Police Chief Mike Chitwood in NSBNEWS.net interview on Anthony family saga: 'Little girl is dead and that is disheartening'

Courtesy photo. Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood speaks with NSBNEWS.net about the Anthony family saga.

DAYTONA BEACH -- Police Chief Mike Chitwood has found himself in the spotlight on many occasions in dealing with seedy crimes in the underbelly of Daytona Beach, with its sandpaper-faced street bums, hookers and drug peddlers along Ridgewood Avenue. But the last thing he thought he'd find himself front in center on was the Caylee Anthony saga.

"I hate to see us dragged into this thing," Chitwood said in a late-afternoon interview with NSBNEWS.net. "Everything either begins or ends in Daytona. It seems like it was that way when I was in Philadelphia, too."

Chitwood and his officers found the Orange County toddler's grandfather, George Anthony, at the Hawaii Motel on where else? South Ridgewood Avenue just before 2 this morning.

"He was despondent and he agreed to let us take him to Halifax to deal with his situation," Chitwood said. "He said he needed to 'get away' from his family and think things out. There was a despondent male -- it was no different than any other call."

While that may be true, Chitwood also readily acknowledged this is not any other call, rather the most likely nationally media-saturated crime drama since O.J. Simpson was on the run in his Ford Bronco with a gun to his head after the killing of his wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Chitwood said George Anthony briefly said it was hard to put into words how he was feeling about his situation -- his 2-year-old granddaughter's skeletal remains found a stone's throw from the family home, his daughter, Casey Anthony, 22, in jail on charges of murdering the little girl, and the strain on his wife, Cindy, and their son, Lee. "I told him I couldn't, but I too, am a father and a grandfather," said the 45-year-old Chitwood, who has had several high profile situations to deal with since his May 2006, hiring here after nearly two decades in Philadelphia.

In cases like this, Chitwood is called out of bed, a standing order he has established with his personnel from day one. "I'm 24/seven," Chitwood explained, as demonstrated by his on-scene appearances for the murder of a young woman by the son of one of his police officers -- gunned down in the street, another time the discovery of what was to believed a third victim of a possible serial killer, both in the last 15 months. The list goes on.

Asked whether he thought George Anthony was suicidal, Chitwood responded, "That's a pretty good assumption. He said there was a lot of pressure on him and he needed time to think," the police chief said, adding, "He had text-messaged family members that he wanted to end his life."

It was the ping of his cell phone that Orange County authorities used to track him, which led them to notify Daytona Beach police that he may be in the area of Bethune Point. That's when Chitwood and his offers "fanned the motels, hotels and parking lots, where one of my officers spotted the tag."

Chitwood said Anthony agreed to his request to be taken to Halifax Medical Center under Florida's Baker Act for a psychiatric evaluation and possible follow-up treatment that could be up to 72 hours. As for Anthony's demeanor, Chitwood said he didn't want to get into details about a possible suicide note written by Anthony and found in his vehicle, describing his demeanor as "melancholy," adding he was "very cooperative with the officers and myself."

Summing up his feelings after a bevy of media interviews that followed a long night and even more national media inquiries from cable network shows," Chitwood, who hadn't gotten any sleep most of Friday, said: "It's sad for everyone involved. All I know is a little girl is dead and that is disheartening."

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com, launched April 7, 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with scores of regional, state & national journalism-industry awards for nearly 100 breaking news & investigative reporting stories in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut.
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