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$5,000 reward offered in case of murdered Navy veteran

A $5,000 reward is being offered in the case of a U.S. Navy veteran who was murdered outside a Loughborough area apartment complex in October.

Merced police are offering the award to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest in the murder of Michael Laval Riley, a 29-year-old man who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Riley had nearly completed his studies at Merced College when he was killed on Oct. 7.

The reward is being funded through the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, a non-profit organization which offers financial rewards to help law enforcement solve crimes.

Marylene Riley, the victim's mother, said she hopes the reward will help bring her son's killer to justice. Riley said her son was planning on transferring to either California State University, Stanislaus, or the University of California, Berkeley at the time of his death. His ultimate goal was to achieve a degree from Harvard Law School.

At Merced College, he was a 4.0 student and a member of the school's honor society. His academic achievements earned him two scholarships from the campus. "We miss him so much," Riley said. "He had a life. It just seems like it's not fair, because of the life he was living."

Merced Police Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said there are no new details in the case, but hopefully the reward will lead to new clues. "We have a young man who served his country and was going to school to better himself -- killed in the younger years of his life," Higdon said. "We need help to solve this crime."

Detective Joe Deliman said police are also planning on putting up a billboard later this year, asking anyone with information about Riley's death to come forward.

Riley was shot shortly after midnight on Oct. 7. His body was found on a muddy patch of lawn outside the Village Meadows Apartments, in the 1100 block of Loughborough Drive.

Police responded to the scene around 12:30 a.m. after receiving a call of shots fired. They searched the area and found Riley lying on the ground. Paramedics were called and he was taken to Mercy Medical Center Merced, where he was pronounced dead.

Police are asking anyone with information about Michael Riley's death to call Sgt. Scott Skinner at (209) 385-4702 or the department’s automated tip line at (209) 385-4725. You can remain anonymous.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or