The Murder of Riley Fox

The three-year old’s case was bursting with bad judgement and poor police work.

Josie Klakström


Riley Fox via

Kevin Fox walked solemnly into the Will County Courthouse main court, wearing a red jumpsuit and ankle shackles. Just five months earlier his life had been perfect, but now he was facing a first-degree murder charge and the death penalty, for the murder of his little girl, Riley.

The disappearance

Kevin and his wife Melissa had met at school and soon after, the couple became pregnant with their first child, Tyler. After their wedding, Riley came along and by 2001, their family unit was complete.

On the 6th of June 2004, Melissa was at an overnight charity walk in Chicago and Kevin was at a concert with his friend and Melissa’s brother. Tyler and Riley were spending the evening with their grandmother, and Kevin picked them up around 1 am after the gig.

Exhausted after a long day, Kevin didn’t have the energy to sort out the children’s beds and instead left the two sleeping children in the front room on the sofas. He then went upstairs, but the night was hot and it was difficult to sleep, so instead Kevin ate and watched television for a while. He eventually retired to bed around 2.30 am.

Later that morning, Kevin and the children had planned to meet Melissa at the finish line of her walk, but that idea immediately changed, when Tyler awoke his father to tell him Riley was missing.

The three-year-old wasn’t known to wander off on her own, so trying not to overdramatize the disappearance, Kevin began to calmly search the house for his daughter. When he realised she wasn’t in the home, he called the non-emergency hotline to report Riley missing.

Within an hour, the whole community was looking for the little girl. Kevin had called Melissa to tell her about Riley’s disappearance and she arrived soon after, speeding from Chicago to Wilmington. By the afternoon, a task force of 500 residents was on the hunt for the missing child, but by 3 pm the search had ended.

A mother and her daughter had decided to look for Riley in Forsythe Woods, near Kankakee River. Riley was floating face down in the water in her dirty clothing. Her mouth was covered in…



Josie Klakström

Josie is a freelance journo who writes about writing, true crime, culture and marketing.