A detailed report by a Los Angeles-based security company leaked last night said that the investigation into the rape and murder of three-year-old Riley Fox was hamstrung by poor police work and self-fulfilling presumptions.
Police arrested the young girl's father, Kevin Fox, in the case; after eight months in jail, he was exculpated by DNA evidence. That same evidence eventually led authorities to Scott Eby, already serving time for sexual assault, who confessed to the crime.
After the fiasco, and a lawsuit by Kevin Fox, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas hired security consultants Andrews International to help the department figure out what went wrong.
According to the report, there's plenty of blame to be passed around.
The Chicago Tribune leaked the scathing report, marked "Private & Confidential," in a story published Monday night on its website. It says that overzealous investigators led to the wrongful targeting of Kevin Fox in the case, but "more glaring" were the oversights of the managers and the State's Attorney's Office.
(Scroll down to read the whole report.)
In its summary of the investigation, Andrews reviews the evidence against Fox, including his failure to call his wife after learning his daughter was missing, and the similarity of his car to one on a grainy surveillance video. "Taken in its totality," the report reads, "this evidence adds up to exactly nothing. It certainly did not constitute probable cause."
The report goes on to tear into the "confession" extracted from Kevin Fox by investigators. It describes how investigators prompted Fox with details at every step of the way, concocting a theory of the crime that "was farfetched in the extreme." Fox provided details about the case that were verifiably false, even given the little police work that had been done to that point, but officers continued to press and mold his story to fit their theories, according to the report.
Still, the blame lands squarely on the shoulders of the investigators' managers and of the State's Attorney's office.
"Neither seemed to recognize that a case should not stop with a confession," the report's author wrote before mentioning that the State's Attorney's election that was only days away.
The report makes several recommendations: a supervisor on major cases who is not the lead detective; regular meetings to physically review evidence; full recording of every part of an interrogation and DNA training for investigators.
It acknowledges that many of the changes it suggests have been implemented by the Major Crimes Task Force in Will County since the Fox case, and believes that the safeguards now in place will help prevent similar mistaken prosecutions in the future, although that's probably little consolation to Kevin Fox.
Read the full report:Andrews Report
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