A Florida manufacturer's development of a doll resembling slain toddler Caylee Anthony has stirred controversy and added to the state's growing reputation as an incubator for odd news stories.
The Caylee Sunshine Doll comes clad in a bright T-shirt that bears her name and plays "You Are My Sunshine" when her stomach is pushed. It was developed by Jackonville's Showbiz Promotions, a company that, according to its Web site, specializes in gifts and items that are in the news.
But it is the company's decision to create the doll, and not its attempt to pay tribute to the young girl, that is now dominating headlines, so much so that the company has halted production and suspended the doll's launch.
"After reviewing the response to our media introduction of the Sunshine Caylee Doll and listening to the advice of the general public, we feel that it is best to suspend the launch of the Sunshine Caylee Doll," Showbiz Promotions President Jaime Salcedo wrote in a statement released today.
"While we still feel it is important to raise awareness and raise money to help stop this type of crime from being committed, we feel we can be more effective using traditional methods," wrote Salcedo.
On its Web site, the company said that "holding a Caylee Sunshine Doll can help us remember that all the children taken from this world prematurely are dancing, playing & singing their sunshine song forever!
"Our hope is that this mission would bring an honorable tribute to a life that was taken away far too soon; would cause you to meditate on the sacred beauty of an innocent child, and cultivate that innocence in your heart as you hold your Caylee Sunshine Doll," according to the site.
Although ABCNews.com could not reach him for comment, the attorney representing Caylee Anthony's grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony, told Florida's Orlando Sentinel that they were outraged by the dolls likeness to their dead granddaughter.
"This is an example of another person trying to profit from the tragedy of Caylee's death," family lawyer Brad Conway told the Sentinel Monday. "[Salcedo] has never met my clients, spoken to my clients and has not gotten the authority of any type to do this."
Showbiz Promotions had planned to sell the doll for $29.99.
When 22-year-old Orlando resident Casey Anthony, mother of 3-year-old Caylee Anthony, reported July 15 that her daughter had been missing for a month, Officer Carlos Padilla of the Orange County Sheriff's Department knew something was off.
"We knew then that we were met with something," Padilla told ABC News. "Of course, we didn't know the magnitude of the case at the time."
In the weeks and months that followed, Padilla watched the case ramble from the unusual to the absurd and eventually toward tragedy when, on Tuesday, Casey Anthony was formally charged with the little girl's murder.
Through its course, the meandering and unwieldy investigation soon racked up a cast of characters that would seem more at home on the silver screen than in suburban Florida.
There was Pete Benevides, the Orlando exotic car rental company owner, who put up $100,000 of a $125,000 reward for information leading to Caylee's rescue simply because, as he told ABC News, "it's sad."