Casey Anthony is in the spotlight again after her parents, Cindy and George Anthony, sat down with TV journalist Elizabeth Vargas for the A&E special, “Casey Anthony’s Parents Speak.”
Although Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony in 2011, many people—including her own father—believe she had something to do with the crime.
Marcus Parks of the popular podcast “The Last Podcast on the Left” devoted two episodes to the Anthony case in March and strongly believes the Florida woman got away with murder. He spoke with A&E True Crime about how he believes the crime occurred—and why the focus on chloroform as the murder weapon was a big mistake.
Why do you think people were fascinated with the Casey Anthony trial?
There’s an old cliché: There is nobody in America that’s more missing than a white child—especially a cute white child. There are people who are less dead and more dead than others as far as police investigation and law-enforcement effort. From what we’ve found, the least-dead person in America is a black sex worker and the most-dead person is a little white girl, for example Caylee Anthony.
When Caylee went missing, it was a good story because not only was she missing, but the mother was attractive so it was a good visual.
The case took an even bigger front seat when Casey Anthony was arrested and the kid was still missing because she was denying everything. And when Caylee was found in such a gruesome way, people got angry. We follow a story that makes us angry more than anything else and Casey Anthony made people angry.
When you think about a child being killed, especially by a parent, an instinct within you gets turned on you can’t turn it off again. You identify with the child and hate the mother. I think Casey Anthony’s a bad person. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is, it doesn’t matter if she killed the child or not, she still spent 30 days not telling anybody the kid was missing.
You examine the way Casey Anthony came up with lies. Was she a good liar?
That’s the question we struggled with: Is Casey Anthony a good liar? Because she got caught almost every time.
One of the most amazing lies she told was when her daughter was missing. When cops questioned her, ‘Did you tell anybody [Caylee was missing]?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I told my coworkers at Universal Studios.’ So they’re like, ‘Let’s go to Universal Studios and ask some of these coworkers.’ They show up at the front desk and the guy at the front desk says, ‘No one named Casey Anthony works here.’ She’s like, ‘No, I do work here.’ The supervisor comes down and says, ‘No, you don’t work here, but there’s a missing child involved, the cops are sitting here. So, sure, go up [to the offices], check it out…’
She’s walking through the halls and waving at people like she knows them and all these people are looking at her like, ‘Who is this woman? Why is she here? Why is she waving at me like she knows me?’ Finally, she gets to the end of the hall with the cops behind her. She has nowhere else to go. She turns around and says, ‘I don’t work here. Sorry.’
And that’s what she would do over and over again—she would just take a lie to the absolute end and when that lie ran out, she would finally admit, ‘I lied.’ …And just switch to another lie.
Do you think Casey Anthony’s parents enabled her lies and behavior?
Oh God, yes! Especially Cindy (Casey’s mother)—she would cover for Casey’s lies.
When Casey Anthony was in high school, she pretty much stopped going to classes. She had been told [by the school] she wasn’t going to graduate. She didn’t tell her mother about this until the day before graduation. Her mother had spent all this time inviting family [to Casey’s graduation party]. When the day came, Cindy told everyone the school screwed up and because of their screw up—because Casey had absolutely graduated from high school—she wasn’t going to be walking in the graduation ceremony that day.
So, they had a graduation party like nothing had ever happened. The mother covered for Casey, and Casey discovered lying is fine because mom’s going to take care of it.
I think George Anthony was just overwhelmed. I think he just threw up his hands and said, ‘This is my life.’
A lot of people say this is a narcissistic family—that Cindy Anthony was a narcissist and Casey Anthony’s definitely a narcissist. A feature of the narcissistic household is pretending like everything’s fine, pretending life is great. [Acting as if] there are no problems: We don’t have to address anything, we don’t have to talk about anything. All we have to do is just keep pretending that everything is okay and maybe it’ll all work out. That’s how Casey Anthony lived her entire life. The terrible thing is, it eventually worked.
But was she just pulling lies out of thin air?
There would always be a tiny nugget of truth to it. The most amazing lie—and this is something I cannot believe is not more widely reported—is about Zenaida Gonzalez.
When Anthony was caught, her first excuse was, ‘My child was kidnapped by the nanny. Her name is Zenaida Gonzalez.’ Nobody could figure out where that name came from. [Investigators] found a Zenaida Gonzalez in Orlando and when they questioned her, she said, ‘I have no idea who Casey Anthony is. I’m not even a nanny. I don’t know why this woman is bringing me into this.’
For the longest time everyone thought: How did she know Zenaida Gonzalez? Why did she pick this name? So, some of the amateur investigators in the case—the internet is filled with amateur sleuths…trying to figure this thing out—have their own pet theories.
I found one blog that noticed the names of two of Casey Anthony’s neighbors. My research assistant double-checked this on multiple sites where you can look at the names of property owners. In the subdivision where the Anthonys lived, there was a small wooded area about a mile and a half away. That small wooded area was where Caylee’s body was dumped.
On one side of that area lived a woman named Zenaida Almodovar at 4701 Hopespring Drive. On the other side at 4709 Hopespring Drive, that person’s name is Peter Gonzales. I think, as others have pointed out, she just put the names of two of the neighbors together to get Zenaida Gonzalez and she thought the name was so odd that nobody could be named Zenaida Gonzalez. In fact, the current census said there’s only 22 people in America named Zenaida Gonzalez. It’s just Casey Anthony’s bad luck that one of those Zenaida Gonzalezes happened to live in Orlando. It’s such an amazing coincidence.
Casey Anthony would pull some things out of reality and try to use them [in her lies] because I think she thought they lent more credence to them, or it made her feel clever. But most of the time, that’s what got her caught: those small pieces of reality. That’s what made the whole thing fall apart. If she was smart she would have said, ‘My nanny was named Susan Smith,’ and there are hundreds of thousands of Susan Smiths in America. There’s no way they were going to be able to check them all. But instead she chose a very odd name that happened to actually exist.
When [Caylee] was not around, Casey Anthony would tell her parents and her boyfriend that she was being taken care of by ‘Zanny the Nanny.’ But I think ‘Zanny the Nanny’ was actually Xanax. I think she was giving her child Xanax…to put her to sleep so she didn’t have to deal with her.
[Editor’s note: “Zanies” or “zannies” are slang terms for Xanax pills.]
Did Casey Anthony have access to Xanax? Was she taking it herself or were the people in her circle using it?
She was around people who were taking it. It was a very common club drug at the time. She was hanging out with Orlando club kids. Her boyfriend at the time—even though I hesitate to use the term ‘boyfriend’ because they were only dating for like three weeks before this guy got sucked into the whole saga—said Xanax was everywhere and Casey Anthony had taken Xanax on the night of the infamous party pictures. Xanax was readily available and she could get ahold of it extremely easily.
A lot of people seem to buy the chloroform theory—that Caylee was either drugged accidently or on purpose with chloroform.
The chloroform theory is pure prosecutorial incompetence. I cannot believe how bad the prosecution was in the Casey Anthony case. The Orlando D.A.’s office has the lowest conviction rating in all of Florida—at least as of two years ago—specifically Jeff Ashton, the state attorney who prosecuted the Anthony case.
They bungled this from beginning to end. I think they just found chloroform in Casey Anthony’s trunk and they found traces of chloroform in the carpet of her trunk and decided to run with it. But chloroform is also used in cleaning products.
I think Casey Anthony using Xanax to knock out her daughter is far more likely than Casey Anthony manufacturing chloroform in her house. Why would she go to the trouble of manufacturing chloroform when she had a proven knock-out drug right in front of her?
…Casey Anthony’s a very lazy person and to think a person who just stopped showing up in high school, who had, at most, a GED, would have the knowledge or the will to learn how to make chloroform—a very smelly substance—it’s just way too complicated. The Xanax makes so much more sense.
What do you make of the browser search history related to chloroform?
This is another huge example of incompetence on the side of the prosecution—they pointed towards the Internet Explorer browser searches as proof Casey Anthony Googled chloroform. But the problem was, she didn’t use Internet Explorer, she used Firefox. And the prosecution didn’t check the Firefox history.
But Cindy Anthony used Internet Explorer. I believe her when she says that she Googled ‘chlorophyll’ to make sure her dog, who had eaten bamboo, wasn’t going to be hurt by it. Then the auto-fill came in as ‘chloroform’ and she got curious and checked it.
Not too long ago, a couple of amateur sleuths got ahold of the [Anthony family] hard drive and found Casey Anthony’s Firefox logs. The day Caylee Anthony was killed, 97.5 percent of the web traffic on that computer was done on Firefox and one of those web searches was ‘fool-proof suffocation.’ And the prosecution missed it completely.
Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s attorney, knew about this, and thought the prosecution was going to sandbag him and the entire case would be over. It never came.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said, ‘They never asked us to check Firefox. The only thing they asked us to check for was chloroform.’ They were so laser-focused on chloroform they ignored everything around it. They missed a lot of the common-sense evidence that was right in front of them.
Do you feel like the media portrayal of Casey Anthony as a party girl during the trial was fair and accurate?
I’m not really sure. It seems she didn’t really get into that lifestyle until shortly before [Caylee went missing]. I don’t think she partied any more than an average girl her age, even an average mother her age. It’s not unheard of for a young mother to go out and party with her friends while the parents look after her kid.
A lot of Casey’s friends said she was a loving mother. That she wasn’t a huge party girl and she wasn’t as bad as the media made her out to be. But I do think the lifestyle she fell into with those club kids was something new for her. Even the boyfriend said they had to teach her how to smoke weed, because for years Casey Anthony was one of those people who would get angry at her friends for smoking weed. But she meets these club kids and all of a sudden she has a new life that she very much enjoys, and wants it all the time. But you can’t do that with a daughter.
The day of the murder, her IM (instant message) logs have her talking to a guy. She told him, ‘Checking up on all the MySpace, Facebook hoopla.’ And so, she spent the morning looking at all her new friends and old friends just having a great time.
I think she looked over at her daughter and thought, ‘I don’t want this anymore. I want the other life.’ I think she decided on a whim she was going to get rid of her daughter and that was the day she Googled ‘foolproof suffocation.’ And then she just did it.
Do you have a personal theory on how the body would have been disposed?
I think she put her daughter’s body in the trunk of the car and went to meet up with her boyfriend. She went to his house…and the body stayed in the car for days, if not weeks.
She had two people ride in her car in the week immediately after—her brother and a friend. They both remarked, ‘What is that smell? It smells like something died in here.’ She gave them two different answers. She told one person a squirrel had crawled into her engine and died and the other one she told she had hit a squirrel and it got stuck in the grill.
I think around that time she realized, ‘I’ve got to get rid of this body.’ But of course, she doesn’t think ahead, she doesn’t think about a location [to dump the body]. She came upon the only place that made sense to her. The easiest place to dump a body was the wooded area, a mile and a half from her parents’ place.
But the problem was the smell, the death smell, was still [in the car]. I think she used cleaning products, and certain cleaning products contain chloroform.
I think she tried cleaning the trunk, and it didn’t work. The death smell was still there and so, I think, that’s where the garbage bag full of pizza that George Anthony found when the car was finally retrieved [from the tow lot] comes in. I think she stuck the pizza in the trunk of her car. It could have come from the boyfriend’s house; it could have come from the dumpster her car was found next to.
She then abandoned her car at one of the busiest intersections in Orlando, a place where it was almost sure to get towed. And if the car got towed, it was sure to be left alone for at least a couple of weeks. But she did not count on how pervasive the smell of death and decomposition is, and how much it really sticks to fabric, especially when it’s been baking in the Orlando sun.
When the car was retrieved, the death smell was still there and that’s when everything started to fall apart for Casey Anthony.