Death of Rebecca Riley

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Rebecca Riley (April 11, 2002 – December 13, 2006), the daughter of Michael and Carolyn Riley and resident of Hull, Massachusetts, was found dead in her home after prolonged exposure to various medications, her lungs filled with fluid. The medical examiner's office determined the girl died from "intoxication due to the combined effects" of prescription drugs. Police reports state she was taking 750 milligrams a day of Depakote, 200 milligrams a day of Seroquel, and .35 milligrams a day of clonidine. Rebecca had been taking the drugs since the age of two for bipolar disorder and ADHD, diagnosed by psychiatrist Kayoko Kifuji of the Tufts-New England Medical Center.[1]


The Riley parents were unemployed and the family relied on Social Security Benefits. From the age of two, Rebecca was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder, mainly on the basis of information given by her mother to child psychiatrist Kayoko Kifuji from the Tufts-New England Medical Center. Kifuji prescribed a range of drugs for Rebecca: clonidine, valproate (Depakote), dextromethorphan, and chlorpheniramine and her heart and lungs were damaged due to prolonged use of these prescription drugs.[1][2]


In 2006, Rebecca was found on the floor of her bedroom, dead from a drug overdose. Immediately after her death, her medication regime was defended by Tufts-New England Medical Center.[1][2]


Michael and Carolyn Riley were taken into police custody on February 6, 2007 for Rebecca’s death and charged with first degree murder. Their two other children, who were also on a number of prescription medications, have been moved to foster homes and the Department of Social Services reports the parents have a history of being abusive and neglectful. On February 9, 2010, Carolyn Riley was found guilty of second degree murder in the death of her daughter and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 15 years. Michael's trial began on March 8, 2010. On September 27, 2010, Michael Riley was found guilty of first degree murder and received the automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.[1]

As of 2013, Kayoko Kifuji continues to practice as a child psychiatrist.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Kirk, Stuart A. (2013). Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs. Transaction Publishers. p. 218-219.
  2. ^ a b Katie Couric, "What Killed Rebecca Riley?", CBS News, 28 Sep 2008.
  3. ^ Patricia Wen, Jurors outraged by psychiatrist’s conduct: Felt she should share culpability in toddler’s death, The Boston Globe, 2010.

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