The girl in the window – St. Petersburg Times

The girl in the window – St. Petersburg Times

Amazing investigative piece by two talented journalists of the St. Petersburg Times documenting the heartrending story of a seven-year feral child found in a dirty, roached-infested room, her diaper overflowing, weighing only 46 pounds and covered in bug bites.

The 6,500 word narrative, along with haunting photographs of Dani and her adoptive family, was printed on six ad-free pages in the Sunday Times edition, July 2008. What struck me was the fact that reporter Lane Degregory garnered a great deal trust from Dani’s adoptive family, in so much as they were willing to welcome her into their lives and share personal details. Even more interesting was the inclusion of the biological mother’s perspective and her assertion that part of her died the day Dani was taken away.

The piece is beautifully written, balancing the fine line between sharing the story of the abused child and compounding the exploitation inherent in her situation. Descriptive language, intimate details and the haunting reality draw readers in from the first words, “The family had lived in the rundown rental house for almost three years when someone first saw a child’s face in the window. A little girl, pale, with dark eyes, lifted a dirty blanket above the broken glass and peered out, one neighbor remembered.” Intrigued by the tale and captivated by prose like, “All night she kept popping up, creeping sideways on her toes into the kitchen. She would pull out the frozen food drawer and stand on the bags of vegetables so she could see into the refrigerator,” I found myself unable to stop reading until I had reached the 6,500th concluding word.

An significant online component has been included, with photographs and audio compiled in a multimedia feature that is astounding in its depth. Click here to visit the multimedia section.

Lane Degregory was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for her reporting.

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