Feral child profiled in the St. Petersburg Times to appear on Oprah
The newsroom here is buzzing over feature writer Lane DeGregory's just-completed appearance on a taping of Oprah Winfrey's talk show centered on Danielle, the subject of Lane's amazing story The Girl in the Window.
Lane appeared via the Skype videoconferencing system from our own newsroom for the show; rumor has it the episode may air sometime next week.
Danielle's adoptive parents, their 10-year-old son, and a child psychologist who had only met Dani that day were in the show's Chicago studio. Producers pre-taped a segment with the Plant City police officer who discovered Dani, touring the home where she was found.
Lane electrified our readers back in July with the tale of Dani, who was discovered in a home filled with waste and debris in 2005, a feral child who had never been to a school, couldnt talk and wasn't even clothed.
Turns out, lots of people from the area who participated in saving Dani will be part of the show, including the former Dept. of Children and Families worker who served as her case manager, the emergency room physician at Tampa General Hospital who treated her, the University of South Florida child psychologist who first examined her and the Hillsborough Country Circuit court judge who served as her guardian ad litem.
From what I hear, Dani herself won't be on the actual show, though she was offstage in a "green room" waiting area for guests. And while we're all excited at seeing Lane make her national TV debut, its equally exciting to see such a poignant case get the kind of national platform only Oprah Winfrey can provide.
To jog your memory, here's a few lines from Lane's most excellent story:
"The police officers walked through the front door, into a cramped living room.
"I've been in rooms with bodies rotting there for a week and it never stunk that bad," Holste said later. "There's just no way to describe it. Urine and feces — dog, cat and human excrement — smeared on the walls, mashed into the carpet. Everything dank and rotting."
Tattered curtains, yellow with cigarette smoke, dangling from bent metal rods. Cardboard and old comforters stuffed into broken, grimy windows. Trash blanketing the stained couch, the sticky counters.
The floor, walls, even the ceiling seemed to sway beneath legions of scuttling roaches.
"It sounded like you were walking on eggshells. You couldn't take a step without crunching German cockroaches," the detective said. "They were in the lights, in the furniture. Even inside the freezer. The freezer!"