letter for sentencing
of Anthony and Marsha Springer:
What would Calista say?
April 15, 2010
Rex Hall Jr. | Kalamazoo Gazette
By Rex Hall
Jr. | Kalamazoo Gazette
FABIUS TOWNSHIP — If she can muster
and is given the chance to speak, Suzanne Langdon knows exactly what
say inside a St. Joseph County courtroom on Friday.
Calista SpringerView full sizePhoto
Courtesy of Suzanne
LangdonThis photo taken in June of 2005 and provided by Calista
grandmother, Suzanne Langdon, shows Calista Springer, at a party for
grandmother's 65th birthday.
It’s what she believes her
Springer, would say if she was alive.
“My soul is free, I will never have
chains put on
me again,” Langdon said, reciting from a letter she drafted for the
of her son and daughter-in-law, Anthony and Marsha Springer.
“Whenever someone stops at my
memorial site, I am
there. I am here today, I helped seat the jury in Kalamazoo and brought
them back here for the verdict. I wanted you two to be near where such
hideous things were done to me.
“I do not hate you. I love you and
forgive you, but
I deplore what you did to me.”
Langdon signed Calista’s name to the
Jurors reached a verdict late Tuesday
the trial of Anthony and Marsha Springer, who are charged with felony
child abuse and torture. The jury found them not guilty of felony
but guilty on the counts of first degree child abuse and torture.
Anthony and Marsha Springers, who
remain jailed without
bond, are to be sentenced at 1 p.m. Friday, nearly two months after a
convicted them of torture and first-degree child abuse, but acquitted
of murder, in connection with a 2008 fire that killed Calista and
the family’s Centreville home. Firefighters found Calista restrained to
her bed with a dog choke chain after the flames were extinguished.
The Springers face up to life in
prison for torture
and 15 years for child abuse. St. Joseph County Circuit Judge Paul
who presided over their trial, will hands down the sentences.
“He’s the one that’s got to weigh
said of the judge. “That is, thank God, not my job.”
As of Wednesday, Langdon said she
didn’t know if
she’d be allowed to give a victim-impact statement at the sentencing.
they let me say it,” she said, looking at the letter she prepared,
what I will say.”
As she read from it, she fought tears
aloud whether she’d be strong enough to recite it in the courtroom.
Since the verdicts were delivered
Feb. 23, Langdon
said she and her husband, Dan Langdon, have passed the time recounting
the courtroom proceedings, including the eight days of testimony. Still
fresh in their minds is the picture defense attorneys and their
painted of Calista as a child who seldom smiled, was prone to fits of
and lied and stole.
That, they say, wasn’t the
granddaughter they knew.
“We have 20 grandchildren, so I think
we know babies,”
Dan Langdon said. “I don’t think she was any different from the other
If you showed her love, she ate it up.”
Suzanne Langdon said she questions
was anything wrong with Calista at all, and struggles with regret that
she didn’t do more to help her. She also wrestles with the vision of
chained to her bed.
“When I get to thinking about that
it’s almost, even
now, more than I can handle,” she said. “I can’t imagine what she must
Said Dan Langdon: “The hardest thing
I’ve dealt with
is the thought that she might have died not knowing that anyone loved
Suzanne Langdon said she first heard
that Calista was being restrained in 2004, but that Anthony Springer
her that was not the case. She said she didn’t see Calista after 2006,
because relations between the Langdons and Springers “had become very
Langdon said she’s been barred by the
seeing Calista’s two younger sisters, who are currently with a foster
With the criminal case against the
to a close, the Michigan Department of Human Services may now be hit
a lawsuit over its handling of multiple complaints it received alleging
Calista was being abused and neglected.
Suzanne Langdon was named personal
for Calista’s estate in September and Southfied attorney Howard T.
has said the step was taken to create an estate, the only assets of
are expected to be proceeds from a lawsuit.
The Langdons declined to discuss any
action. Their attorney, Greg Wix, an associate at a Southfield law firm
headed by well-known lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, said Wednesday that while
no suit has yet been filed, the firm is “investigating not only DHS but
any of the many cracks that Calista fell through that led to her death.”
“What we typically do in a case like
this that has
a criminal component is we wait and let that process work itself out,”
In the meantime, if she does speak at
Suzanne Langdon said it will be for Calista.
“I am free and I am loved and I want
all of you to
know I am happy,” the last portion of her letter reads. “I even chase
across the heavens. Do not cry for me but do all you can to help
that are in need.”
About And See Pictures From Calista's Funeral
And Memorial Vigil