Throughout history women have made their mark in a wide variety of ways. Each Saturday I plan to highlight one of these remarkable women. There will be no limit to the areas of history that I may include; however as a guide I will look to the month of their birth, the month of their death or the month associated with their mark in history when I select them. Is there an outstanding women in history you would like me to include? I welcome your suggestions. Would you like to guest blog one of the world’s outstanding women? Let me hear from you.
To read previous posts in this segment, there is a menu at the top of my site.
Today a person who was never allowed to reach womanhood but her tragedy launched an important piece of legislation. Meet Megan Kanka.
Megan Kanka was born on December 7, 1986 in New York City but lived in Hamilton Township, New Jersey at the time of her murder on July 29, 1994. This beautiful 7 year old child was raped and murdered by her neighbor Jesse Timmendequas, a previously convicted sex offender.
Jesse K. Timmendequas (born April 15, 1961) had two previous convictions for sexually assaulting young girls. In 1979 he pleaded guilty to the attempted aggravated sexual assault of a five-year-old girl in Piscataway Township, New Jersey. He was given a suspended sentence but, after failing to go to counseling, he was sent for nine months to the Middlesex Adult Correctional Center. In 1981, Timmendequas pleaded guilty in regards to the assault of a seven-year-old girl, and was imprisoned at the Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center (ADTC) in Avenel, New Jersey, for six years.
Timmendequas reportedly participated little in the treatment program offered at the ADTC. He was described by one therapist who treated him at the facility as a “whiner” who spent most of his time sleeping. Another therapist stated that she had believed that Timmendequas would eventually commit another sex crime (although she did not believe he would commit murder).
On July 29, 1994, Timmendequas lured Megan Kanka into his house, raped her, and then killed her. He then placed her body in nearby Mercer County Park. The next day, he confessed to investigators and led police to the site. In the trial, Timmendequas was convicted of kidnapping, four counts of aggravated sexual assault, and two counts of felony murder. The court sentence him to death of which he also lost on appeal. He remained on New Jersey’s death row until December 17, 2007 when the New Jersey Legislature abolished the state’s death penalty. Timmendequas is now sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Megan Kanka’s Legacy
One month after the murder, the New Jersey General Assembly passed a series of bills proposed by Assemblyman Paul Kramer that would require sex offender registry, with a database tracked by the state, community notification of registered sex offenders moving into a neighborhood and then life in prison for repeat sex offenders. Kramer expressed incredulity at the controversy created by the bills, saying that “Megan Kanka would be alive today” if the bills he proposed had been law. It is unfortunate that studies have indicated that the law has not been effective in reducing either new first-time sex offenses or sexual re-offenses. Even so, bringing world awareness is a success to me.
Her family founded a non-profit charity, The Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation. Its intent is the prevention of crime against children.
Read more about Megan’s Law here
Want to know if where you live has regulations like Megan’s Law and how they work, just use any number of keywords in a web search.