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Mom fights parole for daughter's killer

October 13, 2008 2:48:28 PM PDT
The mother of a little girl who was raped and strangled 35 years ago is fighting to keep her daughter's killer behind bars. The man who murdered 7-year-old Joan D'Alessandro is up for parole, and Rosemarie D'Alessandro is trying to block it.

Rosemarie is dedicated to her daughter's memory and keeping convicted killer Joseph McGowan behind bars for the rest of his life.

"He's never shown any remorse," she said. "He's never written a card, even courtesy, politeness, nothing. Nothing. It's like Joan doesn't exist."

Joan D'Alessandro left home four days before Easter in 1973 to deliver Girl Scout cookies to a neighbor who lived just a few houses away. That neighbor was McGowen, who was a local school teacher who admitted to raping a killing Joan and dumping her body in Harriman State Park. Now, he's seeking parole, but her mother is launching a drive to keep him behind bars.

"All I know is that he keeps on fighting to try and get out," Rosemarie said.

McGowen's parole hearing is set for later this year. Rosemarie will go to the state parole board to plead her case, but goes with spiritual inspiration from her daughter.

"She says, 'Go give it to them,'" Rosemarie said. "And then she says, 'Tell them to remember me.'"

Rosemarie led the push for a 1997 law which denies parole to anyone serving a life sentence for molesting and killing a child under 14.

"Joan's Law doesn't help us, but it will help so many other people so that they can have, at least, some peace they don't always have to deal with appeals."

D'Alessandro is hoping to collect 10,000 signatures and 150 letters to take to the board.

"Every person's part is more important than they think," she said. "Because that makes a big, big, big pile of people."

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