Statement Analysis®

The most accurate way of detecting deception

Caylee Anthony's Disappearance


Casey Anthony resides in the Orlando, Florida area and is the mother of two-year-old Caylee Anthony. Casey claims that in June 2008 she left Caylee with friend and nanny Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. Casey said she lost contact with Zenaida and has not seen her daughter Caylee for 31 days. For some reason, Casey did not tell anyone including the police that her daughter was missing until July 15, 2008. The following day, July 16, Casey was arrested on suspicion of child neglect, providing false official statements and obstructing a criminal investigation. She remained in jail until being released on bond August 21, 2008. While Casey is at home under electronic monitoring Caylee is still missing.

I have not seen any transcripts of the police interviews with Casey. There are two documents we can review. On July 15, 2008, Cindy Anthony, Casey's mother, called 911 to report Caylee was missing. She made two phone calls to 911 that day. During the second call the 911 operator asked to speak to Casey.

911: Hi. What can you...can you tell me what's going on a little bit?

Casey: I'm sorry?

911: Can you tell me a little bit what's going on?

Casey: My daughter's been missing for the last 31 days.

911: And you know who has her?

Casey: I know who has her. I've tried to contact her. I actually received a phone call today. Now from a number that is no longer in service. I did get to speak to my daughter for about a moment. About a minute.

The first thing we see is that Casey answered a question with a question, "I'm sorry?" Answering a question with a question usually means the person was asked a sensitive question. This is a stall tactic giving the person time to think about how to answer the question. Remember, Casey's mother called 911. Therefore, Casey may not have been expecting to get on the phone.

The next thing that jumps out at me is the statement, "I actually received a phone call today." The shortest sentence is the best sentence. Extra words give us extra information. "I received a phone call today" is a good statement. In her statement, Casey added the word "actually." The word "actually" is used when a person is comparing two thoughts. For example, "Is your car blue?" "Actually, my car is red." In this answer, it is easy to see the person is comparing the color blue with red. When the interviewer has not proffered anything and the person uses the word "actually," we then have some undisclosed information. For example, "What did you have for lunch?" "Actually, I had a hamburger." The person is comparing eating a hamburger with what? We don't know. His use of the word "actually" tells us he was thinking about something else other than a hamburger.

When Casey uses the word "actually" she is comparing receiving a phone call with what? Not receiving a phone call? There is no reason to use the word "actually" unless she is thinking about something else. Most likely she is thinking that she had not received a phone call from Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. She uses the word "actually" to bolster her statement but instead it weakens her statement and indicates she is being deceptive.

Notice that she does not tell the 911 operator from whom she received a phone call. It it easier for her to lie and say, "I received a phone call today" as opposed to saying, "I received a phone call today from the woman who has my daughter."

Anytime the word "phone" or a variation of this word (telephone, cell phone, etc.) appears in a statement it is an indication the subject is part of the crime scene. Say you walked into a convenience store and found the only employee on the floor in a pool of blood. You would most likely use your cell phone or the store phone to call 911. In your statement to the police, you would mention using the phone. The word "phone" ties you to the crime scene but in an innocent way. A deceptive person may mention he was on the phone to account for the time he was committing a crime. There may be a lack of information as to whom he talked to, what they talked about and how long they talked. In Casey's case, out of the blue she mentions the word "phone" in an effort to make her story sound believable. However, she provides no details on the conversation she had with the nanny or her daughter. She then goes on to say that the number that called her that very day is no longer in service. Some of you may doubt this premise about using the word "phone." Remember, it is not an absolute. It is only an indication of deception that is often be proven to be true. If the only sign of deception was the use of the word phone, I would most likely conclude it was a truthful story.



Casey was arrested on July 16, 2008 and made a telephone call to her mother from the Orange County Jail. The practice of most detention centers is to record any phone calls made by an inmate. On July 25, the Orange County Jail released Casey's 13-minute telephone call. During the call Casey made the following statements.

"I have no clue where Caylee is."

"That I have no clue where my daughter is? Yes, that is the truth. That is the absolute truth."

Twice Casey said she had "no clue" where her daughter is. It is hard to believe a person when he or she says, "I have no clue" or "I have no idea." Most people have an idea on just about everything. I don't know how we can successfully send an astronaut to Mars but I have an idea. My idea probably will not work because I am not a rocket scientist but I do have an idea. Casey also has to have an idea or clue as to where Caylee is. Doesn't she believe Caylee is with Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez? This is a strong indication she is withholding information.

We saw the same thing with Senator Joe Biden. He is on the list as a possible running mate with Barack Obama. On August 20, 2008, Biden was asked by the press if he was going to be the Democratic vice presidential candidate. He responded, "I promise you I don't know anything. I have no idea." I will bet you he does become the Democratic vice presidential candidate and I will bet you Casey Anthony is withholding information about her daughter's disappearance.


UPDATE

On August 23, 2008, Barack Obama announced that he had selected Senator Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. There is still no update on the Caylee's whereabouts.


UPDATE

On September 12, 2008 the Orange County Sheriff's office released the audio recordings of the two interviews they conducted with Casey Anthony on July 16, 2008.

The first interview was in the morning and the detective asked Casey to tell him what transpired the day Caylee went missing. Casey responded with the following statement.

"I got off of work, left Universal driving back to pick up Caylee like a normal day. And I show up to the apartment knock on door nobody answers. So, I call Zeniada cell phone and it's out of service. It says the phone is no longer in service, excuse me. So, I sit down on the steps and wait for a little bit to see if maybe it was just a fluke if something happened and time passed and I didn't hear from anyone. No one showed up to the house so I went over to J. Blanchard Park and checked a couple of other places where maybe possibly they would have gone; couple stores, just regular places that I know Zeniada shops at and she's taken Caylee before. And after about 7:00 when I still hadn't heard anything I was getting pretty upset, pretty frantic and I went to a neutral place. I didn't really want to come home. I wasn't sure what I would say about not knowing where Caylee was still hoping that I would get a call or you know find out that Caylee was coming back so that I could go get her. And I ended up going to my boyfriend Anthony's house who lives in Sutton Place."

Since Casey is telling the detective what happened the day her daughter disappeared, her statement should be in the past tense. In the first five sentences, Casey uses language that is in the present tense.

"I got off of work, left Universal driving back to pick up Caylee like a normal day. And I show up to the apartment knock on door nobody answers. So, I call Zeniada cell phone and it's out of service. It says the phone is no longer in service, excuse me. So, I sit down on the steps and wait for a little bit to see if maybe it was just a fluke if something happened and time passed and I didn't hear from anyone."

In the rest of her statement, she is consistently uses past tense language. When people use present tense language, it is an indication they are making up the story. Truthful people will rely on their memory as they tell us what happened. This will cause them to use past tense language. Since deceptive people are not searching their memory but are making up the story, present tense language may creep into their statement.

"So, I call Zeniada cell phone and it's out of service. So, I sit down on the steps and wait for a little bit...No one showed up to the house so I went over to J. Blanchard Park..."

In a statement, a person should be telling us what happened. When a person explains why he or she did something this is considered out-of-bound and is cause for concern as to whether or not the person is being truthful. Words such as "so" "since" and "because" should raise a red flag.

"I wasn't sure what I would say about not knowing where Caylee was still hoping that I would get a call or you know find out that Caylee was coming back so that I could go get her.'

When people use the phrase "you know" they sometimes want us to take for granted what they are about to say is the truth. However, we take nothing for granted. We only believe what people tell us. Some people have a habit of using this phrase but I did not hear Casey use this phrase often.


The second interview with Casey Anthony took place on the same day in the afternoon. Casey told the detectives that she worked at Universal Studios and that she may have information in her office that would help in finding Caylee. The detectives and Casey went to Universal Studios and as they are walking down the hall to Casey's office she admits that she does not work at Universal Studios. It appears they then went into a conference room to conduct the second interview. Here is a portion of the interview.

Question: I know and you know that everything you've told me is a lie. Correct?

Casey: Not everything that I've told you.

It is obvious that Casey has lied to the detectives since she told them she worked at Universal Studios when she didn't. She further tells us she has not been completely truthful when she says "not everything" has been a lie. That means some of the things she said was lie and some things were true.

Question: This has gone so far down hill and this has become such a mess that we need to end it. It's very simple. We just need to end it.

Casey: I agree with you. I have no clue where she is.

Question: Sure you do.

Casey: If I knew, in any sense of where she was this wouldn't have happened at all.

As I mentioned earlier it is very rare when a person can honestly say he or she has "no clue" or has "no idea." The words "at all" are not needed. The shortest sentence is the best sentence. She adds these words to make her statement sound believable.

The detectives then talked about a hypothetical young mother who confesses that a horrible thing happened. Casey responds with the following.

"The horrible thing that happened, this is the honest to God's truth, of everything that I've said I do not know where she is. The last person that I saw her with is Zenaida. She's the last person that I've seen my daughter with."

Casey begins her response as if she is going to tell us what horrible thing happened. However, she then changes her thinking and does not tell us what horrible thing happened.

The phrase "honest to God" is often used by deceptive people. However, if an interviewer continually tells the subject that he or she is lying, this may force the subject to use phrases such as "honest to God" or "I swear to God."

The word "with" in any sentence always indicates distance. What we have to determine is if the distance is appropriate. For example, if a husband stated, "I went on vacation with my wife" his use of the word "with" clearly shows us they do not have a good relationship. Hopefully, a husband is going to say "My wife and I went on vacation." Twice Casey uses the word "with" in talking about Caylee and the nanny being together. She could have avoided using this word by saying, "I do not know where she is. The last time I saw her was when I left her at Zenaida's house." She may be using the word "with" because she did not leave her with Zenaida.

Question: Favorite places to go? I guess Universal is one of them?

Casey: As a theatrical thing of course but she liked J. Blanchard Park going to Lake Underhill and walk around the lake.

Question: Where about in the park did she like the best?

Casey: The playgrounds. She liked to just attempt to run around Lake Underhill. She liked to go and walk the big trail at J. Blanchard Park.

Question: That's a big trail.

Casey: She loved that.

Question: You're going to be our biggest help in solving this.

Casey: I have nothing to go off of that's the problem. I have perspective ideas of maybe where she could go. At the same time she could have gone back up to New York. Could have gone up to Jacksonville where we have a friend. Could have gone down to Miami where her mom and her sister live now. She could have gone anywhere.

I had mentioned that when telling a story the person should be using past tense language. An exception to that rule is when talking about a missing person. Family members want to believe their missing loved one is alive and well. Therefore, when the person first disappears they will always talk about him or her using present tense language. When a family member talks about the missing person using past tense language they are revealing to us that they know the person is dead. Four times Casey refers to Caylee in the past tense. This is a strong indication Casey knows Cayless is dead. Many missing child cases are solved by listening to the verb tenses.

In talking about Caylee's whereabouts, Casey states, "I have perspective ideas of maybe where she could go." However, earlier in the interview she said, "I have no clue where she is." In the telephone call to her mother on July 16, 2008 she said, "I have no clue where Caylee is." Suddenly she now has "perspective ideas." As I said, it is hard to believe someone when they say "I have no clue" or "I have no idea."

All indications are Casey Anthony is telling a multitude of lies. She knows what happened to her daughter Caylee and she knows her daughter is dead.


UPDATE

On December 11, 2008, the bones of a child were found in the vicinity of Casey Anthony's residence. On December 19, 2008 the Orange County Medical Examiner announced that the bones were positively identified as that of Caylee Anthony. The Medical Examiner has ruled the death of Caylee as a homicide. There was no indication as to how Caylee died.


UPDATE

On May 24, 2011, Casey Anthony's trial started in Orlando, FL. During opening statements, Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, told the jury that Caylee drowned on June 16, 2008 in the family pool. Casey Anthony panicked and did not call 911. This means Anthony knew what happened to her daughter. We already knew that because of her statements, "I have no clue" and her use of the past tense in referring to Caylee.

Casey's attorney told the jury that Caylee drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008. If that is true, then how is it possible that Casey talked to her daughter on the phone on July 15, 2008? That is what she told the 911 operator. Although he told the jury the evidence will show that Caylee drowned in the family pool, Jose Baez never presented any evidence to support his claim.


UPDATE

On July 5, 2011, the jury in Casey Anthony's trial acquitted her of murdering her daughter Caylee. They did find her guilty of lying to the police. Based on her language, we already knew she was lying. Many people are outraged she was found not guilty of murder and they should be. The evidence was there to prove she was involved in Caylee's death. The jurors are not talking about their decision but when they do talk what you will hear will be something like, "I think she probably did it but the State failed to prove it." Or, "I voted not guilty but that does not mean she is innocent." On the surface, it seems plausible that a juror could believe Casey committed murder but the State failed to prove it. However, the reality is this makes no sense. If a juror believes Casey committed this crime or that Casey is not innocent, then apparently the prosecution did prove she was guilty. It sometimes seems that jurors do not take their common sense with them into the jury room when deliberating. Common sense and life experiences are a big part of deliberation. However, in this age of CSI crime shows jurors want hard evidence and do not want to convict someone on circumstantial evidence.

There is one other group that contributed to Casey's acquittal. I worked in the judicial system for 26 years. One thing that I noticed was the longer the prosecution took to present their case, the more it favored the defense. When you put on a trial that lasts for five, eight or ten weeks, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Jurors are human beings. They forget some of the evidence that was presented early in the trial. They get tired of sitting there week after week and it is usually the prosecution that keeps them there. The defense generally puts on very little evidence. This is because first, the defense does not have to prove anything. Secondly, most defendants are guilty so there is very little if no evidence that can exonerate them. In most trials, the prosecution should be able to wrap things up in a couple of weeks. They continually fail to learn that more is not better. That is what we saw in the O.J. Simpson trial, the Michael Jackson trial and now in the Casey Anthony trial. However, in the 2011 trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich the prosecution finally wised up. In Blagojevich's first trial, the jury was deadlock on 23 counts. They only convicted Blagojevich of lying to federal agents. In his second retrial, the prosecution streamlined their case. They did not talk about the $100,000 Blagojevich spent on his wardrobe which was mentioned a lot in his first trial. Instead, they presented their evidence in a much shorter trial and they got their convictions.


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