Floyd Durr is behind bars for murdering an 11-year-old girl, Ryan Harris, also known as “Cookie” because of her love for butter cookies, after he kidnapped her from a neighborhood in Illinois.
On July 27, 1998, Sabrina Harris, who was pregnant with her seventh child, left her children in the care of a friend while she unpacked her belongings at her new home in the suburbs.
At around 6 p.m. that day, she received a phone call from her friend, who told her that her daughter was nowhere to be found.
Three hours earlier, Ryan, a fifth-grade student at Reavis Elementary School in Lansing, went riding through the neighborhood on a borrowed bicycle and hadn’t been seen since.
Sabrina contacted the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and reported Ryan missing, which precipitated a search party. Family members, friends, and two gang rivals congregated to help find Ryan.
The following day, on July 28, 1998, Ryan was found dead. Search volunteers encountered her body in an overgrown lot behind a building in the 6600 block of South Parnell Avenue in the Englewood community.
According to CBS Chicago, Ryan was naked from the waist down with her shirt pulled up. Her underwear was shoved down her throat, and weeds were pushed into her nostrils.
There was a blood-stained brick near her body, which investigators believe was used to crush Ryan’s skull.
Her remains were transported to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, which showed that Ryan had been sexually assaulted and beaten before she was suffocated to death.
Sabrina stated that “the worst thing I saw was her in a casket, she didn’t deserve to be there.” She added, “He robbed the world.”
Twelve days after Ryan’s body was found, on Aug. 9, 1998, police charged two boys, ages 7 and 8, with her murder after they allegedly confessed to the crime.
At the time, they were the youngest murder suspects in the nation.
While in the Cook County Juvenile Courtroom, Sabrina told the Chicago Tribune that she looked at the boys “dead on” and told her mother that “they didn’t do it.”
“I fell on my mother’s lap crying, and I told her they didn’t do it.”
The boys were released from custody 38 days later after DNA testing from the semen found on the victim determined that, because of their age, it could not have come from one of the boys.
Their relatives filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago for an aggregate of $8 million.
According to the Daily Journal, attorneys for the two boys claimed that the children had been framed and that law enforcement disregarded evidence that would prove their innocence.
In September 1999, forensic testing revealed that the DNA evidence found on Ryan’s underwear closely matched a convicted sex offender named Eddie Durr.
However, investigators affirmed that Eddie could not have murdered Ryan, as he was incarcerated at the time. He was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Forensic experts later found an exact match—his then-29-year-old brother Floyd Durr.
Around the time his DNA was found on Ryan’s body, Floyd was incarcerated. He was serving 125 years for committing violent sexual acts on three other girls in Englewood in 1998.
During a police interrogation, Floyd denied having anything to do with Ryan’s murder. He later changed his story.
He told investigators that he saw two boys running away from the area on their bikes. When he looked around, he found Rayn’s naked and battered body.
Floyd said he became aroused and performed a sexual act, but he claimed that he did not have sexual intercourse with the child.
At a court hearing on Oct. 15, 1998, two days after Sabrina gave birth to her seventh child, a judge determined that there was enough evidence to charge Floyd with rape and murder.
On April 10, 2006, Floyd took a plea deal. He entered an Alford plea, meaning he pleaded guilty but still maintains his innocence.
Sabrina wasn’t too thrilled about the deal, as she was hoping for the death penalty.
Instead, a judge sentenced Floyd to life plus 30 years in prison.
To honor Ryan Harris’ memory, the Chicago Park District named a three-acre park after her in 1999. It’s called the Ryan Harris Memorial, and it’s located in the Englewood neighborhood on South Lowe Avenue.