Even as evidence mounts that Florida toddler Caylee Anthony is dead, her grandmother insisted Tuesday that the 3-year-old is alive and that the child’s mother is only guilty of poor judgment and lying.
“I believe Caylee is with someone that [her mother] Casey had trusted,” Cindy Anthony told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer on Tuesday. “And I believe that Casey has been, you know, betrayed.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s going to take the average citizen to bring Caylee back home to me alive, and not the authorities.”
Orange County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Allen said Sunday that Caylee’s decomposing body was likely in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car.
Casey Anthony, 22, was released on bail on Aug. 21, but was rearrested on Friday for charges unrelated to Caylee’s disappearance.
Prosecutors have reportedly offered Casey Anthony, who they are labeling as a “person of interest,” limited immunity in exchange for cooperation in finding the child’s remains, a deal that was set to expire today at 9 a.m.
However, family spokesman Larry Garrison said he has “not heard of any such deal.”
“Again, this goes to false information in the media and the spin that has been put on this case,” Garrison said.
Timeline of trouble
Caylee Anthony was last seen in mid-June and was reported missing to authorities on July 15.
Cindy Anthony had called 911 and said she had not seen her granddaughter in several days and that her daughter Casey’s car trunk smelled like a dead body.
She would later rescind the comment, claiming the smell to be from an old pizza and other trash in the trunk of the automobile.
Casey Anthony has only told investigators that she dropped her daughter off with a baby sitter and went to work. But detectives quickly said those claims were not true.
At a July hearing, detectives also said Casey Anthony’s trunk contained hair samples appearing to belong to Caylee and also a suspicious stain that glowed under black light. They also said the car smelled strongly of human decomposition.
Allen told various media outlets on Sunday that there is a strong probability that Caylee Anthony is dead, based on FBI lab results from the findings in the trunk and “additional evidence that has not been made public.”
“My reaction is that John Allen is speaking out of context,” Cindy Anthony told Lauer. “I believe that because I’m still getting phone calls of people who have seen Caylee and they’re frustrated because the authorities aren’t investigating.”
But authorities say the investigation is ongoing. Orange County detectives have directed search teams to a wooded area near where Casey Anthony abandoned her car.
At the same time, on Sunday some 150 volunteers helped Texas EquuSearch try to find other evidence related to Caylee’s disappearance. Texas EquuSearch is an organization that uses computer mapping and other technologies to establish evidence of missing persons.
“I’m getting phone calls from people saying why they’re not out looking in the woods —because they don’t believe Caylee is out there,” Cindy Anthony said. “They believe Caylee is alive and Caylee is with somebody, so that’s my reassurance.”
Investigators took Casey Anthony back into custody on Friday night on charges of fraudulent use of personal information and petty theft.
She is accused of stealing more than $600 from a friend, taking a checkbook from that friend’s car in July, before her first arrest.
As Casey Anthony was drawn from her house by police, wearing a shirt bearing her daughter’s face and asking “Have you seen me?,” she was met by protesters calling her “baby killer.”
Garrison told Lauer he is fearful for the safety of Caylee and Cindy Anthony because of the anger of some protesters.
“First and foremost, the spin has gotten out of control,” he said.
“I’m not confident that the police are going to come and help them out. I really am not. They have not before, and all I can say, there are a lot of people out there that believe [Caylee] is still alive.”
Orange County officials say more charges unrelated to Caylee’s disappearance are in store for Casey Anthony.
Her attorney, Jose Baez, told reporters over the weekend: “This is nothing more than an attempt by law enforcement to play mind games with my client. They leaked the arrest to the media and deliberately avoided telling me so she could turn herself in in a dignified fashion. They clearly wanted the media to capture my client in the worst possible light.”