This undated photo released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Fla. on Friday, July 18, 2008, shows Caylee Marie Anthony. Orlando authorities said Friday, Dec. 19, 2008, that DNA tests confirm the skeletal remains recently found in the woods belong to missing toddler Caylee Anthony. (AP Photo/Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Florida investigators on Saturday finished searching the site where Caylee Anthony’s remains were found, but their work wasn’t over — as they executed a new search warrant to collect evidence at the home of Caylee’s grandparents home late Saturday afternoon.
The search warrant was obtained based on evidence gathered over the past several days at the wooded area near the home where the remains were found Dec. 11. Authorities confirmed Friday that the remains belonged to the girl, who was 2 years old when she disappeared in June.
Her mother, Casey Anthony, 22, is in jail, charged with her murder.
The Orange County Sheriff’s officially cleared the wooded area Saturday. At the same time, four vans carrying crime scene investigators showed up at the Anthony’s home, blocking the street, as the investigators strung yellow tape to keep back the dozens of onlookers who have come to express their condolences to the family.
After two hours, the investigators came out of the home with bags and boxes containing unknown items.
Despite identifying Caylee’s remains, authorities still haven’t been able to confirm through forensic evidence how she died, though they have pointed to other evidence in pinning the girl’s death on the mother.
The coroner who identified a child’s skeletal remains as those of the little girl said the condition of the bones would make it difficult to determine the cause of death.
There was virtually no soft tissue discovered with the skeleton, though there was hair. Orange County Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia said toxicology tests being done weren’t likely to shed much light on how the girl died.
There were no broken bones and no signs of trauma, further confounding investigators — and potentially posing a problem for the prosecution in building a case against Casey Anthony.
“They are not intact. They are all disarticulated. They are completely skeletonized,” Garavaglia said Friday. She said some of the bones were “tiny.”
Anthony is jailed without bond in her daughter’s murder but has pleaded not guilty.
Garavaglia on Friday said an autopsy concluded that the skull and bones found by a county utility worker were Caylee’s and the child was the victim of a homicide.
The girl was two months shy of her third birthday when she vanished in June.
The medical examiner said Caylee’s remains, which were found not far from the home where she lived with her mother and maternal grandparents, were identified through nuclear DNA analysis.
The news capped a five-month search for the girl, who was last seen in mid-June but wasn’t reported missing by her mother for more than 30 days.
“The bottom line is, no child should have to go through this,” said an emotional Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary on Friday.
The case has garnered intense national attention and media scrutiny.
The FBI said there wasn’t any indication the child was taken out of the Orlando area where she lived.
“At no time did we find any evidence that this young child left this location,” said Tampa FBI Special Agent Steven Ibison.
Casey Anthony’s lead attorney Jose Baez said he is “disappointed” with the handling of the investigation, which he called “unprofessional.”
He declined to comment on how his client reacted to the news that her daughter was found dead.
“This is her private moment. This is her life,” he said Friday. “It’s not my place as her attorney to disclose her private moments to the public. I’m sure that’s what she would want.”
Caylee’s grandparents Cindy and George Anthony were “grieving deeply” in private, their attorney Brad Conway told the Orlando Sentinel.
“This is a tragic moment in the lives of good and honorable people,” he said.
Ahead of the announcement, Florida police released evidence photos from the scene where the remains were found. One showed a picture book discovered in the woods that the child had been photographed reading before she vanished.
The book is among numerous pieces of evidence Orange County Sheriff’s deputies say they found in the wooded area where Caylee’s remains turned up.
Also Friday, police re-interviewed a county water meter reader who earlier this month discovered the bag with the child’s skull and bones inside.
Detectives said the worker is not a suspect in her death.
The worker who found the bones on Dec. 11 had called in a tip to police on three consecutive days in August, telling them to look in the same area for the remains.
“Back in August of this year, I had previously reported … that I had spotted something suspicious, a bag, in the same area,” said the meter reader, Roy Kronk, reading from a prepared statement Friday.
He wouldn’t elaborate.
“I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation,” Kronk told reporters. “I respectively decline to get into the details of what I saw at the crime scene.”
His attorney, David Evans, called Kronk a “concerned citizen” and lambasted media speculation that suggested otherwise.
“He has no connection whatsoever to this case or to the Anthony family,” Evans said.
There is now an internal probe under way within the police department into how the matter was handled.
“There are a lot of questions about the thoroughness of that response,” Orange County Sheriff’s Capt. Angelo Nieves told MyFOXOrlando.com.
Caylee vanished on or around June 16, less than two months before her third birthday. Her family reported her missing in mid-July. Her mother has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and other charges.
Anthony and her defense team have maintained that she last saw Caylee when she left her with a baby sitter named Zenaida Gonzalez in an apartment complex parking lot. Anthony’s lawyers say Gonzalez and another woman drove away with the child.
Anthony and her attorneys say they believe Caylee was killed by her kidnappers.
Police claim that story and the sitter are fictitious and Anthony has lied to them repeatedly.