We'll never know exactly what happened, but the evidence looks pretty clear...
In what was called the "Social-Media Trial of the Century" by Time Magazine, the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony — and the possibility that her mother, Casey Anthony, might be her killer — touched the hearts of millions.
If you're not familiar with the case, here's some brief background:
On July 15, 2008, Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy — who shared a home with her Casey's father, Casey, and Caylee — called 911, saying she was concerned that she hadn't seen her 2-year-old granddaughter for a month.
“There is something wrong," she told the operator, "I found my daughter’s car today [and] it smells like there’s been a dead body in the damn car."
Cindy claimed to have asked Casey about the girl's whereabouts several times over those past 30 days. Each time she would receive a different answer from her daughter, none of which led actually to Caylee.
The next day, Casey Anthony was arrested on allegations of child neglect, providing false information to investigators, and obstructing a criminal investigation. She was released on bail, but later re-arrested on a separate charge of alleged petty theft.
Human remains found near the Anthony home that December and were later confirmed to be those of Caylee Anthony.
As someone who is obsessed with true crime news, I remember trying to get my own little one to nap during the trial’s lunch hour so that I could nap too and be ready to follow the afternoon session on CourtTV. And when the jury came back with a verdict of "Not Guilty" in July of 2011, I joined in the communal rage so many others felt at this seeming injustice.
How could she not have been Caylee Anthony's murderer? All of the evidence was right there!
Or was it?
Nearly six years later Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who presided over Casey Anthony's trial, has shared what he believes to be the most logical explanation for Caylee Anthony's death.
In an interview with local WFTV news in Orlando, FL, Perry said:
“The most logical thing that occurred, in my eyesight, based on everything I know about the case, was that she did not intentionally kill her daughter. I think based upon the evidence, the most logical thing that happened was that she tried to knock her daughter out by the use of chloroform and gave her too much chloroform, which caused her daughter to die.”
The full video is below.
Perry added, "There was never any evidence of abuse of the daughter that was documented, that was presented anywhere ... Most folks forget that chloroform was used as anesthesia back in the day before there was real anesthesia, to render someone unconscious. So considering the high levels of chloroform that was found in the trunk of the car, that was my logical deduction for what happened. That's just a theory. The only person who actually knows what happened is Casey Anthony."
"On June 16, 2008, after Caylee died, Casey did what she's been doing all her life, hiding her pain, going into that dark corner and pretending that she does not live in the situation that she's living in ... it all began when Casey was 8 years old and her father came into her room and began to touch her inappropriately and it escalated ... Casey Anthony was raised to lie ... Sex abuse does things to us, it changes you ... She's not guilty of murder ... This is not a murder case. This is a sad, tragic accident that snowballed out of control."
Casey's father, George, denied all claims of wrongdoing.
While we can't bring Caylee back as we'd wish, we can review these 5 keys pieces of evidence that seem to prove her mother was responsible.
1. "Zanny" the Nanny.
When Cindy Anthony asked about Caylee's whereabouts, Casey would often say she was with her nanny, Zenaida "Zanny" Fernandez-Gonzalez. That was a lie.
Though Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez does, in fact, exist, she's never met Caylee, Casey, or any of the Anthony family. This was a complete fabrication on the part of Casey. Does that make her guilty? Not with this information alone. But if she didn't have anything to hide, why create a fake nanny?
And the woman's life changed when she became associated with the case.
See what Fernandez-Gonzalez has to say about it here:
2. Google searches found on Casey Anthony's computer.
On June 16, 2008, the day Caylee Anthony disappeared, someone on a computer in the Anthony household which Casey had access to searched Google for the following terms:
- Chest trauma
- Internal bleeding
- How to make chloroform
- Neck breaking
- Foolproof suffocation
You don't have to be a detective or a scientist to know those terms are not typically searched by the average person.
Cindy Anthony at first claimed to have been the one searching for information on chloroform because she was concerned that a chemical form of "chlorophyll" — found in bamboo — was making her dog lethargic. However, Cindy Anthony's co-workers testified that she was at work that day and could not have been at home making those searches.
3. The smell and contents found in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car.
As mentioned earlier, Cindy Anthony claimed to have smelled something like a decomposing body in the trunk of Casey's car.
During the investigation, the car trunk was found to contain chemical compounds "consistent with a decomposition event."
Detectives also found chloroform and a single hair that matched hair taken from Caylee's hairbrush. During the trial, FBI hair analyst Karen Korsberg Lowe testified about the strand of hair that, "It has a darkened band at the root portion of the hair. This is consistent with apparent decomposition."
4. Casey's "Bella Vita" tattoo.
Another witness, tattoo artist, Bobby Williams, testified that Casey Anthony came into his shop on July 2, 2008 — roughly 2 weeks after Caylee had been last seen — to have the words "Bella Vita" (Italian for "beautiful 'life") tattooed near her collar bone. Williams shared that Casey seemed happy and spoke to someone on her phone during the tattoo session.
Even more disconcerting, several of Casey's friends testified that during the time Caylee was missing, Casey seemed consistently "upbeat."
5. Win Her Over With Chloroform
During his own testimony, Casey's ex-boyfriend, Ricardo Morales, admitted to having posted a meme on his MySpace page which showed "romantic couple" next to the words, "Win Her Over With Chloroform."
Maybe this was a private joke between the two of them about using chloroform to sedate Caylee during their time together.
Maybe this was a sick rape joke between Morales and his friends — and a possible source of inspiration for Casey.
We just don't know.
What we do know is that while the cause of Caylee's death is technically undetermined, chloroform was the most likely means.
When it comes down to it, these five pieces of evidence paint a grim picture of a mother who — whether purposely or accidentally — killed her toddler.
We'll never know what really happened. We can only hope that Caylee is at peace and that one day, justice will be served.