It only took six months—to the day—for Casey Anthony to catapult herself back into the nation’s consciousness. Six months after the verdict in her notorious murder trial, Anthony’s visage flooded computer screens worldwide. Viewers were fascinated by her suddenly short blonde hair, her oversize reading glasses, and her self-absorbed four-minute soliloquy during which she mentioned herself more than 40 times and uttered not one word about her dead baby girl, Caylee, or her family.
Anthony ensured that she would be back in the news by simply turning on her computer webcam and beginning what she called a “video diary.” She had to know that any snippet of her speaking from her probation-required secret location “somewhere in Florida” would cause a furor if released. And now that the first installment of her diary has been made public, the uproar is deafening.
The multitude of people who railed against Anthony’s July 2011 acquittal in the death of her 2½-year-old daughter, Caylee, have been reenergized to action. Among the countless hate-filled, anti-Casey comments on Facebook and Twitter, one thread emerges: how in the world did this footage—which appears to have been filmed off a computer screen as the video diary played—come to be released to the public? The mystery of who released it, how, and why is at the crux of the discussion.
It’s confirmed that it is Casey Anthony on the video. One of Anthony’s criminal-defense lawyers says she kept notes and a video blog as part of her “continuing therapy.” But Cheney Mason steadfastly maintains it wasn’t Anthony who let it loose on the Internet.
“She did not release this video to YouTube and does not know how they got it. It could not have been legally obtained and was not authorized,” Mason wrote in a prepared statement.
Many people do not believe that.
Mason was part of the team that successfully defended the young mother during her murder trial and, according to two sources, has now displaced Jose Baez as the media spokesperson for Anthony—apparently at her request. People close to both men report a recent major falling out among all the parties—between Baez and Anthony, between Baez and Mason—sparked by Anthony’s displeasure at Baez’s inability to win her a TV, book, or movie deal. Anthony apparently gave Baez until the end of the year to come up with a deal, and absent that anointed Mason as her official liaison. Just how involved Baez will be in Anthony’s future affairs isn’t known, but his unhappiness with the situation has supposedly caused strain around his law office. As one person close to this story who did not want to be identified put it, “Jose is on the outs now. Cheney is in.” The fact that Mason issued the official media statement on the videos has caused a flurry of online speculation as to whether Baez may have leaked the video diary in a fit of pique.
Neither Mason nor Baez returned repeated phone calls and emails asking for comment. However, Michael Wright of the L.A.-based public-relations firm Garson and Wright, who has represented Baez in recent months, wrote me to say, “Jose told me you left a message for him. He did not leak the videos. He does not know who leaked the videos or why they are out. Thanks.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Robi Ludwig tells The Daily Beast that while she has heard of therapy sessions taking place via telephone or Skype, she has never heard of a bona fide therapy that included keeping a video diary. “And what I saw wasn’t a patient looking into a camera and saying, ‘Well, doctor, I’m feeling very isolated these days …’ Rather, she was looking into the camera and saying, ‘This is my first diary entry’ and telling us she doesn’t have many things except a dog … that she’s capable of loving because she loves her new dog.”
There are many unknowns about the videos. While Anthony gives the date of the v-blog as October 2011, there is no way of knowing exactly when she spoke into her webcam, immortalizing herself. She could have done it after the first of the year as part of a new self-directed publicity plan—a way to test the waters about a possible rebranding of her image.
Tracy Conroy, who lived in the Anthony family home as a bodyguard for Casey, watched Casey's behavior closely during her time with the Anthonys; in a profile I wrote of her last June, Conroy told me she thought Anthony was “a sick woman.” When I asked Conroy about the video this week, she told me Anthony always loved the cameras. She firmly believes Casey was somehow involved in the video release.
“The Casey we saw on the video is just as lost in her nonreality as she ever was. I could tell she liked playing that ‘part.’ She’s pretending she’s a good person, but I can see through it, and she is her own worst enemy. I know in her mind she thinks she can sway all the haters because she thinks she’s that irresistible.”
There is rampant and varied speculation as to who first posted the four-minute video on YouTube and where they got it. Surprisingly, not all the Anthony haters believe she did it. Some speculate that after she posted the video on a private, password-protected site set up to communicate with a few close friends, someone betrayed her. If that were the case—who? The Twittersphere is full of unconfirmable conjecture.
Holly and Jon Briley, who operate the Facebook page cumbersomely called Boycott Casey Anthony’s Future Earnings—No Money for Murder, claim they did it. Jon Briley told The Daily Beast one of his readers sent the video to his Facebook page, and he decided to immediately post it on YouTube so it would be available to everyone for free. (It’s now impossible to accurately trace who first posted the video.)
“I said to my wife, Holly, 'I know what this is! She [Casey] is desperate, and she wants to make money off it!' I put it on YouTube and went to bed. The next morning the media had my phone ringing off the hook.”
Where did Briley’s reader obtain the video? He can’t or won’t say. He mentions that he also found it on a pay-per-view site, but he cannot remember which one. The Brileys frequently point the finger at a young man in Olathe, Kan., named Rob Hensley who had boasted of his involvement on Twitter. Hensley has since gotten a lawyer and is unavailable for comment.
Another school of thought about how the video went from Anthony’s computer out to the whole world comes from California private detective and electronic-surveillance expert Dan Hanks. Following news reports that Anthony has a new boyfriend and is regularly attending church, Hanks says that since that information is out there it would be simple to follow her from church.
“Once outside wherever it is she is living, it would be pretty easy to tap into her Wi-Fi signal and get right inside her laptop. Whatever is on it could then be downloaded to another laptop.” This scenario has legs because in at least two sections of the v-blog there were obvious edits made where Casey mentions the names of other people (one of whom gave her the webcam). If she were in on some sort of public-relations ploy, why would she deliberately slip up and mention supporters by name? And who made those edits?
Another possibility, according to PI Hanks, Anthony could have been “borrowing” a Wi-Fi signal from a neighbor who then stumbled across the video diary and sent it out to the blogosphere.
Upon seeing their acquitted daughter on television again, the estranged Anthony family issued a statement saying they were worried about her continued safety. The Daily Beast obtained information that Casey had recently resumed communicating with her brother, Lee, who in turn has been passing the messages on to their mother, Cindy. When contacted for comment about this renewed family contact, the Anthonys’ lawyer, Mark Lippman, said, “I can’t confirm or deny that. I can’t say anything for safety reasons. Whatever my clients say they will be vilified for it, so we are saying nothing.”
On the video, Casey Anthony hints that she may be released from her yearlong probation for writing bad checks in February instead of August. The furor over the video diary may have ruined that chance.
It may also have altered the progress of several stalled lawsuits against her. The most pressing is a suit filed by the real Zeniada Gonzalez (the name Casey gave of a fictitious nanny who she said took Caylee), who claims her life was ruined by the unwanted association with the Caylee Anthony murder case. Then there is the suit filed by Texas EquuSearch, an organization seeking to win back money it spent on the unnecessary search effort for Caylee’s body. And finally, Roy Kronk, the meter reader who found Caylee’s skeletonized remains and was branded by the defense at the trial as an “evil … morally bankrupt individual” who stole the child’s body and held it until the award money grew, is suing for defamation of character. (Casey is also facing a $68,000 IRS lien on her future wages, which stems from taxes owed on a $200,000 payment from ABC News, and the state of Florida wants restitution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars it spent on the murder investigation.)
Anthony’s civil attorney has successfully argued she should not be compelled to give videotaped depositions in the cases because it would “compromise her security” by revealing what she looks like today.
Well, the jig is up on that now. Look for renewed court appeals to move forward with those delayed lawsuits.
Whether she dyes her hair red or blue or purple, Casey Anthony will continue to have one of the most recognized—and vilified—faces in the nation.