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Dead teen identified as Montessori descendant

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A teenager slain three months ago and found dumped on a street has been identified as a runaway from Georgia who is a descendant of famed educator Maria Montessori, authorities and family members said.

Hanna Denise Montessori, 15, of Peachtree City, Ga., remained unidentified until published news reports led a local acquaintance of the victim to contact homicide investigators, saying the girl was from the Georgia town, police Sergeant Carlos Rojas said Monday.

Her identity was established with the help of Georgia authorities and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Montessori was the great-great-granddaughter of Maria Montessori, the early-20th-century Italian educator who developed the ''Montessori method" of teaching that emphasizes individual thinking, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Her killing remains unsolved. She was found lying in a street Jan. 19 and was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police said at the time that she had head trauma, but the precise cause of death was not released.

Officials in Georgia said the girl disappeared from a group home in September.

Her father, Derek, told the Times the girl had been troubled since he and the girl's mother divorced several years ago. He said the family is planning legal action against Georgia officials, contending that they failed to follow the proper steps to report the girl missing.

''The system failed so badly," he said Monday. ''And the system cost a 15-year-old girl her life."

In December, Hanna was cited in Los Angeles for loitering. Police took her fingerprints and a photo and released her. Her father said that if Georgia authorities had entered information about her case into national databases, she would have been sent home and be alive today.

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