Three-year-old Riley Fox of Wilmington, Illinois, was kidnapped from her home early in the morning on June 6, 2004, as her brother and father slept nearby. A search for the young girl began that day but it ended in heartbreak as her body was found, bound by duct tape and drowned in a nearby creek.
The little girl’s father, Kevin Fox, became the primary suspect in the murder investigation as authorities claimed that his behavior after his daughter’s death was suspicious. They questioned Fox, who denied being involved, and he agreed to take a polygraph test. Fox failed the polygraph, which led authorities to question him for several hours until he confessed to killing his daughter accidentally, court documents show.
Immediately afterward, Fox recanted his confession and argued that authorities framed him for his daughter’s murder and coerced a false confession out of him, these documents reveal. The confession led to him getting charged with first-degree murder, a charge that could have led to the death penalty if found guilty.
Kevin Fox Was Freed & Charges Were Dropped When His Attorney Pushed for DNA Testing of Saliva Samples
After eight months in jail, the charges against Fox were dropped when tests of DNA found on Riley Fox’s body excluded Fox from the scene. In June 2005, the State’s Attorney who inherited the Fox murder case dropped all charges against Kevin Fox immediately after the DNA results were released, a press release stated. According to the release, the DNA had been collected from Riley Fox’s body right away but it wasn’t tested against Kevin Fox’s DNA prior to his murder charge.
The State’s Attorney then requested the FBI’s assistance in investigating the case in 2008 and in 2009 they identified Scott Eby as a potential suspect. According to the press release, Eby consented to provide a DNA sample that was eventually matched to the DNA found on Riley Fox’s body, after which he wrote a lengthy confession admitting to the murder.
Eby pleaded guilty in court about five months after he was charged with first-degree murder and predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in Riley Fox’s death. He confessed to the crime and said he’d been drinking and using drugs that night, which led him to break into the Fox home and molest the three-year-old girl, the Innocence Project reported.
He said he then kidnapped the young girl and tied her up with duct tape, molesting her again, the organization wrote. Eby confessed that he panicked when he realized that Riley Fox had seen his face and that’s when he killed her in the creek.
According to the Innocence Project, Kevin Fox testified in court after Eby pleaded guilty and told his daughter’s killer: “I would always wonder what you were doing with your freedom. If you were lying, watching TV or if you were picking your next victim. After today you will no longer be a part of my memories of my daughter.”
Kevin Fox Won a Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Will County for Wrongful Imprisonment & Malicious Prosecution & Was Awarded $8 Million
Kevin Fox filed a civil lawsuit against Will County arguing that he was framed for the rape and murder of his daughter and that he was wrongfully imprisoned and maliciously prosecuted. A federal jury agreed with Fox in 2007 and the family was awarded $12.2 million, the Chicago Tribune reported.
According to the outlet, in 2010, the case made its way to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the verdict but reduced the amount owed to the Foxes to $8 million.
The court said authorities lacked probable cause in their arrest of Fox and had gathered “exceedingly weak evidence,” according to the outlet. The family’s attorney Kathleen Zellner said, “We thought it was a stunning rebuke of the defendant’s entire case. I don’t think we could have got a better result.”