He found Stanley dead on the second-floor landing. He had been shot 19 times. Police believe the 34-year-old Stanley, who had a lengthy criminal record in Florida, was ambushed Wednesday by at least one gunman while he carried his daughter's pink Hello Kitty suitcase downstairs.
When Aryana was found about 8 a.m. Thursday, she was curled in her father's bed, hungry and traumatized. Twenty-four hours earlier, she heard the shots on the landing and tried to wake him. With nowhere to go, she stayed alone with her father.
With help from friends and family in Florida who pooled money for a flight, Cassieri arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday night and went directly to her daughter, who was in the care of the Department of Human Services.
"Did you eat?" Cassieri asked her.
"Daddy couldn't get me anything," the child answered, still dressed in a peach shirt with butterflies, jeans, and pink Air Jordan sneakers her father had put on her for the flight.
"He wasn't sleeping," Aryana told her mother. "He was dead. He died. I saw the blood."
Aryana told her mother that after so many hours alone, she laid down in her father's bed.
"It was dark in there for a really, really long time," the child said.
But Cassieri is still waiting to be reunited with Aryana - stuck in a nightmare, she said, while the city goes through its protocol.
Although homicide investigators quickly cleared Cassieri of anything to do with Stanley's death, she will not be able to regain custody of her daughter until at least Monday, because DHS officials placed the child in temporary foster care.
Alicia Taylor, a spokeswoman for DHS, said the agency is obligated to obtain a court custody order any time a child is left in its care. A protective court places a 72-hour hold on a child's custody.
"Everyone understands how tragic this situation is, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," Taylor said, "but once it's a court matter, it's out of our hands."
Since there are no allegations of abuse or neglect against Cassieri, there is no reason the judge would not return Aryana to her mother Monday.
Still, that brings little comfort to Cassieri.
"She is traumatized. You can see it in her eyes," she said. "She has been through a lot. She has seen a lot. She needs to be with her family. . . . I need my baby."
Cassieri said that when she spoke with DHS before leaving Florida, an agency supervisor told her she would be able to take Aryana home with her that night.
But when Cassieri arrived at DHS headquarters around 10 p.m. Thursday and was told she would have to speak to police, DHS officials told her they were placing Aryana in a foster-care facility until a judge could hold a hearing in the morning, she said.
When Cassieri heard back from the agency Friday morning, she was told the hearing had been scheduled for Monday.
"I kept pushing and pushing, saying she's been through too much, that she needs to come home," Cassieri said. "They said they would contact their legal department to push up the date, but that they didn't think it was going to happen."
She said the DHS official she spoke with Friday morning told her it was not clear whether she would be able to visit her daughter over the weekend.
"She put the phone down and asked someone, 'Is she going to be able to see her?' " Cassieri said. "Then she came back and said, 'I don't know, I'll have to be able to get back to you.' "
By late Friday afternoon, the agency had gotten back to Cassieri, telling her that while the court hearing was still scheduled for Monday, they had been able to arrange a visit Friday night.
The two-hour supervised visit was at a West Philadelphia foster-care center, Cassieri said.
"All she kept talking about was how she wanted to go home," Cassieri said.
When the time was up, Aryana began to scream and cry.
"She was yelling, 'Why can't I go with you? Why can't I go with you?' and I'm telling her she can't."
Cassieri, who is staying with a family friend in West Philadelphia, said she was told she would be able to visit Aryana for two hours Saturday and two hours Sunday.
She was told Aryana was being moved to a different foster-care facility, Cassieri said, but not where they were taking her daughter.