RILEY, Ella Foy Cook

Ella Foy Cook Riley

Birth: December 26, 1921
Death: May 21, 1990


Husband: Calvin W. Riley

Burial: Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Abbeville, Henry County, Alabama, USA

Criminal Details

The Dothan Eagle
Matt Elofson – Jul. 28, 2015

A man convicted of robbery in connection to the murder of an Abbeville woman in 1990 will spend at least five more years in prison after his parole was denied Tuesday.

Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska said the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied the parole request by Olin Grimsley.

Valeska said a jury convicted the 65-year-old Grimsley of felony first-degree armed robbery in April 1994.

“He’s serving a life sentence and they denied his request for parole for another five years,” Valeska said.

Grimsley was convicted of robbery for his role in the robbery/murder of Ella Foy Riley on May 21, 1990.

A cigarette butt found at the crime scene tied Grimsley to the crime. No DNA testing was available at the time, but blood-type testing matched Grimsley’s. He was convicted of robbery and sentenced to life in prison.

Valeska attended the hearing to protest any possibility for parole, along with Riley’s daughter Pat Jones and some other relatives and representatives of VOCAL (Victims of Crime And Leniency).

Investigators also charged Willie McNair with capital murder. He was later convicted, sentenced to death and executed in 2009.


Birmingham News
Tom Gordon – May 14, 2009

Willie McNair, convicted of robbing, strangling and stabbing to death a southeast Alabama woman for whom he did yard work, died by lethal injection tonight as his victim’s six children watched.

McNair, 44, did not look at victim Ella Foy Riley’s children. He also declined to pray with the prison chaplain, made no final public statement and spent his last moments staring at the ceiling as the injection began at 6 p.m. He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. by Alabama Corrections officials.

Pat Jones and her brothers Calvin, Don, John, Bobby and Wayne Riley wore buttons with their mother’s photograph for the execution. The buttons said “You are not forgotten.” Wayne Riley, the youngest of the sons, issued a statement afterward: “I thank God for keeping myself, my four brothers and my sister alive and in good health so that we were able to see justice finally done. I ask that you pray for my family in the coming days and for the Willie McNair family, too, for they … have suffered for what he has done.”

Wayne Riley also said: “I can forgive Willie McNair for what he did because he paid the price with his life.” Later the six children gathered with other family members for a candle light vigil. Participating was District Attorney Doug Valeska, who prosecuted McNair.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Supreme Court had turned down his McNair’s final sentence appeal.

Willie McNair became the fourth person executed by the state of Alabama this year. The Abbeville man had been on Death Row since 1991 for the May 21, 1990, slaying of Ella Foy Riley. Her daughter, Jones, found her mother stabbed and strangled in the kitchen of her Abbeville home. McNair had done yardwork for Riley in the past, and other members of his family had done work for her as well.

According to a case summary, McNair and a friend, Olin Grimsley, had been doing cocaine, wanted money to get some more, and had asked Riley for $20. She turned them down, and was attacked while she was getting McNair a drink of water. According to the state’s filing in the case, McNair then took Riley’s purse from the kitchen counter and he and Grimsley left the house. The next morning, after Riley’s body was found, McNair admitted killing her when questioned by a sheriff’s deputy.

The Riley children were able to witness the execution because Gov. Bob Riley, no relation to the victim, had signed into law a bill allowing up to six members of crime victim’s family to watch the perpetrator’s execution. Before today’s signing, Alabama law allowed only two witnesses for the victim, and only two for person to be executed.

Jones said she had written McNair a few months ago, and that in his reply, he had expressed remorse for her mother’s death. Carolyn Glanton, McNair’s youngest sister, said the family wanted her brother, whom they called “Chubby,” to be remembered as a “happy and lovable person. “Chubby has a real good heart,” Glanton said before her brother died. “If anybody . . . really knew him, they’d know how good a person he is.”

McNair turned down breakfast this morning and limited himself to only sodas during the day. In his will, McNair left a check for $1.11 to one of his attorneys, Randy Susskind. McNair also left several of his belongings to fellow Death Row inmates. He gave a television to Robin Myers; a radio and headphones to Michael Ervin; a Bible to Earl McGahee; and a pair of white Nikes tennis shoes to Robert Ingram. McNair has had eight visitors during the day, including two of sisters and two of his attorneys.

Susskind and Donald Blocker, McNair’s spiritual adviser, are the only two witnesses he has requested to watch his execution this evening.

McNair was the fourth Death Row inmate to be executed in Alabama this year. Another inmate, Jack Trawick, is scheduled to die on June 11 for the murder of Stephanie Gach in Birmingham.