Riley Fox murder probe called ‘unguided missile’
By Brian Stanley email@example.com January 24, 2011 6:46PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
JOLIET — An independent report said a lack of supervision in the Will County Sheriff’s investigation of Riley Fox’s murder was a major cause of her father’s arrest while the real culprit remained unidentified for more than five years.
After convict Scott Eby was charged with the 2004 crime in May, Sheriff Paul Kaupas announced seized funds would be used to hire Andrews International to evaluate the policies and procedures used during the investigation.
Los Angeles-based Andrews International provides “security and risk mitigation services,” according to the company’s website.
The report was finalized and submitted to the sheriff’s staff last month and given to the Herald-News on Monday through the Freedom of Information Act.
On June 6, 2004, 3-year-old Riley Fox was reported missing from her Wilmington home. Her drowned body was found later that day in Forked Creek at nearby Forsythe Woods. Four months later, Kevin Fox confessed to accidentally killing his daughter following a lengthy interrogation by sheriff’s detectives, but he recanted after being arrested and charged with her murder.
Fox spent eight months in jail before his attorneys arranged for tests to show DNA found on the girl’s body wasn’t his. He and his wife filed suit against the investigators and received a multimillion dollar award following a seven-week civil trial in the fall of 2007.
Eby was identified as a suspect after the FBI began working on the case in 2009 and linked through DNA. Already in prison for sexual assault, Eby reportedly confessed to the crime and pleaded guilty to murder in November. He will serve six life sentences with no possibility of parole.
“Andrews International found no indications investigators intentionally … targeted the wrong man,” the report said. “Instead, well-intentioned, if overzealous investigators followed what they believed to be sound leads and sound practice in the case.”
“It is now clear they ignored, or were unaware of other substantial leads and information that may have led them to very different conclusions regarding how this crime was committed and about Kevin Fox’s culpability.”
“It is also clear management of the investigation by ranking supervisors in the … department’s chain of command was almost nonexistent,” the report said.
Andrews assessors call the case “an unguided missile,” saying information that could have linked Eby to the crime or worked against the “premature narrowing of the investigation on Kevin Fox” wasn’t shared between personnel or with other agencies. Also criticized was the lack of a forum to review evidence and investigators’ failure to visit the Fox house until two weeks after the crime.
The report also said then-Will County State’s Attorney Jeff Tomczak and his staff should have scrutinized Fox’s confession much closer: “It is clear from the videotape that Kevin Fox had not confessed to premeditated murder or to sexual assault, and there was no other evidence besides the confession supporting the state’s attorney’s move to charge him with these crimes and seek the death penalty.” The report also said the sheriff’s office should have continued investigating the confession without being told to by the state’s attorney’s office.
Andrews International recommends further DNA training for investigators, a supervisor other than the lead detective to handle major cases and meetings in which everyone discusses updates and evidence is physically reviewed.
The report also encourages every part of a formal police interview be recorded, which had become standard practice at the sheriff’s office since the Fox case.
It said a manager of the Special Operations Bureau, which includes investigations, is absolutely necessary. Ken Kaupas, a veteran investigator with the state police who was hired as department spokesman last month, was given that assignment Jan. 17.