Anna Fox can't blind an assailant with a Nikon. We know that someone is coming for her and the suspense ratchets up as her tenant moves out and she is alone and seems to be preparing her suicide. I'm not about to go any further and spoil a really decent plot. I must say, however, that Daniel Mallory has said he suffers from bouts of severe depression and I believe him. This is one of the most realistic descriptions of the daily life of a depressed person that I've ever read, and as a character study it's great. And, yes, that epigraph is real and tells us all we really need to know about the book and the real plot line under the murder-mystery gilding.
When all is said, we understand who Anna is and we hope she does make it. Which is all there is to say about a fine examination of a very interesting woman who became very real to me. I do dispute some of her taste in film, though. Rope , Anna, honestly? Meanwhile, there's the Rear Window homage here with a bit of gender reversal. Anna obviously is Jimmy Stewart without the action, Dan the gorgeous tenant is the Grace Kelly pretty face without much to do in the story; there's the wisecracking physiotherapist and, while there's no modern equivalent of Thelma Ritter, Hollywood will find a wit.
The scriptwriter is already typing and, truthfully, doesn't have to do much. Find the right A-list actress to play Dr. Anna Fox, and the story is over. I'm hoping for Kate Winslet as the Woman in the Window and I hope they shoot it in glorious black and white. Margaret Cannon writes about crime fiction for The Globe and Mail. We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.
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Canadian airlines among carriers asking appeal court to quash new rules around passenger rights. Scheer calls on Trudeau to step up inspections on Chinese imports, consider tariffs. Her honey hair hung across her eyes. Bernie Lierow set the dessert on a wide, wooden table and walked toward her, arms outstretched. For a second, she seemed not to notice. The girl stared at him blankly. He had taken off this Saturday in September to surprise her, driven 90 minutes to her new home.
Slowly, Dani stood. And she outweighs him. Your kids grow up, and you have to let go. In the back of a run-down house in Plant City, officers found a skeletal child, curled on a moldy mattress, covered with maggots and flies. She had nothing on but a swollen diaper. Feces dribbled down her legs. Detectives determined that Danielle Crockett was almost 7. For years, she had been kept behind a closed door, in a space the size of a walk-in closet, alone in the dark.
Police arrested her birth mother, Michelle Crockett. She told them she was a single mom, doing the best she could. Later, she described a series of bad breaks that left her widowed, destitute and raising two teenage boys alone. Then, she said, she had a one-night stand and got pregnant. She thinks his name was Bob. But twice in , when Dani was around 4, people called to report seeing a little girl naked and starving.
In court, about three years later, Crockett waived her parental rights as part of a plea deal. She was sentenced to two years of house arrest, plus probation. She never went to jail.
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Dani spent six weeks in the hospital. She weighed 46 pounds. There was nothing wrong with her. Foster care workers called Dani a feral child — the first they had encountered. She had never been to a doctor or school. Never felt sunshine on her skin. She had spent all those years in solitary confinement.
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In , in California, a girl that scientists called Genie had been found strapped to a potty chair at age Doctors examined her, as others had the Wolf Boy, who, in , had wandered naked out of the woods near Paris when he was about 12 years old. Neither ever learned to communicate or take care of themselves. Those early years are critical. With Dani, no one had any expectations, but there was hope: Maybe she had been found early enough. The detective who discovered her just wanted her to live.
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The psychologist thought she would end up in a nursing home. The guardian ad litem wished she would be able to connect. The foster care worker prayed that she would be loved. By the time she was almost 9, she was still in diapers. She had terrible tantrums. Then she would shut down and fold into herself. To self-soothe, she sucked her fists and twirled Mardi Gras beads. She never cried. Or laughed. He and his wife, Diane, had five boys between them and wanted a daughter.
So did Anderson Cooper and The Club. A Nashville author wrote a book. Hundreds of strangers sent cards, prayers and donations, captivated by this abandoned child — and moved by the possibility that she could be saved. Calls to child abuse hotlines soared after the story. Contributions to foster care agencies increased. In the first week alone, inquiries about adoption quadrupled.
Potted ferns sway on the porch. Her bedroom is at the back, overlooking a field filled with hay bales. Six other residents, all older than Dani, live in the home with at least two staff. You look so pretty. Shannon Wilson is the only person Dani has ever let brush her hair. Wilson also shampoos her in the shower and convinced Dani to sit still long enough for a beautician to trim her thick hair into a chin-length bob. Mostly, Dani still ignores everything around her. Instead of sucking her fists, she scratches her arms.
She still squints sideways when someone talks to her. Workers at the group home have taught her to toss her laundry in the hamper. To make her own bed and put Snoopy on the pillow. And what does she love doing most, the girl who spent her first seven years confined to a dark, miserable space? Sitting on the front porch, or rocking on the swing out back.
He grabbed a cupcake from the tray, left the rest for the other residents. He held out his arm, which Dani grabbed, and walked her to the car. Here we go.
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For 10 years, Bernie tried. He and his wife adopted Dani in October and moved her into their house in Fort Myers. There, Dani lived with their youngest son, Willie, who was just a few months older, who taught her to swim and chew ham. The Lierows took Dani to the beach, where sunlight bleached her dark hair gold. They taught her to use the toilet. They enrolled her in public school, in special education classes, where she got private speech therapy five days a week.
They took her to horseback riding therapy, occupational therapy, church and countless doctors. She stopped having tantrums. Started sleeping through the night. The next summer, the Lierows moved to a farm in Tennessee, where Bernie rehabbed houses and raised goats. Bernie and Diane also took in foster kids — 15 teenagers in five years. Plus, the money they received for being foster parents helped pay the bills. Dani grew up with horses, chickens, alpacas and packs of Great Pyrenees puppies. She learned to slip on sneakers, climb into a tree house, fill the bathtub. But she raided the refrigerator regularly, smashing eggs and chugging ketchup.
Eat her hairbrush. We adopted her. She figured Dani had gone about as far as she was going to get. Diane wanted to put Dani in a nursing home, Bernie said. But he refused. By his account, for the next few years, he took care of Dani mostly by himself. He worked while she was in school, then spent the rest of his time getting Dani showered, dressed, fed.
When she hit puberty, Bernie said, Dani began to regress.
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He had to put her back in diapers. He had to padlock the fridge. In , after 18 years of marriage, he and Diane got divorced. But there was always so much stress, never any time they could be alone. No end in sight. And Bernie knows the statistic, which the USF psychologist confirmed: 90 percent of couples raising a child with special needs end up losing their marriage. Diane, 53, runs an antique store in Carthage now, about an hour from Dani. When I asked her just to talk about Dani, she declined.
Willie, 19, still lives with Diane. And then there were those times with the cops. Or to carry a year-old off from a carnival, screaming. One night, about two years ago, as Bernie was driving, Dani started thrashing around in the backseat, banging on the windows.
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An officer pulled him over and asked what kind of drugs he had her on. Was he kidnapping her? Bernie pleaded, grabbed her wrist and tugged. A stranger called police. When Dani turned 18, she became eligible for Social Security and Medicaid. Someone from the state called Bernie last December: A small group home had an open bed for a girl. Bernie agonized. Then he moved her in just after Christmas, with two trash bags full of clothes and toys.
The sprawling park is just down the road from the group home, rimmed by a grove of sweet gum trees. Frosting flecked her nose. He wiped her face and hands, led her through the visitor center, across a wide battlefield. She followed with her head bowed. When he paused at the edge of a cemetery with matching headstones, she gazed into the cloudless sky — and kept holding his hand. When she lived with him, she used to run away. They give her Risperdal to curb aggression, Clonidine to keep her calm, Benzodiazepines to stop anxiety. After a few minutes on the battlefield, she started hopping from foot to foot, twirling in circles.
Are you ready to pick out your present? Everyone who encountered Dani after her rescue said they still think about her.