On December 11, 2008, 2-year-old Caylee Anthony's remains were found less than a mile from her grandparents' Orlando, FL, home. The toddler's grandmother reported her missing on July 15, 2008, but by that time, Caylee had already been missing for over a month.
The investigation into her disappearance and death eventually focused in on her mother, Casey Anthony, who subsequently stood trial for Caylee's murder. During the investigation and subsequent trial, the media criticized Casey Anthony for partying while her daughter was missing and for showing little emotion in the courtroom.
Despite what seemed to many like an open-and-shut case, Casey Anthony was acquitted of her daughter's murder in 2011. Since then, Anthony has continued making headlines, and many people, including members of law enforcement, question if she is truly innocent. Read on to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Casey Anthony's trial and its aftermath.
In October 2008, Casey Anthony Was Charged With Murdering Her 2-Year-Old Daughter, Caylee
The official search for 2-year-old Caylee Anthony began after her grandmother, Cindy Anthony, reported her missing on July 15, 2008. Cindy claimed she hadn't seen Caylee in over a month and couldn't get a consistent story from Caylee's mother, Cindy's 22-year-old daughter Casey Anthony, about Caylee's whereabouts.
Casey Anthony provided police with a number of conflicting stories, including one involving a babysitter kidnapping Caylee. Despite the lack of a body, police charged Anthony with first-degree murder in October 2008 for allegedly killing her daughter, along with a number of other charges related to the case.
Evidence against Anthony included a statement from her mother that Anthony's car smelled like a “dead body” and a poem written by Anthony following her daughter's disappearance that read, "What is given, Can be taken away. Everyone lies. Everyone dies."
Caylee's remains were discovered in a wooded area inside a laundry bag approximately two months later.
The Media Criticized Anthony For Attending Parties While Her Daughter Was Missing
As the media coverage of Caylee Anthony's death unfolded, they placed a great deal of attention on Casey Anthony's “partying” lifestyle. In addition to Anthony working at Fusion Nightclub in Orlando, she also attended parties while Caylee was missing and even entered a “Hot Bodies” contest four days after Caylee was last seen alive.
At the time, Anthony lived with her boyfriend and a few other roommates, yet she reportedly never told them Caylee was missing. In fact, Anthony allegedly told her friends Caylee was at Disney World with a nanny.
Anthony Accused A Woman She Had Never Met Of Kidnapping Caylee
During the time Caylee was missing, Anthony told several people a nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez was caring for her daughter. After Caylee was reported missing, Anthony indicated the nanny, who was nicknamed Zanny, kidnapped the little girl.
Fernandez-Gonzalez was, in fact, a real person but had never met either Casey or her daughter. After she was accused of being involved in Caylee's disappearance and murder, Fernandez-Gonzalez received death threats, lost her job, and suffered emotional distress.
She sued Anthony for defamation in September 2008 but lost.
Anthony's Father Attempted To Take His Own Life After Caylee's Body Was Discovered
Florida police found George Anthony, Casey's father and Caylee's grandfather, unresponsive with a five-page suicide note on January 23, 2009, a little over a month after Caylee's body was found.
The family's lawyer, Brad Conway, reported George missing the previous night; soon after, George began texting his friends and family, indicating he planned to take his own life. Police eventually used the messages to track his location and locate him.
Authorities reportedly found George in a hotel room surrounded by pill bottles, the contents of which he had partially consumed. He was then taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, and doctors reportedly determined George was suffering from depression related to his granddaughter's death.
Caylee's Body Underwent Two Different Autopsies
Dr. Jan Garavaglia was the first medical examiner to perform an autopsy on Caylee Anthony after the toddler's remains were found. Garavaglia cited that duct tape on the front of Caylee's skull indicated homicide, but determining the actual cause of death was impossible. Garavaglia noted that Caylee's skeletal remains showed no signs of trauma.
Casey Anthony's defense later called Dr. Garavaglia's work "shoddy" and brought in forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz; however, Spitz was also unable to determine an official cause of death.
During The Trial, Anthony's Defense Team Told The Jury Caylee Accidentally Drowned
During her trial, Casey Anthony's defense presented the idea that 2-year-old Caylee Anthony accidentally drowned in her grandparents' backyard pool, prompting the family to cover up her death. Anthony's lawyers even suggested George Anthony helped hide the body.
According to Anthony's lawyers, after Caylee drowned, George threatened Anthony by telling her she would go to jail for neglecting her daughter. Anthony claimed this threat was what caused the month-long delay in reporting Caylee missing.