The Drug Secrets of Casey Anthony

By Walter Armstrong 07/08/11
"Zanny the Nanny"—apparently a code name used in the Anthony household to describe Xanax—has returned to haunt Caylee's mother in the form of a defamation lawsuit.
Casey Anthony faces more days in court for defamation. Photo via

She got away with murder. That's what millions of Americans think about the verdict this week in the long national nightmare that was the Casey Anthony trial. Far be it from us at The Fix to attempt to compete with the likes of Nancy Grace and her "devil"-ish commentary on the case. We just want to point out one small but interesting detail that readers may have overlooked in the trial's tsunami of evidence, hearsay and deception: "Zanny the Nanny."

"Zanny the Nanny" was a phrase in use in the Anthony household, especially by Casey and her mother, Cindy. It also is a window into the secrets, lies and other pathological behaviors of a family in the throes of drug abuse—at least if you believe this shrewd speculation by a Tampa Bay, Fla., crime reporter first published in 2009. According to  this blogger, "Zanny the Nanny" is the person Casey was said to be visiting when she was in fact high on Xanax, a powerful, highly addictive anti-anxiety drug. As it turned out, there was no such person as Zanny the Nanny, though Zanny is a commonly-used code for the drug. Of course, two-year-old Caylee Anthony had no nanny. But among the Anthonys, when Casey was checked out on benzodiazepines—and presumably unaccountable for her daughter—this little druggie code was used as a cover-up. (Often Casey made good her exit from parenthood by first checking out her daughter with a mild overdose of cough syrup.)

As her testimony in the trial revealed, Cindy Anthony could be counted on to cover up for her daughter right to the bitter end. While her new-estranged mom admitted to police that she had never met Zanny the Nanny, she had several phone numbers and addresses for her. As for Casey herself, when pressed by investigators she identified the nanny as one Zenaida Gonzalez. There are several listings under that name in the local phone book. Later, in one of her many lies during the months between the time her daughter was reported to be missing and the time her daughter's skeletal remains were found in the woods near her house, Casey accused this fantastical nanny of having kidnapped Caylee. 

Imagine Anthony's surprise when Zanny the Nanny sprang to life. An outraged woman named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez filed a lawsuit against Casey Anthony for defamation in 2008, claiming that after police descended on her apartment to question her and her children and her name surfaced in the press, she lost her job, was run out of her apartment complex, and received death threats. The lawsuit was put on hold until the resolution of the murder charges against Anthony. According to a Reuters report, within hours of the verdict, papers were served on Casey Anthony by Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez's lawyer.

Anthony will be released from prison July 17. On July 19, she will begin her deposition in the case. Gonzalez's lawyer reports that every day he receives thousands of emails of support from people who are outraged that Anthony will walk.

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Walter Armstrong is the Medical Editor at  Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness and the former deputy editor of The Fix. You can find him on Linkedin.