This is a terrible case of a baby unwanted from before she was even born. It became a missing baby case for 7 years then as a family member broke the silence of baby Francine's death, the truth came out along with all the dark and sordid details. Ultimately baby Francine was used as a pawn for money and greed. She was nothing more than a meal ticket. When her usefulness ended, so did her life.
Her murder, her father James Meegan killed baby Meegan in which he shook the life out of her as she was crying. He was first charged with 1st degree murder than later a plea was entered as the intent, premeditation to kill baby Francine was undetermined. The mother plays a role in Francine's death that speaks of a callous, heinous act of depravity. Francine suffered for hours after the initial act of violence occurred. Her older sister witnessed Francine lying on the bed and later went on to testify in court what she saw those last moments. Incredibly enough, but understandable, this is what she had to say about her father, James Meegan, "I know this might seem like my father was brutal and killed her, but if you knew my dad you would know he's a very loving father."
There are many disturbing aspects to the killing of baby Francine. How she was given away for money but ultimately ripped from a loving home and the only mother she ever knew. How she was killed and let to suffer before ultimately dying, and how her body was burned and left in the desert with no care as if she was disposable...trash.
Story continues hereOn October 9, 1990 in Prescott, Arizona, a rancher, Alan Kessler ,and his son J.B. came upon a grotesque site. With arms outstretched as if reaching up to heaven, Alan thought he was looking at a doll, J.B. called out to his father that it was not a doll, it was a baby.
The baby had been burned and still visible on the baby were pieces of a red, white and blue outfit. Alan Kessler touched the baby which caused her skin to give and some fluid leaked out.
Alan Kessler rode to his ranch house and called the police. Six years would come and go before anyone knew who this precious baby girl had been and the circumstances which had lead to her being found in this unimaginable condition.
When the truth came out, the story was shocking. Born December 8, 1989 to James and Lillian Meegan, her name was Francine Lori Toni Meegan. From the very beginning, her parents knew they did not want her.
A couple that were friends with the Meegan's agreed to take the baby and to help them out financially in return. Valerie and Dennis Jenson had three boys already and wanted a girl. Valerie's doctors had told her it would be a health risk for her to have any more children. The Jenson's gave the couple $1,000. and bought them a car also agreeing to help them with a down payment on a new house. Money was demanded so much that it was soon over $30,000. that the Jenson's had shelled out. [
On September 10, 1990, the Meegan's were upset that their steady "income" of money from the Jenson's had stopped. The Meegan's went to the home of the Jenson's and made threats concerning their children while demanding to have Francine back. The Jenson's had no choice but to give her back to them.
James Meegan was once again out of work and had a broken leg. Francine was in her play pen crying. James Meegan headed towards the play pen and when he reached it, he grabbed Francine by the neck and shook her. Francine stopped crying and was now gasping for air. James took her to the bedroom and Lillian tried to perform CPR on her, however Francine was not responding.
Francine did not die right away, she suffered for hours and died as day was breaking. Her older sister Maria saw her on the bed and though her mother tried to make excuses, Maria knew that Francine was dead.
Lillian dressed Francine and her husband put her body into a suitcase and then placed it in the trunk of the car. They drove to Arizona to a relatives home and left their other children there. James and Francine then drove off alone. They drove to a deserted area and took Francine's body out of the trunk. James set her down on the ground and poured gasoline over her body. At this point, Lillian turned away not wanting to watch. James then lit a match and threw it on Francine's body.
I understand why Valerie Jensen gave up baby Francine, for fear for the well being of her own children. But the way I see it, Valerie was her baby too, after she took her into her home and accepted her as her daughter, this made her responsible too. She should have gotten the police involved at this point. Protecting baby Francine was part of taking on the responsibility of being a parent, something she agreed to do. Even if it meant that she might lose her, she may have been the key to saving this baby. Francine needed someone to fight for her. As much as I feel for Valerie Jensen, I cannot help but wonder if she will always regret not handling things differently. Sometimes, the only chance for hope, for survival for a child, is a person who decides to champion one who cannot defend themselves.Valarie Jensen explains that she and her ex-husband adopted baby Francine from their friends, the Meegans. Months later, the mother decides she wants her baby back, and if not that, then more money. When the Jensens refuse to hand over more cash, Lillian Meegan demands her child returned.
Valerie Jensen unwillingly hands over the baby. It is the last time she will see the child. It is not however the last time she will hear her. James Meegan calls Valerie frustrated that he could not console the baby. Valerie hears the child crying in the background. It is the last time she ever hears the baby.
Father to get new trial in daughter's death
ALFORD PLEA: Father of slain baby enters plea
16 years after girl's charred body is found, father eligible for parole.
Cold Case File: Episode #84 (The cold case episode is how I first learned of baby Francine. I highly recommend it but be forewarned, they show the actual site where Francine was found, body and all. Also, before autopsy pictures...very graphic).
I would have fought to keep you safe from harm baby Francine. Rest in peace sweet one.