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Monday, January 23, 2006

Every Parent's Nightmare (The Jaclyn Dowaliby Case)

It was summertime in 1988 when every parent’s nightmare became a reality for David and Cynthia Dowaliby. Their seven year old daughter simply vanished from her own bedroom in the middle of the night. Nobody heard nor saw anything that night.

It became evident early on that Jaclyn did not wander outside, something more sinister had happened. It would be five long days until Jaclyn’s badly decomposed body was discovered in a wooded area near an apartment complex. An autopsy would later reveal that the child died of manual strangulation but because the body was so badly decomposed, it was impossible to tell if there any signs of sexual assault, although her underwear was found nearby.

Just days after the discovery, police began to focus on Cynthia and David Dowaliby, Jaclyn’s parents. They were the only people who were last seen with Jaclyn and more than likely responsible for her disappearance and death, right? What evidence was available to make this assumption?

A witness would come forward to say that he saw a man from 75 yards away in an unlit parking lot back a vehicle in on the night Jaclyn was believed to have been murdered. His vague description was someone with a nose structure resembling David Dowaliby’s. The police were also having trouble with the broken window in the basement. It appeared to be broken from the inside.

The testimony of the only alleged witness, would send David Dowaliby to prison. David knew he was innocent but having to prove it was another thing.

It would not be until later that light would be shed on the fact that Illinois State Police and FBI failed to question a mentally ill family member of the Dowaliby’s who was a potential suspect in the case. In an appeal, the judge overturned David Dowaliby’s verdict of GUILTY. He was allowed to leave prison.

Many people still believe that Cynthia and David know what happened to Jaclyn that fateful night. Others hold steadfast to the theory that the other disappearance and murders of children in the area were linked to Jaclyn, but never pursued properly.

This case prompted a made for television movie called “Gone in the Night” and a book to match.

Illinois would be the focus of another controversy with the Riley Fox disappearance and murder in late 2004. Riley, like Jaclyn Dowaliby vanished from her residence, just like Jaclyn. She was later found floating in a nearby creek. An autopsy would later reveal that the child was alive when she was put into the water. Authorities believed the father, Kevin Fox was responsible and he was later charged. Not until initial DNA samples exonerated Fox, was he able to leave his prison cell to go home to grieve the loss of his child.
This was another child murder in Illinois that there was a wrongful incarceration. Are there problems with the State Police in Illinois? This is now a question many people in the state of Illinois are asking.

At this time, Jaclyn’s murder remains unsolved as well as Riley Fox. I chose this topic for today’s blog so that you could learn about child abductions and how sometimes the police focus on the wrong person. Her story will be featured on AETV tonight beginning @ 6 PM EST on AETV. This is a show about child abduction and murder that all families, searchers of those missing, and concerned citizens need to see.

Additional Links:

David Dowaliby – Wrongfully Convicted


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