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In memory of Charles Gray

Created by Family Of Charles Gray

Charles Gray

A breath of tragedy changes Naples family foreverBy Jennifer Brannock Naples High School freshman Charles Gray already had his 16th birthday on Dec. 13 all planned out. He was finally going to be able to get a job he wanted and his driver license. Plus, his parents had promised to pay for the final parts he needed to complete the computer he had been building. Charles' mother and stepfather, Mona and Larry Casey, had big plans for him beyond his birthday. He was going to attend the University of Miami, so he wouldn't be too far from home, and earn a degree that would enable him to help others in his home city, Saipan, capital of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Mona Casey still looks for dishes and furnishings to buy for the apartment she hoped her son would one day occupy. But a tragic mistake ended those plans suddenly. The 16th birthday Charles had longed for will pass without him Wednesday. Charles died Sept. 15 after inhaling Freon from his neighbor's air conditioner to get high. “One of the hardest things about losing a child that age is that you have so many things planned out for his life,” Mona Casey said. “The hardest thing is knowing all these dreams won't be fulfilled.” From the time he was a baby, Charles was always goofing off. He lived to get a laugh. “He doesn't keep me bored,” his little sister, Isabella Casey, said. “He was an entertainer,” Larry Casey added. “He was always making people laugh and smile.” Although he was exceptionally smart, Charles struggled to pay attention in class. Still, he brought home As on his tests, and managed to get his work done. “He loved going to school, but I think it was more for the socializing,” Mona Casey said. “He never studied, but he still did great on his tests.” When he wasn't tinkering with his computer, Charles was learning to play the guitar, or playing practical jokes. “I don't even think I can tell you some of the jokes he pulled,” his mother said, laughing. “He's very witty. Something will happen, and he'll come up with a response right off the top of his head.” Charles also enjoyed visiting his family in Saipan, and returned from a summer on the Pacific island just before the start of school. Like many kids, Charles had an inquisitive nature that sometimes led to trouble. Charles began experimenting with marijuana last year. “When we found out about that, we took care of it right away,” Mona Casey said. “He admitted everything, and was very honest with us. He promised me and assured me he would never do anything else.” After several talks with his parents, it seemed Charles had turned himself around. “At the end, we really felt like he was getting himself together,” Mona Casey said. “The chores were getting done, school was going well. We were always telling him how proud of him we were.” Mona and Larry Casey had never heard of inhalant abuse, better known as huffing. It can be done using everyday household items, such as spray paint cans, cooking sprays and air-conditioners. Mona Casey said a friend of her son's told her Charles had only tried inhaling Freon once before with a group of friends. When he died, he was alone. Charles' autopsy showed no traces of any other drug in his system, Mona Casey said. “When the paramedics took him away, I still didn't know what had happened,” Larry Casey said. “One of the officers handed me the air-conditioning cap, and it just blew me away.” Three months later, Mona Casey is still dealing with conflicting bouts of grief and anger. “He told me, ‘Mom, I'm smart enough not to do anything else,'" she said. “When it happened, I felt this sense of betrayal. “I'm still very angry, and in a state of shock.” Despite their anger and depression, Larry and Mona Casey want people to know their son's tragic story, so other parents won't have to feel their pain. “You'd think, OK, if we're going out of town, we should lock up the liquor cabinet, but you wouldn't think to lock up your prescriptions, cooking spray and things like that,” Larry Casey said. “That's the scary thing about Freon: It's free, and it's in every house. We are our kids' drug dealers.” Students at Naples High School are still dealing with the shock. “It affected a lot of people,” sophomore T. J. Curfman, 16, said. “It was a really sad thing to see someone die so young.” “It's a caution,” sophomore Bryant Ireland, 15, added. “I think it made people really scared.” All the Casey family can do now is move forward with Charles in their hearts. Half of his ashes are spread in Saipan. The rest are in a brown box Mona Casey carries with her wherever she goes. “I haven't found an urn for him yet,” she said. “I need something that is going to be ‘so Charles.' “I want the perfect place for him.?

Partners for Hope raise critical funds on behalf Partnership to End Addiction – the nation’s leading organization dedicated to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. Every dollar raised on behalf of the Partnership* will help ensure free, personalized family support resources, including our national helpline, peer-to-peer parent coaching, customized online tools and community education programs, can reach those who need them most. Please consider donating to this fundraiser and sharing this page.

*Donations made to Partnership to End Addiction are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. All contributions are fully tax-deductible, as no goods or services are provided in consideration in whole, or in part, of any contribution to this nonprofit organization.  EIN: 52-1736502

Guest Book


1. Julie
Thank your for sharing your memorial story with us. I'm so sorry for your loss.
2. Auntie Thea
Hi Charles!! I miss your little boy voice and never-ending conversations. I saw your mom when she came to Saipan, and not seeing you running right beside her breaks my heart. You were ALWAYS right beside her. Things will never be the same without you. Please tell Nang and Tang I miss them and I love them very much. I love you very much and always watch over us...always...
3. Auntie Thea
Hi Charles!! I miss your little boy voice and never-ending conversations. I saw your mom when she came to Saipan, and not seeing you running right beside her breaks my heart. You were ALWAYS right beside her. Things will never be the same without you. Please tell Nang and Tang I miss them and I love them very much. I love you very much and always watch over us...always...
4. Carmen Taimanao
Charles - I only saw you once when you were with Grandma Frances in Texas. You grew up to be a very handsome boy. I am deeply hurt that you left us so early, but God always had a purpose. Mona, please get in touch with me and best regards to your mom. I am praying for all of us.
Auntie Lisa, I am so deeply heart broken from what I have just read. I am truly sorry for your loss. Everyday is a challange in our lives & everyday it gets harder & harder, but forgiveness is the key to it all. "Forgiveness is to forgive yourself & to forgive him for his actions." When I had learned to forgive, it was as almost as if I was moving forward.... but not forgetting....... Take care & God bless! Rosemarie Pangelinan-Rasiang
6. Nama Coburn
It has been a year now. I hope you know how much I love you and always will. I miss you so bad it hurts like hell. You will always be in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers. I pray for your parents too, as things like the loss of a child tear parents apart and I know this for a fact. Watch over them and don't let this happen.
7. Dominique Robinson
I didnt know you and you didnt know me. Im just a simple 14 year old male freshman that was just doing a drug project and you popped up. When I read this memorial I was shocked, and my heart goes out to your family. To loose someone that is special to you is like loosing part of yourself. Charles Gray, you made a common teen mistake, but that wasnt in vain. Everyone knows your in a better place and prays for you. Mona Casey, stay strong and continue to send your message around the world. Larry
8. Brittany Herrlin
I didnt know him personally but my heart goes out to his family and friends. I'm stopping by today to leave this message because I lost my best friend Brittany on December 23rd,2006 to a drug overdose as well at the age of 20. We were friends since the beginning of time and she will always be in my heart. No matter what kind of drug, they dont do you any good. Please if you get a chance visit and sign the petition for BRITS law. This is to make people responsible to call 911
9. Melissa Schlemmer
Mona, I would like you to know how very sorry I am for your loss. I would also like to thank you for the tribute for my dad. Let's just hope that Charles and my dad are watching over us, and God willing that when it is our time we will all be together. I wish you and your family the best, and remember to live each day to the fullest. P.S. plese e-mail me some time, my e-mail is, take care.
10. Mona Casey
Hello my darling Charles, I miss you sooooo much. I wish you here. They say this will get better in time but I find that I am missing you more and more each day. I want to be with you so bad it hurts so much. I miss, miss, miss you very much. I love you with all my heart. I'll see you in my dreams tonight and every night. All my love, Mom.
11. Mona Casey
I thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and days before that too. I think of you in silence, I often speak your name. All I have are memories and your pictures in frames. Your memory is my keepsake, with which I'll never part. God has you in His keeping, I have you in my heart. I love and miss you very much! Mum
12. Lucy Coburn
My dear sweet Charles, the day you came into my life was the happiest day of my life. My heart is so very broken by your death. I stood by your side and I watched you as you slipped away and my heart just broke in my chest. You were my first grandchild... so you will always be my first love. Not a night goes by that I don't dream of you and what could have been. Goodnight sweet prince, I will alway love you. Anyone reading this...Think before you break someones heart. Love Grandmom Lucy
13. Nicole Fernandez
Charles my love. I miss you soo much! I miss when you used to touch my elbow and say, "haha, i touched ur weenis!" and you always always always made me laugh! And when you would come sit by me in Drama class and take one of my headphones out of my ear and start listening to my iPod with me and dance and sing! Awwww I miss you!! I hope I will see you again someday! R.I.P my dear friend. I love you soo much. <333
14. Chelsea Buchman
Charles, I have loved you ever since the day I met you. Ever since you were showing me your leg muscles and how your hand fitted perfectly up to mine. And I will never forget you. And I know you are watching over me as I type this. And wait for me at Heaven's gate. I have loved you with an everlasting love. Love your friend, Chelsea Buchman
15. James J. Coburn Sr
Hi Charles, We miss you so much up here in New Jersey. Remember when you came to visit and you taught me how to play "La Bamba" on the guitar? I still play it all the time. You could really jam on that thing. We have all your pictures all over the house. You are not forgotten. The world lost two beautiful and wonderful people when you and Jimmy left us. We love and remember both of you......Granpa Jim
16. All My Love... Mum
My darling Charles, Just wanted to let you know that you are always on my mind, consuming every thought. I miss you so very much. I miss your laughter, your jokes, your hugs, your kisses, your affection...I miss everything about you. I can't wait to see you again.
17. Sarah Hurtley
Charles, I miss you so much. You don't even know. Maybe you do. Sometimes I sing to you when I feel lonely, or I talk to you when no one else will listen but I know you can hear me. And somtimes, I hear you talking back. Just tonight I was sitting with a friend from our old 'posse' and we were dazing off, smiling; talking about how we first met you...laughing at your humor, crying at your absence. You're truely missed and loved. Always know that.
18. Deana Lee
I have never met Charles but I am friends with someone who cared a great deal for him. It makes me sad to know that such a young life is gone from us. I feel this everyday as I have a daughter who is a drug addict. I hope all children read his story and learn something from his untimely death. God bless.
19. Dee Bailey
I don't know for sure if you know how important you are to my family. You touched all of our lives in such a special way, and we have all grown from the experience of knowing and loving you in our own ways. When we get angry at you it is really more at ourselves for not being able to reach out more to you so we could have you with us for many years to come.
20. Joey Bailey
It is sad that this happened, and when you were so young. I wish we could still do all the fun things we used to do like building our computers, the band, LAN parties, the funny jokes (I could always get a laugh out of you). Even when we just hung out at each others house finding something fun to do. I know one day I will see you again. Some day I would like to visit saipan and see all the cool places you always told me about and your family. ~ Joey
21. Mona Casey
contd... Please take a moment to visit the link below and sign the petition pertaining to this very important issue. It will take about 30 seconds of your time and can make a big difference. Thank you in advance for your support in this matter. Mona Casey
22. Mona Casey
Michel, I'm so very sorry for your loss. It's hard to understand why things like this happen. The death of a child is such a great loss to bear. I'm still struggling to make sense of all it all and I may not have all the answers, but I am here to give my support. Sometimes talking can help lighten the load and let you know that others care about what you are going through. Please see me not as just someone, but a friend who cares and is here when you're in need. Mona
23. Jade Hays
Charles, I miss u so much. It is hard to log on to myspace everyday and see the RIP Charles. It is hard to get off the bus everyday without you there to kiss my cheek or grab and hold my hand. I miss you so much! You are the greatest and I love ya and I always will. I hope someday I'll see you again and I hope your watching over me. I'm trying my best to not make any mistakes that would make you ashamed of me. I guess that is it. Take care up there and I love u. Hugs and kisses! Love 4eva, Jade
24. Mona Casey
Greetings, On behalf of my family, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the kind expressions we received on the death of our beloved Charles. You will be remembered in our thoughts and prayers. In honor of Charles and for the protection of our fellow citizens, I've embarked on a mission to have a “Refrigerant Locking Cap Ordinance” enacted in our county and I humbly request your assistance in this matter. Please take a moment to visit the link below and sign the petition
25. Michel Townsend
I am terribly sorry for your loss. I too just lost my son to this horrible death 11 days ago. This was such a shock to me . I share in your pain. All I feel right now is that I want to be with my son. I want to scream to the world to warn your kids THIS WILL KILL YOU ! I had never heard of HUFFING. I was told after Tylers death that it is taught about at school in 7th grade Health. My child DID NOT KNOW IT COULD KILL HIM. He had no plans on leaving us. I am praying for you.
26. Mary Catherine Smith
I am so sorry for your loss. I am almost 16 and I have had ideas and I have heard stories like these, but never have I been able to read one. My friend is 18 and does it and I have tried to make him quit and he will not listen to me. He will stop for a little while, and then he will go right back to them. I will let him read this story and then maybe he will come to his senses. Thank you for sharing this story and I am terribly sorry for your loss. By the way, my name is Mary Catherine Smith.
27. Mona Casey
My darling Charles, Words fail to convey the immense pain I feel in loosing and missing you. I am deeply saddened at the fact that we will never have the opportunity to share this lifetime together again and I desperately look forward to reuniting with you. All my love for all eternity, Mum
28. Isabella Casey
Hi. I love you and miss you. I will try and make Brian sorry for what he did to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!