Dianne DeVanna was killed by her father and stepmother in 1978. Joanna Mullin was murdered last summer and her cousin has been charged with her slaying. This weekend, their communities will honor their memories and raise money for programs to prevent child abuse.
Joanna Mullin was 6 when she died on Aug. 5 in Weymouth. Her cousin, Ryan Bois, has been charged with her murder.
Dianne DeVanna was 11 when she died on Sept. 23, 1978, in Braintree, beaten to death by her father and stepmother.
Twenty-nine years and about 8 miles separate these two young girls, whose murders shocked their communities.
Those 29 years and 8 miles will be traveled this weekend by hundreds of motorcycles and cars as the annual fundraiser for the Dianne DeVanna Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect hosts the inaugural Joanna Mullin Motorcycle Run.
“People who remember back that far see (Joanna) as another Dianne,” said Patricia Clabough, program supervisor at the Dianne DeVanna Center. “They were both horrific deaths that didn’t have to happen.”
The Braintree Loyal Order of Moose will host the event. Coordinator Sean Maloney expects riders from lodges across the state.
“Joanna’s death was such a horrific event,” Maloney said. “It speaks right to one of our biggest causes.”
Moose lodges nationwide support Mooseheart Child City & School, a residential and educational complex outside Chicago that serves needy children.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. and bikers will go out in shifts, stopping at JP Greers Restaurant in South Weymouth, J&R Indian Head Pub in Hanson, the Braintree Moose Family Center and ending at the Weymouth Elks lodge for a cookout, music and raffles.
“It should be just a fun day,” said Maloney.
Half of the proceeds will go to the Joanna Mullin Fund. Joanna’s mother, Heather Mullin, said she hopes the fund will be up and running by the end of the summer.
The fund provides money to help families with children who are the victims of violent crime, including counseling and burial costs.
“We want to be able to help other families that have been through something similar,” Mullin said. “The community has been unbelievable in their support.”
The other half of the money will go to the Dianne DeVanna Center, which marks the 30th anniversary of her death this year.
Joanna Mullin was sexually assaulted and murdered last summer. Bois, serving a two-year prison term on an unrelated charge, awaits trial on the first-degree murder charge.
Dianne DeVanna was murdered by her father and stepmother 30 years ago. Her father, Sylvester DeVanna, died of a heart attack in prison in 1980 while serving a life sentence. His wife, Vincenza, served a 20-year term for manslaughter.
Liz Hoffman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.