March 3, 2008

On March 3, 2008, family, friends and neighbors filled the Centreville Baptist Church, for a memorial service for. Gray skies and drizzles of rain contributed to the sad mood as people came to say good bye and pay their respects. There were more than 120 people in attendance for the service. 

Yellow ribbons adorned the telephone poles and brightened up the otherwise gray street. The small church sits about 75 yards from the home where died. The smell of smoke was in the air and made its way through the street and into the church.

The service eventually moved out into the street and in front of the home where had lived. Reverend David Peterson spoke from a pulpit which was near a picture of and some flowers:

"It's been a week of darkness"

On a day that seemed to be void of color, a bunch of balloons in green, blue and orange stuck out:

"When everything else seems dark, there is light to be found. Just when you think there 
is no color left, it shows itself"

" Calista died in darkness following a life that was not without its struggles. Like everyone's 
life, there were joys -- her art, her memorable giggle. And like everyone's life, there were struggles"

"Why, is the most-asked question at a time like this. But, as time passes, the questions that 
are just as important are the how questions"

"How do we move forward, how do we get through this, how do we find light in a time that 
seems so dark"
David Peterson

David Peterson spoke to an overflowing church while the house in which had died, showed no signs of life at all. A wooden wishing well was sitting in front of the yard near a memorial made by friends and neighbors. Vines wove in the rungs of the fence and yellow police tape could be seen as well. Hanging from an upstairs window, facing the church, a piece of green and red quilt could be seen, partially burned, it provided  a small patch of color.

"A little color during bleak times can be enough to help us carry on. Sometimes a little light is 
all we need to show us the way"
David Peterson

August 28, 2009

.Norma Swegles held on to her daughter Jaquelynn Smith as they looked at a photo album full of pictures of , at a vigil held in her honor six months after her death.

Many people turned out that day and they all wanted to know why Calista had to die the way she did. Teenagers touched the remains of the burned house after months of asking parents, ministers, neighbors and public officials why had been left tied to her bed and died in the fire that destroyed the house she lived in.

About 150 people prayed and told stories about during the August 28, 2009 vigil. They all agreed that finding peace would mean finding answers:

"Perhaps each person present has his or her own private opinion about what occurred across 
the street. To some it was a flagrant example of abuse, to others a very unfortunate accident. 
To some it was the result of parents who were over stressed, without resources and respite. 
To others it was the horrific outcome of a frightening need for power and control. But no 
matter where you are on this issue, the bottom line is this: No one, no one should die 
the way Springer did"
Pastor Karin Orr - Centreville United Methodist Church

In the background of the vigil was the house which had been the home of during life. It now stood as a reminder of the torture and abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents. 's friends and even some adults knew that she ws abused and neglected and all attempts to her here failed.

Anthony Springers mother, Suzanne Langdon, was one who had sent a complaint to CPS. She was at the vigil and made some comments:

"During her first three years, we had a lot because Tony was going to Western Michigan 
University. It was about 10 years ago that we saw marks on and we reported it 
to CPS. We were told to stay out of it, that it was none of our business"

Suzanne said that since she had made the complaint she had been estranged from her son and his wife. Norma Swegles was there as well. The teen organizers of the vigil had used donations to pay for her transportation costs.

Some of the teens asked:

"Where was God when , dying in the heat and the smoke, was tied to her bed"

Pastor Karin Orr spoke to the crowd saying truth revealing work was needed to help to ensure that the death of would bring about changes:

"As a Christian pastor, I believe God was there with , just as God was with the dying Christ on 
the cross, just as God is with you and me in our time of darkness and despair. Christ's physical 
death, like 's, was a cruelty beyond our imagining, an ugly, torturous way to go from this Earth. 
And Christ, too, felt abandoned and cried out, just as must have felt abandoned and must have 
tried to cry out. We have to ask honestly and deal with them in the most transparent way 
possible. What, exactly, happened? Why did die? Where were the parents, the siblings, 
the neighbors, the police, the schoolteachers and administrators, the social agencies like 
CPS, and, yes, the church congregations"

Jessica McKee left a message at the memorial.

Return To Calista's Story
Read About And See Pictures From Calista's Funeral And Memorial Vigil
Read Newspaper Stories

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