Tragic Details Found In Caylee Anthony's Autopsy Report

Three-year-old Caylee Marie Anthony was reported missing by her grandmother, Cindy Anthony, on July 15, 2008. As reported by ABC News, Cindy told authorities her granddaughter had been missing for 31 days, and her whereabouts were unknown.

In the months prior to Caylee's disappearance, her mother, Casey Anthony, said she was taking her daughter on a "mini-vacation." However, Casey later said she left Caylee with a woman named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, who she suggested kidnapped Caylee. The investigation into Caylee's disappearance was hampered by conflicting stories provided by Casey and her parents. As reported by Criminal Brief, authorities eventually cleared Fernandez-Gonzalez of involvement in Caylee's disappearance and instead named Casey as a person of interest. Although her daughter was still missing, Casey was arrested and charged with child neglect on July 16, 2008.

Despite conducting an exhaustive search and interviewing dozens of people, ABC News reports, detectives were unable to confirm the toddler's whereabouts. However, on September 1, 2008, the Orange County, Florida, Sheriff's Office issued a public statement, in which they admitted "there is a strong probability that Caylee is deceased." Criminal Brief reports Casey Anthony was subsequently indicted on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, aggravated abuse, and four counts of providing false information to authorities amid the investigation into her daughter's disappearance. Everyone's worst fears were confirmed when skeletal remains, which appeared to belong to a small child, were found in a wooded area less than a mile away from Cindy and George Anthony's home.

Caylee Anthony's cause of death was never determined

On December 19, 2008, authorities announced that DNA testing confirmed the remains belonged to Caylee Anthony. As stated in the autopsy report, the medical examiner, Dr. Jan Garavaglia, concluded Anthony's manner of death was homicide. However, the cause of death could not be determined. According to the autopsy, Anthony's remains were found "intermixed with two plastic trash bags and a canvas laundry type bag" in a heavily wooded area. Dr. Garavaglia noted that the remains had been disturbed and scattered around, which was attributed to local wildlife. As the remains were in the woods for an estimated six months, there was no soft tissue remaining on the bones.

The autopsy revealed the vertebrae were found clustered together several feet away from the plastic bags and the skull, as were other clusters of bones. In her report, Dr. Garavaglia noted there were several roots growing in and around the plastic bags and some of the bones, including the vertebrae, suggesting the remains were placed in the woods around the time Anthony was reported missing and prior to decomposition.

As stated in the autopsy, Dr. Garavaglia was unable to find any evidence of trauma on the bones. Toxicology testing, which was performed on strands of Anthony's hair recovered from the scene, did not indicate there were any drugs in her system at the time of her death. However, Dr. Garavaglia noted there was duct tape on the lower facial region, which was holding the lower jaw in place.

The medical examiner was accused of doing 'shoddy' work

As stated in the autopsy report, Caylee Anthony's clothing had also degraded in the months after her remains were placed in the woods. However, several sets of letters, which were determined to be part of the shirt she was wearing, were found largely intact. The letters, which were pink, with a "glittery appearance," spelled out the words, "big trouble comes small." A pair of shorts were also found at the scene, which had green, orange, and pink stripes and a pink button on the front. Authorities also found what Dr. Jan Garavaglia determined was a regular or pull-up diaper. Law enforcement officials also recovered a blanket from the scene, which the medical examiner described as "discolored and faded." However, the design, which was printed on the front and back of the blanket, was still visible and had a picture of Winnie the Pooh, with Piglet on his back.

Although the medical examiner's conclusion that Anthony's cause of death was homicide, "Today" reports the inability to determine a cause of death may have contributed to the jury's decision to find Casey Anthony not guilty. During the trial, a forensic expert testifying for the defense blamed Dr. Garavaglia for doing "shoddy" work. As reported by ABC News, Dr. Werner Spitz testified that Garavaglia's conclusion that the duct tape was placed on Caylee's mouth prior to her death was incorrect. Instead, Dr. Werner believes the tape was placed on the lower skull after it was decomposed.

The medical examiner said there was not enough evidence to prove a cause of death

Forensic anthropologist Dr. William Rodriguez, who worked for the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Medical Examiner's Office, also testified for the defense. As reported by ABC News, Dr. Rodriguez testified that it would be impossible to determine whether the duct tape was actually placed on the lower portion of Caylee Anthony's face, as it may have shifted during decomposition or have been moved by animals.

In response to the criticism of her assessments, and their possible impact on the not guilty verdict, "Today" reports Dr. Garavaglia said, "My job is to determine what happened. So I feel very strongly that we could say this was a homicide — death by the hands of another. My job is not to point the finger at one person or another."

Dr. Garavaglia explained that people expect authorities and medical examiners to find irrefutable evidence, including DNA, and a specific cause of death, while examining a victim's remains. However, as Caylee's remains were skeletal by the time they were discovered, and did not have any signs of trauma, there was not enough evidence to conclude a cause of death or prove who killed her. Casey Anthony was acquitted of Caylee's murder in 2011. According to a report by People Magazine, Casey (above) is "planning to cooperate" with a planned documentary about her life.