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
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
children while demanding to have Francine
back. The Jenson's had
no choice but to give her back to them.
was once again out of
work and had a
broken leg. Francine was in her play pen
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
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
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
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
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
plead guilty to felony
and James Meegan was going to plead guilty to
changed his mind and started claiming that Lillian
had killed Francine.
James received a life in prison sentence. Lillian
was sentenced to 18
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".
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
2009-02-07 by Judy Wight Branson
Review-Journal, Las Vegas,
Lori Toni Meegan - Those she
Family and friends of murdered
Meegan gather at her Arizona grave site.
- As cool winds blew
the sky, residents of three states gathered
Saturday morning to
a young girl who touched each of them in different
the Prescott community
knew her for nearly
six years as 'Baby Jane Doe' before they learned
her true identity:
Francine Lori Toni Meegan.
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
at Mountain View Cemetery.
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.'
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
felt like for all of us
there needed to
be this closure,' said Symonds, an ordained
Prescott, with a
population of about
30,000, also held a memorial service shortly after
he acquired his
information about Francine
while dating one of Lillian Meegan's sisters.
After much thought, he
Las Vegas police on Jan. 10.
her death saddened me,'
about 45 people gathered around Francine's grave
Saturday. 'Learning of
the cover-up angered me.'
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
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.'
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
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
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.
about you is the pain you
the Clark County
office, including the two attorneys who prosecuted
the Meegan case,
attended the service.
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
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."
in the state of Arizona
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