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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Evidence Released in Caylee Anthony Murder Case
Aired February 18, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, absolutely stunning developments in the Caylee Anthony case. Piles of shocking evidence turned over to Casey Anthony`s defense team are now made public. Hundreds of pictures, interviews and documents, including mom Casey`s secret diary. Is this the slam dunk the prosecutor needs?
And another shocker, as the new evidence suggests duct tape found on Caylee`s skull came from a roll in the Anthony home. Can the defense come up with an innocent explanation for that? I`ll sort through it all with my expert panel. And we`ll take your calls.
Then, breaking developments in the frantic search for 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings. Cops are pouring over 1,200 tips, but one in particular is sounding alarm bells: a claim that Misty Croslin, girlfriend of Haleigh`s dad, was not at home at the time of little Haleigh`s disappearance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can tell you is it`s a tip we received, a tip we`re following up on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could this explain the inconsistencies in Misty`s story? So many questions. Why did Florida`s child services investigate Haleigh`s family? Did Haleigh have a rare chromosomal condition, as one new report claims? I`ll examine how this new leads factor into the investigation.
Plus, blood still boiling over the Octomom. I`ll have an analysis of society`s obsession with multiple births and why we are just as much to blame at the Octomom herself.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely shocking developments tonight in the Caylee Anthony murder investigation. Piles and piles of stunning new evidence released. All of it could prove very damaging to mother Casey.
Perhaps the most disturbing, a page out of Casey`s diary dated June 21. Words so eerie they will make you cringe. Quote, "I have no regrets. I made the right decision. I just hope the end justifies the means. This is the happiest that I have been in a very long time."
Absolutely damning evidence if -- if it was written just days after Caylee disappeared. But at the top left corner of the diary, absent in most of the online reprints, it says `03, presumably as in 2003. Does that toss this piece of stunning evidence right out the window, since little Caylee vanished in June of 2008?
Also taken from the Anthony home, heart stickers that seem very similar to a heart sticker found at the crime scene. You would remember that we heard there was a heart sticker placed over the duct tape covering little Caylee`s mouth.
And believe it or not, there`s even more. The report says the duct tape found on the remains matches duct tape found on a gas can at Casey`s home. Investigators say it`s the same brand or came from the same roll. Anthony`s defense team quick to call the evidence biased, speculative and junk science.
So much to talk about tonight, and of course, we`re taking your calls. Now to my expert panel: Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Casey Jordan, criminologist and former criminal profiler; plus Stacy Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; and Steve Helling, a staff writer at "People" magazine. His latest information can be found at People.com and, of course, right here.
Steve, what is the very latest?
STEVE HELLING, STAFF WRITER, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Well, the very latest is that there`s 400 documents -- 400 pages of documents that have everything in it from -- from forensic evidence to some background on the relationship between Casey and Cindy Anthony. It`s just a treasure-trove of information.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And we`re going to go through it all.
Stacy Honowitz, I want to hit you with three really wild pieces of evidence. A shirt collar found with the body has the same serial number as a shirt taken from the Anthony home, reportedly. The canvas laundry bag that held the remains is of the same make as one found in the Anthonys` garage. And the duct tape that was found over little Caylee`s mouth is consistent with duct tape found on a gas can at the Anthony home.
Now, that seems absolutely overwhelming, but the defense says this is junk evidence and points out, for example, that duct tape is one of the most popular brands around the country.
STACY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, listen, Jane, the defense has to come out and say something. They`re on this P.R. routine where they`re coming out. And anytime the evidence is out there, evidence is released, they have to come back and say, it`s not what it appears to be.
Certainly, in a circumstantial evidence case, as this case is lining up to be, it`s like links on a fence. It`s not one link taken separately. It`s everything together. Does it all match up so that there is absolutely, beyond a reasonable doubt, we know that Casey Anthony was responsible for the death?
And that`s what you`re seeing now. Now this discovery has been turned over. A lot of this has gotten out. And these are all pieces of the puzzle, parts that the state is using to build their case against Casey Anthony. So you would expect the defense to be really taken back when things like this, of this nature, are coming out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But get this, folks. The most compelling piece of evidence released seemed to be the diary entry from Casey dated June 21. and remember, Caylee disappeared on June 16th of 2008. Listen to this. Quote, "I have no regrets. Just a bit worried. I just want for everything to work out OK. I completely trust my own judgment and know that I made the right decision. I just hope that the end justifies the means. I just want to know what the future will hold for me. I guess I will soon see. This is the happiest that I have been in a very long time. I hope that my happiness will continue to grow. I`ve made new friends that I really like. I`ve surrounded myself with good people. I am finally happy. Let`s just hope that it doesn`t change."
But then we noticed at the top of the left-hand corner on the opposite page, is says `03 as in 2003. Since little Caylee disappeared in 2008, Paul Callan, doesn`t that throw this otherwise stunning piece of evidence right out the window?
PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, on the surface, Jane, it looks like it does throw it out the window. And you know, too bad for the prosecution because it`s a very strong piece of evidence.
But I`ve tried a lot of documents cases, and when you look more carefully at it, consider a couple of things. No. 1, they`re able to analyze the paper, when the paper was manufactured in that diary. And it`s possible that that paper was manufactured after `03.
No. 2, inks are frequently dated. They are chemically dated. As a matter of fact, the IRS requires it with a lot of the large ink manufacturers, so you can`t cheat on your taxes and back-date a receipt. I`m betting they can analyze that ink and maybe show it wasn`t `03.
The final thing I would say is, a three is half of an eight. And I don`t know if we`re looking at a copy that may have been erased. And so...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, you`re good. You`re good.
CALLAN: So I`ve got some doubts about the defense claims here. But bring it on, I say to the defense. And we`ll shoot some holes in it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s so much evidence to get through. Remember, it`s like 1,000 pages of evidence.
Let`s take a look at the heart stickers taken from the Anthony house one more time. The first is an outline of a missing heart sticker, and they took numerous sheets of other heart stickers from the home, as well. This is so relevant, because we`d heard there was residue of a heart sticker on the duct tape covering little Caylee`s mouth and that an actual heart sticker was found nearby.
But now it appears the heart is on the duct tape found at the crime scene, which raises the question, Casey Jordan -- you`re the criminologist -- did investigators put it there and combine two separate pieces of evidence? And can the defense take advantage of that?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Oh, I don`t think so. I mean, if you have a heart-shaped residue of adhesive, and I`ve read different things, as well. I`ve read they went back to the crime scene and actually found the sticker separately. I think what you might be seeing is actually the sticker being put over the residue to see if it fit.
So we`re getting conflicting information on that. And if I were the forensic people working this, I would try to hold back as much information as possible.
The key is, is the heart sticker that was found at the scene or on the duct tape a match to that actual placard of stickers that was found in the Anthony home? Children love stickers. If this little card of stickers was in the house and one of them was on the duct tape, that is extremely damning evidence. The person who put that sticker there with the body would have been in the house and found the sticker.
And the psychologically, emotionally what it suggests, of course, is empathy and caring and attachment for the child. It`s a heart.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it is. And Stacy Honowitz, I have to say as I look at all of this damning evidence, I think that on the defense dream team is Linda Kenney Baden, the famous defense attorney who took the Phil Spector case, which was considered open and shut, and turned it into a hung jury with a 10-2 result.
All you need is a couple of people or one juror having reasonable doubt. And I see her as brilliant in possibly taking all of this and creating a garbage in, garbage out defense. They`re already talking about the junk science. And their essentially argument is there is no such thing as a match. Everybody is saying a match, but it`s really not that simple.
HONOWITZ: Well, let me tell you something, Jane. You never, ever -- a prosecutor will not walk into a courtroom, at least the ones I know, and say, "I have a lock case." It`s definitely going to be guilty. You walk in with your best evidence, and you walk in and you say, "I`m going to try to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt."
Can a good defense attorney, someone who`s an expert in their field, someone who`s dealt with forensics and called experts to the stand have a field day? Absolutely. She`s very talented. She`s very bright. And you`re right. It only takes one person on that jury to think, "I`m not going to buy into this."
We don`t know right now what we`re getting is really half of what everybody else in that team knows.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s right.
HONOWITZ: The prosecution team and the defense team.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you have to wonder, why is all of this coming out now? It`s almost like we`re having the trial and when the trial actually happens, it will be like reruns.
But hang on, everybody. Stay right there. We have so much more to get to.
And don`t forget: Nancy Grace will have the very latest on these developments in the Caylee Anthony case. She is up immediately following this program at 8 p.m. Eastern.
And right here on ISSUES, my expert panel will sort through all of the new evidence. Do you think this new evidence gives the prosecution a slam dunk? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 and let me know.
But first, a reminder of how this entire case broke. Cindy Anthony`s frantic 911 call in mid-July when she realized little Caylee was missing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine one one, what`s your emergency?
CINDY ANTHONY, GRANDMOTHER OF CAYLEE: I called a little bit ago. The deputy sheriff -- I found out my granddaughter has been taken. She has been missing for a month. Her mother finally admitted that she`s been missing. Get someone here now!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your daughter admitted that the baby is where?
CINDY ANTHONY: The babysitter took her a month ago, that my daughter`s been looking for her. There`s something wrong. I found my daughter`s car today, and it smells like there`s been a dead body in the damn car!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY: I was in Lake County two days ago.
CASEY ANTHONY, ACCUSED OF CAYLEE`S MURDER: OK.
CINDY ANTHONY: Is there anything there?
CASEY ANTHONY: Mom, I`m sorry, I love you guys. I miss you.
CINDY ANTHONY: All right, sweetheart. Here`s Dad.
CASEY ANTHONY: I`m going to hang up and just walk away right now.
CINDY ANTHONY: Please, don`t.
CASEY ANTHONY: I`m frustrated and I`m angry, and I don`t want to be angry. This is the first time I`ve truly, truly been angry this entire time. But I`m so beyond frustrated with -- with all of this. I can`t even swallow right now. It hurts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Anthony, furious while talking to her parents from jail. Now we may understand more about why she was so angry when her mother tried to pin her down about exactly what happened to little Caylee. We are back taking your calls as stunning evidence is released today.
Teresa in North Carolina, your question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Hi, Jane. I wanted to know if CSI used Luminol or the black light in the house, the car, garage, playhouse and the two knives that they found.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Casey Jordan, criminologist, you want to take that one?
JORDAN: Yes, I don`t have any information about whether they used Luminol, but keep in mind, that`s only going to show blood evidence. And all indications, because of the duct tape, we have no clue that the child would have bled in any way. We don`t know the cause of death, per se, because there wasn`t enough of the remains to detach (ph) that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s interesting is that investigators said on February 5 -- this is about two weeks ago -- evidence on the body suggests that the child`s death was not accidental but an intentional act.
As of this writing, there is nothing to suggest that anyone but Casey Anthony is responsible for the death and disposal of little Caylee Anthony.
JORDAN: And Jane, there was no knife nicks, no gunshot wounds. So her cause of death could be strangulation. You wouldn`t have blood.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Karen, West Virginia. Your question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Hi, Jane. My question is about what we do know about the duct tape. There are conflicting reports. Some reports are saying that there are no prints on the duct tape. Other reports are saying there are no prints from Cindy, George, or Lee. So what do we really know about the duct tape?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent question. Take it out to Steve Helling, staff writer for "People" magazine.
HELLING: What we do know right now, it was explicitly said that there were no fingerprints from Cindy, George, or Lee. I didn`t see anything that said there was nothing from Casey. That could be something that -- that we`ll find out later. But what we do know right now is that Cindy, George, and Lee did not touch that duct tape.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do they even need, Stacy, the prints if all of this is so damning?
HONOWITZ: Well, no, of course not. I mean, look, they indicted her for the murder without even having the body. They said they had overwhelming evidence. Would it be a nice building block for the case? Absolutely. But they don`t need it to prove that she`s guilty of the crime.
But you know what, Jane, is very interesting, you know, callers are calling and saying, "We don`t know. We have conflicting reports." Quite frankly, we really shouldn`t know. We really should not know. The general public should not know right now what evidence is there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what`s wrong with Florida? I mean, the discovery rules in Florida are so, so open...
HONOWITZ: Liberal. They are very liberal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re almost trying this case now before the case actually goes to trial. They need -- maybe they should change their discovery laws.
CALLAN: It`s way too -- it`s way too wide open in Florida.
HONOWITZ: What`s going to happen is, now that you know, you are setting all of this up for a wonderful change of venue motion, because you have...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t look at me. Don`t say that.
HONOWITZ: I`m not saying you. I`m saying in general, when we discuss stuff like this, this is what gives the defense attorneys the right to go in front of a judge and say, "I`m not going to get a fair jury. People know everything that`s going on."
CALLAN: You`re not going to be able to change venue because everybody in Florida knows all of the evidence, and it would have to be moved to another county in Florida.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It would have to be moved to Mars.
CALLAN: Indeed, you couldn`t move it anywhere in the United States.
You know, but getting back to this idea of the discovery rules, they`re ridiculously wide open in Florida. You know, I`m even looking at that tape of her in prison talking to her parents. That`s totally unfair to the defense. That shouldn`t be released at this point in time. We should give a jury a chance to evaluate the evidence fairly without being poisoned by the evidence in advance.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Speaking of -- speaking of them talking to each other, Casey`s friend, Annie, provided some amazing evidence to authorities. The report said, quote, "Casey told Annie that her mother, Cynthia, was a horrible person who was trying to control her life and take little Caylee away from her. Casey said Cindy wanted Caylee to call her `Mom` instead of `Grandmom.` Annie believed that Casey was jealous of Cindy`s relationship with Caylee."
Now listen to Cindy talk about Caylee during last week`s memorial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY: The moment I first saw Caylee Marie in the instant she was placed into my arms, she stole my heart forever. My heart just melted. God has blessed me with three children, three beautiful children. I love them all unconditionally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Jordan, Cindy says she has three children. She has two children.
JORDAN: Right. You know, I don`t think she has to apologize about the fact that she really loved this child as if it were her own daughter, little Caylee. And, you know, from a psychological perspective, Casey, by her own admission, was a disappointment to her. She had a lot of trouble with Casey. And I think that, in her mind, Caylee was going to make up for all of the disappointments of Casey.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paul Callan, though, is this motive that the prosecution can use as the motive for this murder that they say Casey committed?
CALLAN: You know, juries love to hear motive in a murder case, especially -- especially when a child is murdered by a parent. So this may be motive evidence.
But, you know, this is a case with a pile, a ton of circumstantial evidence. And it`s all pointing in one direction. It`s pointing toward Casey Anthony. And I think, you know, what`s happening now is, as each new piece of evident is put on the table. People are saying, "Well, there`s a little problem with this evidence, a problem with that piece, but let`s look at the whole pile together..."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you.
CALLAN: It looks like a strong case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s something to throw on the pile. We`ve only got a couple of seconds. Steve Helling, this -- to me, this is the most incriminating of all. Of everything that I`ve read today, is that when they informed Casey that they had found remains at that location. Before they identified them as Caylee`s, she began hyperventilating and requested medication.
CALLAN: Absolutely. And this wasn`t the first time that they had found bones or something. And every time that they found it -- found these bones before, Casey was fine. But this time, she hyperventilated and had an anxiety attack before anybody knew that this was Caylee Marie. So that`s damning evidence, and it shows that she had some connection with that spot.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. It is truly fascinating.
Ten seconds, Stacy Honowitz, can they get that in? Yes or no.
HONOWITZ: Yes. But I`m going to tell you something. The defense will have a field day with that, too. They`ll say she thought that maybe her child was dead and she`s hyperventilating at the thought that her child is dead. So they`ll find a way.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear you. We got to go. Thank you all so much. Steve, hang tight.
The Anthony family has been supportive of Casey in public, but is that the case behind the scenes? Are they doing the same thing? How hard is it for families to come to terms with a defendant in their midst? I will examine this awful predicament in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE ANTHONY, BROTHER OF CASEY ANTHONY: CMA, each day you continue to teach me about life and about the way it should be lived.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brother Lee. Among the stunning and quite possibly damning pieces of evidence released to the public in the Caylee Anthony murder case, a warning from Casey`s brother, Lee, to one of Casey`s former friends. In a conversation last fall, Lee told Casey`s friend that Casey has, quote, "done bad things" and that she should protect herself and not Casey and tell the truth to investigators.
Did Lee suspect his sister was linked to her own daughter`s death? We certainly cannot say. But what is certain is that he is not the first close relative of a high-profile defendant to wrestle with that kind of dilemma.
Joining me now, Lisa Bloom, anchor of In Session.
Lisa, the other notorious case that comes to mind immediately, Scott Peterson, on Death Row for murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, back in 2002. His own sister finally had to admit to herself that he was guilty. She turned it into a book, called "Blood Brother: 33 Reasons Why Brother Scott Peterson is Guilty."
Are defendants` family members often the very last to admit what basically everybody else has concluded?
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: Sure, because blood is thicker than water. And we all want to believe in our own family members: our sister, our daughter, our mother. I mean, that`s only natural.
Look, I`ve watched hundreds of high-profile trials on Court TV, now In Session. And generally, the family members do stick by the defendant. It doesn`t necessarily mean they believe in their innocence, but they want to be there. They want to help with an attorney. They want to provide some moral support.
Look, we had a case today where a woman was acquitted after she spent ten years in prison, it turns out, for a crime she didn`t commit. She had nobody there in the prison, so I don`t -- or in the trial, rather. I don`t think family members being present goes to show guilt or innocence. It just goes to show that people generally -- generally stick by their family members, but not always.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Peterson`s half sister made the excruciating decision to go public with her suspicions in the book "Blood Brother." She talks about meeting the lawyers who were representing Scott`s ex-lover. Quote, "I told them that it had taken me a very long time to even accept the possibility of Scott`s complicity in the murders of his wife and son, but that the fog had finally lifted. I even told them how I thought Scott had murdered Laci and why."
One of those lawyers was your own mom...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... the famous attorney, Gloria Allred, who represented Amber Frey. I love the way she says, "The fog had lifted." I think that`s a perfect, perfect, really way to describe what has to happen.
BLOOM: Yes. That was getting close to home, because my mom, Gloria Allred, represented Amber Frey, as you know, and I think she also worked with Ann bird in connection with that book deal.
So I think you`re right. Look, Jane, most of us want to think the best about our family members. Right? We want to think it`s an evil prosecutor out to get this person, trying to frame them.
But slowly, as the evidence starts to mount -- and I think in the case of Lee in this case, Lee Anthony, and he looks at the evidence that`s been made so public, as you point out. He`s starting to see that it really looks bad for his sister. The worst evidence being that she didn`t report her own baby missing for a month. I mean, you know, anyone with half a brain has to think there`s some serious question as to whether there`s any possibility that she could be innocent.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But, of course, the defendants always have the last person there, what everybody`s left, the friends and everybody else, mom and dad, usually the ones who are sitting right there.
Lisa, thank you so much.
Coming up, I will have the latest shocking developments in the disappearance of 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings in just a moment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Piles of shocking evidence made public in the Caylee Anthony case including mom Casey`s secret diary. And another shocker as the new evidence suggests duct tape found on Caylee`s skull came from the Anthony home.
Can the defense explain away that one, or is it the slam dunk the prosecution needs?
Then stunning developments in the frantic search for 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, cops following up on tip that claims, Misty Croslin, girlfriend of Haleigh`s father was not at home when Haleigh disappeared? Could this explain the inconsistencies in Misty`s story.
Shocking new evidence released today in the Caylee Anthony murder investigation: Thousands of pages of damaging evidence linking the Anthony household to the crime; defense fighting back calling the report junk science and bias.
I am back discussing the slew of new evidence with Casey Jordan, criminologist and former criminal profiler, and Steve Helling, a staff writer at "People" magazine.
I want to talk, Steve, a little bit about Casey`s mental state according to this new -- all these new documents that came out.
They said two friends said Casey was afraid that she was losing her mind. In March of 2007 she told one friend she was feeling crazy and was considering getting herself committed. In late 2006 or early 2007, she told another she felt like she was having a breakdown and wanted to go to an institution.
STEVE HELLING, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Yes, that`s true. And, you know, both of the friends said, well, we`ll talk to you about that. And then Casey spoke with Cindy Anthony and somehow decided that she wasn`t going crazy after all and that -- the matter was dropped.
So, you know, we wonder. You know, there`s been a lot of speculation that perhaps there is something that hasn`t been treated. And it looks like there might be a history along that line.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Jordan, do you think they should start considering switching to a possible insanity defense? Can they do that at this stage?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST AND FORMER CRIMINAL PROFILER: They could probably try, but it would never work in this particular case. I think Florida uses the McNaughton Rule -- you have to be able to prove that you didn`t know what you were doing and you didn`t know that it was wrong.
And everything about Casey Anthony indicates from the cover-ups, the lies, she knew what she was doing --
JORDAN: -- and she knew that it was wrong, if indeed she did it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very quickly, found on the scene, a syringe wrapped in toilet paper inside a plastic bottle. What sort of relevance do you think this bit of evidence has been given that there was chloroform found in the trunk and Google searches for chloroform on Casey`s computer.
I would assume they`re testing that bottle for chloroform. Steve?
HELLING: Well yes, probably. Right now it`s in the preliminary. And we don`t know exactly what was in there. Clearly if there was some sort of chloroform or by-products of chloroform, then that`s going to be something that the defense is going to have a very hard time explaining away.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That syringe is going to be tested. And it could just be -- there was tons of junk at that scene.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it could be something that`s totally irrelevant to the case. Thank you both. Steve, hope you come back soon. Casey, stay right there as we move to the next story.
The latest developments in the desperate search, just 70 miles away for little Haleigh Cummings: police say, more than 1,000 tips have poured in, since Haleigh went missing over a week ago. One of those claims her father`s girlfriend, Misty Croslin, may not have been home when the five- year-old vanished. Police today revealed how they are handling that Misty lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. DICK SCHAULAND, PUTNAM CO. SHERIFF`S OFFICE: We have a team of detectives that are following up on it. And yes, they are questioning her about that, as well as all of these other things that we`ve gotten tips on. As the tips warrant, the interviews are made not only with her but with the rest of the family, with neighbors, with whatever comes in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like Misty`s story is changing. A lot of folks are looking at this and they are saying, well, her story is changing. How is the sheriff`s office looking at that now?
SCHAULAND: Well, I don`t know that you can say that her story is changing. All that I can tell you is that`s a tip we`ve received and that`s a tip we`re following up on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Authorities emphasize, this is just a tip. Only one of 1,200 they`re looking at. Misty has maintained she was sleeping in the home with Haleigh and Haleigh`s younger brother when the five-year-old girl disappeared.
Also today, perhaps relevant to the investigation, the Florida Department of Children and Family has confirmed that the agency was previously quote, "involved with the family," end of quote.
Meantime, an anonymous donor has contributed $10,000 to a reward fund. It now totals $16,000.
Let`s go to my expert panel: Pastor Terry Wright, the Cummings family pastor; Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; Casey Jordan, criminologist and a former criminal profiler; and Jennifer Bauer, reporter with WJXT TV.
Jennifer, we know Ronald Cummings was rushed into the Putnam County Sheriff`s Office today. Do we know why he was there, what is the significance? And what else do you have for us?
JENNIFER BAUER, WJXT-TV REPORTER: Well not only Ronald Cummings, but also his mother and Crystal Sheffield, who was Haleigh`s mother. Police tell us it`s very routine. As new tips of course, continue to come in, they say new questions are raised and so they brought the family in today for another round of questioning.
They keep stressing this family is being very cooperative. And they say they will continue to bring them into the sheriff`s office. They will continue to question them until they feel the answers they have are the answers they want.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pastor Terry Wright, you are Haleigh Cummings` family`s pastor. I`m sure that you`re aware that there are so many questions and concerns about possible inconsistencies in stories. And now this new lead that perhaps claiming -- and we understand it`s just a claim -- that perhaps Misty wasn`t where she says she was on that night and might have slipped out. And again, they`re just checking that out. It could be a false lead.
But how is the family dealing with the fact that so many people are kind of filled with questions about what happened that night?
REV. TERRY WRIGHT, CUMMINGS` FAMILY PASTOR: Yes. You know, Jane, again, thanks so much for keeping Haleigh`s story out in front of the American people. You know, they`re dealing with it like I think every American family would deal with it.
They are far more concerned with finding their daughter than the perception of a nation or people that might question it. Look, there`s a lot of questions in this thing and we all know that. But they are clinging strong to their faith, they`re clinging to each other and they`re really focused on Haleigh coming home.
Just this morning, even though Equusearch left, you know the other day, Ronald was out this morning, riding a horse on his own, walking on his own, looking for areas -- looking in areas where maybe they`d looked before and trying to find his daughter.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But pastor, it`s not so much looking at the father -- his alibi that he was at work has been confirmed.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s more Misty.
WRIGHT: Yes, yes. Yes, I spoke with Misty. And she claims that she was there all night. She had had a pretty active weekend, a few days prior to that, and was very tired. And went home and was resting.
Now, that`s what she`s told me. And, you know, that`s what she`s claiming, at least to me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
Haleigh`s family, they have theories of their own as to what might have happened. Haleigh`s paternal grandmother Teresa Neves said this to Nancy Grace just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, "THE NANCY GRACE SHOW" HOST: What do you believe, Mrs. Neves? What do you believe happened to Haleigh?
TERESA NEVES, HALEIGH`S PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER: I believe that someone came in that house and took her. I believe that they either know my grandchildren and my family or Haleigh`s mother`s family or they had to watch for a while because my son is on the night shift. And anybody who knows my son knows he is very protective of his children. So no one would dare to come in when he is there.
So you`ve got to be talking about somebody who knew my son wouldn`t be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Jordan, you`re the criminal profiler, does that make sense?
JORDAN: I`m not going to at all rule out the idea of an abduction, but taking a sleeping child from the same bed as her caregiver if indeed Misty was sleeping in the same bed with little Haleigh --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the story has changed a number of times.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now we hear that she was in sort of a blow-up bed four feet away in the same room.
JORDAN: Wow, and the more the story changes, the less credibility the last witness has. That is -- it just doesn`t happen. I mean, that the closest thing we`ve ever had is the Elizabeth Smart case where Elizabeth was taken from the same bedroom with her sister.
But her sister was 9 years old, and she wasn`t a caregiver. That is so high-risk. It`s virtually unknown.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
Stacey Honowitz, police confirmed today, that a car has been seized. No more details were given.
A former tenant of this doublewide trailer says that it was a very noisy trailer and he says that the floors are noisy, that it wouldn`t be able -- it wouldn`t be possible to take somebody out without waking up the inhabitants.
There is so much coming in, what do you make of this story? Because it just doesn`t seem to add up.
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, I`m going to tell you something very interesting, Jane. I don`t think anybody knows anything. I`ve tried child molestation cases for the last 20 years, and I`m going to tell you that there`s many cases where a child is molested right in the bed with the mother sitting there and another child.
So I`m not ruling anything out that it`s hard to go in and take a sleeping child. Yes, it is high-risk. Is it virtually impossible? No, it`s not. And I don`t think any of us are going to know anything until some pertinent leads come to fruition.
Now, if in fact, Misty was not there, if this lead does pan out, if somebody saw her out of the trailer at the time, then certainly the whole case of the investigation is going to change. So we`re going to have to wait and see.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pastor, we`re running out of time. But I want to ask you, local stations reporting that little Haleigh has Turner syndrome, which is a chromosomal affliction that kind of affects body features, but she looks to me in all the photos as just a gorgeous young child and I don`t see any sign of it. What do you know?
WRIGHT: Yes, absolutely. As she attended our church, and involved in our kids ministry which is called Kid`s Creek (ph), she was just a normal little girl.
Over there having a great time learning about the Lord, learning about the reality of the Christian faith and just growing in her faith. And so, yes, there were no real obvious signs of that. I`m not real familiar with the syndrome and all of the implications, but she seemed real normal to us.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Well, listen, I want to say to you, pastor, that I -- my heart and speaking for my whole staff here, our hearts go out to what the Cummings family is going through. And we do pray that somehow something we say will trigger something in somebody`s mind and that they will make a call to authorities and this child will come home safely.
Let`s hope, right?
Thank you to my fabulous panel.
And a reminder, Nancy Grace is up next, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. And she will have the very latest on the search for Haleigh Cummings.
And here on "ISSUES," I will have more on the outrage surrounding Nadya Suleman, octo-mom. Instead of blaming octo-mom I think we should blame our society`s obsession with multiple births, do you agree or disagree? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297 to weigh in on octo- mom, next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, more outrage over octo-mom, Nadya Suleman.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
An update in the case of missing 25-year-old Laura Garza: Garza was seen leaving a posh Manhattan nightclub with convicted sex offender Michael Mele back in December. After initial clues in Garza`s disappearance pointed to Mele, the search has stalled in recent weeks.
Mele is currently in jail for violating probation. He has not been charged in Garza`s disappearance. But that hasn`t stopped Mele`s lawyers from trying to move his pending cases to another county. Mele will face trail on unrelated charges, so his attorneys have asked a New York Appeals Court to move the location, arguing that the intense media coverage related to the Garza case has tainted the jury pool.
You know what else taints the jury pool? Being a convicted sex offender?
Here on "ISSUES" I will be sure to update you with any and all developments in the Laura Garza case.
Octo-mom, Nadya Suleman, says she will find a way to support her brood. Now numbering 14, her instant celebrity status now seemingly a little more permanent, it all begs the question. What can we learn from this very bizarre case? Will it prompt new regulations and oversight in fertility treatment? We hope, we hope.
What about octo-doc? Will he face any penalties? And what about our role in all of this? Were it not for our culture`s obsession with multiple births, would Nadya Suleman even had considered repeated fertility treatments?
Yes those babies are cute but costs of raising them financials, emotionally, environmentally, staggering for everyone.
Of course I`m taking your calls on this.
First, my guests, the fabulous Lisa Bloom, anchor of "In Session" and the also fabulous Russell Wetanson, pop culture and legal expert and founder of popsquire.com.
Russell, this is what I think. You tell me. Isn`t octo-mom a metaphor for what is wrong with our culture, the sickness in our society? Where we have confused everything we want with something that we need.
RUSSELL WETANSON, POP CULTURE AND LEGAL EXPERT: Well, there definitely is some confusion in our society today about wants versus needs. But Jane, I have to play devil`s advocate a little here. I think that the criticism of octo-mom has gone a little too far.
This is America. We`re supposed to root for the underdog. This is the year of "Slumdog Millionaire".
And by all accounts the Octo-mom is and underdog and we are just --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, funny you should mention "Slumdog Millionaire" because it focuses on the poverty in India. And one of the reasons that people are so outraged over this, Lisa Bloom, is that there are many, many thousands, if not millions of kids, who are starving, who are suffering malnutrition, who are orphaned all around the world. Who need resources and this lady is a big resource hog.
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR OF "IN SESSION": Jane, I`ve got to take my hat off to you that was very nicely done. And look in "Slumdog," we`re talking about some poor kids who were basically abandoned by the adults and had to raise themselves. And I hope that`s not what`s going to happen here.
Look, Nadya Suleman, I`m going to personally stop calling her octo- mom. Because she`s not a beast, she`s not a monster. She`s a human being.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re right.
BLOOM: And she`s made a terrible mistake, she`s irresponsible. But those babies are here now. And we have to help them and we have to have some compassion for this poor woman who created a terrible mess. And I`m not saying that she shouldn`t be blamed for it, but the whole world is looking at it. And we are all criticizing her day after day. And she`s running from the paparazzi now, I think we also have to have some compassion for her as a human being.
WETANSON: I agree. I actually have a really good solution.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have tremendous compassion for her. I think I`m blaming society actually, Russell.
WETANSON: Well, you know and I don`t blame you but I actually have a really good solution. I think we should combine forces of "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. If we get Angelina and Brad to have one more kid, and get paid for the pictures, they can donate to Nadya Suleman as their charity and then "Extreme Makeover" can build her a house. And then the taxpayers will be free and clear.
BLOOM: Well, what we need is some kind of a grown-up who is a responsible parent who is going to move into that home and take care of these kids. I mean, unfortunately, that`s what`s required because she already has six. Three of them are disabled. She`s clearly not capable of taking care of eight more.
No human being would be capable of taking of eight more. So she`s got mom, maybe dad. I mean, I don`t know if she`s a member of a church. That would be a terrific entity to get involved. Send volunteers there at least for the first year or two to help out, because we need grown-ups who have skills to get into that home and to help out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Lisa, I`m going beyond her case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I`m saying that she symbolizes what is wrong with our society, where we really have a notion that more is better.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so if you have two kids, that`s great, but if you have 14, that`s even better.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it applies to everything we do. We go and we use plastic bags. We don`t think of the consequences. They`re going to last for 1,000 years. Well, we want it, therefore we need it.
It`s the mentality that drives me mad. And to me, she is the living embodiment of the mentality of give me more, give me more.
BLOOM: I hear what you`re saying, except I don`t want to be critical of large families. I think of my good friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach who wrote a great piece in the "Jerusalem Post" today.
Look, he`s got nine kids. They have a beautiful family. And a lot of people with large families have wonderful families. So we`re not criticizing people who just have a lot of kids.
The problem here is that she used science to make way too many kids way too quickly and that`s the issue here. And she does -- I think you`re right Jane -- she does tend to see them as commodities.
BLOOM: Like the plastic bags, like going to the mall and buying things you can`t afford. She runs up the debt, I mean she does in that way embody a lot of problems. Because she can`t --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Russell, I mean, what I`m saying that maybe it is time for us to rethink large families when we have an overpopulation crisis and when we have dwindling resources, environmentally and in every other sense. Maybe we should realize that there are many consequences, environmental, financial, emotional, ethical to this situation.
WETANSON: I think you`re right Jane. I think this is coming at a time where people are very aware of environmental issues. And I think that`s a big one. And people are very aware about money; I think money is at the root of a lot of this controversy. If Nadya Suleman had more money we wouldn`t care as much.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We will be back with more discussion in just moments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOANNE KILLEEN, FORMER PUBLICIST FOR OCTUPLET MOM: Well, they said to me that I should be put down like an old dog, I should be paralyzed. My client`s uterus should be ripped out; she should put on an island.
Larry, I don`t know what`s happened with America, but they`re really, really angry and letting me know what they think about this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Nadya Suleman`s publicist telling Larry King that she was stepping down because of all the death threats she has gotten and we are back talking about -- sorry about this, Lisa, octo-outrage, is that ok?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The phone lines are light up. Tita in California, you`re question or thoughts?
TITA IN CALIFORNIA: Yes, my question is the man that helped form these children, the sperm guy is a good friend of hers, of Nadya`s. Why isn`t he being held financially responsible?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and Lisa Bloom, what about the doctor? He`s done it again. He`s just impregnated a 49-year-old woman with quadruplets and she also has no insurance.
BLOOM: Well, that`s outrageous. Well, two separate questions. If the sperm donor was done via the doctor and done properly and legally, guess what, he is not going to be responsible for those children, even if he is a known donor. And a lot of guys want to contribute sperm and they don`t want to be legally responsible. They just want to contribute this sperm and not be a dad and that`s why the law protects them.
The doctor, a very different story, there is no regulations in place now but I think -- this has caused of all of us to say, the doctors have to be responsible. We can`t be bringing large numbers of children into the world via science that people can`t support.
So I support regulations saying we`ve got to really clamp down on this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely, and there are laws in Germany, in Australia, in France and in England that limits the number of embryos a doctor can implant. We need something like that here.
Gloria of New Jersey, your questions or thoughts?
GLORIA OF NEW JERSEY: Hi, this is a comment.
GLORIA: I would just like people to be more cognizant of the fact that children born from multiple births have a greater risk of being born with cerebral palsy.
GLORIA: Which may be now six to a year later, their life is certainly valuable.
BLOSSOM: Important point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to give Russell the last word. Russell, your final thought on all of this octo-mom craziness.
WETANSON: My final point is that we should turn this craziness into a little good thinking. I think that we have to wish her the best. I know, Jane, you`re not favor of her, but --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t have anything against her. I`m saying that society is to blame actually.
WETANSON: Well, that maybe the case and we`ve seen lots of TV shows that glorify big families. But again, you know I really do wish her the best, but the unfortunate part is she is just not that likable and I think that`s why America is outraged by this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are out of time. Lisa and Russell, thanks.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and you are watching "ISSUES."