Mother Does The Unthinkable
The disappearance and death of toddler Caylee Anthony captivated the nation when her young mother was put on trial for killing the two-year-old. Casey left her parents’ home with Caylee in Orlando, Florida on June 16, 2008, and didn’t return until a month later. During that time, Caylee’s grandparents George and Cindy Anthony requested on numerous occasions to see their granddaughter.
People across the nation tuned in, hoping for a safe return for the young girl. But then everyone’s worst fears were confirmed when the body of Caylee was found, not far from her home in Florida.
While Casey later admitted to lying to the police about important details in the case, there still wasn’t enough evidence to convict her of the murder of her daughter.
“Even if I would’ve told them everything that I told to the psychologist, I hate to say this but I firmly believe I would have been in the same place,” Anthony said. “Because cops believe other cops. Cops tend to victimize the victims. I understand now … I see why I was treated the way I was even had I been completely truthful.”
This mysterious case ultimately points to Casey being the culprit but with so many question marks, she was able to walk away with no charges. Casey either covered her tracks extremely well or she is indeed innocent.
Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the death of her daughter Caylee, but the nightmare is not over.
Where Did Caylee Go?
Casey repeatedly dodged their requests, telling them she was too busy at her job in Tampa, Florida, or claiming that Caylee was out and about with her nanny, Zenaida “Zanny” Fernandez-Gonzalez at the beach or a theme park. Little did her parents know what horrible thing happened to their precious grandchild.
Casey’s Car Emits a Strange Odor
On July 15, 2008, 31 days after Casey left home with Caylee, Cindy and George were doing yard work at their home when they spotted a note on their front door. They were instructed to pick up a certified letter from the post office where they learned that their daughter Casey’s car had wound up in a tow yard. When George went to pick up the car, he and the attendant at the tow yard noticed a strong smell emanating from the vehicle’s trunk. The odor was so distinct, they believed it smelled like a decomposing body. So they opened it up.
911 Call: “There Is Something Wrong”
When George opened the trunk, he saw an empty trash bag but there were no human remains inside. On the very same day, Cindy contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and reported that Caylee, 2, was missing. She told the 911 operator that she hadn’t seen her granddaughter in 31 days. She was very upset and said, “There is something wrong. I found my daughter’s car today, and it smells like there’s been a dead body in the damn car.” The following day, Casey was arrested and charged with giving false statements to law enforcement, child neglect, and obstruction of a criminal investigation.
The Nanny Lie
Detective Yuri Melich of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department was tasked with investigating Caylee’s disappearance. When he reached out to Casey to find out what happened to her daughter, Casey claimed that Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, whom she called “Zanny.” Casey had spoken about Zanny to her family and friends, but they had never seen or met her. It didn’t take police long to determine that Zanny didn’t exist and therefore couldn’t have taken Caylee. Casey had given false statements to the police. But it wasn’t the only big lie she was caught telling.
Casey Is Arrested, Released on Bond
For several years, Casey told her parents that she worked at Universal Studios. She told the police the same lie before eventually admitting that she had been fired a few years earlier. Following her arrest, Casey was denied bail. According to the judge assigned to her case, Casey had shown “woeful disregard for the welfare of her child”. But one month later Casey was released on bond. On Oct. 14, 2008, a grand jury indicted Casey on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and four counts of providing false information to police. But a body had yet to be found.
Mysterious Object Found Near the Anthony Home
In August 2008, meter reader Roy Kronk reported seeing a suspicious object near the Anthony residence. He called the police department several times, and when they finally performed a short search of the area they didn’t find anything unusual. The matter was dropped. Meanwhile, charges of child neglect against Casey were dropped, and on Oct. 28, 2008, she was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Two months later, the meter reader once again reported that he had spotted something that looked to be a gray bag near the Anthony’s property and it appeared to contain a human skull.
Human Remains Identified
Law enforcement officials searched the area again. The first time, in August, it was a much smaller search. This time they found a child’s remains in a trash bag. Investigators also recovered duct tape that was hanging from the body’s hair and tissue on the skull. Police searched the spot over several days and found additional bones in the forested area near the location where the remains had first been discovered. Medical examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia determined on Dec. 19, 2008, that the remains belonged to Casey Anthony. The child’s death was ruled a homicide although the cause of death was not determined.
The Evidence Piles Up
In April 2009, prosecutors decided that they would pursue the death penalty in the case against Casey Anthony. The trial took six weeks, from May to July 2011. One piece of evidence that was presented during the trial was hair recovered from Casey’s vehicle. The hair was similar to that tested from Caylee’s hairbrush and showed “root-banding,” which is what happens to the hair on a dead body. Forensic scientists also found chemical compounds “consistent with a decompositional event” in the trunk of Casey’s vehicle. The scientists also said there was chloroform in the car trunk, which would become a key part of the case.
Chilling Google Search Results
While investigating the case, officials released 700 pages of documents that included Google searches on a computer that was accessible by Casey Anthony. Google records showed search terms such as “neck breaking” and “how to make chloroform.” In addition, several photos were entered into evidence, including one found on the computer of Casey’s ex-boyfriend Ricardo Morales. The photo showed a poster with the caption “Win her over with Chloroform.” The colorless, sweet-tasting substance can be used to anesthetize, make unconscious, or kill a living thing. A simple search of the liquid shows how to make it on YouTube.
Casey’s Motive For Murder
In their opening statement, the prosecutors claimed Casey murdered her child by using chloroform to make her unconscious. In their point of view, Casey put duct tape over Caylee’s nose and mouth to suffocate her before putting the body in the trunk of her car. She was left in the vehicle for several days before being removed. As for motive, prosecutors portrayed Casey as a party girl who felt tied down by her toddler and wanted to escape being a mother. She didn’t want to take on parental responsibilities so she did the only thing she could; she made her little girl disappear.
An Accidental Drowning?
The defense had a completely different story. Casey’s lawyers claimed Caylee died accidentally and that her father George actually helped cover up the death. According to lead prosecutor Jose Baez, Caylee drowned in the family’s pool on June 16, 2008. Then George found his granddaughter’s lifeless body and told Casey she would spend the rest of her life in jail for child neglect. So he helped her cover up the incident. According to Baez, this is why Caylee’s disappearance wasn’t reported for about a month. But that wasn’t the most shocking claim that the defense lawyers made during opening statements.
Casey’s Lawyers Make a Stunning Accusation
According to her defense attorney, Casey habitually hid her pain and pretended nothing was wrong with her life because she had been sexually abused by her father since the age of eight. According to the opening statement, Casey’s brother Lee also allegedly made improper advances towards his sister. When prosecutors were asked to provide their first witness, George took the stand. He was asked if he sexually abused Casey, and he denied the allegations. George’s attorney said in a statement that George had nothing to do with the actions “established by the State of Florida in the presentation of their case.” Then disturbing evidence surfaced in court.
Heart Sticker Found on Casey’s Mouth
During the trial, it emerged that a heart-shaped sticker had been found on a corner of a piece of duct tape that has been used to cover Caylee’s mouth. FBI latent-print examiner Elizabeth Fontaine did not find fingerprints on the duct tape, which isn’t unusual given the time that the remains had been exposed outside to the elements. However, Fontaine noted the presence of the heart-shaped adhesive because it was unusual. The sticker was no longer visible after dye testing was performed on the tape, but it was similar to a roll of heart-shaped stickers police found in Casey’s bedroom.
Were the Crime Scene Photos Staged?
Forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz testified on behalf of the defense, called the original autopsy “shoddy,” and criticized the medical examiner for not examining Caylee’s entire body, including her skull. He did a follow-up autopsy and said he was not comfortable ruling her death a homicide, saying there was no indication she was murdered. He believed duct tape was placed on the skull after the body decomposed. He also suggested some of the crime scene photos had been staged. He revealed during cross-examination: “It wouldn’t be the first time, sir. I can tell you some horror stories about that.”
Casey’s Mental State Questioned
The trial was halted temporarily by the judge on June 25, 2011, when Casey’s defense attorneys filed a motion with the court to determine if their client was competent to proceed with the trial. According to the motion, the defense received a privileged communication from their client that led them to believe “…Ms. Anthony is not competent to aid and assist in her own defense”. Following this motion, Casey underwent psychological evaluations. On June 27, Anthony was found competent to continue with the trial. And then more details about her father’s involvement came to light.
“An Accident That Snowballed out of Control”
Krystal Holloway, a volunteer who helped in the search for Caylee, testified that she had an affair with George. She claimed that George had told her that Caylee’s death was “an accident that snowballed out of control.” Although George reportedly knew about Caylee’s death, according to Holloway he was not present when the incident occurred. George denied having an extramarital affair with Holloway, but the woman’s testimony was damning. The judge told jurors that while Holloway’s testimony could be used to question George Anthony’s credibility, it did not prove how Caylee died and/or provide evidence as to whether Casey was guilty or innocent.
It took the jury just one day to determine Casey Anthony’s fate. They began deliberations on July 4, 2011, and on July 5 found her not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and aggravated child abuse. She was found guilty of providing false information to law enforcement. Casey was sentenced to one year in county jail and $4,000 in fines. She received 1,043 days credit for time served and good behavior. She was released on July 17, 2011, and was ordered to pay $217,000 to the state of Florida for investigative and prosecution costs. But the nightmare was not over.
Not Enough Evidence
Following the verdict, one of the jurors, nursing student Jennifer Ford, told ABC News, “I did not say she was innocent” and “I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.” She added, “I’m not saying that I believe the defense,” but that “it’s easier for me logically to get from point A to point B” following the defense argument versus the prosecution’s argument. She also believed George Anthony was “dishonest” and she and her fellow jurors were sick over the not-guilty verdict.
Justice Wasn’t Served
In a new Investigation Discovery documentary, George Anthony said he will never speak to his daughter again. According to a report by the National Enquirer, he said: “We are done because when this happened, I lost my daughter and my granddaughter. I lost them both.” He added, “Justice would be to have my daughter behind bars and have her suffer the way Caylee suffered.” In 2011, he told Dr. Phil he didn’t believe Caylee drowned. He said: “I believe that Casey or someone else that she was with possibly gave too much [drugs] to Caylee…she fell asleep and didn’t wake up.”
No Longer on Speaking Terms
In the new documentary Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery, Cindy recalled how devastated she felt when she heard about Caylee’s death. “It was horrible,” she revealed. “I felt like someone had punched me in the gut and taken every breath from out of my body, and my heart was just being ripped apart. All of our prayers and all of our hopes were gone.” Nine years following their granddaughter’s death, George and Cindy still reside in the same house, which is just a few hundred feet from where Caylee’s remains were found. Neither speaks to their daughter Casey.
A New Theory
In that same documentary, George Anthony expanded on his earlier theory that he expressed in the Dr. Phil interview in 2011. George believes his daughter had been using the popular sedative Xanax to “babysit” Caylee while she was out spending time with Anthony Lazarro, her new boyfriend at the time. He told the documentary crew “Caylee was always a very healthy child, a very healthy girl, but there were times that she would sleep for 10, 12, 13 hours at a time, makes no sense to me…I could see a difference with blackness underneath the eyes and stuff like that. A two-and-a-half, three-year old child would not have that unless something is going on…I believe she gave her something.” According to George, he believes Caylee may have been given too much of the drug, which ultimately lead to the toddler’s death.
Casey Anthony’s Life Today
Casey is currently living with private detective Patrick McKenna in South Florida. He was the lead investigator in her case. She works with McKenna and helps him on the research side of his investigations. Casey also started her own photography business in 2016. According to People magazine, she has very few friends but has dated some men in her inner circle over the past few years. An insider told the magazine: “She can’t hold a real job, and she doesn’t really make a lot of friends, for obvious reasons. When people find out about her history, they usually bail on her.”
Casey Anthony – Party Girl?
Is it really surprising that she doesn’t have any friends? The sad story always goes back to the details surrounding the case of Casey Anthony. Even though there was not enough evidence to convict her, there are still all those sordid details that surrounded her lifestyle: drinking, carousing, and carrying on. Perhaps she should not have been judged so harshly. You could say she was young. She was just looking to have some fun. And, it’s even probable that she really didn’t’ mean to hurt anyone, least of all her beautiful little girl. The reality of those captivating photos, though, remind us once again that she was a mother, and that her child needed her.
Casey Anthony – Jailbird
Another very-real reason why people are steering away from Casey Anthony is because she spent time in prison. Even though the evidence wasn’t enough to convict her, there will always be that niggling feeling in the back of your mind. You may wonder if she really was innocent. Or, you may wonder what she went through in prison. And, all the time, you still remember that she was in prison because the prosecutors were trying to prove that she had something to do with her daughter’s death. There’s a lot of mystery still, but there’s also a certain squeamishness. Do you ever want to get too close? After all, you might wonder what such a person might be capable of…
The Roy Kronk Lawsuit
In the fall-out, after Casey Anthony was found “not guilty, she became fast-fodder for lawsuits. Roy Kronk, in particular, had good cause to launch a suit for damages against her. He was the meter reader who discovered the body of Caylee Anthony. He repeatedly reported seeing a “suspicious object,” in 2008, and even said that he saw a “gray bag” with what appeared to be a “human skull” inside. Anthony’s defense team had attempted to discount his reports by calling him a “child snatcher” and saying that he was “morally bankrupt.” For those very-personal attacks, he sued for Casey Anthony for defamation.
Zenaida Gonzalez Sued Casey Anthony
Of course, Roy Kronk wasn’t the only person who was victimized and adversely affected by the lies of Casey Anthony and her legal team. There’s also the big-whopper of a story that Casey told about the imaginary nanny, “Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.” She called her “Zanny,” which really was crazy, since the apartment Casey claimed that the babysitter rented had been empty for months. Further, nobody by that name had ever lived there.
At the time of the initial investigations, detectives located her at a hotel in Kissimmee, and even interviewed her, but she was not arrested, nor did she appear to be implicated in any way regarding the supposed “kidnapping” of Caylee.
Casey Anthony’s lie about Zenaida Gonzalez might have just been uncovered by the detectives and been harmless, if it weren’t for the fact that there really was a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez, and she was inextricably caught up in the haphazard circus of Casey’s lies. When her name was made public, she received death threats. She also lost her job, which also included lodging. So, you probably wouldn’t be at all surprised that she also sued Casey. In the defamation lawsuit, Gonzalez claimed that Casey’s lies had hurt her reputation and also embarrassed her. She believed that she had cause to demand compensation.
Zenaida Gonzalez – The Rest of the Story
Casey Anthony’s legal team argued that Zenaida Gonzalez was just trying to make money off the case, and that the defamation should be thrown out. The lawyers had, after all, argued in court that the babysitter was a “fictional person.” A judge later dismissed the case, but that wasn’t the last we would hear about Zenaida Gonzalez.
While you might have felt sorry for Zenaida when she was the apparent victim of lies and mistaken/fictional identity, she was arrested (for real this time) in 2016, with charges of credit card theft and grand theft. According to police reports, she and Jonathan Acevedo were accused of stealing a cancer-patient’s credit card while he was going through treatment, and then using it to go on a spending spree through Walmart, Sports Authority, and Home Depot.
Not The First Time For Zenaida Gonzalez
The recent arrest of Zenaida Gonzalez is not the first time she’s had a brush with the law. She also made headlines in 2012, when she sold alcohol to an underage minor (who was also working with the police). At the time of that earlier arrest, she’d been working at Circle K, and she’d asked the teen for his ID. But, she didn’t actually check the kid’s age, and he was not old enough to buy booze.
Some would just believe that Zenaida has just been the target of a lot of really bad luck, but there’s also that very-real history of apparently just making very poor choices in life and in her workplace situations. Obviously, she didn’t deserve to be threatened, based on the lies of Casey Anthony, but she also lost her job at Circle K for selling alcohol to an underaged boy.
Blockbuster For Ratings
The fascination of the general public by this case can not be overrated, though. The telecast of the Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery has broken all records for Investigation Discovery (ID). It’s the biggest hit ever, with 2.9 million viewers in Live+same day ratings. There’s also something sad about that reality. The public is pulled in by the murder-mystery, while we’re watching as the whole train-wreck of lives slowly unravel. And, what about Casey Anthony? Is it really right to make her some sort of a star? How sick is that, really?
The OJ Simpson Comparison?
At face value, the case of Casey Anthony would seem to be dramatically different from the OJ Simpson case, but are they really that different? Both of these figures were at the very center of a media frenzy, where people close to them met terribly and untimely ends. A possible new reality TV show could co-star OJ and Casey. According to the Daily Mail reports, “It will give viewers the inside story on the aftermath of living with the horrible crimes they were ultimately acquitted of.” Both of these controversial figures were put on trial, and ultimately acquitted, after all the sordid details of their lives were paraded through court. It was a circus. It just makes sense to make them the center of reality-TV shows, right?
Nancy Grace Is Troubled By Spotlight
Is it any wonder that Nancy Grace has expressed her consternation about the recent media frenzy surrounding Casey Anthony. She knows the story so intimately. Even the most minute details were flashed across her screen, and she seemingly analyzed every micro-expression by Casey Anthony. She could not hope to miss the smiles and side-glances, which often did not capture the sense that she was a bereaved mother, trying to prove her innocence. Are you surprised or shocked that Nancy Grace is reportedly both angry and saddened by the media attention that Casey Anthony is getting.
Still The Most Hated Mom In America?
Nancy Grace famously called Casey Anthony “the most hated mom in America,” but there was a lot of truth to that. You may have found yourself glued to the TV screen, just waiting for any developments in the case of the sweet little angel who had ended up dead. It would be difficult to find a woman in recent memory who has inspired as much hate mail and overall disgust by family, friends, and even complete strangers as Casey Anthony has done. Even after all these years, it’s easy to see why you still remember the woman and the case, linked principally to the general belief by viewers that she was guilty of poor judgment at the very least and perhaps even something far more sinister and deadly.
Was Casey Anthony Really Unscathed?
For all the big fuss about being found not-guilty in her trial, Casey Anthony appears not be have come out of the whole saga unscathed. Beyond the fact that her parents really believe that she contributed to the death of her own child (and don’t speak to her), she also famously went bankrupt. That’s probably what happens after a month-long trial, as well as a mountain of defamation lawsuits.
In 2013, Casey filed for Chapter 7 protection, citing nearly $800,000 in liabilities.
Casey Anthony Stiffs Her Lawyer
The whole reason lawyers defend their clients with such vigor is because they are being well-compensated for their work, right? Or, it’s because they know their client is innocent. That could be it. Neither of those assumptions seem to hold true with the case of Casey Anthony.
In the bankruptcy filings, she included her lawyer’s fairly hefty bill of $397,000. And, the final report for the Chapter 7 settlement indicates that Jose Baez received nothing. Other creditors include: the IRS ($32,000) and the Sheriff’s department ($145,660).
Other Shenanigans With The Lawyer?
The mystery of how Casey Anthony really got her lawyer to believe in her may have also been inadvertently supported by some of the documents that were released as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. You may have already heard the rumors that she had inappropriate relations with her attorney, and that’s probably not even completely unheard of. But, what about the possibility that there really were promises of sex in exchange for representation? It might explain why Jose Baez allowed that huge legal bill to grow so large. Of course, there’s not likely to be a response to those very salacious allegations.
Dominic Casey Comes Clean?
Casey Anthony’s bankruptcy filing may have inadvertently unearthed details that would not have ever been made public otherwise. Affidavits were unsealed, which include reports from Dominic Casey, the private investigator hired by Jose Baez. According to those reports, Dominic said, “Baez had told me that Casey had murdered Caylee and dumped the body somewhere and, he needed all the help he could get to find the body before anyone else did.”
What About Caylee?
As you review the sordid details of the search for Caylee Anthony, and the eventual discovery of her grisly remains, you’ve also been discovering a great many facts and realities about her mother’s life and experience. Whatever her past may be, you get the sickening sense that the loss of that little girl is one that none of us will ever recover from. We have a complex series of mysteries, mixed up with dramatic (even soap-opera level) stories, and fake news. Twirl all that around, and splash it all over the TV on a periodic basic, and you realize that more questions are constantly arising, and the answers are probably dead and buried.
Caylee At 12
If you forget to remember that Caylee died, whether by purposeful or accidental means, you may be able to realize that Caylee would have turned 12 years old this year. She would be in that in-between stage (tween years), and you can imagine that she would have been beautiful, maybe even looking more like her mother. As her mother famously said in an exclusive 2017 interview, “Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total badass.” As you can imagine, that “badass” comment did not sit well with the very-angry Nancy Grace either.
How do grandparents come to terms with the loss of their grandchild, particularly when it’s under such tragic and preventable circumstances. Though we may never know exactly what happened in the last moments for Caylee Anthony, you’ve only to look at the faces of George and Cindy to see that their loss was deep and heart-felt. Imagine a parent’s pain, in their belief that their child had something to do with the death of their granddaughter. It’s really unimaginable. And then you see the words and the image on their T-shirts: “You will always remain in our hearts.”
Mother And Daughter Smiles
Against the very-colorful backdrop of rumors, innuendo, lies and death, there’s something real in the early pictures of Casey Anthony with Caylee, and you can’t help but wonder how it could have all gone so terribly wrong. And, there’s also the directive that becomes ever-more-clear — that such a tragic chain of events can not be allowed to happen again. Never. Ever.
How does a child disappear for a month without an immediate search for her whereabouts? How is a woman able to fabricate a series of increasingly more-elaborate and disturbing lies (and get away with it)? How is it that justice will never be done? The culprit will never be punished, and those who knew (and loved) Caylee will never feel that her death has been avenged?
Memorial to Caylee Anthony
In the end, we have but to look at the heart-wrenching picture of the memorial that so quickly appeared near the spot where Caylee Anthony’s body was found. There may not have been any justice that was wrought for her tragic death, but there’s some small comfort that there’s a whole world out there who have hoped for her safe return, and then sobbed with an almost-overwhelming outpouring of compassion when they discovered that Caylee was dead. You can see…
If you’ve followed the story, you know everything there is to know about her short life. That innocent smile will stay with us forever. RIP.