Stephen B. Small, the great-grandson of Governor Len Small, died in one of the most horrific
ways a person can die: Being buried alive.
He was one of the richest men in Kankakee, Illinois, in 1987, which made him the target of a
desperate cocaine dealer who wanted to collect a million dollar ransom.
Everything went tragically wrong. Danny Edwards was caught, convicted and was sentenced to
death. Edwards' life was spared when all death sentences were commuted by Governor George Ryan in
A conviction of Edwards was a sure thing. However, political pressure from the Small family
brought in the top prosecutors in Illinois to use Edwards' case against his girlfriend, Nancy Rish.
Their case against her was flimsy, at best. Every piece of forensic evidence at the trial cleared
her. Not one piece of evidence and not one witness' testimony proved her guilt. But she was convicted
on the conjecture and the outright lies of the prosecutors. There was no more evidence against her than
the supposition that "she had to know" because she lived with Edwards.
Every public defender and lawyer refused to defend her because of alleged conflicts or fear of
the local powers. Everything was set up to railroad this woman into prison. She did not get a fair trial.
She did not stand a chance.
If Danny Edwards had picked any other victim, his girlfriend never would have been prosecuted.
Nancy Rish is innocent. She got small justice and she got Small Justice.
Danny Edwards always maintained Nancy's innocence, but he did not cooperate with the police
and he never talked about the details of his crime. From the start, Danny and Nancy refused all requests
from the major media who wanted the details about the sensational “buried alive” case.
Danny Edwards and Nancy Rish gave their first and only in-depth interviews from prison to
author Jim Ridings for this book. The incredible story, with previously unrevealed details and new
evidence, is told here for the first time.
Nancy Rish finally won a re-sentencing in 2022, based on the hard work of Chicago attorneys
Margaret Byrne and Steven Becker, who worked pro bono for seven years against a corrupt Kankakee
system, because of their dedication to truth and justice. Nancy Rish was released on February 10, 2022,
after serving more than 34 years for a crime she did not commit.
This is not just the story of a sensational kidnapping and murder. It also is the story of how a
corrupt system was able to convict an innocent woman and send her to prison for life.