Woman Resurrects Case to Right Wrong Name

Woman Resurrects Case to Right Wrong Name

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Kim Johnson ReportingSeventy years ago a gruesome discovery gripped the nation: three little girls were found murdered in the Pennsylvania woods. The infamous case became known as the "babes in the woods". While the case has largely been forgotten, a Utah woman has resurrected it in order to right a wrong.

Beverly Hatch of Spanish Fork likes writing personal histories. As she was writing her father's history, she realized she needed to learn more about one of his daughters, a child named Norma Sedgwick, who was murdered at the age of 12, one of the three "Babes in the Woods."

The headlines in November of 1934 shocked and riveted the country. Three little girls found dead in the Pennsylvania countryside, suffocated by their father and stepfather Elmo Noaks.

Beverly Hatch has the tragedy well documented in a history she's written for her half sister, Norma Sedgwick, the oldest of the three little girls. Last fall Beverly's sister returned to Cumberland County where Norma is buried. The family was surprised to learn the people there had not forgotten the Babes in the Woods.

Beverly Sedgwick Hatch: "It's part of their lives. They all, they did so much at the time of the girl’s death."

The Great Depression was on then, yet the people of Carlisle, Pennsylvania scraped enough money to purchase beautiful caskets, white burial dresses, a cemetery plot, and headstone. And they turn out en masse to pay their last respects to three little girls they never knew.

Beverly: "Approximately ten thousand people passed the casket, and wore out the carpet of the Ewing Funeral Home."

A refurbished sign marks the spot where the girls were found. And every year local residents still honor the gravesite with flowers.

While Beverly says she's profoundly grateful for their continuing kindness, she felt compelled to change one thing: the death certificate. Beverly petitioned for a change to restore Norma's rightful name; she was buried under the name of the man who killed her, and on Tuesday a Pennsylvania judge granted her petition.

Beverly: “Oh I was, I cried. We were overjoyed.”

Just today Beverly sent off the paper work to change Norma Oaks to Norma Sedgwick on the death certificate. She says maybe she'll try and get the head stone changed too.

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