Has anyone been watching this? This story breaks my heart.

This was two years ago and the trial was a few months ago and is being show on Court TV now. This so called special needs girl asked for help many times. So many people came forward saying they told the authorities, told DCYF, and she still died chained like a dog.

CENTREVILLE -- The death of Calista Springer, who perished in a house fire last week while chained to her bed, has shaken this small village of 1,500 people.

As residents struggled with the tragedy Saturday, some expressed confusion. Many were angry. All were saddened.
"It's just a tragic situation. I don't know what to think about it," said Cindy Martini, who saw the thick smoke billow from the house Wednesday morning. "There's probably more to this situation than meets the eye. It seems like a real mystery."
Calista's parents told investigators they used a dog chain tied around the 16-year-old's waist to keep her in bed at night because her emotional problems and "special needs" made her prone to wander and leave the house.

They said they previously used a system with a fabric tether and an alarm, but it broke three days before the fire, causing them to resort to the chain. Police said they believe the chain had been used for more than three days.

The Michigan State Police said they would forward their investigation to St. Joseph County prosecutors for potential charges as early as this week.


The Springers' pastor, the Rev. David Peterson of Centreville Baptist Church, said stories are circulating around the community about the circumstances surrounding Calista's death and why she was restrained.

"They thought it was the right thing to do," said Peterson, whose church in downtown Centreville is just steps from the Springers' burned-out home. "They had the best of intentions. There was love for her, and I really believe they cared about Calista."

Firefighters discovered Calista's body tightly chained in her bed on the second floor of the home. She died from smoke inhalation. Investigators believe the fire was an accident and may have been started by a vacuum cleaner Calista's stepmother, Marsha, was using.

Calista's father, Tony, was at work and her two younger sisters were in school when the fire broke out around 8:30 a.m. Calista had been home-schooled in recent years.


State Rep. Rick Shaffer, R-Three Rivers, whose district includes Centreville, cautioned against a rush to judgment about Calista's father and stepmother.

"All of us in this community are hurting so it's easy to want to begin to point fingers," Shaffer said. "But I think we all need to be cautious and let the investigative process work through."
Shaffer is a member of a child-protection task force, which met Monday at the St. Joseph County Courthouse, located across the street from the Springer home.

Calista died, Shaffer noted, "less than 1,000 feet from where
we were talking about this very issue."

The tragedy should make the community even more vigilant to watch out for its children, he said.

"The death of a child is certainly tragic and that has to be foremost in people's minds," Shaffer said. "Then as we take a broader look at the situation, especially in light of the child welfare task force, we just need to step up our energies in all of our communities, being watchful."

Shaffer said, "It's everyone's responsibility to report
suspicions."

Tony Springer told the Gazette last week that the family had four to five prior contacts with workers from Children's Protective Services, but his children were never removed from his home.

On Saturday, Christine Ganger said Calista sought refuge in her family's home in 2004. Calista had walked there with Ganger's younger sister, Katie, who was then a classmate of Calista.
"She seemed real nervous around people," said Ganger, 21. "She wasn't sociable at all. She said she was trying to get away from home."

After about 20 minutes, Calista's principal showed up and took her home, Ganger said.

Christy Kirk, a worker at the Subway restaurant in town, said Calista's death makes her angry.

"Something should have been done to help that girl a long time ago," said Kirk, standing outside the shop on her break, taking the last few drags off a cigarette. "Why did it have to get to this point for there to be an investigation, for her situation to be taken seriously?"

Still, Kirk said, "at least she's in a better place now."

As he prepares for Calista's memorial service on Monday, Peterson said he is hoping the community will focus on her life and not on the tragic circumstances of her death.

"With all the uneasiness, how do we establish a foundation to build on and go forward?" Peterson asked. "We need to allow the investigation to take its course. If there is wrongdoing found, then there needs to be forgiveness."

Shaffer said one emotion is pervasive.

"It's just sad," Shaffer said. "It's just a very sad time right now."


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