As a little girl Pearl Nelson would listen to stories her uncle told her about the mother she never knew – how despite a troubled life of prostitution and drug abuse, Audrey Nelson delighted in buying presents for her baby girl, including a lamp that lit up their room with dragonflies. She’d been left in the care of relatives when she was 2, then, when Pearl was 13, her mum felt well enough to come back into her life.

“She turned her life around, and she was ready to be a mum again,” says Pearl. But on the 1989 summer day of their planned reunion in Mountain View, California, Audrey was a no-show. Her body was discovered several weeks later in a dumpster

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