Lori Toni Meegan
1989 - October 1990
A Grave Memorial
October 9, 1990 in Prescott, Arizona,
Alan Kessler ,and his son J.B. came upon a grotesque site. With
outstretched as if reaching up to heaven, Alan thought he was looking
a doll, J.B. called out to his father that it was not a doll, it was a
had been burned and still
visible on the
baby were pieces of a red, white and blue outfit. Alan Kessler
the baby which caused her skin to give and some fluid leaked out.
Kessler rode to his ranch house
and called the
police. Six years would come and go before anyone knew who this
baby girl had been and the circumstances which had lead to her being
in this unimaginable condition.
truth came out, the story
Born December 8, 1989 to James and Lillian Meegan, her name was
Lori Toni Meegan. From the very beginning, her parents knew they
did not want her.
that were friends with the
to take the baby and to help them out financially in return. Valerie
Dennis Jenson had three boys already and wanted a girl. Valerie's
had told her it would be a health risk for her to have any more
The Jenson's gave the couple $1,000. and bought them a car also
to help them with a down payment on a new house. Money was
so much that it was soon over $30,000. that the Jenson's had shelled
September 10, 1990, the Meegan's
were upset that
their steady "income" of money from the Jenson's had stopped. The
Meegan's went to the home of the Jenson's and made threats concerning
children while demanding to have Francine back. The Jenson's had
no choice but to give her back to them.
Meegan was once again out of
work and had a
broken leg. Francine was in her play pen crying. James
headed towards the play pen and when he reached it, he grabbed Francine
by the neck and shook her. Francine stopped crying and was now
for air. James took her to the bedroom and Lillian tried to
CPR on her, however Francine was not responding.
did not die right away, she
hours and died as day was breaking. Her older sister Maria saw her on
bed and though her mother tried to make excuses, Maria knew that
dressed Francine and her
husband put her
body into a suitcase and then placed it in the trunk of the car. They
to Arizona to a relatives home and left their other children there.
and Francine then drove off alone. They drove to a deserted area and
Francine's body out of the trunk. James set her down on the ground and
poured gasoline over her body. At this point, Lillian turned away not
to watch. James then lit a match and threw it on Francine's body.
sister Lucy was the one who
the story of James having killed Francine. She did so under the threat
that if she ever talked, he would kill her and her family, however, she
ended up telling a social worker that she had been dating.
Police confronted James and
denied ever having a child called Francine, however, it was clear that
they had since there was a birth certificate for her with them listed
the parents. Lillian made up some story about their daughter
been kidnapped and how they didn't trust the Police so they had never
it. The story was obviously a lie.
Arizona Jacque Price was
newspaper and saw a picture of Francine and immediately knew this was
baby that had been found burned in the desert.
confronted by Police again,
Lillian told the
story of what had happened to Francine. On that same day, Maria, who
at this time 17 years old, gave her testimony about the day her sister
died. Oddly, Maria had this to say to the Police about her father:
"I know this might seem like my
killed her, but if you knew
my dad you
he's a very loving
Meegan plead guilty to felony
and James Meegan was going to plead guilty to first-degree murder.
changed his mind and started claiming that Lillian had killed Francine.
James received a life in prison sentence. Lillian was sentenced to 18
Meegan was laid to rest in
and Valerie Jensen, surrounded
by family members,
mourn in 1996 at the grave Francine Meegan. Francine's headstone is
with these words, "Forever in our hearts".
was buried next to another child who had been found buried in the same
desert in July of 1960. That child was buried with the name "God's
Little Child" and she was never identified. You can read her story
Lori Toni Meegan
2009-02-07 by Judy Wight Branson
Review-Journal, Las Vegas,
October 20, 1996
Lori Toni Meegan - Those she
Family and friends of murdered
Meegan gather at her Arizona grave site.
Ariz. - As cool winds blew
the sky, residents of three states gathered Saturday morning to
a young girl who touched each of them in different ways.
the Prescott community
knew her for nearly
six years as 'Baby Jane Doe' before they learned her true identity:
Francine Lori Toni Meegan.
Vazquez never met Francine,
but early this
year he shared information with Las Vegas police that led them to her
Vazquez traveled from Visalia, Calif., to attend Saturday's memorial
at Mountain View Cemetery.
knows she's loved,' said
Vazquez, a social
worker. 'This community's showing that to her, and hopefully now she'll
be able to rest in peace.'
was born Dec. 8, 1989, in
Las Vegas to James
and Lillian Meegan. Cowboys found her charred body Oct. 9, 1990, about
a mile off Interstate 17 in the rocky hills between Phoenix and
the Yavapai County
sheriff's office tried
in vain to solve the case for the next several years. Detective Ted
joined the investigation last year and helped organize Saturday's
felt like for all of us
there needed to
be this closure,' said Symonds, an ordained minister.
of Prescott, with a
population of about
30,000, also held a memorial service shortly after finding the
said he acquired his
information about Francine
while dating one of Lillian Meegan's sisters. After much thought, he
Las Vegas police on Jan. 10.
of her death saddened me,'
about 45 people gathered around Francine's grave Saturday. 'Learning of
the cover-up angered me.'
after Francine's birth, she
went to live
with friends of the Meegan family in Santa Ana, Calif. Dennis and
Jensen planned to adopt the girl and gave her a new name, Danielle
Jensens, now divorced, said the
the child back in early September 1990. They never saw her again.
Valerie Jensen traveled to
their three teen-age sons for the service. Dennis Jensen placed a
photograph of the smiling infant among the flowers around her
believe James Meegan
shook his daughter
to death in early October 1990. He and his wife then took the body to
where James Meegan set it on fire.
undetected until Vazquez
contacted authorities. Las Vegas police arrested James and Lillian
Price, the wife of a sergeant
in the sheriff's
office, was reading a newspaper article about the Meegans when she made
the connection to Baby Jane Doe.
even read the whole story,'
she said Saturday.
'I just knew.'
introduced Price during the
service and said,
'probably all of us weren't as convinced as she was, I'll be the first
to admit that.'
statements from Lillian Meegan
and her 17-year-old
daughter, Maria, soon helped convince authorities. DNA tests later
Meegan, 35, pleaded guilty in
May to a felony
charge of child abuse and neglect with substantial bodily harm for
to seek medical attention when Francine suffered fatal injuries.
Judge Sally Loehrer
sentenced her last month
to 18 years in prison.
convicted 39-year-old James
Meegan in August
of first-degree murder. The panel later heard evidence during a penalty
hearing but failed to agree on a sentence.
scheduled to sentence him
Oct. 29. He
faces either a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 10
or a life term with no chance for future freedom.
including foreman Roy
the service. Shupe spoke at the gathering and said some panel members
anger about the jury's inability to agree on 'what seemed so obvious.'
agonized over every piece
of this,' he
placed a black-and-white
teddy bear, a
toy his 5-year-old daughter wanted to give up for Francine, on the
He said he hoped it would bring kindness and softness to the infant.
'All I know
about you is the pain you
of the Clark County
office, including the two attorneys who prosecuted the Meegan case,
attended the service.
'I am not
normally at a loss for
words,' Chief Deputy
District Attorney John Lukens said, tears filling his eyes. 'It is hard
for me to speak today.'
those in attendance that
residents of Prescott
kept Francine alive for the past six years.
people here from three
states,' he said.
'People who share a common bond - a very small child. Now no one can
Jensen accepted condolences
after the service
as she visited with relatives and new acquaintances at the cemetery.
amazing how many people are
here,' she said.
'I can't even express my gratitude and appreciation for everything this
town has done for our family."
To Franceen's Story
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