Kimra Lynn Riley died after she was left to drown in the Tennessee River more than 20 years ago. Authorities say Rodney Hocker, a man she met at an Alabama nightclub, was responsible for her murder. Kimra Riley’s case has caught the attention of producers of the show Swamp Murders, which is returning with an all-new season this week on Investigation Discovery (ID). The episode featuring Kimra Riley’s death is called “A Dark Place to Die,” which will explore how detectives connect a body found on the banks of the Tennessee River to the case of a woman who was reported missing. Expect commentary from police investigators and from intimate acquaintances of the victim.
Thirty-six-year-old Kimra Riley vanished after she was seen leaving a nightclub in January of 1996. Kimra Riley’s boyfriend told detectives that he last saw her on the morning that she disappeared and that she had no overnight bags with her and was carrying less than $30. He also distinctly remembered kissing her goodbye, leaving him with the impression that she was planning to return home that evening. Kimra Riley’s disappearance was not officially reported to police for two weeks.
Kimra Riley’s car was later found abandoned in a parking lot in Sheffield. At that point, family members knew that something terrible happened to her because she loved her Volkswagen and would never leave it unattended.
In March, two months after she disappeared, a fisherman discovered a body along the banks of the Tennessee River. When police arrived, they saw the decomposed body of a white female who was nude from the waist down. She was lying face down on the sand about 30 feet from the shore, stated the Times Daily. Tied to the body was a stone that had apparently been placed on top of her to keep her body weighted down. The area where the victim was found was deeply hidden, and had it not been for the stone, her body may have never been found.
The autopsy conducted on Riley indicated that she was alive when she was tossed into the water, and the cause of death was listed as drowning.
Detectives began retracing her steps, which led them to the Bama Club in Sheffield. Police made contact with several witnesses who say they saw Kimra Riley talking to a man in the club named Rodney O’Neal Hocker. She was also seen leaving with him at around 7 p.m., that night. Rodney Hocker was a 27-year-old ex-con and construction worker from Sheffield with ties to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
It took investigators a while to gather the evidence they needed against Hocker to finally make an arrest in 1997. A DNA test and the victim’s blood found in Hocker’s truck played a major role. Rodney O’Neal Hocker was found guilty in the death of Kimra Lynn Riley and sentenced to 99 years, according to the Times Daily.
Since Kimra’s death, life for her family is not the same. They have found it hard to cope and miss her more and more each day, according to an old 1997 article in the Times Daily.
A picture of Kimra Riley can be found in this old newspaper. In researching the case, it was noted that only a few articles were written about the Alabama murder case between 1996 and 1997. Some of the unanswered questions that have not been readily made available to the public will be answered in tonight’s Swamp Murders.
Swamp Murders airs this Tuesday, August 16 at 9/8 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery (ID).
Also making headlines that year was the death of Sherrice Iverson, a 7-year-old girl who had been raped and murdered in a Nevada casino while her brother and father gambled. In that gruesome case, the girl’s father had been warned repeatedly about not leaving the girl unattended. According to the New York Times, she was captured on video playing hide and seek with two teens, with one following her into the girl’s restroom and killing her.
[Photo by The Decatur Daily/Gary Cosby Jr./File/AP Images]