New Wording Proposed For Joan D'Alessandro Memorial

A new version of the text to be inscribed on a stone monument would replace the phrase "molested and murdered" with "lured."

Rosemarie D'Alessandro (left) at a vigil for her deceased daughter, Joan, in Hillsdale earlier this year. Photo credit: Christopher Costa.
Rosemarie D'Alessandro (left) at a vigil for her deceased daughter, Joan, in Hillsdale earlier this year. Photo credit: Christopher Costa.
Hillsdale Councilman Frank Pizzella announced a new proposed wording for a planned memorial to Joan D'Alessandro during a council meeting Thursday.

The new version replaces the phrase "molested and murdered," which had raised concern from some officials and residents, with the word "lured" and specifies that Joseph McGowan, Joan's neighbor who molested and murdered her in 1973 while she was delivering Girl Scout cookies, was convicted of murder in the first degree.

Pizzella said he wanted to focus more on the legal aspects of the case. He met with Joan's mother, Rosemarie D'Alessandro, several times to come up with the new wording. 

In a letter to the council, D'Alessandro wrote that she hoped officials would "listen with an open heart and mind for the benefit of so many children."

During Thursday's meeting, several residents from around the area spoke to support the original wording. Ray Coneys of Goshen, N.Y., who sits on the board of the Joan's Joy Foundation, said he believed it was important to remember what happened because of the lasting impact on how parents treat their children.

"If you were a kid that, year, things changed and you knew it," Coneys said.

The memorial will also highlight the four laws that Rosemarie D'Alessandro has advocated for over the past 20 years. The laws eliminate the possibility of parole for those who sexually assault and kill young children and allows victims' families to sue killers regardless of how much time has passed since the crime. The memorial would also leave space open for a new bill D'Alessandro is supporting which would extend the parole ban to anyone who is convicted of killing and committing a sex crime against any minor, instead of just those under 14.

Still, the wording for the memorial may not be final. Betty Garger, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, recommended that a mental health professional be consulted on the issue. A child psychologist who works for the Girl Scouts was "concerned" about the original proposed language, Garger said.

"It's everyone's duty to protect children and we don't know if this is the best way to do it right now," Garger said.

The Girl Scouts submitted their own proposed wording for the memorial, but D'Alessandro said she did not like their version because it was not specific enough about what happened, she said.

Hillsdale Mayor Max Arnowitz said it was important to make sure everybody was happy with the wording before setting it in stone.

"This is a memorial that will be there for a long, long time and a lot of people will see it," Arnowitz said.

Hillsdale's borough attorney, Eric Bernstein, recommended they seek written approval from the county because the piece of land slated for the memorial, located in front of the Hillsdale train station, is owned by the county.
Concerned August 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Maria-I was a thirty year old father when the tragedy occurred. I am the proud grandfather of two little boys right now. Why do you ask?
Carol D Taege August 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM
Double Kudo's to the mayor. LURED should not even be used in this case. There are enough Memorial for this Tragedy. Get on with your life Mrs. D'Alessandro. God Bless.
airam1 August 23, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Concerned, it's interesting. All the view points. Did you live in the area?
Concerned August 23, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Maria-Yes! Carol-Wow! The depth of your insensitivity seems boundless.
Carol D Taege January 01, 2014 at 08:13 PM
I am sorry if all are upset with me. We have enough Memorials around this town for Joan. She will never be forgotten. This just seems to be an obsession with Mrs. D'Alessandro. Language still could use some changing. Who wants to get off the train and see those words. Why not just "In Memory of Joan D' Allesandro", would be fine.


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