When Alison Galvani graduated from kindergarten in the summer of 1982, her mother took her to the musical "Annie" to celebrate. Then they went to Golden Gate Park for a picnic, spreading out a sleeping bag with white and yellow egrets on a green background. Alison played with her "Annie" doll.

Her mother, Nancy, had just filed for divorce, and she and Alison had moved into a residential hotel in San Francisco's seedy Tenderloin. Alison's father, Patrick, remained in the family's Victorian in Pacific Heights, one of the city's priciest neighborhoods.

Days after the picnic, fishermen found Nancy's body floating in San Francisco Bay. She had been strangled and was wearing only underpants. Her killer had bound her ankles and stuffed her into a sleeping bag, tying it with rope and weighting it with a cinder block.

Alison was 5. She remembers being with her father after her mother disappeared and waiting for her return. She ran to the window every time she heard a car. She remembers the arrival of police officers. They swarmed the house.

She said she was shown a photograph of the sleeping bag that shrouded her mother's body. It was the one she and her mother had used for the picnic, sprinkled with yellow and white egrets. It looked wet.

Alison said she remembers peering through a window and seeing her father handcuffed in the street and put into a police car.

Then her father returned home and took her to Pier 39 to ride the carousel. She said she felt relieved, and told him how much she loved him.


Alison, now 37, said she had fleeting suspicions about her father as she grew older.

At her wedding, something made her ask him to walk in front of her up the aisle. She didn't want to have to touch him, but she didn't understand her revulsion.

In 2008, her father came to visit in Connecticut, where she teaches epidemiology at Yale University. She was a new mother, and parenthood made her yearn for her own mother and identify with her.

When her father held her infant daughter, she felt nauseated. She started an argument with him, ostensibly about waking the baby.

Then, she said, she blurted out: "You killed my mother."


Nancy, a social worker, and Patrick, a computer programmer, had met in New York, married and eventually settled in San Francisco. Both came from well-educated, upper-middle-class families, and Alison was their only child.

Two months before her murder, Nancy, 36, applied for a restraining order against her husband, accusing him of punching her and holding a pillow over her face. She told others he had tried to kill her, and feared he would succeed if she got custody of Alison, according to a private investigator's report prepared for Alison and an interview with one of the witnesses.

Patrick Galvani, who was three years older than his wife, opposed the divorce. He said in court records that Nancy was paranoid. She had been diagnosed with manic depression, but lithium stabilized her.

"I believe her current fears of me are related to her mental illness," Patrick said in a court declaration.

He admitted in the declaration that he had held a pillow over Nancy's face during a fight, but said he did it to quiet her screams and "deaden the noise for the neighbor."

On Sunday, Aug. 8, 1982, Nancy was at the residential hotel preparing a communal dinner with her fellow tenants. Alison had gone to her father's for the weekend.