ELYRIA – A former Lorain man was ordered to pay $4.5 million to the family of his former live-in girlfriend on Wednesday in her 1998 disappearance and presumed death.
Kimberly Riley – who would be 27 if she is still alive – disappeared nine years ago and police have never found her body or had a solid lead on what happened to her. The lead suspect in her disappearance, Omar Seymore, has never been charged.
But last week, county Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi found Seymore was civilly liable for her death, based on the evidence presented by the attorney for Riley`s family.
Seymore, now 33, didn`t contest Miraldi`s finding and neither he nor his attorney was in court Wednesday for a damages hearing.
Sandra Ellis, Riley`s mother, said she`s pleased with the amount, although it`s questionable whether she`ll ever see any money from Seymore.
“I know I won`t receive a penny of it, but I am happy with it,” she said after the hearing.
Ellis told Miraldi when she took the stand that she and her family – including Riley`s two sons, now 9 and 10 years old, whom she is raising – have never had closure.
“It`s been nine years and it still feels like yesterday,” Ellis testified. “It never goes away.”
Riley was last seen on Dec. 23, 1998, when she and her sons left her grandmother`s house to go shopping. Ellis said she last saw her daughter in early December, but became concerned when she didn`t show up for the Christmas holidays.
Ellis eventually located her grandchildren at Seymore`s mother`s home, but found little trace of her daughter.
A search of the apartment shared by Seymore and Riley showed that a large Rubbermaid garbage can was missing along with two blankets and two photo albums. A small amount of blood was found near the door as well.
The only thing of Seymore`s that was found was a single sock, Ellis said Wednesday. She said the apartment was unusually clean and was ready for Christmas with presents under the tree and Christmas cards ready to he mailed.
Riley`s car was eventually found in East Cleveland and blood, later identified as belonging to the missing woman, was found inside.
Seymore also vanished and lived under an alias in California until he was found and extradited back to Ohio in 2005 on an outstanding warrant for identity theft, a charge for which he ultimately served a year in prison before being released in July.
Mike Duff, Seymore`s attorney, said he has been in contact with his client, who he advised not to fight the civil judgment because his client has no assets to take. He said he was surprised by Miraldi`s decision and wouldn`t disclose Seymore`s whereabouts.
“I`m not going to help them with their collection process,” he said.
Chris Cook, Ellis` attorney, said he will try to find Seymore and garnish his wages. He also wants to hold a debt hearing to determine what, if any, assets Seymore has. He said he will also try to get the Ohio Crime Victims Compensation Fund to provide some money to Ellis.
“I`m not terribly optimistic, but we`ll try,” he said.
Ellis said she still hopes that Seymore will eventually be charged in her daughter`s death, but, most importantly, she wants to know what happened.
“I want to know what happened to her so I can bring her home,” she said.