Three years ago I was surfing with my remote looking for something to hold my attention for more than ten minutes. In my opinion, night-time cable television suffers from a severe case of the blahs, except on those nights when Criminal Minds or The Mentalist are on.  At the time, I was writing my first mystery and interested in gleaning whatever information I could from a well written plot. I stumbled on the Nancy Grace program and after a couple of weeks of tuning in, my ears tuned out her sensationalist catch-phrase, “Bombshell tonight!” That night she was featuring a story about a missing two year old Florida child, Caylee Anthony, whose mother had just admitted to her parents that the Nanny, Zenaida Rodriguez Gonzalez, had taken her over a month ago. Casey Anthony insisted that the nanny, later to become a glorified figment of her imagination, had taken off with the child after taking care of her for more than a year. As luck would have it, a woman by that name does actually exist, in the same town where the child went missing, and her life has turned to hell from all the publicity.

This is one of those cases where truth definitely becomes stranger than fiction. It wasn’t too long before law enforcement had wasted precious time chasing these figments. Turns out Casey Anthony hadn’t worked at Universal Studios for years, yet she “went to work” each day, dropping the child off at the imaginary nanny’s apartment. As the story unfolds, Casey’s parents received a notice from the post office that they have a registered letter to be picked up. That letter revealed that their daughter’s car (which is in their names) had been picked up some time before as abandoned and was now sitting at the tow area waiting for them to retrieve it and pay the fine. Meanwhile, Casey has been telling them she’s been in Jacksonville either attending a wedding, doing something for Universal, pursuing a potential boyfriend, etc. After they  bring the car home,  if it hadn’t been for Cindy the grandmother going ballistic about not seeing her only grandchild since Father’s Day and confronting Casey about that and about the abandoned car, this would have probably gone down as a stranger abduction and subsequent finding of the child’s body.

After three years of incarceration drama revealed by Nancy Grace featuring every jail-house video she could get her hands on, the case recently went to trial after the Court was forced to change the venue to Orlando, Florida, where efforts were made to impanel a jury who might be open-minded enough to give the defendant a fair trial. Casey Anthony has become one of the most hated people on television. Linda Baden, one of her former attorneys, seems to know more than what she’s letting on (citing attorney/client privilege) as she staunchly defends Anthony’s conduct as stemming from the sexual abuse inflicted on her during her childhood. Yes, that was the “bombshell” dropped by defense attorney Jose Baez during opening statements – that the child wasn’t missing and wasn’t murdered, but instead had drowned in the family pool and the grandfather, George Anthony forced his daughter to dispose of the body the best way she could. He went on to say that the reason Casey had woven an intricate web of lies for the past three years was because she had been sexually assaulted by her father from the time she was eight years old and victims of sexual abuse tend to zone out into another dimension when things get to be more than they can handle.  The courtroom was hushed as Baez went into great detail about George Anthony’s acts on his daughter. During this whole three year ordeal, there had never been a word uttered about this alleged abuse. Casey had continued to pile lie on top of lie about Zanny the Nanny, her many boyfriends (any one of whom she figured might have disposed of the child) and her month of partying right after little Caylee went missing.  Added to the drama are discovery by the detectives that Casey Anthony had been exploring various methods of murder on the web, including how chloroform worked and how to break someone’s neck.  The toddler’s body is eventually discovered in a wooded area some three blocks from the Anthony’s neighborhood, coincidentally a place where Casey Anthony  played as a child. The bizarre evidence includes duct tape over the mouth of the skeleton, with a red plastic heart in the center, an identical sticker found in the child’s room.

Geraldo Rivera has now joined the fray, as have most popular night-time news anchors. Rivera pounded out his theory that Casey Anthony was never properly Mirandized and if she’s convicted, the case will be overturned on appeal. Gloria Allred, famed California attorney, agrees with this theory, and many of them are taking it as fact that the defendant was abused, (just because she says so) and that’s the reason she’s such an expert at weaving a web of deception.  Dr. Drew, another popular television psychiatrist who deals with severe addiction, calls it all lies and deception by a woman who is jealous of her parents’ affection for the child.   Like most of the American public, I too have expressed an opinion that this woman is guilty of being tired of having to deal with her young child’s interference with the party life, and was probably using chloroform to knock her out and keep her quiet while she partied down the night. I figured at some point she either overdosed the child accidentally, or just decided to do away with her so she could devote more time to her new boyfriend.

So how is all this going to play out? Your guess is as good as mine. The jury is going to have their hands full in dissecting all the circumstantial evidence the State has amassed. Who knows, this might just turn out to be another infamous acquittal like in the O.J. Simpson case. The Casey Anthony case is filled with lies told so effectively that even she believes them. This is one case where truth is definitely stranger than fiction. There’s a best-seller in there somewhere. Many people hope she gets the death penalty. All I hope for is justice for the child.

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