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Interview With Dorothy Baker-Hines

Aired May 2, 2004 - 09:54   ET


RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: We have more reaction for you right now on the recovery of Thomas Hamill. Dorothy Baker-Hines is the mayor of Macon, Mississippi, Thomas Hamill's hometown where his family is.
Mayor Hines, can you hear me OK?


SAN MIGUEL: Thank you for joining us this morning. What is your reaction and when did you learn about the fact that he had been out of captivity and was in the custody of the coalition?

BAKER-HINES: My telephone rang at 6:15 this morning, that's central time. It was someone from a network had called and said Mayor Hines, are you ready for some great news? And I said I sure am, and she told me, you know, that he was alive and well and I just -- I'm like I am right now. I just said praise the Lord. We're just so thankful. So thankful.

SAN MIGUEL: We should mention that you are not just the mayor of Macon, Mississippi. You're also a good family friend, right?

BAKER-HINES: Yes, sir. I've known the Hamill family since I've moved here about 30 years ago. We're just a close-knit community and I really have got to know the family. I've known Kelly, really, a lot better. She and I have worked together on projects and things with her being involved out in the 911 and with our children. They're young, they're all younger than me, but we're all just real close and, you know, like I said, this community's come so much even closer during this time. We're just all so thankful and giving the Lord the praise and credit because he did this for us and we just thank him.

SAN MIGUEL: Towns like Macon and towns of that size where everybody kind of knows everybody and, you know and pulls for everybody when there's tough times, how did the family hold up during the time when he was in captivity?

BAKER-HINES: I thought the family had done excellent. I tell you, you never know until you walk in someone's shoes, you don't know how you will react. But I have seen them many times since all of this, and it's just, you know, the Lord and their faith and the family just always been good Christians and they've done excellent. I don't know you know you don't know how you yourself would do. But they've done wonderful. SAN MIGUEL: I don't know if you've told us, but have you had a chance to talk to Kelly Hamill, or Vera, the grandmother, anybody in the family, to get their reaction to today's news?

BAKER-HINES: Yes, sir. I called Kelly at 6:30, right after I had heard the news and she did -- I got in through her and I was -- I was just calling and carrying on. She said who is this? I said it's the mayor. She said, Miss Dorothy?

I said yes. I was just so elated. And she was -- her voice, her voice you could just hear it and feel it. And she was just so excited. I said, you tell him we're going to have a parade that will never end.

SAN MIGUEL: I'm sure. We're surprised you kind of got through because I'm sure that phone has been buzzing off the hook as with everybody's in Macon, yours and all the family members. Did they say anything about any kind events for the family? Are they going to try to come out and talk to the media? I realize, at certain points they're going to want their privacy, but to get that phone to stop from ringing maybe they will have to go in front of the cameras. Do you know if they have any plans along those lines?

BAKER-HINES: When I was talking to her at 6:30 this morning we got interrupted by someone in the family who told her she said miss Dorothy, there's media outside. She said I can't believe they're already here. I said, I'll let you go. I know -- I know they've been on the telephone, you know, and talking to the networks. I'm sure that they will. I'm sure they're just trying to get their thoughts together and everything. And I know she's wanting to keep the phone lines open so she can be in contact with her husband and, you know, and their company.

I know myself, I've had several calls and I told, you know, the networks I'll be glad to make, you know, do what I can to help. We will be, you know, we're going to start planning everything. We have to find out when he's going get to come home, and we're definitely going to do everything and anything we can to assist the family.

SAN MIGUEL: Those pesky media you have to deal with us sooner or later. One other quick question and we're about to run out of time, but has -- did Kelly say she had a chance to talk to Thomas and any kind of indication about his health? There are reports that maybe he had a gunshot wound or something like that. Had you heard anything in your discussions with Kelly?

BAKER-HINES: No, sir. Like I said, our conversation got cut short because we were interrupted and I just told her I would get back with her. So no, sir, I didn't get to ask her any details. I'm sorry.

SAN MIGUEL: We appreciate you talking with us this morning, Mayor Dorothy Baker-Hines, the mayor of Macon, Mississippi where the entire town is in celebration today for the release of Thomas Hamill.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And understandably. We're going to continue to follow that story for you.

Coming up at the top of the hour, it is "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" with Kelly Wallace. We'll also bring you more on, as we've been promising, the White House Correspondents dinner last night in Washington. That's it for this hour. Stay with CNN throughout the day.

SAN MIGUEL: Thanks for joining us.


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