20 years later, Megan Kanka's legacy lives on

HAMILTON TWP., N.J. (WPVI) -- It was 20 years ago - July 29, 1994 - that 7-year-old Megan Kanka went missing from her neighborhood in Hamilton Township, Mercer County.

Less than 24 hours later, her family learned their worst fears had been confirmed: their child was dead, killed by the convicted sex offender across the street.

"She was an angel," said Barbara Devlin, who lives next door to the Kanka family. On this 20th anniversary of Megan's murder, she's still easily brought to tears.

"I feel so bad for them. It never goes away, you know? It never goes away," she said.

Frank Ratkiewicz has been delivering mail to the neighborhood on Barbara Lee Drive for 24 years.

"You think about it and you just want to cry," he said.

He remembers distinctly that, back in 1994, Megan was waiting for a special delivery

"Every day that week she came up to me looking for a letter from her girlfriend. And that Saturday that letter came... and she was already passed away by then," Ratkeiwicz said.

"All you can do is just say a little prayer for the girl."

Megan was murdered by Jesse Timmendequas, a convicted sex offender. He lured her into his house across the street, promising to show her a puppy.

Jesse Timmendequas is seen in this 1997 photo.



After an intense search, her body was found inside a box at a local park.

"20 years later and you hear her name and you always think about it," said Corinne Wood of Hamilton Township.

Timmendequas was given the death penalty which was later commuted to life in prison without parole.

No one in the neighborhood knew that Timmendequas and two of his roommates were all convicted sex offenders. That prompted the creation of "Megan's Law," which requires notification when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood.

Though her life was cut short, her legacy lives on through through the law that may have saved countless other children.

The Kankas were not talking to the media on this anniversary - a deliveryman with flowers left their house when no one answered the door.

The sponsor of Megan's Law, Peter Inverso, praises the Kankas for turning their loss and pain into something positive

"Over the past 20 years, it's hard to determine how many children may have been saved by such a law but we feel certain there have been many," Inverso said.

Meanwhile, on this 20th anniversary of Megan Kanka's death, we are profiling the most wanted Megan's Law offenders from South Jersey.

PHOTOS:



For a link to photos, click or tap here.

Contact police if you have any information.

For more details on these cases and more, visit the New Jersey State Police Megan's Law website.
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n.j. newsmegans law
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