Girl's story touches donors

Fund collects $21,000 for Rita Fisher's sister

July 04, 1999|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Two Reisterstown girls gave up their $5 allowance. Politicians sent $100. A California woman wrote, "I'm sending this in memory of all the hurt children -- including myself."

The Georgia Fisher Trust Fund, established in May for the sister of slain 9-year-old Rita Denise Fisher, so far has brought in $21,000 from more than 400 donors.

The outpouring of gifts -- accompanied by emotional letters from many of the donors -- was a pleasant surprise for Georgia, 17, who lives at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital and suffers from emotional problems after a childhood of abuse and neglect in Pikesville.

In a letter to donors, she thanked them for "helping me with all the badness."

"I am shocked you remember Rita, and that makes me feel really good. At night when I look at Rita's picture it makes me glow, and what you have done makes me happy."

After the conviction last year of Rita and Georgia's mother, sister and their sister's boyfriend for murder, one of the prosecutors in the case, James O'C. Gentry Jr., worried that Georgia, who is learning disabled, would be forgotten.

After taking the unusual step of establishing the fund, he said he is astonished by the generosity of people from around the country who sent money to support Georgia's housing, medical and educational needs once she turns 21.

"For someone to sit up in Wisconsin and write a check for $10 and mail it for a little girl they never heard of before is outstanding," said Gentry, who prosecuted Mary E. Utley, Rita and Georgia's mother, Rose Mary Fisher, their sister, and Frank E. Scarpola Jr.

They are serving sentences ranging from 30 to 95 years in Rita's slaying, which shocked the Baltimore community and prompted an internal review of the Department of Social Services for failing to recognize abuse in the home.

Most of the donations come from people who never met Georgia or Rita, including lawyers, doctors and elected officials. But several are from former teachers and others who knew the girls.

One donation came from Julie McKim, a nurse at Northwest Hospital Center, who treated Georgia immediately after Rita's death. Georgia was 15 and weighed 82 pounds when she was brought to the hospital, and her body, which was covered with bruises, was photographed there for Rita's trial.

McKim accompanied her donation with a letter recalling Georgia as being "so shy and frail" that the nurse gave her a "guardian angel bear so she would know and believe that there are good people in this world."

The day after an article appeared about the fund in The Sun, 12-year-old Lindsay Neirman of Reisterstown asked her father to drive her and her 13-year-old sister, Nicole, to a law office that was accepting the donations.

Lindsay said she gave up that week's $5 allowance to Georgia because: "I felt bad because her sister died. I wanted to give money because some people are less fortunate than me."

Donations ranged from several hundred dollars from Georgia and Rita's former schools -- Woodlawn Senior High and Winand Elementary -- to a $2 donation that came with a note saying that news of the fund "touched me very much and made me cry. I am old and only have my Social Security, but maybe this little gift will help her."

Gentry, who visits Georgia weekly, said she is somewhat bewildered by all the attention the fund has brought.

"She kept asking, `Why would people do this when they don't know me?' She was amazed. She said, `How do people remember Rita?' She was giggling.

"She was so thrilled that people cared."

Contributions to the Georgia Fisher Trust Fund can be made c/o Michael P. Smith Esq. 143 Main St. Reisterstown 21136.

Pub Date: 7/04/99

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