Published January 25, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," January 23, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a "FOX News Alert." Caylee Anthony's grandfather has been involuntarily committed to a hospital because he threatened to kill himself. It is also being reported he wrote a five-page suicide note.
Here is what we know. The father of accused killer Casey Anthony failed to show up yesterday at 4:00 PM for a meeting with his wife, Cindy, and lawyer, Brad Conway. Then almost seven hours later, at 10:45 PM, George begins to send text messages to his wife, Cindy, with the alarming message that he wants to kill himself. The police are called. Then early this morning about 2:00 AM, Anthony is found alive in a motel in Daytona Beach. Now he's been involuntarily hospitalized.
Cindy and George Anthony's lawyer, Brad Conway, joins us by phone. Brad, how is your client, George Anthony, this evening?
BRAD CONWAY, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE AND CINDY ANTHONY: Greta, George is alive, and he's in good care. Emotionally, of course, he's having a very difficult time and has for many months now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, he has been involuntarily committed, so is there an end point on this one, he can walk out of the hospital? Because he can't walk out tonight, right?
CONWAY: No, Greta, he can't walk out tonight, and he's not ready to walk out. He knows that. But I will tell you that the Daytona Beach Police Department gave George two options. They would take him out and involuntarily commit him, or he could go willingly, and George went willingly.
VAN SUSTEREN: Where -- how far is this motel where he was found from the Anthony home?
CONWAY: It's a matter of miles. It's over on the beach and -- which is probably I'm going to say four or five miles from the Daytona -- the International Speedway.
VAN SUSTEREN: And tonight, you are at -- you're visiting your client, and his wife Cindy is there, as well?
CONWAY: Yes, Greta, that's correct.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is George saying about this five-page suicide note? I mean, oftentimes, it's sort of a cry for help -- or I mean, what's going on with him?
CONWAY: Greta, it was not a five-page suicide note. And although we did not get into the details, I know that George started to write a letter. And we don't have copies of that letter yet. That's in the hands of the Orange County sheriff's office or the Daytona Beach Police Department, and we don't have that yet. But George was...
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.
CONWAY: George is -- he misses his little girl. He misses Caylee and has had a very hard time dealing with that loss.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you and I discussed last week when -- when we were down in Orlando, I mean, sort of how complicated this is for the lawyer because you've -- on the one hand, you've got to do the legal business, but there's so many collateral issues, including the pain of these grandparents, who have not been accused of doing anything wrong to that grandchild. It's a terrible situation for them, isn't it.
CONWAY: It is the worst situation that you can imagine. And they are doing the best that they can. But you know, try to put yourself in shoes like this, and you just can't. You just cannot imagine a situation where your only daughter is charged with the murder -- first-degree murder of your only granddaughter. And they raised and took care of Caylee Marie as though she was their own.
VAN SUSTEREN: Back up for me. Yesterday afternoon about 4:00 PM, you were supposed to meet with George and Cindy. Did you go over to the house and George just wasn't there? Is that how the day started -- or the -- you know, the events started?
CONWAY: Yes. George was supposed to be there. And I myself was a little bit late. I got there, we waited for George, and then we just continued. And nothing seemed out of place. It wasn't until we had done - - we had finished talking and George still wasn't there, and at that point, we started to get worried because he hadn't returned text messages or phone calls.
VAN SUSTEREN: About what time was that -- what time did you arrive and about what time did, all of a sudden, your concern heighten, did Cindy's concern heighten?
CONWAY: I arrived at the Anthonys' about 4:30, and about 8:30, both of us really became concerned because we weren't hearing back from him. And after that, Cindy noticed that a couple of photos had been taken and some medication was missing.
VAN SUSTEREN: What medication was taken?
CONWAY: Greta, you know, I'm going to -- I think it's enough for people to know that the medication was taken and George had consumed some alcohol with that medication. But I don't want to get into the exact medications just out of respect for my client.
VAN SUSTEREN: Pictures that were missing, were they of his daughter, his granddaughter or both?
CONWAY: Of his wife, daughter and Caylee.
VAN SUSTEREN: Where did Cindy think -- up until about 8:00 o'clock, where did she think that George had gone?
CONWAY: George had gone to a job fair. He was looking for a job and was unsuccessful in getting a job. And that is, in part -- well, in great part due to the negative media exposure that he's gotten from certain stations and certain reporters.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's George's occupation? Or what kind of work is he looking for?
CONWAY: Security. He is formerly in law enforcement and had been a security guard for a number of years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any idea why he picked to drive to Daytona?
CONWAY: No. That was something that was unexpected. We thought that he would be somewhere in Orange County, and that's where we initially started looking. And it was -- and I want to make sure that the proper applause and accommodation (ph) go to the Orange County sheriff's office and the Volusia County sheriff's office, as well as the Daytona Beach Police Department and Chief Chitwood, because John Allen -- Sergeant John Allen was out at the Anthony home within 30 minutes of me calling him. And they were extremely professional. They worked incredibly well as a team. And if it weren't for them, this might have been a terribly, terribly wrong outcome.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you called 911 sometime about 10:45. But leading up to your 10:45 911 call, what were the text messages that were sent from George?
CONWAY: The text messages that were sent -- and like the medication, I don't want to get into the specific wording just out of respect and privacy for my client. But they were -- they were -- the wording was enough to cause me great concern and Cindy great concern and indicated that he was despondent and did not know how to deal with what he was going through.
VAN SUSTEREN: I take it because you had to call the police that he didn't identify where he was, that you had to make some -- they had to make some effort to track him down.
CONWAY: We had no idea where George was, and Sergeant Allen and his team were able to locate George with his cell phone and...
VAN SUSTEREN: By pinging?
CONWAY: ... By the cell phone towers. Yes, ma'am.
VAN SUSTEREN: And had you asked in the text message, George, where are you, and he just wouldn't tell you?
CONWAY: Yes, we did. We were trying to find out where he was, we were trying to get him to call us, and he would not do that.
VAN SUSTEREN: So I guess the good news on a very bad news story -- and I know that you have to go back in with him and with Cindy -- is that he's fine, I mean, as fine as someone can be under the circumstances, and at least he will have to deal with the next couple of days, maybe can work things out a little bit better for him. Brad, thank you. And good luck.
CONWAY: You're welcome, Greta. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you just heard from Brad Conway, Cindy and George Anthony's lawyer. Yesterday, Brad was the one, as he just noted, who called 911 to report that George was missing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: 911, what is your emergency?
CONWAY: Hi. I'm George and Cindy Anthony's attorney.
911 OPERATOR: OK.
CONWAY: George Anthony has been gone since 8:30 this morning, and he has taken several bottles of medication from his house, as well as some pictures. And what worries us is that something is -- he's done something to himself.
911 OPERATOR: OK.
CONWAY: John Allen advised that I call 911 right away and get a deputy over here to take a report. And that's Sergeant John Allen with the Orange County sheriff's office.
911 OPERATOR: Now, OK, you said he had a couple bottles of medication?
911 OPERATOR: Do you know what kind of medication that was?
911 OPERATOR: OK. Are any weapons missing?
911 OPERATOR: OK.
CONWAY: But -- but he had a weapon that was confiscated, so...
911 OPERATOR: OK, but nothing that he had on his person or in the house, correct? I just want to verify.
CONWAY: No, no, no.
911 OPERATOR: OK.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: WOFL reporter Patrick Pegues joins us live in front of Halifax Medical Center, where George Anthony is being treated. Patrick, what can you tell me about -- can you fill in any details about how long George was at that motel before the police arrived?
PATRICK PEGUES, WOFL: Well, investigators with Daytona Beach police believe that he checked in around 7:00 o'clock yesterday evening, but it wasn't until about 1:00 o'clock when they were able to track him down. As you've been talking about, they used a GPS and cell phone tower pings to track him down within around a 2-and-a-half mile radius of the cell phone tower.
Then police just started fanning out, Daytona Beach police, as well as Orange County sheriff's deputies, who actually came out in their SWAT and tactical gear because when they issued their BOLO, which is a "be on the lookout" command out here, they believed that George Anthony may have been armed. So Orange County deputies showed up in their tactical gear, although Daytona Beach police were just in regular patrol cars.
And they eventually spotted his vehicle in the parking lot of a motel here in an area of town called the Ridgewood Corridor (ph). At least, that's how the police describe it. They saw his car right in the first parking space. So that's when they decided to gather up there and figure out what to do next. And basically, the police chief and several other officers just went up and knocked on George Anthony's door.
VAN SUSTEREN: And was he responsive? I mean, there was some medicine missing, a suggestion of some alcohol. Had he actually been drinking and taking the medication? Was he agreeable to go with them?
PEGUES: Well, I'll start with what you just asked, the last question. And really, no. When police chief Mike Chitwood knocked on the door, he says George Anthony recognized him. Chief Chitwood is often in the news here for some of the things he says and some of the things that he does, so George Anthony was familiar with him.
He said, you know, Hey, I needed to get away. I needed to think. I needed to clear my head. I'm fine. You guys can leave. Well, because police can't just do that when they get a 911 call like this for someone that is considered to be missing and endangered because of the fact that they have these medications, that they're possibly armed, so police chief Mike Chitwood and another lieutenant, they spoke with George Anthony for quite some time, trying to convince him to go to the hospital, not really giving him any choice. They didn't force him to leave, but they really wanted to let him know that he needed to be evaluated because they were concerned about him, that his family was concerned about him based on some of the text messages that they had been receiving.
So they were able to convince him to go to the hospital, but he would only go in Chief Chitwood's car. So they loaded him up in his car, and then they came here to the hospital, brought him to the emergency room. We've since learned that he's been moved to a regular room, but will have to remain here under Florida's Baker Act law for at least the next 72 hours.
VAN SUSTEREN: Patrick, thank you.
"On the Record" is on the ground in Florida. Earlier, our producer Justin Wells (ph) spoke with the owner of the Hawaii Motel in Daytona where George Anthony was found.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife said he was just a normal guy, you know, well dressed and everything, you know, and asked about how the weather was and where the pizza place was, a nice pizza place you can go to, you know? He just gave a normal, you know, conversation and everything, nothing -- nothing out of the ordinary. Everything was normal.
JUSTIN WELLS, "ON THE RECORD" PRODUCER: Did he say why he was here at all, or no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he was just didn't want to travel all the way back to Orlando today -- yesterday night, I mean. And then he said he had something he wanted to do here at this point (ph).
WELLS: Were you guys alerted when the police came at all, or did they just show up all of a sudden?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police came and then they wanted the key to open the room. So they actually took the key (INAUDIBLE). They wanted to see who owned the car. And then (INAUDIBLE) car again, this is the guy they wanted. So that's all I know is that they went to the room, and the guy must have -- he must have opened up the room, and so then they talked him into going to the hospital.
WELLS: George Anthony came late in the afternoon, and he came, he got his keys, and he checked in, went into room 106. When he got inside, he came in. And obviously, it's pretty much a typical motel room. You've got a queen-size bed, pretty empty, pretty basic hotel room, phone, all of that. And then from his bed looking out at the window, his car was probably right out there.
From here, it was just a knock at the door early in the morning. He looked out, and there were police.
VAN SUSTEREN: Up next: We are watching the hospital where George Anthony is being held and treated. George is being kept involuntarily. How is this possible? Will George literally be stopped if he tries to leave the hospital tonight? We're going to tell you and bring you any breaking developments as they come in to FOX.
Plus, there is breaking news out of the Bahamas tonight. This is very sick, an alleged extortion plot arising out of the tragic death of John Travolta's son. You're going to go live to the Bahamas for the very latest on that story.
VAN SUSTEREN: Just when you thought the Caylee Anthony murder case could not get more bizarre or more tragic, it has, the murdered toddler's grandfather, George, involuntarily hospitalized after threatening to kill himself. Now, how long can the hospital hold George Anthony against his will?
Orlando defense attorney Diana Tennis joins us live. Diana, people in this country are able to walk freely, except sometimes they get involuntarily committed, but that can't last forever. What's the law in Florida?
DIANA TENNIS, FLORIDA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the Baker Act refers to a Florida law that is a little complicated, so let me break it down. This is a law that goes into effect any time somebody is in extreme psychiatric crisis, and it can refer to somebody who turns themself into a hospital or is involuntarily committed, taken against their will to a hospital. And it gives the hospitals an authority under the law to keep you for as long as it takes that you're not a danger to yourself or others.
Now, there are limits. There are very serious limits to this because, obviously, we don't want people who are not accused of crimes being held against their will in hospitals. In this situation, it appears to me that Mr. Anthony probably went in under his own steam, probably signed himself in, and so he would be what we'd call a voluntary commitment. That means that at any time, he can revoke his consent to be there, and the hospital would have 24 hours to either release him or get a judge to say they can hold him.
If he were taken in by law enforcement against his will, the hospital would have 72 hours to hold him, and at that point, they'd have to get a court order to hold him longer. In my experience, doctors would typically see a patient brought in under either circumstance within 12 hours maximum, and it would be very common for people to be let out within a day, a day- and-a-half, even if they're involuntarily committed, because they really are supposed to do the least restrictive thing possible.
It's my assessment, given everything that we've heard, that Mr. Anthony is probably there voluntarily still, and that if he wanted to leave, they would probably let him leave and that they have made an agreement, patient to doctor, that it's probably best for him for some period of time to get care and treatment, perhaps medication, and to try to deal with some of the stress that he's under, under a therapeutic setting.
VAN SUSTEREN: Boy, the enormity of the stress on this man -- I mean, his daughter's in jail for murdering, allegedly, his granddaughter. He apparently can't get a job. And this has been hanging over since at least last July, maybe going back as far as June.
Now, if he has gone there voluntarily -- and I suspect he was, too, now that I think about it, because, you know, he has a note, but apparently, you know, he didn't slit his wrists, he didn't, you know, take any sort of additional steps that we know about, although there's some suggestion of alcohol and medicine. He could walk out tonight, right? I mean (INAUDIBLE) they're not going to rush off and lock him up if he says, I'm fine, you know, this was just a -- you know, it was stupid what I did, but I'm out of here.
TENNIS: I totally agree with you. I mean, the only indication of medication that I've heard of, it was maybe a blood pressure medication. He's there with some beer. There's no weapons. He's ex-law enforcement. I think if he had kind of come to his senses and wanted to talk himself out of that hospital, he probably could.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Diana. Stand by because we have more with you.
Coming up, the lies of Casey Anthony exposed. Casey told investigators she worked for Universal Studios. So what happened when law enforcement actually took Casey to Universal? We know, and you will, too. We will tell you coming up.
Plus, remember during the presidential campaign the huge controversy about Governor Palin's clothes? Well, you won't believe where those clothes are tonight, and this time, even Governor Palin's political enemies can't blame her. We're going to tell you why.
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