Ryan Harris murder: Floyd Durr seeks clemency after raping, killing 11-year-old girl in 1998

Evelyn Holmes Image
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Ryan Harris' mother fights to keep daughter's killer behind bars
"He took away my first-born child," Ryan Harris' mother said at the hearing before she was overcome with emotion and collapsed.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A mother in pain was overcome with emotion as she collapsed outside a hearing for her daughter's killer.

Floyd Durr was convicted of raping and killing 11-year-old Ryan Harris in a story that gained national attention more than 20 years ago.

Harris' family is fighting to make sure he stays behind bars after he asked for clemency Wednesday, despite being sentenced to life in prison.

"He took away my first-born child," Ryan Harris' mother Sabrina Harris said at the hearing.

Harris made her emotional plea as she asked the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to deny the clemency request of her daughter's killer, convicted rapist and murderer Floyd Durr.

"I just hope that you all don't give him nothing or anything he's asking for," she said.

The board heard the petition filed by the felon Wednesday morning. None of Durr's relatives attended the hearing, which the family said they were notified about last week.

"He's able to get visits, breathe air, still have mind, body and all. And my sister has none of that and she was only 11 years old," said Ariel Harris, Ryan's sister.

Floyd 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.

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

"He's not even eligible for parole, so again, for us to be sitting here is appalling," said Dawn Valenti, community activist and family friend. "I don't know how the system works, but I hope this is the last time this has to come for this family again."

This hearing is just the latest reminder of the tragedies they've suffered. Since Harris' death, her brother and a cousin of hers both became victims of gun violence.

It appears all that proved to be too much for Sabrina Harris, who fainted in the hallway after her testimony. Paramedics arrived and treated her on the scene.

The board will decide their recommendation Wednesday night and Gov. JB Pritzker has the final decision.

In the meantime, the Harris family is waiting and hoping he does the right thing.

"If you got a daughter, it could have been your daughter. If you got a sister, it could have been your sister, you got cousins, it could have been your cousin," Ryan's sister Briona Harris said.