The man accused of killing 3-year-old Riley Fox, Scott Eby, left a big clue at the scene of the crime six years ago.
Police collected the shoes and put them into evidence but never followed up. They focused their case instead on the girl’s father, Kevin Fox who confessed to her murder. Charges were later dropped thanks to DNA evidence that excluded him.
“Sheriff’s office did miss the clue, but so did the FBI and the state’s attorney’s office,” a spokesman for the Will County Sheriff’s department said.
Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas didn’t address the shoe snafu, but he did issue an apology to the family earlier this month.
"I don't think that this department is that proud where we are not going to admit any mistakes. We just want to find out how to do things better and hope it doesn't occur again," he said.
Kaupas said he plans to bring in outside investigators to review the case and their investigative protocols.
"Sometimes have to bring in other people who aren't familiar with the area... to come in and show you that over a period of time you might have graduated into complacency with the way your police techniques work," he said.
Kaupas now admitted his department "obviously dropped the ball" and says he's lost sleep and agonized over this case.
"I apologize to [Kevin Fox] and the family," he said. "I don't know if he would ever see things our way, but I would try to explain... what kind of ball might have been dropped in this part of the investigation or that part of the investigation and what we are going to do to fix it."
Kevin Fox's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, said she admires Kaupas' courage in coming forward and apologizing to the family.
"Sheriff Kaupas had nothing to do with the miscarriage of justice in this case," she said.
Note: an earlier version of this story said Kevin Fox was convicted in his daughters death. He was never convicted, but spent 8 months in jail.