“Take me to my King”: Texas Death Row Inmate, Rickey Lynn Lewis, Executed Tuesday (Star-Telegram)

rickey-lewis-executedHUNTSVILLE, Texas (Star-Telegram) —

A Texas convict with a lengthy criminal history was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting a man and raping the slain man’s fiancee during a home break-in more than 22 years ago.

Rickey Lynn Lewis already had been in and out of prison five times in less than seven years when he was arrested three days after the killing of 45-year-old George Newman and attack on Newman’s fiancee in 1990 at their home in a rural area of Smith County, about 90 miles east of Dallas.

Lewis, 50, acknowledged the rape, but not the killing.

“If I hadn’t raped you, you wouldn’t have lived,” he told Newman’s fiancee, Connie Hilton, in the moments before the single lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered. “I didn’t kill Mr. Newman and I didn’t rob your house.

“I was just there. … I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through. It wasn’t me that harmed and stole all of your stuff,” he said to Hilton, who stood behind a glass window a few feet away. The Associated Press normally does not name rape victims, but Hilton, 63, agreed to be identified.

Lewis said the two people responsible for Newman’s killing are still alive. He didn’t identify them.

He told Hilton he watched her flee the house to get help. “When I saw you in the truck driving away, I could have killed you, but I didn’t,” he said. “I’m not a killer.”

Lewis thanked his friends who watched through a nearby window “for the love you gave me.”

“I thank the Lord for the man I am today. I have done all I can to better myself, to learn to read and write,” he said, appearing to choke back tears. “Take me to my king.”

As the drug began taking effect, he said he could feel it “burning my arm.”

“I feel it in my throat. I’m getting dizzy,” Lewis said before he started to snore and, seconds later, lost consciousness.

He was pronounced dead 14 minutes after the lethal dose began.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to review Lewis’ case and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted against a clemency request.

rickey-lynn-lewis

Current mugshot photo of Lewis

No last-day appeals were filed by his attorneys to try to halt the execution, the second this year in Texas.

Earlier appeals focused on whether Lewis, a ninth-grade dropout who worked as a laborer, was mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty under Supreme Court rulings. The claims included a suggestion from Lewis’ attorneys that the court reconsider a denial it made in his case in 2005. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused that recommendation on Monday.

Hilton declined to speak with reporters after the execution. In a first-person account she wrote of the attack, she said she got out of bed the night of Sept. 17, 1990, after her barking dog woke her and saw a man in the hallway with a shotgun.

She screamed, and Newman responded and was shot in the face. A dog in the home was also killed.

Hilton tried hiding in a bathroom, was struck at least twice in the head and then assaulted for over an hour by Lewis while the other two people Lewis claims were there stole items from the house.

She testified she was ordered to “quit whimpering,” felt a gun barrel on her and was told someone would find her in the morning.

According to court documents, she was left in the kitchen with her hands and feet bound. As Lewis and his partners fled in her truck, she managed to free herself, crawled to Newman to find him dead and then climbed out a window to seek help.

Lewis was arrested three days later after he was seen with some of the items stolen from the house. DNA evidence linked him to the attack.

“There’s still a lot of fear in the back of my mind because the other two men never were caught,” Hilton told the AP last week. “You never know if there’s going to be retaliation.

“He’s never told anyone and as far as I’m aware of, nobody knows. On the other hand, if he were to tell who was with him, that would confirm his guilt, and he’s not going to do that.”

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1996 upheld Lewis’ conviction but reversed his death sentence, finding jurors had faulty instructions when considering his sentence. At a new punishment trial the following year, Lewis again was sentenced to die.

Lewis’ mother, who has since died, testified a 10-year-old Lewis shot his father to protect her. Testimony indicated Lewis’ father had abused him as a child.

Records showed Lewis first went to prison in 1983 for burglary, was paroled and returned to prison as a parole violator. He continued to be a repeat offender and parole violator. His arrest on capital murder charges for Newman’s slaying came six months after his most recent release.

Evidence showed two months before the Newman shooting he stole a truck and led police on a chase. Then four days before the attack, Lewis used a sawed-off shotgun during a store robbery in Tyler.

At least 11 other Texas inmates have executions scheduled through July, including three more this month.

Source of article: Star Telegram

Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Executed Tuesday For The Murder of Three People

steven-ray-thackerMugshot photo of Steven R. Thacker

Steven Ray Thacker, now 42, was sentenced to death for the murders of three people during the Holiday Season in 1999. He was put to death by lethal injection Yesterday, March 12, 2013 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, after sitting on death row for 13 years.

Victim #1: On December 23, 1999 Laci Dawn Griffin Hill, 25, from Bixby, OK. Hill had placed a classified ad in the local newspaper in an attempt to sell her pool table. Thacker spotted the ad and figured it was a good opportunity so he answered the ad and made his way to Hill’s home where he raped, murdered and robbed her. Hill’s body was discovered in an abandoned cabin on December 29, 1999, just two days before the New Years Day 2000. Thacker used the items and money he had stolen from Hill and purchased presents for his wife and her two children. His would claim the lives of two more people until his capture on January 2, 2000.

Authorities soon identified Thacker on surveillance camera using Hill’s debit card but by then he had already made his way to his next victim in the neighboring state of Missouri, approximately 200 miles from Bixby.

lacy-hill

 

Photo of Laci Hill

Laci Hill’s Find A Grave

Victim #2: On New Years Day 2000 Thacker stabbed Forrest Reed Boyd, 25, after Boyd walked in on Thacker burglarizing his Aldrich, MO home. He stole Boyd’s vehicle and made his way down to Dyersburg, Tennessee.

Forrest Reed Boyd’s Find A Grave

Victim #3: Ray Patterson, 52, was a tow truck driver Dyersburg, TN. It just so happens that he was working at the time Thacker’s stolen vehicle broke down.  He contacted the tow service and when Patterson noticed the credit card used to pay for the service was stolen, he was stabbed to death.

forrest-boyd

Photo of Raymond Patterson

Thacker received two death sentences for the murders of Hill and Paterson. He received life without parole for pleading guilty to killing Boyd.

According to reports, he had a personality disorder but refused medication which would have helped his mood swings.

When asked if he had any last words he went on to apologize for his actions.

“”I would like to apologize sincerely to the families of Laci Hill, Forrest Boyd and Ray Patterson. I don’t deserve it, but as God has forgiven me, I hope you will forgive me for the pain I’ve caused.”

Thacker then winked at his stepfather, Donald Johnston, who silently nodded back at him. He was administered the lethal cocktails moments later at 6:03PM. He was pronounced dead at 6:10PM

When the execution was over, Nikki Hodgson, a friend of Hill’s, spoke about the experience saying it brought “a little bit of closure,” but that she didn’t believe the punishment was just.

“It is so humane,” she said of lethal injection. Thacker is “just going to sleep. It’s nothing like what the victims endured.”

“When something like this happens … you never truly move on. You just survive. It never leaves you, and this won’t make it leave you,” Marnie Reed, Hill’s best friend said after the execution.

According to the Death Penalty Information Website, last year there were 43 people on Oklahoma’s death row. Six were put to death bringing the toll down to 37, and Thacker is the first to be put to death this year which brings the toll to 36. He was the fifth death row inmate to have been put to death in the United States this year.

Frederick Treesh, Ohio Death Row Inmate, Executed This Morning After Landing On Death Row Over Eighteen Years Ago

frederick_treesh03/06/13, LUCASVILLE — A death row inmate who gunned down an adult bookstore security guard on over 18 years ago was executed this morning.

Shortly after 10AM, Frederick Treesh, 48, was led into the death chamber and strapped down. The prison system said Treesh’s veins checked out beforehand, but executioners seemed to have a little difficulty inserting the IVs.

Now, what led him to this moment?

On the night of August 27, 1994 Treesh, a former drug addict, walked into an adult store in Cleveland, OH and gunned down Henry Dupree in a cold-blooded crime-spree. After murdering the guard, he and a co-defendant robbed the store before running off. Several days prior he and his accomplice, gunned down another man working in another store.

Ghassan Danno, a Livonia, Michigan video-store owner was working the register on August 24, 1994 when Treesh and another man came in demanding money. They then took off with money and items but not before gunning down the owner.

Treesh had the opportunity to make a last statement and seemed to have alot to say. He started off by apologizing for the death of Dupree, but said he would NOT apologize to family members Danno killed who were witnessing the execution.

“I’ve never been tried, I’ve never been charged,” he said.

‘You want closure? Closure only comes with a book. You close it and put it on a shelf. There is no closure. Every holiday, every birthday, everything, you will think about the victim. So if you want me murdered, just say it,’ he said.

‘This is where drugs lead you,’ Treesh went on to say.

Treesh received a single dose of pentobarbital and was pronounced dead at 10:37AM by Donald Morgan, a prison warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.

A small amount of blood ran down Treesh’s right arm after one attempt, while the insertion on the left arm took a couple of attempts with the successful insertion on the inmate’s forearm. Treesh spoke a few times during the insertion process but most of his remarks were inaudible. He yawned shortly after the drug began flowing, then his mouth fell open and he was still for several minutes.

His last two words were muttered, “That’s it”, before he went silent.

Frederick Treesh’s execution came after years of denied appeals, with the most recent occurring last month where he asked for clemency and was denied. He was moved to the state death house in Lucasville last night where he was comforted by two spiritual advisers along with his attorney until approximately 7:30PM. Shortly after the visits he received his last meal which consisted of steak with deep-fried mushrooms, eggs, hash browns, onion rings, cottage cheese, sodas and for dessert he had a hot fudge sundae.

Treesh, originally from Waterloo, Indiana, was the 50th inmate put to death by the state since it resumed executions in 1999, and the fourth person executed in the US in 2013.

Warren Lee Hill Granted Stay of Execution Over Mentally Disabled Claim

warren_hill

02/20/13, ATL, GEORGIA — NYDailyNews Update;

The execution of a Georgia man who killed a fellow prisoner in 1990 was halted Tuesday at the last minute so courts could consider claims that he’s mentally disabled and other issues.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted its stay of execution as 52-year-old Warren Lee Hill was being prepared for lethal injection. In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the appeals court said further review is needed of recent affidavits by doctors who changed their minds about Hill’s mental capacity.
“In other words, all of the experts — both the State’s and the petitioner’s — now appear to be in agreement that Hill is in fact mentally retarded,” judges in the majority wrote in their order.
The state court of appeals also issued a stay to allow more time to consider a challenge related to the state’s lethal injection procedure.
Earlier in the day, the state parole board, the Supreme Court of Georgia and the U.S. Supreme Court had all declined to stop the execution.
“We are greatly relieved that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the execution of Warren Hill, a person with mental retardation. All the doctors who have examined Mr. Hill are unanimous in their diagnosis of mental retardation,” defense attorney Brian Kammer said in an email.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general declined comment.
Hill was sentenced to die for the 1990 beating death of fellow inmate Joseph Handspike. Authorities say he used a board studded with nails to bludgeon Handspike while he slept and other prisoners pleaded with Hill to stop. At the time Hill was already serving a life sentence for murder in the 1986 slaying of his girlfriend, Myra Wright, who had been shot 11 times.
Hill has received support from various activists and from former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn.
“Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity,” President Carter said in a statement.
Hill was originally set to be executed in July, but the state delayed his execution when it changed its execution procedure from a three-drug combination to a one-drug method. The state Supreme Court then further delayed the execution after Hill’s lawyers filed a challenge saying corrections officials violated administrative procedure when they made the change. The state’s high court earlier this month denied that challenge, and Hill’s execution was reset for Tuesday.
Hill’s lawyers argue that he is mentally disabled and therefore shouldn’t be executed. The state maintains that the defense failed to meet its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill is mentally disabled.
Death penalty defendants in Georgia have to prove they are mentally disabled beyond a reasonable doubt to avoid execution, the strictest standard in the country. Hill’s lawyers have said the high standard for proving mental disability is problematic because psychiatric diagnoses are subject to a degree of uncertainty that is virtually impossible to overcome. But Georgia’s strict standard has repeatedly been upheld by state and federal courts.

Read More: NY Daily News

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February 17, 2013, GEORGIA — Defense Lawyers desperately trying to save Georgia Death Row Inmate, Warren L. Hill, who is set to be executed Tuesday night

Warren Lee Hill was serving a life sentence for the 1986 murder of his 18-year-old girlfriend, Maya Wright, before being placed on Death Row for the 1990 murder of Joseph Handspike, another inmate. Hill attacked Handspike with a nail embedded in a board, hitting him multiple times. His defense lawyers have been trying desperately to save the man who they claim has ‘mental disabilities’.

Hill is currently at an Atlanta prison and is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday evening at 7PM (Feb. 19, 2013) despite a Supreme Court decision outlawing capital punishment for criminals who are deemed ‘mentally retarded’. On Feb. 5, 2013 Attorney General Samuel Olens released a statement confirming Hill’s execution date.

On February 5, 2013, the Superior Court of Lee County filed an order, setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Warren Lee Hill may occur to begin at noon, February 19, 2013, and ending seven days later at noon on February 26, 2013.

– The release

Hill was supposed to be executed in July, 2012 but was granted a stay of execution after he made an appeal due to the new execution method, which involves the injection of a single drug called pentobarbital, — the same drug often used for euthanizing animals. (Previously, the state of Georgia had used the three-drug cocktail method which typically includes a barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution.) — He is one of three Georgia inmates on Death Row trying to fight for a court order that would prevent the state from using a drug to execute them without a doctor’s prescription first.

On Feb 4, 2013, the State Supreme Court judge denied one of Hills last appeals, claiming he met the criteria for mental retardation by a  “preponderance of evidence”.

However, according to defense lawyers, Hill’s IQ was approximately 70.

Many have advocated on Hill’s behalf, including US President Jimmy Carter as well as Handspike’s family saying they “feel strongly that persons with any kind of significant mental disabilities should not be put to death.”

Three doctors who previously took the stand to testify for the state of Georgia against Hill are now claiming that he is in-fact mentally disabled, and should not be put to death.

Dr. Thomas Sachy released a statement last week: ‘Having reviewed my earlier evaluation results and the far more extensive materials from the record of this case, I believe that my judgement that Mr Hill did not meet the criteria for mild mental retardation was in error.’

The other two doctors agreed and claimed their evaluations of Hill mental state in 2000 were ‘rush jobs.’

The state of Georgia has said that Hill’s lawyers have failed to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that their client is mentally disabled and the execution shall proceed.

Love Triangle Killers Won’t Face Death Penalty For Burying Former Flame ALIVE

Love Triangle Killers Won't Face Death Penalty For Burying Former Flame Alive

Brandy Stevans-Rosine (Inset Top: Ashley Barber, Bottom: Jade Olmstead. )

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Article Published August 29th, 2012

→ Ashley Marie Barber, 18, and Nicole “Jade” Olmstead, 20, were arraigned in Crawford County on August 24, 2012, for the murder of Brandy Stevens-Rosine, a student at Youngstown State University, and Olmstead’s former flame. The couple confessed to the murder at a preliminary hearing in July, revealed the gruesome details of the brutal murder to the court.

On May 17, 2012, Stevens-Rosine went to visit her ex, Olmstead, at the home she shared with her new partner, Ashley Marie Barber, 20, in Wayne Township. The couple lured her into the woods, kicked and beat her, strangled her — but not to death. Barber then head butted her, Olmstead beat her on the head with a shovel until her brains spilled out, and they repeatedly smashed her head against a stump. When they realized that Stevens-Rosine was still breathing the women bashed her face in with a large rock and poured water into her mouth and nose to drown her. Ultimately they buried her alive in the shallow grave prepared beforehand. The coroner’s report concludes that Stevens-Rosine died from asphyxia caused by dirt in her airway consistent with having been buried alive. Reports thus far have not mentioned how long the attack lasted, or how long Stevens-Rosine’s suffering would have lasted. The motive for the murder is also not clear. Both women are charged with one count of criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit criminal homicide and tampering with physical evidence. If convicted they will face life in prison without the possibility of parole — but not the death penalty.

District Attorney Francis Schultz decided, “after careful consideration of the law and the facts that have been uncovered in the investigation of this case,” not to ask for the death penalty in this case, he added that though the murder was “brutal,” the allegations did not meet Pennsylvania’s criteria for the requesting the death penalty: Murder in the first degree with at least one of 18 possible aggravating factors. Schultz stated that a first-degree murder case might qualify for the death penalty if the “offense was committed by means of torture.”

SOURCE: Click the photo provided which will link you to the original article.

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Previous Article Published 7/30/12 ↔ http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/blog/2012/07/30/police-lesbian-couple-confessed-to-beating-burying-ex-alive/index.html

The Murder Of Riley Ann Fox

Riley Fox Murdered

Photo of Riley & Tyler Fox standing next to a scar-crow

In the summer of 2004, a little girl named Riley Fox was abducted and murdered in the small town of Wilmington, Illinois., about 60 miles southwest of Chicago. It was a gruesome crime that rocked the Rust Belt community and remains a mystery to this day. But more than just a tragedy and a ‘whodunit’, the Riley Fox case is the story of her family’s strange, overwhelming ordeal — a nightmare in which Riley’s death was only the first excruciating episode.

On the morning of June 6, 2004, Kevin Fox was home alone with his two children, 3-year-old daughter Riley and son Tyler, 6. His wife Melissa was away that weekend for a walk to raise breast cancer awareness in Chicago.   Just before 8 a.m., Kevin was at a Street Fair til late night and went to pick up Tyler and Riley who were being watched by their Grandparents. He got home and layed then down in the living-room and went to bed. Sometime in the early morning hours Tyler woke up, he noticed Riley wasn’t there and woke Kevin (”Dad”) and told him that Riley was gone. Kevin began searching for her himself, but after 40 minutes with no luck he called the police.

By the time Melissa found out and rushed home from Chicago, nearly the entire town was helping search for the little girl. The turnout was a testament to just how close the community is.   “Everybody was so supportive. I mean, I still, I can’t thank everyone enough … It was really unbelievable,” Melissa said.   Kevin and Melissa Fox grew up in Wilmington and were high-school sweethearts. 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.”   ‘I Was Definitely Not Wasted’

Riley Fox was definitely described as a ”daddy’s girl,” as evident by this photo

The sequence of events on the night of Riley’s disappearance would prove crucial to the case. While Melissa was in Chicago, Kevin made plans to go to a street festival in Chicago with one of Melissa’s brothers, leaving Tyler and Riley with his mother-in-law for the evening. How big an issue was alcohol that night? “It wasn’t a big issue at all,” says Kevin. “I had some beers. I was definitely not wasted.”

Around 1 a.m., Kevin returned home with the children, who were both fast asleep. He put Tyler on a chair in the living room and Riley on a couch, covering her with a yellow blanket. He went to bed and slept until Tyler woke him to tell him Riley was gone.

At around 3:30 that afternoon, two female volunteers found Riley’s body face-down in a creek in the Forsythe Woods, about a two-and-a-half miles from the Fox residence.   “I just had this really bad feeling about this place,” one of them said. “And that’s why I came here.”

CRIME SCENE: Riley Ann’s little body was discovered at this creek by two volunteers who set out to search for the missing child

The police were called, but it would be some time before Kevin and Melissa would learn of their daughter’s grisly death. They were first brought in for questioning. Later that day, they were told that Riley had been sexually assaulted, bound and gagged with duct tape and drowned.   Through their sadness, the family resolved to find the killer.

An Intruder? Or Foul Play? 

Because Riley’s body was found outside of Wilmington, the investigation was taken over by the Will County Sheriff’s Office. And as is typical in cases like this, Riley’s parents and the rest of the family all agreed to be questioned and provide DNA samples. Kevin and Melissa even allowed investigators to interview Tyler, who police hoped could offer clues because he was asleep next to Riley before she vanished. From the beginning, the Foxes believed an intruder came into their house and kidnapped Riley.

But investigators didn’t think the house showed signs of forced entry, and, more importantly, they figured it would take a great deal of planning or luck for the killer to sneak into the house and snatch Riley during the few hours when her father was asleep and her mother wasn’t home.

They also wondered why Kevin waited 40 minutes after realizing his daughter was missing before calling the police.  Kevin said when he was growing up he learned that the only time to call 911 is, “if there is a fire … I never … I never thought my daughter was kidnapped.  Never, never in a thousand years,” he said.

While they spent time canvassing the neighborhood and interviewing local sex offenders, the Will County Sheriff’s detectives grew more interested in Kevin, the last known adult to see Riley alive.

They shot surveillance footage of him at Riley’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 around the time of the murder.

The summer progressed with no named suspects, and public support for the family waned after a TV report portrayed the parents as indifferent to the death of their little girl. Rumors started swirling.

The Foxes sensed the community was turning, but Melissa never questioned her husband’s involvement. “I know Kevin way too well and watched him be a parent to our children every day,” she said.

The Interrogation

There was another dynamic at play. As the State’s Attorney Jeff Tomczak was dealing with pressure to solve the case, he was also fighting for his political life, with Election Day was approaching.

A week before the election, Will County detectives called the Foxes and asked them to come to the station. After arriving, they were immediately separated.

Kevin was taken into a very small room and interrogated for the next 14 hours.  According to Kevin’s account, detectives told him they had reason to believe that he had killed Riley.

“They broke me down mentally, physically, emotionally… but I stayed strong.  I knew… I, I denied everything, everything that they would say to me,” he said.

Kevin said the investigators told him to take a polygraph test, and he agreed, confident he’d pass. But afterwards, detectives told him he had failed. Finally, Kevin broke, offering a statement admitting he killed Riley.

According to the investigators, 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. Thinking he’d 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. Hours after making that statement, Kevin Fox was charged with first degree murder.

Seeking the Death Penalty

The next day, Tomczak announced he would be seeking the death penalty. “The young child in this case died a terrible death,” Tomczak announced at the time, “And for that reason, the penalty deserves to be death.”

Hal Dardick, who covered the Fox case for the Chicago Tribune, noted that the decision to seek the death penalty is usually reached over weeks or months, not days. But Tomczak has consistently denied that his decision was motivated by the impending election, which he ultimately lost to Jim Glasgow.

Kevin insisted to his family that his confession was false and that after 14 hours, he believed it was his only way out of that room. “Say you were trapped in a, a burning room, and there was only one door, and the fire was just flaming around you,” he said. “It was my only way out.”

Click here to watch a reenactment of the interrogation.

Attorney Kathleen Zellner, who built a reputation for freeing the wrongly accused with DNA evidence, believed him. After a single meeting with Kevin at the Will County jail, Zellner agreed to take his case.

“I decided a long time ago, I did not want to defend people who I thought were guilty,” she said. “Just looking at him and listening to him, I decided I was going to take a chance with him.”

False Confession?

Zellner  says she was persuaded because Kevin had no history of child abuse, and she believed his confession was coerced. “It fit perfectly. It was a classic case of false confession,” said Zellner.

Fox Family Photo

Photo of Riley Ann as a flower-girl at a wedding ceremony

Zellner said the trauma of Riley’s daughter made Kevin vulnerable to what she calls psychological manipulation by interrogators.  Kevin said the 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. Kevin said that the investigators would “have me raped every day I was in there if I didn’t say anything.”

Police said Kevin’s account of the interrogation was exaggerated and inaccurate, and pointed out that he had failed the polygraph test. But Fred Hunter, who has years of experience working for both Zellner and Will County authorities, offered another explanation.

“It is pretty much polygraph 101 that you would not to test a subject who had been interrogated for hours. The validity of any test results after that are going to be tainted,” Hunter said.

Zellner said she found the confession itself suspicious. She said that on many fronts, the details he gave were, “an absolutely impossible story.” If Kevin had really accidentally hurt his daughter inside the home, then why didn’t he take her to a hospital or simply call an ambulance? And if he drove off with the little girl, then why was no forensic evidence found inside the car?

And lastly, Zellner had serious questions about the steep embankment Kevin allegedly walked to the water’s edge.

“I mean, the chances he could have come down that side are pretty remote,” Zellner said., adding that the current at that point in the river was too weak to carry Riley’s body.

She conducted her own test at the creek and said it proved a body dropped at that site couldn’t have drifted to the location where Riley’s body was discovered.

Zellner also cast a critical eye on the fuzzy surveillance video of the car seen passing the gas station on the night of Riley’s murder. She carefully analyzed the video and said, “The wheel base is shorter.  The angle of the windshield is different.  You would have to have the license plate or a very clear picture of his face to ever have that hold up in court.”

DNA Testing

Despite all of that, Zellner was still concerned about swaying jurors from Kevin’s confession. “The only way you can trump a confession is with DNA. You’ve got to have DNA,” Zellner said.

Because Riley’s body was in the water for hours, it was much harder to retrieve a DNA profile.  Zellner feared that she’d been robbed of the silver bullet which had worked for her so often in the past. “I thought it would take miracle for us to find DNA,” she said.  And she was right. The tests came back negative for blood and semen.

Click here to read the Illinois State Crime Lab Report.

For saliva, the test read “inconclusive.” Dr. Karl Reich, who runs a private Chicago-area lab called Independent Forensics, told Zellner the word “inconclusive” was actually a cause for hope.

“Inconclusive” simply means it hasn’t been read, and Reich said 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 was there.

“Another testing, called Y-STR testing, could certainly be possible and might in fact be the right kind of testing for this case,” Reich said.

Y-STR testing analyzes the Y-chromosome, which is nearly identical in males of the same lineage and can be tested in small amounts.  Though that partial profile may not be enough to fully identify a criminal, it is enough there to eliminate a suspect with 100 percent certainty.

“It’s a well-established technique,” said Reich. But though it was valid in court, neither the state of Illinois nor the FBI was using it at the time.  So Zellner convinced the Will County prosecutor to send the samples to a respected lab in Virginia.

But she told Kevin the chances of gleaning anything from such a small sample were slim. It would take months to get her answer.  Bureaucracy held up the DNA samples and as the family waited, Melissa struggled to keep it together. “It was a nightmare, but I knew the only thing I could do was support Kevin, stay strong for Tyler,” she said.

Charges Dropped

Finally, on June 16, 2005, after eight months in jail, Kevin learned the results of the DNA test.

Riley Fox Murdered

Zellner remembers that phone call from Virginia:  “I pick up the phone and she said, I’ve got the profile done. There was enough DNA, I’ve excluded your client. I said, ‘well, you just saved somebody’s life.'”

She raced to the Will County jail to tell Kevin.  The accused father was stunned. “It hit me that, that I was going home and, and my name would finally be cleared,” he said.

With the case against Kevin collapsing, the new Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow held an immediate court hearing. Kevin Fox, who could have faced the death penalty, was released with all charges dropped.

But the case that had shattered the Wilmington community was far from over.  Zellner switched from defense to offense, pursuing a massive lawsuit on behalf of the Foxes against Will County.  The Fox family claimed that the investigators didn’t simply make innocent mistakes which led to Kevin’s arrest.  They were out to convict him from the beginning.

That DNA had been sent to the FBI, which is often the case when DNA samples need further testing that state crime labs aren’t equipped for.  But in this case, FBI records showed that “all additional DNA analyses were discontinued” once Kevin offered that confession. The FBI stated that a Will County investigator told them to stop, despite the “inconclusive” finding.

“It’s the one piece of evidence that could disprove the confession?..that could have set him free,” Zellner said.

Click here to read the FBI DNA Lab Report.

The police, Zellner argued, deliberately ignored evidence suggesting that an intruder was in the house. She said that there are numerous parts of the house they never bothered to check, including the back door, which was standing open.

“We know what’s how the intruder came in because the lock was broken,” she says. Zellner also claimed one of the windows was open from the inside, potential evidence of an intruder looking for an exit route.  None of this was ever fingerprinted, nor was the blanket used to cover Riley that night.

Jury Awards Millions to Fox Family

Professor Ann Burgess of Boston College, who was 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 takes a child, Elizabeth Smart, absolutely, perfect case.”

In fact, just this summer, DNA analysis from the same lab that cleared Kevin Fox definitively cleared Patsy and John Ramsey in the notorious murder of their daughter, Jon Benet.  In the Ramsey case, the detectives once discounted the intruder theory as well. A lead investigator even wrote a book arguing that Jon Benet’s death was an accident quickly staged to look like a murder. Zellner thinks that’s what inspired investigators in the Fox case to adopt their own accident theory.

To convince the jury, Zellner turned back to the interrogation of 6-year-old Tyler Fox. She said the tape of the interrogation reveals how badly the police wanted Tyler to point the finger at his own father. Tyler can be seen covering his head with his hoodie and becoming more and more upset in the video as the interviewer questions him about Kevin’s possible involvement in the crime. According the Zellner, she counted 168 times that he’s asked and he shook his head, no.

“He’s trying to tell her he doesn’t know anything and she just won’t stop,” Zellner said of the interviewer. “I think what you see in that is just purely evil. They take this child who’s in this horrible situation and they are trying to manipulate him to help them frame his father. It is despicable.”

The interviewer on the tape settled with the Foxes out-of-court and denied any wrongdoing.  But the Will County detectives went to trial. After five weeks of testimony, a jury awarded Kevin Fox and his wife Melissa $15.5 million in their civil rights case against Will County. “We want people to know the truth.  We are not bad people; we never were,” Melissa said.

Though the jury rejected the most serious charge of conspiracy, for Kathleen Zellner, the huge judgment is an extraordinary victory for the wrongfully accused.  “I’ve won a lot of big trials,” she said. “I have not done a trial where I have felt that I so exposed people as lying.”

The Foxes’ Private Investigation

ABC News’ David Muir attempted to talk about the case with Jeff Tomczak, the first prosecutor and former state’s attorney who originally charged Kevin Fox with murder. Tomczak negotiated a resolution with the Foxes before the case went to trial.  He has denied any wrongdoing and told Muir, ” I stand by the decisions in that case.”

Will County authorities are appealing the massive verdict. The detectives declined comment, but in a written statement, current State’s Attorney Glasgow said he “continues to stand behind the detectives.  The facts and circumstances would have led any prudent investigator to determine they had probable cause to arrest Kevin Fox.”

Click here to read a statement from State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow about the case.

Glasgow believes the outcome of the civil trial would have been different if the jury had been allowed to view a videotape of Kevin’s confessions.  But that video was suppressed and had never been made public.

The Will County Sheriff’s Department says a new team of detectives is now investigating Riley Fox’s murder, but Kevin and Melissa aren’t just relying on them.  The Foxes hired two private investigators, Rich Grove and Carlos Rodriguez, to chase down any leads and loose ends. The Foxes believe they can advance the case themselves because they now have that partial DNA profile.

“Y-STR profiling can’t identify someone uniquely, like nuclear DNA, but it could certainly start a conversation with an investigator,” Reich said.

Though the Foxes won’t see any money until the appeals process is finished, Zellner believes her client has won back something even more valuable: his reputation.  But even after the DNA and the jury’s verdict, there remain some people in Wilmington who still believe Kevin Fox killed his daughter.

That’s one reason the Foxes have moved to another Chicago suburb and why it is still hard for Kevin to go back to Wilmington. “It hurts that some people around here don’t understand,” he said.

But for all they’ve lost, and all they’ve endured, Kevin and Melissa turn to their newest gift.  In March 2006, their third child was born — a little girl they named Teagan.

“Teagan does remind me a lot of Riley, her personality,” says Melissa. “They’re kind of the same.  But we miss her. Every day is a struggle.  To know that you had something so wonderful in your life, and that someone took it.”

Kevin is trying to move forward as a dad by being thankful for what he has today. “I have a beautiful daughter at home; a son; and a beautiful wife.  You never know what’s gonna happen.  So have no regrets and, and… just enjoy what you have.”

The REAL Killer of Riley Ann Fox

Riley Fox Murdered

Police Photo of Scott Eby

The charges allege that Scott Eby, a sex offender with a long rap sheet, abducted Riley Fox from her home on June 6, 2004, sexually assaulted her, bound her in duct tape, and then drowned her in a creek.

Scott alledged that he initially went into the Fox’s home to burglarize it but stumbled upon little Riley sleeping on the couch besides her brother Tyler. He snatched Riley and went to a rest-room stop where he sexually assaulted the little girl then murdered her. His sneaker was left at the crime scene and in it, was the name ”Eby” stiched. Had authorities properly looked through each piece of crime scene evidence, they would have scene it and investigated it, instead of pointed the finger at Kevin Fox.

RIP RILEY ANN FOX (March 31, 2001 – June 6, 2004)

Jesus will protect you for eternity