The mother of missing Florida toddler Caylee Anthony is at home under 24-hour monitoring this morning after being released from jail yesterday when a California bounty hunter arranged to post her $500,000 bond.
Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, considered a person of interest in the disappearance of her daughter, had been held in Florida's Orange County jail for more than a month. She faces charges of child neglect, making false statements and obstructing an investigation for allegedly failing to report her daughter missing for a month and then lying to police.
Leonard Padilla, a California bounty hunter working through a local bail bondsman, arranged to post bond for Anthony Wednesday evening using his own money.
"My theory is this: the mother has lived at home for 22 years. She's a high school dropout. She's got this child. She wanted to start a new life," Padilla said in an interview with "Good Morning America." "And then somebody, either a close friend or the father of the child, ended up with the child and they're gone."
"[Casey Anthony] knows who she gave the child to .... I'm working under the premise that [Caylee] is alive."
Anthony was led out of the jail yesterday morning by Padilla and her attorneys, and was immediately swarmed by reporters and photographers. Her attorney pushed through the crowd and ushered her into a waiting black SUV.
The case, which has captivated the public and played out nightly on cable news shows, took another bizarre turn last week when Padilla offered to post bond for Anthony in the hopes of persuading the 22-year-old mother to talk about what happened to her daughter after her release.
"We think she wants to talk about it," Robert Dick, Padilla's partner, told ABC News Wednesday. "She's in a situation where she's in over her head and she needs some help. The reason this is being done is to get her out of being in custody and to be able to talk about it."
Padilla told "Good Morning America" that as part of his deal to get Casey out of jail, he would not be allowed to ask her questions directly, but information will be "filtered" through Casey's lawyer, Jose Baez.
"I think she will be forthcoming with the information," Padilla said.
Caylee, who would now be 3, disappeared in mid-June. Her mother was arrested July 16. Police have said that Anthony didn't report the child missing for a month and then lied to them about the disappearance.
Speculation swirled around Anthony after police said they had found "evidence of decomposition," including hairs the same length and color as Caylee's, in the trunk of a car last used by Anthony.
Anthony told police she left Caylee with a babysitter, but when she went to pick her up, the child and the sitter were gone. Police are skeptical of that version of events and whether the purported sitter, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, even exists.
Larry Garrison, a spokesman for the Anthony family, said he believed Caylee had been kidnapped.
Garrison has acted as a spokesman for families in other high-profile cases, such as the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. He said he is not being paid to represent the Anthonys.
"They've convicted her in the press, and it's horrendous," he said. "If there was sufficient evidence against her, they wouldn't be talking about her going home."