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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

What Caused Jett Travolta`s Death?

Aired January 5, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, we look for answers in the tragic death of John Travolta`s teenage son, Jett. The 16-year-old suffered from violent seizures his whole life and died while vacationing with his famous father in the Bahamas.

As we wait for the autopsy results, some are wondering whether his death could have been prevented. And there`s even controversy over what exactly he was suffering from.

Plus, more bombshell developments in the murder of Caylee Anthony. I`ll tell you why her grandfather is still waiting to make funeral arrangements for little Caylee. And the very latest on that stunning November video of the crime scene.

Also, the shocking story of a 4-year-old boy who was abducted after a gunman killed his mother. The boy being called a hero tonight because his stunningly-accurate description led to the swift arrest of this suspect. Big surprise. Charlie Myers has a prior criminal record. I`ll have all the details on this horrific story.

These ISSUES and lots more, tonight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news in the tragic death of John Travolta`s 16-year-old son. A funeral home official now says seizure has been listed on the death certificate as the official cause of Jett Travolta`s death. That according to the Associated Press.

The funeral home says seizure, but the results from today`s autopsy have not been officially released to the public by the medical examiner. Tonight, some are saying they may never be released. So we are left with many, many, many questions about the boy`s medical condition and how it relates to his sudden and heart-breaking death.

Jett Travolta was found unconscious Friday after having a seizure and striking his head on a bathtub while on a family vacation in the Bahamas.

The Travolta family has long maintained their son suffered from Kawasaki Syndrome, a rare disease which inflames artery walls. The family attorney is quoted as saying, "Jett suffered from frequent seizures that were so serious, each was like a death."

I want to hear what you think about all this. Give me a call at 1- 877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7292 with your questions and comments.

But first, let`s bring in our fantastic panel: Sunny Hostin, former federal prosecutor and managing director in Kroll`s business intelligence and investigations division. And Dr. Bruce Levy, Tennessee state medical examiner. And Steven Hassan, Scientology and cult expert. Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney. And Mike Walters, assignment manager with TMZ.

Mike, great to see you again. You`ve been tracking this case. You`ve got some exclusive information. What is the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Like you said, Jane, the very latest is the autopsy of young Jett is now concluded. And the finding is that it was the death from a seizure.

Now, interestingly, they did also say that there wasn`t any visible head trauma to the body and that also it looked like it was in good condition. Like we reported on the Web site, I mean, it looks to us and to the people who were there -- and we heard from the attorneys for the family -- that there was obvious blood around the scene, that he possibly could have hit his head on the bathtub or the toilet seat and that, you know, obviously in this situation, if there was no head trauma, and that`s what the autopsy shows, and that`s what the death certificate states, as seizure as being the death, you know, it`s an interesting conclusion. It just is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It`s kind of weird, Mike. You know, the crew chief of the EMT, the emergency medical team unit that responded to Travolta`s Bahamas home, actually described the injury that he believed ultimately led to Jett`s death. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe Jett`s injuries.

MARCUS GARVEY, EMT CHIEF CALLED TO TRAVOLTA`S HOME: The injuries looked, actually, it a hematoma. Looked like a bump. We had information that he had fallen. He was unconscious at the time. So (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Dr. Bruce Levy, you`re a medical examiner. The funeral home tells the AP the body was in great condition and showed no signs of head trauma. But you just heard the EMT just a moment ago talking about the head trauma. What do you make of it?

DR. BRUCE LEVY, TENNESSEE STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, I mean, the head trauma is either there or it`s not there. There is no in between. It doesn`t go away in the few hours between the death and the time the body was at the funeral home. So we have a discrepancy here that obviously needs to be resolved.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Mike Walters, there is also another discrepancy, vis-a-vis, the time line. There is a time line controversy. What did the attorneys -- because we have reached out to the attorneys for John Travolta without success. You talked to them exclusively through TMZ. What do they tell you about the time line?

WALTERS: Right, exactly. Here`s what they told us. Jett and Jeff, who is one of his caretakers, were boating earlier in the evening, that Jett, when he got home around 6 p.m., was tired and went to bed.

Around 11:30 or so, the caretakers, Eli and Jeff, both went to sleep also, but report to the police that they did see him enter the bathroom around 10 p.m. Now, the discrepancy comes that they did not find Jett`s body until about 10 a.m., even the report by the police saying that 11:40 a.m. is when they got the call.

So there`s about, what, over 12 hours there that this young child either laid on the floor or was left alone. So the discrepancy is that, if they let his much time go by, why wasn`t someone watching him? And if he was a special needs child who obviously needed help, did or did not the nannies not pay close enough attention, which the Travolta family tells us isn`t so, but it`s interesting. And the time line sort of doesn`t make sense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, first of all, Sunny Hostin, before I go to you, I want to say that we have to have complete and total compassion for John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston. Everything we know about them through the years is that they deeply, deeply loved their son and did everything they could to take care of them in their own way.

For example, providing not one but two nannies, as well as having a baby monitor on in the room. What do you make, Sunny Hostin, of this discrepancy? Given that he had not one, but two, nannies watching over him?

SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, it really is very, very problematic. If he did suffer a seizure and did hit his head and laid on the floor for over ten hours or over 12 hours, that is going to be extremely problematic. My guess is that the authorities are going to have to interview both nannies. They`re going to have to interview all involved to make sure that this wasn`t a case of child neglect, because we are talking about a child, someone under the age of 18; 16 at the time of his death.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, you know, Dr. Bruce Levy, there`s another big controversy -- let`s say the overarching controversy -- and that is what exactly did this young man suffer from?

Take a listen to John Travolta on "LARRY KING LIVE" back in 2001 talking about Jett and Kawasaki Syndrome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: I was obsessive about cleaning, his space being clean. So we constantly had the carpets cleaned. And I think between him -- the fumes and walking around, maybe picking up pieces or something, he got what is rarely a thing to deal with, but it`s called Kawasaki Syndrome. And it`s very easily handled, if you identify it. And we did, and it was handled within 48 hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, Dr. Levy, is Kawasaki Syndrome caused by chemical fumes? Do we even know how somebody gets Kawasaki Syndrome? I mean, is there an external cause for it, like what John Travolta just described? Or can you be born with it?

LEVY: No, we do not know what causes it. We know it is an immune process. We believe that it is related, possibly, to some type of infection, though we`ve never identified specifically what kind of bug might cause this.

But Kawasaki`s Disease is very distinctive. It has very distinctive features: a strawberry tongue, the rash that even includes the hands and the feet, a fever.

But it is very often a self-limiting disease. It lasts a brief period. And there are few complications. And they basically involve the arteries around the heart and wouldn`t have any relationship that we`re aware of that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you. Let me cut to the chase. Do they cause seizures?

LEVY: They do not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does Kawasaki Syndrome cause a seizure?

LEVY: I am not aware of Kawasaki causing seizures in any way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So there`s the controversy then, which I`m sure you`re aware of, Dr. Levy, that some -- and according to published reports, even John Travolta`s own brother, Joey, who has become an expert on autism, have maintained that perhaps this child is actually suffering from autism. Are seizures symptomatic of autism?

LEVY: Well, not symptomatic of autism, but what we know is that people who are autistic do have an increased incidence of seizures. We don`t know exactly why because, again, we don`t know exactly what the causes of autism are. But there clearly is some relationship between autism and seizures.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Steve Hassan, you are a counselor and also a Scientology expert as well as a cult expert. Let`s talk about this issue of Scientology and autism. Obviously, John Travolta is one of the most famous Scientologists in the world. What is Scientology`s position on autism?

STEVE HASSAN, COUNSELOR/SCIENTOLOGY EXPERT: Well, Scientology basically believes that all medical problems whatsoever can be handled by their techniques, through their auditing policies and such. So they very much dissuade members from seeking out medical attention, getting any medication.

I have a friend, Tory Chrisman (ph), who was a member for 30 years and was OT-7, which is one of the highest levels, which John Travolta is OT-7, as well, who had -- has epilepsy and continually had seizures during her membership and kept appealing for help. And they kept giving her more and more auditing.

And finally, she just went on medication and said, "Screw it," and eventually left the group.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, wait Mike Walters.

HASSAN: I know another woman who...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me get back to Mike Walters for a moment, because he`s been covering this for TMZ. Travolta`s lawyers said that this young man was given a drug, namely Depakote, which is an anti-seizure medication. And that he took it for years. Why did they take him off it?

WALTERS: You know, yes, the lawyers told us that John Travolta definitely gave his son Depakote, which is an anti-seizure medication. But for some reason, in his specific case, it either didn`t work and, in some parts of it, what he had with taking it, caused some problems for him physically, specifically his liver and some other things.

And I know from personal -- you know, my wife`s mom has epilepsy, and she took Depakote and it did -- it actually stopped working. But in her case, they actually decided to try other drugs. And why they didn`t give him something else, I don`t know.

But they stopped giving it to him because it didn`t work and that he did go back to having grand mal seizures on a regular occasion. So they just dealt with that instead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, there are so many controversies here that involve so many facets. This is a very complex, but a very fascinating as well as tragic case.

Stay right there, fabulous panel. Much more to cover on the death of Jett Travolta.

And I want to hear your thoughts at home. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 to talk to our expert panel about this very sad story.

Now take a listen to the chief emergency medical technician, once again responding to Travolta`s house. He describes Jett`s injuries in this video provided by Radar Online.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe Jett`s injuries.

MARCUS GARVEY, EMT CHIEF CALLED TO TRAVOLTA`S HOME: The injuries looked, actually, it a hematoma. Looked like a bump. We had information that he had fallen. He was unconscious at the time. So (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are back, discussing the latest in the death of John Travolta`s 16-year-old son, Jett, and we want to hear from you. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 with your comments and questions.

Let`s go right to the phones. Kathryn in Arkansas, your question or comment, ma`am.

CALLER: My comment is that these people are in mourning. And it`s not our business. Why should we have to dissect everything? It`s a tragedy. Let them mourn. They have -- you know, they have enough on their plates.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, I think you make a very good point, Kathryn, but I think the caveat to that, Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney, is that these -- there are larger issues that come up in this case. And the larger issues can inform us about important medical issues that we really, as a society, need to deal with, such as autism versus Kawasaki Syndrome and various other controversies that we`re going to get to in a moment.

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I agree. I agree, Jane, that it makes us talk bout this issue, but I also agree with Kathryn. You know, we have this collective desire in our society to make the next case. It`s the next suspicious case. The next suspicious set of facts.

And here, as Kathryn points out, we have people that lost their son. Whether it`s from a subdural hematoma from the fall or seizure or combination of both.

When all is said and done, these are parents that lost their child. These are caretakers that, obviously, are saddened by what happened. We need to let them grieve.

Now, to the extent that we start talking about medical issues, that`s fantastic. But to the degree that we start casting suspicion at innocent people and people that are grieving, I`m with Kathryn all the way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I`m with Kathryn all the way, too. This is certainly not intended to do that. And as we said at the start of the show, that our hearts go out to the Travoltas. And everything we know about the Travoltas is that they spared no expense, that they were doting on this child, that their lives revolved around this child.

And in fact, we have a statement from the Travolta family that we can read to you: "Jett was the most wonderful son that two parents could ever ask for. And he lit up the lives of everyone he encountered. We are heart-broken that our time with him was so brief. We will cherish the time we had with him for the rest of our lives."

Clearly, our hearts do go out to the Travoltas tonight.

Sandy in Michigan, your question or comment, ma`am or sir.

CALLER: Yes. My question is I actually had a son that had cancer and died from cancer. But I was wondering whether or not they had got a neurologist or a neurosurgeon to X-ray look at their son, because my son also had seizures and because of the seizures, he had to be put on medication. And I was wondering if, you know, I know for a fact that they do change the medication.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And Mike Walters, you had mentioned that, that you had talked to the attorneys. They said that they had put this boy on Depakote for quite a period of time. And that it initially had reduced the seizures considerably from something like once every four days to once every three weeks, but then it stopped being effective, and he was back up to having one seizure a day.

WALTERS: Right. To answer your question, yes, John Travolta had neurosurgeons that worked for -- these were his doctors, who treated Jett, who put him on Depakote, and then ultimately, when it didn`t work or lost its effectiveness, that basically -- that they stopped giving it to him.

Now, I can also tell you that he also had a doctor, his personal doctor, fly to the Bahamas and be in on this autopsy. So to answer your question, again, yes, he had neurosurgeons involved, and one of his doctors was there during to autopsy to make sure that they look for those certain things to make sure that they did the right thing or what exactly happened to their son.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Steven, one of the reasons why we`re talking about this issue is that in Scientology, there is really almost a mantra to remain drug-free. I`m not really aware of how far it goes.

In other words, as a sober person myself, I`m not going to take any mood-altering substances unless I`m required to do so by a doctor for an operation or something like that.

What -- what are their guidelines? In other words, are they just saying don`t do illegal drugs? Don`t do psychiatric drugs? Or are they saying don`t do any drugs, even something like a medication for seizures?

HASSAN: That`s exactly correct. My understanding is that there are policy letters direct from Hubbard that dissuade members, to make them believe that any medical problem is a result of an aberration or an interaction with someone who is a suppressive person or a critic and that needs to be handled through their auditing process or their sect checks and such.

And so I know numerous people who have unfortunately had medical conditions who did the Scientology indoctrination programming and didn`t get medical treatment and died as a result of it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well let me...

HASSAN: And my heart goes out to John Travolta.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course.

HASSAN: But we -- this is a medical neglect question.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`ve got -- wait a second. I -- I just want to be very clear that he, according to published reports, had given Depakote to his child. And the question is, should anything else have been done? We don`t have the answer to that, but we can certainly ask the questions.

Stick around, everybody. We`re taking more calls on this very sad story. You`ve got a question or comment for our expert panel, call 1-877- JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-988-586-7297.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re back, taking your phone calls on the death of 16-year-old Jett Travolta. And, again, phone lines lighting up over this very tragic case.

Amy in Delaware, your thought or question, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes. I wanted to know, does anyone know where the parents of the child were when this happened, when he fell and eventually died?

And also, the doctor, the medical examiner, says that the child died of seizures, but what caused the seizures?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mike Walters, clear up the first question about where the Travoltas were at the time of all this.

WALTERS: We`re being told that the Travoltas were -- it`s a two- story, 1,000-square-foot condo that John owns in the Bahamas. We`re being told that the parents were, in fact, there, but that they`re night owls and that John typically goes to bed around 5 a.m. So John was asleep when this was going on. The first person who was on scene was actually a hotel worker.

But I wanted to say this before, and I`ve got to say, this is somebody who lost his son. And John actually did administer CPR on his own son once he woke up and knew what was going on. So yes, they were there and, as soon as he could get there, John came to the aid of his son and tried to revive him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Bruce Levy, when it comes to this whole issue of Kawasaki Syndrome versus some claims that perhaps -- and we have absolutely no way of knowing this one way or the other, but the question has been raised, did he possibly have autism? Is autism easily recognizable? In other words, is this something that`s recognizable behaviorally and visibly, that should have no debate about it?

LEVY: Well, it is. And it is a very recognizable condition, and it has three classic features: the problems with social interaction, communication issues, and then, frequently, repetitive types of behavior. Something that is not diagnosed at autopsy but diagnosed based on the observation of that child while they are alive. It`s a behavioral diagnosis, not a pathological diagnosis.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I also want to point out that Scientology is something that people in America can choose to be a part of. And we`re certainly not bashing Scientology. We`re simply trying to explain and understand what the rules of the game are with Scientology.

Another famous Scientologist, Tom Cruise, got a lot of criticism for his conversation with Matt Lauer on Brooke Shields`s use of medication to treat her postpartum depression.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I`m saying that drugs aren`t the answer, that these drugs are very dangerous. They`re mind-altering, anti-psychotic drugs. And there are ways of doing it without that so that we don`t end up in a brave new world.

The thing that I`m saying about Brooke is that there`s misinformation, OK? And she doesn`t understand the history of psychiatry. She doesn`t understand, in the same way that you don`t understand it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cruise later apologized for the outburst, saying, Sunny Hostin, he came across as arrogant. I guess the point that some people made when they criticized it is, it`s hard to have hard and fast rules when you`re dealing with so many different medical conditions.

HOSTIN: Well sure. And I think the issue that, at least, is being batted around in the legal community is whether or not they should have had him on medication, whether or not this is an issue of neglect. Could his death have been prevented?

And really, the bottom line is that, under the Constitution, there`s freedom of religion. And you`re allowed to deny medical treatment for your child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it right there. Mike, Sunny, Bruce, Steven, Drew, thank you.

A woman is killed and her 4-year-old son abducted by gunmen. I`m going to tell you how the brave little boy helped authorities arrest a suspect.

Plus, taking your calls on this horrific case. Dial 1-877-JVM-SAYS and tell me your thoughts on this heroic young boy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bombshell developments in the Caylee Anthony case. The Anthony family is waiting for a second autopsy before holding a funeral for little Caylee. Meantime, legal wrangling continues between the prosecution and Casey Anthony`s defense team.

Plus, a woman is killed and the gunman kidnaps her 4-year-old son. The brave boy rescued. He`s description of the gunman helped cops nab a suspect: Charlie Myers. Of course, Myers had a prior criminal record.

Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that`s 1-877-586-7297 and tell me what you think of this little boy who is being called a hero. We`ll be taking your calls on this shocking case in a moment.

But first at the top of the block tonight: a sad day in New York Saturday as the family and friends of missing Texas native Laura Garza held a candlelight vigil outside the Manhattan nightclub where she was last seen a month ago. Garza left the nightclub December 3rd in the company of a Michael Mele convicted sex offender. Mele, currently being held on a probation violation, is considered a person of interest.

Garza`s family made an impassioned plea to speak to Mele in jail this past weekend, but he declined. Mele has remained silent since his incarceration. A probation violation hearing is set for January 12th. We will keep you up to date.

Another story we`re staying on top of for you: the Caylee Anthony murder investigation; today, possible new clues that may tie Casey Anthony herself to her daughter`s body.

Orlando local affiliate WFTV reporting that a mystery videotape of the wooded area where Caylee`s body was found might reveal a huge clue. The video shot by one of the Anthony`s private investigators weeks before -- before -- Caylee`s remains were discovered in the very same area reportedly shows the Anthonys` other private investigator on the phone. The questions being asked, who was he talking to? Did he have inside information that led them to that crime scene?

Also today, a planned news conference from those very same private investigators canceled; the reason, unknown. Kathi Belich, a reporter from WFTV, who has been following this case from the very start, joins me now.

Kathi, your news station broke this latest big development. What is the very latest on these two private eyes and that video?

KATHI BELICH, WFTV REPORTER: Well, they should be talking to investigators sometime soon, possibly this week. We understand there could be a second tape. There could be a totally separate tape. We have not been able to find out. That was one of the questions we wanted to ask at a news conference today.

And as you said, the big question is who was the private eye, Dominick Casey, talking to on the phone when he was at the scene? Now, he tells us, he was talking to his ill daughter. But, of course, phone records would tell that story if that`s in fact true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, one of those private investigators was quoted publicly as blasting claims that he knew the body was there in mid- November. What he said was, quote, "Had I had the misfortune of stumbling across any remains the first thing I would have done is I would have prayed. The second thing I would have done is stayed at the location and called 911.

Apparently, Kathi, he`s responding to something that another character, the bounty hunter, Leonard Padilla, said about what the other private eye may have known or been told about why to go to that scene in mid-November. Tell us about that.

BELICH: That`s right. The other private eye, Jim Hoover, says that Dominick Casey knew the remains were there, called Hoover and said, let`s go there. We`ve got to find Caylee.

Dominick Casey tells us that the only reason he was there was to rule out a tip that came from one of Casey`s high school friends that possibly the remains would have been there because it`s near an area where they used to hang out as kids, a wooded area in their neighborhood.

Now, Dominick Casey also admits however, that that is the only location he has ever searched that didn`t involve a search for a live little girl.

I asked why would he waste time doing that and why would that be the only place he was trying to rule out and he really couldn`t answer me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Kathi, I mean, that`s huge. If they could prove in any way that one of these private investigators was told that -- say it again. Because I want to make sure exactly what you`re saying Leonard Padilla is claiming.

BELICH: He`s claiming that Jim Hoover, one of the private eyes, told him that Dominick Casey called him and said, "we need to go to this location" -- that`s the location where the remains were eventually found -- "because we have found Caylee." That is what Hoover is claiming. Hoover took videotape of Dominick Casey at the scene, Dominick Casey on the phone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right, and let me just jump in there. Dominick Casey insists that he was talking to his daughter who was ill. But obviously authorities are going to check out his cell phone records to find out who exactly he was talking to.

Could this be in any way connected -- we have very little time -- to the reports that the Anthony family is requesting immunity now for any further questioning on this case?

BELICH: It could be. It might not be. We really don`t know. It really depends who was he on the phone with and what was that conversation about?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow.

BELICH: That`s one of the big questions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to tell you Kathi, this case just gets stranger and stranger and at the center of it all, that beautiful, beautiful little child who tragically -- her remains were found a few weeks ago. And it`s still -- it still haunts all of us who really grew to care about her while covering this case.

Just a reminder, for more on the very latest on the stunning developments in the shocking Caylee Anthony murder investigation, stick around for Nancy Grace immediately following this program at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

I want to turn now to a truly shocking story. They all are, but this one really is unbelievable. A 4-year-old boy witnessed the unthinkable. His own mother murdered. Shot to death by a home invader. The gunman then abducted the boy before abandoning him at an Ohio rest stop.

Incredibly, this little boy -- 4 years old -- was able to lead police to a suspect. Today, authorities arrested 22-year-old Charlie Myers for the murder of Jennifer Nelson, the mother of that incredibly brave little boy named William.

Give me a call at 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that`s 1-877-586-7297 with your questions and comments on this truly bizarre and tragic case.

With me now, Jill Del Greco, a crime reporter with WHIO TV, Dayton, Ohio. Jill, what is the very latest?

JILL DEL GRECO, WHIO-DAYTON, OHIO: Well, right now as you said, there is one suspect in custody in this case. And I`ll tell you what, authorities out here in Montgomery County, Ohio, are just crediting this young boy, calling him very, very sharp. Because when he was found at that rest stop, you know, a 4-year-old, they`re asking you, you know, what is your name? What is your phone number? What is your address? He knew everything.

And he said, he told authorities, someone shot my mommy. And that is the way that they were able to go back. They went to the scene, which is in Harrison Township, which is in Montgomery County, Ohio. And that is what they did find; the victim there was shot twice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he also gave an accurate description of the suspect apparently, describing him as a tall, white male with no facial hair.

DEL GRECO: That is exactly right. They told -- the little boy told authorities this was a stranger. And officers said he gave just such a great description. It really was one part of what led them to tracking this suspect down. They`re also, you know, questioning some other people as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, tell us briefly about that. Apparently this -- this creep may have accomplices, allegedly?

DEL GRECO: Well, right now there`s no one else in custody at this point. But the sheriff of Montgomery County here, tells me that there is another person who may have known about what was going on, may have not have been very truthful in the beginning.

So it`s a possibility that there may be extra charges coming. But they do believe they have their main suspect, the person who allegedly committed this just unthinkable crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s unthinkable. The mother, just before she was shot, had laid out the little boy`s pajamas, was in the process of putting him to bed. He was abducted in his stocking feet. He didn`t even have shoes.

Thank you so much, Jill, for bringing us up-to-date on this case. We`re going to analyze it right now.

One of the many things that`s so outrageous about this case, police believe Myers -- that`s the suspect -- was involved in stealing the same family`s car about a week and a half before Christmas.

Inside the car was a wallet, identification and house keys to the Nelson home. Now, the boy`s dad changed the locks, but tragically, it did not help.

With me now: Don Clark, former special agent in charge of the Houston FBI and Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor and managing director in Corals business intelligence and investigations division as well as Brian Russell, a forensic psychology and attorney.

Brian, you`ve got to take us into the mind of the sickness that would result in something like this, the mind of somebody who allegedly steal the car, finds house keys, goes to that home, finds out the locks are changed, I`m here anyway, proceeds to break in and then shoots somebody for no apparent reason and then abduct their child, all while allegedly stealing two computers that are probably worth a couple of grand, if that.

BRIAN RUSSELL, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST/ATTORNEY: And I guarantee he`s got a history. He`s got a history.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes, he does.

RUSSELL: Of beefs in the past and being slapped on the wrist. If people watch "ISSUES" every night of 2009, the vast majority of these cases that we talk about are going to be people who got slapped on the wrist and let out to do it again.

I don`t know when we`re going to learn that we`ve got to get tougher sooner. It`s better for society obviously, but it`s even better for these people, if they`re going to have any chance of turning their lives around.

There`s no explanation for this kind of conduct, Jane.

It`s -- it`s -- I call it evil. Some people don`t like that word, but when you`re out doing this -- this violently destructive stuff and your mind is obviously working well enough that you`re able to plan it out, go to a location that you found and some documents that you found in a car, this is a perfect location. The fact that you can be sane and do stuff that seems insane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Don Clark, it`s even more idiotic than that, which is not a strong enough word. But these people -- this man, who has been caught with possibly some accomplices, allegedly stole this car before Christmas and then went back to the house after he found the identification, left the original car there, kills the mother, takes the child and takes another one of the Nelson`s family`s car with him. So he`s doing a trade-out, essentially.

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, Jane, this is a criminal that has been a criminal for a long time. And there needs to be some -- some action taken here. And if this person comes up guilty of this, we`ll see that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, hold that thought. This is a horrific case. I want to know what you think of a heroic little boy. Give me a holler.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is dressed in -- it looks like pajamas, no shoes, just socks. Sweat pants and a sweat shirt. He`s very tired and cold and he`s sitting on my lap now in my car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the 911 call made by the wonderful couple who found the 4-year-old boy at a rest stop about 40 miles from his home where his mom was murdered.

I want to hear what you think of this bizarre, tragic case. The mom, shot dead. A child abducted then dumped at a rest stop. Rescued by that friendly couple who called 911 and the 4-year-old boy, despite all the trauma, has the wits to describe the suspect and give his own address and phone number so police could race back to the home and find the mother.

Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586-7297 with your questions and comments.

I am back with my panel and the phone lines lighting up.

Wow. This is -- it just makes me so sick when I think about senseless violence like this. For two computers? You have to kill somebody?

Jennifer, in Washington, your thought or question, ma`am.

JENNIFER IN WASHINGTON: Yes. I was wondering if it was, in fact, the Myers person who stole their vehicle before Christmas, I know they said that the father had reconnected -- or redone all the locks on the house. I was wondering if anybody knew, did they have an automatic garage door opener in their car, and did they think to disconnect that or is that possibly the way that Myers got in the house?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you for your question, Jennifer. I don`t know that we have all the details just yet. Obviously the authorities are releasing just what they need to put together a case.

But Sunny Hostin, tragically this is a cautionary tale. I mean, it`s a cautionary tale about, oh my gosh, don`t leave your keys and your identification in the car ever under any circumstances. And look at the train wreck that occurred in the wake of that. And that`s certainly not to blame the family. I mean, we`ve got to lock this guy -- if he`s responsible, which police think he is -- up for good.

SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, absolutely, Jane. I think you`re right, it is a cautionary tale. But I have to tell you, there is something that bothers me about this case. The fact that her husband left his wallet, his keys, his identification in the car while they -- while they went to a concert and then all of a sudden this sort of tragedy happens, there is something that is just not right for me in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can I just tell you Sunny, the number of people that do that all the time, I`ve spent many years in Los Angeles and having arguments with my friends. We going to a concert, oh, I`m going to leave all of this stuff in the car. Don`t do it. And they ignore me. It`s such a common thing for people to do.

HOSTIN: It is a common thing, it is a common thing. But it is uncommon, I think, with my experience that you have a perpetrator, this 22- year-old, that has misdemeanor property crimes, had a juvenile arrest for arson, but then went a further step by allegedly stealing a car and then arriving many, many miles somewhere else to murder someone.

That`s a pretty big leap for a low-level criminal. Unless he has a drug problem, I think that this is the beginning of this investigation and I think we`re going to learn more about this. That is not to say that this is not a cautionary tale, but I think we have to learn a little more.

RUSSELL: He probably did 50 other things in the meantime, though, Sunny that we didn`t have to --

HOSTIN: We don`t know that. We don`t know that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I mean, look, he was arrested as a juvenile for aggravated arson. He has a couple of misdemeanor property crimes.

But Don Clark, unfortunately criminals graduate to more serious crime.

CLARK: Yes, they do graduate and almost everybody that`s murdered someone has started off the way that it looks like that this young man has started off. It`s not uncommon and Jane, I was thinking to myself, I am a runner and I go to parks and I have to lock my ID and keys in my car and just got one key with me.

I won`t do that again now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

CLARK: But I know that that type of thing takes place, so let`s just follow the evidence right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I agree.

CLARK: Let`s follow the forensics and follow the evidence.

HOSTIN: Exactly and at the beginning of this investigation, we really don`t know -- we have one suspect in custody. There are allegedly three others. I really think we`re going to learn more about this case, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I`m sure we will certainly learn more about it. The boy`s father, Eddie Nelson, appeared on the NBC`s "Today" show this morning. Here he is revealing how his son is doing in the aftermath of this horrific event. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDDIE NELSON, 4-YEAR-OLD BOY`S FATHER: He`s not really spoken much about it at all. He`s still terrified. I don`t know quite that he fully understands what`s going on or he`s just not talking about it. He`s just in total shock right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brian Russell, is it possible that this poor child is going to be forced to testify and take the stand and confront the person that he says killed his mom?

RUSSELL: It`s possible. I think it`s unlikely. It`s absolutely heart-breaking. And it`s early reminiscent of another Ohio case from 2007. Remember Jessie Davis who`s the little boy after her murder said, mommy is in the rug? The bad news here is obvious --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I got to stop. That`s a totally different situation because in this case, authorities believe this was a robbery by a stranger.

RUSSELL: Right, but the trauma to the child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh yes, ok.

RUSSELL: The trauma to the child is what I`m talking about. And the bad news is obvious because not only is he`s going to have to be raised without a mom who sounds like she was a wonderful person.

But he`s already showing signs of trauma, he`s being non-verbal about it, he`s having an exaggerated startle response reportedly. There`ll probably be the other things like nightmares, flashback memories maybe some behavioral regressions.

The hopeful news though that I can give you is that as a child custody evaluator who gets involved in cases here and the Midwest for as an expert where kids are going to a horrendous emotional trauma --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

RUSSELL: Kids are fantastically resilient, amazingly resilient and this is a remarkable kid but for his ability to lead cops to crime scene and for his eyewitness memory which is better than a lot of adults.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course.

RUSSELL: So I have hopes that this kid will able to --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I have to jump in for a second because we only got a couple of seconds. I agree with you, I have hope too that he`ll bounce back.

But Don Clark, do they have to find better forensics now so that they can put a case together against this guy without having the child who is the only witness having to testify.

CLARK: I think that`s exactly what they are going to do. And I had the chance to talk to the authorities out there today. And that`s exactly what they are hoping to do is put this case together and not have to use the kid.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`re going to be back with more. We want your calls and we want to really understand why?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are back taking your calls on the tragic case of the Ohio woman murdered while her 4-year-old son looked on. And you know I have to say, Brian Russell, that the mother is a hero in this case because she taught her young son to memorize his address and memorize his phone number. And I would think in this day -- and it`s a sad commentary on our society -- that every parent should tell their children, they have to remember their address and phone number.

RUSSELL: Absolutely. You and I both like to find lessons in these tragedies and the second -- you already gave the first one. The second big lesson tonight for parents watching us all across the country is you`ve got to teach your kids by heart to be able to recite your contact information, where they live and how to get a hold of you.

The parents in this case did it and thank God they did and you should do the same so that they can recite it even if they`re tremendously emotionally upset.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sunny Hostin, we were talking about forensics being extra important so that this poor child is not dragged into having to testify and point the finger at this guy, possibly re-traumatizing him. With two cars and a house involved, what forensics do they need to gather?

HOSTIN: Well, I think they`re certainly going to gather fingerprint evidence. They`re going to definitely try to match the gun to the person in this case.

But I have to say there are many cases out there and I`ve put very young children on the witness stand, there are cases where 4-year-olds, 5- year-olds, even 3-year-olds in some jurisdictions have found to be competent to testify. And so I can`t say that it is likely that he will be required to testify but I think it is really a possibility even with the forensic evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But wouldn`t that be very, very traumatizing, Brian?

RUSSELL: Yes, and that`s why I agree that I think that they will do everything they can to avoid that possibility. And I think it`s likely that they`ll be able to. If there`s a good, solid forensic case, I wouldn`t be surprised if we don`t even see a trial here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in here, is it possible that that could be actually liberating and give the child closure? Because, let`s face it, he`s been a hero. When he grows up, they`re going say you did the right thing, you did everything you could. And if he helps nail this guy, couldn`t that also help heal him?

RUSSELL: It`s possible. I would have to see the kid to be able to tell you in his specific case if I thought it would be helpful or not. Different people react to trauma different ways.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

RUSSELL: For some people it`s helpful for him to talk about it, for others it`s not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to have to leave it there. Thank you, fantastic panel: Don, Sunny, Brian.

It just boggles me mind the senseless violence. You know robbery is one thing, but to kill a mother and abduct a son -- it`s a sickness that has to be dealt with in our society.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and we`re going to deal with it on this show, "ISSUES." You are watching "ISSUES" on HLN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernie Madoff, made off with $50 billion, allegedly, from investors and has been walking around with little restrictions to his lavish lifestyle ever since.

Well that freedom may soon be in jeopardy. U.S. attorneys claim he`s been mailing jewelry and other assets to relatives. And they want his bail revoked. No honor among thieves; no shame either. I`ll have more on this truly despicable story at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Right now, it`s time to check in with Nancy Grace. Nancy, happy New Year and what have you got for us tonight.

END

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