On July 5, 2011 an Orlando based jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony. I had heard of a memorial called “The Waterfall of Tears” built by a father of two in Leesburg, Florida after the rape and murder of Jessica Lunsford a 9-year-old girl from nearby Homosassa, Florida in 2005. He couldn’t fathom how such a violent act could befall a child and so he built a small stone memorial to her in his front yard. Over the years he added more and more names to the memorial as more children became victims of murder all across the country. He also added names from the violent past – like 5-year-old Adam Walsh also murdered in Florida in 1981 and JonBenét Ramsey murdered in Boulder, Colorado in 1996. When Caylee Marie was found dead, Don Williams added her name too.
After the Anthony verdict, as a native Floridian, I felt compelled to visit the Waterfall of Tears site. I tried to reach Don, but couldn’t get through to the number listed for his home. All I knew was that the memorial was on Radio Road in Leesburg, Florida. When I got to Radio Road – a long wide rural stretch – it felt like I was on a search for a needle in a haystack. Up ahead I saw a church and decided to pull in. I flagged down a women about to step inside and asked her if she knew where the “Waterfall of Tears” was. She said, “You mean the memorial to all the dead babies?” in a thick southern drawl. I nodded and she pointed the way.
When I finally arrived at the site the memorial was in disrepair. Several letters were missing and the flowers had long since died and dried in the sun. I walked up the long driveway intending to introduce myself to the owner of the home and the creator of this unique memorial, but the house was boarded up. A tree house had fallen into the driveway and eviction notices were slapped on every door. The housing crisis had gotten Don Williams and his family too. All that is left of his legacy is his deep compassion for the lives of the innocents lost in the stones of the “Waterfall of Tears”.