Springfield, OH -- Nov. 1, 1999 -- Phree Morrow cried when her cousin braided a favorite doll's hair, afraid the knots wouldn't come out.
When she started to awaken from the first series of beatings at the hands of her abductors, she asked for her daddy.
Phree was 12, and she was killed a short time after uttering those words on Aug. 22, 1992.
Beginning the next day -- the day after Phree and her best friend, 11-year-old Martha Leach, were abducted, raped and slain while on their way to Martha's house from a downtown bakery -- police and prosecutors embarked on a seven-year investigation to find all six of their attackers.
The girls were inseparable. They went roller-skating together every week, listened to music, talked about boys, had slumber parties and went to the bakery almost every day for doughnuts, their families said at the time.
Springfield Police Chief David Walters said he cannot estimate the hours spent on the case. Clark County Prosecutor Stephen Schumaker said the investigation's cost in dollars and the emotional toll on this city of 71,000 residents is incalculable.
After the last of six convictions in the case came last month when William K. Sapp was sentenced to death, Schumaker packed up 14 file boxes and put them in storage. It is the first time in years he can get into and out of his office easily, without passing piles of paper relating to the case stacked on every surface and lining the floor.
Although Sapp's appeals are likely to continue for years, investigators at last have the satisfaction of knowing that all six members of the group are behind bars.
Sapp is the only defendant not related to one of the others through blood or marriage. Described by authorities as a serial killer, he was with the five other people -- at least four of whom were described during trials as mentally disabled or "slow learners" -- who prosecutors say preyed on the girls.
The defense centered on a claim of out-of-control retaliation; Phree supposedly called Jamie Shane Turner a name.
During Sapp's trial, Schumaker described how the girls were taken in a van to a house, raped, beaten and killed.
The Morrow family says it was Wanda Marciszewski who admitted telling others to kill Phree when the child awoke from a beating and asked for her father. She is serving a 10- to 25-year sentence at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.
Her husband, David Marciszewski, pleaded guilty in 1995 to two counts of aggravated murder and is serving a life sentence in the Warren Correctional Institution.
John Balser, David Marciszewski's stepson, is serving a life sentence for aggravated murder at the Mansfield Correctional Institution.
Jamie Shane Turner and Christopher Bibbs are first cousins. Turner pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and rape. He is serving a life sentence at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.
Bibbs was found guilty of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse. He is serving two years at Orient Correctional Institution.
Using DNA evidence, prosecutors convinced the Clark County jury that heard Sapp's case that, although the five other people played a role in beating the girls to death and hiding the evidence, it was Sapp who raped them.
Sapp also admitted killing Belinda Anderson, whose body was found buried in a Springfield garage in 1995.
The incidents consumed -- and in some cases destroyed -- lives beyond those claimed in the original crimes.
"(Sapp) didn't just take Martha, Phree and the Anderson girl -- he took my mom, too," said Phree's aunt, Paula Stoyanoff, describing the turmoil it caused the grandmother who helped raise Phree.
During the years following her granddaughter's death, Patricia Dannaker first fantasized about killing those accused of slaying her granddaughter. Later, after developing cancer, she chain-smoked and raged, getting as little as two hours of sleep each night.
The stress took its toll on investigators, too.
"I remember particularly Christmas at the graves, or on holidays and days off, driving by the crime scene and seeing officers parked there going over it in their minds wondering if there was anything we overlooked," Chief Walters said.
Sapp's defense argument that he was abused as a child and has a profound hatred of women won him no forgiveness from Phree's family.
Phree also had a tough life, Stoyanoff said. Phree's father, Benny, had custody of the child but she spent most of her time with his mother, Dannaker.
Stoyanoff's sister, Cindy Smith, said the people who murdered Phree might as well have killed Dannaker, too. "Phree was different from Mom raising her own kids. . . . The sun rose and set on that child."
Phree's younger cousin, Natalie Stoyanoff, who relatives say was always at her side, won't visit the cemetery. And she won't speak about what happened to Phree -- only about the good times they had together.
Natalie's mother, Paula, remembers how Natalie and Phree planned for the day when they could take care of their grandmother.
"Before, Natalie and Phree would take rides in the country and pick out a house that (they) were going to buy someday and take care of Mamaw in a lounge chair by the pool."
Her family saw potential for that. Phree made good grades, Stoyanoff said.
Smith said during the investigation that police arrested some of the people involved in the murder, but released them.
Although they eventually were tried and convicted, there were times that Phree's grandmother plotted to kill them before they could go to trial, sitting outside one defendant's home with a baseball bat.
But cancer ended Dannaker's potential for vigilante justice, Smith said, explaining that her mother's cancer spread to her lower legs and she could not walk.
"Mom always said she wanted to die with (Phree)," Smith said.
Springfield Detective Sgt. Al Graeber died of cancer before Sapp could be brought to trial. In the last interview before his death, he said the case haunted him, and he wished he could live to see justice done.
"I'm not sure that he doesn't know," Walters said.
Walters was a captain during most of the investigation. He describes detectives and street officers alike sifting through items found at the crime scene, not knowing for years what might have been evidence.
He was especially proud that his department continued to investigate after the first murderers were tried, trying to find the man who matched the semen found on both girls.
"We never gave up, never stopped looking . . . we had sent a lot of people to be tested."
In all, 75 people gave samples for DNA testing.
Sapp was No. 75.
Already in jail on an unrelated kidnapping and sex charge, he was the final piece in the investigative puzzle.
For Schumaker and his staff, it's time to focus on budgets and paperwork. And personally, it's time for Schumaker to spend time with his family, who has seen him distracted by a case that consumed thousands of hours.
"A lot of times when you're with your family, you're not with your family," he said.
But whatever his loss, he knows there are those who suffered more.
"The entire process, for the Andersons and the Morrows and Leaches, has been particularly horrible," he said.
Smith agreed that she will never be whole again, but revenge at the state prison system's death chamber would be satisfying.
"Me personally? I would feel better if I could push the button myself."http://www.sonic.net/~msnyder/angels/Stories10.htm