HILLSDALE - A Hillsdale mother has bowed to public pressure in her fight for a permanent reminder of her daughter's death to prevent other children from meeting harm.
Rosemarie D'Alessandro has designed a plaque to remember her 7-year-old daughter Joan D'Alessandro, who died at the hands of a sexual predator in April 1973.
Joan was delivering Girl Scout Cookies in her neighborhood when she was sexually assaulted and murdered by neighbor Joseph McGowan.
Since then, Rosemarie D'Alessandro has been on a mission to protect kids from predators. Her latest effort is a plaque on a rock, which will sit in downtown Hillsdale to remind kids and parents of Joan's story.
"By prevention, we bring awareness," D'Alessandro says. "The sculpture will bring awareness to child safety and child protection. That is so important."
The plaque originally contained the words "molested" and "killed." That wording drew mixed reaction from residents.
"We know what happened," says Patricia Maksoud. "But to have it spelled out like that is kind of gruesome."
Jim Barretta disagrees. "That's what happened. It's 2013, it's a hard world. People should know that you have to be careful with your children today," he says.
D'Alessandro has agreed to reword the plaque. She hopes the message will still be clear and Joan's memory will help protect future generations of children.
D'Alessandro successfully fought to change a federal law that now denies parole to anyone serving a life sentence for molesting and killing a child under 14. She's working to expand the law to apply to victims under 18.