The skull and bones found last week in a wooded lot outside Orlando, Fla., were identified as Caylee Anthony's on Friday, and Orange County officials declared the little girl was the victim of a homicide.
How the 2-year-old girl was killed remains a mystery. Orange County medical examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia reported that the skeletal remains were Caylee's, but the only clue to her death was that her bones didn't suffer trauma.
"They are not intact. They are all disarticulated. They are completely skeletonized," Dr. Garavaglia said. She said some of the bones were "tiny."
Caylee was two months shy of her third birthday when she vanished in June.
Garavaglia said Caylee's remains, which were found not far from the home where she lived with her mother and maternal grandparents, were identified through nuclear DNA analysis.
The news caps a five-month search for the girl, who was last seen in mid-June but wasn't reported missing by her mother until a month later. The mother, 22-year-old Casey Anthony, is behind bars without bond and charged with her daughter's murder.
Who's Who in the Caylee Anthony Homicide Case
The child's next of kin, including her mother; grandparents George and Cindy Anthony; and other relatives were notified of the findings before they were made public, according to Garavaglia.
"The bottom line is, no child should have to go through this," said Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary, his voice breaking. He called it a police chief's "nightmare case."
The case has garnered intense national attention and media scrutiny. Federal authorities have assisted in the investigation.
As to the question of whether someone might have taken Caylee out of the Orlando area where she lived, the FBI said there wasn't any indication that was the case.
"At no time did we find any evidence that this young child left this location," said Tampa FBI Special Agent Steven Ibison.
Casey Anthony's lead attorney Jose Baez said he is "disappointed" with the way the investigation has been handled.
"It’s not a professional way of doing things. I’m extremely disappointed in the way that all this has been carried out," Baez told reporters.
He declined to comment on how his client reacted to the news that her daughter was found dead.
"This is her private moment. This is her life," he said. "It’s not my place as her attorney to disclose her private moments to the public. I’m sure that’s what she would want."
Cindy and George Anthony were "grieving deeply" in private, their attorney Brad Conway said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"This is a tragic moment in the lives of good and honorable people," Conway said.
Ahead of the announcement, Florida police released evidence photos from the scene where the remains were found. One showed a book discovered in the woods that the child had been photographed reading before she vanished.
The pictures were among several cops publicized before the afternoon news briefing.
The book is among numerous pieces of evidence Orange County Sheriff's deputies say they found in the wooded area where Caylee's remains turned up.
Also Friday, police re-interviewed a county water meter reader who earlier this month discovered a bag with the child's skull and bones inside.
Detectives said the worker is not a suspect in her death.
The worker who found the bones on Dec. 11 had called in a tip to police on three consecutive days in August, telling them to look in the same area for the remains.
"Back in August of this year, I had previously reported … that I had spotted something suspicious, a bag, in the same area," said the meter reader, Roy Kronk, reading from a prepared statement Friday.
He wouldn't elaborate.
"I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation," Kronk told reporters. "I respectively decline to get into the details of what I saw at the crime scene."
His attorney, David Evans, called Kronk a "concerned citizen" and lambasted media speculation that suggested otherwise.
"He has no connection whatsoever to this case or to the Anthony family," Evans said.
Orange County Sheriff's officials say they believe he was in the area on Dec. 11 following up on his own lead when he discovered the bones and skull.
Capt. Angelo Nieves said police questioned the worker again, as well as the sheriff's deputy who took the original call. They want to know more about what prompted him to contact authorities and how they handled the tips.
The meter reader first called on Aug. 11 to report a bag by the side of the road, MyFOXOrlando.com reported. A deputy wasn't able to locate Kronk.
On Aug. 12, the meter reader called a crime hotline. The information was passed on to the Orange County Sheriff's criminal investigation division.
And on Aug. 13, the utility worker called cops a third time, MyFOXOrlando.com reported. He met with police, and a deputy went into the wooded area to investigate the Kronk's claims, but didn't find anything, the station said. The scene was then cleared as a possible place of interest in the case.
There is now an internal probe under way within the police department into how the matter was handled.
"There are a lot of questions about the thoroughness of that response," Nieves told MyFOXOrlando.com.
Investigators were at the wooded crime scene all week in an exhaustive dig for evidence. They said late Thursday they found additional bones that also appear to be from a child.
Caylee vanished on or around June 16, less than two months before her third birthday. Her family reported her missing in mid-July. Her mother has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and other charges.
A spokesman for Baez accused police of lying to the press and suggested they could be tampering with evidence at the site.
"Some of their comments are blatant lies," Todd Black told FOXNews.com. "History has shown that in some cases authorities have been caught tampering with evidence. That is something we hope is not happening. We're not accusing anyone of anything."
Anthony and her defense team have maintained that she last saw Caylee when she left her with a baby sitter named Zenaida Gonzalez in an apartment complex parking lot. Anthony's lawyers say Gonzalez and another woman drove away with the child.
Police claim that story and the sitter are fictitious and Anthony has lied to them repeatedly.
Black suggested last weekend that the defense would argue Caylee was killed by her purported kidnapper if the remains were identified as hers.
FOXNews.com's Catherine Donaldson-Evans and FOX News' Phil Keating contributed to this report.
Click here for Casey Anthony's indictment.