LORAIN, Ohio – Twenty-three years ago, a teenage mother of two small children vanished without a trace, leaving behind her children and personal belongings.
Kimberly Ann Riley, 19, was born on Dec. 12, 1979, and grew up in Ohio. She resided in an apartment in the 1600 block of Cooper Foster Park Road.
Riley was in a precarious relationship with the father of her two sons, Omar Scharief Seymore, 24. Local police had arrested Seymore once for hitting Riley, but charges were never filed.
Riley and Seymore disappeared shortly before Christmas in 1998. Riley’s grandmother, Vernice Akers, last saw her granddaughter on Dec. 20, 1998, and Riley appeared fine. According to the Doe Network, she ate some ham and told Akers she would see her on Christmas Eve. Riley never showed for the family’s holiday festivities.
Seymore’s mother, Linda D. McLaughlin-Waters, then 47 years old, claimed she last saw Riley and her son together on Dec. 23, 1998. According to her, they dropped off their boys between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. because Riley wanted to do some last-minute Christmas shopping at Midway Mall in Elyria.
Riley and Seymore never picked up their children.
Akers became worried when she had not heard from Riley and called Seymore’s mom. According to Akers, the woman gave three different versions of what happened when Riley showed up at her home. There is no information on the different versions Waters supposedly told.
Akers and her husband, Charles Akers, picked up Riley’s children and took them to their house. The boys had only one bottle each and no extra clothes, diapers, or milk.
McLaughlin-Waters called Akers on Christmas Eve to see if she had heard from Riley and Seymore and suggested the couple had run away together. But this made no sense for several reasons. One, she had plans to attend her family’s holiday celebration. Two, she did not provide enough of the children’s belongings for a more extended stay. Finally, Riley likely would have taken the children to a member of her family, not Seymore’s.
Items found in the home suggested Riley had planned to be gone a short time or never left. Wrapped gifts sat under the Christmas tree and her bed. Riley did not take her medication, hair curlers, or toothbrush. The children’s diaper bags and some groceries remained in the apartment. Riley took medicine for a blood disorder that affected her platelets, so it’s unlikely she would have left it behind.
According to the Doe Network, some items were missing from the apartment: “A few blankets off the bed, two photo albums, the albums almost exclusively contained pictures of the children and a big plastic trash bin from the kitchen.”
Riley’s clothes were undisturbed, but all of Seymore’s belongings were gone, save for a sock.
Riley’s mother reported her missing on Sunday, Dec. 27, 1998. A few days later, she received a towing bill for Riley’s orange 1989 Mazda on Dec. 31, 1998; the car was found on a Cleveland street and impounded. Later, it was returned to Riley’s mother but did not contain Riley’s belongings. The stereo was missing, and someone had moved the car seat back, suggesting a person taller than Riley had been sitting in it.
For whatever reason, the police did not inspect the car until months later, in the spring of 1999. Officials found bloodstains on the vehicle’s passenger side and a few bloodstained cardboard pieces, and some hair in the trunk. In 2003, investigators tested the cardboard, and the results showed the blood belonged to Riley.
Police also discovered blood in Riley and Seymore’s apartment. According to Riley’s mother, she had been in the apartment at some point and found a picture with the words “die soon” written across the front.
Investigators found Seymore alive and well in 2004 after being arrested on drug charges. He was later released and arrested in California in June 2005 on identity theft charges after impersonating Waters’ boyfriend using the man’s driver’s license. Police extradited him to Ohio, and he was later sentenced to prison for parole violation.
Investigators questioned him numerous times in the disappearance, but he refused to tell them anything about Riley. He was released from Mansfield Correctional Institution on July 24, 2007.
That same year, Riley’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Seymore, seeking $25,000 in damages. A judge found him liable for Riley’s death and ordered him to pay $4.5 million to her mother. Seymore “refused to answer questions about Riley’s disappearance, citing his right to avoid self-incrimination,” The Charley Project states.
Riley’s family had her legally declared dead in 2006. It is unclear what happened to her two boys.
Lorain authorities have never charged Seymore in Riley’s disappearance. He is now 47 years old. McLaughlin-Waters died in Ohio in 2016 at age 67.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
The only sources I found were The Charley Project and Doe Network. I found nothing on Newspapers.com or Ohio news channels, which is sad and weird. A teenage mother goes missing, and nobody reported on it?
I think Seymore killed Riley, and I believe his mother helped cover up the crime.
I think Riley likely died between Dec. 20 and Dec. 25, 1998. I don’t buy McLaughlin-Waters’ story that the couple dropped the kids off with her on Dec. 23, so they could go shopping. I think after Seymore killed Riley, he told his mother what he had done, and she informed him to drop the kids off with her to make his escape. Then, he disposed of Riley’s body and drove her car to Cleveland, where he dumped it and possibly hopped on an airplane or bus or hid under the radar.
If Seymore killed Riley, where did he do it? Police found blood in the apartment and two locations inside her vehicle — the passenger side and the trunk. I’m guessing her body was placed in the car when disposing of it. Police found some hair in the trunk, too.
Was she hurt in the vehicle and killed in the apartment?
Someone had cleaned Riley’s apartment, and I’m guessing it was McLaughlin-Waters. The Charley Project stated it was “unusually clean.” So, I think his mother helped clean up his mess.
But what was the motive? Did Seymore get violent and accidentally kill her? I think that’s likely, then he panicked and called mommy to help him. I would wager that Seymore’s siblings know what happened as well.
Lake Erie is close to Lorain, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Seymore dumped Riley’s body there.
The Charley Project states that Riley’s car was found on Diece Street in Cleveland, but I could not find a street by that name or by “Dice” or “Diese,” so I left the street name out.
The missing person database also says Riley and Seymore shared the apartment on Cooper Foster Park Road. I found Seymore’s 1998 Lorain address as 1682 E. 29th Street. That was Waters’ apartment. So, I’m not sure where he lived at the time of the disappearance. The Ohio Attorney General’s website has Riley’s case listed as a missing person, and the last place she had been seen at was “in the vicinity of the 1600 block of E. 29th St.”
Why didn’t investigators put pressure on McLaughlin-Waters? Clearly, she had a hand in helping Seymore. And what were the 3 different stories she told Akers about what happened when Riley and Seymore supposedly dropped off the kids on Dec. 23?
I’m frustrated on this one because there should be more info available. It’s like the police and everyone else forgot about Riley. McLaughlin-Waters went to her grave with a deep dark secret. I hope it caused her to live with terrible guilt for 18 years.