Merced residents sent a unifying message that deadly violence in the community must be stopped as they took part in the annual Riley Brothers Victims’ Remembrance Walk on Oct. 14.
The annual walk is held on the second Saturday of October each year to remember the lives of loved ones that were lost to violence. The event and Remembrance Walk is led and organized by Marylene Riley, mother of Michael and Marlis Riley, who lost their lives to violence in 2008 and 2009.
The event started at the FoodMaxx parking lot with remembrance ribbons being pinned on friends, family members, police officers and community supporters. Riley opened the ceremony by thanking those in attendance. Merced County District Attorney Nicole Silveira spoke as well, expressing the importance of the different types of justice a community can receive, including remembering the lives of loved ones and making sure they are not forgotten.
After the remarks, Riley opened a white wicker basket, and a number of doves were released into the air as a sign of remembrance and hope. Then the participants walked through the Loughborough neighborhood, carrying signs that condemned violence and expressed the need for more unity in local communities.
They walked to three sites that marked where loved ones had lost their lives, and as they carried on, residents learned more about the lives of those they were there to honor.
Michael Riley, who served in the ranks of the U.S Navy in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was a 29-year-old honor student attending Merced College, hoping to transfer to Harvard Law when his life was cut short.
Nearly a year later, 27-year-old Marlis Riley would find himself down the street from the Village Meadows Apartment Complex, the site of his older brother’s death, facing two individuals with deadly intentions. As a fight broke out in the area of Conestoga Drive, Marlis Riley fought for his life but was ultimately overtaken.
Police say the murder of Michael Riley remains unsolved. There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the those responsible for Michael’s death.
Detectives eventually arrested two men in connection with the death of Marlis. The men, captured in San Jose, were prosecuted by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office and sentenced to prison in 2010.
Residents also heard from Victoria Hogue who spoke about her daughter Tatyanna Lopez. Lopez was shot and killed while visiting her friends in the Loughborough area. At the time of her death, Lopez was pregnant with her unborn daughter Ayanna. As Hogue spoke, she did so with Riley at her side, standing in front of the bullet holes that are still visible in the fence line where her daughter and granddaughter lost their lives three years ago.
As residents left the final site, they made their way back out to the roadway with signs in hand. As the walk came to an end, the group made their way back across Olive Avenue to the FoodMaxx parking lot.