An imprisoned sex offender will be charged with the 2004 murder of 3-year-old Riley Fox, a crime that Riley’s father originally confessed to committing.
It’s been a terrible ordeal for the family because even with DNA clearing Kevin in 2005, many people persisted in the belief that he was guilty,” Kathleen Zellner, the Fox family’s attorney, said. “So this is a tremendous relief.”
Scott Eby, 38, was charged on five counts of first-degree murder and one count of predatory sexual assault Thursday in the long-unsolved murder.
Eby 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, including forgery and a string of burglaries. He has been in and out of prison since 1988.
“Apparently, [the police] received a tip that led them to go to the prison where he is currently incarcerated,” Zellner said. “They spoke to him, 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.”
The dramatic announcement brought an end to a six-year nightmare involving the sexual assault and drowning of the girl who was found face down in a creek in the Forsythe Woods, about 2 miles from the Fox residence in Wilmington, Ill.
“I have never dealt with a case this heart-wrenching,” Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said at a news conference. “While nothing can bring back Riley Fox, we hope that the events that led to today can bring some closure to the family.”
After Riley’s murder, the police zeroed in on Kevin Fox. 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.
The False Fox Confession underlines once again the importance of proper handling of interrogations, the need to videotape interrogations, and raising awareness that it is possible to confess falsely.
There are more men and women who confessed falsely after hours of interrogations without the assistance of counsel. Read more about the Fox case here. Glasgow said he has four months to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Eby, who is serving seven-year prison sentences on each of two unrelated Will County convictions of criminal sexual assault. Eby is an inmate at the medium-security Lawrence Correctional Center in Sumner and would not have been eligible for parole until mid-2017, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections Web site. That situation will now change completely.