Twelve years ago, on December 11, 2008, the remains of a little brown-haired girl, Caylee Anthony, were found inside a trash bag in a wooded area in Orlando, Florida. The child, who was last seen alive in June of that year and reported missing in July, would have turned 3 years old that August had she lived.
Caylee’s mother, Casey Anthony, was charged in the case, but in 2011 was found not guilty of first-degree murder. She served a short time in jail on related misdemeanor counts and then was released. Still, years later, interest in her life remains high, partly because of some of the controversial things she’s said both during her trial and in more recent years. For example, in a 2017 interview with The Associated Press she infamously said, “I don’t give a sh*t about what anyone thinks about me. I never will. I’m okay with myself. I sleep pretty good at night.”
A&E Real Crime checks in on what Casey Anthony is up to, the relationship with her parents and friends, her legal status and other lingering questions about the case.
What is Casey doing now?
Casey, 35, lives in South Florida in the home of Patrick McKenna, a private detective who was the lead investigator on her defense team. She works for him as a researcher.
According to People magazine, she is dating and could be considering having another child. “For a long time she was like ‘no way,’ a source told the magazine. “But time has changed that and she’s now open to it in a way she hasn’t been before.”
[Watch Casey Anthony: How Did We Get Here? on A&E Crime Central.]
Is she still in touch with her parents?
Casey’s relationship with parents George and Cindy Anthony has been rocky and is constantly evolving. Recent reports indicate that Casey is occasionally in contact with her mother, Cindy, but not with her father, George. In November 2018, George was seriously injured in a car crash in Florida, and Casey reportedly had no plans to contact him. However, in a January 2019 TV interview, George revealed Casey had, in fact, reached out to him following his accident to see how he was. He also said that he would like to rekindle a relationship with his daughter and tell her, “I forgive her.”
Are her old friends in contact with her?
As far as former roommate Cameron Campana, 31, is aware, none of the people who lived with Casey before Caylee went missing still speak to her. He tells A&E Real Crime the last time he saw Casey was in court during her May 2011 trial.
“Nobody has heard from her since she was arrested,” says Campana, who at the time was living in an Orlando apartment with three fellow music-business students at Full Sail University, including Casey’s boyfriend at the time, Tony Lazzaro. Casey moved in with them a few months before Caylee vanished.
“We were just four guys going to college, and then suddenly we were in the biggest case since O.J.,” says Campana, who now lives in Cleveland and says he’s still occasionally in touch with the other roommates.
What was Caylee like?
The little girl was occasionally at their apartment and Campana once babysat her when Casey went out to dinner.
“She was very smart,” he says. “Very energetic. She liked to talk and dance around and bang on a drum pad.”
She also liked the Pink Panther cartoon and enjoyed swimming in the apartment complex’s pool, he says.
What was Casey like?
She was “very extroverted and outgoing” and appeared to be an attentive and engaged mother, according to Campana. “She would do flash cards with (Caylee),” he says. “She was always super loving and super protective.”
It stunned the roommates when they found out Caylee had been missing for a month, but Casey had not reported it. “It was really a shock when the police told us because she seemed like such a good mother,” he says.
Looking back on the days Caylee was missing, Casey never appeared distraught or upset. “She didn’t seem like anything was wrong,” he says. “She stayed the same.”
The fact that he didn’t see the little girl for a month didn’t raise any alarms at the time.
“One time we asked her where Caylee was, and she said she was with the nanny,” Campana says. “She had an excuse right off the bat.”
Does Campana think Casey killed Caylee?
He just doesn’t know. “There’s a part of me that believes she could never have done anything like that, but then there’s another part of me that’s like, maybe she did,” he says. In either case, “There was no justice for Caylee. Only one or two people know what happened, and we’ll probably never know. It’s saddening.”
What happened to Tony Lazzaro, the man Casey was dating at the time of Caylee’s disappearance?
Lazzaro testified at Casey’s murder trial that the pair met online, and that during their relationship Casey never mentioned her daughter was missing.
Lazzaro later graduated from college and got a job in Shoreham, New York, his father told a local paper. He had worked in the music business for a while, but changed careers and is working in the construction industry, says Campana, who adds that he recently saw photos on Facebook of Lazzaro’s wedding.
Can Casey ever be retried for Caylee’s murder?
“Once you’re acquitted you can’t be recharged or tried again for the same crime,” says Zedalis, a former public defender and incoming chairwoman of the Florida Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section.
Additionally, a person can’t be charged with any other crimes that may have taken place during the same criminal episode, she says. For example, Casey could not be tried on the lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter in the case because the commission of that offense would have taken place in the same incident as the first-degree murder, for which she was already found not guilty. “You can’t parcel it out piecemeal,” she says.
Zedalis points out that an acquittal doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t do it. “‘Not guilty’ means not proven,” she says. “It doesn’t mean we think you’re innocent.”
What became of Zenaida ‘Zanny the Nanny’ Gonzalez, who Casey claimed was caring for Caylee when she went missing?
Gonzalez was interviewed by police, but no charges were ever filed against her in the case. She sued Casey for defamation in 2013, but that case was tossed out of court in 2015 after a federal judge said Casey’s statements did not legally qualify as malicious.
In January 2016, Gonzalez was arrested on theft charges after Osceola County (Florida) deputies said that while working as a cleaner at a motel, she stole a cancer patient’s credit card and charged $850 on it at area stores. As of the publication of this article, the case has not yet been adjudicated, according to Osceola County court records.
Casey Anthony in 2020
On January 14, 2020, Casey Anthony won another legal battle related to Caylee’s murder case. A federal appeals court ruled against Roy Kronk, the meter reader who found Caylee’s body, in his lawsuit against Anthony for defamation. The Miami Herald reported that Kronk had claimed that Anthony and her attorneys “published false and defamatory statements about his during the investigation into Caylee’s disappearance and Anthony’s subsequent criminal trial,” according to federal court documents.
August 9, 2020 would have been Caylee’s 15th birthday.
George and Cindy Anthony in 2020
Casey Anthony’s parents George and Cindy still live in the same Orlando, Florida home where Casey and Caylee were living in 2008. In September 2019, they successfully resolved a foreclosure case against their home.
Casey Anthony in 2021
On January 1, 2021, Casey Anthony started a private investigation firm in South Florida: Case Research & Consulting Services. According to paperwork that was filed, the address listed for the company belongs to Patrick McKenna.