Leonard Padilla, bounty hunter turned television personality, believes that he can get Casey Anthony to tell what happened to her missing daughter Caylee once he secures her release from the Orange County, Fla. jail on Thursday. Padilla, a Kinky Friedman look-alike who describes himself as “a media whore,” has worked with his nephew Tony, a California bail bondsman, as well as a local Florida bondsman to put up the cash needed to meet Casey’s one-half million dollar bail.
Many suspect that Padilla’s efforts are more related to his own continued fame than altruistic in nature. Padilla has speculated that Caylee could be held by unknown people because to a drug deal gone bad. I also suggested that should this be the case, the existence of a $225,000 reward for the child’s return could support a scenario where the “kidnappers” could come forward to claim the reward. The “kidnappers” could then claim the reward and rid themselves of the burden of caring for Caylee, and, perhaps, walk away rich, an idea Padilla agreed with and has began advocating on the many talk shows he’s appeared on since.
Was Caylee kidnapped?
Padilla’s kidnap scenario has little support among investigators, noting that Padilla himself has suggested that Casey only drank alcohol and smoked marijuana, “vices” unlikely to have facilitated a child kidnapping, especially by a babysitter that police believe to be non-existent. A more likely scenario to explain the child’s missing status and Casey’s many lies to investigators could include Caylee’s accidental death, due either to neglect or some other action on the part of Casey.
It has been reported that when Casey and Caylee left the home they shared with Casey’s parents, apparently to live with others, including Casey’s new boyfriend, that neither the boyfriend or Casey’s friends have confirmed any contact with Caylee during the 30 days she was away from her grandparents, nor did anyone report that Casey appeared to be conducting her own frantic search for her “missing” daughter.
Most have seen the salacious pictures allegedly taken of Casey partying in bars during the month she said she was looking for her daughter, hardly reflecting the actions of a parent desperately looking for her missing toddler. We know that at least Cindy Anthony has said Casey can’t talk about her daughter as she fears for her parents and her daughter’s life should she talk to police. Evidently Casey doesn’t understand the witness protection program that could assure security for Casey’s family and daughter. But if she’s lying, she would simply find another excuse to cover the inexcusable, a mother who may be responsible for her own child’ s death.
The investigation continues
Forensic evidence is usually the gold standard in high-profile cases, and this case could be no different. It’s been reported that forensic investigators seized approximately 30 items of potential evidentiary value from the vehicle driven and abandoned by Casey Anthony around the time her daughter allegedly disappeared, including suspected bodily fluid, strands of hair and dirt. DNA analysis will determine if the fluid or the strands of hair are genetically identical to the DNA of Caylee, as well as the possible origin of the dirt from the car’s trunk. On July 17, police cadaver dogs allegedly “hit” on the trunk, indicating the possibility that a dead body had been transported in the car, the potential of which that Casey’s mother had originally reported herself.
The potential of foul play obviously somehow escaped Cindy Anthony as she allegedly washed clothing found in the same trunk before providing it to investigators. The dirt in the trunk could be related to the June 18-20 time period when Casey allegedly borrowed a shovel from a neighbor and was seen backing her car into her parents' garage, something she was not known to do. While the media waits with bated breath for the results of the forensic tests, investigators are obviously under no obligation to report such results and may believe that public knowledge of the test results could be counterproductive for their investigation.
I doubt that Padilla’s theory that once released from jail, Casey will dig herself out from under the mountain of lies she has told and tell Padilla what she has so far refused to tell investigators: the location of her daughter. When Casey is released on August 21, she will be confined to her parent’s residence and required to wear an electronic monitoring device that will alert authorities if she leaves her home in violation of the terms of her release from jail.
Padilla also advises that he or an associate will reside in the Anthony home to monitor Casey’s compliance with her bail, something that’s hard to believe that the Anthonys’, or their attorney, will allow to happen for very long. I would also expect that the Anthonys will move Casey to some type of safe house in an attempt to avoid the 24/7 media scrutiny.
What’s more important
In the meantime Padilla’s insertion of himself into this matter has changed it from a two-ring to a three-ring circus, and once again places attention on someone other than the missing child. Casey has questioned why people are more concerned about her missing daughter than about her, while some believe that her mother Cindy Anthony has gone out of her way to seek her own form of personal attention.
While it appears unlikely that Casey will eventually get “the mother of the year award” as suggested by her mother Cindy, and the likelihood that Casey has reportedly kept her silence to protect her daughter and family further diminishes, investigators are left expending hundreds of hours searching for a child simply because the mother won’t talk. And when Casey’s attorney says he has advised Casey not to talk to authorities, this in the face of a missing child investigation, we are all left to question the tattered state of a criminal justice system that places the narcissism of adults above the life of a child. Casey has the right to remain silent but her silence may have sealed the fate of her only daughter.
Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI agent, behavioral profiler and hostage negotiator as well as an MSNBC analyst. His Web site, , provides readers with security-related information.