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Murder Suspects Met While Playing WoW

Mother, stepfather admit killing 'Baby Grace'

Published on: 11/27/07

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Authorities are trying to determine if the 2-year-old dubbed "Baby Grace" after her body was found in Galveston Bay was repeatedly abused by her mother and stepfather, an investigator said Tuesday.

A woman believed to be the mother of the girl told police she and the girl's stepfather beat and tortured the child to death, court documents show. The girl, believed to be Riley Ann Sawyers, was found by a fisherman in a plastic box Oct. 29, but her identity was unknown for weeks.

The mother told authorities how the girl died "of her own volition," sheriff's Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo said Tuesday on CBS' "The Early Show." One of the things authorities are looking at is whether or not there was a pattern of abuse against the girl, he said.

"In a little over 20 years of doing this, I've seen a lot ... of heartbreaking cases," he said. "I think this one certainly still remains in our hearts and always will."

Investigators are awaiting DNA test results, but said Monday they are fairly confident of the girl's identity. Her mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, and stepfather, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, were arrested early Saturday and are in custody on charges of hurting the girl.

The details in an arrest affidavit paint a chilling picture of the girl's last days. In a statement to police included in the affidavit, Trenor, 19, said she and Zeigler, 24, killed Riley July 24.

The girl was beaten with leather belts, had her head held underwater in a bathtub and then was thrown across a room, her head slamming into a tile floor, the mother said in the document. She said they kept the body in a storage shed for one to two months before they put it in a plastic bin and dumped it into Galveston Bay.

An autopsy revealed that Riley suffered three skull fractures, but the cause of death has not been determined.

Zeigler attempted suicide last week and wrote a note saying, "My wife is innocent of the sins that I committed," according to the court documents.

Trenor said in the document that after her daughter was killed, Zeigler had her forge a document that the Ohio Department of Children's Services had taken Riley away because of allegations of sexual abuse.

Tuttoilmondo said Trenor had told relatives that someone claiming to be a social worker from Ohio, where Riley's father lives, took the girl in July. Riley's paternal grandmother, Sheryl Sawyers, hadn't seen her granddaughter in months when she saw a police sketch of "Baby Grace." Thinking it might be Riley, she called authorities in Texas.

In Mentor, Ohio, on Monday, Sawyers wiped away tears at a news conference and held up the Elmo doll she had already bought Riley for Christmas.

"It's hard to think that I'll never see her again," she said.

Trenor's attorney, Tom Stickler, said she has cooperated with authorities. He declined to comment about her statement to investigators.

"But from what she said, there is no doubt that the girl found is Riley Sawyers," Stickler said.

Trenor and Zeigler were charged with injury to a child and tampering with evidence, Tuttoilmondo said. Bail was set at $350,000 each. The couple's next court appearance was expected to be scheduled on Tuesday.

Trenor and Zeigler met a couple of years ago playing an online game, World of Warcraft, and she moved with her daughter from suburban Cleveland to Spring in June, Stickler said.

Wendell Odom, Zeigler's attorney, declined to comment on the case except to say Zeigler grew up in Spring, about 75 miles north of Galveston, and works as an instrument technician in the oil industry.

The Sawyers family's attorney, Laura DePledge, said they take comfort in knowing that the girl is "resting peacefully and is no longer subject to abuse."

Comments

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  • #1

    These two very sick and evil individuals are thankfully beyond my comprehension. But it should serve as a warning. An online environment, just as ("irl") in real life, you must be vigilante about your associations.

    It is not the individual who presents himself/herself as a monster who earns your trust, allowing you to let down your guard. It is the person who can con you, position themselves in your life as trustworthy and then take advantage of you. It isn't the girl you can't stand that makes off with your bank account and it isn't the boy you refused to date who rapes you in your room.

    Take things a little slower, be a bit more weary, trust is to be earned. And in the case of wow, don't share your password, don't give out too much personal information, don't allow a person who is gallant in a game -- who is faceless save his/her ability to master a character -- earn your trust too readily. The same applies for the nice person you meet at work or in the cafeteria at school. Slow is good. Ask yourself what you really know about that person. Doesn't matter what the circumstance, protect yourself first, last and always. If you doubt this and you are in a raiding guild ... have you ever liked/enjoyed someone who geared up and left your guild, plundered your guild bank? Thank goodness it was only pixels.

    Please pray for all the children who are victims in their homes and be alert for little ones who may need your help.

  • #2

    I'm sorry, but I feel that any press that World of Warcraft gets is WoW Community worthy. It lets you know what other peoples' impressions are of the games and its community. I suppose you only want to hear things like Nobel Peace Prize Winner Plays WOW, or Lead Singer for Band X Plays WOW. It's a very head-in-the-sand approach to news that you are wanting.

    Do I believe that the reference to WoW is relevant, absolutely not. Take it into perspective though. If they had met at their employer you could have put easy money down that the employer would have been named in the article. That's all this was was a passing comment and reference. Unfortunately, the general media grabs things that they can sensationalize.

    If this reference in the article or CBS's coverage offends you, then do something about it. I personally have sent several emails to CBS and our CBS affiliate here in town. I've also sent emails to my other local stations and to the newspapers. I've copies Blizzard Public Relations on everyone of them. My position is simple; stop contributing to stereotypes.

    Without this article being posted, would you have even known about it?

  • #3

    i don't see how this had one thing to do with World of Warcraft, and as such, shouldn't have been posted on WoW news. this is another terrible thing that happened, deserves it's place in local/state news, but not here. that they met while playing World of Warcraft should never have been placed on the news wires, it has absolutely nothing to do with the case, and shouldn't be construed as such.

  • #4

    This is what makes this issue WOW Community news worthy. The major news out lets are grouping us together with the loser types that can't enforce a little self control when gaming.

    Go Google: "baby grace world of warcraft" and you'll see what I mean.

    An article was recently run in The Houston Chronicle titled "Experts: Don't blame Warcraft for 'Baby Grace'.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/main/5336859.html

  • #5

    I am not going to pretend that the death of a child is not a horrible event, but I don't see any reason why WOW would find it necessary to say anything to the press at this point in time.
    It is true that there are addictive personalities in Life that play WOW. It is also true that cruel individuals with nothing, but mal-intent play this game as well.
    It is also true that responsible well rounded and successful people play WOW and the game also includes children who are bound to a wheelchair in real life and Grandmothers who can only play with one hand due to disabilities that took usage from the other.
    It is also a known fact that some Guilds gather "IN PERSON" to have the friendships created online bond even tighter. In my one year of playing WOW I have made friends and have found there are people that don't deserve the time of day. Kinda like real life if you live it too, don't ya think?

  • #6

    Ack, this story makes me want to projectile vomit all over the place...

  • #7

    You needed an article to tell you there are worthless parents/people in the world (of warcraft?)

    WoW is mentioned once, 3? sentences from the bottom. Not WoW news sorry.

  • #8

    Actually, yes there is a news site reference. The title is strictly for the purpose of having a Topic. The title of the article is the first line of the post. This was cut and pasted directly from the news site. It was also discussed on two national news programs, the Houston Chronicle, USA Today, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution which is where this was ut and pasted from. The story, incidentally, ran on the Associated Press wire.

    The only reason that I posted this is because WOW is referenced there. We as WOW players need to stay up on the news that surrounds the game we play and love so that we can address peoples concerns when asked why we play such a game.

    Please don't marginalize the loss of this pour little girl, but do keep in mind that this story will influence some peoples, typically nonplayers of course, opinions of MMORPGs.

  • #9

    Nine million people play this game according to blizzard. Are you going to try to tell me that all 9 million people are good people?

    A murderer drives a ford truck... i blame ford for the murder according to this article then.

  • #10

    This is an example of immaturity of WoW players they can't even get their real lives in order much less play an MMORPG without believing it is a matchmaking service. C'mon America get it together.
    I hate narrow views as well, Such as when TSR (TM) had to change the Monster Manual to list Demons and Devils as "outsiders" because the parents thought the game(Dungeons and Dragons)[tm] was devil worship.

  • #11

    The main issue regarding the reference to WoW is that CBS News (and maybe others, I don't know) then chose to do a story about the "violent online world" itself and named it "'Warcraft or 'War-crack'?". check here:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3542289n

    It's rather annoying to watch. I hate when people share such a narrow view on life.

  • #12

    I don't think there was any intent to make a statement about WoW other than to answer the question of how these two freaks came to be couple that committed such a sick crime. If you think about it, in many cases where more than one person is involved in a crime, there is a brief nod to letting the reader know how the parties got together in the first place. Not really that unusual.

    I think most of us are simply offended that these nutbags do some of the same things that we do. We know that because of the popularity of the game, there are all kinds of accusations and blame leveled at the people who play it. WoW, and by default those who play, get blamed for divorces, additictions, lost jobs, etc.

    I don't put a whole lot into the statement but I do understand the human need to find something to blame...some reason to explain why some of us go so horribly wrong when, in most cases, it is extremely bad judgment made by a few really selfish irresponsible people....press included.

  • #13

    I don't think there was any intent to make a statement about WoW other than to answer the question of how these two freaks came to be couple that committed such a sick crime. If you think about it, in many cases where more than one person is involved in a crime, there is a brief nod to letting the reader know how the parties got together in the first place. Not really that unusual.

    I think most of us are simply offended that these nutbags do some of the same things that we do. We know that because of the popularity of the game, there are all kinds of accusations and blame leveled at the people who play it. WoW, and by default those who play, get blamed for divorces, additictions, lost jobs, etc.

    I don't put a whole lot into the statement but I do understand the human need to find something to blame...some reason to explain why some of us go so horribly wrong when, in most cases, it is extremely bad judgment made by a few really selfish irresponsible people....press included.

  • #14

    do not marry you meet in WoW. this will happen to your kids!!!

    thats only reason i can see why Nik posted this

  • #15

    Right. Not quite a WoW news item. A heartbreaking story, but rather inappropriately placed.

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