The 1994 murder of Megan Kanka inspires sex offender reporting law
On July 30, 1994, Jesse Timmendequas is charged with the murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey. Kanka's death inspired Megan's Law, a statute enacted in 1994 requiring that information about convicted sex offenders be available to the public.
Megan had last been seen riding her bike outside her home in West Windsor Township, New Jersey, on July 29th. Her parents found her bike on the front lawn and immediately began to search for her. The following day, her body was discovered in Mercer County Park. Jesse Timmendequas, who lived across the street from Kanka and had two prior convictions for sexual assault, was arrested. In the aftermath of the murder, Megan's parents lobbied state legislators for a new law, arguing that if they had known about Timmendequas' background they would have been able to protect their daughter. New Jersey and several other states passed laws following the public outcry. Yet problems have arisen from Megan's Law, people in some communities have driven sex offenders out of town, often using violence and illegal means. Evidence as to the ability of Megan's Law to actually protect children or deter crime was inconclusive in the first few years of its enactment. Megan's Law became a federal law in 1996.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: