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Jaclyn Dowaliby

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Jaclyn Dowaliby Empty Jaclyn Dowaliby

Post  Guest on Thu 13 May - 22:16

Jaclyn Dowaliby

innocent or guilty - never found

the case of little jaclyn dowaliby

saw it on the sky crime channel this afternoon

many similarities - interesting to watch if you have an hour or so






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Jaclyn Dowaliby Empty Re: Jaclyn Dowaliby

Post  Guest on Thu 13 May - 22:17

Unsettling Ending: The Jaclyn Dowaliby Case

More than 20 years later, many still have theories about who did it

Chicagoans recall the constant media attention surrounding Jaclyn Dowaliby's case, which dominated headlines and TV news reports through the early 1990s. Jaclyn's neighbors and childhood friends were the first to canvass Midlothian streets, calling and searching for the blue-eyed second-grader.

Cynthia Dowaliby told Oprah Winfrey that she checked on Jaclyn the night of Sept. 9, 1988, and the child was asleep in her room. The Dowalibys slept in the following morning and discovered Jaclyn missing around 9:30 a.m., Cynthia said.

The Final Farewell

David Dowaliby read this out loud at Jaclyn's funeral on Sept. 18, 1988, at St. Mary's Cemetery in Evergreen Park.

Dear Jaclyn,

I knew you wanted to be a cheerleader and a mother. I loved and cared about you. I loved how you always wanted to wear a dress or a skirt to school. You were a beautiful roller skater and bike rider. You were a friend to everyone. We were so sad when we couldn't find you. Out hearts cried out for you every day. I'm sorry this happened. I will never give up on you. I'm sorry this happened to you. Our hearts grow and grow.

Love, Mommy, Daddy and Davey

David Dowaliby told police he noticed the front door was open that morning, and assumed his mother, who lived with the family in the basement of the home, had gotten in late and failed to shut door. The couple called neighbors and family members to see if anyone had seen Jaclyn.

"For a fleeting moment I doubted everyone," Cynthia told Winfrey in 1993. "I know my husband and he would never do anything to hurt his kids."

Neighbors tied yellow ribbons onto trees lining the streets near Jaclyn's home on 148th Place and kept children indoors, fearful the killer would return and snatch other kids.

"Every police officer and village employee at the time lived in this town," said Vincent Schavone, chief of Midlothian police who in 1988 lived about two blocks away from the Dowaliby family.

"This case negatively touched a lot of lives, and has an unsettling ending."

Jaclyn's horrific abduction and murder occurred eight years before child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, 6, was found dead under eerily similar circumstances in her Boulder, Colo., home.

In both the cases, a broken basement window became pivotal to the police investigation. In both cases, investigators did not immediately secure the homes to glean evidence and prevent contamination. In both cases, a media frenzy ensued when police fingered the parents and the parents shied from the press and hired lawyers.

"At the time this was a very rare occurrence. No one raced in and accused the parents. The police work was consistent with the times," Schavone said.

"This was the end of an era when people left keys in their cars, their doors unlocked and windows open at night to sleep."

The evidence

Investigators and prosecutors believe the evidence pointed to David and Cynthia. No one saw anyone enter their home, no one heard the basement window break and nothing - other than an innocent child - was taken from modest tan brick home the night of Sept. 9, 1988.

"We felt these two people were responsible, and nothing that's happened since then has changed my mind," said former Illinois state police investigator Kevin Shaughnessy, who interrogated David Dowaliby on Sept. 14, 1988, and informed him Jaclyn's maggot-infested body had been discovered in Blue Island.

"It wasn't a conspiracy to frame the parents; it was an objective to find Jaclyn alive, and after the murder, to find the person who did it. We followed the evidence, and that's where it led."

Police early on theorized the basement window had been broken from the inside - a theory later disproved by forensic scientists in court.

Police and prosecutors also publicized they had two eyewitnesses who had seen David Dowaliby at 2:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Blue Island apartment where Jaclyn's body was found on the night she disappeared.

In fact, they had located one person who said he saw someone with a nose structure "similar" to David's from a distance of about 75 feet on a moonless night.

Police also failed to dust two doors on the rear of the home for fingerprints and failed to take close-up shots of the broken basement window sill. Investigators testified in court a thin layer of dust lined the window sill after the abduction, which they felt proved no one could have entered the window.

"It's very normal for an officer to sit and write a basic report at the crime scene and not be as thorough because originally we were talking about a missing girl," then-Midlothian Police Chief William Fischer told the Daily Southtown in May 1990. "But later on I had (the officer) sit down and write down every piece of information he could recall."

That was hotly disputed by the Dowaliby's defense attorneys because police failed to take a sample of the dust or take up-close photographs.

"Would it have been nice to have photographic evidence of everything? Sure, but there is never a situation in any case where you get all the evidence you wish you had," said Patrick O'Brien, now a Cook County judge who in 1990 served as lead prosecutor in the trial. "I'm not going to criticize the police. In every case you wish you had more evidence."

The stand-off

During their 1993 taped interview with Oprah Winfrey, David Dowaliby said the couple stopped cooperating with police the day Jaclyn's body was discovered.

The public learned Jaclyn was dead during the Sept. 14, 1988, evening news, he said, while investigators Shaughnessy and Alfred Hardman held back that information from him for an hour-and-a-half while they tried to illicit a confession.

"Nothing is worse in this world than losing your daughter. You couldn't be accused of a worse crime," David Dowaliby told Winfrey.

'Gone in the Night'

Investigative reporters Robert Warden and David Protess in the early 1990s seized on the case as a wrongful conviction, and documented numerous evidentiary missteps by the police task force team that helped to buttress David's appeal.

"David and Cynthia were pleading with the police to shift their focus from them and on to who might have abducted their daughter," Protess said. "After Jaclyn was found, the state zeroed in on them and (the Dowalibys') lawyer appropriately demanded silence."

Protess' and Warden's 1993 book "Gone in the Night: The Dowaliby Family's Encounter with Murder and the Law" spawned a Lifetime movie of the same name that stars Shannon Dougherty, which depicts a Dowaliby relative as the killer; the family receives residuals from the movie when it airs.

The couple also cooperated with NBC's now-defunct "Unsolved Mysteries" series in 1993, in which the couple asked for the public's help to track Jaclyn's killer. David and Cynthia did not participate in A&E's 2008 American Justice program titled "A Parent's Nightmare," which also details the case.

"Whenever the (Lifetime) movie shows, we get a cold-case call," Schavone said. All of the calls are dead ends, he said.

Dead ends and unanswered questions may be all that's left of a case that began when Jaclyn Dowaliby somehow left her home in the middle of a warm autumn night in 1988. Though boxes of evidence gather dust in a Chicago warehouse, few expect authorities will ever deliver justice for Jaclyn.

"We're left with the mystery of what happened to Jaclyn and we wonder all the time what could've happened to her, who could've hurt her," Cynthia said in the "Unsolved Mysteries" story. "We want to find out what happened to Jaclyn. We want justice."

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