A movie was made on this case called, "Gone In The Night."
In 1988 Jaclyn Dowaliby disappeared from her bed and her body was found days later. The family suspected a family member of Jaclyn's natural father, however police focused their attention on David Dowaliby who had adopted Jaclyn, due to a public outcry and wanting to find out who did this and it was politically motivated.
Dowaliby was convicted of murdering Jaclyn and hiding her body, however an appeal's court overturned the verdict in 1992 and Dowalby was released.
Two journalists writing a story about the case uncovered that the alibi given by the suspected family member was no longer viable and police have reopened the case.
Aug. 9, 1997 -- A story was told Friday of two parents wrongly accused in their daughter's murder, two parents whose cries of innocence weren't heeded until one was wrongly convicted and their lives turned upside down.
David Protess, co-author of Gone in the Night, spoke to the Boulder County branch of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar about miscarriages of justice, most notably the 1988 Chicago-area murder of Jaclyn Dowaliby. He was there on the invitation of Boulder lawyer Michael Bynum, who represents John Ramsey's company, Access Graphics, and is a Ramsey family friend.
Protess's talk was timely in light of the unsolved JonBenet Ramsey homicide, in which John and Patsy Ramsey are suspects.
The audience included prosecutors from Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter's office, as well as two lawyers assisting the Ramseys with their own investigation of the Christmas night slaying.
"There are some obvious parallels'' between the Dowaliby and Ramsey cases, Protess said.
In both cases, only the two parents, a brother and the murdered girl were known to be in the house at bedtime.
In both cases, one or both parents, while protesting their innocence, quickly retained lawyers.
In both cases, the parents became suspects in the girls' murders. One significant difference is that while 7-year-old Jaclyn Dowaliby turned up dead four days after her disappearance in a field 5 miles from home, 6-year-old JonBenet was found strangled in her family's basement.
Society prefers to suspect family members in the cases of murdered children, Protess said.
"It's comforting to think that the parents did it,'' he said. "We don't want to accept that there are predators out there who can break into a home and kill a child.''
On the thinnest of evidence, Protess said, David and Cynthia Dowaliby were arrested and tried for their daughter's murder. Cynthia Dowaliby won a directed verdict of acquittal before the jury began deliberations. But her husband was found guilty and sentenced to 45 years in prison.
It was only through the appeals process that it was revealed three key witnesses had lied, and another had been mistaken in his testimony. David Dowaliby was exonerated.
Protess, a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, said the media was used by Dowaliby investigators to fuel suspicion.
Several tips leaked by police and repeated by the press that were damaging to the Dowalibys -- such as that a basement window was allegedly broken from the inside -- were revealed later to have been lies.
No one else has ever been charged in the murder of Jaclyn Dowaliby.
"The Dowalibys were doubly wronged,'' Protess told the bar association gathering, "first by the killer, then by the authorities.''