ORLANDO — They wrote from all over. Men and women. All ages and backgrounds. They sent handwritten letters and perfectly typed messages, pictures and holiday cards, money and tender words of encouragement. All to a stranger charged with killing her daughter.
In the latest and perhaps most telling sign of how the case against Casey Anthony has captivated so many around the world, thousands of letters addressed to the inmate include marriage proposals, biblical quotes and bizarre suggestions. Prosecutors released about 5,000 pages of letters on Friday.
"When I have a bad day, I see your smile, and it changes everything," said a February 2009 letter signed by Julie Reynolds in Lexington, Ky.
Anthony has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and has said a babysitter kidnapped her daughter, Caylee. The toddler's remains were found in December 2008, about six months after the mother said she last saw her alive. Anthony's trial is scheduled to start in May 2011.
In letters to Anthony, people wrote about their experiences with depression, jail, relationships and religion. Many wrote multiple times. Some asked for photos. Others sent childish drawings and smiley faces. One woman sprayed her letter with perfume. More than one man offered to "wipe the tears" off Anthony's cheeks.
Some popped the ultimate question.
"MARRY ME CASEY MARIE. MARRY ME. I will do whatever you need me to do to show you I'm real," wrote Alfred Rego of Dartmouth, Mass.
A letter signed by Carol Grant of Utah was one of the few that did not support Anthony. Her message: "YOU ARE A MONSTER. I hope you rot in hell!!"
Dr. Lois Nightingale, a clinical psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., said people could be writing to Anthony for a variety of reasons.
"Does she represent the cold, withholding mother that they are trying to get approval from, or does she represent the damsel in distress, that if they save her, she will appreciate them and never leave them forever? Or does she represent a misunderstood person?" Nightingale said.