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Missing 5-year-old remembered in Russellville; monument planned

RUSSELLVILLE (AP) — Divers and search teams never found the body of 5-year-old Andrea Gonzalez when she disappeared in 1993, but the memory of the missing child has not been lost in Franklin County.

A Web page has been created in her memory and a monument to her is planned at the new county jail.

"By keeping it in the public's eye, we don't want anything like this to ever happen again," Sheriff Larry Plott said.

Andrea was reported missing from her Russellville home Nov. 20, 1993, prompting a search that involved more than 400 volunteers. It was called off when investigators suspected foul play, and eventually criminal charges were brought against the child's father, Paul Gonzalez, and stepmother, Kim Gonzalez.

In 1995, the stepmother changed her story, saying Andrea had not disappeared but died after being accidentally scalded in bath water. Kim Gonzalez said she panicked and tossed the body into waters at Upper Bear Creek Lake. Paul Gonzalez later said he disposed of the body in the lake.

With no body ever found, the stepmother was convicted of child abuse and served about four years before her release in November 2001. The father pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was released in 1997 after serving two years.

"This was a very unique and difficult case for everyone involved," Plott said. "We did have a trial but the body was never found."

Two Russellville women, Te-resa Mitchell and April Broome, have developed a Web page —
andrea — in the child's memory.

"We thought we could do a page to help keep awareness out there," Mitchell said.

She said it also was designed to promote domestic violence awareness.

"I can't stand the thought of any child being neglected or abused," Mitchell said. "We just want to raise awareness to the issue."

The Franklin County Domestic Violence Response Coalition also plans to honor Gonzalez, as well as an infant killed by a parent, with memorials.

The coalition will place a fountain memorial at the Red Bay Police Department in memory of 3-week-old Chance Waldrop, who died in September 2005.

Waldrop's father, Jodey Wayne Waldrop, was sentenced to death last week for killing the baby. The monument to Andrea will be placed at the new Franklin County Jail with an engraved picture of Gonzalez and the dates of her birth and disappearance.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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