Today, Orange County police today declared the Orlando home of Casey Anthony an “active crime scene” after the skull of a young child was discovered this morning in a wooded area less than one-quarter of a mile away. No one is being allowed in the home, and the Sheriff’s Office was preparing a search warrant for the home. (NOTE: The graphic to the left is from Fox Orlando. They named the graphic “8_64_caylee_remains_map”. I guess Fox Orlando has already made the determination without forensic evidence.)
The bones were found by an Orange county utility worker around 9:30am this morning. The water meter reader reportedly picked up a duct tape bound plastic bag and a small skull rolled out that sources say strongly resembled that of a little girl, according to FOX News. Also according to the same report, duct tape was around the mouth area of the child’s skull.
Sheriff Kevin Berry said in a news conference today that he did not know of any other missing children in the area it could be but it is “always a possibility.”
“It is within close proximity, so there’s always the assumption,” Carlos Padilla of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. “But right now, it’s just an assumption.”
Orange County Capt. Angelo Nieves wouldn’t say whether the bones seemed to be those of the missing little girl. “At this point, it would be reckless to conclude that,” Nieves told FOX News. “We do have skeletal remains consistent with a small child. We will work with the medical examiner to make a proper identification.”
Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jim Solomons said, “Everyone’s going to be real quick to connect the dots back to the Anthony case but we’re not prepared to do that at this time.”
Tim Miller, founder and leader of Texas EquuSearch – the group that had been helping detective search for the missing girl – said a sheriff’s investigator in the case thinks the remains are Caylee’s. The bones “appear to be Caylee, but with any case, we have to wait until a positive ID is made,” Miller said. “It looks like finally it’s over with.”
EquuSearch stated their volunteers did not check the location where the remains were found as in early September the area was submerged in water. When they returned in November, the site had been fenced off. One of EquuSearch’s volunteers, Deborah Smith, stated she searched the area three times and said “she had a bad feeling” because Anthony had said her daughter was nearby. Smith said the area where the remains were found is “really wet and steep and there’s lots of snakes back there.”
The fastest the bones can be tested for DNA identification is a couple of days, if the case is given priority.
Orlando attorney José Baez who represents Casey and her parents has filed an emergency motion in court, requesting the defense to be present for all forensic testing. “If the body found is determined to be that of Caylee Marie Anthony, then the defense would request that their own experts be permitted to be present during any forensic testing done, including but not limited to DNA testing or autopsy,” Baez wrote in the motion. A hearing is set for Friday before Orange Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland.
ABC News Video of the Press Conference
Caylee Anthony disappeared in mid-June of 2008 when she was 2 years old, but she was not reported missing by her mother, Casey Anthony, 22, until a month afterward on July 15th. The case began with an emergency call from Anthony’s mother, Cindy Anthony. On the tape,s he can be heard saying, “I can’t find my granddaughter. … There’s something wrong,” Cindy Anthony said. “I found my daughter’s car today and it smelled like there’s been a dead body in the damn car.”
At the time, Casey allegedly told her family and police she had not seen her daughter for 31 days. Investigators said Casey had begun given them changing and inaccurate information. At the time, George Anthony, Casey’s father, stated that Casey’s behavior was unusual around the time Caylee went missing. According to a FOX News report, Casey was described by friends as a “habitual lair”.
Casey told police the last time she saw her child was when she dropped her off at a friend’s house, but had since lost contact with her friend. Casey also told police that her daughter wasn’t at the baby sitter’s house when she went to pick the child up, so she started her own investigation. She went to clubs that the baby sitter frequented and identified her as Zenaida Gonzalez. But when police went to the apartment Anthony said belonged to the alleged baby sitter, they learned it has been vacant for almost five months.
Casey also told police she worked at Universal Studios, and gave names of people who could vouch for her, according to the Orlando-Sentinel. But officials later learned she never worked at the theme part – and neither did the people she mentioned.
The day after Casey reported Caylee missing, she was arrested on charges including child neglect and for providing false information to law enforcement. The judge told Casey that “You left your 2-year-old child with a person who does not exist at an apartment you cannot identify and you lied to your parents about your child’s whereabouts,” said Judge John Jordan. “You cared so little about your child.”
But Casey soon became a stronger person of interest in Caylee’s disappearance after police found traces of chloroform and strands of hair similar to those of the little girl’s in the car last driven by Casey.
For weeks, search teams, panned out across central Florida looking for any trace of the young girl. Forensic lab results would show that the hair strand found in the trunk of Casey’s car showed “characteristics of apparent decomposition.” The hair was “microscopically similar” to hair strands found on Caylee’s brush, but the report said it could not conclusively say the hair in the trunk came from Caylee.
The state attorney’s office released an air sample report from a lab that found chemical compounds consistent with body decomposition. Chemicals in air samples were “consistent with a decompositional event that could be of human origin,” the report said.
The tests also found chloroform residue on portions of the trunk.
By this time, Cindy Anthony had also retracted the statement about her daughter’s car smelling like a dead body, saying that the smell in the car could have been from garbage.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez, the woman Casey said was the last person who she saw Caylee was found by police. The woman denied any involvement in the case, saying she didn’t even know the family and was cleared. Because of the claim, Gonzales lost her job, stated she could not find an apartment and received threats from Anthony supporters. She filed a defamation lawsuit against Casey.
Casey was officially charged for first-degree murder October 14th. She has been charged with child abuse, aggravated manslaughter, four counts of lying to investigators about Caylee’s disappearance and a “slew of check fraud charges” for forgery by this point. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges ranging from first-degree murder to lying to investigators. She faces life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors have said they won’t seek the death penalty in the case.
She remains in the Orange County Jail without bail.
If the remains are found to be Caylee’s between the duct tape around the mouth area, and the use of chloroform, this shows serious pre-meditation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the prosecution changes their mind about seeking the death penalty, and I would have to agree if they did. No plea bargains in this case should be allowed if the remains are found to be Caylee’s, as Casey has lied more times than can be counted combined with the use of chloroform and duct tape around the mouth area in a plastic bag is a horrible death for anyone, especially a toddler, with suspected cause of death (in my opinion) of suffocation, based upon the evidence and press released as to date.
Of course, if the remains are found to be Caylee, then the defense will bring up the psych defense. But there’s one problem with this. Why would this course of defense be brought up after the fact (which has not been proven at this moment) that the remains are Caylee’s? That’s too weak, and convenient timing.
And one thing really “irks” me about this case. Casey and Caylee lived with Casey’s parents. For over five weeks, Casey’s parents never saw their grandchild, although it is reported that Casey and Caylee lived with them. That just seems… odd. But what would they, the grandparents, have to gain out of Caylee’s death?
If the remains are shown to not be Caylee, then a new murder investigation begins about the death of an unknown toddler.
Either outcome is very, very sad.
- “’Compulsive Liar’ Florida Mother Arrested in Toddlers Disappearance Last Month”, FOX News, 17JUL08
- “Mom Charged With Murder in Caylee Anthony Case” – ABC News, 14OCT04
- “Report: Evidence of Body Decomposition in Casey Anthony’s Trunk” – ABC News, 24OCT08
- “Skull of a Young Child Found Near Home of Caylee Anthony’s Grandparents” – ABC News, 11DEC08
- “Small Child’s Remains Found Near Home of Caylee Anthony’s Family” – FOX News, 11DEC08
- “Remains appear to be Caylee Anthony, says researcher” – Orlando Sentinel, 11DEC08
- “[Timeline] Caylee Anthony Saga Has Taken Many Turns” – Tampa Bay Online, 12DEC08