Two years after an attempted robbery that left a motel clerk dead, Johnny Lee Riley found God and began preaching.
Twenty-three years later, police found him. He turned himself in and on Thursday, a judge ruled the ex-pastor must go back to Arizona and face charges of first-degree murder, robbery and burglary.Most of his 16 children, and his wife, were in the courtroom Thursday, along with supporters in the community.
"Please understand, we know our father as a pastor," not as an accused killer, said one of Riley's sons, Darryl. "They're taking away a pillar of the community and the pillar of this family."
Riley, 48, said he never knew that the clerk, Dale Sechrist, died in the 1974 holdup at a Travel Lodge motel in Phoenix.
He found out in November, when he was arrested and jailed.
"I never ran," he said. "I didn't know to run."
Riley is accused by an accomplice of being the one who shot the clerk. The accomplice, an Arizona inmate, said Riley opened fire after Sechrist came up with a gun and started shooting.
After the attempted robbery, Riley kept his home in Phoenix, never changed his name and began a janitorial business. He became a minister and preached around the country, including Arizona, California and Washington, and often told congregations of the botched robbery and his early life of sin.