Casey and Cindy Anthony Wear Caylee's Ashes Around their Necks

"Casey told me it was the way the Anthony women would be together forever," a friend tells PEOPLE of the macabre jewelry

Photo: Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/Polaris; INF

Almost a year after her acquittal in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, Casey Anthony is living life in seclusion, rarely venturing out for fear she will be recognized. But perhaps the strangest thing about her life now is the macabre memento that Anthony, 26, keeps around her neck.

Late last year Anthony reconciled with her mother Cindy, who recently sent Casey a gift – a necklace containing Caylee’s ashes.

According to several sources close to both women, Cindy wears an identical necklace herself. “Casey told me it was the way the Anthony women would be together forever,” a friend of Casey tells PEOPLE.

Since walking out of jail on July 17, 2011, Anthony has moved around Florida, now settling in the West Palm Beach area. Spending most of her days online, Anthony has put on about 20 pounds, according to the friend.

In an interview with Piers Morgan last month, Anthony maintained that she did not kill her daughter, and that she has been misunderstood.

One person who isn’t buying it: attorney Jeff Ashton, who prosecuted the case against Casey. “I’m I’m not going to get all weepy at the thought of Casey not being able to go out and party,” he tells PEOPLE. “She brought it all upon herself, and she has to live with it – which is incidentally a luxury that Caylee will never get.”

For much more on Anthony’s strange life in hiding, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands today

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