Panel to hear clemency bid for woman convicted of helping kidnap businessman, bury him alive

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The Illinois Prisoner Review Board will hear a clemency petition on behalf of a woman convicted of helping kidnap Kankakee businessman Stephen Small and burying him alive in 1987.

Nancy Rish says she was trapped in an abusive relationship with the drug dealer who plotted the kidnapping. She says she knew nothing of his plans and was threatened at gunpoint for demanding an explanation as he forced her into becoming an unwitting accomplice.

Small was a member of a prominent media family and a great-grandson of Len Small, Illinois' governor in the 1920s.

He was buried alive in a box and suffocated when a crudely fashioned breathing tube failed before a ransom could be paid.

If clemency is recommended, Gov. Pat Quinn would have no deadline for a decision.