March 3, 2008
On March 3, 2008, family, friends and
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
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
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,
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
"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 spoke to an
overflowing church while
the house in which had died, showed no signs of life at all. A wooden
well was sitting in front of the yard near a memorial made by friends
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
a piece of green and red quilt could be seen, partially burned, it
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"
August 28, 2009
.Norma Swegles held on to her daughter
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
of the burned house after months of asking parents, ministers,
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
"Perhaps each person present
has his or her
own private opinion about what occurred across
the street. To some it was a
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
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
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
Anthony Springers mother, Suzanne
Langdon, was one
who had sent a complaint to CPS. She was at the vigil and made some
"During her first three years,
we had a lot
because Tony was going to Western Michigan
University. It was about 10 years
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
she had been estranged from her son and his wife. Norma Swegles was
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
revealing work was needed to help to ensure that the death of would
"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
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
out, just as must have felt abandoned and must have
tried to cry out. We have to ask
and deal with them in the most transparent way
possible. What, exactly, happened?
die? Where were the parents, the siblings,
the neighbors, the police, the
and administrators, the social agencies like
CPS, and, yes, the church
Jessica McKee left a message at the
About And See Pictures From Calista's Funeral
And Memorial Vigil