Trigger warning: This story contains mentions of child sexual abuse
Casey Anthony’s trial in 2011 for the murder of her daughter Caylee Anthony was one of the most closely-watched trials in years, maybe even decades. One of the TV news reports from the time noted that there hadn’t been fervor for a case like this since the O.J. Simpson trial in the mid-1990s. And Anthony’s trial ended the same way: with an acquittal. Peacock’s new three-part docuseries, Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies, brings the trial to a new generation of viewers and marks the first time Anthony has spoken out at length about the death of her daughter since she was found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child in July 2011.
The new series, which begins streaming today, reveals that shortly after the verdict (which did find her guilty of providing false information to law enforcement), Anthony, now 36, went into hiding after she and her legal team received death threats. Despite the verdict, the court of public opinion had already decided that she had murdered her daughter for a few reasons: First, her daughter had been missing for 31 days before Casey’s mother, Cindy, called the police. Second, the media had published photos of Casey partying, allegedly taken while her daughter was missing. And third, she didn’t appear to be grieving in the ways people expected a mother to grieve, leading people to deem her a psychopath. (An independent psychologist determined that she was not a psychopath.)
More than a decade later, many are still convinced of Anthony’s guilt and are expressing strong reactions to Peacock’s new docuseries. An overwhelming majority of the tweets following the release came from people criticizing the streamer for giving her a platform to promote her innocence and introduce evidence that points to another suspect. Many said they either stopped watching early on because they felt that Anthony was lying or said they didn’t watch at all, advising others to do the same. “Shame on peacock for letting Casey Anthony create another fictional sob story in attempt to sway public opinion,” one tweet reads. “Nobody believes you and there’s a special place in hell for you.”
Another user wrote, “Casey Anthony is truly a narcissist, not reporting your daughter missing for almost a month and now coming out with a documentary? We all know what she did I still can’t believe she got away with it, should have been an open-and-shut case for that pathological liar.”
The docuseries’ director, Alexandra Dean, told USA Today that she wanted to revisit the case because Anthony had come to understand a lot after years of therapy and wanted to share her side now, and that Dean believes the investigation left many stones unturned, particularly when it came to Casey’s father. Viewers may come away from the docuseries with differing opinions on Anthony’s innocence or guilt in the case. Either way, it’s a difficult foray into a tragic case. Here’s what to know about the revelations and insights presented in Where the Truth Lies.
Caylee’s last day
In the documentary, Casey says that the last day she saw Caylee was June 16, 2008. She says she was at home with Caylee and her father when she decided to nap with Caylee in bed. Casey noted that Caylee would never leave the room without talking to her first. Casey remembers being shaken and woken up by her father, asking her where Caylee was. “I immediately start looking for her,” she says in the second episode. Casey recalls continuing to look for her, and “by the time I came back around the left side of the house, I came back towards the front porch, and [her father] is standing there with her.” Casey recalls that her daughter was “soaking wet.” At this point, Casey says she still believed her daughter was alive. Caylee would go missing later that day, according to the docuseries.
During her trial, Casey’s defense attorney suggested that it might have been possible that Caylee drowned in the pool, but in the docuseries, Casey says that wasn’t possible because the ladder wasn’t in the pool. Because it was an above-ground pool, Caylee wouldn’t have been able to climb in. When asked why the defense made this suggestion, even though Casey knew it wasn’t true, she said that her team couldn’t present the jury with nothing, so they floated the idea around. Casey also said that Caylee may have been kidnapped by a babysitter, though her lawyer later admitted she fabricated this accusation.
Casey and her father didn’t rush to call the police, and Casey said her father assured her that everything would be OK. At that point, she didn’t believe her daughter was dead and thought there was still a chance that she was alive.
Allegations against Casey’s father
In the docuseries, Casey talks at length about the sexual abuse that she says she faced at the hands of her father, George, and her brother, Lee (both of whom have denied all claims). She details her father’s alleged abuse, which she says happened when she was between the ages of 8 and 12, and said that he would come into her room at night and molest her, and if she tried to resist, he would smother her with a pillow until she was unconscious.
Casey says in the second episode that she had suspicions that her father might have been doing the same thing to her daughter and expressed regret for not saying anything. Multiple people interviewed in the docuseries corroborated Casey’s claim against her father: her former fiancé Jesse (whom she told about allegedly being abused by her brother), a friend she wrote a letter to from jail, and Robin Adams—a mitigation specialist working on her case in 2009. It offers a fuller context as to what might have happened to Caylee and why Casey did not appear to be grieving her daughter.
As Adams says in the docuseries, “When you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, you pretend that nothing is wrong—it’s the separation of the mind from the actions. That’s how Casey could show up as if she had no troubles in the world during the 31 days.” Even after she was arrested, she explains, Casey believed Caylee was still alive because her dad kept reassuring her and making her believe that Caylee was just missing until it was reported that her body was found in December 2008.
The Anthonys’ dead pets and the case against George
During the trial, Casey’s brother, Lee, called her defense team, saying he had something to tell them. He said that when he and Casey were young, and their pets would die, their father would bury the pets, and there was a striking similarity in how Caylee’s body was found and how their pets were buried. One of Casey’s team members recalled Lee saying, “When our family pets would die, Dad would wrap the puppy in a blanket, put it in a trash bag, duct-tape the trash bag, and we would bury them.” This is the same way that Caylee’s body was found— wrapped in a Winnie the Pooh blanket from her bed. Patrick McKenna, one of the investigators on Casey’s defense team says in the docuseries that “George had something to do with something.”
George’s actions during this time were not inspected as much as Casey’s
The docuseries posits that while Casey’s every move during the three years between Caylee’s death and the trial was plastered all over news outlets, her father, George, was presented as a hero, and his actions were not as thoroughly inspected. Investigators say in the documentary that they noticed that George did not seem emotional when they first spoke to them; in the second episode, McKenna says things already felt off when he met George and Cindy. As he’s being introduced, Cindy is booking interviews with daytime television shows like the Today Show, and another man in the house was boasting about raising $27,000 for their foundation to help other parents find their missing kids—all of which took place after Caylee’s remains were found.
McKenna says in the documentary that he came back the next weekend to talk to Cindy. She came late to their meeting because they were out all day on a new bass boat that they were towing. It was “totally tricked-out, freshly painted, with the words ‘Call 1-800-Missing-Kids’ on the side of it,” McKenna recalls. A clip shows George saying that the boat was called the “S.S. Caylee Marie” in honor of his granddaughter. McKenna noted that it didn’t make much sense that George and Cindy bought a boat to go look for other missing kids.
The docuseries also alleges that George had an affair during the trial. The woman he allegedly had an affair with took the stand during the trial and said that he “unburdened himself” to her, saying out of nowhere, “it was an accident that snowballed out of control”—presumably talking about Caylee’s death.
Casey also says that George made comments about Caylee that made her uncomfortable. In a speech during Caylee’s funeral, he described in detail the smell of her hair and how a hug from a child “gets him excited like no other.” He took the stand and remembered exactly what Caylee was wearing the day she disappeared, but not what Casey or his wife were wearing.
An investigator revisits the case
John Allen, who was a sergeant at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office during the time of Caylee’s case and supervised the investigation, is adamant about Casey’s guilt throughout the entirety of the series. His reasons include that she lied about who had Caylee at the time of her disappearance and where she worked, but also because the evidence was stacked against her. “I think she killed her daughter, and I think she didn’t want to get caught,” Allen says.
Throughout the docuseries, the audience is presented with evidence and accusations that overwhelmingly point a finger at George, who is a former police officer. In the last episode, Allen states that he believes George “had nothing to do with [Caylee’s death].” The interviewer then asks if George had ever lied to Allen, to which he responds, “Yeah, at different points and times.” Then he adds, seemingly forgetting about his reaction to Casey’s lies, “But being a liar doesn’t make somebody a murderer.”
What could happen next?
With the docuseries seeming to point a finger at George Anthony, viewers may come away wondering whether the case could be reopened. According to a legal website, Florida does not have a statute of limitations for murder. Many, including those who believe in Casey’s innocence, like her former boyfriend’s roommate Tony Lazzaro, as well as those who believe she is guilty, would like to see the case reopened.
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