Woman serving life for 1987 murder, kidnapping seeking new trial

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KANKAKEE, Ill. -- Nancy Rish was convicted of murder and kidnapping for her role in the 1987 abduction and death of Stephen Small, a wealthy Kankakee man.

Rish's then-boyfriend, Danny Edwards, lured Small out of his home and buried him in a wooden box, demanding ransom from his family. Small suffocated and police soon arrested the couple.

Now nearly 30 years later, Rish's attorneys say Edwards recently signed an affidavit that insists Nancy Rish knew nothing about the kidnapping and murder plot. They are asking to videotape the testimony of Edwards, who had quadruple bypass surgery in 2012.

While friends and family maintain Nancy Rish's innocence, the state argued that she helped Danny Edwards buy materials to build that wooden box and drove him to the kidnapping and burial sites.

“To this day, from what I’ve known about her all my life, there's no possible way [she did this],” said Penny Gash, one of Nancy’s friends.

Rish's attorneys had hoped the judge would allow them to move forward with a deposition and hearing for a new trial, but the judge cited a recent Illinois Supreme Court case similar to this one that ruled against it.

Rish's family is disappointed in the delay.

“She didn’t have anything to do with this crime,” said Benjamin Rish, Nancy’s son. “It’s just been way too long. It’s time for her to come home.”

The judge did not set a new court date, saying he wanted both sides to review that Illinois Supreme Court decision. They will come back in mid-August or early September.

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    • michael

      Unfortunately they can not bring him back, but they can right one wrong and that is to release an innocent woman from prison who had no knowledge of what the actual kidnapper/ murderer was planning. She was his pawn.