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Riley Fox
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:21 pm    Post subject: DNA clears dad in girl's slaying Reply with quote

DNA clears dad in girl's slaying
Father jailed 8 months in 3-year-old's death

Deborah Horan, Jo Napolitano, John Biemer and Steve Mills
Chicago Tribune
June 18, 2005


After nearly eight months in jail, a Will County man who police said had confessed on videotape to the June 2004 murder and sexual assault of his 3-year-old daughter was set free Friday, after DNA tests failed to link him to the crime.

Kevin Fox walked out of jail and into a knot of cheering, sobbing relatives and friends after a brief court hearing at which prosecutors said they no longer had enough evidence to hold Fox for the slaying of his daughter, Riley.

The DNA testing of evidence resulted in an "absolute exclusion of Kevin Fox as a donor," State's Atty. James Glasgow told the judge.

A short time later, a tearful but smiling Fox emerged from jail. He walked with an arm around his wife, Melissa, and 7-year-old son, Tyler, at his side. He was also accompanied by his lawyers, Kathleen Zellner and Paul DeLuca.

He said he was eager to spend the night with his family in his own home. "I dreamed of that every night, every single night," he said. "Finally, it's here."

Fox turned aside questions about the videotaped confession at the heart of the case, saying "it was a nightmare and I don't want to relive it right now."

But later, in an interview with the Tribune, he said he was "fed lies and threats the entire time." His wife, who stood by him through his arrest and time in jail, said that when she was questioned "they messed with my mind so much in what little time they had so I couldn't even imagine what they did" with him.

Fox's release sidetracked a case that was contentious from the start, and one that whipsawed the emotions of residents in the tiny community of Wilmington where it occurred. Faced with the disappearance of a child, they gathered together to search for her and mourned on learning she had been slain.

Then, they were forced to come to grips with the idea one of their own had committed the crime. Now, a year after it all began, they are confronted with a new set of facts: that authorities erred when they charged Fox with the slaying.

The case also focused renewed attention on the issue of false confessions, one that has plagued the criminal justice system in Illinois. The Fox case appears to be the second in which a videotaped confession proved false.

In January 2002, Cook County prosecutors dismissed the murder case against Corethian Bell after DNA undermined a videotaped confession that he had killed his mother. Like Fox, Bell said police coerced him to confess. He spent 17 months in jail before he was released.

Though DNA cleared Bell and connected another man to his mother's slaying, police said they have no suspects in the Fox case. Glasgow stopped short of saying Fox was innocent, and said he could not explain why he confessed.

"Numerous confessions are made without coercion," he said.

In court, the case was marked by contentiousness, as Zellner took an aggressive tack to fight the charges. She criticized investigators for botching the investigation and took the unusual step of filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Will County sheriff's office and several detectives, alleging that they had coerced Fox's confession.

Zellner also investigated the case on Fox's behalf in an effort to develop other suspects, and she sought the DNA tests that led to Fox's release. She alleged sheriff's investigators and prosecutors had rushed to judgment in the case, relying on the confession without waiting for the tests.

"The ultimate thing to learn is, do the tests before you make the arrest," Zellner quipped after the hearing at which the charges were dropped.

Even after evidence was sent to the FBI's lab at Quantico, Va., Zellner charged that sheriff's officials told the agency not to pursue the testing. A report from the FBI lab indicates that a sheriff's officer told FBI analysts in early November to stop testing.

"Once they got a confession, they told them to stop the testing," Zellner said. "There's absolutely no excuse for not having those tested."

The decision to release Fox followed a meeting Thursday evening between Glasgow and Zellner, who recounted the discussion and described the county's lead prosecutor as "flabbergasted" by the DNA results.

Zellner criticized the Illinois State Police lab for failing to get a genetic profile when analysts at the Joliet lab examined the vaginal swab.

Lt. Lincoln Hampton, a state police spokesman, said the lab did only preliminary work on the case before the evidence was sent to a private lab, and so it never had the opportunity to try to isolate the DNA--an explanation Zellner challenged.

With the case against Fox dismissed, Glasgow said prosecutors and sheriff's detectives--although none whose work led to charges against Fox--will reopen the case and investigate it with renewed vigor.

Additional DNA testing also will be performed, he said.

"A vicious sexual predator murdered Riley Fox last June, and we are making it our No. 1 priority to reopen this case and aggressively investigate it ..." Glasgow said, adding that there were a "number of leads" investigators were reviewing.

Sheriff Paul Kaupas declined to answer questions about the case but read a brief statement in which he said that "... if evidence presents itself, we'll keep an open mind, continue the investigation and follow any and all leads."

The case began on a quiet Sunday last June. Fox was home with Riley and Tyler, while his wife was in Chicago taking part in a charity walk.

The night before, Fox told police, he had gone to a street festival. He had left the two children in the care of their grandparents. After he picked them up, around midnight, he put them to bed.

In the morning, the front door to the home was open, but Kevin Fox said he did not know whether his daughter had opened it and wandered off.

Between 500 and 600 volunteers took up the effort, and her body was found later that day in Forked Creek, 4 miles from the family's home.

An autopsy determined that Riley Fox had been drowned.

Kevin Fox, then 27, was arrested four months later after the sheriff's office said he gave a videotaped statement implicating himself in the crime.

According to sheriff's officials, Fox said in the videotape that he accidentally killed his daughter but tried to make her death look like a murder and sexual assault so police would not suspect him of the crime.

Fox, in the interview, said he sometimes despaired being in jail but never gave up hope that the truth would emerge and he would be released.

He told himself "there is a big light at the end of the tunnel. It's just how far is the tunnel. And we're arriving at the end."

Some observers charged that then-State's Atty. Jeff Tomczak, who was in a tight race for re-election against Glasgow, filed charges against Fox and quickly decided to seek the death penalty only to quiet criticism over the failure to make an arrest in the case.

Tomczak denied the allegations but eventually was beaten by Glasgow.

Glasgow renewed criticism of Tomczak on Friday, saying at a news conference that it was the state's attorney's duty to stay on top of the forensic evidence and that the office had failed.

"So when you send something to the lab, you monitor it," he said. "The state's attorney's office at that point needs to get involved and say, `Wait a minute. We've got to get this to the laboratory so that we can process it quickly.'"

Zellner praised Glasgow for his handling of the case, saying that Glasgow had "inherited somebody else's mess and still he did the right thing."

The confession was the most contentious piece of evidence and, from the start, Zellner aggressively challenged how the police obtained it.

Fox, according to Zellner, confessed only after he was questioned for 14 hours and was exhausted, and because authorities allegedly promised him that he would face lesser charges and quickly be released if he said his daughter's death was an accident.

"They get people who are emotionally traumatized and obtain a bogus confession," said Zellner, who has helped to free several wrongly convicted inmates but, in an unusual move, took on the defense of Fox before trial.

"People say to me that they would never confess to killing their child," said Zellner. "Have you ever had a child who was murdered? Do you know what it's like to go through that kind of trauma and then be suspected of something like this?"

Melissa Fox said she never thought her husband killed their child.

"... there was nothing that triggered in my mind or my heart that he had ever done anything wrong," she said.

Friday's hearing saw none of the contentiousness that had marked the case.

Fox entered the courtroom wearing a blue jail uniform and crying. When he met his wife's gaze, she began to cry as well. And when Glasgow began to explain he was dismissing the case, their crying grew stronger and Fox's thin shoulders began to shake.

After the judge dismissed the charges, friends and family who had packed the courtroom started to whoop and cheer, then broke into prolonged applause.

Fox family members were jubilant. They told Fox's father, Curtis, that his son's release was a perfect Father's Day gift--two days early.

Sitting in Zellner's office while family members ate pizza and drank champagne and beer, Kevin Fox said his immediate plans are to enjoy his wife and son--and continue to mourn his brown-haired daughter.

While in jail, he had not wanted Tyler to see him in a bad place.

Consequently, he went eight months without seeing his son, although they did talk on the phone.

He may also become a spokesman for falsely accused people, and he said he certainly would press ahead with his federal civil rights lawsuit.

"It's not over," he said. "It's far from over. We have so many more obstacles to hurdle. But we've gotten this far, and I don't think anything could tear us apart after what we've been through."
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:22 pm    Post subject: Fox savors freedom, family Reply with quote

Fox savors freedom, family
In Wilmington, many cite unease

Deborah Horan and Mary Ann Fergus
Chicago Tribune
June 19, 2005


After spending nearly eight months in jail charged with the murder of his 3-year-old daughter, Kevin Fox of Wilmington spent his first full day of freedom Saturday enjoying simple pleasures with his family, anonymously, in Chicago.

Residents of his small Will County hometown, meanwhile, celebrated his release but voiced anger at the criminal justice system and frustration that Riley Fox's killer had not been caught.

In the days after the girl's slaying, residents describe waking at night to check their homes and sleeping children. Doors once left unlocked were bolted shut.

"We're back to Square One," said Sheila Rodgers, a neighbor who participated in the initial search for Riley. "Today, it's the exact feeling we had when it happened."

Meanwhile, Fox, 28, his wife, Melissa, and their 7-year-old son, Tyler, escaped the scrutiny of his town for the anonymity of his brother's condominium in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood.

Saturday morning Fox got a haircut at an Old Town barber shop on Wells Street where, according to his brother, Chad, he joked and laughed with a stylist who did not recognize him. Fox had a picnic lunch of McDonald's cheeseburgers and fries at North Avenue Beach. Later, back at his brother's condo, he and Tyler played video games. In the evening, Fox enjoyed a Corona and planned to eat Mexican food with his family and a few friends.

Chad Fox, speaking on his brother's behalf, said the day was great, filled with everyday activities that Kevin Fox appreciated anew.

He marveled at Lake Michigan and the warmth of sunshine on his face. Best of all, Chad Fox said, his brother was just another young man at the beach with his son.

"Nobody recognized us all day," Chad Fox said.

For more than a year, Kevin Fox's life and actions have been studied and debated. His daughter was taken from the family home June 6, 2004, while she slept, was sexually assaulted and drowned in a creek. In October, Will County sheriff's police arrested Fox, who gave a videotaped statement admitting to the crime. Soon afterward, he said the statement had been coerced after a tough 14-hour interrogation.

On Friday, he was released from jail after tests showed he was not a match to DNA evidence found on Riley.

In the town of 5,000, feelings of hope and despair were shared once more.

"Now the town has to worry about a killer on the loose when we all thought we were safe," said Linda Busby, 46, a grandmother of two.

She said she was shocked and disgusted when Fox was arrested and his confession was reported.

"Since he got arrested, a lot of things changed around here," Busby said. "People were quiet. They were hurt and humiliated."

They were also divided.

"I have felt he was innocent all along," said Gwen Smith, a neighbor who lives across the street from Fox's former house, sold soon after Riley's murder. "I used to watch him cradle [Riley] when she was crying."

Her sister-in-law disagreed.

"I thought from Day One he did it," said the woman, who did not want to be named. "Who would pick out that house and pick out that child. Something's not right."

But this weekend, much of the town rejoiced at Fox's release, despite renewed worries about safety.

For Kevin and Melissa Fox, the ordeal was more like a nightmare.

In jail, visits from his wife and family members kept Fox going, he said. He watched White Sox games and read a lot of books.

Shortly after Fox's arrest, Chad Fox launched a Web site to publicize his brother's story, solicit tips, sell bumper stickers and offer a $50,000 reward for the apprehension and conviction of Riley's killer. The site received more than 300,000 hits.

Meanwhile, Kevin Fox filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the Will County sheriff's officers. Defense attorney Kathleen Zellner said that she would add more defendants to that suit and that eventually, she would seek "an extremely high amount of money" to compensate Fox and his family for the ordeal.

Will County sheriff's police spokesman Pat Berry said a new team of officers would investigate Riley's killing.

Lee Michaels, spokesman for the Will County state's attorney's office, said officials there would request more DNA testing, possibly including swabs taken from Riley's fingernails.

In Wilmington, some still expressed disbelief that a father would confess to such a heinous crime if he weren't guilty. Others said they were not surprised.

"I'm still angry," said Gary Harvell, 28, a painter and former co-worker of Fox.

Chad Fox said he does not know whether his brother would return to Wilmington or live anywhere near Chicago because of the ordeal, but residents said they hope the town would heal over time.

"Towns move on," Harvell said.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:24 pm    Post subject: Mom asks for state to take over Fox case Reply with quote

Mom asks for state to take over Fox case

Author: Hal Dardick, and Stanley Ziemba
Chicago Tribune
July 7, 2005


The mother of Riley Fox on Wednesday asked state agencies to take over the investigation of her 3-year-old daughter's murder, saying Will County authorities who jailed and later released her husband have a conflict of interest.

"I do not believe that Will County is capable of solving this case," Melissa Fox said, asking that Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and Illinois State Police take over the probe now being led by State's Atty. James Glasgow.

"They have a huge conflict of interest, because they are being sued for violating my family's civil rights and, at the same time, they are supposed to be trying to catch Riley's killer," she said. "Catching Riley's killer will only prove how huge their mistake was in arresting and prosecuting Kevin."

Kevin Fox, Riley's father, was released June 17 when DNA from Riley's rape kit showed no link to him. He was arrested nearly eight months earlier and charged with the sexual assault and murder of Riley.

While Kevin Fox was locked up, defense attorney Kathleen Zellner filed a federal civil rights suit against the Will County Sheriff's Department and five detectives. Fox maintains sheriff's deputies coerced a false confession from him.

He was arrested and later indicted under the administration of former State's Atty. Jeff Tomczak, who was defeated at the polls by Glasgow in November. Glasgow freed Fox the day after he learned of the DNA results.

Glasgow said Wednesday he would not drop the probe.

"If I ever feel I have a conflict of interest, and ethically and legally need to remove myself, I will," Glasgow said. "At this point in time, I don't feel we have that conflict."

Noting his decision to drop charges against Fox, he said, "I think I have a history of doing what's appropriate."

Madigan, meanwhile, said she could not unilaterally intervene. "We, like everyone else, share Miss Zellner's and the family's concern that the real murderer be caught, but we do not have jurisdiction to take over this kind of criminal investigation," she said in a statement released by her office.

Melissa Fox said that Sheriff's Detective Edward Hayes, named as a defendant in the civil rights suit, "is still being used to investigate the case. When we learned of Detective Hayes' involvement, we lost all hope that a fair, objective investigation is taking place."

Zellner said Hayes called Fred Hunter, a polygraph examiner hired by her office, to request lie-detector test results that were later subpoenaed.

"I have no personal knowledge of his involvement," Glasgow said of Hayes. "But my advice to the sheriff since the onset is that we need completely independent, fresh faces on this investigation."

Pat Barry, a spokesman for Sheriff Paul Kaupas, said that in the current investigation, Hayes was assigned "to make sure that all the reports were in order for these new investigators."

Barry confirmed Hayes made the call to Hunter, but said Hayes has not done any fieldwork on the case or supervised anyone investigating it. And, as of Wednesday, Hayes was ordered not to have any involvement, he said.

Melissa Fox's plea came days after Kevin Fox's brother, Chad, received a subpoena from a Will County grand jury investigating the case.

As a result, Chad Fox on Wednesday turned over to Glasgow's office tips and comments left on a Web site called kevinfoxisinnocent.com, on which the family's reward for Riley's killer has been doubled to $100,000, he said. Zellner turned over Hunter's test results, which exonerate several Fox family members, she said.

Meanwhile, investigator Ernie Rizzo, employed by Zellner during the first few months of her office's investigation, confirmed he received a subpoena to appear next Wednesday before the grand jury and turn over his files on the case. "For some reason, they think there is more out there," Rizzo said.

Before the subpoenas were issued, Steve Kirby, who replaced Rizzo, turned over interviews of about 140 people from the Wilmington area, where Riley's body was found in Forked Creek on June 6, 2004, after she was reported missing from her home.

Zellner said she turned over a "very strong lead" on a suspect to Glasgow last week "and we're waiting for some action on that."

Absent state intervention, Glasgow should appoint a special prosecutor with no potential conflict in the case, Zellner said. "Why compromise the investigation when we have a killer out there who may, for all we know, have killed someone else in the interim? ... We have his genetic profile. Let's catch him."

Zellner said she did not fear the grand jury would indict her client, who despite the DNA results and dropped charges has not been ruled out as a suspect.

"That's a preposterous hypothetical," she said.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:28 pm    Post subject: Ex-prosecutor out of suit as false-arrest trial begins Reply with quote

Ex-prosecutor out of suit as false-arrest trial begins
Attorneys spar on police behavior, handling of evidence

Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune
November 8, 2007


From the day Riley Fox was found dead three years ago, Will County sheriff's deputies set their sights on the 3-year-old girl's father, Kevin, then misused their authority to bring false charges against him, Fox's attorney said Wednesday in federal court.

"This case is about an extraordinary abuse of police power," Kathleen Zellner said in opening statements in the Foxes' civil rights suit.

Just before opening statements, U.S. District Judge John Darrah told jurors that former Will County State's Atty. Jeff Tomczak, a central figure in the case, was no longer a defendant. Zellner later declined to comment, but defense attorneys said it was her decision.

In her statement, Zellner said police ignored evidence that a "vicious sexual predator" entered the Foxes' Wilmington home to abduct Riley; unsuccessfully tried to get then-6-year-old Tyler, Riley's brother, to help "frame" his father; wrote key police reports long after the events they documented; and, in the end, coerced Kevin Fox into implicating himself during an interrogation that lasted more than 14 hours.

Fox and his wife, Melissa, allege he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned for the still-unsolved slaying. Their case is being heard by a six-man, six-woman jury.

Zellner dismissed a jail guard as a defendant, saying during a break in the trial that the case "was just too unwieldy with her." With Tomczak out, that leaves as defendants in the civil case six sheriff's detectives, three of their supervisors, a polygraph examiner and the county itself. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

The Foxes had alleged Tomczak authorized charges for political purposes just six days before a tough election that he would lose to current State's Atty. James Glasgow, who later dropped the charges against Fox.

In opening statements, Zellner said that sheriff's detectives never tested the DNA samples of 21 known sex offenders from the Wilmington area obtained by Illinois State Police and that, after Fox's arrest, they ordered a halt to DNA testing of material taken from Riley's body.

That material was later tested at a private lab on Glasgow's order, and in June 2005 it excluded Fox as the donor of DNA taken from Riley's body during her autopsy. Glasgow then dropped charges.

Zellner said that when Fox implicated himself before his arrest in October 2004, the interview was being watched by a coterie of sheriff's deputies who ordered 30 hamburgers and treated it like "the Super Bowl."

But Mark Smith, one of the attorneys for the 11 remaining defendants in the case, cast a starkly different light on the series of events leading to Fox's arrest, saying there was no abuse of power.

"Everything they did in this investigation was aimed at finding out who killed Riley Fox," Smith said. "These detectives, as of the time they arrested Mr. Fox, believed he had committed the crime."

When Melissa Fox arrived at the home after Kevin reported Riley missing on June 6, 2004, she said to her husband, "You better not be lying to me," Smith said, recounting a conversation reported by police. Kevin Fox had earlier reported her missing in a calm tone during a non-emergency call to police, he said.

Sheriff's detectives also knew the type of crime that took Riley's life often was committed by close family members and believed it was not carried out by a predator, Smith said.

Witnesses also indicated Fox was intoxicated while attending a concert the night before Riley's disappearance, Smith said. Tyler Fox told detectives his father left for a while later that night after bringing his children home, where he was watching them while Melissa was taking part in an anti-cancer walk, Smith said.

A surveillance tape at a nearby gas station revealed an image of a sport-utility vehicle like his at 4:50 a.m. on the day Riley was reported missing, he added.

On the night he made the incriminating statement, saying he accidentally killed Riley and then tried to make it look like a murder carried out by a pedophile, a lie-detector test showed he was being deceptive, Smith said. Fox also asked detectives if they had been able to identify him on the surveillance tape, he added. Fox then "said it was possible he might be responsible for the death of his daughter," Smith said.

Addressing the DNA testing issue, Smith said Sgt. Edward Hayes asked the FBI to stop testing on evidence deemed "superfluous. ... He never stopped testing the DNA on the sexual assault kit."

Zellner told the jury that images of the SUV that passed the gas station and the one the Foxes owned do not match.

She alleged detectives paid little attention to reports that a red sports car was seen driving repeatedly near the Foxes' home the night Riley vanished. Evidence from the Fox home, including water usage records and moved items, indicated someone had been in the home before Kevin Fox returned that night, she added.

Zellner said the Fox family's life had been, in some ways, like a Norman Rockwell painting.

"There was never any indication that there was any abuse at their home at all," she said. "In fact, there was nothing but love, between all of them, for each other.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:30 pm    Post subject: Early focus was on victim's dad, friends tell court Reply with quote

Early focus was on victim's dad, friends tell court
Father called slaying suspect on day of funeral, they say in false-arrest trial

Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune
November 9, 2007


On the day of 3-year-old Riley Fox's funeral, a Will County sheriff's detective told a family friend that the girl's father, Kevin, was a suspect in her slaying, according to testimony Thursday in a trial to determine whether his civil rights were violated by his arrest and imprisonment.

"He told me they were looking at Kevin, and I told him to look elsewhere, that I didn't believe Kevin would do something like this," said Tara Van Duyne, a friend of Riley's mother, Melissa.

Van Duyne said she concluded "that they thought Kevin was guilty and that's the only one they were looking at."

"He" was Sheriff's Detective David Dobrowski, who is among six detectives, three supervisors and a polygraph examiner being sued by Kevin and Melissa Fox. Will County is also among the defendants. The couple accuse detectives of coercing an incriminating statement from Fox and seek unspecified damages.

Kevin Fox reported his daughter missing the morning of June 6, 2004. Riley's body was found later that day about 4 miles from her Wilmington home. She had been sexually assaulted, gagged with duct tape and left in Forked Creek.

Her father was arrested Oct. 27, 2004. The next day, then-State's Atty. Jeff Tomczak announced he would seek the death penalty.

Fox spent 243 days in jail before current State's Atty. James Glasgow dropped charges after tests determined that Fox's DNA did not match that taken from Riley's body. The case remains unsolved.

Just before opening statements Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Darrah told jurors Tomczak had been dropped as a defendant.

Fox's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, said Thursday she was likely to call Tomczak as a witness.

Van Duyne and Colleen Hansen were on a cancer walk with Melissa Fox when she was told Riley was missing, and she collapsed, the women said. On June 11, 2004, the day of Riley's funeral, Dobrowski interviewed each woman separately at their Wilmington homes. Most questions were about Kevin, they testified.

"The questions were directed at Kevin's character," Hansen said. Like Van Duyne, she testified that Melissa Fox never suspected her husband.

On cross examination, both women said they did not tell Melissa Fox that Dobrowski was focused on Kevin as a suspect.

In earlier testimony Thursday, Chad Fox, Kevin Fox's brother, said that before he and his father, Curt, went to the Wilmington police station the evening of June 6, 2004, his uncle told him Riley was dead. At the station, they met Kevin and Melissa, who were questioned separately before their relatives' arrival.

"My brother looked at me and said, 'What's going on?'" Chad Fox said. "He didn't know. My dad had to tell him. ...When he told him, [Kevin] just collapsed."

His testimony was bolstered by that of Dawn Fox, Kevin's mother, who also went to the station. "They had not told the kids that Riley was dead," she said. "We had to do that."

Just hours after his brother's arrest, Chad Fox retained Zellner, who worked in an office across the hall from him, to help on the case.

The defense tab, including payments to private detectives, DNA scientists and a polygraph expert, was nearly $330,000, Chad Fox said. One payment was for DNA testing that ultimately freed his brother.

After Kevin Fox's release from jail, he was glad to be out, but he wasn't the same, his brother said.

"He was completely different," Fox testified. "He had a sense of mistrust, even with family. He had just been lied to by people he trusted, for something that was very important in his life, to find the murderer of his daughter."

Dawn Fox described how people at first supported Kevin and Melissa but then said nasty things about Kevin after his arrest. In Wilmington -- a small, semirural town about 60 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, where four generations of the Fox family have lived -- some people still view Kevin with suspicion, she said.

"It's better," Dawn Fox said. "It's much better, but they had to move away from us, and I don't think they would have ever left Wilmington if this didn't happen."
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:31 pm    Post subject: Witness: 'I don't know where she drowned' Reply with quote

Witness: DNA from two people found at Riley Fox murder scene
Private eye says neither linked to child's father

Brian Stanley
Daily Southtown
November 10, 2007


A private investigator working for Kevin Fox delivered a bombshell Friday while testifying in the trial of the Fox family's lawsuit against Will County authorities - there was DNA from two people on duct tape found on their 3-year-old daughter's dead body.

None of the DNA was from Fox, who was charged in October 2004 with the murder of his daughter, Riley, but freed several months later when DNA evidence showed he was not present at the murder scene, and the case was dropped.

During a lengthy and contentious cross-examination, private eye Steve Kirby was asked by defense attorney Robert Smith if Fox and his brother were the last two people known to be with Riley.

"No, the last two people to see her were the two people whose DNA was on the duct tape," Kirby said.

Prior to this, public records had indicated there only was one source of DNA at the scene - discovered via a vaginal swab.

The questioning of Kirby continued without signifying to the jury the new revelation. Later, with the jury out of the courtroom, attorneys for both sides had a heated exchange with U.S. District Judge John Darrah regarding the admission.

Smith requested that a mistrial be declared, which the judge denied. Smith told the judge "you can't possibly give me a fair trial. You won't see my clients have a fair trial."

Darrah disagreed but later said Kirby's comments on the DNA evidence would be stricken from the record.

"(The defense) doesn't want the public to know this," said the Foxes' attorney, Kathleen Zellner. "This specific piece of evidence needs to come out. Everyone knows (the duct tape) exists but not the results from it."

When the jury returned, Zellner asked Kirby if there was another source of DNA, besides the swab that had excluded Kevin Fox as well as area sex offenders.

"Yes," he said.

The lawsuit against Will County, several sheriff's office detectives and other investigative personnel contends they violated Kevin Fox's civil rights through the false arrest, conspiring to coerce him into confessing to the murder after a 14-hour interrogation.

Kirby testified he made at least three visits to Forsythe Woods Forest Preserve near Wilmington, where Riley's body was found in June 2004. He said the most likely scenario was that the child's body was thrown from the north side of the Kaylor Road bridge over Forked Creek, though an autopsy showed no fractures to Riley's body.

Kirby testified he believed whoever killed the child still was in the Wilmington area.

The trial is expected to continue Tuesday in federal court in Chicago.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:33 pm    Post subject: Witness: 'I don't know where she drowned' Reply with quote

Witness: 'I don't know where she drowned'
Pathologist testifies in Fox family lawsuit

By Stewart Warren
Sun-Times
November 14, 2007


After Dr. John Denton performed an autopsy on the body of 3-year-old Riley Fox more than three years ago, he knew some things for sure.

But others couldn't be pinned down precisely, according to Denton, a forensic pathologist who testified Tuesday during the trial on the civil rights lawsuit that Kevin and Melissa Fox, Riley's parents, filed against Will County authorities for charging Kevin with her murder.

The toddler vanished from her Wilmington home in June 2004, and her body was found later that day in nearby Forked Creek. She had drowned and was sexually assaulted.

The following October, Will County sheriff's police charged Kevin Fox with murder, saying he confessed during a videotaped interrogation to killing the child accidentally. But in June 2005, prosecutors revealed that DNA evidence found on the child's body did not belong to her father, and the charges were dropped.

Denton, who works for the Cook County medical examiner's office, testified Tuesday that his autopsy on the girl found water in her lungs, stomach and sinuses, indicating she drowned. Although he tested the water, Denton said he couldn't determine if it came from Forked Creek.

"I don't know where she drowned," he told jurors at the federal courthouse in Chicago.

"Is it possible she drowned in a bathtub?" said Kathleen Zellner, one of the lawyers representing the Fox family.

"Yes," Denton said.

"Could she have been put in the creek after she was deceased?" Zellner said.

That was possible if the child drowned somewhere else, Denton testified.

Zellner also wanted to know if the autopsy indicated the child had been thrown into the creek from a nearby bridge.

"I can't tell if she was thrown off the bridge or not," Denton said. "I can't tell either way."

Zellner also asked Denton if the little girl was kicking or struggling when she went into the creek, but he said he was unable to say.

The trial will continue today.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:40 pm    Post subject: Cop in Fox case tells of remark Reply with quote

Cop in Fox case tells of remark
Officer says he did not report mother's alleged statement

Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune
November 15, 2007


The lead investigator in the sexual assault and slaying of 3-year-old Riley Fox testified Wednesday in federal court that he never documented a troubling comment the child's mother allegedly made to her husband.

"You better not be involved in this," Melissa Fox told Kevin Fox, Will County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Swearengen alleged. But Swearengen, the first defendant to be called in a trial to determine whether the civil rights of Melissa Fox and her husband, who was charged in his daughter's death, were violated, said he never put that in a police report.

Melissa Fox has denied making the comment, according to court documents.

Swearengen said the comment was overheard by Illinois State Police when Melissa arrived home June 6, 2004, after Kevin reported Riley missing. The little girl's body was found later that day in Forked Creek, about 4 miles from the family's Wilmington home.

The Foxes' attorney, Kathleen Zellner, said in court that no police report in the case, from any of the agencies probing the death, documented the statement. Swearengen has said the utterance was one reason he suspected Kevin Fox from Day 1.

Under confrontational, sometimes sarcastic questioning from Zellner, Swearengen said his initial theory -- after seeing Riley's body face down in the creek with only a shirt on -- was that the crime was "a cover up."

In an October 2004 videotaped statement -- which Kevin Fox alleges was coerced after police fed him details -- Fox said he made the crime look like a sexual assault to cover up accidentally hitting her in the head with a door.

Fox was arrested after he made the statement. He was released about eight months later, after tests showed that DNA from Riley's rape kit did not match his genetic profile.

The Foxes seek unspecified damages in their suit against five sheriff's detectives, the estate of a sixth, a polygraph examiner, a forensic interviewer and the county itself.

Swearengen also said he suspected Fox because of his calm demeanor when he called police to report Riley missing and his mostly "emotionally flat" interview later that night. Fox did cry when asked whether his home's front door was locked, Swearengen said. Statements have been conflicted on whether it was open or locked.

In opening statements, Zellner said Fox was troubled that the crime happened while he was watching the children while his wife was away on a cancer walk. "He was supposed to protect her, and he's haunted by that," she said.

The initial interview of Fox, Swearengen said, left him with "a very strong feeling" that Fox was involved in the crime.

Swearengen also said the sexual assault appeared minor. On Tuesday, Dr. J. Scott Denton, the pathologist who autopsied Riley, described it as a 10 on a severity scale of 1 to 10.

Swearengen also said he left the autopsy believing Riley had been in the water for at least 12 hours, which would have fit a timeline in which Fox could have been involved in the crime. Denton testified he could determine she was in the water more than one hour but could not determine how much longer.

The deputy said Riley's 6-year-old brother, Tyler, said his father left their house twice during the night before Riley was reported missing. Tyler is expected to testify later in the trial. Swearengen also said a surveillance tape at a Wilmington gas station showed an image of a sport-utility vehicle going by at about 4:50 a.m. That SUV, down to the trailer hitch, looked like Fox's vehicle, he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Chicago Police Officer David Heppner, a video technician who examined the tapes and Fox's vehicle, said he could not conclude it was Fox's vehicle, even though it looked very similar. "You cannot rule it in; you cannot rule it out," Heppner said.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:42 pm    Post subject: Jury views videotaped interview of Fox's son Reply with quote

Jury views videotaped interview of Fox's son

Brian Stanley
The Herald News
November 18, 2007


CHICAGO -- The jury in Kevin Fox's lawsuit watched an hour-long videotaped interview with his son Tyler Fox before getting to meet the real thing Friday afternoon.

Riley Fox disappeared from her Wilmingon home June 6, 2004. Later that day, she was found, sexually assaulted and drowned, in the creek.

Several months later, Fox told police during a videotaped interview that he'd accidentally hit his daughter in the head with a bathroom door. Fearing she was dead, he bound her with duct tape, tried to make it look as if the child had been sexually assaulted and dumped her in the creek, police said.

Fox was arrested and charged with murder in October 2004, but in June 2005, DNA evidence found on her body was shown to not match her father. The charges were dropped.

Later that year, Kevin and Melissa Fox filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing several detectives, a county social worker and a polygraph examiner of working together to frame Kevin Fox for the crime.

The trial in the civil case began Nov. 6 and could continue for several more weeks.


Physician's testimony

Eleven jurors are hearing the lawsuit after one was excused due to illness Thursday. Federal cases can legally be decided by less than a dozen jurors.
Will County Child Advocate Mary Jane Pluth, a defendant in the case, conducted the interview with Tyler on June 22, 2004 about three weeks after his sister's murder.

The tape was shown during the testimony of Marcus DeGraw, a Detroit physician appearing on Fox's behalf.

On the tape, Pluth appears to earnestly try and decipher the boy's answers when he seems to confirm and deny the facts of the case at the same time.

During the interview, Tyler indicates his father was the parent who would punish him and his sister with spankings when they misbehaved.

In court Friday, Kevin Fox wiped his eyes several times while watching the video.

Around 55 minutes into the interview, Tyler appears to say he saw his father putting Riley's clothes in the dryer at some time that night and Kevin Fox later went outside to get something from the car. When Pluth asks if the front door was left open or shut when Kevin Fox returned, Tyler verbally answers, "Shut."

Tyler Fox slept on a chair in the living room that night, while his sister slept on the couch next to him. When he woke up the next morning and saw only her blanket on the couch he went and woke up his father who was sleeping in a bedroom. Several times, Pluth asks the boy who took his sister and he consistently answers, "I don't know." He also denies seeing his father or any other relatives take the girl outside.

After the video finished, Judge John W. Darrah suspended DeGraw's testimony until Monday to allow Tyler to testify before the trial ended for the day. Darrah and attorney's from both sides agreed the 10-year-old shouldn't have to return next week and miss more school.

"Suspending a witness' testimony is untypical, but it's not extraordinary," defense attorney Mark Smith explained.

With his mother sitting at the side of the jury box to be closer to him, Tyler Fox was examined by attorney Kathleen Zellner for about five minutes and cross-examined by defense attorney Robert Smith.

Kevin Fox was absent from the courtroom when his son began his testimony.

Tyler told Zellner he didn't remember waking up at all the night his sister disappeared. He remembered not liking his interview with Pluth and described her as "mean."

During the investigation, Tyler also returned with detectives to his former residence for an interview that was not recorded.

On Friday he denied telling them he saw Kevin Fox leave the house with Riley that night during that interview.

During cross-examination by Smith, Tyler was unable to remember the names of his kindergarten and first-grade teachers, the name of the street he'd lived on in Wilmington and any of the neighbors there.

A fourth-grader, Tyler was able to remember his third-grade teacher's name and told the jury his favorite baseball player is Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox.

Tyler didn't remember which detectives he spoke with during the investigation, but remembered playing catch and tossing a football with some of them.

Smith also asked if he remembered what he talked about during his interview with Pluth.

"Kind of," Tyler Fox said.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:44 pm    Post subject: Deputy defends his role in Riley Fox slaying case Reply with quote

Deputy defends his role in Riley Fox slaying case

Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune
November 27, 2007


A Will County sheriff's deputy testified Tuesday that he still believes Kevin Fox left the house with his 3-year-old daughter the night before she was found dead in a creek about 4 miles from the family's Wilmington home.

"I believe he left the house that evening with his daughter, Riley," Deputy Michael Guilfoyle said. Riley's then 6-year-old brother, Tyler, told detectives his father left the house and later returned, he said.

Tyler said a squeaky door woke him up when his father left and returned, Guilfoyle said, adding that Tyler also said he saw his father drying clothes after his return and noticed water on the floor of the garage.

Guilfoyle, a detective in June 2004 when Riley was sexually assaulted, drowned and left in Forked Creek, is a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Fox and his wife, Melissa. They allege detectives fabricated evidence and coerced an incriminating statement from Fox.

Kathleen Zellner, the Foxes' attorney, suggested that Tyler's statement was fabricated, that it was improbable considering how badly a forensic interview of Tyler went earlier that day. Even the sound of a nearby vacuum wouldn't wake Tyler, a very sound sleeper, she added.

Kevin Fox was arrested Oct. 27, 2004, at the end of a 14-hour interrogation and charged in his daughter's slaying. The next day, then-Will County State's Atty. Jeff Tomczak declared he would seek the death penalty.

Eight months later, current State's Atty. James Glasgow released Fox, after tests showed DNA from Riley's rape kit did not match his genetic profile.

The defendants include five detectives, the estate of a sixth, a polygraph examiner, a forensic interviewer and the county.

The detectives have argued they had probable cause to arrest Fox even before he made his incriminating statement, while the Foxes allege they never had probable cause, even after the statement.

Guilfoyle said Tuesday he believed there was probable cause to make an arrest after Tyler allegedly told him his father left the home.

Tyler's statement, he said, came after the boy did not respond during a 65-minute session with a forensic interviewer to questions about who took Riley. That session on June 22, 2004, ended with Tyler sobbing and asking for his dad.

They went to the detectives' offices afterward, where Guilfoyle asked Tyler, who was coloring, why the interview went poorly. Tyler said he was afraid, but not of Guilfoyle, whom he had met on two prior occasions, Guilfoyle said.

"I think I know who took Riley someplace that night," Guilfoyle said, paraphrasing what Tyler allegedly told him at the office. "I said, 'Who would that be,' and he said, his dad."

The Foxes and four detectives then went to lunch and then back to the Foxes' Wilmington home, from which they had moved. At the house, Tyler told Guilfoyle and then-Detective Brad Wachtl, another defendant, that he woke up each time his father opened the front door, Guilfoyle said. He also related the details about the dryer and water, he said.

Tyler showed the detectives the house "almost like he was a little Realtor," Wachtl testified earlier Tuesday.

Tyler said the door "squeaked just like a haunted house," Wachtl said.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:46 pm    Post subject: Riley's mom felt unsafe at home Reply with quote

Riley's mom felt unsafe at home
She testifies in civil suit over husband's arrest

Brian Stanley
Chicago Sun Times
November 30, 2007


Melissa Fox, smiling as she stepped into the witness stand, grabbed a tissue right after she sat down.

Then she testified Thursday in the civil lawsuit she and her husband, Kevin Fox, filed against Will County detectives and county employees, accusing them of working to frame Kevin in the 2004 death of their 3-year-old daughter, Riley.

Fox's attorney Kathleen Zellner had her describe the far southwest suburban town of Wilmington, where the family resided.

"I don't know of anyone in Wilmington who had a burglar alarm," Melissa Fox said, "though they may have after what happened to our family."

Riley's body was found the day after she disappeared from her home in nearby Forked Creek. Kevin Fox was arrested and charged with murder, but DNA evidence found on the girl's body was not linked to him. He was freed, and no one else has been arrested in the case.

Working chronologically, Melissa Fox gave testimony that went up to June 5, 2004, the day before what she and Zellner repeatedly referred to as "when Riley was taken."

"[A few weeks before] I was not sleeping well. I'd wake up hearing noises and make Kevin get up and check," Fox said, adding she did not feel safe in that house.

Earlier Thursday, Will County State's Attorney's spokesman Brian McDaniel recounted a meeting he attended at the sheriff's office the day after Riley's murder.

"I left with the impression he was on the short list [of suspects]," McDaniel said of Kevin Fox.

But defense attorney Robert Smith countered that point.

"Would you say one of the reasons they were looking at him was he was the last known person to be with [Riley]?" Smith asked.

"Yes," McDaniel replied.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: Father says he was 'mentally beaten down' by cops Reply with quote

Father says he was 'mentally beaten down' by cops

By Christy Gutowski
The Daily Herald
12/04/07


After a 14-hour police interrogation filled with denials, threats and promises, Kevin Fox said he felt the only way out was to offer a false confession.

So, he relinquished his once steadfast claims of innocence and told the Will County sheriff detectives he accidentally killed his 3-year-old daughter.

"I was just mentally beaten down," he said. "I felt hopeless and alone. I had no other choice. I went along with the accident story just to get out."

His emotional testimony came Tuesday during his federal civil-rights trial alleging his false arrest and malicious prosecution for his child's unsolved murder.

Riley Fox's partially nude body was discovered June 6, 2004, in a creek, hours after she vanished from her nearby Wilmington home.

After five weeks of testimony, the jury finally heard Tuesday from the star witness -- Kevin Fox -- who moved at least two female panel members to tears when he described failing Riley.

"I blamed myself," he said through tears. "I wasn't there to protect her."

Kevin Fox was charged Oct. 27, 2004, with the murder after a heated interrogation in which police said he failed a lie-detector test and provided the videotaped confession.

Fox said he and his wife, Melissa, drove hand-in-hand to the detectives' Joliet offices earlier that night, certain they were about to learn who killed Riley.

Instead, Fox said he felt as if detectives "ripped my heart out of my chest" when they began accusing him.

He remained resolute, the father said, for several hours. But his anger turned to despair. He failed a lie-detector test. Fox said he was falsely told that his family, including Melissa, believed in his guilt.

Kevin Fox said a sheriff's detective taunted him with threats that he'd be repeatedly raped while in prison for murder. He said they ignored his requests for an attorney, showed him crime-scene photos of his slain daughter, beat on the interrogation table with handcuffs while shouting in his face -- hour after hour after hour.

Then, Fox said, they offered a deal -- confess that it was an accident and be freed on lesser involuntary manslaughter charges. So, Fox told jurors, he took the deal.

Fox confessed in the Oct. 27, 2004, videotaped statement that he accidentally bumped Riley's head on the bathroom door but panicked and tried to make it look like an abduction.

"I felt alone, beaten down," he said. "I knew it would be checked out and that I'd be cleared."

He remained jailed for eight months until a DNA analysis of saliva evidence excluded his genetic profile.

He and his wife sued Will County and about one dozen law-enforcement officials, including former State's Attorney Jeff Tomczak, who later was dropped from the suit. The remaining defendants are six sheriff's officers, including the estate of one who is deceased, a polygraph examiner and a forensic examiner.

The couple never returned to their Wilmington home. They now live in DuPage County, where they are raising their 10-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.

He said the two shared a special bond. Kevin Fox said Riley rarely let him out of the house without her tagging along. She ran to greet him each day after he returned home from work.

His attorney, Kathleen Zellner, alleges police targeted Kevin Fox from the onset despite leads that suggested an unknown sexual predator abducted, raped and killed Riley.

Zellner said police never tested the DNA swabs of up to 21 registered sex offenders living nearby before arresting Fox. She said they ignored a report of a red sports car seen nearby. She called experts to try to debunk the lie-detector test's reliability.

The defense team said authorities had probable cause to arrest Fox even before he confessed. They said Fox was the last person to see Riley alive; his young son told a detective he saw Fox leave the house with Riley, and surveillance footage from a service station showed a car that resembled Fox's.

The night before Riley's body was found, Kevin Fox said he and his brother-in-law, Tony Rossi, went to a concert in Chicago. Melissa Fox also was in Chicago for a breast-cancer walk.

At 1 a.m. June 6, 2004, Kevin Fox said he picked up Riley and his son, Tyler, at his mother-in-law's house and returned home. He placed Riley on the couch and Tyler on a chair, both in the front room. As they slept, Kevin Fox watched television and then went to bed. He awoke to find Riley gone.

At first, the father said, he didn't panic. He figured she was playing hide-and-seek, one of her favorite games. Fox said he reluctantly called a non-emergency police line.

"I wanted her to be in that house so bad," he said. "I was in denial. My belief was she was there somewhere. She was left in my care. It was so hard for me to accept."

He described a frantic communitywide search to find her, and how he learned that afternoon while at the Wilmington Police Department that his daughter's body was found.

"Everyone had a blank stare," he said. "My dad said, 'They found Riley. It's not good.' I just collapsed. I was so weak. I said, 'Tell me it's not true. Tell me it's not true.'"
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 5:50 pm    Post subject: Officer: Wife doubted Fox Reply with quote

Officer: Wife doubted Fox

By Brian Stanley
The Herald news
December 8, 2007


CHICAGO -- A state police investigator said Melissa Fox told detectives she believed her husband Kevin could have been involved in the death of their daughter Riley.

On Friday, Sgt. Victor Markowski testified that on the night of Kevin Fox's interrogation and resulting arrest, his wife, "indicated she'd begun to wonder if Kevin had been involved," during a conversation with Markowski and Will County detective John Ruettiger.

On June 6, 2004, 3-year-old Riley Fox disappeared from her Wilmington home. Her body was found the same day in nearby Forked Creek.

Kevin Fox was later arrested and charged with her murder after a 14-hour interrogation. Fox confessed to being responsible for his daughter's death, but DNA found on her body proved not to be his. Fox has filed a lawsuit accusing detectives and other county employees of framing him for the crime. That case is being heard in federal court.

Officer takes stand

Markowski was the state police agent who was brought onto the case before Riley's body was found and the sheriff's police were involved. He and the state police are not named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Markowski was one of two state police investigators who interviewed Kevin Fox at the Wilmington police station during what was still a missing child case.

Markowski asked Fox about his actions the night before his daughter disappeared and thought some of the answers he received were "unusual."

On Oct. 26, 2004, Markowski was called by Detective Scott Swearingen, a defendant in the case, and told Kevin and Melissa Fox would be coming into the sheriff's office for an interview to see if Kevin Fox had any involvement in his daughter's death.

While he did not interview Fox, Markowski and Ruettiger, a defendant in the case who has since died, met with Melissa Fox in the sheriff's office around 3 a.m.

"She said this was beginning to make sense to her and she did believe Kevin was involved," Markowski testified.

Markowski also said he did not observe any screaming or obscenities directed at Kevin or Melissa Fox by the defendants.


Psychologist speaks

Earlier Friday, psychologist Ruth Kuncel took the stand as the final witness to appear on behalf of Kevin and Melissa Fox. Kuncel has seen Kevin and Melissa Fox separately for therapy sessions over the last year.
"(Kevin) told me he was there because his wife wanted him to come," Kuncel said. "Kevin Fox is most upset about is (he feels he failed) to protect his daughter who was in his care, who was taken from under his nose."

Kuncel said Kevin Fox has defined himself as being a good father and it was substantially traumatic for him to not only lose his daughter, but to have people believe he killed her.

Coroner testifies

After Kuncel testified, Will County Coroner Patrick K. O'Neil was the first witness to appear for the defense.
O'Neil was at Riley Fox's autopsy and said when the forensic pathologist was asked by detectives what could have caused the sexual assault on the girl, the doctor held up a finger and said the object used was consistent with the diameter of a finger or possibly a pencil.

Markowski also attended the autopsy and agreed the pathologist used one of his fingers as an indicator. Markowski also said the injuries inflicted "appeared to be relatively minimal."

O'Neil also testified he and Swearingen met with Kevin and Melissa Fox at the sheriff's office following the autopsy and informed them their daughter had drowned.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:55 pm    Post subject: Detective testifies Fox gave details to police during interr Reply with quote

Detective testifies Fox gave details to police during interrogation

By Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune
December 11, 2007


During the first 60 minutes of a 14-hour interrogation that ended in the arrest of Kevin Fox for his 3-year-old daughter's sexual assault and murder, Fox gave police new information, a Will County detective testified Tuesday.

Fox admitted watching "an adult video" from 2 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. before going to sleep the day his daughter's half-naked body was found in a creek, said Deputy Scott Swearengen, the lead detective in the case. He did not cite other examples.

Swearengen is a defendant in a federal civil rights suit filed by Kevin Fox and his wife, Melissa, who allege police fabricated evidence against Fox and coerced an incriminating statement from him. Fox was released from jail eight months later after DNA found in his daughter's rape kit did not match his genetic profile.

During the overnight interrogation on Oct. 26-27, 2004, Fox's claims of innocence became weaker, Swearengen said. By 4:45 a.m., he looked "defeated" while slumped in a chair with his head on a table, he said.

About 12 hours into the interrogation, Fox at 7 a.m. "was crying," Swearengen said. "He shook his head and said it was an accident. . . . I didn't know she was alive."

He told detectives he hurt Riley when he opened a bathroom door, striking her and possibly knocking her head into a bathtub, Swearengen said.

Fox said he tried to make the accident look like an abduction and sexual assault, then placed Riley in Forked Creek, not far from the family's Wilmington home, Swearengen said.

Fox, whose wife was out of town for a cancer-fundraising walk, reported Riley missing at about 8:40 a.m. on June 6, 2004. The child was found in the creek at about 3 p.m. that day and an autopsy determined she had drowned.

After giving a statement, Fox was arrested, and prosecutors sought the death penalty. The crime remains unsolved.

The Foxes are suing five Will County sheriff's detectives, the estate of a sixth, a polygraph examiner, a forensic interviewer and the county.

Swearengen's testimony differed starkly from that of Kevin and Melissa Fox.

Kevin Fox, for example, testified he adamantly denied involvement in Riley's death until just before making his statement, while Swearengen said Fox's denials became continuously weaker during the night until they were "non-existent."

Melissa Fox has maintained her support for her husband never wavered, but Swearengen, like a previous defense witness, said that during the interrogation, she said she was beginning to doubt her husband.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:27 pm    Post subject: 3 defendants dismissed from Fox suit Reply with quote

3 defendants dismissed from Fox suit
U.S. judge in case trims list from 9

By Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune
12/12/07


Three of nine defendants in Kevin Fox's federal civil rights suit alleging that authorities tried to railroad him for his daughter's slaying were dismissed from the case Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Darrah announced.

"You should not speculate as to why they have been dismissed," he told the jury hearing the case, which is in its sixth week, with testimony expected to end by Friday.

None of the defendants was dismissed on a legal motion before the court. Kathleen Zellner, attorney for Kevin Fox and his wife, Melissa, would say only that there was "a resolution" to claims against them. Defense attorneys declined to comment.

The Foxes were suing five Will County sheriff's detectives, the estate of a sixth, a polygraph examiner, a forensic interviewer and the county. They allege authorities fabricated evidence and coerced an incriminating statement from Kevin Fox in connection with the sexual assault and murder of his 3-year-old daughter, Riley.

About 8:40 a.m. on June 6, 2004, Fox reported Riley missing. Her half-naked body was found about 3:30 p.m. in Forked Creek, about four miles from the family's Wilmington home.

Fox, now 30, was arrested nearly five months after her death. Eight months later, tests showed DNA from Riley's rape kit did not match his genetic profile and he was released from jail. The case remains unsolved.

The dismissed defendants had limited roles in the investigation that led to Fox's arrest, according to their attorneys. Those dismissed were the forensic interviewer, Mary Jane Pluth; the polygraph examiner, Cook County Sheriff's Detective Richard Williams; and a Will County detective, Deputy David Dobrowski.

Pluth, who works at the Will County Children's Advocacy Center, interviewed Riley's older brother, Tyler, who was 6 when his sister died. The interview ended with Tyler in tears.

Williams was called in early on Oct. 27, 2004, to conduct a lie-detector test on Kevin Fox. He concluded Fox had failed. An expert for the Fox legal team testified the results were inconclusive.

Compared with other detectives in the case, Dobrowski played a limited role, particularly during the 14-hour, overnight interrogation on Oct. 26-27, 2004, that ended with Fox giving a statement and being arrested.

After Darrah's announcement, Sgt. Edward Hayes—who began supervising detectives assigned to the case in mid-October 2004—testified that he still believed Fox might have been involved in the crime, even though newer DNA evidence from duct tape that covered Riley's mouth also excluded Fox.

Hayes contradicted allegations leveled by Melissa and Kevin Fox during their testimony. For example, he said he was "100 percent positive" he did not show Fox a crime-scene photo of Riley, half-dressed in full rigor mortis with duct tape over her mouth.

Fox first made the photograph claim in a news release issued by Zellner three days after his arrest.

Hayes denied telling Fox he would make sure he was sexually assaulted every day in jail unless he admitted involvement in the crime, and he said he never filled out a booking form for first-degree murder while telling Fox it was his last chance to say it was an accident.

In his statement, Fox said he accidentally hurt Riley when he opened a bathroom door into her. Thinking she was dead, he tried to make the accident look like an abduction, sexual assault and murder, he said in the statement. Fox alleges he was forced to make the statement after detectives fed him details from the crime scene.
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