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Sometimes she was placed in foster homes with her siblings. No one really explained why she was being moved, or what was going on. After Marie became a teenager, her years of upheaval appeared at an end. “I really loved the family and I made a lot of friends,” Marie says. Marie left Shannon’s home after a couple of weeks to move in with Peggy Cunningham, who worked as a children’s advocate at a homeless shelter and lived in Lynnwood, a smaller suburb about 15 miles north of Seattle. And I think the agency just thought, ‘She can handle it.’ So.” At first, Marie didn’t want to live with Peggy. Recognizing that Marie’s high school wasn’t a great fit — “pretty cliquey,” Peggy says — Peggy found an alternative school that was. She remained close with Shannon, who would joke that she and Peggy were raising Marie together — Shannon the fun one Through friends, Marie met Jordan Schweitzer, a high school student working at a Mc Donald’s. There was a particular photo that I really liked that she took.The first day of the first year of high school fills many students with anxiety. We went to the ocean, it was like 7 o’clock at night, I don’t know what we were thinking, I got in there and I jumped out and swung my hair back.” Instead of finishing high school, Marie went for her GED.The number of registered sex offenders compared to the number of residents in this city is near the state average.No one came to court with her that day, except her public defender. Galbraith suggested that she and the victim escape the icy gusts in a nearby unmarked patrol car. Most had been assaulted by a boyfriend, an old flame, or someone they had met at a club. Juries were hesitant to throw someone in prison when it was one person’s word against another’s.Between one-fourth to two-thirds of rapists are serial attackers, studies show. But there was a clincher: the woman in Galbraith’s case had remained as focused as possible during her ordeal, memorizing details. Careful, diligent, exacting — she complemented Galbraith.But Hendershot right away recognized the potential in collaborating and in using every tool possible. Her department was small — a little more than 40 officers serving a town of about 20,000. “I have no qualms with asking for help,” Galbraith said. She recalled the camera that the attacker had used to take photos. “Sometimes going a hundred miles an hour, you miss some breadcrumbs,” the same colleague noted.Maybe it was the attacker waiting for the woman to fall asleep? Hendershot turned to the database meant to capture serial rapists by linking cases in different jurisdictions. By late January, the detectives decided they needed to broaden their scope.But efforts to identify the vehicle’s owner failed. Hendershot asked one of her department’s crime analysts to scour nearby agencies for similar crimes.
Before he left, he showed the student how he broke in through a sliding glass door. He worked in Westminster, some 15 miles to the northeast. Shannon, a real estate agent and longtime foster mom, had met Marie through meetings for kids with troubled pasts and had sensed a kindred spirit. She didn’t have to be pushed out the door to school. “Our personalities didn’t match at first either,” Marie says. For me it seems like people read me differently than I see myself.” Peggy, who had received a file two to three inches thick documenting Marie’s history, was surprised at how well she was coping.A friend from 10th grade called to ask: How could you lie about something like that? She doubted herself, wondering if there was something in her that needed to be fixed. She was young, dressed in a brown, full-length coat. After cooking green mung beans for dinner, she curled up in bed for a marathon of “Desperate Housewives” and “The Big Bang Theory” until drifting off. The attack was so heinous; the attacker so practiced. Sitting close to her in the front seat of the car, Galbraith carefully brushed the woman’s face with long cotton swabs to collect any DNA traces that might remain. Before she left with a nurse, the woman warned Galbraith, “I think he’s done this before.” Galbraith returned to the crime scene. As she headed home that night, Galbraith’s mind raced. In that way, rape cases were unlike most other crimes.Marie — that’s her middle name, Marie — didn’t say anything. She had reported being raped in her apartment by a man who had bound and gagged her. The prosecution’s offer was this: If she met certain conditions for the next year, the charge would be dropped. on a wintry day in January 2011, Detective Stacy Galbraith approached a long, anonymous row of apartment buildings that spilled up a low hill in a Denver suburb. At around 8 a.m., she was jolted awake by a man who had jumped on her back, pinning her to the bed. A half-dozen officers and technicians were now at work. The credibility of the victim was often on trial as much as the guilt of the accused.She was 17, starting to stay out late, worrying Peggy, creating tension between the two. She could have stayed with Peggy, provided she abided by certain rules. Peggy, searching online, discovered a pilot program called Project Ladder.Launched the year before, the program was designed to help young adults who had grown up in foster care transition to living on their own. She was a little scared, but any trepidation was tempered by a sense of pride.