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Autumn Wallace Was Only Nine-Years-Old When She Was Found Brutally Murdered In Her Home

The death of a child is one of the world's universal tragedies. The story of a life taken well before their prime both frightens and morbidly fascinates listeners, and continues to grab people's attention whenever, and wherever, it may occur. The same applies to the tragic death of Autumn Wallace, whose life was taken at just nine-years-old.

Though any child's death is senseless, the case of Autumn Wallace leaves a sickening aftertaste due to the motives behind the killing. In all, Autumn's life was taken from her for a mere $250.

Finding Your Daughter Dead

Unsplash | Anthony Fomin

The day was June 15, 1990. Linda Wallace, a mother of three returned to her Anaheim home after a day at work to find the unimaginable. After entering her home like any other day, Linda found the body of her nine-year-old daughter, Autumn. The young girl was lying on the bathroom floor, she had been brutally murdered and was found to have suffered from a total of 57 stab wounds.

Wallace's home had clearly been raided and looted as well. The family's belongings were strewn across the floor, and a number of items had been stolen. There was no sign of forced entry, which led investigators to believe Autumn had known her killer and had likely invited them inside.

In the coming months, investigators would make a key discovery in the case: Autumn had been killed by an 18-year-old named Rosie Alfaro, an acquaintance of Autumn's older sister. 

After being arrested under suspicion for Autumn's murder, Alfaro made a full confession to law enforcement. Rosie knew the Wallace family personally and believed they would be an easy target to rob in order to finance her drug addiction.

Autumn was home alone at the time that Alfaro approached the Wallace household. After Autumn answered the door, Alfaro asked if she could use the bathroom. Alfaro hadn't expected anyone to be home, and seeing that Autumn would be able to identify her to the police, she proceeded to murder her to ensure her silence.

According to her confession, Alfaro took a knife that was situated in the home's kitchen. After leading Autumn into the bathroom by requesting her help cleaning an eyelash curler, Alfaro attacked the young girl, leaving her with dozens of stab wounds. She then left Autumn to bleed to death on the bathroom floor as she sifted through the family's belongings.

Ultimately, Autumn Wallace was killed so that Alfaro could steal roughly $250 in goods.

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Maria del Rosio Alfaro: The Motive

Maria del Rosio Alfaro, also known as 'Rosie', had a childhood scarred with abuse, neglect, and suffering. At age 13 Rosie was addicted to drugs. The following year she was selling herself as a sex worker. By 15 she was a single mother.

Clearly, Alfaro's life was difficult from an early age. By the time she was 18, Alfaro had two children and was pregnant with twins. She was also heavily addicted to cocaine and heroin, which she used frequently.

Alfaro had been a friend of April Wallace, Autumn's older sister during high school. She had even stayed in the Wallace household for some period during her second pregnancy. Though overtime the friendship fizzled out, Alfaro was never too far away, living only three blocks from the Wallaces.

A friend of Alfaro's named Reynoso had recently been released from prison in June 1990. Reynoso had promised to sell drugs to Alfaro in exchange for a VHS recorder that the Wallaces owned. 

With a plan to steal the electronic device, Alfaro, her youngest child, Reynoso, and an unknown man drove to the Wallaces' house. The rest of the group waited by the vehicle as Alfaro approach the front door, and the rest, for all the wrong reasons, was history.

A Historic Sentence

Alfaro later changed her confession to state that she had been coerced into the murder by an unknown man. Alfaro argued the man had entered the home with her, and ultimately forced her to stab Autumn.

Forensic evidence denied this, as no evidence of any other individuals other than the Wallace family and Alfaro (including a shoeprint in the blood) was found in the home.

Alfaro was convicted of murder in the first degree and was eventually sentenced to death by both judge and jury. As of her sentencing, Alfaro was the third woman waiting on death row in the state of California. She was also the first woman to be sentenced to death via gas chamber and was the first woman to be given the death penalty in Orange County.

28 years later, Alfaro is still alive and serving her sentence.

Remembering Autumn

The strength of Autumn's memory has never faltered in the decades after her life was tragically cut short. Both Linda Wallace and the family at large have continued to share Autumn's story, as well as participate in legal proceedings related to the sentencing of Alfaro.

Speaking in 2015 of the trauma that has haunted the family for years, Wallace said: “You would think after all this time, you would get over it, but you don’t.” 

The loss of her daughter has led Wallace to keep her memory alive for more than a decade. 

It’s the only thing I can do for her,” Wallace said, “I need to be there to represent her because she can’t do it. I go to be with my daughter."

“The hardest thing for me is to see people now who are Autumn’s age. Not being able to see her grow up, that’s what bothers me the most," she said, "She would be 26 years old now. She could be married. She could have kids. That’s what I think about.”

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