ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Inside Jehovah Evangelical Lutheran Church in St. Paul hangs a simple plaque. It’s in remembrance of the 1981 day care Christmas program, where children’s joy would so horribly turn tragic.
“It changed the city,” said Kathy White, the aunt of Cassie Hansen.
Her niece was only 6 years old when she was abducted from the stairwell leading to a church restroom. Hansen was with her family attending a Christmas program for her younger sister. She got up to go use the restroom and was never seen alive again. Police found the child’s body the next day in a dumpster.
Bringing the child’s killer to justice nearly cost Dorothy Noga her life.
“He said he was coming to cut my throat,” said Noga, who now lives in Florida.
Cab driver Stuart Knowlton confessed his crime to Noga on Nov. 11, 1981. She then went to police and became a key informant in the case and, at times, attempted recording their conversations.
Days later, Knowlton became enraged and came to Noga’s workplace and viciously attacked her with a knife.
“I told her to open the door, and while I was doing that to open the door, he shoved the knife straight into my neck,” Noga said.
She was bleeding profusely and managed to stumble away. Fortunately, help was just seconds away when police officers arrived.
“The paramedics told us that there’s absolutely no way in the world that this woman ever should have lived,” retired St. Paul Police Officer Jim Groh said.
She did, and the crime was later solved with her help. Knowlton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Now, 36 years later, Noga and three of the retired officers who came together on the case got their long overdue recognition. At the department’s western district with Hansen’s family in attendance, the three officers and Dorothy Noga stood for the honor.
“This photo was always on my bulletin board, along with my kids, so you never forget,” retired police sergeant Rick Klein said.
It was the quick actions of former officer Pat Scott that saved Dorothy from bleeding to death after the attack. She survived that attack and her testimony at Knowlton’s trial was crucial to his conviction.
Scott says she’s the true hero.
“Without her, who knows how many little girls that monster would have gone on to kill?” he said.
Knowlton died in prison in 2006.
As for Cassie’s family, Wednesday’s reunion was bittersweet, yet a much deserved tribute to those who went above and beyond to bring her killer to justice.
Published at Thu, 14 Dec 2017 05:00:09 +0000