Mary-Ann Tirone Smith’s memoir (Cameroon) inspires Connecticut Congress to help young woman

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64).


The following is an interview with Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon 1965-66) on NBC-CT, after the bill passed the House with a unanimous vote.

Bill Passes That Could Give Hartford Woman a Reward She Was Denied in 1953

A 2008 memoir Girls of Tender Age written by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith documenting the murder of an 11-year old girl and efforts to arrest her killer inspired the bill passed by the Connecticut Congress.

Lawmakers in the House recently voted to approve a bill to provide a reward to a woman in her 80s, who as a teen, helped get a murderer and sexual predator off the streets of Hartford.

Connecticut’s General Assembly unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that could give a woman a reward she earned nearly 70 years ago. House Bill 5088 was introduced to recognize and compensate Ms. Patricia “Pidgie” D’Allessio for her help in taking a sexual predator and murderer off Hartford’s streets in the 1950s.

Following the brutal 1953 murder of 11-year old Irene Fiederowicz in Hartford’s south end, police sought leads. A reward of $3,000 was offered. A teenager, who was assaulted by the same attacker only days before, came forward. She offered information to police that eventually led to the arrest of Robert Malm, but she was never given the reward money. On Wednesday, more than six decades later, a bill was voted on to remedy that, and it received unanimous approval.

“It was never about the money. It was more about the recognition that injustice was done and that we recognize that,” said Edwin Vargas, D-6th Dist., who introduced the bill.

“We don’t often get a chance to set right 70-year-old mistakes made by our state, and I’ll be proud to support the bill,” said Rep. Charles Ferraro, R-117th Dist.

The woman at the center of the bill is known by the pseudo name “Pidgie” D’Allessio, a false name given to her in the Mary-Ann Tirone Smith memoir, Girls of Tender Age, to protect her identity.

After being sexually assaulted by Malm, “Pidgie” offered police information that was initially dismissed, but later was verified and used to arrest and convict Malm.

Watching the vote of approval, Tirone Smith said, she wept.

“It brought justice for “Pidgie,” and that’s all I wanted,” the author said.

For Tirone Smith, the story is personal. Fiederowicz was a childhood friend and she considers “Pidgie’s” efforts to identify her killer heroic.

“Not only did she identify him in a lineup. She had to go in the room where the lineup was being held because they wanted her to hear his voice,” Tirone Smith said.

The book documents how “Pidgie” came forward, offering information to police that eventually led to the arrest of Robert Malm, but was never given the reward money.

Tirone Smith said the vote validates what “Pidgie” lived through then and carries with her today.

“I know that “Pidgie” and her family are going to be incredibly pleased by finally being honored,” Tirone Smith said.

Mary-Ann wrote recently:

“Here is the document showing Governor Lamont has signed the bill into law. Not only can a book change lives, but a book can also change the law.”
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon 1965-67has published nine novels and a memoir. Mary-Ann wrote the first Peace Corps novel in 1987, Lament For A Silver-Eyed Woman.
She lives now on a barrier island on the southwest Florida coast and is writing about another horrific crime. Her memoir Girls of Tender Age, centered on a crime, the murder of her childhood friend and classmate when they were fifth-graders.



Leave a comment
  • This is thrilling news. Mary-Ann, you did it!
    I hope they will include interest on the 3k.
    Probably not. But still…WOW!!

  • What a great contribution, Mary-Ann!!

    Also, to others, Girls of Tender Age is a significant piece of writing, and prescient in calling attention to this particular story.
    Brave writing, brave book, wonderful outcome…finally!

    Mary-Ann’s book should be on every to-read list! Go out and buy it; you will grateful that you did.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.