If Casey Anthony Didn't Kill Her Daughter, Who Did? 5 Theories Explain How Caylee Anthony Really Died

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Who Killed Caylee Anthony? 5 Theories Explain How Caylee Anthony Really Died If Casey Anthony Didn't Murder Her
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Who killed Caylee Anthony? The question still remains more than a decade after the 2-year-old's body was found.

Casey Anthony was acquitted of her young daughter's murder, but Caylee's cause of death is still a mystery.

The toddler's body was found stuffed in plastic bags and buried in a wooded area near her Florida home five months after she went missing. The murder trial gained national interest and Casey Anthony became the new O.J. Simpson in the courtroom.

The "monster mother," as many tabloids described her, was charged with first-degree murder in 2008. To the nation's surprise, she was acquitted by a jury in 2011, despite prosecutors' pleas for the death penalty.

RELATED: Marcia Clark Says She Has "Pretty Big" Evidence That Proves Casey Anthony Killed Her Daughter Caylee

Anthony was convicted of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers. Her defense attorney, Jose Baez, argued that the toddler accidentally drowned in the family's pool and that her body was disposed of by someone else.

The final verdict leaned heavily on the fact that Caylee's cause of death was never determined. Many people believe her mother got away with murder. But if she didn't kill Caylee, who did? 

While we may never really know the answer to that question, we rounded up five theories that could possibly explain what really happened to Caylee Anthony.

1. Caylee accidentally drowned.

Jose Baez provided the courtroom with a theory that nobody killed the toddler. He said that she accidentally drowned in the family's pool.

“How in the world can a mother wait 30 days before ever reporting her child missing?" he stated. "That’s insane, that’s bizarre. The answer is actually relatively simple. She never was missing. Caylee Anthony died on June 16, 2008, when she drowned in her family’s swimming pool.”

Baez went on to say that Casey Anthony's father, George Anthony, found the drowned child and told Casey to "take care of it."

2. Casey's father killed Caylee.

During a series of psychological evaluations prior to her trial, Casey told psychiatrist Jeffrey Danziger that her father molested her as a child. This fueled the theory that George drowned Caylee while trying to molest her and covered it up.

Baez argued that George found Caylee's dead body in the pool and brought the 2-year-old to her mother in a panic.

“I took her from him and collapsed on the porch. He was yelling at me... your fault, couldn’t believe you did this... He left the house... saying, ‘Daddy is going to take care of it...' I think he held her underwater, maybe he was doing something to her and tried to cover it up... I don’t think it’s an accident and I didn’t do it.”

RELATED: Who Is Caylee Anthony's Father? 7 Theories About The Toddler’s Dad And Why Casey Anthony Says She’ll Never Reveal His Identity

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3. 'Zanny the Nanny' was actually Xanax and not a real person.​ 

Podcaster Marcus Parks believes that Anthony killed Caylee with Xanax, and that when she claimed that her daughter was kidnapped by her nanny named "Zanny," she was actually referring to the drug's nickname.

"When [Caylee] was not around, Casey Anthony would tell her parents and her boyfriend that she was being taken care of by ‘Zanny the Nanny,’" Parks said. "But I think ‘Zanny the Nanny’ was actually Xanax. I think she was giving her child Xanax... to put her to sleep so she didn’t have to deal with her."

Xanax is often referred to as "zanny," which could have easily been how Anthony covered up the fact that she was sedating her daughter.

4. Anthony covered Caylee's face with duct tape to kill her.

Although there are conflicting reports of where the duct tape was found on Caylee's body, an Oxygen documentary special, "The Case of" Caylee Anthony," insists that the tape was simply used to hide Caylee's face, so her mother wouldn't have to look at the toddler.

Former FBI supervisory special agent, Jim Clemente, provided a theory that Anthony used the tape to avoid watching her daughter die.

“It’s not determinative, but it is a possibility," Clement explained. "To me, instead of doing all this, anybody could actually reach across and just smother a child like this.

To go to all the trouble to tear off three pieces of duct tape to do that job, it doesn't seem reasonable under the circumstances. At the behavioral analysis unit, we’ve studied cases like this where offenders will cover the face of their victim so they don’t have to look at the victim.”

5. Anthony accidentally used too much chloroform.

Former Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr., who presided over the trial in 2011, believes that Anthony may have accidentally killed her daughter with chloroform. Authorities discovered that someone had searched for the keywords "chloroform" and "how to make chloroform" on Anthony's computer.

“There was a possibility that she may have utilized that to keep the baby quiet... and just used too much of it, and the baby died,” he said. “That’s just one of the many theories as to how this beautiful young lady [Caylee] tragically met her death.” 

If the jury had come to the conclusion that this theory was true, Anthony would most likely have been charged with second-degree murder or manslaughter, although he didn't "find fault" with the jury's verdict, Perry continued.

RELATED: Casey Anthony's Judge Admits He Thinks She Killed Caylee — 5 Pieces Of Evidence That Back Him Up 

Sarah Gangraw has a degree in journalism and writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter — she's occasionally funny.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in July 2018 and was updated with the latest information.