It’s 2021, and Casey Anthony is in the news, again. This time, it has to do with a man, a drink, and a rival lover. She was hanging out at O’Shea’s Irish Pub on May 23rd, when an angry woman approached her and confronted her about some guy the two had once dated. They got into an obscene yelling match until the woman took it one step further and spilled a drink all over Anthony’s leg.
This girl has been harassing me for a while,” Anthony told authorities, “We dated the same person for a couple years[…] and she got upset that he had texted me.” She decided not to file a restraining order, explaining that she didn’t want to turn the situation into a big deal. And who could blame her? Just a decade earlier, her name was all over the news. She was the most hated woman in all of America.
Unless you’re living under a rock, you likely know who this troubled lady is. But before we get into what Casey Anthony has been up to lately, here’s a little tidbit for those who don’t know the story.
Casey Anthony is a puzzling piece of work. She waited one whole month before reporting that her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, was missing. Oh wait, it wasn’t even she who made the call to 911! It was her parents, a few hours after they made a different call complaining about their stolen vehicle that “smelled like there’s been a dead body” in it.
Sounds messy? That’s because it was. It was one of the most shocking, chilling cases in the history of murders. The murder of Caylee Anthony infuriated the public. People took to the streets with signs reading, “Baby Killer” and “Justice for Caylee!” They pounded their fists on the Anthonys’ front door and spat on their windows.
To this day, no one knows for sure what happened. Even though… the evidence clearly, clearly, clearly, points in one direction.
By all accounts, the Anthonys were just like any other all-American family. The dad, George, was a former cop, and the mom, Cindy, a registered nurse. They had a daughter, Casey, who was the absolute light of their lives. “A spirited child with a lot of energy,” Cindy reported.
Casey was a popular, spunky girl with almost enviable social skills. Her evenings were booked with tons of friends, alternating boyfriends, and lots of laughs. Things at home were also great. Her mom shared that the two would go on walks together, shop together, and do crafts. “We were inseparable,” she reminisced.
For things to take such a horrific turn only a few years later, is, honestly, ungraspable.
At just 19-years-old, Casey Anthony went up to her mom, Cindy, and hesitantly mouthed out “I’m pregnant.” She refused to say who the dad was, and, quite frankly, her mom didn’t care. Cindy was happy to be a grandmother and convinced (or forced, who knows?) her daughter to keep the baby.
That’s how Caylee Mary Anthony, a bubbly little creature, came into the world several months later on August 9. Grandma Cindy was the first one to hold her. “I melted when I looked into her eyes,” she told reporters, “Caylee reminded me a lot of Casey. It was like reliving her birth again.”
For two short years, the whole family lived under one roof.
In the evening of July 15th, 2008, the Orlando police got a 911 call from Cindy, who begged for someone to come to their home ASAP. “Our daughter stole our car,” she explained. When police arrived, they realized that the missing car was the least of this family’s problems.
Cindy and her daughter, Casey, had gotten into a huge fight that day. But Cindy’s call to the police wasn’t really about the stolen vehicle. It was about a missing person. Apparently, Cindy and George hadn’t seen their two-year-old granddaughter, Caylee, in 31 days. And the explanation Casey gave about her missing daughter was, to say the least, preposterous.
Casey said that she dropped Caylee off at the babysitter a month ago and that the babysitter refused to give her back. The police were floored. And not because the nanny kidnapped Caylee, but because Casey waited a whole month before telling anyone about it.
What kind of mom doesn’t immediately file a missing person report? What kind of mom doesn’t fight to get her daughter back?
The story was absurd. But police did what they had to do – they went along with her obscene tale and began to question her about the details.
Caylee went missing on June 16, 2008. Casey said it was a day just like any other.
She told police that she worked as an event planner at Universal Studios and that on her way to work that day, she dropped Caylee off at the nanny, a woman named Zenaida Fernando-Gonzales (aka Zanny the Nanny).
According to Casey, Gonzales was a half Black, half Puerto Rican 25-year-old who had been watching over Caylee for years. That day, Casey said she went to Gonzales’ home to pick her daughter up, but no one was there. She tried calling her, but the phone was off. Caylee was nowhere to be found. And neither was Zanny the Nanny.
Too embarrassed to go home without her daughter, Casey said she went to her boyfriend Tony’s house instead.
Police decided to take Casey’s word for it and asked her to lead them to Gonzales’ home. She took them to Sawgrass apartments and pointed to a particular door. “That’s where Zenaida Gonzales lives,” she told them.
When police peered through the windows, they noticed something odd. The place was completely unfurnished. The vacant apartment left them with nothing to connect them to Zenaida Gonzales. Casey did nothing but shrug at the sight of the empty flat. “I told you she took off,” she told them.
“This case became a national story, almost immediately,” crime reporter Jane Velez Mitchell explained, “There’s a missing child who disappeared from Orlando, Florida, the mecca for children, and you’ve got a gorgeous young mom and an all-American family. And the idea that you leave your child with someone you trust, and then the child vanishes… it’s a nightmare.”
Police took the case to the media and waited impatiently for tips to roll in. In the meantime, they continued their search for the mysterious nanny. They talked to the apartment complex manager, who gave them the startling news that “Zenaida’s apartment” had been empty for months. Not only that, but no one by the name Zenaida had ever rented there.
If Casey had lied to them about Zenaida, what else was she lying about? Police decided to visit her workplace, Universal Studios, to find out. She previously told them that two of her co-workers knew about the kidnap, so they drove down there to look for them.
That’s when they met with the supervisor who, just like the complex manager, gave them some shocking news: Casey Anthony hadn’t been working there for over two years.
The officers were enraged. But before confronting her with her lies, they decided to set a trap. A few days after their visit, they took Casey to Universal Studios to see what her reaction would be when they got there.
Detectives Yuri Melich and Sergeant John Allen accompanied Casey to the studio and later said that her acting skills were, really, off the charts. They said she approached the guard with such confidence that, for a second there, they really believed she was part of the place.
When the guard told her that her name wasn’t on the employee list, she insisted he look again. And again. And again. She created such a scene that the guard ultimately caved and let her in. Incredibly, she marched into the building, smiling and waving at whoever passed her by.
Casey took both officers on a dizzying spree across the halls of Universal Studios. She was likely trying to buy herself some time, but after realizing the futility of her roaming, she stopped. She gave in and told the agents, “I don’t really work here.”
The agents told her that they knew that all along and that they believed it was time for them to sit down and have a real talk. They hoped she would finally come clean about it all. That she would finally provide some answers as to where little Caylee was.
Casey lied about Zanny the Nanny, and she lied about her workplace. So, by the time police sat her down for questioning, they had zero patience for any more of her BS. “I know, and you know, that everything you told me is a lie, correct?” agent Yuri Melich shot at her. “Not everything,” she retracted.
They called her out about Zenaida, saying that they pulled a surveillance camera from the apartment complex and that she wasn’t on it. Not even once. But it seemed like whatever they said, her response remained the same: “This is the honest to god’s truth. The last person that I saw her with was Zenaida.”
What the agents found most odd about the talk was Casey’s indifference to her missing daughter. There was no real sense of urgency when she spoke. Instead of crying or wondering about Caylee, she was busy defending her own ridiculous lies.
“She really seemed kind of aloof to the whole thing.” Agent John Allen explained, “From my experience, when a child is missing, the parents are frantic. Based on her behavior, we thought, she seems really unconcerned. The child must be safe somewhere.”
They began to assume that Casey had hidden her someplace far away from the family, in particular, far away from her mom, Cindy.
The police knew the relationship between Casey and her mom was volatile, to say the least. So, they tried nudging her in that direction, saying, “Hey, tell me, is this maybe a case of you not wanting your child around your mother? Maybe the child is some place you’re not telling us.”
But Casey stood her ground and insisted, yet again, that she had left Caylee with Zenaida.
The officers decided it was time to shake things up, so they arrested her and charged her with child neglect, thinking that that would surely get her to say something.
In prison and under the watchful eyes of the police, Casey phoned her parents. “I got arrested on a whim. They’re blaming me for stuff that I never would do. They’re going to pin this on me!” she told her mom. “I don’t know what your involvement is, sweetheart. You’re not telling me where she’s at,” Cindy responded. “Because I don’t f**king know!” Casey yelled back.
That first jail call had some big red flags. Casey didn’t seem to be genuinely interested in the fact that her daughter was missing. All she did in the conversation was try and get her boyfriend’s phone number. That’s when police decided it was time to go meet the guy.
Tony Lazaro was a young, hunky DJ who started dating Casey in April of 2008, a few months before Caylee’s disappearance. He lived in Orlando with his flatmate, Clint House. “Casey was a fun, bubbly person with a great personality,” Clint recalled, “and Caylee was just the cutest two-year-old you could possibly imagine.”
Tony and Clint were shocked when twenty police officers came barging into their home demanding answers to Caylee’s whereabouts. “Tony was absolutely surprised,” Clint shared, “We had no idea where she was. How could a child be missing for 31 days, and this is the first that we’re hearing of it?”
According to Clint, in the first couple of months, Casey went from bringing Caylee over to their place at least three times a week, to not bringing her at all. Towards the middle of June, it was just Casey coming over. And all this time, she never once mentioned where her daughter was.
Whenever Tony or Clint would ask about Caylee, she would say that her daughter was either with the nanny or with her mom (Cindy). “There was nothing that stood out that made me think that something might have happened,” Clint shrugged.
Let’s talk about evidence number 1: Casey’s vehicle.
When reviewing Caylee Anthony’s case file, police discovered an alarming finding. Moments before arriving at the Anthony’s household on July 15th, Cindy had made another call to 911. “I found my daughter’s car today, and it smells like there’s been a dead body in the damn car,” she told the operator.
When police found out about the forgotten call, they rushed to the family’s garage to confiscate it. Indeed, when they inspected the vehicle, it smelled like decomposition. “It was pungent. It’s not a smell you can forget,” officer John Allen recalled. They had no doubt in their minds that a dead body had been in there.
Police brought a cadaver dog who circled the car, sniffed it all around until finally making a stop at the trunk. Forensic experts opened it up, inspected it through and through, and even though it was empty and seemingly clean, they still made some major discoveries.
They found a stained spot the size of what could have been a child’s body and some human hairs, which they sent to forensic testing.
It was beginning to dawn on them – Caylee Anthony was likely dead.
Weirdly enough, Cindy’s call to 911 had her hyperventilating and complaining about a smell of a dead body. But suddenly, when the police questioned her, she said that the smell had come from a garbage bag that was left in the car.
“During my 37 years in law enforcement,” John Allen explained, “I’ve smelled rotting food, rotting pizza, and I’ve smelled dead bodies. And they don’t smell the same.”
It’s likely that Cindy Anthony was just trying to protect her daughter. She was clearly torn between wanting to find Caylee and wanting to save Casey.
Cindy and George made several visits to Casey’s jail. But one visit, in particular, made headlines. Specifically, the one that showed Casey’s chilling response to news of her daughter. “We’re not doing well, Casey,” Cindy burst into tears, “Someone just said that Caylee was dead this morning.”
“Surprise, surprise…” Casey snapped back, rolling her eyes apathetically.
Now what kind of mother says that!? The reaction was so inappropriate that it was mind boggling.
The only thing Casey had to say afterwards was: “I’ve been in here for a month already mom. Do you have any idea how I feel?”
Police finally managed to get a hold of a woman named Zenaida Gonzales. It felt like a promising breakthrough. One that could give them some answers. But when asked about Casey and Caylee Anthony, Zenaida scratched her head with confusion and said that she had never met either of them.
Police verified her story and confirmed that she had nothing to do with the case. Looks like the poor lady was framed for no good reason. Casey likely came up with the random name, never expecting the police to find someone who goes by it.
After clarifying that Zanny the Nanny was a figment of Casey’s imagination, police began to believe that she was more than a negligent mother; she was also a murderer.
That’s when Casey decided to hire lawyer Jose Baez. The man was a brilliant, brilliant wordsmith. And a fantastic liar.
Once Jose Baez joined the case, police’s access to Casey was shut down immediately. So, they shifted their attention from her to her still-missing daughter. Along with grandparents Cindy and George, they mounded a massive campaign. They made t-shirts, put up banners, and organized searches all across the state. Nearly 500 people volunteered to help.
A month after her arrest for negligence, Casey was released and place under house arrest. That’s when the public officially flipped out. “You’re harboring a baby killer!” they protested outside the Anthony’s household. Overnight, the family’s front lawn turned into a warzone.
Protestors even made up a song about the case called “Casey’s Song (Wine Sick Mind)” that goes “You’re the only one to blame . . . can’t wash away the pain, can’t wash away the shame.”
“[Casey Anthony] is hiding something and she needs to be confronted until she tells everybody,” one protestor exclaimed.
On a chilly December morning in 2008, a utility worker named Roy ran into a startling discovery. He made a stop along a wooded area to relieve himself when he spotted something weird sticking out from under the ground. He poked at it, and after realizing what it was, ran back into his car to report the horrendous discovery. It was the skull of a young child.
What made the finding even more chilling, was its location – just around the corner from the Anthony’s home. It was practically in their backyard!
After a thorough inspection, experts confirmed that the bones were Caylee’s, and that the manner of death, in this case, was a homicide.
While they couldn’t say exactly how she died, it was clear that it wasn’t accidental. Here was a toddler, left to rot away in a bag, hidden somewhere in the woods. What else could this point to if not a cold-blooded murder?
“It was horrible. I felt like someone had punched me in the gut and had taken every breath out of my body,” Cindy Anthony stated, “my heart was being ripped apart. All of our prayers and hopes were gone as far as getting her back.”
“It was like having every part of your body pulled and mangled,” George added.
Detectives had long suspected that Casey had killed her daughter. And now, with new evidence in hand, they were sure of it. They hoped to find a connection between the items found near the bones to the items in the house. Lo and behold, they did.
Caylee’s room was Winnie the Pooh themed. And a blanket they found in the woods had Winnie the Pooh printed on it. They concluded it came from the house. In addition, they found a laundry bag near the bones, one that was usually sold in pairs. Who had the other mate? The Anthony’s. In their laundry room.
After taking everything into consideration, Casey was charged with first-degree premeditated murder.
For the media and for every person who read the story, it was a no-brainer – Casey was the murderer. Even before the trial, most of the public had already decided she had done it. She was a mom who had lost track of her 2-year-old child and who hadn’t reported it for more than a month. OF COURSE she was guilty.
In order to find a fair jury, people were called in from out of state. Russ Huekler was one of the jurors. He recalled: “It was my first time in the jury, and I was requested to leave my house, family, and job for a while. It was nerve-wracking.”
On May 24, 2011, nearly three years after Caylee’s death, the trial began. There were a certain number of chairs reserved for the family, and the rest was for the public. Obviously, everyone wanted first-row seats to this Shakespearean tragedy.
People lined up in front of the courtyard before the break of dawn. Some even spent the night there, camping out near the front door. It was like a jungle out there.
All in all, people were less interested in whether she did it. For most of them, the answer was clear. They wanted to know WHY she did it.
The prosecution believed that her motive was this: Casey was fed up with being a mom. She didn’t want the child in the first place. It was her mom who forced her to keep her. And because she still depended on her parents, the young mom didn’t really have a choice. So, in killing Caylee, Casey was basically trying to go back to her previous life.
For the 31 days Caylee had been missing, Casey was busy partying, drinking and hanging out with friends. She even tattooed her back with the words “Bella Vita” (beautiful life in Italian). If that doesn’t scream “I’M HAPPIER WITHOUT CAYLEE”… then I don’t know what does.
When analyzing Casey’s car, investigators found an unusually high level of a chemical called chloroform, a compound that can be used to render people unconscious. Not only that, but they also found google searches on the family’s computer for “How to make chloroform.”
Prosecutors assumed that Casey had used it to knock Caylee out. It made sense, considering that there was no injury or trauma found when inspecting the bones. The only weird thing discovered regarding Caylee’s remains was that the skull and the mandible (the lower bone of the face) were together in one unit. Why?
Prosecutors suggested that Casey had placed duct tape over her daughter’s mouth and nose, causing her to choke to death.
In came Jose Baez, who had the challenging task of explaining to the jury how a mom could lose her kid for a month and not tell the police about it. Luckily for Casey, Baez was incredible at his job. “The answer is relatively simple,” he stated, “she was never missing.”
Baez gave an alternative scenario that went something like this:
George, Casey and Caylee were at home. When suddenly, the two adults lost sight of the little girl. They searched all over until finally, they found her in the pool, lifeless and pale. George then allegedly yelled at Casey: “LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE! Your mother will never forgive you, and you will go to jail for the rest of your freaking life.” They then decided to bury her in the woods.
Just like that, Jose Baez came up with a ridiculous story that managed to sway nearly everyone in the room.
But what about all the lies Casey told? About her workplace, about Zanny the Nanny? Well, Jose Baez had an explanation for that too. “She was taught to lie by her own father,” he stated, “It all began when she was eight years old, and her father came into her room and began to touch her inappropriately.”
Poor George Anthony had to sit through the whole trial and listen to his daughter’s lawyer accuse him of sexual assault. He didn’t cry or shake or yell. All he did was look down at the floor, his head hanging heavily, and his mind muddled with disbelief.
Finally, after painful rounds of back and forth between the prosecutors and the defense, the jury made up their minds.
When the judge opened the envelope to see the final verdict, he had to look at it twice to make sure he wasn’t misreading what was written. He blinked a couple of times, paused, then passed it on for it to be read out loud.
The defendant, Casey Anthony, was found not guilty. The courtroom gasped. Casey and Jose sighed in relief. People all over the state were furious. “It’s OJ Simpson all over again,” one Florida citizen told the local news. And HLN host Nancy Grace stated on air, “The devil is dancing tonight.”
One of the male jurors explained, “There was just not enough evidence to lock her up.”
The jury received death threats on a daily basis for months after the trial ended. Today, over a decade later, some have decided to speak up.
“My decision haunts me to this day,” one juror told People Magazine, “I think now if I were to do it over again […] I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, and I didn’t stand up for what I believed in at the time.”
It wasn’t like the jury didn’t care about the case, he explained. It was just that they genuinely felt like the prosecutors didn’t do a well enough job. Or maybe it was Jose Baez who did too good of a job. Either way, they decided to let her go free. “This case will stick with me for the rest of my life,” the juror concluded.
During the trial, private investigator Dominic Casey was hired to look deeper into Anthony’s relationship with Baez. He discovered that because Anthony didn’t have the funds to hire Baez, the lawyer had forced her to pay him back with sexual favors.
Dominic Casey also revealed that he had once spotted a naked Anthony running out of Baez’s private office. “Casey told me she had to do what Jose said because she had no money for her defense,” Dominic explained.
Dominic Casey wrote a book about the case, and some believe he made up the affair just to help sell his book.
A source close to Casey Anthony told People magazine that “she feels like her biological clock is ticking” and “she knows she’s getting older.” Casey is not the young girl we all saw in trial. She’s now in her 30s, wondering what to do next in her life. And without a family, life seems meaningless to her.
“Marriage, family, the white picket fence,” the source added, “In some ways, that’s very appealing to Casey. She’d want things to be less dysfunctional than the family she had growing up, but she likes the idea of stability.”
Cindy Anthony genuinely believes that her granddaughter died in an accident. In an interview with Dr. Oz, she said that Casey just “panicked, and I think it just snowballed into a big mess.” But Casey’s father, George, thinks otherwise.
In a talk with Dr. Phil, George said he believed his daughter wanted “To go out and have a good time, to be with friends, to have this life that she didn’t have with Caylee.”
Despite their conflicting views, both George and Cindy remain together and stronger than ever.
So, who in their right mind would hire Casey Anthony to work for them? As it turns out, not many people. That’s why, in 2020, she filed documents to start her own business – an investigation firm in South Florida called Case Research & Consulting Services.
The address of the firm is (what a surprise), listed at the home address of private investigator Patrick McKenna, one of the lead investigators on Anthony’s team in the 2011 defense trial. McKenna was also a part of OJ Simpson’s defense team back in 1995. Hmmm…
In 2017, Casey Anthony told The Chicago Tribune that she genuinely doesn’t remember what happened. She blacked out, so to speak. Or maybe she blocked the whole thing out of her memory as a kind of defense mechanism. When questioned about her lies, she said she simply “freaked out.”
“I wasn’t present during whatever happened. If I was, something would’ve showed up. There would be some recollection; there would be some memory.” she added.
Personally, I’m not buying it.
What do you guys think happened? Tell us in the comments below.