ORLANDO, Fla. -- A medical examiner found evidence among a child's remains that link them to the home of a missing toddler, the county sheriff said Friday, offering the strongest indication yet that the remains may be those of Caylee Anthony.
Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary told NBC's "Today" show that investigators searched the home early Friday after the medical examiner found "some clues that came out of the remains" that "linked it to the house." He did not elaborate on what those were.
The remains were found Thursday by a utility worker on a wooded lot less than a half-mile from the house where 3-year-old Caylee lived with her grandparents and her mother, 22-year-old Casey Anthony.
Casey Anthony was charged in October with first-degree murder, even though the toddler's body hadn't yet been found. She has insisted that she left the girl with a baby sitter in June, but she didn't report Caylee missing until July.
Beary said his investigators and the FBI would work around the clock and through the weekend to identify the child.
Asked if he believed it was Caylee, Beary said: "My gut says yes, but I have to wait seven to 14 days for the DNA analysis to absolutely make sure."
There are no other similar missing-child cases in the area.
If the skull found Thursday in an area that had until recently been flooded proves to be Caylee's, prosecutors will have the crucial evidence they need to convict Casey Anthony, legal experts said.
"If the defense had been able to go to trial without a body being discovered, hopes for reasonable doubt might have been compelling," former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey said. "(But) if the body proves to be Caylee, then it immediately becomes an uphill case for the defense."
Prosecutors announced last week that they would not seek the death penalty against Casey Anthony. Even if the remains are Caylee's, experts said it was unlikely the state would reverse its decision because prosecutors still have not determined a motive.
A spokeswoman with the state attorney's office said Thursday that officials wouldn't comment until the investigation was complete.
For the past several months, Anthony's family, police and volunteers from around the country have searched for the little girl.
Casey Anthony has insisted that she left the girl with a baby sitter in June, but she didn't report her missing until July. She was told about the discovery in jail on Thursday, and was placed under psychological observation -- not suicide watch. Her attorney, Jose Baez, visited her and did not return calls seeking comment.
The child's grandmother first called authorities in July to say that she hadn't seen Caylee for a month, and that her daughter's car smelled like death.
Police immediately interviewed Anthony and said that everything she told them about her daughter's whereabouts was false. The baby sitter was nonexistent, and the apartment where Anthony said she had last seen Caylee had been empty for months. Anthony also lied about where she worked.
As the case unfolded, troubling details emerged: Photos surfaced of Anthony partying after her daughter went missing. Friends said she was a habitual liar, but also a good mother.
Last month, the Orange County State Attorney turned over almost 800 pages of documents, which showed someone at the Anthony home had done Internet searches for terms like "neck breaking" and "household weapons."
In mid-March, someone used the Anthonys' home laptop to search Google and Wikipedia for peroxide, shovels, acetone, alcohol and chloroform. Traces of chloroform, which is used to induce unconsciousness and is a component of human decomposition, were found in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car during forensic testing, the documents said.