About 1,200 mourners remembered Caylee Marie Anthony at a two-hour memorial service on Tuesday, nearly two months after the murdered toddler’s body was found.
Her mother, Casey Anthony, 22, is in Orange County Jail, less than a mile away, awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges. She has pleaded not guilty, and claims the babysitter kidnapped her child.
Packing an emotional wallop, the service at the 5,000-seat First Baptist Church of Orlando included two sermons and 12 songs, starting with a piano medley of Caylee’s favorite songs, including “Jesus Loves Me” and “You Are My Sunshine.
“There are days you don’t know what to say and these are one of these days,” said Pastor David Uth, who offered a “prayer of peace” for Caylee’s incarcerated mother.
Midway through the ceremony, the Anthony family took the stage to deliver a eulogy. Through tears, first speaker Lee Anthony, Casey’s brother, said, “CMA, I miss you. CMA, I am so proud of you. I hope you’re proud of me, too,”
Grandmother of Caylee, Cindy Anthony, was the last to speak. “It breaks my heart today that Casey isn’t here to honor her child who she loved so much,” she said. “Casey, I hope you’re listening to this. I wish I could comfort you. I wish I could take away your pain and wipe away your tears.”
Love and Understanding
It is not known whether Casey could tune into the service. Though she could have sought permission to watch the memorial broadcast live on TV, she did not. Jail officials tell PEOPLE that they’re uncertain whether an Internet connection was available.
Although her daughter vanished in June, Casey Anthony failed to report her missing until July, telling authorities she was conducting her own search. Caylee’s remains were found in December in woods near her home, about two months after prosecutors brought charges against her mother.
Also at the service, Casey’s father, George Anthony, said that his daughter needed love and understanding while behind bars. He encouraged mourners to write her letters. He also asked the crowd to keep an open mind about the family.
“I miss my daughter, Casey,” he said. “Do not form judgments because I tell you, you do not want to be in any of our shoes.”
The service concluded with a video montage of Caylee in an Easter bunny outfit, jumping on a bed.