The little girl, whose unidentified body was found in a plastic storage tote resting on the banks of a sandbar in the Gulf of Mexico, has finally gone home.
First known as “Baby Grace,” the tiny toddler’s body was discovered by a fisherman on a late fall afternoon. Authorities were entrusted with the task of identifying the remains, wrapped in plastic, wearing a matching pink shirt and skirt, little sneakers from Target that had flashing lights in the heels.
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Department, in conjunction with the FBI, released a sketch of Baby Grace to the public.
People wondered, whose little girl was she? Why hadn’t someone reported her missing, such as her mother, at least in that area?
The authorities shifted through dozens of missing little girl cases, non-custodial parents who had taken their children. Could Baby Grace be one of these “little lost girls?”
A grandmother from Ohio, Sheryl Sawyers, was shocked to see the sketch and missing poster of Baby Grace.
Riley was the daughter of Sheryl’s son Robert and his high school sweetheart, Kimberly Trenor.
Sixteen-year-old Kimberly had moved in with Sheryl’s family when she became pregnant with RIley. Sheryl was there when Riley was born and watched her grow into a little blond sprite of a toddler. Then Kimberly and Robert broke up, Kimberly packed up her belongings along with little Riley and moved to Spring, Texas in June. Kimberly was in love with 24-year-old Royce Ziegler, a man she’d met online.
Sheryl tried to keep in contact with Kimberly and the whereabouts of Riley but by July Kimberly had effectively shut Sheryl out of Riley’s life. When Sheryl saw the sketch of a little long haired blond girl named “Baby Grace” it had been months since she had had any news or contact from Kimberly.
It was Kimberly who turned herself into the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department with her attorney. In her statement, which was used to indict both Kimberly and Royce of capital murder charges, Kimberly told a story full of horror for little Riley. Of being beaten for hours, her head held under water, being thrown across a room, being suffocated, and in the end, dead, by the hands of both Royce and Kimberly.
Kimberly told how she and Royce drove to the local Walmart and walked through the fluorescent lit aisles searching for something to put little Riley’s body in. It was July 25th in Spring, Texas, where the humidity was as thick as molasses and the little children who lived in Riley’s neighborhood could run through the thick green grass in search of lightning bugs in the cool of the evening.
Kimberly and Royce wrapped Riley in plastic, placed her in the blue storage tote, then put her in a shed in the backyard. One can imagine Kimberly standing at the kitchen window, washing dishes, the shed where Riley’s body lay, in her line of sight.
Eventually Royce and Kimberly decided to dispose of Riley’s body 75 miles to the southeast of Spring, at the Galveston Causeway.
It was on the late afternoon of October 31st that a fisherman saw the tote resting on the banks of an unnamed sandbar near the island city of Galveston, Texas.
An effort is underway to have the sandbar or island that Riley was found, named in her honor:
The purpose of this petition is to provide a statement of intent to follow the protocol required in getting the island where Riley Ann Sawyers was found officially referenced geographically as “Riley’s Island .”
On July 24, 2007, Riley Ann Sawyers was brutally murdered in Spring, Texas. Her mother and stepfather stand accused of her murder. On October 29, 2007, having been maliciously stored in a plastic storage container for months and then inhumanely tossed over the Galveston Causeway, the container that held her precious remains was found washed ashore on a small uninhabited island in Galveston Bay. She remained unidentified for several weeks and was known only as “Baby Grace.” The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI worked tirelessly to identify this child in order to serve justice for the barbarous crime and events encompassing her untimely death.
In honor of Riley Ann, the dedicated investigators who continue the diligent work on her case, and those that have been deeply touched by her story, we are asking Galveston County and the City of Hitchcock to memorialize her life by officially naming the island where Riley Ann Sawyers was found “Riley’s Island .” As supporters of this appellation, we intend not only to commemorate Riley but to address the commitment of Galveston County as well as citizens of the state of Texas, the nation in alliance with the global community to banish child abuse. Please consider granting this heartfelt request to make the island a permanent memorial to an innocent child who was taken far too soon from this world.
In memory of Riley Ann Sawyers – March 11, 2005 to July 24, 2007.
We think this is a wonderful idea and hope our readers will take the time to sign the petition.
Here is the link:
Riley has finally gone home, in the arms of our Lord, buried in Mentor, Ohio, by those who loved her and will always mourn her.
Kimberly and Royce are incarcerated at the Galveston County Jail, neither able to post the $350,000 bond. Both claim they are “innocent” of the “charges.”
A trial date has yet to be set. Kimberly is now pregnant.