GoFundMe launched for cleanup of dumped boulders at memorial site for Joan Angela D’Alessandro

On Friday, Sept. 22, Ernest Van Den Heuvel was visiting the memorial sign for Joan Angela D’Alessandro when he noticed that about fifty boulders had been illegally dumped on the site.

The sign marks where 7-year-old Joan’s body was found on Easter Sunday, 1973 after being molested and murdered by her neighbor, Joseph McGowan.

“As I was driving by, I looked over to the side. I literally gasped because I knew that (those boulders) did not belong there… I was immediately angry,” said Van Den Heuvel. “There’s a sign. This is for Joan Angela D’Alessandro. Why would somebody dump there? It made me so angry.”

Since the murder of Joan, Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Joan’s mother, has been working to protect children through the foundation she created, the Joan Angela D’Alessandro Memorial Foundation. Despite the devastating story behind the marker, D’Alessandro hopes the memorial sign can be a place of peace for supporters of the Joan Angela D’Alessandro Memorial Foundation and anyone affected by cases similar to Joan’s.

“(It’s a) place where you can just settle your mind and think of Joan and think of keeping (the world) safe for other children,” said D’Alessandro.

When Van Den Heuvel, who is a supporter of the Joan Angela D’Alessandro Memorial Foundation, saw the boulders, he turned his car around and noticed something reassuring.

“Thankfully, as soon as I looked at the material, I was immediately relieved because it was just clean rock,” said Van Den Heuvel.

Though the boulders were heavy and difficult to move, this realization inspired D’Alessandro. Rather than removing the boulders from the memorial site, D’Alessandro, with help from supporters like Van Den Heuvel, hopes to use the boulders to enhance the area.

“We (created) a unique terrain design to place (the boulders) as naturally as possible and to incorporate them properly in a natural but unique way,” said Van Den Heuvel. “And (we want to) make the site more accessible and leave it more beautiful and spiritual.”

To accomplish this, the foundation needs to rent a mini excavator, purchase yards of dirt, pay for insurance and pay the workers who are aiding the project. It is estimated that this will all cost around $4,000. The foundation has started a GoFundMe, which can be found on their website, JoansJoy.com, to help pay for the costs.

D’Alessandro hopes that enhancing the memorial site will allow people to connect with Joan and remember her positivity.

“Joan had such a way about her,” said D’Alessandro. “She brought a spirit of freedom into this world. She was a free spirit, a free spirit that was down to earth.”

Rosemarie D’Alessandro herself has had many spiritual experiences at the memorial site. The sign keeps Joan’s memory alive and is a reminder of the positive changes that Rosemarie was able to make through Joan’s story.

“Her life was not going to be a life in a cemetery,” said D’Alessandro. “Her life had to be out there and you (can) see 50 years later what her life is still doing.”

Joan, aged 5

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