The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

September 18, 2009

Remembering Jessie

Students her victim's story

GEORGETOWN — An emotional crowd gathered Friday afternoon at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School to remember Jessica Roach.

"You just can’t understand it. I asked myself, ‘Why Jessie?’" said Jessica’s mother, Terry Roach.

On Sept. 20, 1993, 15-year-old Jessica went to school at GRHS like any other day. When she came home, she rode here bike up the rural road near her home about a half mile.

That’s where Larry Hall abducted her.

"She did everything right," Roach said. "She didn’t talk to him. She tried to get away. He took her anyway. It took him less than three minutes to take her."

Roach described the period between when her daughter was abducted and when her body was found.

"You do what you do because it’s what you’re suppose to do,” she said. “Of course, I got angry. He had as much control over my life as he was going to get. She missed everything from her nieces and nephews being born to her sisters getting married."

On Nov. 6, weeks later, Jessica’s body was found near Perrysville, Ind.

"My heart sank," said Denny Gardener, former police officer and family friend. "I held her when she was born. Her father was best man at my wedding."

In October 1994, two Georgetown teens reported to police that a strange man had tried to follow them and talk to them.

The girls wrote down the license plate number and description of the vehicle. Police then found and arrested Hall.

"Had it not been for those two girls being aware of what was going on and remembering what happened to Jessie, Larry Hall may never have been found," Roach said. "Think of how many other young girls they saved."

After Roach’s death, her classmates put a tree outside of the school to remember her. Since then, the tree died. The family raised money to put up a new tree.

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