This article contains descriptions of violence, homicide, and child abuse.
In the summer of 2008, a heartbreakingly cherubic two-year-old named Caylee Anthony went missing. The toddler had been living with her grandparents but on June 16, her troubled mother, Casey Anthony, allegedly argued with Cindy and George Anthony and then snatched Caylee up from their Orlando home, according to Biography.
A month later, George recovers the family car Casey had been using and was “overwhelmed by the smell” inside. A string of frantic 911 calls revealed Caylee had been missing for a month. Cindy Anthony remarked, “It smells like there’s been a dead body in the damn car.” It took investigators six months to find the decomposed remains of Caylee, stuffed inside a bag, duct tape around her mouth. Casey was charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors alleged she smothered her child and then partied without a care. Caseys’ defense team claimed Caylee had drowned accidentally and accused George Anthony of molesting his daughter.
Awaiting trial, Casey sat in prison, where she met former nurse Robyn Adams, featured in Lifetime’s fascinating new show “Cellmate Secrets.” The two struck up an unlikely but intimate friendship, and yet Adams later testified for the prosecution against her prison-house pal. But it changed nothing. Decomposition meant the physical evidence was limited and in 2011, to immense public outrage, a jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of the murder of her daughter. Robyn sat down with Nicki Swift to talk about befriending one of the most infamous women in America.
“Cellmate Secrets,” narrated by Angie Harmon, premieres on June 4th at 10pm/9c on Lifetime.
If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.
Robyn Adams reveals how she ended up in prison with Casey Anthony
You’re free as a bird now, but tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up on Casey Anthony’s cellblock.
Yes, I have been for a little over three years now. But prior to my incarceration, I had a very great life, at least I thought. I had a great career in the medical field and was advancing my career there. And then, I got back together with my ex-boyfriend at the time and married him. And then a month later, I got arrested. And then, probably less than a month later, I met Casey.
Are you saying he got you involved in something illegal?
Oh no. Well, it’s a very difficult and intriguing story actually. But my husband and I — we’re no longer on speaking terms — but it was initially his case. However, it did become a level of conspiracy, when I was brought into it after our marriage. I have accepted the responsibilities of the roles that I did play, not only in the marriage but as a part of that conspiracy as well.
So you were charged under like a RICO statute?
No, I was actually charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. However, eight and a half years later, it’s legal almost everywhere. The equivalent to jaywalking, right?
Not even, I mean it’s completely legal in certain places where jaywalking is still a traffic violation.
Yeah, it’s wild. I think that it’s— the judicial system is completely failed in that regard. Definitely. There are people with much harsher crimes that are being released every single day and questionably at most.
Casey Anthony's cellmate on adjusting to life behind bars
I imagine this was pretty upsetting. You went away for this minor crime that isn’t even illegal in a lot of places. That must have been a dark time, but surely you didn’t expect to get on a TV show out of the whole thing, right?
To say the least, you know, it’s been one hell of a ride for sure. Definitely had no idea that any of this would ever come about.
What was your initial reaction when you first went inside? What was the adjustment like for you?
My life turned upside down in a matter of seconds, it felt like I was just picking up my children so we could go home and eat dinner. And I never made it home. Never had dinner either.
How, how long were you inside for?
Well, once I was arrested that evening … I was gone for about eight and a half years.
Wow. For weed?
Oh yeah. Actually, just to clarify on that, it wasn’t just weed. It was, they took the amount of seeds that they found, and they multiplied that by the germination period of a 12-month cycle. So they took the number of seeds that were found and estimated the germination cycles of a 12 month period, which was what an average lease agreement would be for a rental home. However, I later found out after my arrest, that there really was no rental house. It was all provided by the federal government.
Robyn Adams on meeting Casey Anthony in prison
So once you’re inside you make this transition. Your freedom is gone. You’ve gone from a respected medical professional to a number. What was your reaction when you found out the famous alleged murderer Casey Anthony was on your cell block?
I never knew her as famous.
So you didn’t know about her before this at all?
No, no. I didn’t realize that this was even a national or international story until years later. And I’ve been home for less than four years and I still don’t know. I still don’t even, I guess, realize, how big of a deal this case really was.
So, you weren’t following Casey Anthony’s sensational case at the time. When you met her, you had no idea that she wasn’t an ordinary prisoner?
When I first met her she was just another inmate in protective custody status. And at the time there was only one other girl besides myself, and she, later on, got moved to a different dorm. So, Casey and I became friends under those circumstances. And to say [the] least, it turned into a friendship that lasted for the duration of our time there.
How did you end up becoming such close friends? Was there free time where you were able to actually mingle one-on-one in the commissary? How did it actually start?
Nope. So we were both held in solitary confinement. And what I mean by that is we’re held in complete confinement by ourselves for a period of 23 hours a day, every day. So that one hour that we were allowed was intended for phone calls and shower time and, just doing what you can with the one hour. So we befriended each other through letters. And then as our time there became longer, I suppose that we just became very familiar with each other and the officers, and the officer or the officers allowed us to have short conversations with each other in passing. That’s how it started. And then we would start passing notes.
Lifetime's Cellmate's Secrets reveals clever way Robyn Adams and Casey Anthony communicated in prison
How were you able to pass notes? It wasn’t through the mail, it was just internally?
It was. It was internally, we would pass notes through the book cart. There was a book cart there and we would pass notes through a book. And then shortly after that, it turned into more of one-on-one conversations with each other that we were able to have.
That’s how notes are passed in prison in the movies usually, right? The book cart comes by your cell, you grab a new book, and put your note inside the old one, hand it off, right? Was that allowed?
Yeah, actually you are right. I’m not sure if it was allowed or not at that point, but we did take advantage of the fact that we had a book cart available. So, in the way that we did that, there wasn’t a specific person that was handing out books. It was more of like a community book cart that was there in the dorm. … She’s actually the one who initiated it. Even though it’s a community book cart, the way that we were able to exchange these notes is we picked very specific books that were more on an educated level. So not something that, you know-
Not something that other people would likely borrow. It wasn’t “Twilight”?
Right, right, right.
Okay. Nothing against Twilight.
Oh, of course not.
Why Robyn Adams and Casey Anthony became best friends in prison
Absolutely no “Twilight” slander here. What we’re saying is you had a system because you and Casey Anthony had somewhat similar backgrounds, right? You are both educated. And that was the common ground that made you both gravitate towards each other. And you’re both mothers, right?
Oh, definitely. I think the root of our friendship was because we were both parents and in both of our families, you know, when one person is incarcerated, their families are, too — their loved ones are, too. So, we had a lot of common ground to share. The fact that we were both educated was just a bonus, because we were able to have intellectual conversations with each other and really enjoy our conversations with each other. It was just, you know, for lack of better words, just the better option to pass time.
Robyn Adams' reaction to finding out Casey Anthony's alleged crime
Did Casey Anthony immediately tell you what she was in for? And what was your impression when she told you about her crime? Because at the time her trial was pending, right?
No, not even pending trial. It was still in its investigative stages.
And eventually, she was found not guilty of the murder of her child but guilty of lying to the investigators right?
Right. Right. I feel like at the time she was probably held just on suspicion, you know, I’m not sure what kind of charges they actually did drum up against her. So, it wasn’t a story that I followed through the media, like the rest of the world did. It wasn’t a story that I even kept up with after I was released. So, up until just years ago, I didn’t even realize how huge this case really, really was, you know? And then the acquittal on top of that, I’m sure just blew people’s minds.
You’ve been described as luring Anthony into a deep friendship. It sounds like that’s not actually what happened. This was a genuine friendship?
Oh, absolutely it was a friendship. But it wouldn’t be the first time that the media has shared their negative opinions. I mean, good news doesn’t go very far right? We all know that. However, no, I absolutely did not lure Anthony into anything. Casey Anthony did her part that landed her in that position she was in, as well as myself, so the fact that we did become friends over time, again, was solely based on the level of love and caring — as much caring as we had for our families.
Did Robyn Adams betray Casey Anthony?
Okay, so your new show, “Cellmate Secrets,” is fascinating. A lot of times when prison informants go to court the defense usually says, “Well the informant has something to gain.” There’s a reduced sentence, or they just want to get out of their box, or anything. Did you receive anything in remuneration for sharing your relationship with Anthony — beyond an IMDb page? Which I imagine you probably have now.
I have never received any kind of downward departure or even financial gain from participating in that trial, or even in the case. I’ve not received anything of any kind of monetary or materialistic value in regards to being a part of that trial.
And nothing off of your sentence either?
No, sir, nothing off of my sentence. Actually, the prosecution would only give me some type of downward departure had she been found guilty and been convicted. So, having said that, she was acquitted and nothing ever came of it. I did my time like a champ, and came home and rose above it.
Why Robyn Adams testified in Casey Anthony's trial
You did participate in the trial, and in some of the promotional clips from the show, you said that the police found some of what you discovered from Casey Anthony interesting and pertinent to their investigation, or even prosecution. Did anything come of what you gleaned from your friendship as far as prosecution went? I mean, obviously, she was found not guilty, but did your correspondence actually help them? You kind of teased that it did.
See again, I wasn’t that involved with the investigation.
Why did they want you to testify?
Oh, well, I mean, I was the only person that she ever talked to. So naturally, they would want to talk to the only person that she ever talked to.
And you were called by the prosecution?
And what did they want you to offer as a prosecution witness and why help them if they wouldn’t help you?
Oh, well, I’ll be honest, the Orange County detectives and the homicide investigators, they came to visit me when I was already gone and transported to the prison facility where I was held. This happened months after I had already been transported. You know, I was still coming to terms with the amount of time that I had to serve here or there. And I was able to just really reflect back on things. I was trying to ultimately just move on. And, you know, I never even realized that was going to be such a big part of my life.
Did Robyn Adams think Casey Anthony was guilty of murder?
As you got to know Casey, a little bit better, obviously you knew what she was accused of. What was your initial impression? Did you think that she did this crime initially? That she killed her daughter Caylee Anthony?
You know, that’s a tough question, I’ll tell you why, because when I met Casey, again, she wasn’t the focus of that investigation.
It was a missing person at that time, right? Technically?
Caylee was a missing person, and there were still search parties happening everywhere around Orlando. Speculation, of course, was being passed around. And then I got arrested. That was the end of it. So when I met Casey, it wasn’t a matter of, “Oh, that’s the one.” No, I didn’t even know who she was. Her face never even appeared on the news.
Interesting. Now, you told the producers of “Cellmate Secrets” that you were with Casey Anthony when the body of Caylee was discovered — or at least still in contact with her. You said she was panicking about it, but to you, it seemed less like sadness over her daughter being discovered, and more like she was caught. Police also found duct tape near Caylee’s body. And also the prosecution said chloroform was used. You intimated that you were suspicious of how she acted when the body was actually discovered. Is that fair?
Yeah, sure, that’s fair. I feel like it was more of a comparison. So, now that I’m out, and I’m participating in these documentaries and participating with the media really for the first time, this far in-depth, and I’ll be honest, I’m still learning different facts; when I went to Texas with AMS productions, and I was able to see footage of certain parts of this investigation that I had never seen before. And so I’m not really certain how much I really knew. And I still don’t even know if what I’ve said, people already know.
The one thing that made Robyn Adams suspicious of Casey Anthony
So when the body was discovered, Casey Anthony was anxious, and you found that suspicious at the time, but now you’re not sure?
Oh, no, no, no. Don’t get me wrong with that. Please. Don’t twist my words on that.
I just want to clarify.
Yeah, let’s clarify that. So, her reaction when the discovery of Caylee, you know, happened, was more of a hysteria. She was completely hysterical, completely hysterical. And again, like any parent or mother should be. And that’s how I interpreted that reaction from her. I know it’s questionable with a lot of other people in and of media that were surrounding this, but that’s how I perceived it to be.
But you told Lifetime producers that you felt her reaction was suspicious. More like, not upset that her daughter was dead, but upset that she was going to be caught.
Okay. Oh, absolutely. But it’s only because of her reactions prior to that. So there was an incident prior to that, to where a bag of bones was found at a local park. So when I told her this news, it was completely different than when she had that reaction when Caylee’s body was discovered.
What was her reaction to the bag of bones?
There wasn’t much of one.
Maybe she knew it wasn’t Caylee.
Oh, she definitely knew it wasn’t Caylee. She knew it wasn’t Caylee. She said that immediately, that it wasn’t Caylee in the bag, just that they weren’t looking in the right place. And, I mean, so, having that reaction, that was really the only red flag that stood out to me during our friendship. And then, months later when they actually found Caylee and I saw her reaction, that was just an affirmation I felt.
The surprising way Robyn Adams came to believe Casey Anthony is innocent
If Caylee truly was a missing person at the time, and police found a bag of bones that they could not identify, how would Casey Anthony know with any certainty it wasn’t her daughter? If she’s not the killer, how would she have any insight into what this bag of bones was whatsoever?
Agreed. So you just saw the same red flag I did.
Okay. So that’s what peaked your suspicion? Then later, when you saw her so hysterical over the actual discovery, you somewhat changed your mind?
Well, I mean, that was the turning point for me. That was the absolute turning point for me. So again, learning little facts about this case and part of the investigational process, and then being an insider, seeing it firsthand and unfold firsthand, and being with her and holding her hand as this whole thing unfolded. And even this conversation is still shedding so much more light to what it is and it’s just all starting to come together. So, that has been the last few months, actually, since I started participating with AMS [“Cellmate Secrets”].
Are Robyn Adams and Casey Anthony still friends?
As we sit here today, what is your opinion of whether or not Casey Anthony committed this crime against her own daughter, and, are you two still in touch?
No, we are not still in touch. I haven’t even tried to reach out to her. And now it’s just a take it by day thing and I wish her and her family well, for sure. Yeah.
But you don’t think she did it?
I mean, I think everyone has their suspicions and I do believe that she did it, but I do very much believe that it was an accident. It definitely was not intentional.
If you could say one more thing to her, what would you say?
Just that I just wish her and her family well, and I know it’s a mourning process and something that you may never get over.
“Cellmate Secrets,” narrated by Angie Harmon, premieres on June 4th at 10pm/9c on Lifetime.
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