Where is the justice for Riley?

Everyone remembers who Riley Fox was, right? If you do, your one of the minority and definitely not a member of the Chicago media, They have forgotten this story completely. The little girl that was murdered in Will County on June 6th, 2004. If you haven’t been paying attention her father, Kevin Fox, pictured here with Riley, was eventually arrested and charged with her murder.

The Will County authorities involved in the investigation communicated to the public that Kevin Fox had confessed to the crime. Within days the high-powered lawyer hired by the family, Kathleen Zellner, announced to the world that Kevin Fox’s confession was coerced and not truthful. If the confession was not an authentic admission, what would cause a father to confession to the brutal murder of his own child?

Fox issued a statement on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2004 stating, “Isolated, alone and terrified. I have never been under this kind of pressure in my life,” (Sun-Times Oct. 31, 2004). Well, that sounds exactly how the authorities want you to be when you are being interrogated. We would have never heard about this had the family not hired Zellner. The then current Will County State’s Attorney was Jeff Tomczak. This name should sound familiar because his father was caught in the Hired Truck scandal and was funneling payoffs into his son’s campaign coffers.

At the time of Riley’s death Tomczak was in the middle of a heated campaign and used the publicity from the death for his own political gain. He then went even further. During Riley’s autopsy material was retrieved that could be submitted for DNA testing if a suspect was located. As is typical of Illinois there was a backlog in the Illinois State Police Crime Lab.

This motivated Tomczak to send the material from Riley and Kevin Fox to the FBI lab in Virginia for testing; however, the tests were never completed at the request of Tomczak himself. Once the authorities extracted the confession Tomczak needed, Tomczak made sure that nothing was going to contradict their work. If they believed the confession was authentic, why would Tomczak not continue the testing just to confirm their work and leave Fox up against undeniable evidence of his guilt? Tomczak eventually lost his bid for reelection to Democrat James Glasgow. Once Glasgow was in office Zellner entered into an agreement with him that would allow the family to pay for an independent lab to conduct the DNA tests. The tests came back clearing Fox in any involvement in the death of his daughter and he was subsequently released from jail. Will there ever be justice?

As we close in on the second anniversary of Riley’s death it is important to take stock in the actions of authorities in this case. Since Fox’s release from jail Glasgow has impaneled a grand jury to assist in the investigation. That seems to be all the movement there has been on the case in Illinois. However, a lawsuit filled by the Fox family that is moving its way through the federal court. It just recently survived a motion to dismiss from all the defendants, read it here. You can read the latest amended complaint here. What makes this lawsuit so interesting is that it has been filed about the actions of authorities during a murder investigation that is still ongoing, or at least is supposed to be ongoing. Is it still going on and if it is, why hasn’t the media been reporting on it?

As is typical local media has demanded no accountability from the authorities that participated in this wrongful arrest. Shouldn’t someone be held accountable for the wrong man being arrested and charged with a crime? How did the authorities managed to come up with a confession from Fox when he did not commit the crime? Did they overstep their bounds in the tactics used in his interrogation or are the run of the mill tactics used already over the bounds? These are important questions that need answers. This is a state that allows authorities within the criminal justice system to do anything they want regardless of the negative repercussions for society. Without accountability, a corrupted justice system has allowed and continues to allow the rapist killer of this child to walk the streets.

The public is so focused on reducing crime. One way might be to hold authorities with the criminal justice field accountable for their actions. I for one doubt that whoever committed this crime has stopped committing them. Now, how can we really count on to catch the offender? Since Will County has demonstrated unwillingness to solve the crime, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to take over this case. As we think about what it means to have one of our children ripped from her home while sleeping we should also remember the incompetence of those entrusted with assisting us in securing our communities. I am not sure whom I am more outraged at, the officials for being totally incompetent or the community members in Will County for allowing them to keep their jobs.

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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