The State said that Casey Anthony made chloroform to incapacitate or kill her child. This was based on the evidence that chloroform was found in the trunk and a chloroform making site was visited 3 months prior to the child’s disappearance. Since Casey was indicted on first degree murder charges before the child’s remains were found, I believe this was the State’s first theory of premeditated murder.
On August 26, 2008 and September 24, 2008, Dr. Arpad Vass submitted reports to the OCSO indicating the results of air analysis done on the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car (report). The primary reason was to ascertain whether or not there was a decomposing body in the trunk. His first report made no mention of chloroform, however his second report did.
Additional components that made up a portion of the total odor signature included gasoline constituents and an unusually large concentration of chloroform – far greater than what is typically seen in human decomposition.
Yuri Melich said that he talked to Dr. Vass on October 7, 2008 and Vass said there were elevated levels of chloroform present in the trunk (report). The FBI lab also acknowledged the presence of chloroform in the trunk. Melich then instructed the computer forensics examiner to search for any chloroform related words on the Anthony’s computer. Obviously, some were found. On March 21, 2008, someone searched “How to make chloraform.” Four minutes later someone searched “self defense.”
The odor analysis was presented in the trial. Dr. Vass said the chloroform levels in the trunk were “shockingly” high compared to that found from a decomposing body (see chromatogram above). But the other chemists who collected samples from the trunk simply acknowledged the presence of chloroform and would not render a quantitative opinion, only a qualitative one (report, report). The FBI chemist said the levels were not the highest he had ever seen.
Information about computer searches were also presented in the trial. There was much debate about the searches, but a website was visited which outlined how to make chloroform (go to site).
Taking into account all of the experts, there was definitely chloroform in the trunk of the car in some manner. If we assume a decompositional event occurred in the trunk, then there should have been chloroform. But Dr. Vass said there was more than there should have been. Did Casey make chloroform and use it on her child?
Reasonable doubt arrives through a conflict in or a lack of evidence. There was a substantial lack of evidence to support this theory and some conflicts too.
First and foremost, the remains were found. They were tested by the medical examiner’s lab and the FBI for the presence of chemicals and the results were negative (FBI report, tox. report). The evidence could not say if the extra chloroform was from an excess in the decompositional fluid, or from liquid that was spilled on the carpet. If someone was clumsy enough to spill chloroform, it was not apparent because there were no other traces of chloroform found anywhere in or on the car, including the steering wheel and carseat (report).
Working backwards, there was a complete lack of evidence involving the purchase or actual production of chloroform. If chloroform was made, then Casey likely made it at home in either the garage or kitchen. I do not think she made it anywhere else because we have a pretty good idea of Casey Anthony’s movements. If she was not at home, she was shopping or at a friend’s place (with friends). If she was not out, then she was at home. For her to make the chemical secretly, she would had to have done it at home when no one else was around – and this scenario certainly occurred.
However, the chemical reaction of making chloroform is highly exothermic. If she had the chemicals (which there was no evidence of) and mixed them, there would have been a smell that would have stayed around the house for a few days. Casey’s parents should have smelled it (between March and June). There was no evidence saying that they did. There was no evidence of cans or bottles with chloroform. There was no evidence of anything in the house the may have aided in making chloroform, except the computer searches.
Earlier, I posted a picture of the chloroform making site as it appeared when someone visited it for 1 minute and 58 seconds in March 2008 (view records). Initially, I thought Casey could make the chloroform with an acetone-based nail polish remover, however the site specifically says “Acetone (Not nail polish remover).” This means that she would had to have bought pure acetone sometime between March and June, but there was no evidence of that.
For the experiment, the main ingredient was bleach and lots of ice was needed to control the reaction. The website visited said, “You’ll need at least a gallon of bleach at a time (and a suitable amount of acetone) in order to recover any usable amount of chloroform,” and, “Small reactions don’t produce enough chloroform to press itself into a single drop.” Also, the site said the ingredients cannot be mixed in a metal or plastic container.
Is this saying that a gallon of bleach, lots of acetone, bags of ice, and a large glass container is needed to get a usable amount of chloroform? Also, the reaction would take about 30-60 minutes. And the resulting chloroform would only be good for a couple of days.
I find it hard to believe that no one saw any of the ingredients or smelled anything funny (seeing as how smell was such a big deal in this case). George spent a considerable amount of time in the garage and took care of the cars.
Then there was Casey Anthony herself: A 22-year old high school dropout who talked, texted, and IM’ed all the time who, admittedly, had focus issues (read jailhouse letters) and was very immature (according to psychologists). I find it hard to believe a woman like that would perform any kind of independent science experiment in her garage (based on experience). And if she did, I find it hard to believe she would have had the focus to see it through. And if she did, I find it hard to believe she would have cleaned up so well that no one would suspect a thing.
Is this the State’s premeditation? It seems so improbable and unbelievable. Remember, this was the State’s first murder theory. This was supposed to be the “truth” of how Casey Anthony murdered her child. They all but erased chloroform from their closing statements. Why did the theory change?
In my opinion, it was speculative to say Casey made chloroform based on the evidence (or lack thereof). The website she visited clearly indicated that you need large quantities of chemicals to produce chloroform because small quantities would not produce usable amounts – only salt byproducts. And we know she didn’t visit any other chloroform making sites. Casey was a moocher and probably would not have bought bleach (or pure acetone) for her not-so-little science experiment. She probably would have used the household bleach and I’m sure Cindy would have noticed if a gallon of her bleach disappeared the next time she did the laundry. How far-fetched does this theory have to be before we can call it busted?
There are videos on YouTube on how to make chloroform; here is a detailed one: view video. Try to envision “party girl” Casey Anthony doing that in her garage – without the aid of that guy’s fancy equipment.
The real dagger to this theory was the introduction of a possible reason why Casey searched for “how to make chloroform” in the first place (read “Computer Forensics”). Her boyfriend posted a picture of a guy chloroforming a girl to MySpace just days before the search was conducted.
She then searched self-defense and household weapons where she found a women’s self-defense book. She read page 79 of that book according to the internet history (view partial history). For some reason, I expect to find a sentence in that book which says that ordinary household items can make weapons for self-defense. In fact, it did (read page 79 of the book Casey visited). She then searched for shovel. The computer searches were easily explained and defused once the sources were visited.
I’m almost certain that chloroform had nothing to do with the death of the child. It seems the jury foreman thought so as well.
However, this leaves the question as to why there were chloroform hits in the trunk. In my opinion, the trunk was cleaned based on the other chemicals that were found.
To see how this tied into the rest of the evidence, read “The Analysis” of the State’s theory.