Last days of a little girl#039;s life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

She probably thought of school in the morning, or Justin, or Brittany, or flowers and dresses.

Maybe she had her first boyfriend. Maybe she thought about love. Maybe she giggled.

Maybe she thought about her father and mother.

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Perhaps, she petted her dog's head and looked out into the darkness from the safety of her front porch.

What do I want to be when I grow up? She probably mused.

In bed, that night, she clutched her daddy's gift to her, a stuffed animal he had won at the state fair. At that moment, Jessica Marie Lunsford was the happiest little girl in the world.

Then, the boogieman came.

No, he didn't come from under the bed or out of the closet, but what else could he have been? It made no difference if he came through the door or through the window, but he came. He came with ideas. He'd watched the little girl. He'd waited for his moment.

He took her and treated her like a plaything.

What did she see? Did he tie her up or drug her into submission and tuck her battered body into closet until he was ready again?

The deputies came and knocked twice at the door and her captor slithered off to hide. Did she know that less than 100 yards away her father, grandparents and neighbors were searching; that every little girl's dream of being in the spotlight had happened, that millions now knew who the little girl in the pink hat and beaming smile was?

But she was still alive when she felt the cold, hard earth press against her back. She was still alive when the shoveling began. She was still alvie when the dirt splattered across her face and started to trickle into the creases around her neck and in her eyes and down her throat.

And up there, the boogieman stood over her.

Was he giggling? Was he crying? Was he smiling? Was he whispering?

Did she look, instead, at the stars and think of heaven? Just before the earth encompassed her little body and she started to cry out for her mommy and daddy to come save her? And that allowed the dirt to do its work quicker, caking inside her mouth, over her nose.

Choking her.

Killing her.

And the hearts of everyone who had ever loved her.

Kevin Pearcey is editor of The Luverne Journal. He can be reached at

335-3541 or

via email at kevin.pearcey@