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Couple Charged in Death of Stephen Small

September 8, 1987

KANKAKEE, Ill. (AP) _ A couple was charged today with murder and aggravated kidnapping in the death of a businessman, while a third suspect arrested in the case was charged with only drug and weapons charges.

Stephen Small, 40, member of a prominent media family, was abducted last Wednesday and died in a poorly ventilated box that was buried in an isolated area about 13 miles south of Kankakee. His body was found late Friday.

Small’s abductors demanded $1 million ransom, but the delivery instructions were garbled.

Daniel Edwards, 30, and Nancy Rish, 26, of nearby Bourbonnais, were charged in Circuit Court with two counts each of murder and one count each of aggravated kidnapping by Kankakee County State’s Attorney William Herzog.

Prosecutors will ask later today that no bond be set for either suspect, Herzog said. He noted that both charges are capital crimes.

Prosecutors could seek the death penalty for Edwards and Ms. Rish.

A third person arrested during the investigation, Kent Allain, 33, of Kankakee, was not charged in connection with Small’s abduction.

He was charged, however, with two unrelated felony counts, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful use of weapons by a felon.

Asked whether Allain had been eliminated as a suspect in the Small abduction, Herzog said, ″No, I didn’t say that.″

″There is insufficient evidence at this time to connect Mr. Allain to these crimes,″ he said.

Allain faces up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the drug charge and five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the weapons charge, said Michael Hoss in Herzog’s office.

Police Chief Timothy O. Nugent said Edwads and Ms. Rish were ″intimately involved″ in Small’s death, and Allain was implicated after the others were arrested.

A private funeral service was held Monday for Small and police photographed cars passing through the vicinity during the service.

Nugent refused to specify the number of other suspects still being sought but said those arrested had no known relationship with Small.

″I believe they were looking for a prominent member of the community,″ he said. ″We’re contending the motive was the $1 million ransom.″

Ms. Rish’s attorney, J. Scott Swaim, said his client was cooperating with police and had nothing to do with the crime.

Swain said Ms. Rish, who lived with Edwards, was with Edwards when he made two calls from pay phones late on the day of the abduction. But Swaim said the woman thought the calls were being made to a man who was to fix her bicycle.

Edwards and Ms. Rish were arrested Friday after a neighbor of Small’s told police that a white van matching the description of Edwards’ van had been seen in front of the Small home the night before the abduction. A car was followed to the duplex where the couple lived after it left a phone booth from which police had traced a call from the abductors.

Police found Small’s body about 150 feet from his car, which had been spotted by a search plane.

The crime was similar to a 1968 Georgia case involving the abduction of Barbara Jane Mackle, who also was buried in a coffin-like box. She was found alive more than 80 hours later after her family paid a $500,000 ransom.

Nugent said Kankakee authorites were studying the Georgia kidnapping but had not found a connection with the Small case.

Small was the son of the late Burrell L. Small, president and chairman of the Mid America Media Group, which once owned 11 radio stations and two television stations, and the nephew of the late Len. H. Small, who was president of Small Newspapers Inc., which owns eight daily newspapers and five weeklies.

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