The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Dead girl identified in Calif. may have link to PTC


Police say they have identified a girl who was found murdered three months ago in Santa Ana, Calif., and may have previously lived in Peachtree City.

Hanna Denise Montessori, 15, was found in the middle of the street with head trauma by police officers responding to a call at 6:45 p.m. Jan. 19, said Sgt. Carlos Rojas of the Santa Ana Police Department. She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead, Rojas said.

Police believe Montessori had run away from a group home in Cobb County in September 2003.

The only link to Peachtree City, however, was an acquaintance of Montessori, who didn’t know her name but told police she recalled Montessori saying at one time that she used to live in Peachtree City.

The acquaintance came forward after seeing media accounts of the incident that included a photo of Montessori, Rojas said.

The tip led Santa Ana police to speak with a sergeant with the Peachtree City Police Department, who got the photograph circulated in Georgia which ultimately led to Montessori being identified, Rojas said. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department also assisted in the process, Rojas said.

Peachtree City police checked several years of local high school annuals in an attempt to determine the girl’s identity before it was learned she used to live in Cobb County, police said.

The girl’s photograph was also published on the Web site for the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, police said.

Rojas said Santa Ana police are hopeful that Montessori’s identity will lead to further clues in the case, which is still being actively investigated.

“It’s a very big break,” Rojas said. “Obviously it opens up the possibility of getting more leads and information we can look into.”

The department is hopeful that new information will lead them to Montessori’s killer.

When the informant told Santa Ana officers that Montessori once told her she used to live in Peachtree City, “we actually didn’t think it existed,” Rojas said.

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