Published November 11, 2008
Two groups of volunteers looking for Florida toddler Caylee Anthony have called off their searches and a bounty hunter who led one says it's time to let the missing girl rest in peace.
Texas EquuSearch and bounty hunter Leonard Padilla suspended their operations after several days of unsuccessful searches for the 3-year-old missing since June. Her mother, Casey Anthony, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter and four counts of lying to investigators about the disappearance of her daughter.
Padilla believes that Caylee's body was dumped in the Little Econ River in Orlando, the focus of his search with a dive team Monday at J. Blanchard Park, MyFOXOrlando.com reported. Over the weekend, Texas EquuSearch led hundreds of volunteers around Orange County, hoping to find the little girl in wooded areas.
People gathered at J. Blanchard Park Tuesday for a prayer service for the missing toddler led by Casey's ex-fiancee Richard Grund. Two women hung up a sign that said "R.I.P. Caylee" and Padilla told MyFOXOrlando.com that it was time to say goodbye to the toddler.
But the little girl's grandparents are angered by the service. Cindy and George Anthony hope the Caylee's still alive, MyFOXOrlando.com reported.
Meanwhile, a hearing on a gag order in the case was delayed Monday. The state of Florida wants to bar attorneys, Orange County sheriff's investigators and the parents of the mother from making any statements to the media about the case against 22-year-old Casey Anthony. A new date for the hearing has not been set.
Caylee Anthony was last seen in June but her mother did not report her missing until July. More than 1,000 searchers spent the weekend looking for the toddler's body. Searchers from about 30 different states came armed with long-bladed knives and sticks, many hunting for any traces of the toddler on horseback. But by Sunday afternoon, those scouring fields and woods still hadn't found anything qualifying as the breakthrough they were hoping for.
Caylee's grandfather said over the weekend that he didn't think the little girl's remains were going to be unearthed.
"Do I believe they're going to find my granddaughter out there? No," said George Anthony.
Meanwhile, documents publicized last week reveal that Caylee's grandfather worried about the smell of a dead person he detected coming from his daughter's car trunk.
“I had bad vibes the very first day when I got that car," George Anthony said in interviews with investigators. He told police that he said to himself, "Please, God, don't let that be my Caylee."
The Florida State Attorney's Office in Orlando released 500 pages of documents, including interviews with the 22-year-old Casey Anthony's parents, her former boyfriend and friends in connection with Caylee's disappearance.
George Anthony told police that he was concerned about a familiar odor wafting from the trunk of his daughter's Pontiac Sunfire.
As a former homicide investigator, he said, he recognized the smell of death, and his wife Cindy Anthony noticed it too, even though she told the media she thought it was decaying pizza.
Forensic tests released last month confirmed that hair found in the trunk of the vehicle came from a decomposing body. DNA evidence suggests a corpse had been in the car's trunk.
Caylee disappeared two months shy of her third birthday and has been the subject of a massive search since her mother reported her missing a month later.
Anthony said she left Caylee with a baby sitter, but police contend that's a lie. The little girl has not been found and authorities say she was killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.