The circumstances surrounding the case of a toddler beaten to death in 2009 by her caretaker in LaGrange County will be featured this week by a national television newsmagazine.
The Tribune has reported extensively on 16-month-old Alissa Guernsey's beating death while in the care of her mother's cousin, who a judge released from prison after serving only 77 days.
That judge, Circuit Court Judge J. Scott VanDerbeck, recused himself from the case shortly after a Tribune series last fall pointed out comments he had made about knowing the cousin's family.
But this will be the first time Alissa's story will reach a national audience -- partly spurred by a large online interest in the case.
investigative producer Charles McLravy in New York and reporter Lisa Guerrero in Los Angeles said in a telephone interview Friday they were part of a team that made several trips to Indiana to report the story.
But despite the fact VanDerbeck has recused himself from both the criminal and civil cases involving Alissa's death, experts have said Shaffer's sentence cannot be altered, and she cannot be charged with a higher crime in the baby's death because of constitutional protections against "double jeopardy."
The idea that Alissa was apparently failed by so many has not set well with an outraged online audience whose followers have consistently called and written to LaGrange County and state officials and media outlets.
The largest such site -- BabyAlissaCries4Justice with nearly 111,000 "likes" -- has witnessed dramas of its own in its year of existence but was successful in persuading "Inside Edition" to act.
"The attorney general of Indiana is saying, 'We can't open this case, it's up to the prosecutor,' and the prosecutor is saying, 'It's a double jeopardy thing,' " McLravy acknowledges. Still, "you never know how people are going to react."
Guerrero hopes that if nothing else, the report raises awareness of child abuse in communities across the country.
"So many people are going to look at this and feel passion and rage," she says. "We definitely know it will cause people to feel passionate about the issue of child abuse."