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Hillary Clinton's Fighting Words; FLDS Ranch in Texas - Still Hiding Children; Smiley Face Murder Mystery

Aired May 21, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin tonight with fighting words from Hillary Clinton and perhaps a new endgame. Forget June. Now she says she could be in it until August, perhaps, she tells the Associated Press, all the way to the convention.
At issue, the delegates from Michigan and Florida. She's now talking about a floor fight at the Democratic Convention to seat them if she loses a party ruling late next week.

Meantime, campaigning in Florida today, Senator Clinton is already claiming the popular vote from those states, which broke party rules by holding their primaries early. That's not all. She also says she's the victim of media sexism. We will discuss all of that coming up.

And Barack Obama, he spent the day in Florida as well, campaigning like none of these matters at all, as if the primary season is over, done and won.

Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Two candidates, two missions, one state.



CROWLEY: Within reach of the nomination, Barack Obama campaigned in general election mode along Florida's I-4 Corridor, where most statewide elections are won or lost.

OBAMA: We can't afford four more years of George Bush foreign policy. That's why we can't afford John McCain.

CROWLEY: While Obama bulks up his staff for a general election run, Hillary Clinton, $20 million in debt, struggles to keep her primary bid viable. She used Florida as a backdrop, pressing Democrats to count the results from Florida and Michigan, even though both broke party rules by moving up their primary dates.

If a Democrat wants to argue let every vote count, the place to go is Palm Beach County, home of the butterfly ballot, which helped tangle up the 2000 election.

CLINTON: You learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren't counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner.

CROWLEY: The primary season is about delegates, not popular vote. But Clinton believes superdelegate holdouts may come her way if she can accumulate a higher number of total votes cast during the season.

CLINTON: And we believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will.

CROWLEY: In the delegate count, Clinton wants Florida and Michigan seated according to the results. That's highly improbable. The party does not want to reward rule-breakers, especially if the results could swing the nomination. Clinton remains undeterred and tireless.

After a 25-minute speech dedicated solely to the delegate issue, she pressed the flesh and then returned to grab the mike, one last pitch, with increasing urgency.

CLINTON: I had a bunch of people ask me how you can help. Well, in addition to what you're doing in Florida, please go to my Web site,, sign the petition, and, if you can afford it, make a contribution so we can keep going.

Thank you.

CROWLEY: Certainly, Clinton could find no more receptive audience than the Floridians she spoke with who interrupted her with chants of "Count our votes." We shall see. The Democratic Credentials Committee meets May 31 to decide just that.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Coral Gables, Florida.


COOPER: That's what happened today in Florida. The question now, has the coverage of Hillary Clinton been sexist?

Here's what the senator told reporter Lois Romano from "The Washington Post." Listen.


CLINTON: The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted. And I think there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism, when and if it ever raises its ugly head.

But it does seem as though the press, at least, is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by comments and reactions of people who are nothing but misogynists.


COOPER: Digging deeper on the topic now, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, GOP strategist and former Huckabee campaign manager Ed Rollins, and editor of "The Nation" magazine, Katrina Vanden Heuvel. She's also an Obama supporter.

Gloria, what about it? Has it been sexist?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm going to put on my woman hat, and then I'm going to put on my journalism hat, OK?

From the point of view of a woman, lots of things have been said about Hillary Clinton that are unacceptable. And, you know, as a woman, you kind of -- you know sexism when you see it, right? And, sure, she's had to endure that.

As a journalist, I would have to say, as someone who talks to the Clinton campaign, who has covered that campaign, I would have to say that the journalism has been as tough on her as it's been on Barack Obama or -- or anyone else.

And I think that, if she's looking for people to blame, it could be some of the men in her inner circle who gave her a campaign that's really not as good as the candidate turned out to be.

COOPER: Katrina, what do you think?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": You know, I agree with Gloria about the two hats, the three hats. I think some of the commentary has been terribly sexist.

And it's awakened a younger generation, by the way, of women, who didn't think there was such sexism in our media or politics, and maybe rouses them to action. But I think Gloria is absolutely right that she ran a campaign which is -- that's the problem. Her Iraq vote was the problem.

And maybe there was sexism there, where men around her said, you can't apologize, though John Edwards did, because you will look soft. So, we need to redefine what commander in chief means.

But I also think Mark Penn is the emblem of that nexus between lobby insider, Washington establishment. It was a rules-changing environment, and she ran as a quasi-incumbent establishment, in an environment which called out for changes. She could have given a gender speech and spoken out about her first.

Final point, you don't want oppression sweepstakes. Progressives going in this election need a coalition. You need all the elements of that progressive coalition. And there were some ugly racist undertones to the Hillary Clinton campaign, which can't be swept under the rug either. So don't get into the oppression sweepstakes.

COOPER: Ed, when you hear her comments, what do you think?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: First of all, I'm not -- I'm not going to try and compete with two women on talking about sexism.

All I can simply say is that this has been an extraordinary campaign with two extraordinary candidates, longer than anyone has ever been in this business. Even the Reagan/Ford race, which went right to the convention, wasn't as many primaries, wasn't quite as contested.

So, I think -- I think there's been a lot of raw nerves. I think, at the end of the day, she's a better candidate than she was 10 weeks ago. If she had been this candidate from the beginning, she would be the nominee today.

I still think she has got a legitimate claim to take it to the convention. And I don't say that as a partisan Republican. I say that as someone that...

COOPER: That's like John McCain on "Saturday Night Live" saying, yes, take it to the convention, maybe even after the convention.

ROLLINS: Well, we would all like it, because we have watched the long, hard process.

But I can't say my candidate, John McCain, has done anything in the course of this last couple of months to get ready for the fall. So, to me, I think at the end of the day...

BORGER: Grilling those vice presidential candidates.

ROLLINS: ... it's going to be a very long, hard race.

COOPER: How -- how painful for the Democratic Party, how harmful would it be if this did to the convention?

BORGER: Oh, you know, hugely. And I think, by the way, what she's doing is, she's kind of laying down a marker.

COOPER: You don't buy that she really believes it's going to go all the way to the convention?

BORGER: Everybody I talk to her in her campaign says to me, no, no, no, it's not going to go to the convention.

But I think she's laying down a marker for this May 31 meeting of the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee, because she wants to get what she wants out of that. And we will have to see. And now she's fighting it.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Anderson, this has been an extraordinarily democratic race.

If there's a winner so far in this campaign, it's democracy, I mean, the extraordinary turnout, the mobilization, the registration. To now change those goalposts, which the Clinton campaign wants to do in terms of how you win: You win with the pledged delegates. You win with the popular vote. And then they want to take it to two states where he wasn't even on the ballot on one? The Clintons had a good line, Bill Clinton did. Play by the rules, and you get ahead. The rules are the rules. Even Terry McAuliffe, Clinton campaign finance manager, has talked about it.

ROLLINS: The rules are the rules. It's not my party.

VANDEN HEUVEL: They have changed the goalposts so often.

COOPER: Ed, go ahead.

ROLLINS: It's not my party, but neither -- neither has a majority of the delegates at this point in time. Until such a time as they do, they're entitled to keep going.

COOPER: We are going to take a short break. We're going to more from our panel coming up.

Beyond sexism, there's issues of race as well.

Coming up, John King on his magic map shows us Barack Obama's problem in getting votes in Appalachia and the so-called Rust Belt. Could it cost him the presidency?

We will also bring you the latest on the veepstakes. Three top Republicans, big names, and rising stars will all be spending time with -- this weekend with John McCain. Will one of them, one of these men, end up on the ticket with John McCain?

You weigh in now on the blog. I'm about to log on myself. To join the conversation, go to

And later, new pictures from inside the polygamist ranch in Texas, where police believe more kids may be hiding. They wouldn't let the police in today. We got in. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also tonight, is there a smiley face killer? Dozens of deaths -- tonight, up close on the evidence and the cops who believe mysterious drownings may be all linked to serial killers.

360's Randi Kaye investigates.


BILL SZOSTAK, Father OF JOSHUA SZOSTAK: This clearly represents a smiley face.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill Szostak believes this smiley face was left behind by someone who killed his son. Twenty-one-year- old Joshua Szostak's body washed up in the Hudson River last month.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Barack Obama campaigning today in Florida, but with an entirely different purpose than Hillary Clinton. He's tipping his hat to her, but focusing mainly on John McCain, slamming him again today over his stance on meeting with America's enemies.


OBAMA: We have got real enemies out there. And I won't hesitate to strike against those who would do us harm.

And, when we have direct talks with these countries, they will have to be clear.

Iran, you cannot develop nuclear weapons. You have got to stop threatening Israel.

We will be unequivocal about our positions, but we have to communicate with countries if we're going to make a difference.


COOPER: Senator McCain has called Obama's position naive. It goes without saying that people across the country are focusing on the Obama-McCain dictator debate.

The way it's being framed, however, as a question of personal toughness and national strength, resonates especially deeply in a part of the country that Barack Obama has had a hard time winning over.

We're talking about Appalachia and parts of the so-called Rust Belt, practically Death Valley for Senator Obama.

Here tonight with more on what it means in the primaries and the general election across the board, CNN's John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Death Valley is an interesting way to put it.

You know, Barack Obama's campaign bristles a bit about this. They say, look, he's winning in places out here in Iowa, and Missouri. He's winning way out here in the Pacific Northwest. So, they would argue he's getting plenty of white votes, and this is being overblown.

But his problem is, he's not getting the votes of white working- class and white rural voters in the places that tend to decide who gets to be president of the United States. And that is these states right here in what you would call Appalachia or the Rust Belt. The light blue is Senator Clinton. And she has won convincingly in those states.

I want to show you the county by county in the Democratic race. She's won across this giant swathe of places, in Pennsylvania, in West Virginia, in rural Virginia and North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, even Indiana, and in Ohio here, Michigan, which Obama says doesn't count. But if you look at the light blue, it shows the depth of her support. And why does that matter? Here is the argument Senator Clinton makes. It matters because this is the area that picks a president. If the Democrats could swing Ohio their way, or swing West Virginia their way, George W. Bush perhaps might not have been reelected.

And so she makes this argument to the Democratic superdelegates that she is a better candidate if you look at an electoral map, saying that in a Clinton/McCain race, she would hold Pennsylvania, perhaps pick up Ohio -- that's been a Republican state -- perhaps turn West Virginia blue, and she thinks perhaps she could play down here in Florida.

Now, Obama has a different argument as well. He says he can win out in Colorado and New Mexico, and many other places. But those are smaller states, Anderson, which is why, as they look at the map right now, many Democrats are saying, more than five months, it is plenty of time, but that Barack Obama has to do a much better job down in here, in white working-class Rust Belt, Appalachian America, again, in the swing states, like West Virginia, like Ohio, and he has to hold Pennsylvania for the Democrats to have any good solid electoral map to help them take back the White House in a year where the fundamentals overwhelmingly favor the Democrats.

COOPER: John thanks.

Digging deeper, there's a GOP get-together that might -- might make some headlines -- late word that three leading Republicans will spend this weekend meeting with John McCain at his home in Sedona, Arizona; Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, three stars in the party, all three being mentioned as McCain running mates possibly.

Mike Huckabee was also invited, but decided instead to go on a previously scheduled cruise with his wife. His wife is probably appreciative of that. A McCain spokesman is downplaying the V.P. angle, but the meeting certainly has been getting a lot of attention.

So, digging deeper, we're back with CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who was Mike Huckabee's former campaign manager, and editor at "The Nation" magazine, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who is also an Obama supporter.

Gloria, "The Washington Post" recently asked Republican-leaning who McCain should choose. Mitt Romney topped the list at 12 percent. Mike Huckabee got 7, Condoleezza Rice 5, Colin Powell 3.

Would Romney help McCain among the areas in the country, in that Rust Belt area, that he needs help?

BORGER: He might. He might. I mean, Romney did well in the state of Michigan. That's important. And Romney might balance McCain.

Remember, McCain once said, to his everlasting regret, I'm sure, "I'm not really good on the economy." And Mitt Romney is considered somebody who might be. So, he might balance McCain that way.

I mean, there's a problem there, though. These fellows in the past have not really liked each other, particularly as it regards McCain regarding -- regarding Romney.

COOPER: Have presidents ever really liked their vice presidents? I mean, it seems like they're -- I mean, obviously some have, but there's often tension between the two.

BORGER: There is. There is. I mean, look at Bill Clinton and Al Gore. They started out, the four of them, looking like a double date. But now they have grown apart.

COOPER: Ed, you said you don't believe Mike Huckabee will -- will be selected? Is that...

ROLLINS: I don't think believe he will be selected. But that's just -- I think he would be a superb choice. I just -- I think that he...

COOPER: Why don't you think he would be selected?

ROLLINS: You know, I -- well, first, there's another governor that is thrown into that mix who is off to a wedding. That's the governor of Minnesota, so, there would have been five that were invited.

I just think Mike Huckabee is an outsider. I think he's a populist. I think he would be a superb choice. I think he would add a dimension, but I think the people around -- around McCain are not necessarily outsiders. They're insiders. And I think that they would much rather over-think this than basically just say, here's a guy who can go out and get us votes.

He also was a guy who is extremely articulate and might overshadow John McCain in the course of the campaign.

BORGER: But McCain likes Huckabee, doesn't he?

ROLLINS: He likes Huckabee.

VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, McCain is on the wrong side of the three biggest issues in this election, the war, the economy, and change.

And he needs to find a vice president who is going to address those issues in a way -- he can't fix him. He's more wrong and more right than Bush. He's not really a maverick and a moderate.

COOPER: Well, he's not trying to appeal to you. There are a lot of people who believe he's on the right side of this issue.

VANDEN HEUVEL: He's copped to not knowing or caring that much about the economy, at a time when a lot of people in this country are feeling pain.

COOPER: Do you think Jindal or Crist would help?

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think Crist is an interesting figure, particularly because he has been at the forefront of voting rights in Florida, giving ex-cons, felons, voting rights, which brings a lot of people into the Democratic Party.

George W. Bush might be a sheriff in Crawford right now if you had had those people inside the Democratic Party in 2000.

ROLLINS: I don't think that's something that is going to appeal to Republicans.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But Crist is a maverick. He is a true maverick, unlike John McCain.

ROLLINS: I'm not going to say -- I'm not going to say anything negative about Crist. I think he's been a good governor. Florida is having lots of problems in itself.

COOPER: You think it's unlikely he would be...

ROLLINS: I don't know. I can't -- I'm not a party -- I'm not an insider. I don't know who they're going to pick.

I think the key thing is to find someone young. All of these people are young. They're governors, which I think is very important. And if they can project a message outside -- the only Republican running who is anti-war and different on the economy is Ron Paul. And I just don't think he's going to be picked as...

COOPER: I don't think Chuck Hagel now is going to get the nod either for John McCain.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But we have talked a lot about how Barack Obama hasn't closed the deal with white working-class, and forgetting there's a working class that isn't white.

But it is interesting that John McCain has secured only like 80 percent of the votes in primaries since he got the nomination. He's having trouble closing the deal with people in his own party. And Ron Paul plays a role. So does Huckabee.

COOPER: Let's look on the Democratic side, though. Hillary Clinton tops the list of Democrats' choice for vice president, if you look, Clinton there at 39 percent, John Edwards at 10, Richardson and Gore 2 percent.

BORGER: Oh, I love that Gore choice. I think that would be a really interesting ticket.

COOPER: Do you think it's possible Hillary Clinton would be the vice presidential nominee?

BORGER: You know, I honestly have gone back and forth on this.

I have believed that she would not. And I still believe that she will not become the vice presidential nominee.

COOPER: Because of animosity between the two?

BORGER: No, not because of animosity, but because she doesn't bring him anything.

She has run a good campaign over the last 10 weeks, as Ed says, but don't forget she is still a polarizing figure in this country. He is about change. And he has spent an entire campaign saying that she is not about change.

However, if those women that we were talking about earlier remain disaffected, if those low-income workers, those white low-income workers remain disaffected, you know, Hillary Clinton could -- could make some sense. I have thought it was impossible. Now I don't.

ROLLINS: At the end of the day, nobody votes for vice president. All a vice president does is sort of bring your party together and make people feel good coming out of a convention.

If you have to go down the ticket to find something good to vote about, I promise you that's a losing ticket. So, my sense is -- and, once again, I'm a Republican. I don't care what the Democrats do.

But if they put -- if they put her on the ticket, I think it takes care of the women problem. I think it takes care of the blue- collar Democrat problem right away.

COOPER: Quick take.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Quick take.

It's worth remembering that no Democrat since 1972 has won the majority of the white vote. And I do think Hillary Clinton's negatives are still high. And women who support choice, many of Hillary's supporters are not going to support John McCain, who has a pure record as anti-choice, anti-abortion.

ROLLINS: But it's very important to be reminded that no Democrat has won the presidency with a majority of the vote. You know, Perot contributed to Clinton's election. So...

VANDEN HEUVEL: Obama can put together a different map.

COOPER: We have got to -- we have got to leave it there.

BORGER: Just take a Hillary supporter as your vice president.

COOPER: All right. We will see.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Ed Rollins, Gloria Borger, thanks.

On another note, it's easy to be cynical about politics until the Ted Kennedy story breaks, or, on a different level, this one does. It's a about political operative making a promise and keeping it, even though it probably hurts his bottom line and possibly hurts his candidate.

Mark McKinnon, John McCain's top media consultant, is stepping down. He's a former Democrat who also helped elect President Bush. Last June, he told reporters he would not work to prevent Barack Obama from becoming president. Electing Obama, he said, would be a great thing for the country and the world, he said, though he disagrees with him on certain policies and thinks McCain would be a better president.

So, now that Senator Obama looks like John McCain's opponent this fall, McKinnon said he's quitting. Promise made, promise kept, politics be damned.

Up next: an update on Senator Kennedy, out of the hospital, but facing the fight of his life against cancer. We have the latest.

Then, inside the polygamist ranch. The question tonight, are kids being hidden from authorities there? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And, later, do dozens of murders add up to serial killings? The FBI says no. Some retired cops say yes. And they're staking their reputations on it. We will give you an up-close look at the investigation of the so-called smiley face killers.


COOPER: Are more kids being hidden in the FLDS compound in Texas? Cops think it is possible. We went to find out ourselves.

We're "Keeping Them Honest." A little later, we will take you inside to see what we found today.

But, first, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, tonight, Senator Edward Kennedy is back at his home on Cape Cod after being released from a Boston hospital where he was diagnosed with brain cancer. As he walked out, the senator gave well-wishers the thumbs up. Kennedy and his doctors are still waiting on more test results before deciding on treatment.

A 360 follow -- no bodies found buried at Charles Manson's last hideout, a ranch in the California desert. And authorities have now called off the dig, which was taking place in scorching temperatures. They have found only animal bones, a rat's nest, and a few other items.

And a battle over polar bears. The governor of Alaska saying today her state will sue to challenge the federal government's recent decision to list polar bears as a threatened species. She says there is just not enough evidence to support that ruling. Many Alaskan lawmakers are worried such a classification would actually cripple offshore oil and gas development -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wow. Well, here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo, Erica. Former President Bill Clinton pets Nelson (ph), a Saint Bernard, outside a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Clinton was in town campaigning for his wife.

Here's the caption from our staff writer, Kelly: "Bill tells Fido how Hillary can pull of the nomination, then remembers, 'You can't fool kids and dogs.'"

I don't get that. Is that a saying, you can't fool kids...

HILL: It is a saying, that, like, you can't -- you can't pull the wool over their eyes, if you will.

COOPER: Right. All right. I have never heard the saying.

Think you can do better? Go to -- although I couldn't do any better. Send us your entry. We will announce the winner at the end of the program.

Up next: Where are the kids? Texas authorities say members of Warren Jeffs' polygamist sect are hiding kids not seized in the raid, charges sect members deny. Who's telling the truth?

David Mattingly went inside the compound. And he's "Keeping Them Honest."

Also ahead, we will get up close with the debates on the trail of the so-called smiley face serial killer. The smiley faces sure are weird, but do the killers exist? That's next.


COOPER: Tonight, there are new accusations against the polygamist sect in West Texas led by Warren Jeffs. Child welfare workers say they have received reports that children remain inside the Yearning for Zion ranch. They say, when they tried to investigate the claims today, the sect refused to let them into the compound, but, amazingly, the sect did allow CNN to enter the ranch, giving us the closest look yet inside.

CNN's David Mattingly tonight "Keeping Them Honest."


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hours after they turned away Texas officials in search of more children, outrage returned to the polygamist sect in West Texas.

WILLIE JESSOP, FLDS SPOKESMAN: They're going to have to bring in a search warrant and their military tanks and their snipers.

MATTINGLY: But to show they have nothing to hide, FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop opened the gates to media for the closest look inside yet. "Keeping Them Honest," we went along, wondering if we would see what the state was looking for, more children at the compound. Instead, the first stop was an empty school.

Have there been any children in here at all since the raid?

JESSOP: I think there's been a few broken-hearted mothers try to gather up their children's homework.

MATTINGLY: These could be classrooms from anywhere, if it weren't for the face of the sect's prophet, Warren Jeffs, looking at you at every turn.

On three separate walls in this room are pictures of Warren Jeffs at the rear. There's one at the front, and one over on the side.

I asked Jessop, how far would the sect be willing to distance itself from its fallen leader, now in prison as an accomplice to rape, for sanctioning marriage of an underage girl?

JESSOP: How do you renounce Jesus and then still say you're a Christian? It's what the state is trying to force us to do. And I will tell it over the board, it will never happen. You can't call yourself a Mormon and renounce Joseph Smith, any more than you can call yourself FLDS and renounce the prophet Uncle Warren. You can't do it.

MATTINGLY: To get their children back, their loyalty to Jeffs is apparently the line FLDS members will not cross.

But the raid on the compound has clearly taken its toll.

You look around, the place just feels desolate. There's really not very many signs of life. You see some automobiles parked here and there, but, really, very little human activity at all.

Unlike our previous visit, this time the FLDS did not offer any residents for us to talk to. We saw no children. There were no women to question about forced marriages of underage girls.

But there was one extraordinary moment. This is the closest outsiders have been allowed to the multimillion-dollar temple since police broke in and took away stacks of records for a criminal investigation.

Up this close, that building looks absolutely massive. You really don't get a feel for how big it is until you're standing on the ground here next to it. Just look at how big this stone wall is, and it goes all the way around that huge temple.

But like much of the community around it, the temple is silent, a reminder of the night allegations of abuse came crashing down on this once very private sect.


COOPER: Why do, David, authorities think there are more kids at the ranch?

MATTINGLY: We asked the state that question. All that they would tell us is that they were acting on new information.

Willie Jessop, the spokesman here in the ranch, says that his conversation with the workers, they told him that they were acting on a phone call and on eyewitness accounts placing more children at the ranch.

But beyond that, he said that they were offering him names, he didn't know if these people existed or not. But he said if they wanted to come back in here, they're going to have to bring a search warrant.

Already those workers have been to this gate, right where this truck is going through right now. They've been to this gate twice today, and twice they were sent back. So this is still a continuing situation. We'll see what law enforcement decides to do if they do decide to get that search warrant.

COOPER: We'll see if they can get it.

David, thanks. David Mattingly reporting.

This is the largest custody battle in the history of Texas, and they also end up being the most expensive. Here's the raw data.

The overall care for the more than 460 kids may end up costing the state $21 million, and that price tag would be just for next year. Foster care for each child runs from $39 to $106 a day. Additional costs are factored into that amount, including health coverage for the kids, and employing new state workers to handle the cases.

Up next, new evidence that dozens of college students believed to have drowned, they've actually been murdered, perhaps by a serial killer or killers who leave behind these smiley faces as a marker.

Plus that guy, Drew Peterson, the former cop suspected of killing two of his wives, turns himself in, but there is a twist. Details when 360 continues.


COOPER: Is this the sign of a gang of serial killers? Two former police officers are convinced it is. They have a name for their chilling theory, the Smiley Face Killings. You may have heard about it.

At least 40 healthy young men allegedly marked for death, murdered in crimes made to look like drownings. In just a moment we're going to talk live to one of the ex-police officers investigating the connection. We'll also take you to what may be the latest crime scene.

But first, "Up Close," the case that got their attention and the one that triggered their search for the Smiley Face Killer. CNN's Randi Kaye reports "Up Close."


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At 21, it seemed this University of Minnesota senior had everything going for him; a near-perfect grade point average and a future in business. Then Christopher Jenkins suddenly vanished.

He was last seen on Halloween 2002, leaving this downtown Minneapolis bar around midnight.

STEVE JENKINS, CHRIS JENKINS' FATHER: We knew something very serious happened to Chris.

KAYE: But it would be years before Chris' parents would learn the truth.

Chris Jenkins's body was found in the Mississippi River four months after he disappeared, February 2003. Two pedestrians spotted him from that bridge. He was still wearing the Halloween costume he had on the night he went missing.

The medical examiner determined Chris had drowned. Minneapolis police said it must have been an accident or suicide. Chris's blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit, but his parents insisted there had been foul play.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was murdered and thrown away like a piece of trash.

KAYE: In 2006, nearly four years after he disappeared, a tip from a man in jail. Minneapolis police wouldn't share details, but it led them to change Chris's cause of death from unexplained drowning to homicide.

CHIEF TIM DOLAN, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: On the Chris Jenkins case, we did make a mistake.

KAYE: That mistake was a breakthrough. Here's why. Two retired homicide detectives living hundreds of miles away had been on a crusade to solve the mystery of an unexplained drowning in New York.

In search of a connection, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte had visited Minneapolis in 2003 to investigate Jenkins's death. Digging deeper, they began to see a trend.

The detectives say they have evidence more than 40 college-age men, believed to have drowned over a ten-year period, were actually murdered, their bodies then slipped or tossed into the water.

Is it possible that all these drownings could be a coincidence?


KAYE: The cases span 11 states and 25 cities, at least some of them connected by this: creepy smiley faces found at a dozen locations, where Gannon and Duarte believe the victims were put into the water. They vary in size and color, but the detectives are convinced they're the killer's trademark.

This one discovered in Iowa is the most sinister. It has devil's horns and reads "Evil happy smiley face man."

Is there a message in these smiley faces, do you think?

ANTHONY DUARTE, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: I do. And I think that the message is that they're taunting the police.

KAYE: Authorities in nearly a dozen states long believed these men simply had too much to drink and wandered or fell into the water. Every case but Chris Jenkins still considered an accident.

Besides the smiley faces, the former detectives say they found 12 other matching symbols, similar to gang graffiti.

DUARTE: We have so many different victims in so many different areas, it would in my view be impossible to be one person.

KAYE: What is your understanding of what happened to your son that night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he was loaded into a vehicle, a van, and driven around, and eventually murdered.

KAYE: Whoever killed Chris Jenkins, the retired detectives say, may be stalking other college men, but Minneapolis police told us, "We can neither confirm nor endorse the 'Smiley Face Murders' theory."

Do you believe whoever murdered your son has murdered before?

JENKINS: Oh, absolutely, before and after.


COOPER: Before and after. So did the suspected Smiley Face Killers strike again? Next, fresh clues or the wrong trail. The latest mysterious death and a calling card that may have been left at the scene. We'll take you there.

We'll also talk live to the ex-police officer who says the students were targeted for murder, tonight on 360.


COOPER: Take a look at these faces. They're some of the more than 40 college-age men who mysteriously drowned, tragedies spanning 25 cities and 11 states. Two former NYPD officers say that they are all murder victims, linked to do what they call the Smiley Face Killings.

"Up Close," what's the evidence? To get answers, we traveled to what some believe is the most recent crime scene. They say it offers proof that serial killers are behind dozens of deaths. Once again, here's CNN's Randi Kaye, "Up Close."


KAYE: We find it on a tree at the port of Albany, New York, a smiley face painted in white, staring back at us.

What do you see here?

BILL SZOSTAK, VICTIM'S FATHER: What I see is a circle, two eyes, a nose, no mouth, but it clearly represents a smiley face.

KAYE: Bill Szostak believes this smiley face was left behind by someone who killed his son.

Twenty-one-year-old Joshua Szostak's body washed up in the Hudson River last month. He disappeared just before Christmas. Is he the latest victim of the Smiley Face Killers?

Retired detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte came to find out. They believe a gang of killers may have murdered as many as 40 college-age men in nearly a dozen states, leaving these sick smiles as their trademark.

Tell me what you believe is happening to these students.

GANNON: I believe that these young men are being abducted by individuals in the bars, taken out, and at some point even held for a period of time before they are entered into the water.

KAYE: The murders, they say, are staged to look like drownings. Each has been ruled accidental, case closed.

Do you think it's possible all of these drownings around the country could be a coincidence?

SZOSTAK: I find it ironic that so many young college-age males that fit the same profile wind up in a river from a night out.

KAYE: Bill says his son drank a few beers that night, but at 220 pounds would not have been so drunk he'd wander into the water.

Why would the killer or killers put the bodies in the water? Detective Duarte says water makes it the perfect crime. It makes it look like a drowning instead of a murder, and it erases key evidence such as finger prints or hair fibers so the killer can't be identified.

Gannon and Duarte work the cases backwards. Instead of looking at where the body was found, they use GPS and study river flow and water levels to figure out where the body went in. That's the crime scene, they say, and that's where the smiley faces have been found.

What kind of person would do that?

DUARTE: Someone not good in school, someone obviously not smart, maybe doesn't have a job, maybe is not popular.

KAYE: So jealousy possibly could be a motive?

DUARTE: Deep down, deep down.

KAYE: Kevin Gannon won't discuss the cases in detail but says he believes three of the victims were held for hours and maybe abused.

GANNON: The fear of that is just as important as the act of death itself.

KAYE: The FBI has its doubts. The bureau told us, "To date, we have not developed any evidence to support links between these tragic deaths or any evidence substantiating the theory that these deaths are the work of a serial killer or killers."

What do you believe in your heart happened to your son that night?

SZOSTAK: I think he was murdered.

KAYE: Coincidence or killing spree?

Randi Kaye, CNN, Albany, New York.


COOPER: Such a bizarre story. Randi Kaye takes you behind the scenes with the investigators on the 360 blog. You can check it out on

Next, we're live with the former police officer leading the Smiley Killer investigation. We'll ask Kevin Gannon more about the evidence and the critics who say the deaths are not connected. That's ahead.

Plus, Drew Peterson facing justice. But could the new charges tie him to his wife's disappearance? A 360 bulletin coming up.


COOPER: Is a smiley face a calling card for serial killers? Tonight we're looking into that charge made by two former New York police officers. They say they have the evidence linking the drowning deaths of dozens young men to psychopaths on a nationwide hunt for victims.

Kevin Gannon is one of those ex-officers leading the investigation. The former sergeant joins me now. Thanks for being with us.

You believe that some of these victims were drugged? How so?

GANNON: Because most of these young men were last seen right before closing times with people getting their coats, you know, going to the rest room. And then their friends would come back and they would just be gone, and wind up in the water. It didn't seem logical that they would just leave their friends without letting them know where they were going.

COOPER: And we've seen, I mean, these pictures not only of the victims, as we're looking at now, of these smiley faces. When you started to -- when you saw your first one, and then you saw a second one, did you immediately make the link?


COOPER: How long was it -- and what was that -- when you first started to link them together, what did you think?

GANNON: We were -- we actually -- the smiley face is only 1/13th of the total piece of information that we've uncovered at the scenes. What we've done is we found other symbols, and markings and taggings that were specific to these regions, and broken them down, whether we thought they were different pods, which is what some of the symbols would be specific to just Minnesota and Wisconsin and the 12 or 18 victims were there.

And then there were other ones that were specific to the region of Illinois and Indiana, and another set of symbols to Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

COOPER: So is it, in your mind, a -- it's, what, a group of serial killers? Or is it a gang? Or who do you think is doing this?

GANNON: Gang -- not in the traditional sense of a gang, but the same type of organizational structure of a gang. And we believe that they're communicating with each other.

COOPER: But you don't have any idea of how?

GANNON: No -- well, I mean, I just -- hypotheses of either cell phones, got cell phones, use disposable cell phones or, obviously, through the Internet. We actually had one of the investigations where there was a message on a -- on the computer that we were very interested in.

And the law enforcement agency, without mentioning which case, was unable to track it back to the original IP number, which obviously would have been very crucial to us.

COOPER: There has been doubt among local law enforcement officials in this various areas who, in most of these cases, they have all been ruled drownings, accidental drownings. There's been doubt by the FBI that these cases are linked. What do you say to those who doubt the links?

GANNON: Well, you know, for the regular law enforcement agency that has maybe one, you can understand that. There's very little clues in drowning cases to begin with, and really there's no real causes of death with drowning. Even a medical examiner can't really prove it except for the fact that there's water in the lungs.

COOPER: And the water so badly affects the body that any physical signs are pretty much washed away.

GANNON: Correct.

COOPER: But as for the FBI, I mean, you know, why do you believe and they don't?

GANNON: I think the FBI -- I know they looked at the paperwork, but that was paperwork prepared by a local authority, law enforcement agency for local consumption. But I don't really believe any FBI agent actually went out into the field and investigated these cases like we did, which was not even just go to the recovery sites of the body, but to actually do what we did and check the contour of the river, the currents, the tides, and try to make an approximation of where the victims entered the water, which would be the initial crime scene.

COOPER: For you this is really personal. I mean, you're in retirement. You don't have to be doing this. Why are you -- what keeps you going?

GANNON: Well, the first case, Pat McNeil in New York back in 1997, obviously that became very emotional and connected to the family, especially the mom, Jackie McNeil, who looked exactly like Patrick.

And she said, "Please, just try to prove that Patrick wasn't some drunk kid that fell into the river."

And I said, "I promise you. I give you my word. When I retire, I'll prove that your son wasn't that individual and that he was abducted and murdered."

COOPER: Kevin Gannon, we appreciate you coming on to talk about this. Thank you very much.

GANNON: Thank you so much for having me.

A lot more to talk about. Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, in Illinois, a former police sergeant, Drew Peterson, arrested today on a felony weapons charge and then released after posting bail. Peterson is a suspect in the disappearance of his wife Stacy, who has been missing since October. His arrest was not related to that case, although the gun that led to his charge and arrest was seized during a search of Peterson's home after his wife went missing.

As the price of crude oil topped $132 a barrel today, a Senate committee grilled oil executives about the skyrocketing costs of fuel, which the execs blamed on the laws of supply and demand.

To offset surging fuel prices, American Airlines saying today it's going to start charging passengers for all checked bags. Your first checked bag will be $15. The airline is also cutting domestic flights and is going to lay off, Anderson, thousands of workers, though they wouldn't give an exact number.

COOPER: As if flying wasn't unpleasant enough.

HILL: I know, right.

COOPER: Wow. Erica.

Time for "Beat 360," our daily dust-up between our staff and viewers. We post a picture on our blog and see who comes up with the best caption.

Today's picture shows former President Clinton having a moment with Nelson, a St. Bernard, outside a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, yesterday. Tonight's staff winner, Kelly. Her caption: "Bill tells Fido how Hillary can pull off the nomination, then remembers, 'You can't fool kids and dogs'."

The dogs like that.

Tonight's viewer winner is Ian. His entry: "You've spent all day chasing your own tail in the hopeless pursuit of capturing the unobtainable? Gosh, that sounds awfully familiar."

There you go. As always, you can check out -- I think the viewer won. As always, you can check out the other captions we received on our blog at

"The Shot" is next. A fish out of water and flying through the air for a long, long time.


COOPER: Time now for "The Shot." Erica, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I bring you another bear.

HILL: Oh, yes!

COOPER: That's right. This time a bar twirling a baseball bat like a baton. I'm not sure what the screaming is all about. This is Claude. He's stuck in a zoo in Japan.

HILL: His name is Claude?


HILL: Like claws?

COOPER: We told you he's been...

HILL: Apparently has a friend, a monkey nearby.

COOPER: I'm told he's been baton twirling for years. He's quite talented. Yes.

HILL: Well, I see your baton-twirling bear who maybe...

COOPER: Frankly I think he's doing that because he's been trapped in that zoo.

HILL: I think he has no choice, the poor thing. Let's go bust him out and save him.


HILL: We'll keep him in the studio.

Anyway, I see your bear and I raise you...

COOPER: Uh-oh.

HILL: ... a flying fish, soaring out of the water and possibly into the record books. A 45-second flight, fins with the wings here. Isn't that crazy? Forty-five seconds. It turns out there are 40 species of flying fish. They typically prefer warmer water. None, though, has ever been seen twirling a baton.

COOPER: How is they had a camera ready to capture this fish exactly where it emerged?

HILL: I think they borrowed it from Nessie in Scotland, the Loch Ness Monster.

COOPER: They borrowed the camera from Nessie?

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: She's kind of a budding photographer.

COOPER: Is that right? I did not know that.

HILL: She has a dark room down there in the depths.

COOPER: You can -- that's what she's been doing all these years, developing film.

You can see all the most recent shots on our Web site: You can also see other segments from the program. You can read the blog. You can check out the "Beat -- Beat 360" picture. The address again,

HILL: Nice work.

COOPER: For international viewers "CNN Today" is next. Here in America, Larry King is coming up.

Thanks for watching, I'll see you tomorrow night.