Child rapist, murderer denied parole

December 8, 2008 1:18:47 PM PST
The one-time high school chemistry teacher who raped and killed 7-year-old Joan D'Alessandro in 1973 has been denied parole. Parole Board spokesman Joseph Shields said the action followed an interview with the 62-year-old convict Monday.

It's the third time East Jersey State Prison inmate Joseph McGowan has gone before the state Parole Board. His release was denied in 1993 and 1998.

The victim's mother, Rosemarie, lobbied successfully for state and federal versions of Joan's Law, which eliminate parole eligibility for anyone convicted of murdering a child while committing a sex crime. The laws are too late to affect her case.

A 2002 parole hearing found McGowan unwilling to take responsibility for murdering his neighbor as she delivered Girl Scout cookies.

Rosemarie told Eyewitness News earlier this year that she is dedicated to her daughter's memory and keeping McGowan behind bars for the rest of his life.

"He's never shown any remorse," she said in October. "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 admitted to raping a killing Joan and dumping her body in Harriman State Park.

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

Rosemarie said she gets 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."

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