An 18-year-old football player at Maryville College in Tennessee has been arrested in connection with the murder of a 16-year-old high school cheerleader — a girl he had clearly dated — as she slept.

William Riley Gaul was arrested Tuesday night when, while under police surveillance, detectives believed he was going to destroy evidence connected to the murder of Emma Jane Walker, WBIR reported.

Acquaintances told WBIR Gaul and Walker were once boyfriend and girlfriend.

Gaul and Walker both went to Central High School, but the former had graduated and is currently listed as freshman wide receiver at Maryville College.

Before he was arrested, Gaul tweeted about his love for Walker and changed his Twitter bio to be dedicated all to her memory.

“Living everyday through Emma Walker. I love you beautiful and I know you’re in a better place now,” @rileygaul wrote in the bio.

A deeper look at Gaul’s Twitter feed reveals some cryptic recent activity and clear past romantic ties to Walker.


Gaul retweeted this in October, and Walker replied with hearts:


The two were often pictured together on Twitter over the summer.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-44-49-am screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-45-13-am screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-45-31-am

Many have flooded social media with tributes to Walker.

Locals gathered to grieve.

A fund has been started to help Walker’s family pay for funeral costs. At the time of writing, more than $5,000 has been raised.

William Riley Gaul has been charged with first-degree murder. His bond has been set at $750,000.

A college football player is charged with brutally murdering his cheerleader girlfriend as she slept Twitter/@WVLTLauren, Knox County Sheriff's Office
Matt Naham About the author:
Matt Naham is the Weekend Editor  for Rare. Follow him on Twitter @matt_naham.
View More Articles
Watch the 2017 Rare Country Awards