Let me say at the outset that Casey Anthony, who in jail for the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, is presumed innocent until a jury finds her guilty. However, the circumstantial evidence in the case and public opinion, thanks mainly to media coverage of the case, all point to her being responsible for the child's death whether intentional or accidental. Anthony herself has done nothing to aid the Orange County Sheriff's Office in its investigation to find the child. Her lies and fabricated stories have wasted valuable time; time that is critical in an apparent abduction case.
Forensic Psychology is defined as the study of psychology as applied to legal cases in the court. The forensic Psychologist is usually called upon by the court to evaluate a defendant's sanity or insanity at the time of the offense. This is relevant to the question of criminal responsibility. In addition the forensic psychologist may be called upon to render a decision on the general state of mind of a defendant. These are not primarily questions of a psychological nature but rather questions of a legal nature. A forensic psychologist must be able to readily translate psychological observations into the legal framework of a particular case.
Mothers who Kill
Mothers who kill are typically narcissistic and addicted to drama, says Dr. Schurman-Kauflin Ph.D. from the Violent Crimes Institute. Out of sight, out of mind - that was Casey's reaction to her daughter's disappearance. She let over a month go by without reporting Caylee was missing. Even when Caylee was around, Casey complained about taking care of Caylee, whom she called a "little snot head." Casey is a sociopathic, superficial sensationalist. To a mental health professional, she fits the description of someone with an antisocial personality disorder - just a fancy name for "sociopath." This is a disorder that is recognized by its lack of concern for others, and total focus upon ones own needs.
For law enforcement it is always troubling to have to investigate this type of case. Most, if not all, officers have children of their own or younger brothers and sisters.
So what bring a mother to the brink of committing such a horrific crime as filicide; the murdering of their own child?
The Mind of the Sociopath
According to Criminologist, James Alan Fox, professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University, some act on genuine psychotic delusions. Others can be motivated by selfish reasons if the child is perceived by them to be an obstacle in their relationship with a boyfriend, or preventing them from living the carefree lifestyle that they want.
"It's a crazy thing to do, but crazy describes the behavior, not the mind," Fox said and then added that between 300 and 350 children have been parental homicide victims in 2008.
High Profile Cases
A number of other high profile cases of filicide have attracted national attention in the last few years. These include; the 2001 case of Andrea Yates an act on genuine psychotic delusions, as jurors determined to be the case with the Texas mother who told doctors she drowned three of her children because God told her to do so. Yates drowned three of her five children. Others can be motivated by selfish reasons. Susan Smith's alleged motive for killing her children was that she perceived them to be an obstacle in her relationship with her boyfriend. In 1994 the South Carolina mother drove her car into a lake with her children seat belted in the back seat. She said that the car had been car-jacked by a large black man.
The Caylee Anthony Case
In the case of little Caylee Anthony the Mother claimed that a fictitious babysitter had kidnapped her child. Casey Anthony is characterized by her friends and family as a habitual liar and petty thief, all of which are part of the persona of the sociopath personality. They believe that the are the only ones that are important, that people who question them are trying to persecute them and they show a contempt for law enforcement and any other forms of authority.
All of this makes the investigation of a parent/child murder case much harder for investigators and prosecutors alike. The Anthony case is a convoluted tale of fabricated lies by Casey Anthony in an attempt to place the blame for her missing child on some one, anyone, but herself. Throughout the investigation her lies led investigators in the wrong direction and wasting valuable time. Since her arrest she has steadfastly refused to tell investigators any details of what she knows about the child's disappearance.
The Child is Found
Recently the child skelatonized body was found less than a mile away from the mother's home. The child's mouth was bound with duct tape and she was discarded in a plastic garbage bag; discarded like yesterday's newspaper. To the sociopath, others are always expendable whether they are family, friends, or acquaintances. Once they are no longer of use the sociopath discards them and moves on. Criminal psychologists believe that on some level, the sociopathic criminal takes a strange sort of pleasure in getting away with illegal and irresponsible behavior.
Anthony has shown no remorse during the months of searching for her child or upon the news that the young girl was dead. In taped sessions with her parents in the jail her concern has always been well what about me? Sociopathic criminals have no desire to change and no insight into their own behaviors and motivations. In all of the hours of taped conversations in the jail Anthony rarely if ever mentions her missing daughter, never asked if there are there any new leads, never asked about areas searched or how many people were out there searching for little Caylee.
Casey Anthony will undoubtedly go thru her murder trial without saying a word or sharing even the smallest detail about what actually happen to her daughter. If found guilty and the death sentence is imposed (permissible under Florida law) she will go to her grave most likely feeling that she has put one over on law enforcement, her family and the public. Holding those secrets to herself allows her to feel that she is better than anyone else and that she has had ultimate control over everyone.