CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Holly Cassano’s mother says she’s ready to move on.
“I thought I was prepared to hear ‘Guilty’,” Toni Cassano says, “And when I heard it, it was surreal. It was almost like I was dreaming it.”
After dreaming of that moment for more than a decade. justice for her daughter finally became a reality. 22 year-old Holly Cassano was murdered in her Mahomet home in 2009. After his conviction on Friday, Michael Henslick will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Toni Cassano says she took the weekend to process that. On Monday she reached out to us, wanting to share her thoughts.
She wore a sweatshirt with that featured the “UNSOLVED MURDER” bumper sticker on the back. Suddenly, it isn’t accurate anymore.
“It is weird,” Cassano says, “You would think, after ten years, this should have been done earlier.”
Even though that decade without justice came to an end, Cassano says the last four days in court were some of the hardest, and not just for her.
“It was my family seeing those pictures,” she says, referring to gruesome crime scene and autopsy photographs, “The last picture I have of Holly in my heard is the picture of her laying on her floor. And that’s what I saw every night before I got to sleep.
“Now it’s what everybody else sees.”
Everybody else also saw Henslick confess to the crime. Investigators didn’t buy his whole story. Cassano says now, it doesn’t matter.
“We know his fantasy,” she says, “We don’t know reality. If you listen to his confession, he packed it all into a box. A little box, and it stayed here this whole time. He still hasn’t brought everything out of the box.”
She says that wasn’t just difficult for her daughter’s friends and family to hear. Henslick’s family had to hear it too.
“I gave them hugs,” Cassano says, “And told them I wasn’t upset with them, that this wasn’t their fault.”
“Michael Henslick is the person responsible for this. Not his brother, not his mother, not his sister. And I would ask that the public stop giving them mean messages, stop treating them unfairly. They really did nothing wrong. They are hurt, they are shocked, they are confused. Please give them the space they need to process and accept what has happened to their family.”
“I just want to thank everybody for all of their support, ” she says, “From the very first police officer that was on the scene, to the last person that testified on the stand. The jury, the judge. The prosecuting attorneys. The public defenders that defended him, they did a very good trial….I would not want to convict somebody on ‘It could be him.’
“But knowing that it was 100%, no chance it could’ve been anybody else, I am happy that the verdict came out the way it did.”
That being said, Cassano is perfectly ready to leave the trial behind.
“Those aren’t the memories that I want for my daughter,” she says, “I want the smiles, I want the happy hugs, the playing with babies. That’s what I want people to remember Holly for.”