Ex-chemistry teacher who raped and killed 7-year-old girl scout dies in prison

A vile man who raped and killed a 7-year-old girl scout who knocked on his door to sell cookies has reportedly died in prison.

Joseph McGowan from New Jersey was handed a life sentence in 1973 after the murder of 7-year-old Joan D'Alessandro.

He died in early June while serving his time at South Woods State Prison in Cumberland County, reported NorthJersey.com.

The cause of his death has not been revealed.

Joseph McGowan lived three houses away from Joan D'Alessandro at the time of her murder. He was then working as a chemistry teacher at Tappan Zee High School in New York.

In a heart-breaking interview with News 12, Joan's mum Rosemarie described the final words she heard from her daughter: “She said, ‘Goodbye, Mommy. I’ll be right back.'"

According to horrific reports from police at the time, 6-foot-2 McGowan sexually assaulted, beat and strangled Joan to death.

She was wrapped up and put in his car, where he drove north to dispose of her body.

Joan was found on Easter Sunday in New York's Harriman State Park after McGowan admitted to her murder.

The New Jersey man tried to convince the parole board for release in 2009 with no luck. He would have had another chance at freedom in 2025.

A chance Joan's family is happy he no longer has.

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Speaking to the news outlet, Joan's mum said: "The first thought that came into my mind is now we could concentrate on the 50th anniversary of Joan’s impactful and loving legacy, which will be 50 years in 2023.

"I am thankful to all those who came together for the victories we had to make sure he would stay in prison and not harm any more innocent children or anyone else.

"He was not only a child killer, he was a serial killer in the making."

After the murder of her daughter, Rosemarie D'Alessandro assisted in creating "Joan's Law," which bans criminals who murder children under 14 with a sexual offence to have a chance at parole.

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A similar law was passed at federal level in 1998.

The law couldn't be applied to McGowan as it was passed after his sentencing.

D'Alessandro is happy she has been able to honour her daughter's legacy and make a positive change for the future.

“Joan could’ve been put in a cemetery and left there,” said D'Alessandro.

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“I didn’t want to leave Joan there.

"I wanted her to be remembered, to be known. She stood up for others, I was going to stand up for her.”

The news of McGowan's death has been a huge relief for the family.

D'Alessandro told the news outlet: “I’m so thankful he didn’t make it out.

“So this way no other children, no other adults can lose their lives and suffer a lot, and that’s what I’m so thankful for.”

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