Little Charley Lillian Hendrick’s life was a happy one filled with love until it was tragically cut short when she was brutally murdered by her own grandmother.
Now, all that remains of little Charley are memories, photographs and the Oakland County Circuit Court record.
Charley went to the beach and loved the water, she dressed up as a princess for Halloween and when she met Santa Claus, “she couldn’t keep her eyes off of him” because he looked like her daddy with a white beard.
“I (was) told I take too many pictures, but pictures turn into the only things you have left (to) remember them,” wrote Charley’s mother, Amanda Hendrick, in her victim impact statement.
Her thoughts and feelings were read into the record on her behalf during the Oct. 26 sentencing of Sylvia Marie Majewska, the 68-year-old Addison Township woman who killed Amanda’s 7-month-old daughter and her 29-year-old ex-husband, Daryne Gailey, nearly three years ago.
Majewska, who is Gailey’s mother and Charley’s grandmother, was sentenced by Circuit Judge Denise Langford-Morris to a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of 50 years in prison for each of the second-degree murder charges.
The sentences are to run concurrently and she was given credit for the 1,060 days she spent in jail.
“She probably will not reach a parole point unless she lives a really, really long life in prison,” Langford-Morris said.
Blunt force trauma to the head resulted in Charley’s demise, while Gailey’s throat was slashed, according to the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office. The bodies were found in Gailey’s home on Kintyre in Oxford on Nov. 23, 2014.
“I’m almost speechless at the brutality of these murders. Almost,” Langford-Morris said.
Majewska was the only one alive when Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies entered Gailey’s home. She was found sitting on the couch in the living room with a boxcutter beside her. Her left arm and wrist sustained cuts and she was bleeding into a bucket in an apparent suicide attempt.
Majewska claims she has no memory of the events.
“I just don’t know what happened. I really don’t,” she said during her sentencing hearing.
Majewska pleaded no contest to two second-degree murder charges on Oct. 4.
She was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Those charges were dismissed and replaced with second-degree charges as part of a Cobbs agreement for a minimum 25-year sentence.
“A lot of things went into the factoring of the Cobbs (agreement) and our decision to reduce the charges . . . and one is the likelihood that she will probably die in prison,” said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton to this reporter.
“We spoke at length with the victims’ family . . . and we fashioned a sentence that in all likelihood is going to be a life sentence for her.”
The court heard victim impact statements from both Andrew Gailey (Daryne’s father, Charley’s grandfather and Majewska’s ex-husband) and Amanda Hendrick.
Andrew vented his feelings about Majewska in no uncertain terms.
“You are pure evil,” he said. “You will enter prison at the bottom of humanity. I hope you burn in Hell.”
“In hindsight,” Andrew wishes Majewska “would have bled out” before she was found because it would have “saved us all from starring in your circus.”
“I am done with you forever,” he said.
Amanda Hendrick took a different tack.
She praised Daryne Gailey, a 2003 Oxford High School graduate who worked at the Kroger store in Lake Orion, for teaching her “patience, communication and how to be more private with (the) details of my life.”
“He showed me that even (at) my worst I was worth loving,” Amanda wrote.
When she learned she was pregnant, Amanda “wasn’t sure” if she could “handle being a parent,” but Gailey was “excited to become a father.” She thought about putting Charley up for adoption, but changed her mind.
“I’m beyond happy I kept Charley,” Amanda wrote. “She was and is the best choice I ever made.”
Amanda described Gailey as “a great daddy and husband,” and Majewska as a “monster.” She said Majewska forced Gailey, a developmentally disabled man, to divorce her.
“Neither of us wanted a divorce, but his mother got guardianship of Daryne after we were married and she filed for us to get divorced,” Amanda wrote.
Because of this, Amanda places part of the blame for Gailey and Charley’s deaths on the court system. “They made the worst judgment call,” she wrote. “It caused two lives to be ended and so many others to be in pain for the rest of our lives.”
According to a divorce judgment dated Nov. 3, 2014, Gailey was granted visitations with Charley every other week, but they had to be supervised by Majewska or “another competent adult of (her) choosing.”
In her statement to the court, Amanda said after Charley spent the night with Gailey and Majewska for the first time in October 2014, her daughter “never slept the same.”
“She woke up a lot at night. She had to have a nightlight to go to sleep,” Amanda wrote. “When she was gone, I pray(ed) for her safety. I had this horrible feeling that something was going to happen to her, but I couldn’t do anything about it.”
When she was informed of their deaths, Amanda “fell to the floor screaming.”
“I don’t remember much (about) the rest of the day, but my brain was telling me that I needed to get her ‘forever outfit’ ready for her,” she wrote.
Amanda is grateful for all of the support she received following the murders.
“The kindness, hugs, the caring hearts and openness is truly unbelievable,” she wrote. “I thought that all the world was cold and dark, but when my world was turned upside down, so many people (were) there for me. And someday, I hope I can be there for someone else.”
She ended her statement with a message to her daughter – “Good night, Princess Charley. Mama loves you.”
When it was Majewska’s turn to speak, she primarily talked about all the things she had done for her son such as ensuring he had a job, a home and the ability to live independently.
“I was hyper-vigilant, constantly, constantly helping him,” she said. “And that’s all I ever did was help him until I ran out and I hit the breaking point . . . I did everything I possibly could. I just reached a breaking point where it was impossible and it did something to me. I broke. Something happened.”
“It wasn’t anything mild. It was something terrible that happened,” Majewska noted.
Majewska, who mentioned to the court that she has two degrees and has visited 22 countries, said she didn’t find out about the deaths until “about four months” after they occurred and when she did, she “grieved tremendously.”
“I feel what happened. It’s really hard to live with that,” she said.
“Even though I don’t know what happened,” Majewska told the court, “I accept it.”
“I accept the responsibility for it,” she said. “It’s a real shame.”
Majewska noted that when it came to looking after her son, she “did it all” herself and had no choice because his IQ was 72.
“I had to be his guardian,” she said. “It wasn’t something I chose.”
Near the end of her time, Majewska expressed regret for her actions.
“I’m very sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said. “You have no idea. This is beyond belief . . . I really have done a lot of grieving.”
Prior to imposing the sentence, Langford-Morris noted Majewska talked “a lot about her(self) and what she did throughout her life.”
“At the very end, we got to the point about feeling sorry,” she said.