When she was twelve, Riley’s mother began dating Jack Dalton (George Eads) who at the time was working for the CIA but used a cover of being a bathroom tile salesman. During this time, Riley and Jack became very close and she has stated that he was the closest thing to a father she had. Jack too has said that he loved Riley as a daughter.
It was this close relationship which caused her resentment when Jack left after giving her real father a beating in response to catching him physically abusing her mother. Jack claims he “left for Riley’s sake” as he “didn’t want to screw her up”, but she responded saying she viewed him as her father and he had walked out on her.
Over the years, Riley learned how to take care of herself, put the people closest to her above her own needs and developed her hacking skills using the name Artemis37. At one point, she hacked into the Pentagon just to see if she could. She started taking on hacking jobs for a group known as ‘The Collective’ until they requested that she hack the NSA. After saying no, they threatened her mother’s life. Riley carried out the hack as requested but deliberately left a trail to allow herself to get caught and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison. Her logic was that while in prison she had no access to computers, so she could no longer work for ‘The Collective’ meaning they had no reason to threaten her mother again.
Although she only spent 2 years of her sentence in prison, she found it extremely traumatic and was more than happy to be released at the request of MacGyver (Lucas Till) after Jack Dalton recommended her to the DXS as a useful team member. She has now become an invaluable member of the Phoenix team, providing technology support while they are on missions.
After Elwood finally got sober and tried to bring his life in order, Riley agreed to stay in contact with her father and to try to mend their relationship.
MOTHER: Diane Davis
FATHER: Elwood Davis