Dec. 19, 2008 -- A look at mothers accused of committing the unthinkable act of taking their children's lives.
On Friday Dec 19, investigators identified the skeletal remains of a child that were found in Orlando, Fla., to be those of 3-year-old toddler Caylee Anthony. Following a six-month-long search and days of DNA tests to confirm the identity of the body, Anthony's death has been ruled a homicide. Caylee's mother Casey was charged with murder in October after the child's disappearance last summer. Caylee lived with her grandparents, Cindy and George, and her 22-year-old single mother, Casey. Caylee's grandmother placed several 911 calls after realizing her granddaughter was missing. At the time Casey Anthony told police she had not seen Caylee for 31 days and had been looking for her. In one 911 call, Cindy says, "I found my daughter's car today and it smelled like there's been a dead body in the damn car." Then, in a bizarre twist, Cindy retracted the statement, and the family insisted that Caylee was alive and had been kidnapped by a babysitter. Upon investigation, police found that the supposed apartment of the babysitter named by Casey had been vacant for more than 140 days, and that the babysitter was not an acquaintance of the Anthonys.
Casey Anthony was arrested and charged with child neglect July 16, though she was later released, on Aug. 21, after bounty hunter Leonard Padilla posted her $500,000 bail. Though Caylee's body had not been found at the time, Casey Anthony was indicted Oct. 14 on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter and providing false information to law enforcment. She is being held without bail at the Orange County Jail while awaiting trial.
In 1997, a jury found Darlie Routier guilty of murdering her sons Damon, 5, and Devon,7, on June 6, 1996, in Rowlett, Texas, as they slept. Routier blamed an intruder for the deaths in her infamous 911 call in which she frantically screamed: "Somebody broke into our house. ... They just stabbed me and my children!" Routier was arrested 12 days later on capital murder charges after conflicting evidence suggested there'd been no intruder as she'd claimed. Larry Byford testified that Routier never asked about the condition of her children when she was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and James Cron, an investigator on the scene, told the jury that there'd been no sign of blood or footprints outside the Routier home that would point to the presence of an intruder at the time of the crime. "It was sort of like new-fallen snow," Cron said. It was obvious that nothing had gone through it."
The media portrayed Routier as a mother who'd killed her sons because they were preventing her and her husband, Darin, from living a lavish life. In his opening statement in court, prosecutor Greg Davis told the jury that "the real Darlie Routier is a self-centered woman, a materialistic woman and a woman cold enough to murder her own children." Routier is currently on death row in Texas, where she faces death by lethal injection. In November 2008, a court granted her request for more forensic testing to prove her innocence in the 12-year-old case. The investigation will include testing of a bloody sock with human hair; a butcher knife presented in the original trial as the murder weapon, as well as new testing of fibers from another knife; and permission to run four fingerprints through a national database, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Michelle Kehoe, 35, faces life in prison on charges of first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old son, Seth Kehoe, and an attempted murder charge related to her 7-year-old son, Sean Kehoe. Kehoe and her sons were reported missing by her husband, Eugene Kehoe, after the boys and their mother reportedly left to go visit relatives in Sumner, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2008. The next morning, Kehoe walked into the home of residents in Littleton, Iowa, and told them that her sons were in danger. Later that morning, her son Seth was found dead near the family's van. Autopsy results revealed the boy had died from severe cuts to his neck. His younger brother, Sean, was found struggling for his life inside the vehicle and later bore the scars of similar cuts.
According to the arrest warrant affadivit, Kehoe falsely claimed that her children had been abducted. "She stated that she couldn't explain why she had done it. She stated that she couldn't face anyone. She stated that she wanted to die or be locked up where she couldn't hurt anyone else," the affadivit read. Kehoe was arrested Nov. 15, and is currently being held on $2.5 million bail. She is scheduled to appear again in court March 18, 2009.
China Arnold, 28, was accused of killing her 3-week-old daughter in a microwave oven in Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 30, 2005. The child, Paris Talley, allegedly was burned to death in the oven after Arnold and her boyfriend had an argument over who the biological father of the child was. Arnold was sentenced to life in prison without parole Sept. 8, 2008. Judge Mary Wiseman told Arnold during the trial, "No adjectives exist to adequately describe this heinous atrocity. This act is shocking and utterly abhorrent for a civilized society."
Andrea Yates gained infamy when she killed her five children -- Noah, 7; John, 5; Paul, 3; Luke, 2; and 6-month-old daughter Mary -- June 20, 2001, by drowning them in the bathtub of the family's home in Houston. Yates, who suffered for years from postpartum depression, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison in March 2002. In 2004, Yates' attorney appealed her capital murder convictions, questioning the testimony of prosecution expert and psychiatrist Park Dietz. Dietz told "Good Morning America" of Yates in 2005, "She says in recorded statements, including my interviews, that as she killed her children, she knew that it was wrong to do it. She knew God would disapprove. And she knew society would disapprove. That's the evidence. With that kind of smoking gun evidence that she knew it was wrong, it would be silly to make up something else." On July 26, 2006, Yates' original conviction was overturned, and a jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity. Yates was then commited to a mental health facility.
Susan Smith was convicted of murdering her two sons – Michael, 3, and 14-month-old Alex -- after securing the two boys in a car and rolling the car into a lake, Oct. 25, 1994 in Union City, S.C. The world watched as Smith made tearful pleas on television for her children to be returned during a nationwide search. She told police that she was carjacked by a black man while the boys were still in the vehicle. After nine days, Smith finally confessed to committing the crime herself and was convicted July 22, 1995 of the two murders. Smith's troubled past included her father's suicide when she was just 6 years old, as well as allegedly being molested by her stepfather, Beverly Russell. During the trial, Russell suggested that he was partially to blame for his stepdaughter's murder, telling Smith, "I want you to know you do not have all the guilt in this tragedy. ... My heart breaks for what I have done to you." Smith is currently serving a life sentence at South Carolina's Leath Correctional Institution. She will be eligible for parole in November 2024.