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Couple dead in Scottsburg murder-suicide

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Wendy Diane Riley and David Michael Riley / June 13, 2010
A Scottsburg couple is dead following a murder-suicide Saturday at the Short Stop convenience store, the result of a domestic dispute that remains under investigation by the authorities.

David Michael Riley, 29, and Wendy Diane Riley, 23, both died of shotgun blasts in a confrontation around 1:19 Saturday afternoon in the parking lot of the Short Stop, located on Route 360 in Scottsburg. Witnesses told police that Mr. Riley killed Ms. Riley with a shotgun before turning the gun on himself.

Ms. Riley was pronounced dead at the scene by rescue personnel. Mr. Riley was rushed to Halifax Regional Hospital where he died about an hour and a half after the shootings, said Major Thomas Logan of the Halifax County Sheriff's Office.

Logan said police are unsure whether the couple was married or separated, although they shared an address of 2165 Burton Road, Scottsburg.

Logan said investigators talked with several witnesses at Short Stop and determined that the couple drove up to the store in separate vehicles, pulled over to the side of the parking lot and got out. Police have not determined exactly what transpired between the pair prior to the deadly confrontation.

"We're still trying to figure that out," said Logan. "It's under investigation. All we know is what happened on the lot.

"As far as we know, it was a domestic situation. We don't know exactly who was arguing with who."

Logan confirmed that the couple had a young child, a daughter. Ms. Riley's Facebook page indicates the child celebrated her third birthday with a pool party the day before the shooting, Friday, June 11.

The invitation list includes her father David as well as other family members and friends.

In her last posting before her death, on Friday, Wendy Riley wrote, “Happy Birthday to my precious baby girl!!” On Tuesday she posted a quote, "However long the night, the dawn will break.”

The Rileys owned and operated a car- and home-cleaning service, Suds In The Bucket, which Wendy Riley wrote on her Facebook page operated mostly out of the Floyd, Va., area. She was a 2004 graduate of Floyd County High School.

Mike Patel, owner of Short Stop, was working at the store when the shooting occurred. He said he heard a loud pop that he took to be a car backfiring. When he stepped outside the store, he saw a woman lying in the parking lot. The man in front of her took his shotgun, turned it on himself, and fired.

"I was watching the woman lying on the [lot]," said Patel Sunday, the day after the incident. "The guy just turned the gun on himself."

Patel said the woman was motionless but the man was still moving as he was stretched on the pavement after the blast. The store immediately called 911 and within minutes emergency services personnel with the Scottsburg and Clover fire departments reached the scene, along with the Halifax County Rescue Squad. Logan said he was notified by Halifax Regional Hospital around 3 p.m. that David Riley was dead of a chest wound.

While there were several witnesses, there is nothing to indicate that other persons were in imminent danger during the incident, said Logan. He said one of the witnesses was a woman who was riding in the same vehicle as Ms. Riley, who drove a burgundy-colored pickup truck to the convenience store. Mr. Riley trailed in a blue sedan.

Patel said the confrontation "happened in one minute" and that he knew little about the couple other than they lived in the Scottsburg area and ran a cleaning service.

Logan said the authorities are continuing to investigate the reasons for the shooting and have talked to family members to find out what happened prior to the shooting. He said police may release additional information about the shootings after the investigation is complete.

In addition to the Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police and the South Boston Police Department responded to the scene Saturday.
After closing immediately after the shootings, Short Stop reopened for business around 6 p.m. Saturday night, said Patel.

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