NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — She’s known as the Keeper of the Fairy Tree.
Norfolk Resident Lisa Suhay is getting credit for alerting law enforcement that a convicted child sex offender was in the presence of children at the Fairy Tree.
She was the one who, through text messages, realized who she was communicating with, then she called the police.
During the pandemic, the tree located on Longwood Drive became a refuge to get away from the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
The Fairy Tree sits in a beautiful garden area in Suhay’s front yard, where thousands of children have come every year since the start of the pandemic.
Not only children, but students from nearby Old Dominion University also come here to write notes to the Fairy — and then the fairy writes back.
Then, the people who have written notes come back and get the responses from the Fairy, full of happy thoughts.
But it turns out convicted felon Michael Earl Dannenberg was also hanging around the tree too.
That is, until Lisa Suhay figured out who he was,
“I saw him out here on more than one occasion when there were young children here,” Suhay said. “Once children came when he was already here, he made no effort to leave, but when they came here with parents, I saw him make a hasty retreat.”
At first, she was not suspicious.
“I was not, and I’m angry at myself for that,” she said.
However, it did not take long for Suhay to catch on.
“Something was off,” Suhay said. “He came in on a motorcycle and had a brown teddy bear with his arms zip-tied behind on the passenger seat. When I said to him, ‘Well that is new that you ride with a teddy bear,’ he said, ‘I always have to have a teddy bear with me. Children love them.’”
The way he said that gave Suhay the creeps. She started doing what good neighbors do — looking out for neighbors.
She also was interested that a man showed up in her yard and was wandering the garden.
Suhay said Dannenberg was constantly changing the way he looked.
“I saw him out here on more than one occasion when there were young children here,” she said. “Once children came when he was already here, he made no effort to leave, but when they came here with parents, I saw him make a hasty retreat.”
She kept trying to get his name, and in a text, he finally admitted name his name — Michael Dannenberg,
“As soon as I got his name, I was Googling,” Suhay said. “I only came up with one, and it was middle name of Earl, so, I said, ‘Is your middle name Earl by any chance?’ and he texted back, ‘Did the fairies tell you that name?’ And I said, ‘Your name came up in a registry — the National Sex Offender Registry.”
He was caught.
Suhay called nearby ODU police. Norfolk Police came, and so did probation officers. He was re-arrested and is in the Virginia Beach Jail. He declined comment and an interview request.
“He knew he didn’t belong here,” she said. “He knew children came here. He saw them, and he saw all the letters from the children.”