The identity of Caylee Anthony’s father has been one of the biggest mysteries in a murder case full of mysteries.
Where is the father of the slain 2-year-old, and why hasn’t he come forward?
In court on Thursday, defense attorney Jose Baez elicited gasps as he implied that Casey Anthony’s own brother, Lee, could be the father of her daughter. The suspicion had enough merit that the FBI tested Lee Anthony to make sure he was not the father.
But the mystery of Caylee’s father goes back to 2005, when Casey Anthony was pregnant. According to a police interview, she told neighbor Brittany Schieber she was seven months along before she realized she was pregnant and that she didn’t know who the father was.
Schieber said Casey said “that it was just a random one night thing.”
Assuming the Role
Shortly after getting pregnant, Anthony started dating Jesse Grund. As the two grew closer, Grund started assuming the role of a expectant father.
Sitting for a PEOPLE interview in 2009, Grund said that he knew the timing of conception wasn’t quite right, but that he thought it was “possible” that he could be the father.
“For the first year or two of her life, I was dad,” he said. “I was the father figure in her life, and I loved her more than anything. She was an amazing little baby. I had never been a father before.”
After DNA disproved Grund’s being Caylee’s father, he was devastated. “That was really hard, because I just assumed that she was mine. I loved Caylee so much, and finding out she was someone else’s daughter was hard,” he said.
Even Anthony’s close friends didn’t know who the father was.
Asked about paternity in 2008, Anthony’s friend Lauren Gibbs told detectives, “Um, well, at first I thought it was Jesse. I don’t know his last name. But um, and then she told me later that it was not and that it was somebody who was in the Army or something like that. But then she told me that he had died last year in a car accident.”
Casey’s Mother’s Opinion
Casey’s mother, Cindy Anthony, seemed to agree with the car crash theory. “Caylee’s father was in a terrible car accident,” she told PEOPLE in 2008. “He is deceased.”
Jesus Ortiz was a 21-year-old who had dated Casey before he died in 2007. After he was publicly named as Caylee’s possible father, Ortiz’s family was stunned.
“Miss Anthony never told the family Jesus was the father or that he might be the father,” they said in a statement. “In fact, the family has never met her and does not know her.”
Now that Caylee is gone, the matter of her paternity could conceivably always remain a mystery.