Dawn Marie Birnbaum
(1976 - 1993)

Profile:
Dawn Marie Birnbaum

Birth:
Indiana, United States of America
1976

Passing:
PA, United States of America
March 23, 1993


Guest Book
What happened to Dawn is so sad. I watched the case on the TV show FBI files. What amazed me the most was the reaction of the people who found her and how they cared about her even though they didn’t even know who she was at the beginning. Rest in peace beautiful Lady.
Laura Davis (T.V Viewer)
June 7th, 2019
I read your story on the internet and I am sorry beyond words for what happened to you. Rest in Peace.
Deborah DeRouen (N/A)
June 3rd, 2019
Although I never met Dawn, I just wanted to express my deep sadness and anger on how she left us. From her picture, it’s apparent that she was a beautiful and intelligent young woman who brightened the lives of who ever she met. From the other messages that I read of her friends, she would have been a pleasure to know. So sorry that this happened to you Dawn Marie. RIP. Special thanks to Randy Cohick FBI and PA Trooper Bill Madden for catching this scumbag Trucker 🦁🦁❤️❤️☘️☘️✌️✌️👮‍♂️👮‍♂️💜💜🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️


Chris Shafi (FBI files viewer )
April 21st, 2019
I did not know this girl, but reading her story was heartbreaking. Im happy they found that horrible person that ended your young life...RIP sweet girl🙏❤🙏❤🙏❤🙏❤🙏❤🙏❤🙏
Luann Duffy (None)
February 7th, 2019
I only have a few memories of Dawn from Calumet High. However, she was a troubled spirit who recognized my internal desperation towards life and she cared when most didn't. There is no other person that I'd like go back in time to see. I wish I had known her past and could have cared back the same way.
Aaron (Friends)
December 10th, 2018
Don't really have the words at a times like this r.i.p sweetheart,... The Lord Jesus Christ has you ..people like her killer Need TO REPENT DAILY ..,if the father had it his way ... Well...he told us what to do with peopie like the one who murdered her rest in peace sweetheart and pray for me n my family😑😥😣
Charlese Hughes (Sister in christ)
October 7th, 2018
I met Dawn my sophomore year in high school. She attended only briefly. She was a cool gal, but had some problems at home. I had heard she had gone into foster care but lost track of her until her murder hit the local papers. I'm glad that they caught the bastard.
April Metz
September 27th, 2018
What a beautiful looking girl she was!! It’s so sad to think today she would have been married with children most probably! It’s the 12/09/2018 but when you see
It on tv it’s like it only happened yesterday, So Dawn enters your heart that day even years later. So much has changed since 1993 , I live in Australia, What I’m saying is it doesn’t matter what part of the world your from it still affects you, The hate you feel for the lowlife that hurt her and didn’t give her a chance to live her life. The love you feel for Dawn, R.I.P. Dawn !! Your beautiful face and memory will live in our heats forever . 🎀☀️💐🧚🏼‍♀️😇
Christine Read (Nil)
September 11th, 2018
This story broke my heart. This “monster” did harm to so many, his wife, kids and ultimately a complete stranger, that all though she was a runway, she was a daughter (regardless if her parents cared enough for her or not,) a sister and a friend. Not sure of what cesspool from hell this sickening demon came from, but I really hope he won’t live one more day in peace and for all I care, he can rot in hell. SOB!
E Masbel (T.V viewer)
September 5th, 2018
No. Cruz RAPED Dawn. He didn't have sex with Dawn. How dare you!

"...Cruz had sex with Dawn in the truck and transported her across state lines...."
Raven Lee
August 28th, 2018
This story breaks my heart.
Carol In Arizona
August 8th, 2018
Rest In Peace with your Mother Dawn💗
Tina Keller (None)
July 30th, 2018
Such a sad story of a young life cut so short. How awful that must have been for her mother and family. Unbelievable that there is such evil in this world!
Chris M (No relation)
July 30th, 2018
Rest in Peace dear friend
Glenda fulton (friend)
July 13th, 2018
Dawn.
Stephanie Shared a picture of me and you together.
A picture that I forgot existed.
you and I were at a playground, I was inside of a tube reaching my hands up toward you on top of the tube, and we held hands and we were smiling and laughing .
Seeing the picture immediately brought back the memory. Of that day. We felt free and happy – if even for a short while. We captured the moment and then thankfully it was captured on film.
Life moves forward pretty quickly sometimes. I cannot believe I am 42 years old. I cannot believe my daughter will be 19 this July 11. I just told her about you today and showed her the picture of us on the playground.
We all remember you, love you, miss you, mourn you.
Thank you for being my friend during a time when I was not even a friend to myself, and not many other people wanted to be my friend. But you and a select few got me through a rough time.
Miss you 😘
Thank you for being OUR guardian angel & friend
Fran C (Friend/Classmate)
May 19th, 2018
Since ive watched the TV series of FBI files many years ago, i always remember among all about Dawn.One of the most shocking crimes i've ever read and watched of. A pure soul and a beautiful life taken away by a mental sick monster. I think nobody has to end like this... after all years still remains a shocking horrible case for me ...

May Dawn rest in peace and God bless her ...
George Adrian (single)
February 28th, 2018
Dawn was staying with friends of mine in Berwyn IL.in the early 90s.We briefly went to Morton West HS together.I didn't know her well but do remember her being a nice,shy person who wouldn't even think of harming another.Seeing her pic sparks my memory and brings me back to 1993 being at her wake on the southside of Chicago.Can't believe it's been 25 years.RIP Dawn,you will never be forgotten.
Dan Airdo (friend)
February 19th, 2018
JANUARY 24, 2018. 12:37 A.M. JUST WATCHED THE SAD CASE OF DAWN ON TV. I THINK CRUZ SHOULDA GOT DEATH FOR WHAT HE DID TO DAWN !!! THE SOONER HE DIES IN PRISON THE WORLD WILL BE A BETTER PLACE.. SAD THAT DAWN DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE TO LIVE A LONG LIFE..
MARTIN MCNALLY (NOBODY IMPORTANT)
January 24th, 2018
God bless her. Very touching how the towns people in PA where she was found tended to her posthumously with such care and love. I went to the same school that Dawn ran away from around the same time. I just learned of her story. Very sad. Love you Dawn
David Knight (Classmate )
December 24th, 2017
GOD BLESSED U DAWN! GOD NEEDED U MORE THAN WE DID!
Eden Smith (A saddened reader)
November 19th, 2017
I first read Dawns story in Readers Digest a lot of years ago .. The story really caught my attention because as a former resident of western Pennsylvania now living in Connecticut I used to pass through there a couple times a year. I even spent a night in Bellefont during a brutal snowstorm in January . A sad story to say the least another beautiful life cut short by a brutal monster of a man
May you Rest In Peace Dawn
Terry Shriver (None)
November 14th, 2017
I too have seen Dawns story several times now, and it truly saddens me everytime even more than the first. I have been out in the world alone like you at times, and what happened to you could have at any time happened to me too. I'm so sorry it happened to you, and your young life was cut so short by such evil in a cowardly human. I'm so thankful he couldn't murder anymore after you though! He's locked up now hopefully forever! God bless you, your mom, and your family. You were so BEAUTIFUL and now a beautiful angel! Your with your mom,and soulmate and never forgotten here. Rest in peace BEAUTIFUL!
Brandi (Sasdened Woman...)
November 13th, 2017
I'm so sorry to watch this on escape.... All these run aways out to trust strangers.... Its so heartbreaking.... So much evil out here.... Cant trust anyone
Laura Ralston bryant (None)
October 16th, 2017
God bless her soul.
Tishawn Fortner
September 16th, 2017
💜Spring Dawn, I just watched the episode of "Evil Lives Here," & Cruz was truly an evil man! Your life was the unfortunate, ultimate price of meeting this monster, but maybe now someone else is making him feel the pain & torture you & possibly other women endured! You were just a young lady & had your whole life ahead of you, but he took that away from you...May you Rest In Peace & God bless your family!!! 💜
LaQuanda Askew (TV viewer )
July 6th, 2017
I just read the FBI story about Dawn and her horrible demise at the hands of yet another evil man who pretends to be nice. I read and watch nothing but true crime and will never understand the wickedness of so many men who hurt, rape and/or kill women of all ages. Perhaps it is how their brains are wired - no one seems to know. My heart goes out to Dawn and her family for yet another senseless killing.
Gail Conroy (citizen)
July 3rd, 2017
Dawn could have been me. I was at Elan from 1979-1980ish..and I ran away when they finally took me and others to the Maine Mall in Portland. I got out of Maine hitchhiking and then only took semi's to get me to Billings, Montana. there was one truck driver on 80 somewhere in the Midwest that tried to rape me, but I ran from the truck and ran into the fields. It could have been me. I am so so so very sorry for your loss, she deserved better.

Lisa
Lisa Thompson (Elan Captive)
June 4th, 2017
Rest in Peace. Why is this happend ? I Hope so much that you be on a beautiful Place. I'm from Germany that's why i will now write in german. And sorry for my Bad english.
Es tut mir so leid, dass dir das passiert ist. Ich hoffe, du wirst in Frieden ruhen. Du wirst niemals vergessen werden, da bin ich mir sicher. Eines Tages werden wir uns vielleicht da oben sehen.
Bis dahin, Ruhe in Frieden und fliege mit den Engeln da oben.
You will Never forget.
Jennifer Ludwig
May 29th, 2017
Dear Dawn and family and love ones and friends,
First, thank you Fran Lupo. You are truly a beautiful and kind human being.

Second, please know Dawn that none of us will forget you. We will protect your memory forever 💖

One day we will see you again 🌞

Thank you for your friendship when I was a crazy young teenage kid.

Thank you for looking out for all of us. I've always believed that a lot of us have had a little extra help in the guardian angel department and you were that extra help 💖




Fran C
May 16th, 2017
May you rest in peace dear sweet child. You will always be remebered and loved.
Jennifer Ransier (None)
March 30th, 2017
Rip dawn
Vivienne
March 23rd, 2017
Just watched the episode of Evil Lives Here. I am so sorry. Fly high angel. RIP.
Debbie Chase
March 20th, 2017
I will forever remember you Dawn,you were the first girl i ever had a crush on,i was too scared to tell you,now i wish i had,you were so beautiful,and perfect in every way,God made an Angel,when he made you!! RIP,Forever,u r in heaven now,and you are safe.
Shawn Dykstra (Actual Friend)
March 6th, 2017
I was at Elan,with Dawn,I was only 13 years old,n she was actually the first girl I ever had a crush on,she was so beautiful,n perfect in every way,my heart was so hurt when I found out what happened to her,she will forever live on in my heart,n mind,REST IN PEACE,ANGEL FROM HEAVEN
Shawn Dykstra (friend)
March 5th, 2017
Such a tragic thing that has happened to someone so young, someone who was robbed of life, in such a horrific way!! I didn't know "SpringDawn" but that evil man dumped her in our town like trash like she was no one and that truly bothers me, I also think of Brenda Condon whom went missing around same area and time may her family find peace as well! Fly high Beautiful Dawn, may ur wings take u high & far in ur new life, since u were robbed of this one!! Kiss on ur cheek luv Cynthia
Cynthia Kustaborder
February 3rd, 2017
I just watched "Evil lives here" on tv and I was shock about this story about this young and beautiful girl.Oh this man so evil,having his daughters of the same age as his victims makes him a more evil man.Dawn Rest In Peace as the others victims of this cowardly criminal.
Gilmah Romanos (None)
January 22nd, 2017
I just watched on evil lives hear. And it gave me a chill I live but 15min away from there and this is the first time I've ever heard of this. I'm only 33 yrs of age and my heart sank when I heard of this. May she be at peace
Christina Smith (Unknown )
January 22nd, 2017
She was on search for love and understanding and found the death. Poor little soul.
Sabine Kelller
December 4th, 2016
❤️️ Gone too soon.
Trever Dill
November 11th, 2016
I just watched your story on tv... I'm so sorry you came into contact with such an awful human being, and for John too, your relationship with him was mentioned on the show, and it breaks my heart for both of you that you weren't able to find each other again before you both met such sad endings. I hope you two found one another again in heaven. Much love ❤❤
Casee Goodman (tv viewer)
October 28th, 2016
Dawn I hope that you are in a better place now. your the type of person that I would have love to have met. Rest in Peace.
Ralph Berger
October 28th, 2016
I have just heard (American Justice on TV) of the horror of the last four minutes of Your life. The monster has been caught and will be made to atone for his atrocities.

Dawn, I am happy that you can rest knowing all of your family and friends know you are at peace now. Remember you have touched many lives and you are loved and missed .
Sherry (None)
September 15th, 2016
RIP sweet angel. God Bless.
Dee Smith (Guest)
September 13th, 2016
You were taken too young you will always be in my prayers. The devil that did this is rotting away where he should. R.I.P
Melissa Rogner (Tv viewer)
September 13th, 2016
I attended Calumet High in Gary with Dawn a short time and was close friends with her brother. She was beautiful and care free and although I only knew her a ahort time so long ago I still think about the laughs often. God bless.
aaron (friend)
September 12th, 2016
I just watched Dawn Marie's story on the FBI Files. It goes without saying that God was sad at the way Dawn Marie's life ended but I'm sure God was so kind and loving toward Dawn Marie when they met in eternal life. I am so appreciative of the law enforcement officials who solved this murder case. The town of Bellefonte, PA really rose to the task and showed this young woman what love is all about.
Mara Rivers (TV Viewer)
August 6th, 2016
Rip..prayers..too young to leave us
Susan Dutton (Maine citizen)
August 6th, 2016
Such a horrific act on such a innocent girl words are not enough sometimes my condolences to her Family and friends. I do hope the vermin (cruz) that took your life is served true justice one day. Rest In Peace
Kamil Komo (Not Applicable)
July 27th, 2016
I am so sorry that your life ended the way it did!! I worry everyday about what happens out there. Thank you for making this Memorial!! RIP

meredith Jenkins
June 26th, 2016
May you finally be at peace in rest in Heaven with our Savior Jesus! You no longer have to run dear angel!!
Cheryle C (None)
June 20th, 2016
I too just watched the program. RIP, Dawn x
mary .
June 19th, 2016
Rest in Heaven Girl! I'm sorry this happened to you..... I remember you....
Michelle Wood
June 10th, 2016
(Dawn) Madam small story that broke in my heart forever remain not forget the sad story rest during You are an angel in the sky lie down small madame in peace and God take care of you and your mother beside you
ali alali (Guest)
May 8th, 2016
This is a horrible thing that happened to a young woman. I hope the person that did this has paid for it with their life already.
Brian Shoemaker
May 8th, 2016
I'm so sorry for that young girl. It was a terrible thing to happen.
Darrell MacInnis
May 1st, 2016
Han pasado 23 años y aún duele su asesinato. Ojalá la juventud interiorice los riesgos que significa confiar en desconocidos.
Monica Castilla
May 1st, 2016
Im watching you on investigation discovery dawn. May you rip may 1st 2016. Mr cruz is where he needs to be. In helll
Barbados Im from
May 1st, 2016
How sorry I am ,for you, dear young lady-I hope you can now rest in peace and your spirit can fly among the stars and heavens-my heart is broken at the thought of this horrible thing that happened to you-you are surely an angel now and the memory of you will always live on-FOREVER AND EVER.
Chris
March 31st, 2016
I come here through the federal investigation files I watched this movie and this story for four months was a sad story the whole tragedy A small girl in(17)year old at the age of flowers. Kill at the hands of criminals knows on mercy is this man or animal does he believe he is man kill girl a small . This is the beautiful girl did he do something or made a mistakes he just want to help this girl lived in the whole life of tragedy. it's angel from heaven. it's nymph of paradise. She died during few hours this beautiful girl will not see anything in her life . (( dawn )) tragedy in our hearts we did not forget you never forget your sad story (( dawn)). We love you of our hearts to you. (( dawn)) rest in peace beside your mother . (( dawn)) God bless you take care of you . (( 24 year anniversary of the death of..dawn )). Condolences to the family of the (dawn) and her relatives and friend. Ali . Baton Rouge .la
Ali Al Ali (Guest)
March 25th, 2016
You were just a lost teenager, this isn't fair! Fly high honey. I'm so very sorry this happened to you. So full of life, gone far too soon. I'll never forget your smell as you walked by, your smile filled the room. You always made me smile & were a good friend, always up for a serious conversation, or a good laugh. We all miss you. You were loved by everyone. Such a beautiful soul, taken from us all. I'm saddened. **23 years today** I miss you. Love, Rod
Rod Footer (Friend from Elan School)
March 24th, 2016
I have just watched the programme about you. May you rest in peace. Xx
mary fisher
March 19th, 2016
So sorry for your tragic and early demise. I hope you're resting peacefully, now. Love from all in the state of Maine.
lois theriault (friend)
March 12th, 2016
I'm soo sorry this has happened to such a young lady, may you rest in peace.
Tina Zimmer
March 6th, 2016
RIP my dear child, saw your story on investigative channel, so sorry, you are at peace now with your mom by your side
Shirley Kulyan
March 6th, 2016
Came here through the FBI files as well.

RIP dear girl. My thoughts have been with you tonight. My deepest condolences for all family and friends.
Ronald Jeukens
March 3rd, 2016
I used to spend my summers in Raymond Me back in the early 90's and I think I might have met with Dawn on one occasion. When I saw the FBI files episode, her picture brought back memories of a girl with the same name. I found her story so sad, it's been keeping me awake for a couple of days now.

Rest in peace Dawn.

Maybe we will meet again.
Jerome Beaule
March 1st, 2016
Just saw a new show called Evil Lives Here on ID. The evil person was the man who murdered Dawn, Joe Cruz Jr. He was deranged and his wife & step-daughter had no clue, although he was very abusive to them. In fact, his step-daughter had an uncanny resemblance to Dawn and he hated his step-daughter. As a cross-country truck driver, police are sure he murdered many more, but they did not pursue it. The prosecutor wanted the death penalty for what he did to Dawn, but the jury gave him life instead. They had DNA evidence, her hair in his truck, his truck tire imprints where he dumped her and more, like "trophy" items he took from Dawn like necklace and even a tape recorder with a tape still in it with Dawn's voice on it!!! How much evidence did this jury need to fry this scumbag. i am even more angry over what he did to this little girl and most likely many more. Sorry for venting here on Dawn's memorial page, but her story continues to be shared to the world. Dawn lives on in our hearts.
Christopher LaRose (fellow human)
February 29th, 2016
I'm so sorry little girl for what happened to you. Now you're in the lovely hands of God.Please boys and girls be careful with what you might found on the roads. There are so many bad peoples and because you're young don't have what is take to defend yourself. Always be aware and be safe.
Lourdes Ramos (Just a concern person)
February 29th, 2016
Dear sweet young girl, God is taking care of you now. I am so sorry that you met up with such a monster. I know you must have been scared and sad. God will now give you peace and comfort and all the blessings you so deserve. God bless you and your family. RIP.
Judy Bading
February 29th, 2016
Beautiful girl from my home town, Rest in Peace Dawn, this idiot who did this to her needs to suffer till the day he dies.
Dale Sonnenberg (None)
February 29th, 2016
I'm so sorry you endured such a fate. You're one of God's angels now, sweet Dawn. You're finally at peace! God bless your mom as well.
Ashley Bray (None)
February 29th, 2016
Gone to soon RIP Dawn
Robin Wild- Orr (None)
February 28th, 2016
My family has endured a lot since Dawn's death. I was only very small when she was taken from us and I am thankful for the support of all who helped solve her case and gave peace to my family. Dawn is our angel now and so is her mother, whom I miss very much.
Christine Smith (cousin )
February 23rd, 2016
RIP Dawn. May the killer get the same treatment.
Brian Shoemaker
February 13th, 2016
I am not related to Dawn, but I also just watched the episode from the FBI Files "A Stranger In Town". I was also very touched by this story. I live in Lock Haven PA, 15 minutes from Bellefonte. I would like to find out where Dawn is buried and bring her flowers. She was taken way too young. May she rest in peace. I'm glad they caught the man who committed this horrific crime.
Jessica Roden (Guest)
January 18th, 2016
Rip beautiful angel
Sandra Vera
December 16th, 2015
Rip dawn took way to young
Bryce Wilson
November 29th, 2015
I am not in relation to dawn but i just watched the episode of FBI Files :A stranger in town and it really touched me,how can such a horrific person commit a crime so brutal with such disrespect? Its amazing how the town came together on this case,

RIP Dawn
Tracy from Dallas,Texas
Tracy Lee (Guest)
November 27th, 2015
Dawn I always wonder where you was now I know your in heaven.RIP
A Shannon
November 11th, 2015
Dawn,

I remember the day when Pap went to get your mom and head to Pennsylvania to identify you. I never understood why you didn't listen to me when we went to dinner. I told you that in a couple of months you would graduate and could live anywhere you wanted to, to not run away anymore. I wish I still lived I Chicago so I could visit you more instead of just once a year. Overall Dawn I miss you a lot and the family hasn't been the same since your death. I truly believe you are in a better place and I can't wait to see you again. I love you Dawn
James Preusser (Cousin)
September 29th, 2015
Dawn

I remember the day pap went to get your mom and headed to Pennsylvania to identify you. I never understood why you wouldn't have listen to me when we went to dinner. I told you that in a couple in months you could live wherever you wanted, not to run away anymore. I wish I still lived in Chicago, so I could go to your grave more often and not just once a year. Over all Dawn I miss you a lot and the family is not the same. I haven't felt like we been a family since your death. I truly believe your in a better place and can not wait to see you again, I love you Dawn.
James Preusser (Cousin)
September 29th, 2015
Dawn

I remember the day pap went to get your mom and headed to Pennsylvania to identify you. I never understood why you wouldn't have listen to me when we went to dinner. I told you that in a couple in months you could live wherever you wanted, not to run away anymore. I wish I still lived in Chicago, so I could go to your grave more often and not just once a year. Over all Dawn I miss you a lot and the family is not the same. I haven't felt like we been a family since your death. I truly believe your in a better place and can not wait to see you again, I love you Dawn.
James Preusser (Cousin)
September 29th, 2015
Dawn

I remember the day pap went to get your mom and headed to Pennsylvania to identify you. I never understood why you wouldn't have listen to me when we went to dinner. I told you that in a couple in months you could live wherever you wanted, not to run away anymore. I wish I still lived in Chicago, so I could go to your grave more often and not just once a year. Over all Dawn I miss you a lot and the family is not the same. I haven't felt like we been a family since your death. I truly believe your in a better place and can not wait to see you again, I love you Dawn.
James Preusser (Cousin)
September 29th, 2015
Dawn, I came your story on FBI files. It makes me so sad that you had so much ahead of your life and it was cruelly ripped away from you at such a young age. I hope you have found peace as a star in the sky and the detectives and police that worked so hard to bring justice for you are absolute angels. You were important and you are remembered x
Krissy
September 7th, 2015
I saw the FBI files episode about the murder of Dawn Birnbaum. What happened to Dawn upset me a lot. It is very disturbing to me. I am glad that her murderer is going to be jailed for life.
Tim
September 2nd, 2015
Dawn,

I heard about your story through FBI Files on Netflix as well. My heart goes out to you and your family. 22 years later, I know they still miss and love you. Praying for special peace for them.
Cindy Keith
August 24th, 2015
More than 20 years later, your story still makes an impression on me.
Hal Jones (None)
August 21st, 2015
I have no idea of why I enjoy these stories so much. It just hurts me that there are so many people out there that are evil, when some people want nothing more than for someone to help them. People loved you Dawn.
Clarence Jones
August 9th, 2015
Rest In peace so many years has past. You are not forgotten thanks for who ever set this website up.
Chris
July 20th, 2015
I just saw this on FBI Files on Netflix, I had to look Dawn up because it was such a sad story! One I had thought of happen to a young girl often! I was a very over protective mother and this was one of my greatest fears, afraid this would happen to my daughter. When ever I was driving anywhere and saw a young girl hitch hiking I was always afraid for them. I urge the good people in this world to pay it forward and watch out for these young girls! I picked up a young girl hitch hiking in my state (Maine) one summer, my first thought was many strangers come and go in this vacationland state more in the summer then possibly other seasons! I picked up this young girl found out where she was headed. She was here on a work visa and was hitch hiking to New York to visit a friend from her home town in France. I took her to a bus station and bought her a round trip ticket. I am not rich, but it didn't matter, I had a daughter about the same age, and I remember my fear of her being hurt this way, or worse murder! We exchange e-mail addresses and she was on her way! About 6 years later I was cleaning out a junk draw and found my business card with her name and e-mail address, I put the e-mail address into Facebook and she is now my friend on FB! I wish I had been there for Dawn and many others that share this terrible fate! Anytime I can I will do the same for any young girl! Touched by this story, being a foster child and running away often, I now will do this in honor of you Dawn! May you rest in peace and look over all young girls who decide they have to hitch hike anywhere! Again, anyone who can, pay this forward of any young girl, you may save a life! Dawn, I will think of you often!
Christine Starrett (None)
July 18th, 2015
just saw her story on Netflix n had 2 look her up. seems like she just wanted someone 2 love her unfortunately there's good n evil in dis crazy world. RIP
bradley thomas (none)
July 2nd, 2015
RIP Dawn. I hope the person who did this pays for it.
Brian
July 1st, 2015
I live in Australia and just saw the FBI story on netflics about Dawn, I would also like to say Rest in Peace Dawn.
Brent Williams
June 14th, 2015
R.I.p. dawn, a tragic loss for such a beautiful young girl.
Laurence Roberts (None)
June 9th, 2015
Rest in Peace Dawn.
Steve Kline (None)
May 23rd, 2015
God bless and be with her family. I hope to see Dawn in heaven some day. Same age as my youngest daughter. I can't imagine life without my youngest daughter. It is difficult to face this tragedy.
Marianne Rodgers (none)
April 3rd, 2015
rest in heaven because the law in to soft for young women like you i think it is better for you in heaven any one who rap and kill can get away with it and live happy and peacefully in pres-in and the tax payer unfortunately pay for his food and cloth until he dies , please us government change this stupid law and give the victim some respect
gaaber bakeer
March 27th, 2015
I saw this show and was devastated by the death of this young girl. She was so young and really truly just innocent from the pictures shown of her with a teddy bear. It is a shame how a man could take her little body and ravage it like this. I know that Dawn is in heaven.
Antoine
March 17th, 2015
RIP. I hope the murder gets killed.
Brian
February 27th, 2015
I wanted you to know Dawn that you are still loved and missed. I used to love working in the E-3 kitchenwirh you, your personality just drew people too you. Many of us survivors of the horrible nightmare you ran away from called Elan are still fighting for justice, and you are one of the main reasons we will never give up. You were just a young beautiful child, Elan should have protected you, staff should have been there but the place just didnt care. If Elan had been run by professionals, people with degrees, and wasnt.just a.for.profit child abuse.factory you would still be alive. They should pay just like James Robert Cruz did, my heart hurts everytime I think of u.
Jon Ferry (Friend/classmate)
November 13th, 2014
Dawn, I have pictures of you pushing me around with our other cousin, absolutely having a great time just playing with a few babies, laughing and giggling. I always feel your weight in my heart when I watch the home video I have of you talking to us, giggling and making us giggle right back. You were good, but never given the chance to grow. Your "family" can be blamed for so much of this and what happened. I just wish your life had been easier.
Amanda R. (Cousin)
September 24th, 2014
RIP. God bless.
Neil Nicksen (None)
September 9th, 2014
I saw this episode on the FBI files. How sad that this happened to
Such a beautiful young girl with a full life ahead of her. How someone could do what they did to her......is just sick.
rose k.o. (someone who cares)
June 11th, 2014
Dear Dawn
I just watched your story on FBI Files and the story hit hard. The sadness is so heartbreaking. I am in the UK so it would be impossible to have met you, but I wish I could have protected you from all the hurt you went through in your short life. I look forward to meeting you in the future so that I may give you a hug.
My heart goes out to your family and friends.
God be with you, dear Dawn.
Gordon Rodgerson (None)
June 1st, 2014
after watching the story about you for the past two years its feel like you are family im feeling your pain as you were on that truck ,i cant stop thinking about you and i will never be and i hope your lord render justice
mbah bah (not related)
April 9th, 2014
I was watching a documentary about you this dawn in 24 March, the same day your soul turned into the most angelic perfume ever.

I will always think about you, RIP Spring Dawn Marie.
Mahmoud
March 24th, 2014
Today is the day when we found out that god took u in his arms, I was only 10 years old, I remember my mom getting that call from aunt nancy about you, I couldn't believe it, I remember that nite I had a dream u were a angel telling me everything is alright, I love you dawn marie, I miss u, I think about u everyday I just can't move on, maybe cause I will 10 idk, but I love you dawn I miss u sooo much xoxoxoxoxo
lisa lindemann (cousin)
March 23rd, 2014
I thought about u often and feel guilty everyday I was supposed to go with you and I got scared and didn't want to I think back and wonder if u would still be here had I gone with you.. I miss u and think of u often
Jessie Siddell (Was at élan school with )
February 22nd, 2014
Dawn my dearest friend,I miss you and think of you always. Even more so now because I have a best friend now who's name coincidentally is Dawn Marie. When I met her I automatically thought of you. Not only because of her name, but because she also was living a troubled life just as you were. I've said to myself a million times over again &as I said to you in the last letter I wrote you "Why couldn't she just wait the 2months she had left before she turned 18?" (I'll never understand) I Love You sooo much and am glad I had you in my life for the period of time that I did.Love you ALWAYS & FOREVER, Jennifer Pine
Jennifer pine (best friend)
February 12th, 2014
Miss u girl u were such a sweet girl u be in my thoughts for ever.
bobbie walker-pickard (friend)
January 27th, 2014
Rip sweet girl I miss you I'll think of you when I am working in the field trying to help other girls in your situation. Love always, Kelly
Kelly Winningham (Room mate for a year)
January 27th, 2014
Clearly the memory of Dawn lives on and many of her friends still remember her after all these years. She was so close to freedom and such a great person. I remember the day she ran and the day she was found it had such an impact on all of us. After all these years finding a site to remember her and to see the names of her friends on this page shows that her memory has not left any of us.
Gianni Descenza (Friend)
December 5th, 2013
Dawn a beautiful young lady taken away to soon in life. I've read and watch on T.V. about your life and death...Dear Sweet Angel REST IN PEACE....
MY CONDOLENCES TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS....YOU MAY BE GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN .....FROM : Lori
Lori Mejia (none)
November 27th, 2013
I read about Dawn today, never met her. I could only imagine how horrifying her passing was to her friends and family. My heart goes out to her loved ones. Such beautiful girl senseless ripped from this world.
Sharon McCarthy
September 13th, 2013
Hey Dawn, Missing you, I might be mistaken or you are sending me major vibes reminding to say Happy Birthday early September, I could be off but...anyhow, miss u. Never forget. Not fair, not at all. The good do die young, you were a good friend, loved, never forgotton by anyone who knew you. To any kids who create the idea of running away, the grass is never greener on the other side.May your soul rest at ease, you are loved....happy birthday when ever it was an I missed it.
cori (friend)
September 4th, 2013
RIP Dawn......I think of you often.Tell your mom I miss her so much. I jave a grandson now. Colin your grandson says Ernie is his best friend.
Love and miss you both
Becky
Becky Lindemann (Aunt)
March 24th, 2013
Will always remember this story and your bright...
Leo (none)
November 27th, 2012
Hi dawn, its ur cousin Lisa.. today ur brother bill and his wife had another girl Taylor dawn lindemann.. I love the name.... now they have two beautiful girls Morgan and Taylor... i think about u all the time to... I miss u sooo much dawn.. tell aunt Nancy i said hi and i miss her i love her too.... i love u dawn i. xoxoxo miss u...
Lisa lindemann (cousin)
November 13th, 2012
Dear Dawn,
Im so sad that you did not seem to get the love and care and guardianship that would have taken you to adulthood. No one deserves to die like you did. I hope you find all the love and care in the next life that you missed in this. You were too pure for this world.
Iseult Bourke (would=be friend)
November 2nd, 2012
see the fbi files often think of you each time there,s a repeat of it you av touched our families hearts sadly missed.
carol (u.k) smart (new friend)
October 25th, 2012
Aunt Dawn, I never got the chance to meet you, but I wish that I could have. You were unfairly taken away from our family. I miss you so much. I think about you a lot too. I love you, Aunt Dawn. Tell grandma I said hi, and that I love and miss her too<3
Rebecca Lindemann (Niece)
October 20th, 2012
I was sent to Elan later in the same year that Dawn was murdered. I did not know her, but many of my friends did and they spoke of her frequently. What a horrible tragedy. I wish Dawn had known more love and happiness in her life... maybe that's what the next life is for. RIP sweet lady.
Peter Moore (Elan alumni)
April 5th, 2012
Its been about 2 weeks since the 19th anniversary of your death. Amazing how time goes by. Seasons change, leaves fall, flowers bloom, but memories never fade...& you are never be forgotton. Your laugh, your smile, your hugswill always be missed & remembered forever!
Fran Lupo (Friend & Elan Classmate)
April 4th, 2012
I miss you so much!!!I wish I could have helped you that day when we left.I am so so sorry it haunts me every day of what it could have been..As you sit in Heaven on those clouds watching over us please watch my son who is now with you :(
Heidi Boone(Hansen) (Friend)
April 4th, 2012
There is no one on this planet that has meant more to me than this beautiful young lady. Dawn I have played your story over a million times, My computer has been logged on this website for weeks on end thinking and just admiring you. Janice Harrison, Thank you. I just want to add here that I also feel very much for her boyfriend who was killed also, but his case was never solved and I grieve with his grandmother who was so close to him and probably pass away grieving in a most painful way not knowing what truly happened to him. this case is so Tragic you just can't let it go. Why? for me too many unanswered questions remain up to this day. Personally I think a movie and more should be done to highlight this case. So much more I would like to say, anyways let us continue to keep her memory alive as for me it's forever! Rest in Peace Dawn.
Songre Osmenep (Admirer)
April 2nd, 2012
you are never forgotten.... may you be one of the most beautiful flowers in God's garden.
Barbara Benedetti (friend)
March 31st, 2012
I wanted to post my condolences to Dawn's family here. I am so sorry this happened to her. I never see one of those NEW CENTURY trucks on the roadways without a chill going up my spine. I hope that this website provides Dawn's family with some solace and I know she will always be in your heart. She is now at peace, resting in the arms of the angels, far away from here.
Janice Harrison (none--webmaster)
March 11th, 2012
I've seen your story on the "fbi files" and I was outraged that Robert J. Cruz was able to kill you for really no reason at all. I pray that you rest in peace now.
andre hollebeek (none)
February 12th, 2012
Dawn I first came to know you from seeing your case on TV,and I have not been able to forget you.Your death has touch me deeply and I love you deeply. You have been a great inspiration to lots of loving people here on earth. God used you to touch the hearts and soul of the people who know you. God bless and rest in peace forever.
oliver Brown (admirer)
February 11th, 2012
It is so sad how you actually find "fan" pages for murderers while their victims are minimized to just numbers. We need to remember Dawn, the person, and everyone else like her whose life was cut short by violence.
Joe Tomkiel (Researcher)
December 23rd, 2011
Dawn, There is so much to be remembered about you, and I want ever one to know what an amazing young woman you were. What happened to you was a tragedy, but your life will always be a blessing. You will be missed deeply.
summer (classmate)
October 22nd, 2011
I didnt know her, but I knew the man that murdered her only because I used to play with his oldest daughter, Jenny. I stayed many nights in that house, and I still get the creeps that he murdered girls our age. Rest in peace sweetie. Sorry you had to meet this creep.
Anna M (none)
July 8th, 2011
Dawn was an awesome person who never deserved something like this.She like us all was a teen trying to find her place in this world.I know she is in a better place enjoying other angels and Gods' paradise.I will see you on the other side Dawn and I will always remember you.
nick weidman (friend)
June 13th, 2011
Daswn I can't believe ur gone still n aunt nancy too... tell her I said hi and I miss her.. and the rest of our family too, well I'm 27 now and my son is gonna be 3 soon.. I remember the good times we had, christmas, just u being there, I was 10 when I found out about wat happend to u, mom got a call n she wouldn't tell me anything.. we went to ur mom house, everyone was there, then I heard my mom talking, u were gone, taken from us, but now ur up in heaven looking down on us, we miss u dawn a lot, I love u.... love ur lil cousin Lisa marie
Lisa Lindemann (cousin)
April 10th, 2011
I will always remember they day I left U there my heart will always ach.I am glad that I was able to help get your killer behind bars.Since I was not able to protect you I neede to do something for you,As the tears fall I can only wish that your at peace,I always tell you that I will blame myself for what happend and I will till I die and see you again...
Heidi Hansen Boone (Friend)
March 30th, 2011
Dawn I love you and miss you. You were such a beautiful girl that will always be remembered by many. You have got to be happy up there with the Lord girl. I will see you :)
Tricia Latino (Friend)
March 28th, 2011
I remember when I heard you ran away. I remember waiting to hear from you. I remember believing you'd be ok. Then I remember your funeral. The sadness. The empty feeling inside. I remember thinking, the person in the casket looks nothing like you - maybe it wasnt you. I remember the tears feeling like fire when I hugged your Mom. To this day seeing your picture makes me smile. YOU always made everyone smile. You had that inner light. I miss you Dawn. ♥
Fran Lupo (Friend - Elan Student)
March 28th, 2011
Oh God, this was such a tragedy. It's a shame the pain this world and the people in it can cause. It breaks my heart everytime I think of Dawn. Who knows what she could have contributed to this world? God bless her soul. I pray that you are at peace dear.
Chris Pepper (classmate/friend)
March 28th, 2011
i will never forget you and i will never forget the day they came to tell us you were gone i will always hold you dear in my heart. I know your among the angles!!!
Rosezalynn Sanford (classmate)
March 25th, 2011
Dawn, I was thinking of you this week and then I realized it is now 18 years since you met your death and were left on that snowbank. I think your story has touched many people, myself included. Rest in peace in the arms of the angels, far away from here.
Janice Harrison (webmaster)
March 25th, 2011
Dawn can't believe u been gone for 18 years.. I think about u every day.. tell aunt nacey n everyone else I siad hi.. I love u all up there n miss u guys a lottt.... the family is doing good too.. there's not a day that goes by that we don't think about u.. love lisa marie
lisa (cousin)
March 24th, 2011
Dawn, You'll forever be special to many people, see you up there one day.

I want to say more, but i need not to for you know what i want to say already. we were cool like that. you were always so understanding of me. you were a good friend.



cori bulatovich (good friend)
January 17th, 2011
I spent The last night w/ Dawn awake all night long before she ran away from ELan. We were both supervising other residents while they slept. And The FBI came to the school and questioned 1 other student (Greg Sloan) who said he testified that Dawn liked consensual bondage. She was found more than a month after she disappeared...and there are lots more details to her life. She was on track to success as i knew her. Obviously she got entangled by a predator. I liked her and saw her as my equal while I was a student in Elan. I was a runaway myself. I'm grateful to the people of Bellefonte, PA. For taking up for Dawn. I'm sad to now learn of her mother's recent passing in 2008. Dawn was a beautiful girl inside and out!
Eric Pondusa (Classmate)
January 5th, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving dawn... hope u and aunt Nancy and everyone up there r having a good Thanksgiving... miss u guys soo much..... we love u....
lisa lindemann (cousin )
November 25th, 2010
I love u dawn,I remember when I was staying at ur guys house indiana and my mom was working and I was crying cause I wanted her. So then u came over and took care of me... that's the only memory I have of u now.... but I think about it all the time.. cause u were such a sweet and kind person.... love u dawn marie...
Lisa lindemann (Cousin )
October 20th, 2010
Dawn we miss u very much..... I remember when I got the news about u. I will never forget that day,but now ur happy and with aunt Nancy..... wish u could see how our family is growing everyday.. but I'm sure ur watching down on us from heaven. Just can't believe ur still gone. I was ten and I'm 27... wow long time... wish u were here.. now I'm a momi must go.. this is hard for me. But tell aunt Nancy I said hi and I love u guys too.. love Lisa
lisa lindemann (cousin )
October 20th, 2010
You were a free-spirit Dawn that ran into someone who was pure evil. You were young,troubled, trusting,beautiful,smart, these things and many more are what you will be remembered by. Rest in Peace Dawn....
gina dilorenzo (none)
October 1st, 2010
It bugs me that they (the jury and others) make it out as if Dawn had voluntary sex with this predator when the crime itself would have no motive if not sexually driven. Why would he kill her if not during the act of a brutal rape? For sadists, the thrill of control and murder would be sexual, providing the motive. Her hands were tied behind her back. If she consented to sex, why would her hands be tied? Just because she was troubled does not mean she was incapable of rape and sexual abuse, as if she would automatically consent to sex with whoever and in whatever manner. That makes a mockery of this girl's suffering and death, to reduce it to her death being a mere after thought, prompted by a fear of getting caught. Caught by who? She was a runaway and for all he knew, had no one who would care if she'd had sex with him. She had no way to contact his family. What a flimsy excuse the jury came up with for a motive for murder! This sicko enjoyed the sexual torture and the thrill of murder. Dawn is unlikely to have been the only victim of this freak of nature. He should have gotten the death penalty.
Pam d (none)
September 9th, 2010
Just saw a show about Dawn (I assume it was FBI Files) on Investigation Discovery. This case touched my heart so deeply I felt compelled to search for more info on the Web. It is obvious that Dawn was a beautiful young lady, inside & out, and for her to have met such a premature, tragic end was nothing less than an act of evil. I can only hope that jim cruz one day will walk into a shower room and meet with the same fate as jeff dahmer. That evil SOB robbed the world of one (and probably many more) of God's brightest lights. Dawn, the world has been a much darker place without that beaming smile of yours. Surely you now have an exalted place among the angels of Heaven and your soul is at peace. I look forward to meeting you someday on the streets of Glory...
Royce Mace (none)
July 13th, 2010
I was in Elan with Dawn, although it was close to 20 years ago i have never forgot you or how much of a friend you are. I still remember the day we had the house meeting and they told us what happened to you. I will always love you, may you always walk on the sun beams.
Brannon Sinks (friend)
June 5th, 2010
just watched ur story on FBI Files, Ur safe now in heaven Sweet Dreamz Angel, up there in God's Paradise
Craig Hollywood
April 22nd, 2010
After watching this episode of FBI Files I felt compelled to look for references on the web. I'm sorry for Dawn's demise. The work of Law Enforcement on this case was exemplary!
Let everyone know that hitchhiking is just another "hunting ground" for the Evil among us. Rest in peace, Dawn.
~ SL ~ (none)
April 18th, 2010
17 years on March 23rd. I held on to that poem forever..I was sad when it was lost :(
I had it for over 10 years!
I still buy Eternity.
I am saddened today remembering the past..
We wrapped our hair in paper towels like curlers to curl it..lol..
U taught me how to make instant coffee w/milk instead of hot water..i still make it that way..
Cori misses ya too hun..
We all do..
fran coleman (friend)
April 6th, 2010
So sad for Dawn and all who loved her, It's a blessing to see after all this time Dawn is still loved and missed....Be the best angel ever Dawn...
Penny Amaya
August 25th, 2009
I was friends with Dawn in Jr High, she always seemed so happy to be at school, she talked about problems at home and how she wanted to get away, but mostly was into her boyfriend and all the school had for her. Then they sent her away and none of us knew what had happened to her...it is a horrible tragedy, I was so sorry to hear that her life ended the way it did. What a sad life and horrible way to cut it so short. I have thought of her off and on through the years, only now can I grieve for her. She is, I am certain, in a much better place.
Kimberly Thompson (friend)
July 24th, 2009
i am very sorry about all this i was jim cruzes stepdaughter and i was the same age as dawn.I no exactly how evil the man was I often wonder or i just no that if he wouldn't of got caught he would of killed all of us!!!! i am truly sorry !!!rip Dawn
Jennifer Benner
June 16th, 2009
This is from an article the webmaster purchased from Google news archives, from the Philadelphia Inquirer (5/16/93). See below:

Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
May 16, 1993
Section: LOCAL
Edition: FINAL
Page: B01


ANONYMOUS DEAD GIRL CAPTURES TOWN'S HEART THEY ALL SAW IN HER 'SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER.' NOW THEY KNOW WHOSE, AS THEY HUNT FOR HER KILLER.
Michael E. Ruane, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

With his big hands, Steve Mondock had gently washed her golden hair using conditioner from Conway's beauty salon. He applied some rose-colored lipstick, and carefully brushed her cheek with makeup from a daub he held in his palm.

How pretty she was, thought the strapping 6-foot, 2-inch mortician and volunteer firefighter, as he stood over the anonymous, murdered teenager preparing her face to be photographed by the state police.
And how familiar. Others said so, too, after the picture they took in the funeral home ran in the paper. It was as if people wanted to know her, wanted to be able to say: Yes, of course, she was so-and-so's daughter from over the mountain. Besides, she looked like she could have been anyone's, with her pierced ears, ponytail and the big, loud sweater she had on when they found her strangled just off the interstate, the rope still around her neck.

Yet for six weeks - from the cold, foggy morning the passerby had spotted her still wearing her wristwatch and bracelets, sprawled on the snowbank - nobody around here could quite place her. But as the time passed and police scoured the nation to learn who she was, she came, in a way, to belong here.

Near the end, Mondock had named her "Spring," for the township in which she had been found, and had bought a pink nightgown to bury her in.

Woodring's, the florists, had agreed to provide funeral flowers and Pastor Tim Sawyer of the Christian and Missionary Alliance would say the prayers. They planned to lay her to rest as one of their own in a hilltop cemetery fragrant with mowed grass and the warm wind off the farm fields, and watched over by Bald Eagle Mountain in the distance.

Then, on May 7, the state police announced that they had learned who she was, and the connection was broken.

Her name was Dawn Marie Birnbaum, and she hailed from the Midwest, where she'd had a short and turbulent life.

Her parents were long divorced and she had been a ward of the state of Indiana since 1989. But she had run away from each of the more than 10 foster homes, group homes and treatment centers in which she had been placed, except for one. And that facility had asked that she be taken away, because it could not handle her. Most recently she had run away - for at least the second time - from a school for troubled adolescents in Maine three days before her body turned up.

She was 17.

Her mother had traveled from Indiana on May 6 to identify the body. And the next day the people from Wetzler Funeral Service Inc., at Spring and Howard Streets here, drove Dawn to the airport in Harrisburg. From there she went home, and was buried Wednesday in a suburb of Chicago.

It was sad, but around here people felt they had done right by her - from Mondock, who had pondered her face; to hard-smoking State Trooper William F. Madden, who had tracked down her ID and had two girls just about her age; to County Coroner Kerry Benninghoff, who vowed to her mother that they would never stop looking for the killer.

And though her visit had been brief, had Dawn stayed it would have been like she had lived here all her life.

*

It was 6:20 a.m. on the cold and misty Wednesday of March 24 when the northbound motorist heading up the hill of the Route 26 bypass toward Interstate 80 spotted the figure lying across the mound of dingy snow on the shoulder.

There, face up and stark against the white, was the corpse of a girl. She was thin, about 5-foot-5, and had what would later be described as a "Nordic appearance."

Her eyes were blue. She had a light mole under her nose and shoulder-length strawberry blond hair that was tied in a ponytail with a black band. She wore a gold wristwatch, two thin gold bracelets and a colorful, oversized sweater. She was wearing undergarments but was missing pants and shoes.

The body had apparently been there only a few minutes, for another driver who had passed by a little while earlier had seen nothing.

Police were summoned and the area was cordoned off.

The victim had been dead roughly since the evening before. Tests were later done to check for sexual assault, but as of last week, the results still weren't in.

There wasn't much else to go on. She probably had been killed elsewhere. So, as State Police Sgt. Jeffrey S. Watson put it, the body became the crime scene.

Trooper Madden, a Brooklyn native and former high school history teacher, was called at home that morning and assigned the case. The sweater and the two pairs of socks on the victim's feet suggested she was from the Northeast or Midwest. He calculated how far someone might reasonably drive in about 12 hours, and focused his probe within a circle described by that range.

But it was slow going. There were hundreds of missing persons around the country, and many who fit the victim's general description. Police figured she was probably right-handed, in part Madden said, because she wore her watch on her left wrist. Her mother later said that was correct. Plus it looked as if her teeth had been well cared for. So she did not appear to be a vagabond.

Here, investigators believed, was somebody's daughter. But who was she?

*

Weeks went by with scant progress. There were leads near and far and likely prospects, but they all eventually dried up.

Along with other moves, it was decided to take a picture of her, put it on an information flier and see if anyone might recognize her.

But she had been through hell and it fell to Mondock, 31, the mortician at Wetzler's where her body was being kept, to try to re-create as best he could how she had looked in life.

It was hard on him. Mondock, who is the size of a linebacker and volunteers at three local fire companies, has kids of his own - girls, 1 and 3, and a boy, 7. This, too, was "somebody's child," he said.

But he had 10 years of experience, much of it gained in this small, picturesque Centre County seat where many people know him, and he took pride in his often difficult job.

He would do his best.

"When it's somebody's kid, you always try your hardest," he said. "You do for everybody. But this was a special situation. We felt that since she was brought to Centre County . . . we wanted to take care of her."

"Here, you take care of people," he said.

As he washed the girl's hair with antiseptic soap, then with the conditioner, and then dried, combed and brushed it, he kept thinking about her death.

"I just couldn't imagine," he said. "It's just like throwing somebody off on the side of the street like a piece of garbage. Especially somebody's child."

Plus, he said, "she's a pretty girl, a pretty girl."

He wondered constantly who she was.

"Everybody said, 'She looks like somebody around here.' Everybody had the idea that they knew her," he said. "To me she looks like she could be anybody's daughter, everybody's daughter."

"If it was my child," he said, "I'd want somebody to take as much care of her as I think we" did.

*

On Monday, May 3, the police finally got a break. They learned that a girl matching the victim's description had run away from the custody of the Elan School, a juvenile center in Poland Spring, Maine, on March 21.

Investigators asked for her dental records from the center, a 33-acre institution that has treatment and education programs for about 130 troubled
adolescents from around the country. The records were sent and on May 5 forensic dentists Richard Scanlon and Brian Christian compared them with X- rays they had taken of the body of the girl.

There, on the lower jaw, on the third molar from the back on the right side, was a shallow filling that was exactly the same in both sets of records.

The school's missing child was Dawn Marie Birnbaum.

She had been at the school for 18 months, said Sharon Terry, the assistant executive director, sent there by the state of Indiana.

She had "many, many difficulties," Terry said, but had participated in the programs, worked toward getting her high school degree, and had reached a point where she was permitted to go on outings. She was scheduled to depart the center in June, but authorities in Maine said she had been lobbying for an earlier home leave.

She had run away from the school before. Last year, she and another girl had been reported missing early on the morning of April 7. Dawn remained at large for 43 days. She was finally discovered the afternoon of May 20 in a mall in Auburn, Maine, about 10 miles east of the school.

On Sunday, March 21, Dawn and five or six other youngsters had been driven to the movies in South Portland, down on the coast, about 25 miles south of the school, Terry said.

The youngsters were dropped off and were to be picked up when the movie was over. Several films were being shown at the theater that night, among them one called Homeward Bound. Sometime after being dropped off, Terry said, Dawn ''made the choice of leaving."

She was not there when it was time to go back. A little after 9 p.m. police were called. Dawn's description was teletyped to other police: The brown suede jacket, light blue pants and black shoes she was said to be wearing would not be found with her body three days later.

A few miles from the theater, Interstate 95 runs south and north. And 300 miles south is the coast-to-coast ribbon of Interstate 80 that runs the width of Pennsylvania, passing a few miles north of here.

Somewhere between South Portland and here, bound for who knows where, Dawn met her death.

"She was a very likeable girl," Terry said, "a very likeable kid." Many children her age feel "invulnerable," Terry said, "and think that nothing will happen to them."

In Dawn's case, she said, "the percentages ran out on her."

"It's just a real tragedy."

Back in Pennsylvania, there was a sense of satisfaction - "relief," Mondock called it - that they finally knew who she was. "It felt good to find out who she was," Trooper Madden said. "I'll feel 100 percent better when I find out who the hell killed her."

The FBI was called into the case because of the victim's age and the possibility that her interstate journey might constitute kidnapping. The bureau already had been asked to help form a profile of her killer.

Now the question is, "What happened between the 21st and the 24th?" said State Police Sgt. Watson.

"When? Where? How? Who?" he said.

"Why?"



Illustration:MAP



MAP (2)

1-2. Bellefonte, Pa. (The Philadelphia Inquirer / ROGER HASLER)
Janice Harrison (None--webmaster)
January 2nd, 2009
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"I did not know this girl, but reading her story was heartbreaking. RIP sweet girl🙏❤🙏"
Luann Duffy
February 7th, 2019
"I did not know this girl, but reading her story was heartbreaking. RIP sweet girl🙏❤🙏"
Luann Duffy
February 7th, 2019
"<3"
K H
December 26th, 2018
"God bless you and keep you."
Marcus Stewart
October 3rd, 2018
"Flying with the angels 💕"
Karen Craig
September 26th, 2018
"No child deserves this kind of end. Dawn might have been considered troubled, but at least she lived her too short life vivaciously and on her term. Rest in peace."
May 6th, 2018
"I will never forgetyou Dawn you are one of the sweetest kindest gentlest friends I've ever had. Rest well my friend that's hot."
Michelle Trevino
April 16th, 2018
"GOD BLESSED U DAWN! HE DEFINITELY MADE SURE he was held accountable 4 causing an end to YOUR short life! But God sought forth 4 U to be up there w/HIM ... U are safe now!! One of God's cherubs! (HE DEFINITELY watches over HIS BABIES)"
Eden Smith
November 19th, 2017
"I always think about you and your very short life.i think you deserve more,yes.always...."
Mdou Bh
November 19th, 2017
"we will always love you.........."
akram hammad
July 9th, 2017

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