updated 6/17/2005 6:21:27 PM ET 2005-06-17T22:21:27

Confronted with a DNA test that didn't match, authorities dropped murder charges Friday against a man accused of sexually assaulting and drowning his 3-year-old daughter.

Kevin Fox, 28, had claimed he was bullied by police into falsely implicating himself in the girl's death.

He was released from jail to cheers from about two dozen supporters at the courthouse.

"They've identified a particular DNA profile and Kevin cannot match it. ... It's what we've been saying all along," defense attorney Paul DeLuca said outside court.

Prosecutors would not disclose what sort of genetic material led them to drop the case.

Fox reported his daughter, Riley, missing last June. Police said he told them he had awoken to find the girl gone and the front door to their home open. Hikers found the girl's body a short time later in a creek four miles away.

False confession
Police said they charged Fox after he told them he faked the abduction because he thought he had accidentally killed the girl by hitting her in the head with a bathroom door.

But Fox filed a federal lawsuit in November claiming detectives subjected him to threats, lies and promises of a deal during a 14 1/2-hour interrogation. He claimed investigators led him to believe that he would get a more lenient sentence if he said he accidentally killed his daughter.

"It just appeared on the face of it to have all the hallmarks of a false confession," said Rob Warden, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.

State's Attorney James Glasgow said authorities are reinvestigating the girl's death. He would not comment on whether they are looking into the treatment of her father.

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