Student's death spurs questions
Published 9:55 pm Monday, August 30, 2004
By By Arthur McLean
Unanswered questions and rumors swirled around the shocking death of a 15-year-old student from the Freemanville community Thursday.
Woodrow Riley, a freshman at Escambia County High School, was found dead at his home on Freemanville Road Thursday morning, dead from an apparent suicide.
But circumstances surrounding his death caused rumors to circulate through the community by Friday that his death might have been the result of foul play.
Sheriff Grover Smith said the evidence at the scene is consistent with suicide.
"However, every unattended death is treated as a potential homicide by our department," Smith said. "We'll ask the grand jury to make that determination."
He said his department has asked the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to assist with the case.
Investigators from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Alabama Bureau of Investigation and crime scene technicians scoured the home Thursday.
The news was brought to students at Escambia County High School Thursday, said Buck Powell, superintendent of schools. "We had counselors on hand, and some students checked out of school for the day," Powell said. "He was a well-liked young man."
Riley was a defensive lineman and linebacker for the Blue Devil football team. Team coaches said the team would observe a moment of silence during Friday night's season opener against T.R. Miller for Riley and for two other fallen teammates, Kelvin Norman and Clifton Cooks, who were killed in a collision with a train earlier in the month.
Lamar "Peanut" Brown wrote a message memorializing Riley on the back of his car window parked at a local restaurant Friday.. Brown said he was the husband of Riley's first cousin, and that they were close.
"He was kind-hearted kid," Brown said. "I cried like a baby when I heard the news. He wasn't on the streets, and he wasn't into drugs. He was real articulate. It's a tragedy. I miss him already."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time.