WHEATON, Ill. (CBS) — DuPage County has dedicated a new center for the investigation of crimes against children, and has named it after one of the most controversial murder victims in the county’s history.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports it took 26 years, two overturned death sentences following wrongful prosecutions of three men, and misconduct allegations against prosecutors and police, before Brian Dugan pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Jeanine Nicarico’s 1983 murder.
Jeanine was 10 years old when she was kidnapped and killed on a day she stayed home sick from school in Naperville.
Her mother, Pat, was moved by the dedication of the Jeanine Nicarico Children’s Advocacy Center in DuPage County on Tuesday.
“I like to speak from my heart, and right now my heart is overwhelmed and touched by the spirit of all of you,” she said.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin did not handle the Nicarico case, but said it weighs heavily on him and everyone else who works with victims of child abuse, and the families of children who have been murdered.
“Let us all recognize that today is about Jeanine Nicarico, and her legacy. Jeanine was a beautiful, loving, and cheerful little girl, who brought joy and happiness to her parents and sisters. Her life, cut short at age 10, remains an inspiration for all of us,” he said.
The center will offer comprehensive and multi-disciplinary response to abuse allegations, in a child-friendly setting.
“It’s really unfortunate that there is such a need in this country, and this world, for this type of a facility, but thank God there are people like you that are willing to work with these children, and help them, and bring justice for them,” Jeanine’s mother said.
DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said, “We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in our society – a life free of violence and fear,” he said.
The 15,000-square-foot facility in Wheaton cost $5.6 million, and replaces the old Children’s Center next door.