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Letters to Casey Anthony, a woman accused of murder

Letters to Casey Anthony, a woman accused of murder

(p.161) 9 Letters to Casey Anthony, a woman accused of murder
Law in Popular Belief
Lizzie Seal
Manchester University Press

This chapter is based on an analysis of letters sent by members of the public to Casey Anthony, while she was awaiting trial for the capital murder of her daughter, Caylee. Caylee Anthony went missing in Orlando, Florida, in 2008, which Casey did not report to the police. After Casey’s mother had reported her granddaughter’s disappearance several weeks later, Casey was charged with her murder. Caylee’s body was not discovered until two months after this. The case was very high profile and received intense media coverage, including via social media. In June 2010, Florida’s state attorney’s office released letters that had been sent to Casey while she was in jail. She was tried and acquitted of Caylee’s murder and manslaughter in 2011. This chapter focuses on the letters sent to Casey by people who did not know her personally. It explores how they negotiated what they already knew of her and her case from media sources in relation to their own experiences and biography, in order to relate to Casey. In doing so, it analyses how correspondents variously drew on, utilised, reshaped and rejected discourses of femininity that circulate in legal and media constructions of high profile cases of women accused of murder. The chapter also examines how correspondents’ identification with, or rejection of, Casey Anthony and elements of her story was part of the process of their own identity construction

Keywords:   biography, identification, women criminals, media representation

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