On March 8 I wrote about a slain Jane Doe teenager in Santa Ana whose face and unknown story deeply affected me. My web log has few followers and I never expected any feedback on this particular event. I was doing what journal keepers call a "free write."
As several more weeks have passed, I have watched the media carefully to see if any break had come in the case or her family had been found. Nada. On April 15 I received a disturbing e-mail from a distant relative in Georgia who had somehow tripped across my web log entry and found it offensive. She named the beautiful young girl I named Victoria as Hanna. She took me to task for various things I had said on my web log entry and I immediately e-mailed back and apologized if what I had said had seemed insensitive; I asked if I could write her reply on my web log. It had never been my intent to remotely hurt anyone’s feelings. I felt so compassionate to the situation. I never heard back from her. I debated about taking the entry down, but it honestly expressed how deeply distressed I was and those of us who write are nothing if we are not honest and authentic. Keeping a web log is a risky business for any of us because our words can be perceived so differently than how we meant them to be; lots of loggers get flamed, but my topic, "Sacred Ordinary" is so benign that it rarely happens. In the meantime, I kept searching for evidence that Victoria/Hanna had been found and saw nothing.
Yesterday the Los Angeles Times ran the story that Hanna Denise Montessori’s family had been located; she was Jane Doe no longer. She was a descendent of the founder of the Montessori schools. The media reports that her father lives in Maine with his wife and family and the girl had been living in Peachtree, Georgia with her mother until she went missing. The child's name, for some bizarre reason, had never been submitted to the national registries of missing persons. As it turns out, the girl’s father said the family is planning legal action against the Division of Families and Children Services in Georgia as well as local authorities in that state, as Hanna had somehow or other fallen through the bureaucratic cracks.
This is the Boston Globe’s version of the story.
I still feel so badly about upsetting the girl’s family with my March 8 entry and then to my total amazement, I received another e-mail from a family friend in Maine this morning complimenting me on my compassionate web log entry. Tears streamed down my face as I read this e-mail as Hanna and her family have been so intently on my mind and in my prayers the last few months. Her funeral would take place in Maine today.
My heart continues to break for Hanna’s family and I know that the police nation-wide are diligently searching for the murderer. I hope there is legal justice but I can hear Hanna's father’s voice as he reported to the media, “The system failed so badly and the system cost a 15-year-old girl her life.” Sweet, sweet Hanna, you will not be forgotten by me, a woman who never met you, and you will live on in the heart's of your loved ones all the days of their lives.