Honoring a Fallen Angel

A group of volunteers resurrect a memorial to a Sonoma County girl whose life was cut short


Fifteen years ago, Georgia Lee Moses’s life was cut short when she was strangled, then left under a tree near the Petaluma Boulevard South off-ramp.

The murder was never solved, although someone put a metal, three-dimensional angel on the spot to honor the 12-year-old girl. But the coverage of the killing was in many ways skewed, with Georgia Lee, who was Black, portrayed as a runaway who had brought about her own demise.

Consequently, many forgot about Georgia Lee and the small memorial lay surrounded by weeds and trash.

Then last Christmas, Maureen McGuigan, who owns the Mail Depot, was listening to the radio when she heard Tom Wait’s song “Georgia Lee,” which the Sonoma County balladeer penned in honor of the girl.

Read the lyrics here and listen to the song on the right

McGuigan had known Moses when she lived near her family in Rohnert Park. Georgia Lee’s mother was developmentally challenged. The father was long gone. All of which meant Georgia grew up quickly and fell in with the wrong crowd.

After the DJ said the song was in honor of Georgia Lee Moses, McGuigan was deeply moved. 

“I’d heard the song before, but I never knew it was about her,” she said. Soon, McGuigan and friends Kit Lofroos and Dusty Resneck were trudging through the weeds near the off-ramp to visit the memorial. That's when they discovered that the iron angel was about to be removed by Caltrans in preparation for roadwork.

That prompted the group to try to find a new spot for the humble memorial.

“She was just a kid, but she never had a chance in life,” McGuigan said. “Her naked, strangled body was found on the side of the freeway, like a piece of trash…The memorial is a great opportunity for people to think about domestic violence and violence toward children, which is so prevalent in our society.”

On Saturday, November 3, the group will hold a small re-dedication ceremony at 3:30pm at City Hall, where the memorial has been moved.

“This kind of stuff happens every day around the world, although we want to pretend that it doesn’t or that it doesn’t affect us,” said Kit Lofroos, a Petaluma massage therapist who brought a proposal to the city to have the memorial installed on English Street. “We couldn’t save her, so I wanted to save the memorial and do something to keep her memory alive.”

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PetGirl October 25, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Bless her heart and may her soul be happy in heaven.
Concerned Citizen October 25, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I hope that case is being worked in an effort to find her killer. There's been many advances with Forensic Science, and it would be great to get this case solved so Georgia's family can receive some type of justice. It's a wonderful thing that Ms.McGuigan is doing too!
PetGirl October 25, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I totally agree and have thought about her hundreds of times as I would drive by that location. I encourage detectives to give this child the respect she deserves and reopen this case and find her murderer. That person still walks the streets.
Alta V. Gardner October 25, 2012 at 03:17 PM
The Children's Village of Sonoma County, the brain child of Lia Rowley, was born from the death of this young girl. Georgia was definitely an angel in helping Lia, a retired CPS employee, give her all to have the Village constructed to keep orphaned/distressed siblings in a safe environment. Lia's efforts in establishing the Village have led to many civic awards and more importantly many happy and safe chldren. God Bless Georgia and God Bless Lia's insight into the possibilities. Alta V. Gardner
Karina Ioffee October 25, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Thank you, Alta, for this information. Any idea how many runaway children there are every year in Sonoma County? Also, if you know of other resources besides The Children's Village, please share them with our readers.
Ace October 25, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I never drive by there without her entering my mind - so sad. Can't put it in to words but we need to look out for all children, as parents and as a community.
brian October 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM
I play that song each December in Georgia Lee's memory during our fundraiser for the Children's Village.
Elizabeth Clary October 26, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Huge kudos to Maureen, Kit and company for making Petaluma take notice. And what a perfect place for a memorial to a person whose life ended tragically and way too soon. May the sculpture serve as a reminder to Petaluma's leaders and citizens that this community is made up of many children, all of whom matter.
Joan Cooper October 28, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Please tell us how to donate to the CHildren's Village and if donations are being sought for the relocation of Georgia's Angel ALl of us must protect all of the children... those of us who knew Polly and remember that it was this time of year that she was taken...we must protect the vulnerable from the predators.
Karina Ioffee October 29, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Thanks, Joan. For more information about the Children's Village of Sonoma County and to donate or volunteer, click here www.thechildrensvillage.com/help.html


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