Marissa Kennedy was just 10 years old when she died last week. She died at the hands of those who were supposed to love, support, nourish and care for her. That statement alone is enough to create stunned silence.

We feel as if we have been hit in the stomach; our hearts beat a little faster and breaths come more quickly. Tears begin to fall with every new detail.

We may not have known Marissa, but we can almost feel the pain she endured. Torture, they have called it; battered child syndrome; severe abuse. We search for a name for it, that encapsulates all she endured in her short life.

We shouldn’t need a name. It shouldn’t ever happen.

We know she must have been so scared and felt so helpless. Who could she turn to? Who would help her? She even ran away once. She was small in stature, but very brave.

We desperately want to blame, as it is only human. If we can have a cause and someone to blame, we think we will better understand. We blame the parents, the social worker, DHHS, the teacher, the school, the neighbors, the sheriff, and the police.

Somehow it doesn’t help, because Marissa is still gone.

In 1985, Angela Palmer was put in an oven by John Lane of Auburn and she died. She was four.

In 1993, Tavielle Kigas was starved to death by her mother in Bangor. She was five.

When we knew about Angela we were horrified. And when Tavielle was discovered, we were in intense disbelief. And now we have lost Marissa.

Let us mourn this beautiful child and do more than just hope it never happens again. Let’s keep our eyes and ears open and speak for children who have no voice. If we even suspect a problem, we must report and let the investigators do their work. If you feel you are able, offer the family some help, support and resources; and report over and over and over again.

Since the fall of 2017, Marissa lived in the same 64-unit condo village, as I do. We never met. We never knew each other. We never spoke. We lived a half mile apart.

We Mainers don’t like to “stick our noses into other people’s business.” For all the Angelas and Tavielles and Marissas out there, we must change.

It may be no coincidence that Angela means angel and Tavielle is unique.

Marissa means Gift from God.

Marissa, may you finally rest in peace.

Carolyn Maunz
Stockton Springs

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