‘I just wanted closure’: Arrest made in girl’s 1992 cold-case slaying

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NEPTUNE -

A Monmouth County cold case has just been solved after more than 25 years.

Quiana Dees was 12 years old when she was found dead in a vacant lot back in 1992 from a gunshot wound. The homicide case went cold until Wednesday.

For 26 years, photos and memories have been all Penny Dees has had of her daughter. The case baffled investigators and took over a quarter of a century to solve.

Now, authorities say they have caught Quiana's killer, a 40-year-old North Carolina woman who was 13 at the time.

Dees says she will be there when the woman goes to court, and she knows exactly what she will say to her.

"I have forgiven you, and you need to forgive yourself," Dees says. "And I would ask her, if they would let me ask her, why did you do it?"

Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni said that because the woman was under 18 when she allegedly shot Quiana, the 40-year-old former New Jersey resident will be tried as a juvenile. The aggravated manslaughter charges against the woman, who authorities are barred from identifying, carry a maximum sentence of just four years in prison.

"I don't hold malice in my heart for her, I just wanted closure," Dees says.

Dees kept in regular contact with every detective who worked on the case. She held marches through Asbury Park every May, which is the anniversary of Quiana's death, to keep her memory alive.
"I already had been praying, I said, 'Lord, I don't want to march. Let this year be my last march.' And I confessed it, and so it came to pass," says Dees.

Gramiccioni says the investigators never gave up on the case.

"To be able to deliver some type of justice, some type of closure to a family member, like Penny Dees in this case, that is invaluable," Gramiccioni says. "That's why we're in this business. That's what we want to do every day.

But the pain never goes away for Dees. Now, she says, she is halfway healed.

The suspect is still being held in North Carolina. Her extradition to New Jersey is expected around the New Year.

The trial will be held in family court, where proceedings are closed to the public.

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