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October 29, 2012 10:16 PM

Classmate: O'Connell Was Just An Ordinary Girl

Sioux Falls, SD

Grammar and punctuation errors were corrected.

A former classmate is talking about Moeller's victim. Jenay Hallickson has children close to the age she was when Becky O'Connell disappeared 22 years ago. She remembers O’Connell as a fourth grade classmate at Hawthorne Elementary and says she'll never forget O’Connell’s May 1990 abduction.

“What I remember is coming home from school, and my mom calling, and she said, ‘don't leave the house.' And when I saw it on the news, all I could think about was, 'my friend, my friend, what happened to my friend?’” Hallickson said of that day.

And time has not diminished her memory of the brown-haired, pig-tailed friend. More than 20 years later it has affected Hallickson's own parenting.

“My kids don't go out of the house unless I can see them down the street. I have to know where they are.” Hallickson said.

Most children hardly remember their fourth grade friends. But Hallickson isn't like most; she's done more than remember.

“We played together, had recess together. She was just a nice girl, just a regular nine-year-old girl,” Hallickson said.

She even saved a portrait of her one-time art class partner.

“I try to throw it out, and I think, ‘What am I doing?' I should just throw away these old fourth grade art projects. And I just can't throw her away,” Hallickson said.

So Becky O'Connell will stay with her classmate, now a mother herself, who says time hasn't made her forget.

“We remember Becky, not as a victim, not as the girl who was murdered viciously, but we remember her as a girl and as a friend,” Hallickson said. “That's what I think is important.”

O'Connell's mother, Tina Curl, and her husband will be at Moeller's execution Tuesday. She raised the money to come from New York where the couple now lives. Tina Curl has previously said the execution will bring Becky O’Connell "justice.”

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  • Sioux Falls, SD

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