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Frustration, anger build over tot's disappearance

Associated Press

ORLANDO — What's captivating are the photos — the toddler's fawnlike eyes and chubby cheeks resting in her hands.

Yet we're also taken with the darker side: a young mother who waited 31 days to report the girl missing and then, detectives say, lied about crucial details.

Although the story is hashed out before a national audience nearly every day — Caylee Anthony's grandparents are staples on network TV — there's little new evidence.

Caylee, who was reported missing July 15, has seemingly vanished. Detectives and family members hope she will be home by Saturday, her third birthday.

Late Wednesday, detectives carried four bags of evidence out of the Anthony family home but would not say what was inside. A dive team was to scour lakes and retention ponds today, although officials say the searches are part of routine monthly training.

Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, is being held on $500,000 bond, charged with just a third-degree felony, child neglect, and one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report.

In Orlando, people are frustrated Caylee hasn't been found and angry at how her mother has conducted herself in court hearings and on taped jail calls.

Radio talk show hosts call for Anthony's execution — never mind that she hasn't been charged in the girl's disappearance. Visitors to Internet sites say Anthony should be taken out of her solitary jail cell so other inmates can "give her a good beat-down."

"She's got something to do with it," said 28-year-old Jeff Sutton, who was standing outside the jail this week watching a dozen TV cameras prepare for the arrival of Casey Anthony's mother. "I see (Anthony) as mean, disrespectful, a child abuser. And selfish."

Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, describes his client's accusers as a lynch mob.

"Out the window went the presumption of innocence and a right to a fair trial," he said.

Anthony gave birth to Caylee on Aug. 9, 2005, when she was 19. She declined to put the father's name on the birth certificate.

About a year later, he died in a car crash and was buried out of state. Family members say he never knew he was the father.

Mother and baby lived in Casey Anthony's childhood home east of Walt Disney World in suburban Orlando, in an ivory-colored ranch flanked by palm trees. By all accounts, Cindy and George Anthony were more like parents than grandparents to Caylee, who loved SpongeBob, swimming and her miniature tea set.

And while Casey Anthony had several boyfriends and worked sporadically as a product promotion representative in bars, clubs and restaurants, she was a good mother, friends and relatives say.

A high school dropout, she had no criminal record. Officials at Florida's child welfare agency said they were never called about possible abuse or neglect by her.

Lee Anthony said Casey left town with Caylee on June 16 for work and vacation. Almost five weeks later, on July 24, Cindy Anthony dialed 911.

"I found out my granddaughter has been taken, she has been missing for a month, we're talking about a 3-year-old little girl … I need to find her," a frantic Cindy Anthony said. "I found my daughter's car today, and it smells like there's a dead body in the damn car."

Casey Anthony told Orange County sheriff's deputies she left her child in an apartment June 9 with a nanny.

But investigators say the apartment had been empty for several months.

Other troubling details emerged: A neighbor told detectives Anthony had asked to borrow a shovel some time in June. Her father said she had stolen two gas cans from the garage and refused to let him get something from the trunk of her car. A boyfriend said she never told him that Caylee was missing.

Detectives are amazed Casey has kept her composure under questioning, never crying or showing emotion.

"Her demeanor has been, for lack of a better word, nonchalant," says Deputy Chief Carlos Padilla. "She's shown no remorse, no concern."

Frustration, anger build over tot's disappearance 08/07/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2008 3:16pm]
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