Affidavit details day bodies of Auburn man’s parents were found

Neighbor, friend says Matthew Riley not capable of murder
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Details have surfaced surrounding an Auburn man’s arrest on charges of brutally murdering his parents last week in their South Natomas home. Matthew Riley, 30, of Auburn was arrested Tuesday for the Dec. 9 murders of his parents Steven, 54, and Linda, 52, Riley. However, a friend and neighbor defends Matthew Riley, saying the “nicest family man” is not capable of murder. A 12-page arrest warrant affidavit documents what detectives deemed inconsistent statements from Riley, evidence of bloody sock prints in Steven and Linda Riley’s home, the state in which the victim’s bodies were found and Riley’s activities following the death of his parents. Riley was set to be arraigned Thursday. His next court date is scheduled in January. In the affidavit, the Sacramento police officers who initially responded to Riley’s 911 call that his parents had been stabbed said they found Riley sitting on a chair, smoking a cigarette and crying on the front porch. Officers said he had a black right eye, scratch under his right eye and a small, fine cut on his left pinky finger. Riley said the eye bruises were from his daughter grabbing his cheek, and the cut was from moving boxes. Officers reportedly found the body of Steven Riley on the living room floor. Linda Riley’s body was discovered upstairs in the master bedroom bathroom. Steven Riley was wearing a bathrobe and Linda Riley was in a nightgown. According to the affidavit, both bodies were covered in blood and had visible stab wounds. A preliminary autopsy report revealed that both victims had a total of 19 knife/stab wounds on the front and back sides of their bodies. Matthew Riley told officers and detectives that he had gone to his parents’ house between 4:20 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 9 to ask if he could move back in. He and his family were being evicted from their Colonial Village Apartment in Auburn. He said he used his key to enter the house and initially went into the family room to look for a book. On his way to the kitchen, that’s when Matthew Riley said he discovered his father’s body. Matthew Riley said he tried to use the house phone to dial 911 but heard a message saying he couldn’t connect. He ran outside to get his cell phone and went back inside. While on the phone with a dispatcher, he discovered his mother’s body. “It was horrible, my dad is my best friend,” Matthew Riley said in his initial statement. “I don’t have a lot of friends.” Detectives stated that immediately upon entering the house, Steven Riley’s body was “clearly visible” from the front door. Bloody footprints, from a foot covered by a sock, were found throughout the house. The size of the prints approximately matched the size of Matthew Riley’s feet. Both prints also shared a “unique characteristic” in that the pinky toe of the right foot does not leave an impression, the affidavit stated. Detectives noted that there was no visible blood on Matthew Riley’s shoes when they arrived, either. The affidavit stated that it seemed “extremely unlikely” that Matthew Riley could walk up close enough to touch both victims as he claimed he did and not get blood on your shoes. The phones were also tested and were in working order the day the police arrived. Officers believe evidence of “ransacking” in two upstairs rooms was possibly staged. No high-value items, such as a large TV, DVD/VCR player and surround-sound system were stolen nor were the victims’ wallets or vehicles. A neighbor turned over video-surveillance tapes from cameras installed on his home. The tapes showed Matthew Riley arriving at the house at 4:21 p.m. in his green Nissan Altima. Matthew Riley later agreed to a polygraph test, but admitted he had researched the tests on the Internet that day and had taken a muscle relaxer, according to the affidavit. During the test, he denied killing his parents but the results showed he “was deceptive as to whether or not he killed them,” the affidavit said. Tyler Lovejoy, a friend and neighbor of Matthew Riley’s, says he doesn’t believe the 30-year-old Auburn man committed the murders. Lovejoy said he got to know Matthew and his wife, Jannilin Overton, when he and his girlfriend moved into Auburn’s Colonial Village Apartments in October. Lovejoy said the couple immediately welcomed him and his girlfriend by introducing them to neighbors and hosting a dinner party for them. He said they would exchange movies and often sit outside and talk. “I just really believe that they have the wrong criminal,” Lovejoy said. “From what we’ve seen, we cannot see that in our friends.” Lovejoy said Overton and her husband were “the ideal parents.” He furthered described Matthew Riley as “the nicest family man” who was attentive to both his daughters. “He loves his kids dearly,” Lovejoy said. “Why would he, in my mind, want to never see his children again? So I really do not believe in the justice system right now.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment.