Details of Disappearance
On June 4, 2011, Anthony was last seen while camping near the Ellis Dam at Muskingum River State Park in Ohio with his family: his mother, Kasey L. Klein, stepfather, Richard H. Klein Jr., and brother, three-year-old Ayden Leroy Cecil. Photos of all three of them are posted with this case summary.
The family pitched a tent twenty-five feet from the banks of the Muskingum River, which was swollen from recent rains. They all went to sleep inside the tent. Kasey took one Xanax pill before bed; she had been prescribed the tranquilizer as a sleep aid. At one point Anthony woke up and cried, and Richard put him on his chest and cuddled him, then went back to sleep.
When Kasey and Richard woke up two hours later, the tent was unzipped and the boys were gone. They called 911 and a search was launched.
Bloodhounds tracked the children's scent for about 500 feet before losing it at the river's edge. Two hours later, searchers found Ayden's body in the river, about a mile downstream from the campsite. He had drowned. Anthony was not located.
Ayden had cerebral palsy; as a result, he had poor balance and minimal use of his right arm. He could only walk about 125 feet without falling, and had trouble getting up on his own. Investigators believe the boys left the tent in the early morning hours and stumbled into the river.
In September 2011, Kasey and Richard were charged with endangering children and involuntary manslaughter in both boys' deaths. The authorities alleged they were reckless in camping so close to the river's edge and failing to take sufficient precautions against the boys falling in.
The boys were known as rambunctious toddlers who were "always into something" and who sometimes woke during the night; they had a lock on their bedroom door at home to stop them wandering around the house during the night. To keep them from leaving the tent, Richard tightened the upper zipper of the door, but didn't tighten the lower zipper, which was just above ground level.
The Kleins were tried together, but had different defenses: Kasey's attorney suggested Richard had intentionally drowned the boys without her knowledge, and Richard's attorney said their deaths were a tragic accident that didn't rise to the level of manslaughter. In early 2012, both were convicted of first-degree felony manslaughter and both were sentenced to twelve years in prison, six years for the death of each child.
In January 2013, however, both convictions were overturned, after a court of appeals decided they should have faced separate trials. At his second trial in June 2013, Richard was acquitted. He had served 21 months behind bars. Later that month, Kasey pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangering and was sentenced to three years in prison; with credit for time served, she served another year before her release.
Anthony's remains have never been recovered, but like his brother he is presumed drowned.