For four months she was the "girl no one knew." Her body had been found in November hanging on a fence off Interstate 70 about 25 miles northeast of Washington, and had gone unclaimed in the Baltimore morgue despite widespread publicity and the efforts of police to identify her.
Less than two weeks ago she was given an emotional burial by a Baltimore funeral home, and more than 2,000 people turned out at St. Pius V Catholic Church to mourn the death of an anonymous child who, as one eulogist said, "slipped through the cracks."
Yesterday, working from a name supplied by a Washington school teacher who recognized her as a former pupil, the adolescent who was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery as "Unknown 80-91, Child of God" was given a name: Vincentia Adu-Kwame, born in Ghana on Dec. 9, 1966.
The 13-year-old was identified as the oldest of four children belonging to Gabriel Vincent Adu-Kwame, a 35-year-old native of Ghana who has been listed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service as an illegal alien since Dec. 4, 1980.
Adu-Kwame and his wife, 35-year-old Ernestine Adu-Kwame, whom police believe is Vincentia's stepmother, had vanished from their house in Hyattsville when police arrived Friday morning to question the father for the second time this week.
At a press conference yesterday in Ellicott City, Howard County Police Chief Paul H. Rappaport said no charges had been filed against Vincentia's parents, but "a lot of questions are unanswered."
"We want to know how she got out to I-70," Rappaport said. "We don't know whether we have a crime or not."
The parents were last seen Wednesday at their home in the 1800 block of Keekoe Avenue, according to police. On Tuesday investigators spoke to the father, who, according to sources, denied the dead child was his and hired a lawyer.
Vincentia had last been seen Nov. 6 at Brookland Elementary School in the District where she was a new student in the sixth grade, according to principal Shirley Hammond. Two days later, a pair of hunters stumbled across her hanging by her red jacket on a chain-link fence.
Adu-Kwame told the detectives he had taken his daughter out of Brookland and sent her back to Ghana, according to sources. But police were able to positively identify the girl Thursday by matching fingerprints taken from the body on the fence with prints on a math book Vincentia has used.
Police and acquaintances are speculating that the family might have fled the Washington area for the same reason they might not have come forward to identify their daughter -- fear of being deported.
Gabriel Adu-Kuwame first came to the United States in 1972, and a year later obtained a student visa. Immigration authorities ordered him to leave the country in July of 1976 but he "dropped out of sight," according to an Immigration spokesman.
He was relocated four years later, and on Aug. 4, told to leave the U.S. by Dec. 4.
During the last 3 1/2 years, Adu-Kwame has been regularly attending mass at Sts. Paul and Augustine Church at 1425 V St. NW, occasionally taking his 5-year-old son Michael and his 8-year-old daughter Rosemary.
His infant son Ralph Derick was baptized Jan 31, 1981, at another Maryland address listed to the Adu-Kwames -- the 2500 block of Kirkwood Place, west Hyattsville. (The family also had a Washington address in order to send Vincentia to school in Washington, according to Howard County police.)
"He brought his family over to the United States in stages," said Sts. Paul and Augustine Pastor Raymond E. Kemp. "Gabriel had a great interest in African students here in this country. We had a party with him at the church to celebrate Ghana's independence day."
Father W. D. Salisbury, director of the lay ministry program at Josephite's Seminary, where Adu-Kwame is enrolled, said Adu-Kwame had called Tuesday to make an appointment for Wednesday of this week but never showed up, which was unlike him. "I don't know how I'd feel if I were in a foreign country and some disaster happened," Salisbury said. "I might panic. But from all the letters in our files, Gabriel was a hard-working person of good character and good spirits."
Adu-Kwame had worked at the Ghana embassy and was employed as a delivery man for the Central Delivery Service in Silver Spring where he was recommended as "reliable, punctual, dependable and always in good spirits" by operations manager Emil Brother.
Last week, at a funeral paid for by a baltimore undertaker after police had released Vincentia's body from the morgue, Adu-Kwame's daughter was laid to rest in a gold and white casket with a bouquet of poises in her hands. Speaking of the young woman who then had no history or past to speak of, Father Joseph Benintende said, "She didn't speak to us with words. She didn't speak to us through her actions. She cried out to us through her death."