The Sad End of a Saga
“Once upon a time…” No, I can’t begin this story that way since it could never end with, “… and they lived happily ever after.”
It was three years ago when we heard the news that an attractive, young woman named Casey Anthony claimed that her 2-year-old daughter had been kidnapped 31 days before she told anyone about it. The public’s reaction to Casey’s story was nearly universal–total disbelief: Why would a mother not notify police immediately after her child was abducted? Because of the shocking nature of the story, the disappearance of Caylee Marie Anthony and the subsequent first-degree murder charge against her mother made headlines everywhere, and Casey soon became one of the most vilified persons in the free world.
In the mid-1990s, we watched the O.J. Simpson saga unfold on national TV. In the early 2000s, Scott Peterson took center stage on television as the Internet was emerging as a news source and social network. By 2008, the Internet had firmly established itself as the go-to conduit for information, making almost every aspect of the Casey Anthony case accessible to the general public. Of course, Florida’s Open Government and Public Records laws certainly played a part in making the case a pubic spectacle, as police and court records were disseminated by both the mainstream media and nontraditional news sources, like bloggers and celebrity-tabloid websites. Add to that explosion of instantaneous information the popularity of TV talking heads like Nancy Grace and the influence of Twitter and Facebook and you get a 24/7 cycle of news and opinion, with the former often usurped by the latter.
When I entered the Internet phase of the saga, three months after it exploded, I tried to bridge news and opinion on my blog, marinadedave.com. Living near Orlando, I could go to most of the areas mentioned on the news — Suburban Drive, Jay Blanchard Park and many of Casey’s old haunts. I could talk to some of the key people in the case, too. The more I wrote about the case, the more my audience grew, making my blog a prime target for people who had very strong opinions about Casey, her family and Jose Baez. Because of the ever growing opinions and flaring tempers, I had to set rules. No name calling, for instance. Baez was not going to be called Bozo on my blog. Cindy was not SINdy. I was not going to allow a third-grade mentality to ruin what had begun a respectful exchange of information and opinions. Unfortunately, by banning some readers from my site, I only infuriated them more, with them taking their anger out on me. To this day the haters still taunt and haunt me. But I made some wonderful friends since I began writing about the case, and the experience of blogging about it has been mostly positive.
If there is anything that makes me feel my work could be all for naught it is that no one will be held accountable for Caylee’s tragic demise. I had hoped that in some small way I could help bring justice for her.
Still, her loss will not be in vain. Caylee lives among us today, in our hearts and memories. She has spawned an Internet community that can never forget that, in its eyes, she was victimized twice – by a suspected killer and by a jury. To those who feel that way, keep up the good fight on behalf of children caught in horrible circumstances. As my way of honoring Caylee, my blog will include posts about child-safety issues and “the missing.”
I owe it to Caylee to continue searching for the truth, even when that means it won’t yield a happy ending.
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