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College football player charged with murder of high school girl

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A freshman football player at Maryville College has been charged in a murder investigation of an east Tennessee high school girl.

William Riley Gaul, 18, was charged with first degree murder, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. Martha Dooley, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the victim’s name was Emma Walker, 16. The teen was found dead in her home with a gunshot wound.

Students gathered at Central High School Tuesday night to remember Walker.

A crowdfunding page was set up to help Walker’s family. The donations will go toward a fund set up for Walker’s parents Mark and Jill at Regions Bank. Also, deposits can be made at any branch location.To Donate: Emma Walker Memorial Fund

William Riley Gaul (Provided Photo/Knox County Sheriff’s Office)

Emma Walker was a cheerleader at Central High School. On the crowdfunding page, family friend Aneisa McDonald wrote:

“Her fun, kind, sweet spirit was contagious. Emma was a beauty inside and out. Our community was blessed to know her. Her dream was to become a nurse.”

Investigators believe the suspect fired into the teen’s bedroom from outside the home while she was sleeping. Gaul was arrested at the Woodlands Apartments on Cherokee Trail and is being held on a $750,000 bond at the Knox County Jail.

Investigators believe Gaul was trying to destroy evidence related to the investigation.

Gaul, who is graduated from Central High School, played as a wide receiver for Maryville College. On Tuesday, he posted a series of tweets about the victim.