Carl Dorr spent 13 1/2 years trying to imagine the spot where his 6-year-old daughter, Michele, lay buried. Now that the remains of his child have been found, he is drawn to that place.
Yesterday, three days after Hadden Clark, the man convicted of Michele's murder, led police to the wooded spot in Paint Branch Park where he had buried the girl, Dorr visited the site twice.
"We just wanted to see this place again--it's special," Dorr said.
Clark was convicted in October of killing Michele and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He is also serving a 30-year sentence in the 1992 slaying of Laura Houghteling, 23, of Bethesda. Clark, who pleaded guilty in the Houghteling case, had led authorities to her grave.
But it wasn't until a fellow inmate asked Clark where he had buried Michele that the long search for her body was set in motion.
Since her disappearance in May 1986 from the back yard of her father's Silver Spring home, the burial site just off Route 29 south of Tech Road had been marked only by a discarded mattress that Clark used to cover the grave. After locating Michele's remains, police restored the site to its undisturbed condition.
But now Clark's hiding place for Michele is outlined in sticks, placed by one of the many people who have visited the site in the past three days. A white plastic bag on one of the sticks looks like a makeshift marker.
And in the rectangle, where someone has brushed away the carpet of fallen oak leaves, a small memorial to the dark-haired, dark-eyed youngster has begun to take shape. There are a half-dozen bunches of flowers, a ceramic angel, a crucifix, a stuffed bear and a Snoopy doll holding a heart. There's also a little yellow book of poems and a signed card that reads: "May God watch over you now. Rest in peace Michele."
"It's incredible what people have done," Margaret Dorr, Carl Dorr's wife, said yesterday.
It was a day for marveling at people's generosity. The couple had just come from the Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home in Silver Spring, where they made most of the arrangements for a funeral service for Michele on Saturday. The funeral home has offered to donate all of its services.
Carl Dorr had planned to meet Michele's mother, his former wife, Dee Dee Appleby, at the funeral home, where both had spent private time Saturday with their daughter's remains.
But Appleby was too overwhelmed by the events of the past several days to come to the funeral home, and so they made the arrangements during telephone consultations.
Dorr said that plans now call for the funeral home to open at 9 a.m. Saturday so the many people who have lent support to the search for Michele will be able to pay their respects. The service, for which final details have not been made, will be at 11 a.m. Police detectives involved in the 13 1/2-year search for his daughter will serve as her pallbearers.
Then afterward, the funeral procession will go to that wooded place, not far from the highway, where Michele had lain.
"We'll get out of the car, say a prayer there and then move on," Carl Dorr said.
Michele will be buried on a hill at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Prince George's County near Dorr's father, grandparents and other relatives.
This week, Dorr said, he plans to bury his mother's ashes near where Michele will be interred.
CAPTION: The site off Route 29 where Michele Dorr's body was found last week has become a small shrine.
CAPTION: Hadden Clark is escorted from police headquarters in 1998. He was convicted last fall of killing Michele Dorr, 6, in May 1986.