ORLANDO, Fla. – Skeletal remains found in the woods are the Florida 3-year-old who has been missing since June, and her death is considered a homicide, a county medical examiner said Friday. DNA tests confirm that the remains match Caylee Anthony's genetic profile, said the medical examiner, Dr. Jan Garavaglia.
A utility worker stumbled upon the remains last week, less than a half-mile from where the girl lived. Garavaglia said some of the remains discovered were as small as pebbles, and authorities weren't certain how the girl was killed.
"Bottom line is folks, no child should have to go through this," said Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary.
Caylee's mother, 22-year-old Casey Anthony, was indicted in October on first-degree murder and other charges, even though no body was found. She has insisted that she left the girl with a baby sitter in June, but she didn't report her missing until July.
A search team said they did not check the wooded area sooner because it was submerged in water.
Beary said his department was investigating reports that the utility worker who called in the tip leading to the discovery of the remains had tried several times in August to call in his suspicion about a bag in the area.
"If we missed a window of opportunity we don't know," he said. "I'm not throwing anybody under the bus because we don't know. That's why we conduct an administrative review."
Casey Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, was with her at the Orange County Jail when she found out the news, said Todd Black, a spokesman for the attorney. She was notified a short time before the news conference about the positive identification. Black said he wouldn't comment on her reaction.
The case captivated the community where the little girl's family lived, and Caylee has been a staple on national news as her mother and grandparents pleaded for tips, promising that the girl was still alive.
Caylee's grandmother first called authorities in July to say she hadn't seen the girl for a month and her daughter's car smelled like death.
Police immediately interviewed Anthony and soon said everything she told them about her daughter's whereabouts was false. The baby sitter was nonexistent and the apartment where Anthony said she had last seen Caylee had been empty for months. Anthony also lied about where she worked, they said.
Other troubling details emerged: Photos surfaced of Anthony partying after her daughter went missing. Friends said she was a habitual liar, but also a good mother.
Last month, the Orange County State Attorney turned over almost 800 pages of documents showing someone used the Anthonys' home computer to do Internet searches for terms like "neck breaking" and "household weapons."
In mid-March, someone searched Google and Wikipedia for peroxide, shovels, acetone, alcohol and chloroform. Traces of chloroform, which is used to induce unconsciousness and a component of human decomposition, were found in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car during forensic testing, the documents say.