Almost immediately the Georgia Department of Human Services began getting calls. Four times between November 1998 and January 1999, investigators documented black eyes, knots on the girl's forehead and bruises on her head, ear, arms and bottom.
The investigations all were closed as unfounded because workers were persuaded by the Nixons that Jessica suffered from an unexplained "blood disorder" that caused extensive bruising.
"Jessica is clumsy and falls a lot," the parents told Georgia investigators.
Despite that, a child welfare doctor, Janice Loeffler, ordered the Nixons to have Jessica tested to confirm the "bleeding disorder." When the Nixons did not have the testing done, authorities reopened the investigation.
"Dr. Loeffler felt strongly that if child did not have a blood disorder, the marks were abuse," a May 14, 1999, report states.
When blood tests showed nothing was medically wrong with Jessica, Georgia authorities formally accused the Nixons of physically abusing Jessica. On June 25, 1999, Sarah and Richard Nixon signed a "safety" plan, agreeing to "use non-harmful forms of discipline."
A second plan signed two months later read: "Mr. and Mrs. Nixon will not leave any marks (or) bruises on Jessica."
In fact, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report, issued during the criminal investigation into Jessica's death, notes: "By signing the form, both Sarah and Richard agreed with its findings."
But the bruising never stopped:
* On Aug. 17, 1999: Georgia officials were told Jessica had a bruise on her face and nose, "which supposedly happened while she was playing with a McDonald's toy." Jessica also had bruises on her stomach, ribs and both sides.
* On Sept. 7, 1999: Carisa Clark told investigators that Jessica "has black eyes all the time, busted lips, her forehead swells up, and she has a knot on the back of her head that has been there for almost a year."
A month later, Georgia officials closed their case on Jessica Miller, noting: "Mr. and Mrs. Nixon have moved to Live Oak (Fla.)."
It is not clear from the records whether contact was made with Florida welfare workers at the time.
FLORIDA HOT LINE
On Oct. 11, 2001, a Florida DCF case manager phoned the child abuse hot line to report that Jessica was at Shand's Hospital in Gainesville. She had extensive bruising that covered the entire right side of her head. A Lake City nurse called three days later to say the bruises were suspicious, because Jessica had been hospitalized before, the previous month, for a bruise that began on her vagina and over several days, expanded to cover her entire pelvis.
Two more calls were made by Jessica's paternal grandmother on Oct. 17 and 18, 2001:
"When Jessica is with her father, she is a happy, outgoing child. When with the mother and stepfather, she has sadness and fear in her voice," Sally Miller said.
But in an Oct. 17, 2001, report entry, a Child Protection Team official wrote there was "no indication" Jessica's injuries were inflicted by another person. The notation also said, however, that a "fairly extensive" blood workup showed Jessica suffered from no blood "abnormalities" - other than anemia, which would not explain the bruising.
The investigation was closed Feb. 21, 2002 - more than 100 days after it first was opened - because doctors with the Child Protection Team were still weighing the Nixons' claim that Jessica suffered from an unexplained blood disorder, one that could not be found after "several tests" were administered.