It was a crime so heinous, it spawned a national law that changed the way our country deals with sex offenders.

July 1994, 7-year-old Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township, Mercer County went for a ride on her bike.  She was never seen alive again.

Her parents desperately searched their suburban neighborhood, knocking on doors looking for signs of their daughter.  Eventually, they called the Hamilton Township Police, and a massive search was underway.

Sex Offenders in the Neighborhood

What Megan's parents weren't aware of at the time, was that three convicted sex offenders lived within walking distance of their home.  Police questioned the three.  Two had solid alibies.

A third, Jesse Timmendequas a 36-year-old who had previously been convicted of sexually assaulting young girls, raised the suspicion of police investigators.  Police brought him in for questioning, and despite their belief he was a strong suspect, they didn't have enough evidence to hold him.

That would change a day later when a search of Timmendequas' trash uncovered rope with dried blood and ripped clothing.

When police questioned Timmendequas about their discovery, he confessed to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Megan Kanka.  He also led police to the spot where he had buried her body in Mercer County Park.

Little Girl Lured to Sex Offender's Home

According to several reports, Timmendequas admitted to luring the young girl to his home by offering to show her a new puppy.  Once in his home, he raped her in an upstairs bedroom.  Megan fought valiantly against the monster, but her little body was no match for the bigger adult.

Editor's Note:  Details of this attack have been edited, out of respect for the victim's family.

Timmendequas was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to death.  When New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007, his sentence was changed to life without the possibility of parole.

As one can imagine, Megan's parents were devastated.  They told reporters that had they known about the offenders in their community, they never would've allowed their daughter to go out.

Megan's Law

Megan Kanka
Megan Kanka

This crime was the impetus for a statewide, and later a national registry for sex offenders.  The law, aptly named after little Megan, requires all convicted sex offenders to register with the local police.  The Sex Offender Registry is available to the public.

Today, Jesse Timmendequas is inmate number 000872679A at NJSP.

Photo: New Jersey Department of Corrections
Photo: New Jersey Department of Corrections

Jesse Timmendequas behind bars for the abduction and murder of a 7-year-old girl, Megan Kanka - The Criminal Journal

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