"That's one of the things that hurts me the most," she said. "People want to... speculate, and think bad things about me."
Yet Florida state policy dictated that Thompson's children couldn't ride the school bus, because the family lived less than a mile from school.
"That makes no sense to me," said Thompson. "You're making my child walk in a jungle of monsters every single day, walking home from school."
Within days, police had accounted for the whereabouts of all registered sex offenders in that area. But Diena Thompson couldn't shake the feeling that the killer was still nearby, and watching.
"Every person I see, I'm in my mind, 'Hmm, I wonder,'" Thompson said.
Watch the full story on "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET