The Death of Caylee Anthony and the Timeline of Events Behind Her Disappearance
Bella Vita, or ‘beautiful life’ are the words Casey Anthony had tattooed on her body while her three-year-old daughter, Caylee was missing and had been for the past month; Dancing on bars, doing drugs, and being promiscuous are all acts of a mother who claimed to be totally clueless as to the whereabouts of her young daughter. After Casey got pregnant unexpectedly at 18, she decided to continue living in the home with her parents and raise Caylee there. During the first two years of Caylee’s life, Casey was a devoted and loving mother who seemed to be ecstatic about being a first time mom; despite her beautiful and bubbly exterior, she was a master manipulator. The cracks in her personality began to show when her parents caught her lying about the identity of Caylee’s birth father when the results of a paternity test came back; It wasn’t until she was caught in this lie that she revealed that Caylee’s true father died in an accident before Caylee was born. On June 15, 2008 Casey left the family home with Caylee in tow and promised to return within a week. One week passed, then two, and once her parents received a note that her car was in a tow yard in a totally different part of Florida than she claimed she was going, they set out to find her and Caylee; They had no inclination of how their lives were about to change.
Unbeknownst to her parents, Casey was dating a man in Orlando by the name of Anthony Lazzarro and planned on going to visit him instead of going on a work trip like she initially told them. On the night Caylee was last seen and Casey was supposed to be working, she was seen in a blockbuster video store with Lazzarro and Caylee was nowhere in sight. The story she told her parents was much different: She claimed that she was taking Caylee to go stay with a nanny while she traveled back and forth between Tampa and Jacksonville for her job with Universal Studios. Casey consistently dodged questions from her parents on why they couldn’t talk to Caylee and why she wasn’t coming home sooner. She told them her car broke down and was having issues getting it fixed. When her parents received the notice in the mail that her car was in a tow yard, they immediately went to Florida to find out what was happening.
When George and Cindy arrived at Universal Studios to find their daughter, they were informed that she in fact did not work there. After Casey was located at Anthony’s apartment and it smelled like marijuana, her parents knew Caylee wasn’t there. When they asked her where Caylee was, she told them that she dropped her off at the ‘Zanny the Nannies’ house and she refused to return her for the past 31 days. When her car was searched by her parents, they both immediately came to the startling discovery that the car smelled like decomposition on the inside. Her mother immediately called authorities to report her granddaughter missing and this first call sparked one of the most sensational unsolved cases in United States history. The following transcript is from the initial 911 call placed by Cindy Anthony:
Cindy Anthony: “I have someone here who I need to be arrested in my home.”
911 Operator: “They are there right now?”
Cindy Anthony: “And I have a possible missing child. I have a 3-year-old who has been missing for a month.”
911 Operator: “A 3-year-old? Have you reported that?”
Cindy Anthony: “I’m trying to do that now.”
911 Operator: “OK, what did the person do that you need arrested?”
Cindy Anthony: “My daughter.”
911 Operator: “For what?”
Cindy Anthony: “For stealing an auto and stealing money. I already spoke to someone who said they would patch me through to the Orlando Sheriff’s Department and have a deputy here. I was in the car and I was going to drive her to the police station, and no one is open. They said they would bring a deputy to my home when I got home to call them.”
911 Operator: “So, she stole your vehicle?”
Cindy Anthony: “Yes.”
911 Operator: “When did she do that?”
Cindy Anthony: “On the (June) 30. I just got it back from the impound. I’d like to speak to an officer. Can you have someone come out to my house?”
Another call featured the first words heard from the mother of the missing girl. She said she knows who has her daughter.
Cindy Anthony: “I called a little bit ago to the deputy sheriff’s and I’ve found out that my granddaughter has been taken — she has been missing for a month. Her mother had finally admitted that she had been missing.”
911 Operator: “What is the address you are calling from?”
Cindy Anthony: “We are talking about a 3-year-old little girl. My daughter finally admitted that the baby sitter stole her. I need to find her.”
911 Operator: “Your daughter admitted that the baby is where?”
Cindy Anthony: “She said she took her a month ago and my daughter has been looking for her. I told you my daughter has been missing for a month and I just found her today. But I can’t find my granddaughter. She just admitted to me that she’s been trying to find her by herself. 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.”
911 Operator: “OK, what is the 3-year-old’s name?”
Cindy Anthony: “Caylee, C-A-Y-L-E-E, Anthony.”
911 Operator: “How long has she been missing for?”
Cindy Anthony: “I have not seen her since June 7.”
Anthony’s speech is then inaudible.
911 Operator: “Can you calm down for me for just a minute. I need to know what is going on. Is your daughter there? Can I speak with her? Do you mind if I speak with her?”
Casey Anthony: “Hello.”
911 Operator: “Hi. Can you tell me what’s going on a little bit?”
Casey Anthony: “My daughter has been missing for the last 31 days.”
911 Operator: “And, you know who has her?”
Casey Anthony: “I know who has her. I tried to contact her and I actually received a phone call today from a number that is no longer in service. I did get to speak to my daughter for about a minute.”
911 Operator: “Did you guys report a vehicle stolen?”
Casey Anthony: “Yes, my mom did.”
911 Operator: “OK, so there has been a vehicle stolen too?”
Casey Anthony: “No. This is my vehicle.”
911 Operator: “What vehicle was stolen?”
Casey Anthony: “It’s a 1998 Pontiac.”
911 Operator: “We have deputies on the way to you for that, but now your 3-year-old is missing — Caylee Anthony?”
Casey Anthony: “Yes.”
911 Operator: “You lost her a month ago?”
Casey Anthony: “Thirty-one days (ago).”
911 Operator: “Who has her? Do you have a name?”
Casey Anthony: “Her name is Zenida Fernandez Gonzalez.”
911 Operator: “Who is that, the baby sitter?”
Casey Anthony: “She’s been my nanny for about a year and a half or two years.”
911 Operator: “Why are you calling now? Why didn’t you call 31 days ago?”
Casey Anthony: “I’ve been looking for her and have gone through other resources to try to find her — which is stupid.”
After authorities discovered she lied to them in her interrogation about her place of employment and the fact that the nanny she claimed she hired to care for Caylee had no recollection of ever meeting the Anthony family. If the sole person who she stated took her daughter had no ties to the family, where did Caylee end up on the nights Casey was busy partying all night? With this evidence, she was arrested on child endangerment charges and obstruction of justice but was released shortly after on a $500,000 bail bond.
On December 11, 2008 Caylee’s body was located just miles from the Anthony home by a man responsible for reading parking meters. Her body was found inside of a grey bag; there was duct tape still clinging to soft tissue left on her skull near her mouth. Due to the state of her remains, a cause of death was not able to be determined. On her official death certificate, her death was ruled as a homicide with the cause of death being listed as unknown.
Jose Baez, Casey’s defense lawyer started opening statements claiming that Caylee drowned in the family pool and was found by George Anthony, Casey’s father. Jose stated that George told Casey she would spend the rest of her life suffering in prison if she told the truth and because of this, she was forced into silence. Condemning her father even further, Jose went on to state that starting at age eight, George began sneaking into Casey’s room at night and sexually abusing her; there was absolutely no evidence to confirm these accusations. In a later interview with George, he stated that he had to force himself not to jump across the stand and attack Baez when he accused him of abusing Casey.
There were 400 pieces of evidence used in the trial against Casey Anthony that included a 9 inch long hair matching Caylee’s that was discovered in Casey’s trunk, a heart shaped sticker that was found over the piece of duct tape covering her mouth and a Winnie the Pooh blanket found with her body. Karen Korsberg, a specialist in hair analysis testified that the hair found matching Caylee’s had root banding, which is consistent with being pulled from a decomposing body.
Another crucial piece of evidence in the case is the air sampling report taken from the air inside of the trash bags in Casey’s trunk. This sampling proved that there were chemical compounds consistent with decomposition and chloroform located within the trunk; A search of Casey’s computer located google searches from ‘How to make chloroform’ and ‘Neck breaking.’
Jan Garavaglia, chief medical examiner who performed Caylee’s autopsy testified that despite a lack of physical evidence found during her autopsy, she reached the conclusion that Caylee was murdered due to the fact that there was duct tape positioned near her mouth and nose and the large amount of time that went by without Casey actively doing anything to find her; a computer animated model was created demonstrating a hypothetical position of the duct tape where it would cover both Caylee’s nose and mouth, suffocating her. Despite the possibility of the duct tape having the potential to be the murder weapon, it was impossible to determine the way it was put on her face due to it being moved during transportation and decomposition of her soft tissues. Dr. Garavaglia also addressed the possibility that Casey might have tried to use a small amount of chloroform on Caylee and this resulted in her death; Any amount of this chemical is enough to cause death in a child her size.
Prosecution defense lawyer Jeff Ashton finished his closing arguments during trial while holding the Winnie the Pooh blanket found with Caylee’s body: “When you have a child, that child becomes your life. This case is about the clash between that responsibility, the expectations that go with it, and the life that Casey Anthony wanted to have-” As he looked at Casey, he held up the bag that Caylee’s body was found in: “That bag is Caylee’s coffin.” In this moment, Casey began crying.
On July 5, 2011 the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty on counts one through three that included first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and aggravated child abuse but did find her guilty of providing false information to police. The presiding judge on the case sentenced to Casey to one year in county jail and ordered her to pay $1,000 in fines; She was released on July 17, 2011 after she was credited 1,043 days for time served and good behavior.
After the trial concluded, alternate juror on the case 51-year-old Russel Huekler stepped forward and gave reasoning behind why Casey was found not guilty: “The prosecution didn’t provide the evidence that was there for any of the charges from first-degree murder down to second-degree murder to the child abuse to even the manslaughter charge. It just wasn’t there.” It is also believed that she was found not guilty due to a lack of official cause of death.
Casey is currently in Palm Beach, Florida living with the lead investigator on Casey’s defense team. She gave a recent interview with True Crime Daily; she is now a photographer and an artist; she sleeps with pieces of her artwork next to her bed and claims to live for Caylee. When asked what Caylee would be like today, at age 12, she said “A total bada**! I would like to think she’d be listening to classic rock, and playing sports and not taking ** from anybody.”
Casey now has dreams of becoming a private investigator and claims to use the tactics investigators used against her to try and frame her for Caylee’s murder on those she is investigating. When her parents were interviewed recently, her father stated that he has no desire to have anything to do with her and if she ever attempted to profit off of her story, he would go through with filing a civil lawsuit of wrongful death against his daughter.
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