Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Confessions of a Failed Author #10

Want the good news or the bad news? by Nick van der Leek

The good news is I'm not going to be begging anyone to buy my (well actually 'our') latest Oscar trial ebook, firstly because a bunch of someone's already have bought it (propelling it to #8 on the UK bestseller charts)...

...and secondly because Transcendence contains some very personal stuff that...on second thoughts, I think I'd rather nobody read.  So what I'm saying is yes it's for sale but I'd prefer it if nobody bought it.  If you want to make sure you don't buy Transcendence, whatever you do DO NOT follow this link.  Thanks.

The bad news is...people who do and don't read my magazine articles may not be surprised to learn that I've been writing novels crap since high school, and I'm still going strong. And since failed authors who keep at it don't have that much of a social life (or any kind of life) I've managed to accumulate a fair amount of writing crap.  As I said, it's pretty bad news.

Which is why right now I am ranked #38,393 on Amazon.  In other words, fucking nowhere.  On the plus side, since publishing my first ebook on 6 June I've still only had 3 non-sales days to date (nuts, ne?), which is probably down to some rich tannie in Clocolan who feels sorry for me, and is buying one five a day so I'll be able to buy milk and bread groceries from Woolworths each month. Hey, aunty Stienie or whoever it is buying my books in the name of charity and not because it's any good - I appreciate it ;-)

Now, I have another confession to make.  One of the reason I suck as a writer is...well...I read a lot of self help books.  I mean, how to get published. Failed authors like me spend at least as much time reading about how to write as they do writing. Don't they? And since I've copped out of the proper way of writing books, since I'm too fucking lazy to make a real effort; which is to spend years writing and then several more years trying to get the attention of publishers, I've started pursuing something new:

studying up on ebooks.  

In other words, how to buck the system.  Hence I came upon this excellent Huffington Post article.

10 Steps to Ebook Success

It's all good, but what struck me was point #4:

4. Have more than one ebook already writtenAmanda Hocking, Stephen Leather, John Locke and many of the first wave of self-published eBook millionaires all had a number of titles ready to go at the same time. More ebooks means more chances to sell, and more chances for a reader who likes one of your titles to seek out the rest, thereby multiplying your revenues. "Having five books available at the same time is probably the best thing I did," said Locke in The Mail On Sunday

In fellow ebook novelist Joe Konrath's case, in January of this year he posted on his blog that he'd banked a cool $100,000 in Amazon sales for that month alone -- but this was from a total of FIFTEEN ebooks. Writing three or more ebooks before you even think about publishing is a mammoth task, which requires ninja-like patience, perseverance and planning. Most self-publishers are too eager to get their stuff out there, and so they publish too fast and without any strategy. Better to carefully plan your sequence of titles, and to take the time to write well.

Since I like that number [15] referenced in the article, I thought I might as well add 7 more fiction books to the 6 Oscar Trial ebooks already selling on Amazon (plus two more in the series on the way - once again collaborating with Lisa Wilson) and that way I can sort've get the same magic number.  Since I realise I'm a vrot writer, I reckon I ought to make $100 000  somewhere in the ballpark of R1000.00 a month - well, just as long as that Clocolan auntie keeps bankrolling me at 5 2 ebooks per day.  [R15 profit per book X 2 books x 30 days...= R1000]

I realise most people out there want to not buy my books, so in that spirit I've released this work of fact sort've-fiction. This is Book #7 and it's already available on Amazon; it's something I believe I wrote in 2009. Hey, WTF I write a shitload, don't expect me to remember exactly what I wrote when, kay?   

I have 4 more finished fiction works waiting in the wings but I want to wait a leetle longer just to see how well HOLIDAY does, and see how well its received in the first reviews.  On debut (basically within a day of putting it up) three idiots actually spent good money on it.

Right now I am actually converting BLOODLINE - the 25 year unpublished epic that I promise I will NEVER finish - for the ebook crowd, which is to say I'm shortening the chapters and trying to trim it down from 175 000 words to 150 000.  If I'm in a foul mood I may just surgically remove another 50 000 just to be brutal. hey, leave me alone, I'm a writer and I'm into self harm okay, it's my thing.

Meanwhile, what do you think of these covers?

 This should actually read 'the uninspiring satire' of a man's journey into SA's mad media world.

 Yeah, I get that this is the sun and not the moon, but hey, I'm a failed author, I'm supposed to make simple mistakes like that...
Awwwwwwwwwwwww.........And Last but not least...
Bloodline.  Been working on this series for a good long while. Bloodline, a series of 7 books,  is already available for

You know, now that I think about it, I've spent so much time on this Amazon lark I seem to have copped out of magazine journalism too - well, not quite.  I did just sent through a 2000 word article last night...which is being processed for publication  And ironically, or is it, not ironically, it's an article about print vs digital publishing. Ie paper books vs ebooks.

Okay well I guess that about wraps it up for this installment. If you feel like torturing yourself with diarrhea-inducing bad writing, and an argument can be made that there's even a touch of cradle snatching going on here, then go ahead, read HOLIDAY.  Or Bloodline. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Icy Idylls

Great White Heron

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Find out more here.

Transcendence by Nick van der Leek and Lisa Wilson - what's it about?

Has Oscar Transcended justice? This is the question at the heart of this narrative.

The problem is stated in the initial chapters courtesy of retired high court Judge Chris Greenland. A two hour interview with the Judge is analysed here and used as a jumping off point.

On September 12 Greenland tweeted: "I join the whole world in lamenting this travesty of justice. The Court failed Reeva." We lament because it is yet another failure of the courts.

But what about Reeva? And if justice is not to be found when the world is watching - as it has with the biggest story in modern media history - where do we find it? How do we find transcendence not in the afterlife, but now, and not just for Reeva, how do we achieve Transcendence - on a daily basis - ourselves?

As in the previous narratives, South African photojournalist Nick van der Leek takes the reader on a deeply personal journey - a physical, mental and spiritual journey - in search of justice, in search of answers and in search of Transcendence.

Juror13, who for the first time writes under her real name - Lisa Wilson - provides painstaking analysis, insights and personal perspectives from California.

Together van der Leek and Wilson weave an intricate story which may catch the reader off guard for its sheer power and ability to transport. This is the 6th book in the Series.

Order yours here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Leftovers Episode 6 #WHATISTRANSCENDENCE

Transcendence audio background

Note: the following are audio clips from whatsapp communication between myself and Lisa Wilson during the course of researching, preparation and writing of TRANSCENDENCE.

As such the audio is unrehearsed, unedited and basically raw.

It does provide a genuine glimpse into the behind-the-scenes reasoning that went into the writing of the TRANSCENDENCE narrative.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

What is Transcendence? This is Transcendence...

Transcendence is Mysterious
A Temporary Ecstacy
A Brief Glimpse
A Brief Unflowering
A Brief Resumption
An Unblocking
Of Flow
A brief Opening to the sun
To the full light of the Brilliant sun
And then...
As though the Flowering never was...
And all there Was...
Was a primordial Swamp bathed in gloom and darkness
And Shadow...
And yet a Flower...
A lily waits somewhere in the Dark,
for its Chance to open...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confessions of a Failed Author #9

When your writing reduces people to tears, you know you're TRULY a fucked up writer...right?
by Nick van der Leek

Look, please pray for me.  For I reheheheheaaaallly know not what I'm doing, especially when it comes to writing. Say a little prayer for me. Together, would only mean heartbreak for meeeeeeeeeeeee...

So look, this is the thing. You know Nietzsche?  Fuck off I'm not asking if you know him personally, you've heard of him, right?  Anyway, Nietzsche once said, "The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly."
Well, the further we fall, the smaller we become too, and boy, have I fallen far.  As a writer.  I've fallen so far sometimes I even forget how to spell basic words.

Like manners.

And cordial.

And nice.

Of course, no offence Nietzsche, but to a failing writer like myself, everything and everyone looks very small.  From down below in Nowhereland, it's a small small world.

HELLOOOOOOOOOO, can anybody hear me?

Could anyone hear Horton?

Evidently not.

I'm so small.

So very very small.

Or is it large.  Hang on, how does it work?  If you're small, doesn't everything look, like...lank big?  I dunno, see I'm confused.  Which is why I should take up a regular job like...I dunno.  A regular job.  Whatever that is.

Not working in Joburg

This column is about confessions, right?  And failures, right?  Well, how about this.  A few short years ago I had a regular job.  I kind've enjoyed the work. Can I be honest? I didn't enjoy some of the folks there. I dunno, I guess I'm not cut out to enjoy people in the media.  All that A.D.D.  It just gets to me. Which may explain why I didn't like the film Horrible Bosses. When I watched that film I was like...okay my bosses were a gazillion times suckier.  Unless it was me.  Maybe I was the world's suckiest employee.  You know, like Steve Jobs was.

So anyway, when I was a office drone in Johannesburg I worked (or pretended to) in a newsroom. In Johannesburg. Oh, right, I already said that. My job was essentially to mind my own business and I kinda tried to do that.  I'm a curious person but my job role was to mind my own business.  I sometimes failed at that.  I won't go into the ins and outs of that, except to say that some corporates are complete and utter jokes in how they treat themselves (very seriously) and also how they treat others, including their competition (not seriously at all). In other words, although the joke is on you when you work there, it's sort of them in the larger scheme of things.  Does that make sense?

Suffice it to say that corporate has since had to rebrand itself after it rebranded itself, ja it became that terrible, and then it sold off half of itself to stay afloat. But things have improve A LOT since then.  Really.  No really.

Anyhooo, I digress.  The important point was I offered to interview one of the editors who used to work there, a mild-mannered oke who wrote a book I thought was worth paying attention to.  The editor though (right now, as I write this) has taken a few weeks to put pen to paper (ironically enough), and the sheer turnaround time I must say puts him in poor company compared to...let's just say a bunch of other writers, celebrities and...people who are definitely more important than he appears to think he is.  Well, in my opinion.  Maybe he's right, maybe he is very important and not having time for anything, ever, is how he shows - proves - that.  I dunno.

Which is why I must assume he doesn't want to be interviewed.  Hey, I could be wrong, I don't know. But it does seem as if...well, he doesn't want his book reviewed.  Well he does, that's why he's doing interviews back to back, and doing a book tour.  He wants all the PR he can get, just as long as I don't do any for him.

Look, he was always a funny guy.  In the two years I worked at that company, and we worked in the same open plan office, he said exactly one word to me.  He read the word on the back of my t-shirt, and that was the extent of his interest in me.One word.  In two years.  But who was I?  Just some lowly non-journalist not worth his breath, and...well, it seems that hasn't changed.

Except kind've a lot has changed.  I was actually fired by his company for pretending to be a journalist.  That was the accusation.  As though I was pulling an enormous charade, like a sham jewellery salesman, or someone like TB Joshua (except, you know, a bogus faith healer, not a real one like TB).

So ja my crime was that I worked for a media company and I said to someone I would write a story and they nailed me on that.  Because I wasn't a journalist, I was something else. And how dare I write articles for them, specifically after I'd been asked to stop writing for rival publications.  Because I wasn't a journalist.

Well, they've always been right about that. So anyway, I sued them, won a settlement and said goodbye.

But I guess the editor who didn't have too much to say to me then still can't stomach the idea that I (who never went to Rhodes, never studied writing - because let's face it, in order to write you must study the craft, just as artists must study to be artists, ne?).  Anyway, it was all water under the bridge for me (not quite, but you know) and I thought I'm not going to hold a grudge, so...just to set things straight, you know, rigidly straight, he's holding one.  Which...well, he always seemed to do anyway, from the word go.  I recall emailing him on one occasion to publish a particular story and his response was:

"This is a non story."

It's a pity I never learned my lessons from these masters of industry. After all, they know it all, know the ins and outs, know the print media back to front (and found out about twitter as early as May this year, was it?) and really know how to treat people fairly.  So ja, it's a pity I didn't know my place better.

I wrote a little about that unhappy episode in an as yet, unpublished eBook, but it is available here until I get around to it. Yes, it's not even published as an eBook, how fucked up is that?

Not nearly as nuts as these cartoons.

Okay so that's all very embarrassing (for me, just to be clear, not for the editor) so let's move on to something completely different. Except....not.

Not writing a review for an amazing, award-winning journo

Okay then there's another writer who I contacted, and interviewed her. I heard her on the radio, talking about her book, and then I had a crazy idea.  I also wanted to talk to her.  I was bursting with questions and I was just....curious.

Wasn't there another reason though?  Like maybe to make money out of the story, or to show her up in some way?  No the story woulda coulda shoulda gone on the South African MAN website, which is my thing.  So it wasn't about money it was an excuse to talk to someone about something I'm interested in, and not just share her insights, but get her experience about the writing process too.  So, ja, it's my passion. I do stories on the stuff that interests me.  That's why I wanted to interview the jerkoff editor above and that's why I approached this amazing woman.

Unfortunately in this case, since I'm a fucked up journo (you know, can't hold a job, and...can't even record a voice memo) the 56 minute recording wouldn't sync with iTunes.  I don't know why. So I tried the other computer.  Then I tried updating my iPod's software, which took 4 hours.  I couldn't figure it out.  I've done a bunch of voice recordings without a problem.  Transferring fine. Others have, this one wouldn't. I couldn't email it from the file itself because it was too big.  Maybe it was demon possessed.  Maybe she - the author - had a virus when she spoke to me and it infected the voice file.  Anyway, so I couldn't transfer it, and so what I eventually did was I recorded the iPod recording to my phone.  But then my phone would only transfer the file as 16MB attachments, which meant I had to hack the interview into 4 pieces.  So I did that. And then I transfered each one one by one, then uploaded them to the Wordpress site one by one. It kinda took heaps of time.

And then I put together the story - I sourced images - and wrote a little and then there it was. And it came together quite nicely.  I thought she'd like it.  Obviously I had killed myself in terms of effort, but hey, so what, sometimes it happens, no harm, no foul.  I was just glad it was finally done.

And then, after working through the night in getting it decent, I posted it. And then I just carried on working through the night on other work, also not paid written work....well, an eBook may pay out after a few months...but the point is...I was burning the midnight oil on passion, not running after treasure.

And if anything, my reviews and interviews would earn them - these authors - more treasure, but I was happy to do it, it was inspiring me and ja, not going to take too much of my time, except when it did.

So the next morning I suddenly got a bunch of hysterical messages.  YOU WILL BE SUED.  THE PUBLISHER WILL BE SUED.  I WILL SUED.  STOP STOP STOP.  And the hysteria was around - get this - an image of her book I'd found on the internet. I just googled the name of her book, and did a google image search, and I used the first image that came up.

And so I was getting these frantic messages on twitter and email from her and someone else at the same time.  And so what I figured out was that on the book cover (the image I found via google search) were the words Oscar and 'murder'.  And since he wasn't found guilty of murder, pandemonium.  So I told the hysterical journo to calm down, and I removed the image (it took 5 seconds) and found one that was exactly the same, except it didn't have the word 'murder' on her sample book cover. Problem solved, right?

Oh and could I use this info here from her latest press release.  So I got a few more emails asking me to add stuff to the story.

So I added that.

Oh and could I use this image [attached] as well.

Okay, so I added that.

Then I got the following email:

Will it be possible for you to remove the whole thing, including the interview, until we've sorted this confusion out? All this can have serious legal repercussions for everyone, so I think it's best and safest to remove everything until [the publisher] gives you the go ahead. Can you do that?

I'll really appreciate it and it will give us all peace of mind.

Apologies for the trouble.

See, I can't even get a basic book review right.  I mean what an idiot, I search for the book cover of this amazing writer's book, and I find a book cover online, on google images, saying Oscar and murder in the title.  How fucked up am I to make that mistake - to find her book cover and not realise, just because it's already in the public domain, I should know better than to actually use it.  I could get someone in trouble.  Idiot!

So I removed the story I'd spent the better part of the night working on, and because I had upset her and wasted so much of her time, I promised I would not be in contact with her again.

Now, as if things couldn't get any worse, they did.  And there's no one to blame here than me. Well, I mean I'm clearly to blame for the two other fuck-ups mentioned above, but what I'm saying is this was all on me. Well, maybe one could also blame Nietzsche.  No, that won't fly.  Fair and square, this was me doing a one man show and the show was called Another Nick vd L Fuck Up.

Are you ready to cringe?

A Particularly Bad Case of Writer's Diarrhea 

Ok it's 16:48 as I write this, on September 20. If you click on this link you'll arrive at my 5th eBook on the Oscar trial (that's right F I F T H), putting my total word count for all five at around 350 000.

Yeah that's gross word count, and yeah, it's pretty gross. When I should have been working, and around doing free interviews and PR for other writers, I dunno, I did this.  Where I got the crazy idea that people would even bother to read this when I've had seasoned veteran editors telling me 'this is a non story'
 and other journos counseling me 'to take the whole thing down, just to be safe'...I'm not sure.  Look I dunno, maybe I have a mental disorder.  Because:

I just never learn!

Look, I hear what you're saying and you're right.  Expressing your opinion is fine but three hundred and fifty - fucking - thousand words.  Who does that?  Who has time for that?  Am I koo koo?  Hey, clearly I am.
But can I be honest with you?  This is a confessional and so...well, I would like to.  Can I?

See, I guess, yup, I had a thing or two I felt I needed to say. And so I said what I wanted to say and heck, then I felt I needed to say something else.

 Have I cleared the air? Well, I reckon I'm almost there. One more eBook - maybe a quick 50 000 worder - on the Oscar trial might finally do it. I dunno, maybe something like...this:

 Maybe even one more after that...

But beyond 7...seems very unlikely. I mean, I do have a day job, don't I?

Although hang on... I hear some of you lifting a finger and saying with appreciable wisdom, "Nick, quit while you're ahead."

Harder to hear is...what sounds like sniggering. Can't quite make it out but it sounds like something along these lines: "This shithead can't even get the basic facts right. Who is he kidding?" Well, you're not wrong. The description, right now, at this link provides the following explanation in this regard:

Book Description

 September 18, 2014
RESITITUTIO was published on 19 September 2014, exactly 7 days after Judge Thokozile Masipa pronounced her controversial verdict...

"Errrr...first of all, Nick, SAYS the publication date is September 18.  IT'S RIGHT THERE! ARE YOU BLOODY BLIND AS WELL AS DUMB?"

Either I am, or Amazon is.  Seems Amazon records US-based time (there is no  So the 28th in America is the 29th here.  But hey, you're 100% right, the Restitutio typo is genuine.  There's no getting around it, capital 'i's and 't's look the same, especially when they're juxtaposed like so: IIITIITIITITITITITIIT

I have tried to correct it so hopefully by now it's right.  Is it?  I hope so.

Now I can tell you after writing the last eBook in like, 3 weeks, I got a few things done, but my physical self went to hell.  Insomnia.  Backache. Eyeache. And a lowered immunity to the writing gods mentioned above, who look so small up high to little 'ol me trudging through the marshes of anonymity down here.

On Saturday I decided to make a break and go for a 5km run.  I have hardly gotten out of my chair for days (how do you think books get written - you sit, and shit yourself for hours on end).  So I thought I'd just run.  Shake off all the cobwebs.  All the crap, you know.  And ja, so I've been completely sedentary for like...weeks.

So I ran 5kms in 27:41.  I may not be able to write, but I think I can run.  And sometimes I do run with it. Which is my privilege, even if I don't know what I'm doing and I'm just high on life, and trying to make the most of it while I'm mucking about down here.

For more on the behind-the scenes 'mucking about' on RESTITUTIO click here.

P.S. Here's how Jim Carrey got his start (mucking about at the back of the classroom):

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Juror13 on Shocking Verdicts [Continued]

The following is a list of Casey’s calls and texts for the day of June 16:
All calls, up until 4:18pm, were pinging in the vicinity of the Anthony home

8:46am Casey calls Tony
11:47am Tony calls Casey
12:53pm Casey calls Tony (having just left the house to go to work per George)
12:55pm Tony texts Casey
1:00pm Tony calls Casey (call about 14 minutes) 1:00-1:14, 12 min. later
1:26pm Casey texts Jesse 12 min. later
1:37pm Casey gets text from Jesse 8 min. later
1:44pm Casey calls Amy 36 minutes 1:44-2:20, 32 min. later
2:52pm Casey gets call from Jesse 11 minutes 2:52-3:03 (Caylee is heard in background)
3:03pm Casey calls George
3:04pm Casey gets call from George. 25 seconds.  31 min. later
3:35pm Casey calls Tony 22 seconds 35 min. later
4:10pm Casey calls Cindy at work
4:11pm Casey calls Cindy cell
4:13pm Casey calls Cindy cell again
4:14pm Casey calls George 98 seconds 4:14—4:16
4:18pm Casey texts Tony (pings now appear to be leaving vicinity of Anthony home)
4:19pm Casey gets text from Tony
4:19pm Casey calls Tony
4:21pm Casey calls Jesse twice; second call 75 seconds 4:21—4:23
4:25pm Casey calls Cindy cell 3 seconds (now pinging near Tony's apt)
6:31pm Casey calls Cindy
6:32pm Casey calls Cindy
6:33pm Casey calls home leaves voicemail
7:06pm Casey calls home
7:20pm Casey calls Amy
7:21pm Casey calls Amy 42 seconds
8:03pm Casey checks Voice Mail
8:03pm Casey gets text from Mark Hawkins.
10:45pm Casey gets text from Amy
11:17pm Casey gets text from Mark Hawkins.

31 days of Lies
Casey would now embark on a 31 day voyage of lies to explain hers and Caylee’s absence from their home.  She and her Mom would talk every day and every day there would be a new story.  First she states that she has to work late at an event so she and Caylee will be sleeping at the nanny’s house.  Then she had an opportunity to reconnect for a few days with Jeffrey Hopkins (a real person, but imaginary ex-boyfriend). 

She told her Mom she was trying to rekindle their relationship and would be attending his mother’s wedding.  Next, she needed to travel for a few days for her (pretend) job.  Then a (pretend) friend had a car accident and she needed to travel to the girl’s home to retrieve insurance documents for her.  The lies became increasingly extravagant and flat-out weird with every passing day.  And every day an exasperated Cindy would ask Casey when they were coming home.  The routine became old and Cindy missed and worried about her granddaughter dearly.  She even went so far as to post a message on MySpace saying:

Thursday, July 03, 2008
my caylee is missing

She came into my life unexpectedly, just as she has left me. This precious little angel from above gave me strength and unconditional love. Now she is gone and I don’t know why. All I am guilty of is loving her and providing her a safe home. Jealousy has taken her away. Jealousy from the one person that should be thankfull for all of the love and support given to her. A mother’s love is deep, however there are limits when one is betrayed by the one she loved and trusted the most. A daughter comes to her mother for support when she is pregnant, the mother says without hesitation it will be ok. And it was. But then the lies and betrayal began. First it seemed harmless, ah, love is blind. A mother will look for the good in her child and give them a chance to change. This mother gave chance after chance for her daughter to change, but instead more lies more betrayal. What does the mother get for giving her daughter all of these chances? A broken heart. The daughter who stole money, lots of money, leaves without warning and does not let her mother now speak to the baby that her mother raised, fed, clothed, sheltered, paid her medical bills, etc. Instead tells her friends that her mother is controlling her life and she needs her space. No money, no future. Where did she go? Who is now watching out for the little angel?

When Cindy wrote about Caylee being “missing” she didn’t mean that literally.  She meant that Casey had taken her away and she believed that Casey was just keeping her away out of spite.  She had hoped that Casey would read the message online and have a change of heart.  She couldn’t possibly imagine at this time that Casey had done the unthinkable.  And even when the unthinkable did finally become apparent, Cindy stilled lived in denial that her daughter was responsible. 

On June 17th and 18th, Casey was still engaging her friend Amy about moving in to her house.  She was also still staying at Tony’s place.  She made a trip back to her family house in the late afternoons, after her Dad went to work, and was seen by neighbors backing her car in to the garage.  She also borrowed a shovel from her neighbor. 

In the meantime, a woman by the name of Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzales was viewing unit #210 at Sawgrass Apartments, a complex where Casey hung out often to visit friends.  It was also a place where Casey was likely checking out apartments on behalf of her new boyfriend, Tony, who wanted to move.  This would be the name that Casey later used when describing the nanny who had been watching Caylee.  She would refer to her as Zanny, the nanny.

During the weeks ahead, whenever her friends or Tony would ask about Caylee, Casey would simply say that she was either with the nanny or with her Mom.  Casey was often seen out partying and her favorite hot spot was Fusian Nightclub.  On June 20th she entered a hot-body contest after a night of drinking.  Many pictures were taken by a photographer who was covering the event that night and the images would be used at trial.  Does this look like a woman who was distraught by the disappearance of her child?
On June 23rd, Casey’s car ran out of gas and she called Tony to help her out.  Instead of just going to the gas station, she told him that her Dad kept full gas cans in their shed at home so he took her there to retrieve them.  They had to break open the lock on the shed in order to gain access.   When George got home, he discovered the broken lock and missing cans and reported it to the police.  He suspected it was Casey.   The next day, Casey once again stopped by the house not realizing that her Dad was home and was quite surprised to find him there.  

George tried to talk to her about where she and Caylee had been for the last 9 days but she claimed she was in a rush and hurried past him.  He told her that he knew she stole the gas cans and he wanted them back.  He followed her to the trunk of her car but she quickly removed them without him being able to get a glance inside.  She threw them at him saying “here are your fucking gas cans” and then got in her car and left.

In the early morning hours of June 27th, Casey abandoned her car, a white Pontiac that was owned by her parents but given to her to use, in the parking lot of an Amscot store.  She told Tony that it had once again run out of gas and her father would take care of it but she needed a ride.  He picked her up in the parking lot.  It’s important to note that she left her purse in clear view on the front seat and Caylee’s car seat in the back along with the baby doll.  Casey texted her friend, Amy, that same day and told her that her car smelled like a dead animal and part of a squirrel was plastered to it.  It is my belief that she wanted somebody to steal the car and the text message was sent to explain the smell of decomposition in the event the car ever resurfaced.

Tony was getting ready to leave town on a trip to New York, so Casey ends up driving his Jeep from June 30th through July 5th while he is gone.  On June 30th, the same day he leaves, her car gets towed from the Amscot parking lot.  Casey mostly sleeps at Ricardo’s and Amy’s apartment while Tony is gone, but stops by Jesse’s to shower as well.  Casey goes to a tattoo parlor and gets a tattoo that says “La Bella Vita” – the beautiful life.  When her friend at the parlor asks about Caylee, she states that she’ll bring her in next time to say hello.

On July 3rd, the same day that Cindy posted the MySpace message, she stopped by Universal to see if she could catch Casey at work.  Of course, Casey is not there because that is her imaginary job.  She calls Casey from the park and Casey states that she is in Jacksonville.  Casey then proceeds to leave a message for Jesse and asks him not to speak to her mother if she should try to contact him.  She knew that her Mom was becoming impatient and Casey was desperately trying to keep everybody from communicating with each other.  How long could she possibly keep this up?  And where was Caylee?

All during this time, Casey was perfectly normal, happy and cheerful.  She told all of her friends that Caylee was with the nanny.  She partied some more on July 4th and then Tony came home on the 5th.  She brought all of her belongings to his place and with the exception of one night, stayed there until the gig was up.

On July 7th, Casey posted this poem on a social media account:
“On the worst of worst days, remember the words spoken.
Trust no one, Only yourself.
With great power, comes great consequence.
What is given, Can be taken away.
Everyone Lies. Everyone Dies.”
A few days later, Amy and some friends left town for a trip to Puerto Rico.  Amy believes that Casey’s car is in the shop during this time and is kind enough to let her borrow her car while they are gone.  Casey repays her friend by helping herself to over $600 from her checking account.  She also made a few trips to Target and the bank using the same checks.

Deceit Unravels

July 15th was the day that Casey’s web of deceit finally started to unravel.  George and Cindy found a letter attached to their front door that had apparently been there for over a week.  They often used the garage to enter their home so the letter had gone undetected.  It was from Johnson’s Wrecker Company stating that their white Pontiac had been towed from Amscot on June 30th and was being held at their lot.  Needless to say, this set off an immediate wave of panic.  This is the car that Casey was supposedly driving and it had been at the tow lot for two weeks.  Where were Casey and Caylee?

The manager of the tow yard immediately noticed the stench coming from the car when it was brought in on the 30th.  It was the stench of decomposition which he was unfortunately familiar with.  George, being a former police officer, was also familiar with the smell.  He and Cindy went to retrieve the car and George had the task of driving it home.  George carefully opened the trunk while still at the tow yard, thinking that his daughter and granddaughter might be in there.   But they were not.   Instead, there were just a few bags of garbage that they removed and threw in to the dumpster.  Those bags would later be retrieved by police officers and used at trial.  George drove the car home.  Cindy rifled through the car and found Amy’s phone number on a resume that was inside of Casey’s purse.  She immediately called her.  

Amy agreed to meet Cindy and take her to Tony’s house where Casey was staying.  She also informed Cindy that Caylee was not with Casey.  Cindy informed Amy that she and George were not getting a divorce nor were they moving out of the house.  It didn’t take long for both women to realize that Casey had been lying to everybody about everything. 

Not Pretty

Cindy confronted Casey at Tony’s apartment and it was not a pretty scene.  Casey very reluctantly left with her Mom.  Once they were in the car, Cindy hammered Casey about the whereabouts of Caylee.  Casey said she was at Zanny’s place.  Cindy had never met this imaginary Zanny, even though her daughter had spoken of her before.  She did not have her phone number.  She literally knew nothing about her other than her name, Zanny.  Casey claimed that she didn’t want to wake Caylee and they could go to get her tomorrow.  Cindy was adamant that she would not wait another day.  She was going to see her granddaughter that night.  

So she drove Casey to a police substation, which unfortunately was closed.  Cindy took Casey home and decided to call the police instead.   George was at work during this time but had instructed his son, Lee, to go to the house to find out what was going on.  Lee and his sister did not have a particularly close bond as children but seemed to have a better relationship as adults. 

The first call that Cindy made to 911 was to report their car stolen; the same car that they had just retrieved from the tow yard.  She also told the dispatcher that money had been stolen and she did not know the whereabouts of her granddaughter.  She requested that a police officer be sent to their home.  But almost an hour passed by and the police still had not shown up, so Cindy called again.  She told them she was calling about her missing granddaughter and requested that they send somebody.  

During this time, Lee was in the bedroom talking to his sister, since Cindy was clearly getting nowhere in this situation, and trying to find out why she would not take them to Caylee.  After repeated questioning, Casey finally told her brother that Caylee was missing and had been kidnapped a month ago by Zanny the nanny.  Cindy overheard this conversation and came in to the room, screaming and cursing at her daughter.  

She called 911 a third time and reported the kidnapping of Caylee.  The dispatcher asked to speak to Casey, who then got on the phone and completely devoid of emotion explained that she had been trying to find her daughter on her own for the past month.

George came home and Cindy hysterically told him what happened.  The police arrived and spent the entire night, in to the morning, questioning Casey and her family.  Casey’s story was that she had dropped her daughter off at the home of Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzales (Zanny the nanny), apartment #210 at Sawgrass Apartments, on June 16, and went to work.  

After work, she returned to the apartment to pick her up but there was no answer at the door.  She waited outside for a while on the steps but nobody showed up.  She tried calling Zanny but her phone number had been changed.  She went to a few familiar places to look for them with no luck.  And then she did what every normal person would do when their child goes missing… met up with her boyfriend, rented movies and didn’t tell a soul.  

This story was so ridiculously absurd that the police knew immediately that something was wrong.  You can read her full statement here:

The police drove with her to Sawgrass Apartments to investigate unit #210.  When they got there, they found out that it was vacant and nobody had been living there since March of that year.  Even faced with that, Casey was still insistent that Zanny babysat her daughter there. She proceeded to take them to other locations around town that she felt they should investigate and then took them to her imaginary place of employment, Universal Studios.  When they got there, security said there was no record of her as an employee.  She insisted she worked there.  They went through the gates, parked the car and she walked them in to a building, under the guise that she was taking them to her office. 

It wasn’t until she got to the end of the hallway that she finally stopped and said, I don’t really work here.  The police brought her in to a private room and asked her some questions.  She was not under arrest at this time and was not being held against her will.  The police recorded the conversation. 

On July 16, 2008, that same day, Casey was arrested and charged with child neglect, filing false statements and obstructing a criminal investigation.  Two days later, Casey hired Jose Baez as her lawyer.  Bail was set for $500,000.  Unable to make bail, she remained in jail.

Bounty Hunter

In August 2008, Leonard Padilla entered the picture.  Leonard is a bounty hunter from California and quite a character. 

He put up the money for Casey’s release, under the conditions that he would have one of his female employees stay in the Anthony home and monitor Casey.  His hope was that he could build their trust and Casey would talk.  I’m quite sure that all of this was done in the hopes that he could get some media exposure.  But the Anthonys are not an easy bunch, and Casey is about as manipulative as you can get, so his hopes of cracking the case were quickly squashed.  He did get his media exposure though.  For months he was seen on all of the big name talk programs but he never did end up testifying at the trial. 

Eight days after Casey’s release from jail, she is arrested again but this time on charges of theft from her friend, Amy Huizenga.   A week later, Casey gets bailed out of jail again.
On October 14, 2008, Casey is indicted by a grand jury and charged with first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter and four counts of lying to the police.  The original charge of child neglect is dropped now that murder is on the table.  A week later, Casey pleads not guilty to all.

Still Searching For Caylee's Body

Throughout the months from July to December, there were continuous searches done for Caylee.   People came from all over to help in their spare time.  Texas Equusearch came in to volunteer their expertise and resources.   Private detectives and psychics were also hired by the Anthony family.
On December 11, 2008, Roy Kronk, a local meter reader, returned to the spot in the woods that had been nagging at him for months; a spot on Suburban drive that was only a quarter of a mile down the street from the Anthony’s home.  He had seen a suspicious bag back in August and tried to get the police to investigate but they blew him off.  He tried a few times after that with no luck again.  Roy was a quirky guy who was an easy target for the Defense.  The Defense would argue that he was in on the plan to hide the body but more realistically, I think Roy was just a guy who was trying to cash in on a ransom.

Throughout this time frame of the searches there had been some torrential rain falls and the wooded area was essentially a swamp.  Texas Equusearch deemed it too dangerous to search.  Roy went there one more time while out on his route and once again saw the bag.  He investigated and saw the small skull.  He called his boss at work to report it and the police finally came out to properly investigate. 
After six long months, Caylee had finally been found. 

Winnie the Poo

Her tiny body had been wrapped in her Winnie the Poo blanket, stuffed inside two garbage bags, then put inside a laundry bag and thrown in to the swampy woods.  Even more disturbing, there was duct tape wrapped around her skull and stuck to her hair.  The mandible of her skull was still in place, being held together by the duct tape.  Proof that the tape had been there all along wrapped around her face.  The defense would later argue that due to the flooding and other natural contamination of the outdoor scene, the duct tape could have simply ended up there, and was not necessarily wrapped around the head.

Upon autopsy of the completely skeletonized remains, the manner of death was deemed homicide.  They were never able to determine a definitive cause.  But the prosecution argued that it was likely a combination of suffocation, due to the duct tape around the nose and mouth, and potentially chloroform as well because of computer searches that were found on the home computer.
In January 2009, George Anthony unsuccessfully attempted suicide.  He stated at trial that he did this because he was so distraught over the loss of his granddaughter and life has pretty much become sheer hell.  He just wanted it all to be over.  The Defense would argue that George had many secrets, one of which was his involvement in the disposal of Caylee’s remains.  They would say that his suicide attempt was due to guilt.

Death Penalty

In April 2009, the State announced that they would seek the death penalty in this case.
The case did not go to trial until May 24, 2011.  During the two and half years between when Caylee’s remains were found and when the trial began, Casey kept up the façade of the nanny kidnapping her baby.  Her parents and brother, although frustrated with her at times, actually stood by her side and defended her in the public arena.  The public despised Casey, and still does to this day.  She is often referred to as the most hated woman in America.  Cindy and George were also heavily criticized for their support of their daughter.  Cindy was often argumentative and in-your-face with protestors.  She is most definitely not an easy person to like.  George sat quietly throughout most of the interviews but seemed to support Cindy on most days.  All of America wondered what the hell was wrong with this family.  How could anybody stand by their daughter who had killed their granddaughter and acted so repulsively in the days after?  The answer to that question is either denial or cover-up.  It has to be one of those two.  The Defense would argue cover-up.

The trial took place outside of Orlando in a different county.  The juror consisted of five men, seven women and five alternates.

The lead prosecutors were Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane Burdick. 
The lead defense attorney was Jose Baez, assisted by Cheney Mason.
When the trial began, the State carefully walked through every moment of those 31 days, repeatedly asking “Where is Caylee?”  You can watch their opening arguments here:

Part 1:
Part 2:

Then the Defense goes next with their jaw-dropping opening arguments that once and for all admit that Caylee died on June 16, the day she went missing.  There was never a nanny and she was never kidnapped.  She accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool.  But wait… it gets better.  

George found her dead body in the pool and told Casey that she would go to jail for child neglect and the better way to handle this situation was to get rid of the body.  I wish I could insert the sound of a record screeching right here because that’s exactly what it seemed like in my head when I first heard these statements.  What did he just say?  Wait, let me rewind that.  Not only did George dispose of the body for Casey in order for her to avoid child neglect charges, but he never communicated to Casey how or where he did this.  He instructed Casey to go on with her life, don’t tell anybody and act like everything is normal.  Isn’t that what every loving grandfather would do?  Throw his accidentally drowned dead granddaughter in to a swamp covered in plastic bags and duct tape. 

Next Level

But let’s take it to the next level… the Defense decided to throw Roy Kronk in to the mix.  The gold digging meter reader who found Caylee’s body in the woods.  He was in on it.  Somehow he kept Caylee’s body in his possession until the time in December when he planted her remains in the woods.  The State would disprove this by the vegetation that had been growing up and through the remains and the bags, but apparently the jury was sleeping during that part.

Here is a link to their full opening argument:

The absolute icing on the cake is when the Defense accused George Anthony and Lee Anthony of molesting Casey.  Yes, that’s right.  Let’s throw in some sexual abuse.  They really needed to figure out a way to explain why Casey is so incredibly weird and lies about everything.  Sexual abuse apparently will turn you in to a pathological liar, so that’s how they explained it.  Both George and Lee denied those accusations on the stand, and the Judge ultimately told the Defense that they could not use those arguments in closing.  There was nothing other than Casey’s word that the abuse had occurred, and obviously her word has no credibility at all.

The prosecution had evidence of decomposition in the trunk of Casey’s car; the car that had been towed from the Amscot lot.   The car that had only been driven by Casey in those 31 days.   They also had one of Caylee’s hairs from that same trunk that exhibited signs of a “death band”.  That is a particular banding that forms on your hair after death.  They had Casey’s 31 days of lying and incredibly insensitive and crazy behavior.  They also had the duct tape and other household items that were directly linked to the Anthony home.   They had Casey researching chloroform and other ways to inflict harm on people on the home computer.  Let’s not forget Casey backing in to the garage two days in a row after she left home and borrowing the shovel from the neighbor.  And they had common sense on their side.  

Let’s really think about this… Casey is now telling the court that her father sexually abused her, yet in the almost 3 years that she sat in jail facing her trial and the death penalty, she never once ratted out her Dad for dumping Caylee’s body in the woods.  She’d rather take the rap and face the death penalty than get her Dad in trouble.  Does that make any sense to you?  Of course not.

On July 3rd and 4th, closing arguments are heard and the prosecution tells the jury that their case is based on physical evidence while the Defense’s case is based on outrageous claims that have not been proven in court.  The jury goes off to deliberate for the remainder of July 4th.

 On July 5th, after 10 hours of deliberation in total, the jury announces they have a verdict.  NOT GUILTY on all felony charges.  They did convict on the four misdemeanor counts of lying to police for which time was already served.  Casey was released from prison twelve days later.  This is how getting away with murder looks…
So, what happened?  How did the jury get it so wrong?  

Listen here for my thoughts on the verdict.