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10 years later, justice due for missing foster child

NEED TO KNOW
  • 4-year-old Rilya Wilson vanished in 2000
  • Former foster mom could face death penalty in girl's death
  • Jury selection for Geralyn Graham starts Monday
Geralyn Graham

It's been more than a decade since 4-year-old Rilya Wilson disappeared from South Florida. Geralyn Graham, her former foster mother, is now standing trial, accused of killing the child who was under her care.

Jury selection in Graham’s trial begins Monday. The 66-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and aggravated child abuse. She could face the death penalty if she's convicted.

Wilson’s body was never found, and Graham maintains that she is innocent.

Wilson’s disappearance sparked public outcry for reforming the Florida Department of Children & Families child welfare procedures because DCF was unaware Wilson was missing until 2002, more than a year after she was last seen.

In response, the Florida Legislature passed the Rilya Willson Act that requires closer monitoring of children in DCF’s care.

In 2002, Graham told case workers that an unidentified DCF employee took the girl. Wilson’s disappearance remained a mystery for a couple more years.

The break in the case came in 2004 when a jailhouse informant told authorities that Graham confessed to suffocating the girl and disposing of her body in a canal.

Multiple delays postponed Graham’s trial, including scheduling problems, a medical issue involving one of Graham’s attorneys and a new judge being assigned to the case.

Graham’s trial is expected to last several weeks.

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