Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Caylee Anthony

Detectives Fear the Worst

ORLANDO, Fla. On July 16, 2008, the day after Casey Anthony reported that her daughter, Caylee just three weeks from her third birthday had been kidnapped, Orange County sheriff's detectives arrested Casey for child neglect, making false statements to law enforcement officers and obstructing a criminal investigation.

Casey claimed she last saw her daughter on June 9 she was certain about the date when she allegedly dropped Caylee off at her nanny's apartment before going to her office at Universal Studios, where, she said, she worked as an event planner. When she returned to the apartment around 5:00 p.m., neither her daughter nor the nanny were there. For the next five weeks, Casey claimed, she conducted her own investigation into Caylee's disappearance.

Entrance, Universal Studios
Entrance, Universal Studios
As Detective Yuri Melich discovered upon the most cursory examination, though, Casey's story was a complete fabrication.

Casey didn't work at Universal Studios. The company had fired her more than two years before. The two co-workers she claimed to have told about her daughter's disappearance didn't work there either. One had left Universal in 2002 and the other had never worked there.

Even more ominously, the apartment on South Conway Road where Casey said she'd been dropping her daughter off for months proved to be empty and to have been under renovation since February. And as for the nanny, whose name Casey said was Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez and who Casey claimed had been watching Caylee for nearly two years, she proved to have only the slimmest of connections to the Anthonys.

Detective Melich did find a woman by that name who had once stopped at the South Conway address to look at an apartment for her and her two daughters, but she said she had never met Casey or Caylee and had never worked as a nanny. When Melich showed Casey a picture of the woman, Casey said she didn't recognize her.

Having unraveled all of Casey's lies, the detectives feared the worst. They feared that little Caylee Anthony was dead.

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