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Tipster in Riley Fox Murder Gets No Reward From Girl's Parents

Feb 27, 2011 – 4:00 PM
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Lisa Holewa

Lisa Holewa Contributor

Five years after Riley Fox was kidnapped from her living room, sexually assaulted and drowned in a creek, with no solid leads in the case, FBI agents went door to door in the little girl's town looking for new clues.

And they found one: from Trisha Kiefer, who stood on her Wilmington, Ill., front lawn smoking a cigarette, waiting to tell agents about a creepy feeling she'd had about her ex-boyfriend -- Scott Wayne Eby, who ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison for killing the 3-year-old girl, the Chicago Tribune reported today.

Riley Fox, 3 year old kidnapped and murdered June 6, 2004 from Wilminington, Illinois. (FBI)
Three-year-old Riley Fox was abducted, sexually assaulted and drowned in a creek near her Illinois home in June 2004. Her murder was finally solved last year when police arrested a convicted sex offender.
The FBI credits Kiefer with providing the tip that solved the case and gave her a $10,000 reward last month, but Riley's parents have not given her the $100,000 reward they offered for the apprehension, prosecution and conviction of their daughter's killer, the Tribune reported.

Their lawyer called the tip vague and said Kiefer should have shared her suspicions with law enforcement earlier. "I do not think that the Foxes owe her anything, quite frankly," attorney Kathleen Zellner told the newspaper in an interview. "We put out hundreds of posters on (Riley's slaying), and (Kiefer) lived right in town."

After that interview, according to the Tribune, Zellner changed her position somewhat, calling the situation delicate and saying on Friday that Kevin and Melissa Fox might reconsider giving Kiefer the reward. Zellner did not immediately return telephone and e-mail messages left by AOL News for comment today.

Kevin Fox originally was charged with the brutal 2004 slaying of his daughter. He spent eight months in jail before DNA evidence showed he was not the killer. Eby, 39, pleaded guilty in November to sexually assaulting and drowning Riley and was sentenced to life in prison.

This undated file photo provided by the Illinois Department of Corrections shows inmate Scott Eby. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, at Will County Circuit Court in Joliet, Ill., for Eby, a convicted sex offender charged in the 2004 rape and murder of 3-year-old Riley Fox in Wilmington, Ill. (Illinois Department of Corrections, AP)
Illinois Department of Corrections, AP
Scott Eby was sentenced last year to life in prison for killing Riley Fox.
"Just to hear those words, 'We caught your baby's killer,' it was pretty emotional," Kevin Fox told ABC's "20/20" in an emotional interview after Eby's arrest.

Riley's slaying received nationwide attention, not only because of the horror of the crime itself, but because of her father's arrest. The Foxes later were awarded $8 million from a lawsuit for malicious prosecution and false arrest.

But the crime itself remained unsolved. In June 2009, long after Kevin Fox's release and without any leads, the state attorney's office asked the FBI to send agents through town to find new clues, the Tribune reported.

Kiefer spent about 30 minutes telling two agents about her brief relationship with Eby, which began about four months after Riley was killed, the Tribune reported. In particular, she mentioned a visit they made to the garden in town dedicated to Riley, and how Eby sounded when he described the murder.

"He said something like, 'Oh, wasn't that such a shame,'" Kiefer said, adding that the way Eby said it "sent chills up my spine," according to the Tribune.

Based on that tip, almost one year later agents interviewed Eby in prison, where he was serving time for raping a relative, court records show. He later wrote a letter to relatives admitting the crime and eventually gave FBI agents a full confession.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.
Filed under: Nation, Crime
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