The Truly Horrific Crime Scene Of Riley Fox

The following article includes descriptions of a crime and sexual assault involving a child.

Born in 2001, Riley Fox was a beloved daughter to high school sweethearts Kevin and Melissa Fox (via Chicago Magazine). By all accounts, the family, which included Riley's older brother Tyler, lived a happy and stable life in Wilmington, Illinois. However, that all changed in early June 2004. On June 5, The Cinemaholic states that Melissa traveled to nearby Chicago for a breast cancer walk. Kevin and his friends also went to Chicago to attend a concert. He left his two kids with Melissa's mother but returned to pick them up at 1 a.m. Kevin put the kids to sleep in the living room and eventually fell asleep at 2:30 a.m.

In the morning, Chicago Magazine writes that Tyler told his father, "Riley's gone." Kevin thought his daughter had wandered next door, but there was no sign of Riley. He called the non-emergency line for the police, and the search for the 3-year-old commenced. Meanwhile, Melissa drove home and later told Chicago Magazine, "I had this terrible feeling that I was never going to see her again." 20/20 (via Good Morning America) reported that local volunteers scoured Wilmington to locate the little girl. On June 6, Kevin and Melissa learned that their only daughter had died (per ABC News).

The police charged Kevin Fox with his daughter's murder

According to Chicago Magazine, a volunteer searcher discovered Riley Fox floating face down in a creek in Forsythe Woods, located a few miles away from her home. Kevin Fox had previously told investigators that his daughter had been wearing a shirt with a pink flamingo and pink capri pants the last time he saw her. Riley still wore the shirt, but her pants and underwear were gone. She had duct tape, dirt, and mud on her face, and a bruise on her head. ABC News reports that Riley drowned to death and had been sexually assaulted; investigators found saliva in her vagina. Kevin and Melissa fox were beyond shattered by this news.

In a shocking turn of events, The Cinemaholic explains that the authorities arrested Kevin five months after Riley's murder. Per Chicago Magazine, investigators brutally interrogated a sleep-deprived Kevin for more than 14 hours. In the end, Kevin told investigators that in the early morning on June 6, 2004, he accidentally hit Riley with the door. Thinking he had killed his daughter, Kevin made her death appear to be a kidnapping and sexual assault case. He bound and gagged her and drove to the creek. ABC News writes that investigators charged Fox with first-degree murder.

Despite this, with Melissa and his family's support, Kevin maintained his innocence (via Chicago Magazine). Kevin told his family and attorney that the police had coerced him into a false confession. They believed him; the story and the evidence did not add up.

The real killer came clean years later

Per ABC News, Kevin Fox remained in jail for eight months until his attorney, Kathleen Zellner, had the saliva discovered in Riley's rape kit tested using more sophisticated equipment. Chicago Magazine reports that Zellner sent the DNA to a private lab. They discovered that the DNA did not match Kevin Fox and the authorities released him soon after. According to ABC Chicago, the Fox Family later sued Will County, Illinois, for violating his due process and for emotional damage. The question, however, remained, who killed Riley? The FBI took over the investigation in 2009 — five years after Riley's murder — and came up with a lead; a man named Scott Eby.

ABC News writes that Eby had been in prison since 2005 for sexual assault and had been living in Wilmington at the time of Riley's death. Although he initially denied having anything to do with Riley's murder, Eby confessed to the FBI a few days later. Eby broke into a few homes in the Wilmington area on the night of the crime, including the Fox residence. He abducted Riley and took her to the Forsythe Woods, where he sexually assaulted her. Eby told police he drowned her because he was afraid that she would identify him.

ABC News reports that investigators charged Eby with first-degree murder and predatory sexual assault in 2010. Kevin and Melissa Fox went on to have another daughter but divorced. Melissa told ABC News in 2021 that she still mourns Riley. She said, "It will forever be devastating, and I'll forever have a hole in my heart."