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Now 15, the 'Girl in the Window' is featured on Oprah show (w/video)

Dani, then 12, has a brief interaction with friends Emily Burkett, 12, Bailey Brown, 16, and Emily's dad David Burkett (left to right) while running into one another at the Wilson County Fair in this 2011 photograph. [MELISSA LYTTLE |  TIMES]

Dani, then 12, has a brief interaction with friends Emily Burkett, 12, Bailey Brown, 16, and Emily's dad David Burkett (left to right) while running into one another at the Wilson County Fair in this 2011 photograph. [MELISSA LYTTLE | TIMES]


A girl whom Tampa Bay Times readers came to know as the Girl in the Window was back in the news Sunday when she was featured on Oprah Winfrey's "Where are they now?" show.

In 2005, police discovered a feral child in a filthy house in Plant City, surrounded by roaches and feces, unable to walk or speak. The Tampa Bay Times followed the girl, Dani Lierow, as a Fort Myers family adopted her three years later, when she was 9.

The story by Lane DeGregory, "The Girl in the Window," won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2009. That same year, Dani's family also appeared on Oprah's show.

Now, they live on a 50-acre farm near Nashville, Tenn., where Dani has horses, goats, alpacas, dogs and chickens. She is 15 and headed to high school where she will be in a special education program. She has learned to follow directions, use the bathroom by herself and brush her teeth. But she still can't talk.

Her dad, Bernie Lierow, told DeGregory before the update aired that, "The best change, I guess, is that she hardly ever has a tantrum any more. She's learned to get on the computer at school and can find her way around that a bit on her own, play games with her friends that way and all.

"And she's using the devices to help her communicate more, pressing buttons on the speak board to show what she needs. The changes are really gradual now, but she's still growing some and learning new things.

"She'll be spending summer at a camp for special needs kids and playing with the animals here on the farm."

Want to know more?

Read the original story: tbtim.es/girlinthewindow

Read our update: tbtim.es/dani

Read about the death of her caregiver: tbtim.es/garetwhite

Now 15, the 'Girl in the Window' is featured on Oprah show (w/video) 06/18/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 10:14pm]

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