We Remember Caylee Marie Anthony

We Remember Caylee Marie Anthony
Last Photo of Caylee: 6.15.08

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jessica Lunsford: Trailer Where Jessie Died Burned to Ground

The Girl In the Big Pink Hat: Jessie Lunsford

Officials say the mobile home where a repeat sex offender raped and murdered a 9-year-old Homosassa, Florida girl in 2005 has burned down.

Citrus County officials said Monday that the fire was suspicious. John Evander Couey's former trailer was vacant when the fire started Sunday night, but officials say it's a "total loss" because of extensive damage. The fire investigation was turned over to the Florida State Fire Marshals Office.

Couey told investigators he kept Jessica in a closet for several days before burying her alive in a shallow grave outside the trailer. Jessica had been abducted from her home nearby. Couey was a transient and had been employed at the school Jessica attended as a janitor. Couey's trailer could be seen from Jessica's family's home. Jessica, or "Jessie", as America came to know the "girl in the big pink hat", captured the hearts of many during her disappearance. Jessica is believed to have been held captive over the weekend, which over a period of three days, she was raped and later murdered by 47-year-old John Couey.

After approximately three weeks of intense searching for Lunsford around the area of her home, John Couey, age 47, was arrested in Savannah, Georgia for an outstanding warrant of cannabis possession, but he was released after questioning because it was only a local warrant. He was later arrested in Augusta, Georgia.
On March 18, 2005, Couey confessed to having kidnapped and murdered Lunsford. On March 19, 2005 police found Lunsford's body buried in a hole, covered with leaves, near a residence on West Snowbird Court.
On March 7, 2007, Couey was found guilty in Florida of all charges in relation to Lunsford's death, including first degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual battery. On March 14, 2007, the jury in Couey's trial recommended the death penalty. Couey's case now is on appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. The constitutionality of admitting evidence collected after the unconstitutional "confession" is expected to be the main issue in the appeal. Couey continues to maintain that he is innocent of the charges.
On August 24, 2007, Couey was sentenced to the death penalty, in addition to 3 consecutive life sentences

Couey alleged in an audio/videotaped confession that he had abducted, raped, and murdered Jessica Lunsford. A judge ruled on June 30, 2006, that Couey's audio/videotaped confession was inadmissible in court because, at the time the confession was recorded, police had not granted Couey's requests for access to a lawyer, thereby rendering the confession invalid and unreliable under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Over Couey's objection, the trial court ruled that all evidence collected after the confession, including the recovery of Lunsford's body, would be allowed in court, as would any incriminating statements allegedly made by Couey to investigators and a jail guard.

Couey's confession alleged the following:

Couey entered Lunsford's house in the early morning hours of February 24, 2006, through an unlocked door at about three o'clock in the morning, awakened Lunsford, told her "Don't yell or nothing," and told her to follow him out of the house.
Couey occupied a trailer along with two women, 100 yards away, at the time of Lunsford's abduction. He admitted in a videotaped and recorded deposition to raping Lunsford in his bedroom. Lunsford was kept in Couey's bed that evening, where he raped her again in the morning. Couey put her in his closet and ordered her to remain there, which she did as he reported for work at "Billy's Truck Lot". Three days after he abducted her, on February 27, 2005, Couey tricked Jessica into getting into two garbage bags by saying he was going to 'take her home'. He instead buried her alive as he decided he could do nothing else with the girl. He said he 'Didn't want people seeing him and Lunsford across the street.'

On March 19, 2005, police found Lunsford's body at a residence located on West Sparrow Court, buried in a hole approximately 2 1/2' deep and 2' circular, covered with leaves. The body was removed from the ground and transported to the coroner's office. Her body had undergone "moderate" to "severe" decomposition and according to the publicly released autopsy reports was skeletonized on 2 fingers that Lunsford had poked through the bags before suffocating to death. The coroner ruled that death would have happened even in best circumstances within 2-3 minutes from lack of oxygen.

Mark Lunsford, Jessica's father, has united with other parents of missing children, including Mark Klass, Polly Klass's father and founder of KlassKids. Mr. Lunsford helps promote safety awareness to children and their parents of registered sex offenders in their areas. He has also been to Washington D.C. to speak before Congress and special committees on the subject. Following Jessica's death, Mark Lunsford, pursued new legislation to provide more stringent tracking of released sex offenders. The Jessica Lunsford Act was named after her. It requires tighter restrictions on sex offenders (such as wearing electronic tracking devices) and increased prison sentences for some convicted sex offenders. Jessica's Law refers to similar reform acts initiated by the states.

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Remember Caylee

Song: "Mad World" Gary Jules "I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad. The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had.. It's a mad, mad world.." Video courtesy Sean Krause '08 Sleep Well Friend, Justice for Caylee has finally begun ~SM 6.23.11

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