UPDATE: meter reader picked up bag a skull fell out Caylee Anthony?

Thursday, December 11, 2008 – updated: 2:19 pm EST December 11, 2008

The remains of a young child were located in east Orange County Thursday morning, less than a half-mile from Casey Anthony’s parents’ home, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. 

An Orange County water meter reader, who had gone into the woods to relieve himself, discovered a bag about 20 to 30 feet off the sidewalk in the area of Chickasaw Trail and Suburban Drive (see map), around three-tenths of a mile from the Anthonys’ home (map from location to Anthonys’ home)


<!–WATCH LIVE: Eyewitness News Coverage
–>AT SCENE: Ground Images | Aerial Images | Raw Aerial Video
REACTION: Sheriff Beary | Leonard Padilla | Tim Miller | Legal Analyst | Forensics Expert
BAEZ SILENT: Attorney Refuses To Comment


 

According to information obtained by Eyewitness News, when the meter reader picked up the bag a skull fell out. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed to Eyewitness News that the remains are from a young child. 

“We are assuming they are the remains of a victim,” said Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jim Solomons. 

It is not known whether the remains belonged to Caylee Anthony. 

“We know we have a recent discovery. We have investigators on the scene. We need to determine what we have,” said Solomons. 

Deputies set up a perimeter near a small retention pond. Heavy rain pounded the scene, making the investigation more difficult. FBI agents and agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were also on the scene. 

Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary said the area had been underwater during previous searches so it was not surprising the remains hadn’t been found before (watch Beary press conference)

When asked if the remains could be those of any other child, Beary responded, “Not that we know of.” 

Eyewitness News reporter Kathi Belich said sources told her they were taking this very seriously and would expedite DNA tests to determine if the remains were indeed Caylee’s. Investigators told her they were “very optimistic” they had found the missing girl. Beary said the FBI had told him experts at its lab in Quantico, VA would work through the weekend if necessary on the case. 

Caylee’s mother, Casey Anthony, has been charged with murder in connection with the case. She is currently in the Orange County jail. A jail spokesman said he did not know if Casey was aware of the morning’s discovery. During a previous search, a counselor was brought in to talk with Casey. 
DEPUTIES SECURE HOUSE 

Orange County deputies also moved to secure the Anthony home. The home had been the site of many protests and on-looker gatherings throughout the course of investigation into Caylee’s disappearance. 

Neighbors and others began showing up at the house about 11:00 a.m. 

“I think it’s tremendous, I think it’s due,” said one of the discovery of the remains. “We’ve been searching for this little girl for months. America is listening and wants this little girl found.” 

The house was also a possible crime scene. Investigators could search for more evidence based on what they found with the remains. 

 
EXPERTS REACT 

Dr. Michael Baden, a forensics expert, said DNA tests would likely confirm what other evidence at the scene would tell investigators (watch Baden interview). For example, detectives say there was duct tape on the bag and skull that were found. Baden said detectives would be able to match that tape and bag to other tape and bags they had previously gathered from the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car. 

“They can tell the age and height of the child. They’ll have a good sense of if it’s Caylee. The DNA will just confirm the evidence,” said Baden. 

Tim Miller, founder of the Texas-based search group Equusearch, said he had been called by law enforcement officials and told they believed they had found Caylee Anthony (watch Miller interview)

“The words were, ‘Tim, it looks like we got her,'” said Miller. “I’m surprised. It was one of them cases I thought would have never been found… I thought the best thing that would ever happen is that one day we could go to a funeral and say good-bye to this little girl… and it looks like that will happen.” 

“I’m just overcome with emotion and grief right now,” said bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, who has been a major part of search efforts to find Caylee’s remains (watch Padilla interview)
MURDER TRIAL POSTPONED 

During a Thursday morning pre-trial hearing in the case against Casey Anthony, the judge postponed her trial until sometime in March per attorney Jose Baez’s request. 


PRE-TRIAL HEARING: See Images | Raw Video


 

The judge set another pre-trial status hearing for January 15 at 9:00am, but did not specify when in March the trial would start. 

Eyewitness News legal analyst Bill Scheaffer said Thursday’s discovery would change everything. 

“This won’t go to trial in March,” said Scheaffer. 

Scheaffer also addressed a recent decision by the State Attorney’s office that it would not seek the death penalty in the case. 

“The forensics that are going to be performed are going to answer a lot of questions (in terms of prosecutors asking for the death penalty),” said Scheaffer. “This is obviously a major setback to the defense.” 

Ironically, Baez had waived Casey’s right to a speedy trial at the Thursday hearing. That now paves the way for the State to take as much time as it needs to put together its case. 

Baez also told the judge he planned to file for a change of venue. 

Casey Anthony did not attend Thursday’s hearing. Baez did not immediately comment on the discovery of the remains although he did visit Casey in jail. 
ANTHONYS TRAVEL BACK FROM CALIFORNIA 

George and Cindy Anthony were travelling to Orlando from California after appearing on CNN’S Larry Kind Live Wednesday night. They sent a text message to the Eyewitness News newsroom saying they were aware of the discovery but had not been told whether the remains were Caylee’s. 

On the program, the Anthonys offered very little new information. 

“It’s come up for nothing. There is nothing they have found that has given them any evidence that Caylee is no longer with us,” said Cindy. 


RAW VIDEO: George And Cindy On Larry King Live
VIDEO REPORT: Parents Defend Casey On TV


 

The Anthonys said they are trying to keep the search for their granddaughter Caylee as the main focus. However, the couple defended their daughter Casey in front of a national audience. Despite Casey being charged with murdering her own daughter, Cindy didn’t have a problem defending her. 

“Casey has done nothing to her daughter. There is no evidence that shows that,” Cindy said. “I can with 100 percent of my being say that I believe that Casey had nothing to do with Caylee’s disappearance.” 

The Anthonys say they are focusing on the alleged Caylee sightings and claim the most recent was Wednesday in Tennessee inside of a grocery store. 

“My investigator has already spoken with the Tennessee authorities and the tipster and we are just waiting to see if there is any video in the store,” Cindy said. 

George and Cindy also spoke out against law enforcement. 

“I wanted them to put out an Amber Alert for my granddaughter, which they never did. They never contacted the FBI and I wanted them to,” George said. 

 

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