Last Saturday we published an article about a tip we received on the whereabouts of Casey "Tot Mom" Anthony.
Our source, a reporter for The Morton Report, had attended a dinner party in Southern California last Friday, August 5, when others at the dinner party stated they had seen a woman appearing to be Casey Anthony, accompanied by what appeared to be two bodyguards, in and around the Rancho Sante Fe area; and in particular, in the vicinity of a luxury home owned by Anthony's former defense attorney, Todd Macaluso.
We researched ownership of the home, verified that it was owned by Macaluso, and came to the conclusion that there was enough corroboration to post a story on these rumors.
Then we were contacted by HLN's Nancy Grace show to comment on our story. Grace's team also felt the connection between Anthony and Macaluso was strong enough to make this scoop a reasonable possibility.
Meanwhile, local reporter Dan Weisman of Ah Ha Santa Fe did some investigating on the ground. For his story, he discovered the home is listed on the market at $5.2 million, features a private helipad, an infinity pool, and is in a secure, gated community.
Weisman's report also said he visited the home and spotted two darkened luxury vehicles in the driveway. He rang the intercom at the closed gate in front of the home and a "drunken woman or child" (Nancy Grace speculated on air it might have been someone disguising her voice) answered, the gate began to open, then another voice chimed in admonishing whoever answered originally. The gate closed and that was the end of communication.
We followed up with a report on what was discussed on the Nancy Grace show.
I was then contacted by Fox News San Diego about doing a Skype call with them for today and was told at approximately 4:30pm we were still a go for the story. At about 5pm I received an email from the Fox News producer stating the segment was canceled because they didn't have time. Approximately ten minutes later, I received a forwarded email from Todd Macaluso, which he had sent to the Fox News producer, stating that our story was "false," that 10News's Allison Ash had already been to this home to look around, and alas, no Casey Anthony.
Interestingly, 10News also learned Macaluso is in a foreclosure battle with the bank that holds the title to his home.
Mr. Macaluso threatened anyone who aired these "false claims" with a libel or defamation suit. I contacted Mr. Macaluso, who did not claim any measure of confidentiality in his correspondence, with some additional questions about the home and who was staying there, since it was listed on the market and had appeared to be vacant. He stated that he and his family lived there.
I also asked Macaluso about the TMZ/Splash photos that were posted about a week ago and if Casey had made money on those. His email response was, "All of your other questions are none of your business." He also said if we were to continue to pursue the story, or in his words, "push it," he would bring a libel and defamation suit against me personally and the site.
I followed up that I believed Casey was not at the residence NOW. I also said I thought it was news if Casey was profiting from the pictures, and hence my business as a reporter. The whereabouts of such a public and controversial figure is certainly a legitimate news topic.
I received a final email stating he was officially filing a suit against me and TMR and to contact my lawyers and insurance carriers. We perceive this to be an intimidation tactic designed to suppress our right and duty to pursue facts and information in the public interest.
Dan Weisman's follow-up story is here, and has some interesting facts about activity going on at the location since our stories broke, including the conclusion that Anthony "departed sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday following increased media attention to her 92067 whereabouts."
All bluster and legal posturing aside, the real question now is: Where will Casey Anthony land next?
What seems to be the current operation is keep to Casey as hidden as possible to build interest in photos, and of course a lucrative interview with the media. We will continue to pursue this story, and welcome any sightings or tips on Casey's whereabouts. The public has the right to know.