9-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford was last seen alive on February 23, 2005 by her grandparents and father when they tucked her into her bed. Jessica’s alarm was already set for 5:30am the next morning giving her enough time to get ready for her middle school classes. However, the next morning Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford heard the continuous sound of her alarm and realized his daughter was no where in the house. While family, friends, and police searched for Jessica she was across the road living through an unimaginable hell that shocked the entire nation.
A massive search for Jessica Lunsford commenced with a police command post set up outside the Lunsford trailer. It was not known at the time that Jessica was alive and across the road in a neighbor’s trailer being held captive by a sexual predator. In this trailer the 9-year-old was sexually assaulted, locked in the closet, starved, murdered by suffocation, and buried (perhaps alive) besides the trailer steps. Police focused their attention primarily on Mark Lunsford and his father, interrogating and accusing them of knowing the whereabouts of the little girl.
Once arrested John Couey admitted to abducting and killing Jessica, putting her inside two garbage bags, and burying her body outside behind the trailer. Police also found out that Couey has had previous sex offenses on his rap sheet, but was not properly being tracked as a sex offender by Florida (or any other state).
John Couey received the death sentence for his depravity, however he died of rectal cancer before being killed by the State. Jessica’s father Mark Lunsford launched his own campaign of promoting Jessie’s Law, which mandates a minimum sentence for sex offenders (adjusted from state to state) as well as other requirements such as proper sex offender tracking. The following documentary, Jessie’s Dad, is amazing and will outline more of the case and the legalities of Jessie’s Law.