Murder of Megan Kanka
|Born||Megan Nicole Kanka
December 7, 1986
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Disappeared||Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey|
|Died||July 27, 1994
Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey
|Cause of death||Strangulation|
|Residence||Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey|
|Known for||Megan's Law|
|Home town||Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey|
The murder of Megan Kanka (December 7, 1986 – July 29, 1994) occurred in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. The seven-year-old was raped and murdered by her neighbor Jesse Timmendequas. The murder attracted national attention and subsequently led to the introduction of "Megan's Law", which requires law enforcement to disclose details relating to the location of registered sex offenders.
Jesse K. Timmendequas (born April 15, 1961) had two previous convictions for sexually assaulting young girls. In 1979, he pleaded guilty to the attempted aggravated sexual assault of a five-year-old girl in Piscataway Township, New Jersey. He was given a suspended sentence, and after failing to go to counseling, he was sent for nine months to the Middlesex Adult Correctional Center. In 1981, Timmendequas pleaded guilty in regards to the assault of a seven-year-old girl, and was imprisoned at the Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center (ADTC) in Avenel, New Jersey, for six years.
Timmendequas reportedly participated little in the treatment program offered at the ADTC. He was described by one therapist who treated him at the facility as a "whiner" who spent most of his time sleeping. Another therapist stated that she had believed that Timmendequas would eventually commit another sex crime (although she did not believe he would commit murder).
Murder and trial
Timmendequas lured Kanka into his house, raped her, and then killed her from strangulation with a belt. He then placed her body in nearby Mercer County Park. The next day, he confessed to investigators and led police to the site.
Evidence included bloodstains, hair, and fiber samples, as well as a bite mark matching Kanka's teeth on Timmendequas' hand, and led to a guilty verdict on charges of kidnapping, four counts of aggravated sexual assault, and two counts of felony murder—committing murder in the course of a felony. The court sentenced Timmendequas to death, and the sentence was upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court on appeal. Congressman Dick Zimmer stated, "I believe he is exactly the kind of predator that the legislature had in mind when it enacted the death penalty."
Timmendequas remained on New Jersey's Death Row until December 17, 2007, when the New Jersey Legislature abolished the state's death penalty. As a result of the ban, Timmendequas' sentence was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
One month after the murder, the New Jersey General Assembly passed a series of bills proposed by Assemblyman Paul Kramer that would require sex offender registry, with a database tracked by the state, community notification of registered sex offenders moving into a neighborhood and then life in prison for repeat sex offenders. Kramer expressed incredulity at the controversy created by the bills, saying that "Megan Kanka would be alive today" if the bills he proposed had been law.
- Glaberson, William. "STRANGER ON THE BLOCK -- At Center of 'Megan's Law' Case, a Man No One Could Reach." The New York Times. Tuesday May 28, 2006. Retrieved on September 30, 2009.
- Glaberson, William. "Man at Heart of Megan's Law Convicted of Her Grisly Murder." The New York Times. Saturday May 31, 1997. Retrieved on September 30, 2009.
- Peterson, Iver. "Death Penalty Is Upheld in 'Megan' Case." The New York Times. Friday February 2, 2001. Retrieved on September 30, 2009.
- "Repeat sex offender guilty in 'Megan's Law' case." CNN. May 30, 1997. Retrieved on April 12, 2014.
- Mears, Bill. "New Jersey lawmakers vote to abolish death penalty." CNN. Thursday December 13, 2007. Retrieved on September 30, 2009.
- "'Megan's Law' killer escapes death under N.J. execution ban." CNN. Monday December 17, 2007. Retrieved on September 30, 2009.
- McLarin, Kimberly J. "Trenton Races To Pass Bills On Sex Abuse", The New York Times, August 30, 1994. Accessed June 8, 2010.