Video: Where is Caylee?

By Clint Van Zandt
msnbc.com
updated 7/23/2008 4:57:06 PM ET 2008-07-23T20:57:06
COMMENTARY

Viewers witnessed an extensive bond hearing Tuesday to determine if Casey Anthony, the 22-year-old mother of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, a child who has allegedly been missing since either June 8 or June 15, should have a bond set by the judge that could bring about her release from jail. After Casey’s mother Cindy contacted law enforcement officials to discuss her concerns about her missing granddaughter, Casey was interviewed at length concerning the whereabouts of her young daughter. According to media reports, Casey lied to law enforcement on a number of occasions concerning the whereabouts and status of her daughter, who she had left her daughter with, her employment or lack thereof, and her knowledge of why her daughter was believed to be missing.

The purpose of the bond hearing was, of course, whether Casey should be released since she has no prior arrests and is currently charged with child neglect, interfering with a criminal case and lying to police. Her parents and attorney contend she is not a flight risk and would be in a better position to assist in the hunt for her daughter. Police obviously believe that Casey has lied many times in this case and probably think she knows what happened to her daughter. 

If this is the case, she could tell police everything she knows about the disappearance of her daughter. But to date, she has not done this. When asked why Casey was unwilling to tell what actually happened to Caylee, her attorney stated “I know the reason why, but unfortunately I can’t disclose that at this time. There is an explanation but I’m not at liberty to say this.” Her attorney also indicated that it would not be in Casey’s best interest to provide such information and that he would need it in preparing her defense. 

Casey’s brother and mother have indicated that Casey knew where Caylee was, but for her own reasons would not take them to the little girl. On or about July 15, Casey told her brother she had not seen her daughter for 31 days. In an attempt to explain her daughter’s reluctance to discuss Caylee’s whereabouts, Cindy indicated her daughter knew the status and probable whereabouts of Caylee, but was reluctant to talk to police. She claimed television and movies concerning such cases convinced her that if she reported her daughter missing that the actions of law enforcement would endanger Caylee.

It was because of this, Casey allegedly said, that she had been conducting her own investigation concerning her missing daughter. One story she told police is that she dropped her daughter off with a babysitter on June 15, and later provided police with information that led them to the woman she named, who had no knowledge of either Casey or Caylee Anthony.  The apartment that Casey indicated she took Caylee to where the child was turned over to the babysitter had in fact not been occupied for the past five plus months, causing law enforcement to suspect Casey in the disappearance of Caylee.

Evidence in the car
Police learned that Casey used a car owned by her father, George Anthony. This car, with a child’s car seat in it, was found on June 30 abandoned in an area remote from the Anthony home. Investigators have indicated that upon searching the abandoned vehicle, which had been at this location for a number of days, they noticed a strong odor that they associated with human decomposition. A search of the vehicle has revealed hair in the trunk of the car that is believed consistent with the hair of the missing child as well as unidentified fluid and dirt, all that is currently undergoing forensic examination. Of even more significance was the fact that two different cadaver dogs alerted evidence (the smell) of death in the trunk of Casey’s car. From the investigative standpoint, if the car broke down or simply ran out of gas, why didn’t Casey call her father and tell him where his car was, and/or why didn’t she take the child seat with her if she anticipated retrieving her child?

Information came out in the bond hearing that Cindy Anthony had told investigators that should they continue their investigation, she would no longer cooperate in this investigation, an allegation that Cindy refuted in court.  Does Cindy know or suspect something terrible concerning her daughter and granddaughter, or is she just living in denial?  The bottom line is that Casey knows what happened to Caylee, has repeatedly lied concerning her knowledge of Caylee’s whereabouts, and has had five to six weeks to either conduct her own investigation in an attempt to find Caylee, to no avail, or has had this time to cover her tracks and frustrate law enforcement’s attempt to determine the status, dead or alive, of little Caylee.  

It's hard to believe that Casey, once released from jail, will help law enforcement find the missing child. To release her could see her either attempt to escape the area, or destroy evidence of a potential crime, or even harm herself. If she is released, even on a high bail, as if the amount of bail really makes any difference, then police will need to monitor her every activity and move, thereby diverting critical investigative resources that should really be used to look for the missing child. Obviously the judge walked a fine line Tuesday setting bond at a half-million dollars that meets his judicial obligation while setting a high mark for the family to meet, otherwise Casey stays in jail. The judge also ordered a psychiatric exam of Casey in order to determine, notwithstanding her mother’s statement that she does not have any psychiatric problems, to assure him that she has the mental resources to deal with the conditions of her bond should she be released.

Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI agent, behavioral profiler and hostage negotiator as well as an MSNBC analyst. His Web site, www.LiveSecure.org, provides readers with security-related information.

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