The bones and skull found near the home of missing toddler Caylee Anthony have been determined to be the skeletal remains of the little girl, police concluded today.
Using DNA testing, officials identified the remains of a young girl found last week as the missing Florida toddler. Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, is being held on first degree murder charges.
The bones showed no evidence of trauma before Caylee's death, but her death is being ruled a "homicide of undetermined means," said Orange County Chief Medical Examiner Jan Garavaglia. The medical examiner has asked for toxicology tests to be performed on the girl's remains.
The announcement brings just one tragic answer to a mystery that has gripped the nation since Casey Anthony reported the 2-year-old missing a month after she disappeared in June. It is not clear whether Caylee died before or after her third birthday on Aug. 9.
"There's been an open wound in the community. We can start putting some closure to those open wounds," said Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary during an emotional moment in his news conference. "The bottom line is, folks, no child should have to go through this."
Investigators have found "most of the skeleton" since an Orlando utility worker called in the discovery of a skull and other remains on Dec. 11, a sheriff's spokesman told ABC News today. The remains were found in a wooded area less than half a mile away from the home of Caylee Anthony's grandparents, an area where trash and dead pets were routinely dumped.
Garavaglia said that the child's remains were scattered and "completely skeletonized," but neither she nor the sheriff would discuss what other evidence was found with the bones.
Beary said Caylee's family was notified, including her mother and her grandparents. The sheriff said the usual routine at the jail where Casey Anthony is being held is for a chaplain to deliver the news.
According to Beary, the Sheriff Department's focus will now shift towards preparing for Casey Anthony's homicide trial.
"This has been a long case, but it's by far not over with yet," Beary said. "We've got a lot more to do to get it ready to go to trial."
The meter reader who found the body came forward today to say he tried to alert investigators back in August.
Ray Kronk, 46, denied suggestions that he was associated with the case apart from having discovered the skeleton.
"His participation in this matter is strictly as a concerned citizen with a sharp eye, good instincts and perserverance," said Kronk's lawyer David Evans. "He has no connection to this case, to the Anthony family or any of the proceedings that have gone on before."
"He will continue to cooperate with authorities," Evans said.
According to police, Kronk had made multiple calls trying to alert authorities to search the area. Police believe he returned to the area last week "out of curiosity."
Kronk is not a suspect in the case, sheriff spokesman Angelo Nieves said.
"This is just a decent citizen," said Carlos Padilla, an officer with the sheriff's department. "He sounds credible. He doesn't sound like he's making this up."