Texas Couple Exonerated 25 Years After Being Convicted of Lurid Crimes That Never Happened
Photo: Jana Birchum
Twenty-five years after they were convicted of a crime that never happened, Fran and Dan Keller were formally exonerated on June 20 in Austin, Texas.
The couple’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. Beginning in the 1980s, accusations flew that the childcare industry had been infiltrated by bands of Satanists hell-bent on brainwashing and sexually abusing young children. The Kellers’ exoneration closes a decadeslong chapter of profound injustice for a couple that paid an exceptionally high price for the credulousness of local law enforcement.
“I still can’t believe it’s happening,” Fran, now 67, said on Tuesday morning while driving with her husband to sign the legal paperwork. She’s still wary; they’ve been waiting for this day for so long she isn’t yet sure it is real. “I guess I’m just tired of having to hang on for so long.”
Dan, 75, is slightly more upbeat — he always thought this day would come. He recalled a sleepless night in prison in 1995 when he said he heard God. “He said, ‘You’re going home, but I have some things to sort through first.’” Dan said he slept soundly that night. “We have to try to not have doubt in our life.”