DNA evidence eventually linked another man to the murders of Hobbs' daughter and her friend.
And that's what makes Jerry Hobbs so angry. His lawyers had urged authorities to do DNA testing much sooner.
Thursday marked the first time Hobbs has spoken publicly about his alleged treatment by police. He says investigators physically and psychologically abused him, resulting in his false confession. And they ignored evidence, he says, which pointed to another suspect.
Hobbs says he'll never get back the years he spent behind bars.
"My kids, they're not kids anymore. They're half-grown. It's five years I missed of their life," said Hobbs.
Hobbs' lawsuit alleges authorities in Lake County coerced his 2005 confession to the brutal stabbing deaths in Zion of his 8-year-old daughter Laura and her friend Krystal Tobias.
Hobbs says he was cornered minutes after learning the devastating news of the murders.
"I asked for a lawyer twice, and I tried to leave, and they wouldn't leave me. So I just gave them what they wanted," Hobbs said.
The lawsuit names several members of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, including investigators from the Waukegan, Zion, and Vernon Hills police departments.
It alleges at least nine detectives pressured, threatened, and even punched Hobbs in the head during a 20-hour interrogation before Hobbs agreed to sign a false confession.
"They, in the public eye, converted this good and decent man from a loving father that he is and was into a public monster," said attorney Locke Bowman.
Hobbs says investigators knew in 2006 that DNA at the crime scene was not his.
But it wasn't until last summer that Hobbs was released and cleared after the DNA was linked to another man, Jorge Torrez, who is currently behind bars for a violent assault in Virginia.
"Why was he allowed to be free for another five years?" said attorney John Stainthorp. "Why was he allowed to go down to Virginia and attack these other woman?"
The suit does not say how much Hobbs is seeking.
"A lot of money," said Bowman.
But Hobbs maintains it's not about being paid.
"They could never make up what I lost, what they took from me," said Hobbs.
ABC7 contacted the Waukegan, Zion, Vernon Hills, and Buffalo Grove police departments, as well as the Lake County Sheriff's Department, all of which have investigators named in the lawsuit. None offered any comment on the substance of the suit, citing the pending litigation.
Despite the DNA match, Lake County authorities have yet to charge Jorge Torrez with the Zion murders, so it's technically still an open case.