The Rape and Murder of Riley Fox

Jumping the Gun

June 6th, 2004 a little girl named Riley Fox was abducted and murdered in the small town of Wilmington, Ill., southwest of Chicago. Three year old Riley Fox vanished, and her father became the prime suspect. Kevin Fox, her father was home alone with his two children, 3-year-old daughter Riley and son Tyler, 6. His wife gone that weekend for a walk in Chicago to raise breast cancer awareness. His son Tyler woke Kevin and told him that Riley was gone. Kevin began searching for her himself, but after 40 minutes not finding her he called the police.
By the time Melissa, Riley's mother found out and rushed home from Chicago, almost the entire town was helping search for Riley. "Everybody was so supportive. I mean, I still, I can't thank everyone enough ... It was really unbelievable, " Melissa said. Kevin, a painter, doted on his precious daughter, saying she had "big brown eyes, the way she would look at you, and her smile. She just made your heart melt." He and his wife were high school sweethearts growing up in this close knit community.
With Melissa in Chicago, Kevin made plans to go to a street festival in Chicago with a brother of Melissa's, his mother-in-law keeping the kids for the evening. He was questioned on how much alcohol he had saying. "I had some beers. I was definitely not wasted." Kevin got home with the kids, who were both asleep around one AM.Kevin said he put Tyler on a chair in the living room and Riley on a couch, putting a yellow blanket over her. He then went to bed and did not awake until Tyler, his little boy woke him to tell him Riley was gone.
That afternoon, two female volunteers found Riley's body face down in a creek in the Forsythe Woods around two-and-a-half miles from where Riley lived. The police were called, but it would be awhile before Kevin and Melissa would find out about their daughter's horrible death. First they were brought in for questioning, then later told Riley had been sexually assaulted, bound, gagged with duct tape, then drowned.


Since Riley was found outside of Wilmington, the investigation was changed over to the Will County Sheriff's Office. Riley's parents and the rest of the family all agreed to be questioned and provide DNA samples,which is a normal procedure. Tyler their son was questioned with his parent's permission, who police hoped could offer clues being asleep beside Riley. The family believed an intruder came into their house and kidnapped Riley, although investigators didn't think the house showed forced entry and they thought it would take a great deal of planning or convenient for the killer to sneak inside and take Riley at such an opportune time when her father was asleep and her mother not home. The also questioned why Kevin would wait 40 minutes after finding his daughter missing before notifying the law. Kevin said it never once occurred to him she had been kidnapped.


Will County Sheriff's detectives grew more suspicious of Kevin, the last to see Riley alive. They filmed him at his daughter's funeral and they took special interest in a security video from a gas station located between the Fox home and the creek where she was found. Investigators believed it showed a car similar to Kevin Fox's Ford escape passing the station near the time of the murder and for whatever reason the public support for the family changed after a TV report showed the parents as indifferent to the death of Riley, causing rumors to start started. Melissa never once suspected her husband.


Another incident we all are familiar with by now was the fact a man fighting for political victory and being pressed to solve a case as the State's Attorney Jeff Tomczak was with Election Day was approaching. Asking the foxes to come to the station, immediately separating them, Kevin was taken into a very small room and interrogated the next 14 hours. Kevin said detectives told him they had reason to believe that he had killed Riley. He denied all they accused him of took a lie detector test being told he had failed it.


What a Web We Weave

The investigators said Kevin said he woke up in the middle of the night went to the bathroom, where he accidentally hit Riley with the door, causing her to stumble and hit her head on the bathtub. Assuming he accidentally killed her, he panicked and supposedly did something to make it look like she was sexually assaulted. Investigators said he put duct tape over Riley's mouth, drove her in his car to the river and walked down the side of a small bridge and dumped her into the river.
Kevin Fox was charged with first degree murder.

Tomczak said he would be seeking the death penalty. "The young child in this case died a terrible death," Tomczak said, "And for that reason, the penalty deserves to be death."
Hal Dardick, who covered the Fox case said that the decision to seek the death penalty is usually reached over weeks or months, not days. Tomczak has consistently denied that his decision was motivated by the impending election, which he ultimately lost to some other politician.


Insisting to his family that his confession was false and that after 14 hours, Kevin believed it was his only way out of that room. He could take no more and just wanted out of the room and the ones doing this know it often is the case.
After a single meeting with Kevin at the Will County jail, Attorney Kathleen Zellner agreed to take his case. She said she did not want to defend people she thought were guilty and she believed him innocent. She said she thought because Kevin had no history of child abuse, his confession was coerced, being a classic case of false confession. She said the trauma made Kevin vulnerable to what she calls psychological manipulation by interrogators. Detectives showed him pictures of Riley's dead body and refused to let him speak to his father or a lawyer and made graphic threats. The investigators said they would "have me raped every day I was in there if I didn't say anything."

Kevin's account of the interrogation was exaggerated and false police said, saying again he had failed the polygraph test. Fred Hunter, with years of experience working for both Zellner and Will County authorities, offered an answer for this. The validity of any test results after what they put this man through for all those hours are going to be tainted," The interrogators know this I am sure.


DNA

DNA tests came back negative for blood and semen. For saliva, the test read "inconclusive" which in forensic is a cause for hope. Inconclusive means it hasn't been read, and one reason for that could be that the state lab's equipment might not have been sophisticated enough to pick up on what little DNA existing.

Another testing, called Y-STR testing, was possible and could be the right kind of testing for this case. Y-STR testing checks the Y-chromosome, nearly identical in males of the same lineage and can be tested in small amounts.That partial profile may not be enough to completely identify a criminal, it is enough to eliminate a suspect with 100 percent certainty.

For ." Dr. Karl Reich, who runs a private Chicago-area lab called Independent Forensics, told Zellner the word "inconclusive" was actually a cause for hope. So Zellner, Kevin's attorney convinced the Will County prosecutor to send the samples to a lab in Virginia, telling Kevin the chances of getting anything from such a small sample were slim.


On June 16, 2005, with eight months in jail, Kevin learned the results of the DNA test. Kevin Fox, possibly facing the death penalty, was released with all charges dropped.


Now Zellner would put a massive lawsuit on behalf of the Foxes against Will County, claiming the investigators were not just guilty of innocent mistakes leading to Kevin's arrest, but out to convict him from the beginning. FBI records showed that "all additional DNA analysis were discontinued" when Kevin offered his confession. The FBI said a Will County investigator told them to stop, despite the "inconclusive" finding. The only piece of evidence that could set Kevin free.

He came so close to possibly being given a death penalty for the murder of his daughter, when all the horror of losing her and in the way it had been was enough to destroy a parent.


Riley Fox and Family

Evidence suggesting that an intruder was in the house had been completely ignored by the police, not even checking the back door completely open. The lock had been broken and a window opened from inside. None of this was ever finger printed nor the blanket that covered that child.
Professor Ann Burgess who has worked with the FBI profiling killers, testified on behalf of the Foxes that cases involving intruders are not as rare as many think. "There are many cases where an intruder comes in and and takes a child. DNA analysis from the same lab that cleared Kevin Fox cleared Patsy and John Ramsey in the murder of their daughter, Jon Benet. The detectives once discounted the intruder theory as too, in the Ramsey case. A lead investigator even wrote a book saying Jon Bennet's death was an accident staged to look like a murder.I think they murdered that woman. Stress can cause cancer and if they didn't put stress on that poor woman. Look at all her last years were. Justice should be done here too, and that poor little brother was even mentioned at one time and no doubt checked out.
Before the jury, Zellner used the tape of interrogation to reveal how badly the police wanted Kevin to be the murderer. Kevin shook his head no 168 times to his involvement in his daughters murder. The interviewer on the tape settled with the Foxes out-of-court and denied any wrongdoing, but the Will County detectives went to trial, thank God.

The jury awarded Kevin Fox and his wife Melissa $15.5 million in their civil rights case against Will County. I saw on the news they will not get that much(maybe about half) and that is easy enough to believe. My question is why these detectives, the interrogator and many policemen are not behind bars right now? They lied and tried to kill an innocent man, plain and simple and it goes on all the time while they let real criminals walk right by them, and nothing happens to them. Judgment day is coming forall like this to be sure, they only think they are getting by with it.
Riley's murderer was caught and charged for the rape and murder of this precious 3 year old baby. Scott Eby, 38 was sent to prison for a separate 2005 charge of criminal sexual assault. According to the Illinois sex offender registry, and has an extensive criminal history. He was charged on five counts of first-degree murder and one count of predatory sexual assault in the long-unsolved murder of Riley.


Riley Fox

Do you think the law should have to answer for mistakes like this?

  • It can't be helped; cops have to be the judges to start with.
  • Yes they should have to answer; they should always look at everyone else when they have no proof a parent hurt their child and has no previous records!
See results without voting

All's well that ends well?

The police received a tip leading them to go to the prison where he is currently incarcerated. They got a DNA sample, the state lab cooperated in quickly getting the test result. They returned to the prison within 24 hours and they were able to get a statement from him confessing to the crime. Our judicial system and most of our government are rotten to the core.

Zellner said they were so focused on her client that they did not look at anyone else, including Eby, who was on parole and living a mile away when Riley was killed. Would they check for a local sex offender, with 100,000 they have lost I guess they saw no use to.

State's new Attorney James Glasgow said his decision to free Fox made him unpopular in the law enforcement community. "What I want to point out to you is, the system works," Glasgow said. "When everybody does their jobs, innocent people aren't convicted."

I would like to ask Mr. Glasgow when that is that everyone does their job? Why is it so many times they let trails get cold or completely erased in many of these child abduction cases because the first thing they do is waste days and even months looking at the parents. Well you know who they are and where they are. Have a brain and look at all the evidence instead of many times hiding it and make the people pay that do these things. These are crimes.just like any other and should be made punishable, not paid off with money that is not even yours.
I don't know why I get involved in hubs like this but I am finding it harder and harder to believe the way this world really is. There is not enough money in the world to bring this baby back or not think of what she went through, but they won't take him out and shoot him down or shoot him up (lethal injection) or whatever he deserves for doing this. Will he be treated like Kevin, we know better, he has been proven guilty so now he has all the rights and if they do ever punish him it will be after years of making this family wait for their baby's justice. Our law is dirty, unjust and needs cleaned out!


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Comments 33 comments

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, Polly, Well done for such a terrific and detailed hub. This is unbelievable. He could have died in the death penalty. This is so similar to little Madeleine who went missing in portugal. The police spent months trying to prove that her parents did it, they completely ignored the forensics that were in the flat. proof that was there had gone by the time they realised they were inoccent. they were taken to court, hounded out the country, and even one of the police officers got the sack but went on to write a book about how guilty they were! all evidence has gone, Madeleine is still missing and the investigation has come to an end. it makes me angry. Well done. rated up Nell


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US Author

Thank you, and it is so true. I can see looking at the parents but not to the point of not checking for prints and clues first like with Darlie. I tell you she looked guilty to me but it was because that was all they let anyone see, even the jury, then when I saw the backs of her arms so black and blue and all those defensive wounds, I felt so ashamed, she surely did not kill those kids. We need laws to get these cops acting like gods, judge and jury. And imagine parents going through enough suffering through this loss and then to get accused!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

What a never ending horror story. Incompetent police departments are nothing new (add politicians, CEOs etc.) - and yet when we asked for a civilian review board here in NYC it had been shot down so many times. There has to be transparency in every agency both corporate and in the government - with outside oversight. And the biggest complaint we had in NYC is that Police Officers were allowed the role of judge and jury with a godlike mentality - inexcusable, so I totally agree with you here. It took a long time to effect change in this area. And why aren't these people put in jail and not just punished by losing their jobs - that's not enough.

I digress just a bit but thanks for staying on this topic. It is much needed. We need to have information like this rammed into our faces.

Rated up of course!


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Amazing how this goes on and it seems to be repeated - incompetent people with too much power - this needs to be changed before the cycle goes on.


daisyjae profile image

daisyjae 6 years ago from Canada

Such a tragic story.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US Author

BKCreative>The more I read and research the more horrible it gets. Who are these policemen and judges, its almost like they were excons, I know my cousin straight from prison in California became a cop, he said no one else wants the job, so maybe they aren't really even getting any training but here it is just everyone set to get that poor young father who had lost his child in such a horrible way..someone in this conspiracy should go to jail, you can see that is what it is! And why?

billyaustindillion> I think it has been going on it is just people are seeing so very much of t they have to pay attention!

daisyjae> It certainly is and many more as bad or worse, he spent 8 months in jail accused of killing his baby while he was mourning her, he deserves the full $15 million, he should push for it, at least maybe money would make the legal crooks in law think twice!

You know maybe its time to divide America again, let the crooks all have each other and we start a portion of our own made up of only people who can be trusted and love one another...well that's Heaven I guess and it's coming soon enough and all these crooks can go down with Satan, their god, forevermore.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I appreciate good police as all do. Too often the police and courts are false.

The "injustice system of the United States does not work. Those in charge do not care that it works.

I say this repeatedly on hubpages. I say it on my hubs and I say it in "comments" on other hubs, "if you do a search for the wrongly accused and imprisoned - that search will and cannot ever end!"

America's court system has killed more people then the people who died in the World Trade Center!

Reconstruction was an abomination! Our "injustice system has never worked".

Thank you for this hard story told well.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US Author

Thank you, I would love to always be funny and there is a need to be so often but I am sharing as I find out, our world is spinning so out of control and I like to yell when these people always get by for doing what they do to innocent people and look away when they should be doing something! I want to point, I want to name names, I want to know why they don't have to pay!


christalluna1124 profile image

christalluna1124 5 years ago from Dallas Texas

Polly,

What a great article and at the same time it is hauntingly like my home state of Texas. How sad that those in power abuse it at will and without consequences.

Warmest regards,

Chris


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US Author

Thank you it is such a shame, if they want a group after the parents, at least have another team looking somewhere else! Thanks for stopping by Christalluna.


chamilj profile image

chamilj 4 years ago from Sri Lanka

What a Heart Breaking Story? Nicely written hub. Voted up!


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US Author

Thanks for commenting chamilj, it really is so terrible.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

A great hub. How sad this happens to families that lose their children. I understand them looking at the parents but they need to never stop looking for someone else. More and more of these crazies are getting into our homes taking our children.

I agree with you about the law.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US Author

Thank you and I never thought to be one to knock the law but then I didn't know what I do now. Thanks for stopping by moonlake!


carla ceniti 4 years ago

I’m a neighbor of Scott Swearengen, supposedly the lead detective on the case. He started out a will county sheriff and made detective almost as soon as this case came to light. God only knows why. The man is a liar and a con artist and makes one wonder whose b*lls he had to lick to climb the latter. Will county law enforcement sucks and this is one small example. They serve and protect only themselves while the monsters walk the streets at night in prey of our children. I don’t know how they sleep at night. Maybe they sleep soundly because they feel their families are well protected. If so, they are wrong. They are dead wrong. Because anything can happen to anybody.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US Author

I have done much reading in crime cases carla; where the police do this. You would think it would be one of the first things "not" to do since they can be sued for millions but I know in many cases the poor guy was so glad to be free i doubt riches mattered and it is a real shame. Our judicial system in America sucks big time anyway. Unless someone kills a cop they get no time. look at the doctor who killed Michael Jackson, gee they really showed him didn't they? I am surprised there weren't riots over that one!


poetvix profile image

poetvix 4 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

I could not agree more, the so called officers of the law who out of sheer negligence let a child rapist/murder go free because they would not do their jobs and look at the evidence should be the ones in jail!

I can only imagine the horror that poor family endured and will endure just at the hands of the original criminal, but to have the ones we pay to protect us torment them further is just insane, wrong, too bad for any word I can think of. Grrrrrrrr.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US Author

Thank you for commenting, poetvix. It seems they never learn their lessons. What on earth makes law this way I have no idea when you have a normal family with no police records you just have to suspect. If it was someone warning them a kid might be hurt they would push you away and ignore you, believe me I know.


sara 3 years ago

its funny how 2 yrs ago in this post you are all about how they put innocent people behind bars so they can quickly close a murder case, how about the west memphis three? They sent 3 innocent teens to jail with no evidence whatso ever and yet u are so determined that they are guilty, are you blind?


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 3 years ago from US Author

This hub is about an innocent father the law latched onto as they did Darlie Routier and they deserve to have to pay for those mistakes. Many were blind, weren't they; as so many are today, not seeing a crook and demon right in their face. Speaking of blind.


clara kish@yahoo. profile image

clara kish@yahoo. 3 years ago from Mt. Perry. Ohio

Hello Pollyanna,It is so hard to believe that the courts have become so messed up now ,it is hard to tell the law officials from the criminals at times,unfortunately it seems to be wide spread and nobody seems to be trying to do , anything about it .When they stand before God on Judgment Day how do you think they will try to justify themselves ?Clara


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 3 years ago from US Author

Hi Clara, it's true; and I know you and I both understand the evil in the world but it is so hard to understand those who do things like this to innocent people.


wmhoward4 profile image

wmhoward4 2 years ago from Baltimore Maryland (USA)

Cases like this are scary. Look at how the Duke LaCross team case was so close to sending those boys to jail. Every year people are released after years in prison and then found not guilty. Some have died and only been shown innocent postumously.

The courts care more about making money for ambulance chasers and slip and fall lawyers than they do about justice.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 2 years ago from US Author

That is true wmhoward4 but there are also many of the cases where little girls like this are raped and many times murdered and especially the rapes the judges act like a couple years will really punish them. Many of these cases are proven without a doubt and the punishment is ridiculous. Even if they are not killed these little girls (and boys) have no live after this and this rapist should not either. They should never, ever be released!


wmhoward4 profile image

wmhoward4 2 years ago from Baltimore Maryland (USA)

I agree Pollannalana. There has to be better standards for courts, judges, law enforcement and prosecutor ethics. The father could have been killed while he was locked-up unjustly. On the other hand, there were cases in Vermont were judges went easy on child rapists un the guise of "restorative justice". How could counseling, never shown to be fulproof, be a wise sentence. The results continue to show these predators remain dangerous to children.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 2 years ago from US Author

There is a very good point here that there seems to be nothing we can do about and that is to be able to judge the judges. They all seem to be above the law and make ridiculous decisions so many times.


wmhoward4 profile image

wmhoward4 2 years ago from Baltimore Maryland (USA)

In my state, the press actually does sometimes nail judges who go off the hook. There was a judge who made the comment to a young girl when the man who used her was on trial -"It takes two to tango." All the TV stations and newspapers made it a full blown story. When the judge was up for re-election, he chose not to run. Prior to that, he was also diciplined with only a verbal repremand by the Judicial Disabilities Commission. It takes proof of criminality or mental incapacity to remove a judge.

One thing people have to do is hold Hollywood and Madison Avenue accountable for sexualizing kids in movies, TV shows and product ads.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 2 years ago from US Author

That is good but clearly and I am sure you agree not good enough. The one that said it takes two to tango to a rape victim should be held accountable and I am so pleased the people stood up to him at least and that he is history!

People can show Hollywood something by not going to movies like this or allow their young children and also change their views of putting sex in the face of very young children while their minds should be on being a child not what Mommy and Daddy are doing!


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 2 years ago from US Author


Rayne123 18 months ago

Very good article.

First time I hear about this case.

Poor little thing, my heart aches for her, how sad. Thank you for posting.

Have a good day.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 18 months ago from US Author

Thanks Laurie and such a tragedy for the grieving father too.

Great day to you too!


Sneha Sunny profile image

Sneha Sunny 5 months ago from India

Tragic.


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 months ago from US Author

Yes it was.

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