The remains of Clarissa McCarthy, who was 3 years old when she was murdered by her father and buried with him in 2013, have been exhumed in Co Cork, bringing her grieving mother’s long battle closer to an end.
“Yesterday, Clarissa’s remains were taken to the Island Crematorium in Ringaskiddy,” Rebecca Saunders, Clarissa’s Irish American mother, said in an update on June 8.
“This final step before I could take her home was full of emotion and relief.
“I am so grateful for each and every person who has helped me be reunited with my darling Clarissa. Thank you.”
Yesterday, Clarissa‘s remains were taken to the Island Crematorium in Ringaskiddy. This final step before I could take her home was full of emotion and relief. I am so grateful for each and every person who has helped me be reunited with my darling Clarissa. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/1SDliqFTeN— Clarissa’s Cause (@ClarissasCause) June 8, 2022
In an earlier update, Saunders wrote on June 3: “Today, after over 9 years of wishing I could reverse a horrible decision, Clarissa was exhumed and separated from her murder.”
She added: “I cannot express my gratitude to everyone who has supported me in this journey. I could not have done it without you. Thank you.”
Today, after over 9 years of wishing I could reverse a horrible decision, Clarissa was exhumed and separated from her murder. More details are to come. I cannot express my gratitude to everyone who has supported me in this journey. I could not have done it without you. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/H3cnpLFym6— Clarissa’s Cause (@ClarissasCause) June 3, 2022
On March 5, 2013, Clarissa, 3, was drowned by her father Martin McCarthy, 50, at Audley Cove in West Cork. Martin then took his own life.
The night of the tragedy, Saunders, who was 26 at the time, had left the home to seek legal advice on separation and divorce proceedings from McCarthy.
In his suicide note, Martin reportedly wrote: "If you can take Clarissa to America, I can take Clarissa to Heaven.”
Three days after the deaths, Martin and Clarissa were buried together in the same plot in Co Cork.
Saunders, a native of California who now lives in Texas, has since admitted that burying Clarissa with her father was a mistake made "in the fog of grief."
She told The Irish Examiner: “Pretty much since the coffin closed, I regretted allowing Clarissa to be buried with Martin. And I would be very, very thankful if I could undo that."
"It’s very, very hard to think that my little girl is in his arms forever," she added.
In April 2021, a GoFundMe was launched for "Clarissa's Cause." Its target of $50,000 was met within five days of the fundraiser going live and has since gone on to raise more than $55,700.
The GoFundMe page says that Saunders decided to pursue exhumation "with great thought and consideration into the hurdles that may arise."
Saunders felt that bringing Clarissa back to the US might bring about "something akin to closure."
The GoFundMe page notes that any funds not used in the process will be evenly split between Edel House in Co Cork, an emergency residential center for women and children who have become homeless, and Cork University Maternity Hospital Neonatal Unit. Saunders confirmed in June 2021 that initial donations of €5,000 were made to each of those organizations.
In March of this year, Saunders shared that she had finally won permission from Cork County Council to exhume Clarissa's remains.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped to shape this into reality. You’ve no idea what this means to me and my family.— Clarissa’s Cause (@ClarissasCause) March 22, 2022