Floyd Durr, convicted in 1998 rape, murder of 11-year-old Chicago girl, Ryan Harris, dies in prison

Evelyn Holmes Image
Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Family of Chicago rape, murder victim reacts to perpetrator's death
The family of an 11-year-old girl, who was raped and murdered, is reacting to her killer's death in prison.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The man convicted of raping and killing 11-year-old Ryan Harris in 1998 in Chicago died in prison Monday.

Floyd Durr was serving a life sentence for the heinous crime in Englewood.

The case drew national attention after police first accused two boys, ages 7 and 8, of the crime, before DNA led them to Durr.

Durr was already serving a 125-year sentence for sexually assaulting other girls, when he was charged in 1999 with the rape and murder of Harris. He eventually pleaded guilty in 2007, and was sentenced to life in prison, plus 30 years.

Durr asked for clemency in 2021, and Harris' mother, Sabrina, made an emotional plea at the time to deny the request.

The family is feeling a sense of closure after Durr's death.

An emotional Sabrina Harris and her family came to the Englewood neighborhood park named in honor of Ryan Harris, just hours after learning Durr died.

"I'm just happy that justice has been served. It's been a long, long time," Ryan Harris' sister Ariel said.

The Illinois Department of Corrections confirmed the 55-year-old felon died Monday, while serving his sentence at the Pontiac Correction Center.

State records show Durr had been in the prison's infirmary for the last month, suffering from end of life lung disease.

Durr's relatives could not be reached for comment.

"I feel like justice is finally been served after 26 years," Ryan Harris' sister Briona said.

Durr was transferred to the downstate prison in 2009, from the Menard Correctional Center, where his two brothers were also doing time for sex offenses, after Harris' mother and community activist Dawn Valenti petitioned the warden to separate them.

"I'm glad for them. I'm glad for all of them because now they can honor their sibling; she can honor her daughter. They can continue to honor her," Valenti said.

Briona Harris said she remembered identifying Durr and his brothers, even though she was only 6 at the time.

"I remember picking them out of the lineup," she said.

Over the years, the Harris family endured other tragedies.

Since Ryan Harris' death, her brother and a cousin of hers both became victims of gun violence, and Durr even made a failed requested clemency for his crimes.

And while Sabrina Harris said news of Durr's death doesn't do anything to lessen the grief she's felt since her daughter's slaying, it does bring a painful chapter to an end. That allows her family to finally heal, as they continue to honor Ryan, as they have every year.

"This year, when we celebrate, we're celebrating completely differently. It feels better because he's not here," Ariel Harris said.