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Family, friends celebrate the life of missing Middletown woman found dead in Great Miami River

Deborah Riley.jpg
Posted at 4:06 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 23:28:43-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Police discovered the body of 72-year-old Deborah Riley, a missing Middletown woman, in the Great Miami River Monday afternoon.

Riley had last been sighted leaving home on Saturday night, according to a missing persons notice issued Sunday by police.

The notice said Riley had dementia and officers were worried for her safety. A passerby spotted a body in the Great Miami River shortly after 2 p.m. Monday; police were summoned to the scene to retrieve it and identified the body as Riley's.

"We appreciate the members of the community that aided in the search, the Buckeye Search and Rescue Dogs, and the Middletown Division of Fire" who assisted with the retrieval, Maj. Scott Reeve wrote in a statement, adding: "We express our sympathy to the family of Ms. Riley."

Friends and family gathered in Middletown Monday night to remember Riley and the life she lived.

“It’s been really hard,” Riley’s niece Jonda Prather said. “But watching the community come together, people that you go to church with. They stop by your house and just go.”

Dozens of Riley’s friends and family spent more than a day searching for her. They said she was rooted in her faith as a member of United Missionary Baptist church.

“That’s what we have to stand on right now, is the faith,” Prather said. “We don’t have all the answers of why she was walking that way. What time? It was raining. We hope to have the faith that this is what the plan was in her life.”