Twenty-four years ago, Opal Horton, then 8, was riding her bike down the street with her friend Melissa Ackerman.
A man in a car stopped beside them and got out to ask for directions.
As Opal started to answer, the man grabbed her and tossed her into his car. When he went after her friend, Opal scrambled out of the car through an open window.
Opal hid as the man sped away.
Two weeks later, the lifeless body of Melissa Ackerman was found in a drainage ditch.
Today, Opal Horton confronted that man, Brian Dugan, as she testified at Dugan’s death penalty hearing for the murder of another child, Jeanine Nicarico.
Opal originally didn’t want to be photographed and since Illinois doesn’t allow cameras in the court room, it seemed that this was going to be a story without a photo. However, after returning home from the court house this afternoon, Opal was not very pleased with her rendering by the sketch artist so she allowed us to shoot her portrait.
HERE is a link to Ted Gregory and Art Barnum’s riveting story.
©2009 Scott Strazzante/ Chicago Tribune