A Breakup, Then a Cheerleader's Murder

William Gaul charged in Emma Walker's shooting death
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2016 6:59 AM CST
Updated Nov 27, 2016 3:58 PM CST
A Breakup, Then a Cheerleader's Murder
Emma Walker.   (YouCaring)

In splitting from her boyfriend, Emma Jane Walker, 16, "had chosen to move on," her aunt tells the Knoxville News Sentinel. "He refused to accept it." Walker—a cheerleader at Central High School in Knoxville, Tenn., who hoped to become a neonatal nurse, per WATE—was found dead in her bed around 6:30am Monday, fatally shot through a window, police say, per WBIR. Hours later, ex-boyfriend William Riley Gaul, 18, a football player at Maryville College and recent Central High grad, posted a lengthy tribute to Walker on Twitter, noting "the amount of pain your family, me, the community are in because of this is insurmountable." But by the time those words were posted, Gaul was already a suspect, according to police.

Officials say he was initially placed under police surveillance for fear he would destroy evidence linked to the murder, and then arrested late Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder, police say. According to a warrant, Gaul fired "a gun into the residence with exact proximity to where the victim … was sleeping." It isn't clear when Gaul and Walker broke up, but a Nov. 9 tweet from Gaul reads, "I'd do anything to have it all back." In a statement to WATE, Gaul's mother says the teens remained close after the breakup and Gaul had helped Walker with schoolwork on Sunday. "He would not hurt her because he loved Emma dearly," she says. "He is not a monster." Gaul, held at the Knox County Jail on $750,000 bond, is due in court on Dec. 2, reports CBS News. (More murder stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.