Texas Couple Exonerated 25 Years After Being Convicted of Lurid Crimes That Never Happened
Publisher: The Intercept
Date Written: 20/06/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21114
Fran and Dan Keller's prosecution in 1992 was part of a wave of cases across the country amid an episode of mass hysteria known as the Satanic Panic.
Fran and Dan Keller were each sentenced to 48 years in prison for the alleged sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl who was an occasional drop-in at their home daycare center on the rural outskirts of Austin. The child initially accused Dan of spanking her "like daddy" used to, but under intense and repeated questioning by her mother and a therapist, the story morphed to include claims of rape and orgies involving children. From there, the number of children alleging abuse increased and the accusations grew even more lurid and confounding: The Kellers had sacrificed babies; they held ceremonies in a local graveyard; they put blood in the childrens Kool-Aid; Fran cut off the arm of a gorilla in a local park; they flew the children to Mexico to be sexually assaulted by military officials.
When I began reinvestigating the case in 2008 for the Austin Chronicle, I was stunned to learn that police and prosecutors who had worked the case back in the early '90s still believed some of the most outrageous allegations leveled against the Kellers. The Austin Police Department refused to release its investigative report on the case, forcing the Chronicle to take the agency to court. We ultimately won the right to full, unredacted access.