connection with Rilya's case. Graham allegedly told at least six people that an unnamed Spanish woman had taken Rilya on a trip to New York or New Jersey, after the individuals noticed the child's absence but before the DCF did. She said the Spanish woman intended to adopt Rilya.
When confronted by police about her changing story, Graham said the woman returned Rilya before the DCF worker picked her up and she vanished. She denies abusing or killing the child and has stated that she believes Rilya is still alive. Graham says Kendrick is making up the abuse allegations to escape a long prison sentence.
In August 2004, two and a half years after Rilya vanished, Graham was charged with kidnapping and three counts of child abuse, and Kendrick with two lesser counts of child abuse/neglect. Kendrick pleaded guilty to neglecting and abusing Rilya, but not to harming her, and was sentenced one year less a day in prison, followed by five years' probation. She will testify against Graham at her trial. She says both of them spanked Rilya with switches, locked her a cage and in the laundry room, and occasionally handcuffed her to her bed at night. Kendrick denies any knowledge of what happened to Rilya, however, and claims she asked Graham that question several times and got no answer.
In March 2005, Graham was additionally charged with first-degree murder in connection with Rilya's case. Investigators believe the child was suffocated or beaten to death sometime in December 2000, a month before Graham says Rilya disappeared and over a year before the DCF found out about it.
A large part of the evidence supporting the charges came from information provided by Robin Lunceford a former cellmate of Graham's,who says Graham confessed Rilya's murder to her. A photograph of Lunceford is posted below this case summary. Graham's lawyers have questioned her credibility, pointing out that she is a career criminal with fifteen convictions for robbery and a history of prison escapes. She was awaiting trial for another armed robbery charge when Graham supposedly confessed to her.
In June 2005, Lunceford ceased cooperating with authorities and stated that she would not testify against Graham unless she could get a much-reduced sentence for the robbery in return for her testimony. The prosecution offered twenty years; Lunceford wanted three. Earlier, she had stated that she did not want a deal and had gone to the police with her information out of conscience. At Graham's bail hearing in August, Lunceford invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to testify against her. Graham was granted an unusually low bail, $100,000, due to the weakness in the case against her. This bail is on top of the $150,000 bail for kidnapping Rilya, and she cannot not be released until at least May 2006, when the earliest possible release date for her as she finishes serving a sentence for unrelated motor vehicle fraud.
Lunceford was convicted of the armed robbery in September 2005 and sentenced to the maximum, life in prison without the possibility of parole, under Florida's habitual violent offender laws. It appears unlikely that she will testify against Graham, but Graham's prosecutors stated that the trial would proceed with or without Lunceford, as they believe the case against Graham is strong enough as is. Kendrick is cooperating with the prosecutors and told them she had nothing to do with Rilya's disappearance but knew all along that Graham was making up the story about the DCF worker coming to take Rilya.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Miami-Dade Police Department
04-11-2010, 02:23 AM #2Former Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
Discuss Rilya's case here:
FL-Rilya Wilson 5 - missing since 2001 - Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community
Last edited by KateB; 05-17-2015 at 06:31 PM. Reason: repair url tag.