By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – The grandmother of a dying girl broke down while filling out a police report.
“I can’t take it any more,” Rebecca Rose said. Not for the first time, Rose left the Trenton Police station in tears, her report incomplete yet consistent with the nightmare that has clouded her for years.
Police are investigating claims made by Rose and other neighbors that Jennifer Petkov – known as the “Devil of Detroit Street” in online infamy – has struck again.
Earlier this year, Petkov was ordered to move from Detroit Street, and to have no contact with Rose and her family, including 8-year-old granddaughter Kathleen Edward. Reports claim that Petkov may have violated her probation by posting threatening online messages.
If true, the report was the latest chapter of alleged cruelty and taunting beyond most people’s imaginations. In 2008, Petkov posted on a social networking page images of then 7-year-old Kathleen, a neighbor girl dying of Huntington’s Disease. The picture included a superimposed skull-and-crossbones.
Petkov also posted images of Laura Edward, Kathleen’s mother who died of the disease in 2009 at age 24, doctored to show her lying in the arms of the Grim Reaper. When she died, a truck owned by Petkov and her husband, Scott, was outfitted with a coffin and paraded through the neighborhood.
Along with her online taunting, Petkov was sentenced in February after attempting to run another neighbor down with her vehicle. She was given 18 months probation for attempted assault, orderered to undergo psychological evaluation, substance abuse evaluation and anger management counseling, and to have no contact within a five-block radius of her Detroit Street house, which she was ordered to vacate. Under terms of the plea agreement, any violation of these terms would result in Petkov spending 93 days in Wayne County Jail.
Petkov’s attorney, Nicole Castka of Clinton Township, declined to comment when contacted.
Police are investigating two possible probation violations: Neighbors claim that Petkov remains a frequent visitor to her former house, and last week Rose told police that new harassing messages were posted on a social networking site. Recent posts referred to Kathleen’s eventual death: “Detroit St. Party, When that kid dies, cause boys and girls it’s to happen,” and “Dead and gone, only a few more hours till party time. I’m going to visit a grave and take a p—.”
Petkov reportedly denied posting the messages, and told police that someone was using her name online. Petkov and her husband are under Personal Protection Orders prohibiting them from sending harassing messages or communications to Rose.
Support for Rebecca Rose and Kathleen Edward went international with a social networking page entitled “1 Million Against Jennifer Petkov.” The page has more than 8,000 online friends, and messages include compassion for a little girl and grandmother along with harsh statements for the Petkovs.
Some comments invite vigilante actions against the Petkovs, yet last week Rose posted on the public page a request for a civilized response.
“I know people mean well,” Rose wrote. “But I do not want anyone to do anything to the Petkovs or their house. If you want to help, then help us find a cure for Kathleen! And help me get the laws changed.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])