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-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
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