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Illinois woman seeks clemency in buried-alive case

Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 12:59 p.m. CST

CHICAGO — Tearful relatives of an Illinois woman convicted of helping kidnap a businessman and bury him alive in a botched ransom plot have appealed for clemency before the state's prisoner review board.

They said Tuesday during testimony in Chicago that Nancy Rish was trapped in an abusive relationship with the drug dealer who plotted the 1987 kidnapping of Kankakee businessman Stephen Small. They say she knew nothing of his plans even as she drove him between phone booths where he made ransom calls.

Small was a member of a prominent media family. He was buried alive in a box and suffocated when a breathing tube failed.

An assistant Illinois attorney general maintained Tuesday that Rish willingly took part.

The panel is expected to vote within weeks on whether to recommend clemency.

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