FROM the cult-like following gained by shows such as Netflix’s “Making a Murder” to “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez,” Americans are at the very least interested in the concept of justice. That is to say, a majority of citizens when properly educated on a crime find value in holding responsible those who commit heinous acts.
This commitment to justice shown by our citizenry is why I am writing about Megan Jimenez of Merrimack and her unsolved homicide in an attempt to heighten awareness for a murdered child and to invite Granite Staters to seek out justice for a little girl.
On June 15, 1989, police in Merrimack responded to a call about 5:30 a.m. from Karen Jimenez, Megan Jimenez’s mother. The responding officer found 2½-year-old Megan unresponsive and not breathing at 15 Sharon Ave. in Merrimack. She was declared dead at the hospital later the same day. An autopsy determined Megan’s death to be a homicide resulting from long-term pattern of physical abuse. No suspects were ever identified or charged.
Homicide is the third leading cause of death for children between 1 and 4 years old in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A 2010 report on homicide trends in the United States from 1976 to 2005 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) concludes that “a parent is the perpetrator in most homicides of children under the age of 5.”
Furthermore, investigators “are more likely to identify a suspect if the victim is a child” in part because children almost always knew their killer. In fact, the BJS states that more than 80% of murdered 2-year-old children from 1976 to 2005 knew the perpetrator. The report goes on to say police charged or identified a suspect in 90.8% of homicide cases involving a 2-year-old victim, the highest clearance rate for any age group included in the study.
New Hampshire successfully convicted Katlyn Marin for the 2014 murder in Nashua of her 3-year-old daughter, Brielle Gage, and in doing so demonstrated the state’s ability to prosecute a case with strong similarities to Megan’s case.
Two main factors, however, potentially keep Megan’s case cold. First, did the Merrimack Police Department take an “open approach” when the responding officer arrived at the scene. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) guide for investigating child fatalities states the importance of approaching the investigation of child fatalities “. . . with the hypothesis that the child may have been a victim of maltreatment.” If the responding officer did not adopt this approach, critical time to secure the scene, gather physical evidence, and to interview witnesses may have been lost.
Second, the lack of direct and circumstantial evidence or witness testimony could make it challenging to charge Megan’s murderer. Katlyn Marin’s trial relied heavily on testimony from Brielle’s father against Marin. Investigators do not commonly find an eye witness to the actual event that caused the fatal injuries to a child.
Even after considering these factors, we still nonetheless do not know why investigative efforts into identifying who killed Megan have stalled. That does not mean citizens of New Hampshire cannot help solve Megan’s case in 2020. But, it takes a platform such as the New Hampshire Union Leader to give this cause a voice. We all should be outraged by the idea that a child can be murdered in New Hampshire without a Netflix documentary to provoke such a sentiment.
A sense of reverence and respect for justice does exist in each of us. We just need to come together, get a little curious — as well as a little angry — about what happened to Megan to give her case the breakthrough she deserves.