Kelli Moye has become the pretty young face of America’s culture of death. Standing trial for the cold-blooded murder of her newborn daughter, she has provided us with a test case for Middle America. Should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned, states and municipalities will once again be free to pass legislation regulating abortion. How will the weakest and most vulnerable fare in America’s heartland? Kelli Moye and the people of Boone County, Illinois, have provided us a chilling answer.

Poplar Grove, Illinois, some 14 miles northeast of Rockford on Highway 173, has a population of only 750. Fields of corn and soybeans surround the small town. Tractors heading to the fields often clog the highway in the fall as lines of cars make their way from Rockford to Edwards’ Orchard on the northeast side of town, near North Boone High School.

Kelli Moye was a sophomore at North Boone in the winter of 1996 when, on the frigid morning of February 9, she gave birth to a daughter in her bedroom. After her mom and dad, Jim and Sue Moye, went to work at a nearby auto factory, she cleaned and dressed her six-and-a-half-pound daughter in a worn sleeper, wrapped her in a towel, and scampered through the next-door neighbors’ yard. She carefully covered her tracks in the snow with imprints she made with her father’s boots. Then, between a snow-covered tractor and the neighbors’ back porch, she lay her daughter down for eternal sleep in the subzero wind.

When the neighbors found the newborn two days later, she was frozen solid; her body heat had melted a halo in the snow around her. The townspeople were shocked and outraged. They gathered at the Poplar Grove United Methodist Church, down the street from Kelli’s home. “What name do you give this child?” asked the Rev. Mary Lundgren of the United Church of Christ of Belvidere. “Angelica Faith Grove,” replied the standing-room-only crowd. They named her after the town, and because of the cherubic look on her tiny face captured in press photos. Kelli and her parents were among the congregation.

Moye’s parents deny knowing that she had been pregnant. Her teachers at North Boone said she looked normal. She told the police that she hid her shape with baggy and oversized clothes. Not even the baby’s father (Kelli’s boyfriend, Michael Mirshak) knew she was expecting.

In the months after the baby was killed, Moye caused a ruckus at school, accusing other girls of being the mother of the abandoned child. Meanwhile, investigators cleared suspects connected to the neighbors’ house. The truth would remain hidden for three-and-a-half years.

Having graduated from North Boone, Moye and Mirshak were cohabiting in Poplar Grove. One night, Michael—who has over a half-dozen arrests for petty theft and burglary—beat up on Kelli. Retreating to her old bedroom in her parents’ home for solace, she showed them her bruises. When Michael came to get Kelli, the Moyes threatened to call the local police. Michael told them that they would regret calling in the law, making cryptic references to their daughter’s dark secret. Kelli confessed her sin, and a tearful Mr. Moye called local police, who arrested both Kelli and Michael. After questioning, Mr. Mirshak was released on a $5,000 bond.

The press descended upon the tiny hamlet. ABC News, CNN, and all of the national papers reported on the “cheerleader-thin” mom who left her baby out in the snow to “die, apparently of exposure” in the freezing weather. A trial was set in Belvidere, the seat of Boone County, southeast of Rockford.

Miss Moye, on the advice of her public defender, Azhar Minhas, pled not guilty. Prosecutors, calling her a “cold, calculated killer,” charged her with Murder One. As the trial unfolded, her attorney argued that Kelli (now 20) had a learning disorder, that she was a “scared kid,” and that “At the time, she didn’t know any better.”

When Kelli Moye took the stand, she tried stoically to characterize the events of that frigid night and morning. She had cut the umbilical cord with a pair of household scissors. She claimed that she hoped the neighbors, despite the howling wind, would hear the baby’s cries and rescue her. The prosecutor responded, “Why didn’t you just have an abortion?” Moye replied, “I don’t believe in it.”

Mirshak, serving as a prosecutorial witness, expressed outrage to the media. “That was my daughter,” he said. Moye had cleared him, admitting to prosecutors that she had kept her secret even from him because she wanted to keep him as her boyfriend.

Meanwhile, the townsfolk of Poplar Grove began to repent of their longing for justice. “She’s suffered enough,” one kindhearted lady told reporters, referring to Kelli. Fearing a not-guilty verdict on Murder One, attorneys for the prosecution offered the jury the unthinkable option of involuntary manslaughter—which they quickly accepted, returning their verdict. After all, 300 citizens of Poplar Grove and surrounding areas had signed a petition, insisting poor Kelli had been punished enough.

A bewildered prosecution team insisted they would get an extended sentence of up to ten years for Moye—instead of the mandatory two to five for involuntary manslaughter. Judge Rosemary Collins handed down her sentence on September 6, 2000. What is the life of a precious baby girl worth to the people of Boone County? Four years. Actually, with time served and good behavior, Moye’s attorney assures us she’ll be out in less than one.

Now, when folks drive out to the apple orchard for some cider doughnuts and jonagolds, they pass by a small graveyard where you can find a black headstone that reads: “I was born healthy on a cold, winter day and then abandoned in a stranger’s back yard.” Buried alongside little Angelica is the soul of Poplar Grove and Boone County, Illinois.

As I watched each of the horrifying details of this story unfold over the past few years, I though about how I’d passed by that cemetery scores of times since I was a kid, on my way to the orchard. I am also familiar with North Boone High School, having been a substitute teacher there. It was at North Boone, in the spring of 1995, that I vowed never to sub in public schools again. I had been given the assignment of showing a video of John Malkovich in The Glass Menagerie to the English literature class. One of the boys had snuck into the room ahead of time and popped an “adult” video into the VCR. Fortunately, during the lunch hour, I attempted to preview The Glass Menagerie, thwarting the potentially horrifying moment. My vow, however, came not then, but when I hauled the guilty party down to the principal’s office, along with his tape. I don’t remember the boy’s name or the principal’s, but I’ll never forget the principal’s response: “I’ll give it back to him at the end of the day.”

“I’m sorry?” I protested, as the boy giggled.

“Look,” he said, motioning to the boy to go back to class. “You’re just a sub. You should expect this sort of thing. Just make sure they don’t kill each other in there.” I left his office, red-faced and angry, and went right out the door.

When I learned about the young girl from Poplar Grove, it occurred to me that I might have had Kelli Moye in one of my classes that day. Whether I had or not, it all made a little more sense to me, having witnessed the chaotic atmosphere inside the school.

I wish I could say that overturning Roe v. Wade is the answer to the abortion tragedy. But no law can civilize the hearts of people in tiny farming hamlets such as Poplar Grove, let alone the more degenerate, larger urban centers. No law can make up for parents who marinate their children in our sex-drenched popular culture or refuse to shun their daughter when she decides to shack up with her boyfriend. Laws cannot counter the influence of 15 years of indoctrination in the degenerate public schools of America’s heartland—especially those with high test scores, low crime, and small class sizes, which make sure they “leave no child behind” when it comes to destroying their souls.

Although Kelli Moye will probably emerge from her cell in a year, Angelica Faith will remain consigned to the ground until the Last Day. May those who value her memory set their face like a flint against the culture, making sure they sharpen the arrows in their own quivers first.