CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
Charlton Heston Reveals Symptoms of Alzheimer's; Authorities Bust Child Molesting/Porn Ring
Aired August 9, 2002 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS: A somber announcement from a movie legend.
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CHARLTON HESTON, ACTOR: I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you.
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O'BRIEN: A child molesting and pornography ring is busted. The victims as young as two years old. Most of those arrested, parents.
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ROBERT BONNER, U.S. CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER: In many instances, parents force their children to commit sex acts.
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O'BRIEN: The alleged kidnapper and killer of little Samantha Runnion enters his plea. A drunken driving case that captured the country's attention, now the jury speaks out. And Martha's mess is a friend of the good-living guru aiding inside trading investigators?
It is Friday, August 9, 2002. I'm Miles O'Brien at CNN Center in Atlanta. Wolf Blitzer is off once again this evening.
He's played Moses and a host of other memorable roles. In recent years, he's been one of Hollywood's most politically active citizens while serving as the president of the National Rifle Association. Now the surprise announcement from actor Charlton Heston, his doctors say he has symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease which afflicts more than four million Americans.
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HESTON: My dear friends, colleagues, and fans. My physicians have recently told me I may have a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer's disease. So, I wanted to prepare a few words for you now because when the time comes I may not be able to.
I've lived my whole life on the stage, in screen before you. I found purpose and meaning in your response. For an actor, there's no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life.
For now, I'm not changing anything. I'll insist on work when I can. The doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring in my step, if you name fails to leap to my lips, you'll know why, and if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway.
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O'BRIEN: Joining us with more on what Mr. Heston is facing is CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. What lies ahead Dr. Gupta?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Miles, certainly he looks pretty good. I think everyone has commented on that. Early Alzheimer's folks may have some subtle problems with memory.
They may have some subtle problems actually recognizing things that should be familiar, but I should point out that Alzheimer's for the most part is a diagnosis of exclusion. That means that you can't diagnose it with a blood test. You can't diagnose it with an x-ray or radiology test. You really have to find these symptoms and rule out everything else, which is what they have done in Mr. Heston's case, no question.
Now if Alzheimer's is caught early, there are some things that can be done in terms of medications. I think we have a list of some of the things there that people can actually do.
You look at medication that's called Cholinesterase inhibitors. You can read the medication names there, Cognex, Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl. Those are medications that can possibly at least prevent the progression of Alzheimer's. Vitamin E, a known antioxidant, has had some benefit and then certainly there are personality changes oftentimes associated with Alzheimer's; some medications and counseling for emotional problems also a big part of that -- Miles.
O'BRIEN: Sanjay, tell us a little bit about the research. I know that researchers have identified some of the genetic components of Alzheimer's.
O'BRIEN: Does that mean a cure is in store?
GUPTA: It very well could be, Miles. This is a big deal, no question. Ten percent of the people over age 65 develop Alzheimer's, 50 percent of people over age 85. Incidentally, Mr. Heston is going to be turning 79. Yes, there is a lot of research. One hundred billion dollars have been spent towards Alzheimer's care and research.
People are focusing on a genetic possible cure. It's still probably many years away but there have been some genes identified that may actually be causing Alzheimer's and that's where a lot of researchers are focusing their energy. O'BRIEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our medical correspondent, thank you very much, appreciate it.
GUPTA: It's good to see you.
O'BRIEN: Heston is one of Hollywood's most enduring actors with more than 100 film and television roles to his credit. He's among the last of the great Hollywood leading men with a resume that includes some of the most memorable movies of all time, and in recent years something of a second career as a political activist.
O'BRIEN (voice over): He grew up in the woods of northern Michigan but went on to part the Red Sea. Charlton Heston's life story reads like those Hollywood epics he became so famous for. Raised modestly, he went on to serve the country he loves in World War II, but he was no overnight success in Hollywood.
Early in his career, according to "People" Magazine, he once posed nude for art students to make ends meet. But by 1959, he was an Oscar winner for his leading role in "Ben Hur." His career spans six decades and includes dozens of film credits. The best known were "The Ten Commandments," "Ben Hur," and three "Planet of the Apes" movies.
But the glamour of Hollywood has never satisfied Charlton Heston and he has diverted much of his attention to conservative politics. He's been president of the National Rifle Association since 1998, a title he insists he is not ready to give us just yet.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Former First Lady Nancy Reagan issued a statement after Heston's announcement. She remains the primary caregiver to former President Ronald Reagan who, of course, as you know suffers from advanced Alzheimer's. She says now, quoting her: "Our family knows all too well the cruelty of this disease and we pray that God will give the Heston family, especially Lydia, who will be the primary caregiver, the strength to face each day that lies ahead."
And we are joined now by a member of the Reagan family. Dennis Revell's late wife Maureen was a big crusader in this. She died last August of cancer. Mr. Revell is now serving out her term with the Alzheimer's Association. Mr. Revell, good to have you with us.
DENNIS REVELL, BOARD MEMBER, ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION: Thank you, Miles.
O'BRIEN: I'm curious. When you heard the announcement, what went through your mind?
REVELL: Oh, a lot. As Nancy's already said and the association has already said, we are saddened by the news of the diagnosis, but also the hope that the courage and candor that Mr. Heston displayed in this announcement, much like the president did in his announcement in 1994, will raise the public consciousness about this disease and increase our shared concern for finding a cure to it as soon as possible.
O'BRIEN: You've had the misfortune of seeing the progression of this disease up close and personal. What is it like to endure this for the people around an Alzheimer's victim?
REVELL: Well, most people think of this as strictly a memory disease, a memory loss disease, and it's so much more. But even if it were only that, if that were the only threat that it posed to the victim of the disease, that in and of itself is so significant because memories are more than just dates and names. It's the pure essence of our lives.
But for caregivers or care partners who not only have to endure watching their loved one fade before their very eyes, they have to often and almost always have to deal with all of the other emotional and practical complications of this disease, how to deal with the wandering, how to deal with change in daily habits, all of those things and certainly last but not least the cost, the incredible cost of having to deal with this disease.
O'BRIEN: If you had just a nugget of wisdom that you could offer Lydia Heston right now, what would it be?
REVELL: This disease, I mean having gone through five and a half years of Maureen's battle, very valiant battle with melanoma and cancer, I know as a caregiver myself that I had a fortune in that tragedy and that was up until the bitter end, Maureen and I could share so much together. The disease did not rob her of her life, did not rob her of the essence of her spirit. This disease does, and I would say, as I'm sure Lydia knows already, make the most of each moment. Do those things that are most important for you and Charlton right now.
O'BRIEN: And lastly, how is President Reagan and Mrs. Reagan doing?
REVELL: Well, for an individual of 91 and now several years post diagnosis in what is a terminal disease, he's doing remarkably well. But with this disease there is no better day, there is only, you know, slightly more stable and then less stable days, and clearly it takes its toll on caregivers because it's a 24, seven day a week job and clearly that has been that for Nancy.
O'BRIEN: Dennis Revell, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate you joining us and talking with us about this.
REVELL: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: We also want to thank our affiliate KCRA for assisting us in making that interview possible. Now, let's get on to our other major story of the day. A worldwide child pornography ring has been broken up, and incredible as this may sound, officials say many of those involved were the parents who molested their own children and then sent images of their own children over the Internet, hard to believe. CNN's Jeanne Meserve has more.
BONNER: These crimes are beyond the pale. They are despicable and repulsive.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Busted an Internet pedophile ring. Eighty percent of the members, officials say, parents, who allegedly sexually abused their own children, took photographs, and traded them, some of the children as young as two.
BONNER: The normal safe harbor for children, which is their own parents, turned out to be these children's chamber of horrors.
MESERVE: The U.S. Customs Service Cyber-Smuggling Center has been on the case since January, but the investigation actually began last November when Danish national police were tipped off to an Internet photograph of a man molesting his nine-year-old daughter.
MIKE NETHERLAND, U.S. CUSTOMS SERVICE: He was identified actually through a company logo that happened to appear on his shirt on one of the images.
MESERVE: Names in the man's computer opened up the investigation. Thus far, there have been 10 arrests in six European countries and another 10 arrests in the U.S. One individual has pleaded guilty, another committed suicide before being charged.
An indictment unsealed Friday says the pedophile ring called itself The Club. It alleges that members who included child care providers as well as parents engaged in Internet chat sessions and communicated via e-mail about which sexual acts members wanted children to engage in. The indictment alleges that two members traded children to abuse them and one requested an audiotape of a child crying while it was being abused.
RUBEN RODRIGUEZ, JR., NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: When you hear about incest, now you're taking it to a higher plane and communicating and transmitting this information back and forth for the gratification of yourself and others.
MESERVE (on camera): Forty-five children have been removed from abusive situations. Most of the 37 children in the U.S. have been placed in the custody of a parent or relative who was not involved in or aware of the abuse. But as Commissioner Bonner points out, these pictures will be on the Internet for years. He calls this a crime that never ends -- Miles.
O'BRIEN: CNN's Jeanne Meserve in Washington, thank you very much.
Decision and some indecision as well in the case of a man accused of manslaughter for letting his friend drive drunk. We'll tell you what the jury had to say after a partially deadlocked deliberation in New Jersey. Plus, the search for a serial killer in Cajun country, does this man hold the key to this case? And, the mastermind of evil obsessed with money and riches, a look at Adolf Hitler's secret stashes, but first today's news quiz.
Every couple married in Germany during Hitler's reign was given what: an autographed photo of Hitler, a copy of "Mein Kampf," a map of Germany, or all of the above? The answer coming up.
O'BRIEN: This just in to CNN, health officials in Louisiana say two more people have died from complications of West Nile Virus. The two women, aged 76 and 94, died this week bringing the total number of West Nile deaths this year to seven. There are now 85 confirmed cases of the West Nile infection, ninety suspected cases in Louisiana.
A partial verdict is in in a case that has attracted an awful lot of attention. A New Jersey man was on trial for letting his friend get behind the wheel of a car hours after the friend had been arrested and released on drunk driving charges. The friend went on to cause an accident that killed him and the driver of another car. This afternoon the jury acquitted Kenneth Powell of manslaughter charges but deadlocked on two other counts. CNN National Correspondent Bob Franken following the case in Salem, New Jersey, hello Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Miles, and of course it is a case that had some unprecedented potential to it depending on the outcome of it. Well there isn't really an outcome. It is still very inconclusive. The jurors considered the case for about three days and they have been involved in the three and a half week trial. They sent back a note this afternoon to the judge saying they were "hopelessly deadlocked," and so the judge decided he really had no choice.
The judge, in fact, said that he was going to declare a mistrial, a mistrial in the case that grew out of an accident two years ago, slightly more than two years ago when the judge had -- excuse me, the defendant Kenneth Powell had taken his friend Michael Pangle (ph) back to his car after the friend, Michael Pangle, had already been arrested once that night for drunken driving. Powell let Pangle drive his car.
Pangle went out drinking some more, and before the night was through two people were dead, Pangle and Navy Ensign Johnny Elliott. Now the people who have been pushing the cause against drunk driving since then are the family of Johnny Elliott.
Johnny Elliott had just graduated from the Naval Academy. He was an Ensign. He wanted to be a naval pilot. His family has been pushing a crusade against drunk driving. Of course, it had a strong interest in this case, a strong interest in seeing somebody punished.
But the prosecutors say that even though there was a hung jury today and one acquittal, they are going to proceed. They're going to try the case again in January. Defense attorneys say if they do, they're going to fight extremely hard. So it is an unresolved issue. Perhaps there will be some resolution but the family, of course, continues to suffer -- Miles.
O'BRIEN: And, Bob, just quickly reaction from the prosecution and defense at all? I know there was a gag order.
FRANKEN: Well, there is a gag order but the prosecution says that it is going to vigorously pursue this case, that it believes it and defense attorneys who can not talk about the particular case at all, of course, at least about the trial, are saying that they're going to fight this as hard as they can.
O'BRIEN: CNN's Bob Franken in Salem, New Jersey. We're going to check in to Salem in just a little bit when we'll hear from the family of Johnny Elliott, and their cause continues.
The man accused of killing Samantha Runnion entered a not guilty plea today. Alejandro Avila was arraigned in Santa Ana, California. A pretrial hearing is set for September 16. Avila is accused of abducting the five-year-old girl from outside her home last month, assaulting her, and then murdering her. Prosecutors say they'll seek the death penalty and will not consider a plea bargain.
The jury in the Danielle van Dam case has completed its second day of deliberations. David Westerfield is accused of kidnapping the seven-year-old girl from her San Diego home in February and murdering her. The jury is not being sequestered. It is scheduled to resume deliberations on Monday.
Officials in Florida are considering a new weapon in the effort to find abducted children, the lottery ticket. State law enforcement officials say they might put messages on lottery tickets similar to those on highways signs as part of the Amber Alert System. That's the system that helped California officials find two kidnapped girls last week.
President Bush talks about the future of an attack on Iraq, but don't think you're going to hear the details. We'll explain all this in a moment. Plus, congressional investigators turn their sights on Martha Stewart along with the threat of a subpoena. And smoking in the movies, one Hollywood writer offers a bold confession on cancer and the big screen.
O'BRIEN: Fifty-seven years ago today the U.S. dropped the second atomic bomb on Japan in a bid to end World War II. Dubbed "fat man," the bomb initially killed about 70,000 residents of Nagasaki and devastated much of the city. Officials say 60,000 others have died from long-term illnesses linked to the bombing. Today the city paused to remember the victims.
A bell tolled and an air raid siren wailed at exactly 11:02 a.m. local time, the exact time the bomb exploded. Nagasaki's mayor used the occasion to accuse the Bush administration of using the war on terrorism as an excuse to opt out of the nuclear non-proliferation agreements. Turning to the latest talk about possible war between the United States and Iraq, President Bush said today he has no timetable for a possible attack, this as administration officials met with leaders of Iraqi opposition groups in Washington; also commenting on the Iraqi situation Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre joining us now with details. Hello, Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we continue to get a mixed message, Miles, on what's going on with Iraq. President Bush, as you said, is apparently in no rush to go to war, at least that's the signal he's sending as he tells the Associated Press that he has no timetable for making a decision about going to war with Iraq, and if he did have a timetable, he said he certainly wouldn't tell the U.S. media, or for that matter certainly signal it to the enemy.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon continues to build the case for going against Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today answering some critics who've suggested there's no rush to go to war because the current policy of containment is working. He said that as far as he's concerned the fact that Saddam Hussein continues to build an arsenal of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons clearly shows that containment isn't working.
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DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is very clear that the political and economic sanctions with respect to Saddam Hussein have not worked the containment. A third part of the containment clearly was Operation Northern and Southern Watch, and we know for a fact that he is continuing to operate in those areas, and doing things that it's very hard to stop him from doing because he's got mobile anti-aircraft capabilities, and when he shoots at us, we shoot back.
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MCINTYRE: Meanwhile, members of Iraqi opposition forces are gathering here in Washington, meeting at the State Department today with both State Department and Pentagon officials, and tomorrow they're expected to hear through a teleconference from Vice President Dick Cheney. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today said he would also like to address the assembled group of opposition leaders, but he said at this point details hadn't been worked out.
The whole idea here is to try to get a feeling from those opposition leaders about what they think might happen after regime change is accomplished by the United States or accomplished at all, but again the administration continues to stress the full range of options, diplomatic, economic, and they keep talking about military still as a last resort. The final answer that you get from everybody here at the Pentagon and at the White House is that President Bush has not yet made that fateful decision -- Miles.
O'BRIEN: CNN's Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thank you very much. The Bush administration came under sharp criticism today for the way it treats enemy combatants in the war on terrorism. An American Bar Association task force spotlighted those Americans being detained indefinitely in this country without charges. The group said those detainees should at least have access to judicial review and an attorney.
The U.S. military works hard to prepare its own forces for the possibility of falling into enemy hands. This weekend our documentary series "CNN PRESENTS" goes where no other news cameras have been before, inside the Army's advanced survival school. There in a harsh, realistic setting, Green Berets learn how to cope with captivity, interrogation, and torture. CNN's Martin Savidge brings us an excerpt from this weekend's program. It's called "Captured Inside the Army's Secret School."
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Every student at the Army Survival School, every instructor, and every real prisoner of war knows the perils a soldier in captivity will face.
MARK GEHRUNG, INSTRUCTOR: I believe he should expect the worst. I believe he should expect deprivation, degradation, and exploitation.
SAVIDGE: To prepare commandos who are at high risk of capture, the army makes training as realistic as possible. The compound looks like a communist-style prison, concrete cells, a tiger cage, third world latrines, and outside the barbed wire (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
Because much of what goes on here is classified, the only version available to the public until now was Hollywood's version. In the "GI Jane" survival school, Demi Moore is subjected to unchecked brutality as she tries to break the gender barrier in a male-only commando unit. The training degenerates into a sadistic initiation rite. This would not be tolerated in the real survival school.
For one thing, the army uses psychological tests to weed out instructors who might get overzealous as prison guards, and the army strictly limits how harsh the physical and mental pressure can be. There was a rumor going around here that you were only limited to breaking three ribs. Is that true?
SGT. GLEN: No, that's not true. We don't break bones.
SAVIDGE: But it will not publicly disclose what the limits are in order to maximize the anxiety for future students.
ELMER ADAMS, INSTRUCTOR: Is the guy going to be in stress in captivity? Damn straight he is. So, we're going to put him under stress here to prepare him for that just in case he gets scarfed up.
O'BRIEN: Sounds fascinating. Get the full story on this special ops training. Tune in to "CNN PRESENTS, INSIDE THE ARMY'S SECRET SCHOOL," Saturday 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 Pacific, right here on CNN.
There's been another attack on a Christian institution in Pakistan. Assailants hurled grenades at worshipers leaving a hospital chapel near Islamabad. Three nurses were killed, 25 others were wounded. No group has claimed responsibility. This was the fourth fatal attack on Christians since last October and the second this week. Monday, six people were killed when gunmen opened fire on a school.
At least 26 people were killed, dozens injured, in a tremendous explosion which rocked Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad today. The blast at a construction company building devastated a neighborhood and knocked out power to the city. Military officers blame terrorists, but officials are also considering whether construction explosives might have gone off accidentally. No one has claimed responsibility.
Chrysler announces a major recall, find out why they're putting the breaks on this popular joyride you see there.
Also, Martha Stewart back in the spotlight and soon she may be taking the stand. We'll tell you why one Congressman wants to call her to the Hill.
And, we want you to weigh in on this one, should Martha Stewart be forced to appear before Congress, is our question. Go to cnn.com/wolf and weigh in. Plus, stem cell research one year later, a glimmer of hope for patients maybe.
O'BRIEN: As we told you at the top of the show, a partial verdict came in in New Jersey today in a drunk driving case that has attracted an awful lot of attention. This is the case of Kenneth Powell, who was accused of giving the keys to his friend, driving his friend to his car, allowing his drunk friend to proceed to kill himself and another person, and the charges were manslaughter and other things. The jury acquitted Powell of manslaughter, but was indecisive on two other charges that he faced.
Joining us now is the family of the other person killed in this accident, John Elliott, Bill and Muriel Elliott, as well as their daughter Jennifer, who obviously have some strong reaction to today's partial verdict. Good to have you with. And I just am curious, how do you feel about the jury's decision and indecision?
WILLIAM ELLIOTT, VICTIM'S FATHER: Well, Miles, we are actually somewhat hopeful. Obviously, we are disappointed, but we are encouraged by the fact that there was a deadlock on two of the charges, and we believe this case will go forward.
O'BRIEN: When you say going forward, there will be another opportunity, first part of the year, is that right, to retry on these other charges, and the prosecutor has indicated he will be doing that?
W. ELLIOTT: Yes. My understanding is that the next trial has been scheduled for the January the 6th.
O'BRIEN: You know, this is not so much about Mr. Powell, I know, as it is about changing laws, for you at least. Give us a sense and maybe Mrs. Elliott, you can weigh in on this, how important it is to raise some awareness about the laws and perhaps where they might be deficient?
MURIEL ELLIOTT, VICTIM'S MOTHER: Well, I think it's not only changing laws, it's also changing people's view of driving drunk. When our children -- we are not against drinking, we are against people driving drunk, and when you decide to go out or have a night of entertainment, you have to plan to have a designated driver or someone so that you're not behind the wheel, killing someone else and damaging someone else's family.
We do not want this to happen to anyone else's family, and that's what's driving us. And we know that's what our son would want. And so we feel that through our hero campaign that we have for designated drivers and also the laws that we are trying to help get passed in Congress, that we can do that.
O'BRIEN: We're looking at some pictures of John Elliott. And Jennifer, how do you remember your brother?
JENNIFER ELLIOTT, VICTIM'S SISTER: I remember him smiling. He was always smiling, even when we got into a little, you know, brother and sister spats, he would always make me laugh. He couldn't let anyone be mad at him. He had a great sense of humor. He was so thoughtful and kind and giving to others. And those are the things that I'll remember about John the most.
O'BRIEN: William, tell us a little bit about John's law and how many states might consider similar laws right now? And that essentially makes it more easy for police officers to impound the vehicles of drunk drivers, right?
W. ELLIOTT: We believe John's laws give the police officers a powerful tool now to prevent drunk driving, because now the law requires the, actually in New Jersey, to impound the cars of drunk drivers, those charged with drunk driving for up to 12 hours, and issue responsibility warnings, a written warning to anyone who picks up a DUI suspect, someone charged with DUI, telling them that they have potential civil and criminal liabilities that they would face if they assist that person in getting back behind the wheel while still intoxicated.
O'BRIEN: Does this cause, does the effort on your behalf, does it any way diminish your grief?
W. ELLIOTT: No. This is the greatest sorrow that any family -- we are an American family. We think we are a typical American family, with a wonderful son who was a part of this family. And every day we wake up knowing we will never see him, hold him or hear his voice again in this life, and it's a terrible thing to have to live with. But greater than that sorrow is the love and dedication we have for our son's memory. O'BRIEN: Bill, Jennifer, Muriel Elliott, thank you very much for sharing some time with us today here on CNN. We appreciate it. We know it's been a very hard day for you.
W. ELLIOTT: Thank you.
M. ELLIOTT: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: There is a new development in the hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. Officials in Baton Rouge say two attempted kidnapings this week might be linked to the killing of three women over the past 10 months. Joining us to talk about this investigation is Melissa Moore, who is a crime reporter for "The Baton Rouge Advocate."
Melissa, good to have you with us.
MELISSA MOORE, CRIME REPORTER, "BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE": Hi.
O'BRIEN: Tell us how these kidnappings might relate to these three cases which police know are linked by DNA evidence?
MOORE: Well, the latest police have said is that they just don't know if the two attempted abductions are related to the serial killings. The -- in both of the attempted abductions, the killer used a dark-colored pickup truck, and in the serial killings, they've been looking for a white pickup truck.
O'BRIEN: So it's possible -- it's possible this could be a dead end?
MOORE: It's possible, but they are still certainly looking for the man who tried to abduct these women, as much as they are also looking for the serial killer.
O'BRIEN: Give us the big picture here. As we look at the suspect, how he is described, are police fairly certain that this description, which is fairly straightforward, 5-foot-11, 135 to 190 pounds, 30 to 35 years old -- are they fairly certain that this description is accurate?
MOORE: I think they are. There were two witnesses. There was the victim who witnessed it, and there was also the other witness, the Federal Express man who intervened.
O'BRIEN: Tell me -- I read with some interest that this person, whoever this suspect is, is able to gain the trust of his victims. What do we know about that?
MOORE: Well, in the three murders, police know that there was no forced entry into any of the homes. Two of the women were killed in their homes. The third victim, Pam Kinamore, was abducted from her home. And what police say is that they don't know if the killer came in through an unlocked door, or if he was able to somehow convince these women to let him in. And they just -- they don't know which of those it is. It's impossible for them to tell at this point. O'BRIEN: Is there a common thread that you've been able to discern between these three women, which might ultimately help investigators? Is there something about them that might lead investigators in a certain path?
MOORE: We have not been able to find any links. Law enforcement say they've not been able to find any links, and the families of the victims have gotten together to see if they could find any links, and they have not said that they found anything.
The first two victims -- let me back up. At the time of the first murder, the second victim lived three doors down from the first victim. She moved in May, and a couple of days later was murdered herself. So when police announced that the first two killings were linked, obviously we thought it was the location that was the connection, because even though the women lived three doors apart, they didn't know each other. But the third victim lived in a completely different part of town.
O'BRIEN: So hard to put it all together. I know there have been three dozen unsolved murder cases of women in the last decade in Baton Rouge. Are police actively trying to see if perhaps there has been a serial killer there, this particular serial killer who's been busy for much longer than they suspected?
MOORE: They are. They won't talk about which cases they're looking at, but they do say that they're testing DNA in the cases where they have DNA, and looking at the other circumstances, the things they know from the crime scene and the things that they know about the victims to try to determine if any of them could be -- if any of the crimes could have been committed by the same killer.
O'BRIEN: All right. Melissa Moore, crime reporter with "The Baton Rouge Advocate," thanks for being with us here on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS. We appreciate it.
MOORE: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Now, let's take a look at some of the other top stories we're looking at today. Military investigators say they have found two laptop computers stolen from the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, headquarters for the war in Afghanistan. A military spokesman says the computers were recovered from a private home, after everyone who had access to them was questioned. A male service member is in custody. No word on a motive, but the spokesman says no evidence spying was involved in this particular case.
DaimlerChrysler recalling all of its PT Cruisers because of a fuel pump leak, discovered in recent government crash tests. The company says the leak could ignite a fire if sparked, but there are no reports of that happening. Chrysler has sold almost half a million of these PT Cruisers since production began two years ago. Owners will be notified by mail.
And WorldCom says its accounting mess is twice as bad as first thought. Officials say they have uncovered another $3 billion in irregularities. That's on top of almost $4 billion in discrepancies that led to WorldCom filing the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. WorldCom also is considering a $50 billion write-off.
In a moment, will Martha Stewart be forced to appear before Congress? I'll ask a man who has a role in that decision up next.
The writer of "Basic Instinct" confesses to being an accomplice to murder. We'll tell you why Sharon Stone smoking cigarettes figures prominently in his movie.
And stem cell research: Find out how close scientists are to making some serious breakthroughs.
O'BRIEN: The queen of the kitchen is in hot water over a stock sale, and they may be turning up the front burner.
(voice-over): Martha Stewart doesn't need any enemies. Another associate of hers is reportedly cooperating with federal investigators as they look further into allegations Stewart engaged in insider trading.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: First, we had her -- Martha Stewart's broker's assistant contradicting the story earlier this week. And now, we know from the "Wall Street Journal" that Mariana Pasternak is cooperating with authorities.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Martha Stewart calls Mariana Pasternak friend. The two women were apparently together in late December on a jaunt to Mexico aboard Martha Stewart's private jet when the nation's chief executive officer of style sold nearly a thousand shares of stock in a company called ImClone.
(voice-over): The former head of ImClone, Sam Waksal, is also a close friend of Stewart's. Waksal was indicted this week on fraud and obstruction charges, accused of trying to sell his own ImClone shares and tipping off friends to do the same just before the stock plummeted. ImClone shares took a dive when the Food and Drug Administration rejected the company's application to market its primary cancer drug.
Stewart sold her shares of ImClone on December 27 during a refueling stop, the day before the FDA announcement. Also dumping ImClone shares at the same time, Mariana Pasternak's estranged husband, Dr. Bart Pasternak. And authorities are suggesting Waksal might have tipped off two others. The feds are calling them only Tippee No. 1 and Tippee No. 2. And they are apparently relatives of Waksal.
Martha Stewart denies doing anything wrong, but the "Wall Street Journal" suggests Mariana Pasternak may contradict her friend.
ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: I really think that we are starting to see the end of this game coming into sight here. I mean, you've got possibly two people now who seem to be testifying against her or maybe providing evidence against her.
O'BRIEN: As if that weren't enough, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering forcing Martha Stewart to testify. In a letter to Stewart this week, committee leaders said, quote: "Although your trade began as a peripheral issue to the ImClone investigation, your trade and its circumstances and statements made on your behalf are now serious ones. We want to assure ourselves that you have not attempted to mislead the committee with the intent to obstruct an investigation."
Congressional leaders have given Stewart until August 20 to produce of her records connected to her ImClone stock sale.
(on camera): Congressional leaders have given Stewart until August 20 to produce all of her records connected to her ImClone stock sale. To find out what's cooking with Martha, we turn now to Congressman Jim Greenwood, who heads the oversight panel investigating the ImClone scandal. He joins us from Philadelphia. Mr. Greenwood, good to have you with us.
REP. JIM GREENWOOD (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Good to be with you, Miles.
O'BRIEN: Will you subpoena Martha Stewart?
GREENWOOD: We might. The first step is we have been negotiating with her attorneys, asking her to come in voluntarily. I've gone out of my way to say that we can do this in a place that will not be -- a way that would not be notification to the press to avoid the paparazzi, et cetera. We...
O'BRIEN: Are you talking about a closed hearing?
GREENWOOD: No, no, no. Just an interview first.
O'BRIEN: Oh, I see.
GREENWOOD: We are more than happy to have an interview outside of Washington if she's afraid of, you know, having to run the gauntlet of cameras. But they have assiduously declined our offers to have her come in voluntarily.
O'BRIEN: Any reason given?
GREENWOOD: I think the fundamental reason is that they don't want to expose her to any potential criminal charges, and that coming and providing answers to our questions could put her on the record in ways that she would not want to be on the record, if she were involved in a criminal situation.
O'BRIEN: What documents are you looking for? GREENWOOD: Well, we are interested in her e-mail account. We are interested in whether Baconovic, her broker, was giving her inside information about the fact that the Food and Drug Administration was not going to accept ImClone's product for review. We want her phone records to see whether she was in communication with folks at ImClone and her broker other than those cases that we are aware of. So, we want -- if she's not willing to come in voluntarily, we are going to get these documents. If she doesn't relinquish the documents voluntarily, we will subpoena them and then we reserve the right and may very well subpoena her in September.
O'BRIEN: Are you concerned that a lot of these documents may not be preserved, shall we say?
GREENWOOD: Well, that's always a problem. You know, in these kinds of stories, so frequently, it's not the initial conduct that gets you in trouble, it's the cover-up. One of the reasons that we are pursuing this so assiduously is because Ms. Stewart, through her attorneys in June, sent a letter to me saying that her stock trade was based on no inside information, but was made pursuant to a pre- existing verbal order with her broker. And yet, we found no evidence of that, and most of the evidence points in the other directions.
So, if she gets into a pattern of cover-up, then she is likely to be in more trouble, ironically, than she would have been had she just confessed or fessed up or bared her soul to begin with.
O'BRIEN: What if Martha Stewart appears before your committee and just pleads the Fifth?
GREENWOOD: That's her right under the Constitution. The decision that we have to make is that whether or not we want to require her, as we have required executives from Arthur Andersen, from Enron, and other corporations to come and do that in public at a public hearing.
I would think that that would not be good for her image, and obviously her business depends on the quality of her public image.
O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Representative James Greenwood, Republican of Pennsylvania.
GREENWOOD: My pleasure.
O'BRIEN: Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it. We will watch as this unfolds on Capitol Hill.
Here is your chance to weigh in on this story. Our Web question of the day: Should Martha Stewart be forced to appear before Congress? We invite you once again to vote at cnn.com/wolf. And while you are there, send us your comments. We'll try to read some of them on the air each day. Also, read our daily on-line column at cnn.com/wolf.
The man who wrote "Basic Instinct" and other popular movies is apologizing for making smoking look glamorous. Who could forget that scene? Writing in today's "New York Times," Joe Eszterras says that by promoting cigarettes in his screenplays, he's been, in his words, "an accomplice to the murder of untold numbers of human beings." Eszterras was diagnosed with throat cancer a year and a half ago. He blames his disease on a lifetime of smoking.
It has been one year since President Bush agreed to federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, but restricted the research to existing stem cell lines. So, where do things stand now? CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been looking into just that.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stephen Wakefield used to ski, he used to run marathons, but not anymore. Six years ago he was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder similar to Lou Gehrig's Disease. There is no cure, and it will only get worse. At first he was devastated, but then he heard about embryonic stem cells.
STEPHEN WAKEFIELD, NEUROMUSCULAR PATIENT: I asked, you know, all the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
PAM WAKEFIELD, WIFE: He believes that this is the only thing on the horizon that will help him with his cure.
COHEN: Scientists hope someday they'll be able to take stem cells and turn them into the nerve cells that Steve needs so badly.
Steve knows President Bush; he's campaigned for the Bush family for 25 years. A lawyer, he served in the first Bush administration. But he says that the president made the wrong decision on stem cells a year ago.
So why are the Wakefield's so frustrated with the president? Embryonic stem cells are made from unused embryos stored in infertility labs. A year ago, Bush announced federal funding could be used only on embryonic stem cells made in 11 labs and no more.
We spoke with several top stem cell researchers who say they've tried but for various legal and scientific reasons they can't get their hands on the cells made in those 11 labs.
Dr. Curt Civin wants stem cells to rebuild bone marrow for children with cancer, but he says that stem cell research is now at a virtual standstill.
DR. CURT CIVIN, JOHNS HOPKINS KIMMEL CANCER CENTER: Certainly in our lab we haven't been able to get going even on studying the embryonic stem cells because we can't get our hands on them.
COHEN: The Department of Health and Human Services says they're trying to make it easier.
TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY: It's going to continue to ramp up as we proceed. It's starting slow, but it's going to continue to move forward.
COHEN: The government recently started to make arrangements to distribute stem cells to researchers, but the Wakefield's say they can't help but think that this is all moving too slowly.
P. WAKEFIELD: Reagan said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down those walls. And Bush can say tear down those walls of the disease and then he can be such a hero just for eternity.
COHEN: For them, politics has gotten in the way of finding a way for Steve to be the man he once was.
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.
O'BRIEN: Stephen Wakefield's disease is not fatal, but it is progressive, which means it continues to get worse. I guess that's obvious. He and his wife will say they're taking things day to day.
The Justice Department is appealing the controversial ruling that found the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because of the phrase "under God." And that little bit of news just into CNN. The appeal cites two Supreme Court rulings. It also says the plaintiff isn't eligible to sue because he says it's his daughter who is the injured party. The appeal asks that the entire ninth circuit rehear the case. A three-judge panel made the initial ruling on a 2-1 split in June.
Adolf Hitler apparently loved money as much as he hated other people. A revealing look at the dictator's hidden wealth, and the need for greed.
O'BRIEN: And now the answer to our "News Quiz." a copy of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was given to married coupled in Germany during his reign. The newlyweds local community, though, had to purchase the book from the publisher, and profits from the sale of "Mein Kampf" are said to make up much of the Hitler fortune.
He cultivated the image of a man who lived simply. But it seems Adolf Hitler lusted for luxury. And as the Nazis destroyed a people and looted a continent, he took full advantage. More from CNN's Stephanie Halasz in Berlin.
STEPHANIE HALASZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Polish castle in what used to be Germany. Here, Adolf Hitler spent 20 million reichsmark, over $100 million U.S. dollars, to rebuild an apartment for himself he never once visited. This, according to a new German documentary, which reveals how incredibly rich the dictator really was, and how he obtained his fortune.
INGO HELM, FILMMAKER: You have to be aware that his personal assets and the party's money and the state's money was mixed up, and very much so on purpose.
HALASZ: Expropriation of Jewish belongings, seizing of enemy property abroad, slave labor: all these were means with which the Nazis financed their megalomaniac ideas. There was public perception at the time that money meant little to Hitler. But he was greedy. After 1934, he didn't pay taxes. Starting in 1937, his portrait was put on German stamps, and, Helm says, for that he received residuals, plus a payment from the postal ministry that would be worth about $300 million today.
According to the documentary, Hitler received a salary worth about $500,000 today. And, with the additional income from his autobiography, "Mein Kampf," as well as donations, he was a multibillionaire by today's standards.
(on camera): Adolf Hitler committed suicide in a Berlin bunker. He died a very rich man. But, how important is the fact that he was so wealthy?
(voice-over): Not very, many argue, as Hitler was foremost a mass murderer.
WOLFGANG WIPPERMANN, HISTORIAN: What is important that he and the regime killed more than 6 million Jews. I think this is the most important aspect, and not all these details about his life.
HALASZ: Hitler committed genocide, unleashed war onto the world. And, while destroying countries, cities, families, he turned himself into a rich man.
Stephanie Halasz, CNN, Berlin.
O'BRIEN: Let's go to New York now and get a preview of "MONEYLINE," which begins at the top of the hour. Today, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Jan Hopkins. Hello, Jan.
JAN HOPKINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Miles.
Coming up on "MONEYLINE," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the existing policy of containing Iraq isn't working. We'll have a live report from the Pentagon.
There seems to be more legal trouble for Martha Stewart. A friend in Martha's inner circle may be talking to investigators. We will have the very latest details.
And a couple of hot new offerings at the box office this weekend. The new films add to an already record-breaking summer for Hollywood. We will have a special report, and Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of "Variety," will be my guest. All of that and a lot more ahead. Please join us. Miles, back to you.
O'BRIEN: Thanks very much, Jan. Only two minutes left to weigh in on our question of the day. It is: Should Martha Stewart be forced to appear before Congress? Log on, cnn.com/wolf.
O'BRIEN: And here is how you are weighing in on our Web question of the day: Should Martha Stewart be forced to appear before Congress? Seventy-one percent of you say yes; 29 percent of you say no. Remember, this is not a scientific poll.
That's all the time we have today. Have a great weekend. I'm Miles O'Brien at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Wolf Blitzer will be back Monday. Wolf, thanks for letting me sit in. "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE" begins right now.
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