Scott Eby, 38, entered his guilty plea Wednesday afternoon. In exchange for pleading guilty to murder and sexual assault, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"I'm sorry for what I did to your family. If I could give my life to reverse the past I would," said Scott Eby in a statement made during the court hearing.
Will County authorities charged Scott Eby with the kidnapping, rape and murder of Riley Fox in May. Prosecutors said DNA and shoes found near the crime scene link Eby to the crime. It's evidence they overlooked six years ago when the Wilmington girl went missing. Her body was found in nearby Forked River.
"I can only wish I could cause you the pain you put Riley through, you stole her from our home, put her in the trunk of your car, sexually assaulted her and then drowned her," said Melissa Fox in a victim impact statement.
"I don't understand how a human being can possibly do what you did to my little girl," said Kevin Fox, Riley's father, in a victim impact statement.
Wednesday's plea ends the emotional saga for Riley's family. Investigators initially charged her father, Kevin, with the crime. He spent months in jail and faced the death penalty until a DNA test eventually cleared him.
"Throughout the past years you have made everyone's worst nightmare become a reality," said Kevin Fox. "I'm just glad it's over. I will never have to go to a Will County courthouse again."
"I'm still in shock. I have no words to even explain how I feel," said Kevin Fox in the days after charges were filed against Eby.
Eby has been behind bars since 2006 in connection to the sexual assault of a 14-year-old. The FBI began investigating him in relation to the Riley Fox case after a tip from his ex-girlfriend. Eby's attorney has said his client has tried to commit suicide.