The Casey Anthony/Caylee Anthony saga began almost three years ago, when news reports of a missing toddler in Florida first broke. I remember reading about the story when it first popped up on CNN and being intrigued by one basic fact: Caylee was missing for 31 days before it was reported to the authorities. This is still the most glaring red flag of guilt that implicates her mother, Casey Anthony, as the main suspect in her daughter's death.
As a mother myself, I can't even imagine the mind-numbing horror of having my child go missing for even a minute, let alone 31 days. My initial reaction was that something about this story doesn't add up. No innocent or decent mother allows her child to go missing, especially a defenseless toddler, for 31 days without there being some kind of nefarious goings-on. It's simply not normal or reasonable behavior.
What has transpired after those initial reports has been nothing less than insanity. From the ridiculous lies Casey told to the authorities, her family and friends, to her own family's efforts to cover up for their daughter's parental ineptitude (let's just call it that until there's an official verdict), this story was MADE for the media.
Of course, CNN's Nancy Grace (with whom I have a love-hate relationship) latched on like a pitbull to this story and has had it by the jugular ever since, but she's not the only one. There's a whole cottage industry wrapped up in this case, with arm-chair blogger detectives reporting on the most minute details and up-the-minute reports from the court room. People wait in lines outside of court each day in hopes of snapping up one of the several dozen tickets available to the public. Hell, fist-fights have broken out between these modern day high-noon hanging spectators - it really makes you wonder why there's such a high level of interest.
Casey Anthony isn't the first mother to be accused of killing her child, and sadly, she won't be the last. There was Susan Smith before her, who caused a media sensation when she lied about the disappearance of her two small sons, blaming it on a black car-jacker. After intense scrutiny by the police, Smith eventually admitted to strapping her two young sons into their carseats and sending them into a lake to die a frightening and watery death. Her motivation was simple and outstandingly selfish: her boyfriend didn't want kids. So, of course, the obvious solution was to murder them. There's a history of this sort of thing, which certainly has some cultural significance, but I digress.
Part of what makes the Caylee/Casey Anthony story so compelling is that in the face of what appears to be overwhelming evidence implicating Casey, and only Casey, she and her equally baffling lawyer, Jose Biaz, continue to cling to her innocence. Here are the facts as we know them:
- Casey Anthony waited 31 days to inform anyone that Caylee (almost three at the time of her disappearance) was missing, and only did so when forced to by her own mother.
- Casey led police on a wild goose chase, telling lie after lie when questioned by detectives. In fact, not one single story about Caylee's disappearance turned out to be true, including the nanny who supposedly kidnapped her, where Casey had been working (nowhere apparently), where she'd been for the fateful 31 days, or, most importantly, what happened to Caylee.
- There was a trove of photos and witnesses who were able to recount what Casey was doing during those 31 days while her daughter was missing, which consisted of partying, stealing from friends, lying about her daughter's whereabouts and generally having a burden-free good time.
Now 37 days after the trial began, the defense team has rested. Prosecutors are going for the death penalty in this case, and there is little doubt Casey will be found guilty, despite her defense team's clownish attempts to implicate her father as the real villain.
My prediction is that Casey will be found guilty, but there is enough "reasonable doubt" that she will avoid the death penalty, but will likely get life in prison. This is the best case scenario for this horrifying ordeal. Casey Anthony, finally out of the spotlight she so desperately craves, will now be forced to reckon with the guilt and knowledge of what happened to her helpless daughter, who deserved far better, while the world moves on and forgets she exists. It won't bring back Caylee, but it will be a small measure of justice for such a heinous act.