twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Momlogic Goes to Caylee's Memorial

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

The Anthony family says goodbye to Caylee with grace, dignity and just a little bit of denial.


Momlogic's Andrea: By the time I arrived at the Orlando Baptist Church at 7:00 AM, people had already started lining up -- although the service would not start for three more hours.

Just by looking at the line, it would be hard to guess this was a memorial for a little girl made famous only by her untimely death.

The crowd, a slice of humanity, was made up of couples, black, white, elderly, and a surprising amount of children. As I looked closer, it started to come into focus why we were there.

At one point, a woman showed up with a doll -- similar to the one Caylee had carried. Another passed a box of tissues down the line, asking people to help themselves. It seemed like a good idea. I took several sheets. A little girl had several giant Caylee buttons pinned to her jacket.

The lines formed early -- local news had predicted traffic and crowds -- but those masses of people never materialized. In the end, hundreds showed, not thousands. One young couple arrived at 4:00 AM, leaving their two young children with grandparents to attend the event, "We know what it's like to lose a child-- or almost lose a child," Amber told me. "Our daughter had a febrile seizure last month and she stopped breathing." The two arrived a day before the church service to visit the Caylee memorial on Suburban Drive where her remains were eventually found.

Lisa Camiolo from nearby Kissimmee brought along her three children, ages four, five and nine. "They know that Caylee died and that her mom is probably to blame," Camiolo said. She's even used the story as a way to teach her kids lessons of responsibility. "Sometimes you can't get your way, I tell them. Casey wanted a carefree life, my kids want a puppy -- it's a lot of work and you just have to do it." Camiolo believes a public memorial is important. "This story brought our community together," she says. "It was a community-wide search for her. We were a part of it."

I met Michele Murphy, a childhood friend of Casey's brother Lee. She had even attended Caylee's last birthday party, and had taken the day off work to attend. She told me she thought it was a bit odd that some people were attending a memorial for a child they didn't even know. "They want to be part of the circus,' she said. "Some of them are just voyeurs."

Right next to Michele was a woman already in tears. "I cried when they found her, like she was my own child," the woman in her 60s told me as she dabbed tears from her eyes. "I could never have children."

Emotions were running high ... and we hadn't even gone into the church yet.

When we were finally let into the massive Worship Center, images of Caylee were flashing on a huge screen -- and yes, of Casey, too. It was hard not to be simultaneously moved and horrified by the sight of Casey holding baby Caylee in her arms. The pictures could've been ripped from my own family album.

Then the Anthony family filed in. People I had seen everyday on television, now come to life. Just a regular family with a dark past and future.

One concern on everyone's mind was George Anthony, recently released from the hospital after a possible suicide attempt. How could a man on the brink of suicide endure this kind of event? One of the musical numbers performed was called "One More Day." It seemed to be one that could send him over the edge. The song laments the loss of a loved one and the regret of never getting to say goodbye ... hardly a message that would be good "medicine" for George. Cindy put her arms around her husband while the music played.

Lee Anthony was the first to officially speak. And the first thing out of his mouth was a condemnation. "Yield any judgment you already have," he pleaded. He also asked for continued help with the investigation. After the memorial, Brad Conway, speaking on behalf of the Anthonys, said Lee is indeed looking for more tips on who killed Caylee. To Lee Anthony, Casey Anthony is not a suspect.

During Lee's time at the podium, he referred to Caylee as C.M.A. (Caylee Marie Anthony), then kissed his hand -- where he presumably has a tattoo of her initials -- and said, "I will never forget the promise I made to you." I looked around at the audience -- many were in tears. At that moment, Lee Anthony was the best uncle in the world. An uncle without a niece.

The most moving part of the ceremony came when George Anthony told stories like any besotted grandfather about his little Caylee. "I can close my eyes and I can see her coming from her bedroom with her silly little glasses on, her beads, whatever it might be, to make me laugh. She was a comedian to me," he said. Then he shifted his focus to his Casey. "I miss my daughter. Please write her letters," he begged the congregation. "She deserves our love and prayers." George Anthony proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he loves his daughter unconditionally.

When it was her turn to speak, Cindy did the same. "It breaks my heart that Casey's not with us today to honor the child she loves so very, very much," she said. Speaking directly to Casey, she thanked her for giving her the "greatest gift -- Caylee." She said, "I love you, and I wish I could comfort you right now. ... Caylee was so much like you. She got your beauty and your compassion, and she got your spirit."

No one knows if Casey, sitting alone in a cell less than a mile from the church, heard her mother. But if she was listening, she would've heard a family desperately searching for closure.

As for me, when I walked back to my car, all I wanted to do was see my daughter. I longed to hold her and to cherish her --  because, as George Anthony said, "You can lose them in a second." And I had just seen proof of that.

See Also:

next: Reese Witherspoon is an Embarrassing Mom
67 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sally February 11, 2009, 2:40 AM

I was not moved by Lee’s speech. He didn’t mention Caylee at all. He was talking in code to his sister when he said CMA “I miss you. It has been so long since I saw you and held you. I am proud of you and I hope you are proud of me. I will keep the promise I made to you.” He made a promise to Casey that he would get her out of jail. He is proud of a murderer, a thief, a liar, a sociopath? I doubt if Lee had much of a connection with Caylee because he didn’t live at home and hardly saw her. He has a strong connection to Casey. Lee claims he is doing his own investigation and George and Cindy will join him because now the memorial is over they will need a new purpose. They will be on a mission to prove their daughter is not guilty of murder. Next we will see Cindy and George on the Today and Larry King with new tips and sightings about the kidnapper. It is normal to love your daughter and sister unconditionally but dysfunctional to be in denial and enable her to get away with murder.

Linda February 11, 2009, 9:03 AM

Thank goodness that is over with. But, Cindy who has run the show from Caylee’s conception will find another dramatic event to keep the attention she craves so much, on the family again. I think this is a dark story that we are getting ready to go into the “rabbit hole” on. This is the first layer of peeling back what really happened in that family a long time ago.
Thank you Lord for removing that innocent child from this bag of snakes coiled around each other.
Mark Klass said it the best…………it was a lovely ceremony to honor that child but never have I seen so much drama injected into an event. It is sacriligous to the life of that baby.

Jess February 11, 2009, 9:05 AM

Being in MN, I wasn’t able to attend the memorial. But, I know BS when I hear it. And all I heard was a family so deep in denial, that even at their granddaughter’s memorial, they are trying to convince anyone and everyone of Casey’s innocence. they may have played a few songs that Caylee liked, and had her pictures up there, but I guess I felt that it was all about Casey, again. When my grandma died, the funeral was about her. There weren’t people up front talking about how my aunt needed support and letters to make her feel better. They were remembering her, and what she was. A few short stories does not make things all better. Casey didn’t even listen to the service, she was with Bozo the clown. What a joke those two are. Whatever. I’m done, I’m out. I just can’t wait to see what the end result of the trial is going to be.

JosieS February 11, 2009, 9:08 AM

You provided a well written sinopsis of your experiences. I am sorrry for all of the people who shoot venomous comments at this family. As an f.y.i. to the peanut gallery, a couple who were ultimately cleared of a sex offense charge has successfully won a civil suit against posters on topix whom, they charged, slandered them in a public forum. So, if you are going to maintain that this family is ony in it for the money, I would suggest you could end up filling their coffers. You are gambling that George, Cindy and/or Lee could not possibly be cleared of an obstruction charge. What if, in exchange for testimony, the charges, if ever filed, are dropped? Then they can initiate a civil suit. Even better, Lee’s chance of being Caylee’s biological father is tremendously low. Once the DNA tests are released, he also has one whopper of a civil suit. Boards are not truly anonymous.

Gabe February 11, 2009, 9:14 AM

The Anthony family are a dysfunctional crew. Cindy had to say that she was coming down with a cold. Remember how, in the early days of Caylee’s disappearance, she talked about how little sleep she had gotten? I think she thought the whole service was about her. The water bottle on the pulpit says it all. The woman thinks she has just finished working out. I am surprised that Lee did not slap a beer bottle up next to his Mom’s water bottle
on the pulpit. He could not dredge up a tie for the service. He looked like he was on his way to a club. Poor George has to live with this bunch.
How low class can they all go?

shel February 11, 2009, 9:19 AM

I say incest is the root of this evil… I hope the uncover this in the trial - it would explain everything.

Linda February 11, 2009, 9:22 AM

Yeah, they are pretty low class Gabe. It comes in all different colors and dressed every which way. That group has been mentally ill for a long long time.

Linda February 11, 2009, 9:30 AM


Agreed. We don’t know half the story yet, but we will when the trial begins.

Gabs February 11, 2009, 9:41 AM

George and Cindy, who lived with and loved Caylee had absolutely no problem saying her name. Then we come to dear uncle Lee, who wasn’t around much, had such difficulty saying CAYLEE he had to refer to her as CMA. Give me a break!
He was talking to his sister (CMA), hoping she was listening in Jail. I bet he does miss holding CMA.


Linda February 11, 2009, 9:41 AM

It will be a cold day in Hell the day I send someone who put ducktape around a child’s mouth, stuck a sticker on her mouth and put her in a bag to die, a letter of love. Ha!!!!!!!!!Grow up!!!!

Ain’t goin to happen in this lifetime!

Anonymous February 11, 2009, 9:46 AM

My favorite quote by Cindy, “Caylee had her mother’s compassion! Really?!

Deb February 11, 2009, 9:46 AM

You have a point there Shel. Everyone who has written something seem to have said what is really happening..So true about denial..If they are so interested in seeing that this doesnt happen to other children then why dont they put their efforts into that and help Ecuusearch recover over a hundred thousand lost in a search that was a joke and Casey let them do it..How humiliating!! If Casey had a helf a heart she would tell her lawyer to end the circus of lies and just admit her guilt and cut out the costly trial that is coming up..I cant see how she wont be found guilty so why all this media garbage!! I am very suprised at your commemts momlogic..I do think the Anthonys should have had the guts to say that if their daughter is really guilty then she should be punished for her crime!! BUT DID THEY??? NO…Instead they made it all about themselves!!I hope to God that Cindy is not staying in the field of nursing..She would be working against medical ethics!!

Danielle  February 11, 2009, 9:59 AM

they r really sick ppl. thts just messed up 2 do tht 2 alil girl tht pretty!!!!!!!!

Anonymous February 11, 2009, 9:59 AM

Lee wearing a wrinkled shirt, no tie or jacket said a lot to me-no respect!

Anonymous February 11, 2009, 10:01 AM

Lee wearing a wrinkled shirt, no tie or jacket said a lot to me-no respect!

Linda February 11, 2009, 10:03 AM

Anonymous, ain’t it the truth!!!!!What a bunch of bulls—-! One day the hag is pulling Casey by the hair, mad because the thing steals from everyone including her aged grandparents. The next thing is love, love, love. Yeah, Casey has a lot of compassion for buying her boyfriend groceries and her Target bras and sweatshirts, but stealing from her grandparents is the sign of a really compassionate soul. What a laugh! Do they really think the public is this stupid?

Thankfully, I DON’T have to forgive that bag of snakes for anything. They better be down on their knees asking for forgiveness from our Father.

Linda NC February 11, 2009, 10:28 AM

Cindy’s comments were that of a Mother in denial. Lee’s comments were very wierd to say the least, but I truly believe George’s words were for real and that he has a good heart and a sweet spirit. I believe he was speaking out of the love of a Father and speaking as he believes our Heavenly Father would. My prayers are with this entire family, and even though I still believe CMA is guilty, George is right. Casey although she really doesn’t deserve it, nor do any of us, she still NEEDS love. As Christians we have no choice in the matter. We are commanded to love and pray for others including Casey. She needs the prayers and we all need the practice.

Linda February 11, 2009, 10:34 AM

Linda, NC. So did her little 2 yr. old daughter, who could not help herself.

anon February 11, 2009, 10:37 AM

Many of you people are pathetic! You are the ones who “aren’t getting it”. This memorial service for little Caylee has nothing to do with Casey or her parents. A nation grieved for this precious baby and laying her memory to rest was not only deserving of her and her little soul, but for all who have shed tears for her. It doesn’t matter “who” arranged this memorial; it doesn’t matter “who” attended this memorial. But what does matter, above all else, is that little Caylee’s life was acknowledged and memorialized so that all the broken hearts can begin to mend. It has given us hope to go on.

Jess February 11, 2009, 11:15 AM

anon: We do get it. We get the fact that the family was still circling around Casey. They kept saying, I, we, us, it was hardly ever about little Caylee. I don’t really know what it would be like to lose my niece, but I do know that I would be crying, and saying her name, over and over again. Calling his niece CMA, wtf is that? Really?? We aren’t pathetic. Many of us have followed this case from day 1, and though we may not be directly involved in this, we still want answers. We don’t have to be family, or friends of the family to care. If the memorial service truly was about Caylee, they should have left Casey out of it.

Back to top >>