Breaking News
More () »

Polk sheriff: Former Marine who killed 4 also 'tortured' 11-year-old to find woman who didn't exist

Bryan Riley saw the 11-year-old girl outside with her father Saturday evening as he was driving back from a friend's house, Sheriff Grady Judd said.

LAKELAND, Fla. — "3...2...1...POW."

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd reenacted the moment he says a "mass murderer" shot and tortured an 11-year-old girl, looking for information about a "figment of his imagination."

Judd said Thursday that although the crime scene hasn't been processed fully and there are still "weeks and weeks" left in the agency's investigation, this would likely be the final update for now as authorities "build a case" against 33-year-old Bryan Riley.

He's accused of shooting and killing four people, including an infant, Sunday morning in unincorporated Lakeland. A judge earlier this week denied bond to Riley, who will remain in jail on several charges, including four counts of first-degree murder.

"These happened to be the unfortunate people he picked on," Judd said, reiterating that there was no connection between Riley and the people he confessed to killing.

The sheriff says deputies have been able to determine how Riley came into contact with 40-year-old Justice Gleason, the only person killed whose name has been released by the sheriff's office, and his family.

According to Judd, a witness told deputies Riley was going to help with Hurricane Ida recovery. A friend offered to give him a first-aid kit before he left.

The friend lived near Gleason's home. Judd says on Saturday after getting the first-aid kit from his friend's home and starting to make his way back to his home in Brandon, Riley saw Gleason mowing his lawn.

Gleason's 11-year-old daughter was outside helping him, Judd said.

Riley then pulled up and asked to speak to a girl named "Amber" who he said lived at the house, the sheriff continued.

Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office
Accused killer Bryan Riley

Gleason said there wasn't anywhere living there with that name. Still, Riley reportedly persisted and kept insisting "Amber" was there. During that time, Gleason's mother-in-law came outside and told Riley the same thing: "Amber" didn't live here.

Judd says after being told the cops would be called, Riley left angry. However, he didn't threaten the family, he added.

After a fight Saturday night with his girlfriend, Judd says Riley left his home around 1 a.m. Sunday and went to the Gleason home to "do reconnaissance."

He did this because "God told me to kill everyone and save Amber cause she's a victim of sex trafficking," the sheriff says Riley later told detectives.

He set up his diversions, including setting a truck on fire, and planned his attack, Judd said. From there, authorities said he went to Gleason's mother-in-law's home, broke into the home and shot the 62-year-old woman.

Judd says Riley then went to the main house and broke in: He shot his way into the bathroom and shot Gleason, his significant other and the 3-month-old baby as they "huddled in fear."

RELATED: Close friends of the Gleason family share heartbreak over quadruple murder: 'His kids were his world'

Credit: WTSP
Lakeland shooting victim Justice Gleason and his daughters

After that, the sheriff said Riley dragged the 11-year-old girl out of the bathroom where she had been hiding with her father, stepmother and baby brother.

According to investigators, he then tortured her in the living room, demanding information on "Amber," who Riley claimed was a girl about to "commit suicide" and was being sex trafficked. There was no Amber — it was all "a figment of his imagination," Judd said.

Riley told detectives he "tortured" the girl in "order to find Amber." He's accused of shooting her in the legs, the hand and the stomach at least seven times. He then left her for dead, Judd says.

But the girl played dead and prayed, ultimately "outsmarting" Riley, the sheriff said.

Judd says Riley then got into a shootout with authorities­ — five deputies and one Lakeland Police officer. A deputy shot Riley in the stomach, injuring him.

According to Judd, Riley then retreated to the baby's nursery, stopped his wound from bleeding and then took off his bulletproof vest, put down his guns and walked outside with his hands up. He was then taken into custody and taken to the hospital.

"Zero remorse. He’s an evil human being,” Judd said.

Judd encouraged the community to help — the remaining family and loved ones are going through a "horror" right now, he added. There are several verified GoFundMe pages set up for the Gleason family to help pay for funeral expenses and medical bills. 

You can find those pages here and here

The sheriff also said people can donate to Polk Sheriff's Charities, and 100 percent of those donations will go to the family. 

Watch the sheriff's full press conference here: