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Dawn Semmler
Jessica Delatorre
Dawn Semmler and Jessica Rae Delatorre

8-year-old Jessica Rae Delatorre was described as a happy girl who loved to play with her brothers, draw and watch TV. On April 9, 2005 Jessica and her brothers, ages 4 and 11, were spending the night at their grandmother's house in South Dakota when she disappeared in the night. Sioux Falls police arrested the grandmother's live-in boyfriend on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and kidnapping.

Evidence suggests that while Delatorre's brothers were sleeping, the 41-year-old boyfriend kidnapped the second-grader, drove her to a spot off a gravel road just east of Fulton and raped and killed her. Authorities found the child's partially clothed body at about 2:00 p.m. under some trees at the site, about 65 miles west of the trailer park.

It wasn't until after the trial of her daughter's killer that Dawn learned that the grandmother's boyfriend had been under investigation for viewing on-line child pornography and communicating threats to other children online. Jones was found guilty and is serving life without the possibility of parole.

Dawn teaches a child with Autism at the school where her daughter attended and she finds this has helped her cope with her loss. Dawn believes her daughter's story may help the public and legislators understand the pervasiveness of crimes against children is committed to doing everything she can to prevent another child from suffering like her beautiful Jessica Rae.