The Florida toddler's remains were found on December 11, 2008

By Steve Helling
December 11, 2018 11:08 AM

When Caylee Anthony was reported missing on July 15, 2008, her mother, Casey Anthony, insisted that the 2-year-old was still alive. According to Anthony, her daughter had been kidnapped by a nanny. For months, the rest of the Anthony family held out hope that the toddler would be found alive.

On December 11 of that year, all hope was lost when a meter reader found Caylee’s remains in a wooded area close to the family home.

Because the little girl’s remains were skeletonized, the medical examiner was unable to determine a cause of death. She had duct tape over her mouth and had been placed into a trash bag; the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

The case still haunts Caylee’s grandparents.

George and Cindy Anthony think about Caylee every day,” says a source close to the family. “December 11 was the worst day of their life. It shook them and destroyed them, and they’ve spent the last 10 years trying to rebuild from that — and haven’t had a lot of success.”

Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/MCT/Getty

“They were out of Florida on the day they got the news, and they were still operating under the assumption that Caylee was still alive out there,” says the source. “When they learned about it, Cindy almost passed out. She was distraught and just started to scream. George was sobbing. They were absolutely devastated.”

Casey Anthony’s subsequent murder trial lasted for six weeks and was internationally televised. She was controversially acquitted in July 2011.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

AP Photo/Joshua Replogle

Anthony has kept a low-profile and has only once spoken publicly about the case. In the Associated Press interview last year, she speculated about how her daughter would have grown up. “Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total badass,” she said. “I’d like to think she’d be listening to classic rock, playing sports and putting up with no sh–.”

The Anthony family is fractured: Casey no longer speaks to her parents. Her brother, Lee, has limited contact with her.

Still, the rest of the family continues to mourn the loss of the little girl who became the center of a media circus.

“They will never be the same,” the source says of George and Cindy Anthony. “They cry about her all the time, and today will be a very sad day for them. They are haunted by her death. Every day is questioning what could have been, what would have been. It’s really sad.”