Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ricky and Dena


Dena Riley
Dena Riley

During his years in prison, Davis had plenty of time to conjure up his dream girl: buxom, pliable and willing—a woman just like Dena Delores Riley, 38.

She grew in Kansas City and married just weeks after graduating from Hickman Hills High School in 1985.

She and her husband, Mark Riley, had three children in five years. By the birth of the third, Dena had lost interest.

"She got tired of being a mom," Mark Riley told the Kansas City Star. "She felt she missed out, because she got married right out of high school."

Dena Riley began bed-hopping and using drugs, and her husband filed for divorce and won custody of the three children in 1990. The following year, she had a fourth child with another man.

For the ensuing 15 years, Riley lived at the scruffy edges of Kansas City. She bounced from one temporary job to another—from holiday temping at toy stores to serving donuts, always with a meth monkey on her back. She was homeless at times, spent brief periods in jail, and dabbled in prostitution, according to police.

She was disarmingly honest about her drug jones. A blogger, Crime Scene KC, spoke with a former colleague at a dog-grooming salon who said Riley gave daily updates about her narcotics use and made no attempt to conceal the needle tracks on her arms.

Yet she did not seem to be the sort of woman who would participate in a murder, the friend said.

"She was one of the gentlest people around the animals I've ever had," the woman insisted.

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