Long before the remains of missing 2-year-old Caylee Anthony were discovered in December, deep fractures in the troubled Anthony family had already emerged, PEOPLE reports in its new cover story, on sale Friday.
On Jan. 22, George Anthony – whose daughter Casey, 22, is scheduled to go on trial in March for the murder of her daughter Caylee – was found by authorities in a Daytona Beach, Fla., motel room after sending suicidal text messages.
George, 57, and his wife Cindy, 50, “are both suffering beyond what you can imagine,” says the family’s attorney Brad Conway.
In an interview with the FBI last year, George said that he and his wife had separated for more than six months starting at the end of 2005. They reconciled, but there was no mistaking the rift between them.
“I’ve watched Cindy berate George over the littlest thing, just nasty, mean stuff,” a source tells PEOPLE. “She’ll say, ‘George, you’re so stupid,’ in front of his friends.”
Meanwhile, the relationship between Cindy and Casey – well before Caylee’s murder – was even more strained. “They were always at each other’s throats about something,” says the source.
“Cindy would tell Casey she was immature, and Casey would tell Cindy she was ruining her life. They couldn’t communicate if it wasn’t for their fighting and bickering.”
In emails dated August, after Caylee’s disappearance, bitter tensions emerged between Cindy and her brother Rick Pleasea. “Casey is the only person that really knows where Caylee is and what really happened to her,” Rick wrote to Cindy on Aug. 11, 2008.
“She is playing you, George and Lee like a base [sic] fiddle and has for years. You need to wake up.”
For much more on this story, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
• Caylee’s mom faces the death penalty