Joseph Gerald Riley

Riley, circa 1995

  • Missing Since 07/08/1995
  • Missing From Barstow, California
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 06/01/1965 (53)
  • Age 30 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'9, 185 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Riley's nickname is Joe. One of his front teeth is chipped.

Details of Disappearance

Riley was last seen at 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart at 621 Montara Road in Barstow, California. He was accompanied by Mark Adamson at the time and they were getting into a maroon American model sedan, possibly accompanied by another individual.

Neither man has ever been heard from again. Adamson's roommate told police that Adamson left with Riley to buy a vehicle. Adamson reportedly had a large amount of cash on him.

In December 2012, Christian Leonard Bunty Sr. and James Linzy Franklin were charged with Adamson and Riley's murders. Franklin was already in prison serving a life sentence for another, unrelated home invasion robbery and murder. In December 2013, Franklin's nephew, Steven Michael Dondero, was arrested on identical charges.

Authorities theorized the suspects offered to sell Riley and Adamson $9,000 worth of ephedrine, one of the key ingredients in methamphetamine, and robbed and killed them when they showed up for the transaction. The charges against Bunty were dropped for lack of evidence in the spring of 2014.

In March 2015, Dondero pleaded guilty to harboring or aiding a felony suspect/accessory and was sentenced to two years in prison; the two murder charges were dropped. Franklin was convicted of both charges of murder in September 2015.

Riley and Adamson have not been located, but foul play is suspected in their disappearances due to the circumstances involved. Their bodies may be buried in the Mojave Desert.

Investigating Agency

  • Barstow Police Department 760-256-3531

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated October 23, 2014; details of disappearance updated.