Published August 29, 2008
Strands of hair found in a car trunk likely belong to missing Orlando toddler Caylee Anthony, according to local media reports — but efforts to revoke her mother's bond and send her back to jail were abruptly and inexplicably halted.
Celebrity bounty hunter Leonard Padilla suddenly announced his decision Friday not to revoke the $500,000 bond he helped post to free 22-year-old Casey Anthony from jail — after saying a few hours earlier that she'd be back behind bars by the weekend.
Padilla made the decision after meeting with Anthony's attorney Jose Baez, according to FOX affiliate WOFL-TV in Orlando. There was no immediate word on why he changed his mind.
Padilla told FOX News that he would revoke Anthony's bond and she'd return to the Orange County Jail by Saturday. Though he said the move was to protect her family and his team, he admitted that he was also having misgivings about Anthony herself.
"I'm not going to lie about that ... There's been a lot of consternation," he said Friday on FOX. "She has not cooperated in one instant as far as finding her daughter, Caylee."
When asked by WFTV-TV whether he believed Anthony killed her little girl, Padilla replied, "Accidentally. I think there was an accident."
The hair and an unidentified stain in the vehicle Anthony was driving when her daughter vanished were among DNA evidence the FBI analyzed and shared Thursday with detectives and state attorney's officials.
Preliminary test results, which were not made public, indicate a match to the child and suggest she may be dead, WFTV-TV reported, citing an unidentified source close to the investigation.
Other unnamed insiders warned against drawing hasty conclusions, however, and said the strands could also have come from Casey Anthony — who remains a person of interest in her daughter's disappearance.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office declined to comment and would not characterize the probe as a homicide investigation.
"It’s all preliminary information," said Capt. Angelo Nieves earlier this week. "We have some results. We still continue to look for Caylee. We still have a missing child case. We are dealing with a child neglect case."
Padilla said he probably wouldn't have helped his bail bondsman nephew put up the $500,000 bond had he known what he knows now.
"Tennessee says it's a body decomposing, the FBI says it's her DNA," Padilla told WFTV-TV. "What am I going to think?"
And the death threats directed at the family, as well as promises of an upcoming protest, have him worried.
"It's become too dangerous," he said. "There's supposed to be a demonstration. I don't want to be responsible for that."
The star of the National Geographic reality show "Bounty Hunters" posted Anthony's hefty bond earlier this month with nephew Tony Padilla and a local bail bondsman.
On Wednesday, results taken from air samples were released by the University of Tennessee "Body Farm," indicating that a corpse was decaying in the trunk of Anthony's Pontiac Sunfire. More tests have been ordered.
Anthony's lawyer Baez claimed he didn't know anything about the results or whether they were based on actual evidence.
Detectives with cadaver dogs said in July they picked up the smell of human decomposition coming from Anthony's car trunk. Caylee was last seen more than two months ago; her third birthday was Aug. 9.
In a panicked 911 call, Caylee's grandmother Cindy Anthony said in July her daughter's car smelled like a dead body. She later explained the scent could have been that of old pizza.
Cindy Anthony was reportedly seen Thursday night hammering "No Trespassing" signs into the front lawn of the family home, and at times shouting to the gaggle of journalists staked outside since her daughter has been there on house arrest.
When asked more about the contents of the Pontiac's trunk, she told reporters she "found rotten — whatever it was — something decomposing in there. Maybe someone put a body in the car after it went to the tow yard. Why don't you call them about their security?"
Casey Anthony has pleaded not guilty to charges of child neglect and lying to investigators.
She was released Aug. 21 after a month in jail.
She has maintained that a baby sitter kidnapped her daughter, but police say they don't believe her and haven't been able to locate the sitter. Anthony took more than a month to report her daughter missing.
New documents released earlier this week revealed that she wanted to give Caylee up for adoption when she was born, but her mother talked her out of it.