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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

New Evidence Released in Caylee Anthony Case; Where is Haleigh; Full House

Aired February 20, 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, shocking news in the Caylee Anthony murder case. When mom Casey reacted to news that a child`s remains were found near her home, investigators secretly caught her meltdown on tape, according to a source who saw the video. Casey doubled over and hyperventilated. Remember, this happened days before those remains were identified as Caylee`s.

Investigators argue it shows Casey Anthony is guilty in the murder of her daughter. This after mounds of new evidence is made public. Is the prosecution starting to gain an advantage, or could this maneuver boomerang?

Then, I`ll examine the many new developments in the search for little Haleigh Cummings. More questions surround Misty Croslin, the father`s girlfriend. Following up on tips of a possible Haleigh sighting in Tennessee, cops reportedly questioned Croslin`s relative, who lives there. And cops bring in Croslin herself for another round of questions. Does she hold the key to finding little Haleigh?

Plus, stunning new twists in the Octomom story. Did Nadya Suleman just buy a million-dollar home?

And awful new details have emerged in alleged beating of pop superstar Rihanna. I`ll have the very latest.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A truly shocking development in the Caylee Anthony murder case. It`s one that could be devastating for Casey Anthony, who is awaiting trial for allegedly killing her precious little girl.

Reports are that Casey`s dramatic reaction to the December 11th news that remains of a child had been found was caught on tape. Remember, this was before we knew those remains were, in fact, Caylee`s.

The secret taping was no accident. In fact, sources tell Orlando affiliate WESH that investigators arranged for Casey to be taken to an area in the jail where her reaction could be videotaped as she watched the breaking news coverage on television.

Does that mean reports that Casey began hyperventilating and doubled over twice are now corroborated by hard videotape evidence? And does it prove Casey knew where the body was? Remember, it wasn`t for another eight days that those remains were identified as Caylee`s.

So much to cover tonight, so let`s get right to my expert panel: Pam Bondi, Florida state prosecutor; Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist; and Rozzie Franco from WFLA 540 AM in Orlando.

Rozzie, there are actually two versions of the events leading up to Casey`s emotional reaction, the hyperventilating. The "Orlando Sentinel" is reporting that corrections officers were asked to closely observe and videotape Casey as they told her about the remains being found.

What are you hearing about the differing stories?

ROZZIE FRANCO, WFL REPORTER: Well, what I`ve learned from Orange County jail officials is that they often have those videotapes there, and they were supposed to observe her closely.

Now, what WESH is reporting is that Orange County investigators actually requested that she be videotaped after finding out that those were Caylee`s remains, which is an entirely different story. Now, the Orange County has said that -- Orange County jail has said that they`re not going to be releasing this tape.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. I`m trying to understand this. It was December 11 that the remains were found. It wasn`t until many days later, I believe it was December 19, that the medical examiner came out and said those remains are Caylee Anthony`s. The videotape that was taken, my understanding is on December 11, long before anybody knew that those were, in fact, little Caylee Anthony`s remains.

FRANCO: That`s correct. And WESH is reporting that investigators specifically said that they wanted her reaction videotaped, and the "Orlando Sentinel" was reporting that she was simply observed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Simply observed? But not videotaped?

FRANCO: Well, it is on videotape, but they were asked to observe her and how she reacted, but not that investigators had asked for her to be videotaped.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m confused. I mean, the point of it is that they did videotape. Nobody disputes that.

FRANCO: Right. They videotaped.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That they actually videotaped her. And presumably they didn`t come one a camera and stick it right in her face while she`s watching this. Presumably it was done secretly.

Pam Bondi, Florida state prosecutor, if in fact she hyperventilated, is that consciousness of guilt? Because remember, there were other times in this case over the months that we thought we found little Caylee`s remains. We found things and there was a whole hullabaloo, and it turned out it wasn`t Caylee`s remains. We didn`t hear anything about her hyperventilating on those occasions.

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA STATE PROSECUTOR: No. And typically, a good defense attorney like Drew could argue that -- that it`s typical of a parent who finds out that this possibly could be their child, but not with Casey Anthony.

Like you said, she has shown no remorse up to this point, no sense of loss of her daughter. Even when her daughter was missing, you know, she`s out partying, no sense of sorrow. All this is, is her narcissistic personality coming out even more, because she thought she was caught.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Drew Findling, is it common practice to videotape a defendant in this kind of situation, and is this an opening for the defense to argue, "Hey, you surreptitiously videotaped my client without an attorney present at a crucial moment"?

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is not an opening. It`s a gaping the size of the Grand Canyon. Everybody always forgets this is a woman that`s not under investigation. She is indicted for murder. She has attorneys of record.

The United States Supreme Court is extremely sensitive to surreptitious ways of avoiding counsel being present at something that can be considered a statement, even if it`s physical manifestations.

And if this were set up, one, I guarantee you it was not a setup orchestrated with the state attorney`s office, because they`re not dumb enough to do this. It creates a gray area, and the prosecutors in this case don`t need gray areas. Gray areas...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Pam Bondi, you`re a prosecutor. Do you agree with Drew that this is problematical and this could end up biting the very investigators who thought they`d pulled off this coup?

BONDI: Well, I can tell you I`m not familiar with the Orlando jail, but in Hillsborough County, our jails, there are video cameras everywhere. The entire jail is basically videotaped. The inmates know that. The guards know it. Just like when Casey was talking to her parents. That was all videotaped.

So if that`s the case and these cameras were everywhere, there`s not a problem with it. You have no expectation of privacy in the jail.

FINDLING: Pam, I agree. But remember, that they can`t just come up to her and interrogate her. I agree with you about...

BONDI: Absolutely. Absolutely.

FINDLING: But this is almost a back-door interrogation. And I agree with you; it`s not a black-and-white one. But it`s gray enough that you and I both know good attorneys are going to file motions. And this is just going to become an issue, which I don`t think the prosecutors need in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me bring Brenda Wade into this conversation. First of all, what does it mean when somebody hyperventilates? What is the psychological and emotional significance of that? And also, what impact could this have if it were played in front of a jury?

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, clearly, the hyperventilating, the bending over, all of that indicates strong emotion. What emotion, we don`t know. Probably shock, possibly guilt, but I`m not prepared to say it`s guilt.

One of the things that`s troubled me all along about Casey Anthony, frankly, Jane, is that we know that she`s been a troubled person for a long time, and the further we go with analyzing this case, the more the evidence comes out that the parents knew, other friends knew, other people knew that this was a troubled young woman.

And what bothers me the most, to be quite honest with you, is that there wasn`t an appropriate intervention. She actually told people, "I feel I`m having a breakdown. I feel I`m coming apart."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, precisely to that point, yes. Casey`s state of mind is definitely at the heart of this case. And by the way, friends described this to detectives, saying she`s either on the verge of a meltdown or she is a fantastic actress.

Quote, "In March of 2007 Casey called Michelle" -- that`s one of her friends -- "and said she was feeling crazy and needed to talk to somebody. Michelle said this conversation took place shortly after Casey told she had had a miscarriage. Casey was thinking about getting herself committed.

"Annie spoke of an emotional breakdown Casey had in late 2006 or early 2007. She says Casey showed up at her work for lunch one day, saying she needed to talk. Casey told her she need to get away and felt like she was having a breakdown. Casey did not tell Annie what triggered this. Casey told her she wanted to go to an institution."

Precisely to your point.

WADE: And at that point, yes, somebody should have taken her to an institution. Somebody should have taken her for help.

Now I hate to say this, but I think we all bear a responsibility when there`s a tragedy, because we don`t know what to do. And Jane, I want everyone to take something away from this terrible situation, which is if somebody tells you, "I`m in trouble, I`m breaking down, I`m melting down, don`t do nothing. Do something. Call your local mental health facility. Offer to take that person to see a therapist. This is what, again, I call a love lesson. We show up to help. Parenting is a tough job...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s interesting you should mention parenting, because one of the friends said that when she called Casey back after hearing this shocking news to check up on her, Casey said, "Everything`s fine. I`ve talked to my mother and everything`s OK."

So I don`t know whether she was convinced that she didn`t have a problem by her mother or -- a lot of times I think people have a very, very bad idea in society, and that`s to say snap out of it. When somebody`s having a problem.

WADE: Right.

FRANCO: That`s exactly Cindy Anthony`s personality. That`s exactly how she is. And we learned that in those 100 pages of documents that were released. Now, Cindy told me she felt closer to Casey after she was arrested.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That`s fascinating. And I`d love to hear what Cindy has to say. I mean, here we are talking about her. She doesn`t have a chance to defend herself. If she ever wants to come up and talk, we`d love to have her on.

All right, guys, stick around.

Just a reminder, Nancy Grace up immediately following this program at 8 p.m. Eastern. She will have the very latest on the Caylee Anthony murder case.

And right here on ISSUES we will have much more analysis of Casey Anthony`s prison meltdown upon hearing about Caylee`s remains being found, long before we knew officially they were Caylee`s remains. What does it mean for the prosecution?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASEY ANTHONY, ACCUSED OF MURDERING DAUGHTER: I can`t do anything from here. I don`t have access to the Internet. I can`t make phone calls. I can`t go anywhere. I`ve already told you, Mom, I`ve told you everything...

CINDY ANTHONY, GRANDMOTHER OF CAYLEE: I`ve thought about everything that you told me over the last month...

CASEY ANTHONY: You`ve thought about stuff and you`ve done what you can. I`m sorry. That`s all I can do from the only knowledge that I have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Anthony expressing frustration at her lack of control while behind bars.

I am back with my fantastic panel.

Pam Bondi, we`re talking about this dramatic moment, December 11, when remains are found just a short distance from the Anthony family home, and Casey Anthony is secretly videotaped as she reacts to the news that remains have been found there before it`s identified as little Caylee`s, just remains found in some dirt in a wooded area. She has a meltdown, begins hyperventilating, doubles over twice. Is the jury going to see that videotape?

BONDI: You know, the prosecutors are going to have to decide, Jane. They have so much evidence in this case, and they have so many bad acts by Casey Anthony that are going to be relevant and admissible. They`re going to have to pick and choose.

For instance, I don`t think they`re going to use a lot of those jail phone calls between Casey and her mom. This, I think they`ll probably end up using.

You know, you don`t want to put on too much in your case and muddy the water. But I think this is dramatic evidence. I really do. Showing that the only time you see remorse from her is when she thinks she`s caught. And that`s self-preservation on her part.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We now seem to have a picture of Casey as a serial, if not pathological, liar. It turns out she told the same lies too many times, and it may have caught up with her.

Here`s what investigators wrote about their interviews with two of her friends. Quote, "As to Casey`s employment throughout 2006 and 2007, Annie said Casey told her she worked at the Sports Authority then Universal Studios. She now knows all of this to have been a lie. Michelle said Casey supposedly worked as an event planner for Universal Studios and for the Sports Authority. Michelle believed Casey was lying about her job, but she doesn`t know if anyone confronted her about this. Michelle said Casey was known to lie about a lot of little stupid things."

And remember the quote, "bad things" Casey`s own brother Lee referred to. Here`s how Annie saw it. "When asked to describe what bad things she knows Casey had done, Annie said Casey lied to everyone she knows. Everything Annie thought she knew about Casey was a lie. She also learned that Casey stole from people she knew."

Brenda Wade, isn`t it fascinating that now some of the deception that she used on other people is a technique being used on her? The deceptive technique of videotaping her surreptitiously to catch her reaction.

WADE: It`s very sad, because all the lying, the deception, all the things that you just described, Jane, these are all indicators that, again, this is a person who has a very difficult, to say the least, psychological makeup. This is a very troubled young woman.

I would say right off the bat she was severely depressed, probably in some way, earlier, Jane mentioned narcissistic. Yes. But at the end of the day here`s a young woman who had the responsibility to take care of a child, and everyone around her knew she was troubled.

Now, I think that there`s a responsibility here when we have somebody in our midst, and this is for everyone out there. We need to value our children, value and support our families. And if someone is taking care of a child and they`re troubled, intervene.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But see, that`s exactly what Cindy did ...

FINDLING: But Jane, just because...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now it`s oh, she was an overbearing mother who was domineering and tried to usurp Casey`s role as the mother. So it`s almost like Cindy can`t win.

WADE: There`s that piece, Jane. There`s that piece. But the other piece of it is,, if I were Cindy, I would make sure my daughter got psychological help. That`s the place...

BONDI: But you know, on that, Jane, why did it...

FINDLING: Jane, just because you`re a liar does not mean that you`re a murder. Just because you`re a sociopath doesn`t even you`re a liar.

The problem with this case, and we`ve talked about this before, and I`m reticent to criticize defense counsel, but marrying yourself to the stupid babysitter story is ridiculous. It continues to be ridiculous.

But remember, when this case started, the charges against her were not murder but negligent parenting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because she didn`t report the child missing for a month.

FINDLING: Exactly. And we don`t know who took the child and who killed the child. We still don`t know that. We still know that items were taken, which could have been taken by a kidnapper, by a murderer, when the child was taken.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, except there were signs of decomposition in the trunk of Casey Anthony`s car and a hair that showed signs of decomposition that has been determined to match the hair on the skull.

FINDLING: Well -- well, we don`t know that 100 percent yet. I mean, if that were as clear and if that were as explosive as it could be, we would have heard that a long time ago.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have been hearing it. We`ve been hearing it for a long time. Right, Rozzie?

FRANCO: That`s correct. We heard that as soon as investigators decided to take hair samples from the trunk. They told us initially there was s stain in the trunk that they were sending away to Quantico that they needed to examine.

But I want to say here, Cindy also took three weeks before she decided to act on finding Caylee and Casey. So I mean, you know, there`s three weeks here that`s also missing where Caylee was missing. What happened there?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, OK. I think Cindy, we have all heard the 911 call when she finally realizes oh, my gosh...

FRANCO: I`m not giving you any more time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. I`m not giving you any more time. Whether or not we feel that she should have acted sooner based on suspicions, that`s really, I think -- I don`t think any of us can really put ourselves in her shoes.

FINDLING: Hey, these police reports -- these police reports tell the entire world that they owe Cindy Anthony an apology, because the evidence that they found could easily have been secreted away by Cindy, whether it`s the tape, the gas can, OK? The hearts. And she volunteered. OK? Some of the missing items that were there when the police came. So she could have easily tried to help her child, and she didn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Well, we`re going to have to leave it right there. I want to thank my fantastic panel. We`ve got to take a break.

Coming up, the very latest on the search for Haleigh Cummings. And of course, we will have more now of this family, seemingly falling apart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE ANTHONY, FATHER OF CASEY: I know what you`re trying to do. You`re trying to entice me. You`re trying to get me negative...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

G. ANTHONY: I miss my daughter, Casey. Do not form any judgments, because I`ll tell you, you don`t want to be in any of our family`s shoes, no matter what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You have to agree there. A plaintive but firm George Anthony asking that we all reserve judgment.

I`m back with my fantastic panel, talking about the stunning developments in the Caylee Anthony murder case.

Now, this is a complicated one. Just listen very carefully, because of course, anything that involves Casey Anthony`s going to be a complex story.

We know that little Caylee disappeared in June. We know that in May, a month earlier, there was this infamous "anything but clothes" party. Apparently, according to a friend, Annie, Casey had a confrontation, or spoke of having a confrontation with a guy named Brandon at the "anything but clothes" party. And apparently, Casey had told several people that she had been pregnant with Brandon`s child the year before but had a miscarriage on Valentine`s Day 2007.

Now, her friend, Annie, doesn`t think Casey was ever pregnant with this Brandon`s child. I can`t even figure out whether this Brandon really exists, because she has made up so many other people in the past.

My question to you, Brenda, is could this be her subconscious talking about a miscarriage? Could that be a way of her subconscious trying to say, "I don`t want to have the baby that I already have"?

WADE: It could be. And I have to say it sounds like a lie. The fact that it`s on Valentine`s Day is a particular day that stands out. That makes me question.

But again, Jane, I want people to take away this family is in trouble, and everyone who focuses...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think we know that, Brenda. I think that may be the understatement of the century.

WADE: But I want people to do something about that. Instead of judging, as George Anthony just said, I want people to think, "I hope you find the courage, I hope you find the strength to come through this."

And any other family watching, I want you to think, "I am going to value my family, my children," because there is something we have to learn...

FINDLING: Well, here`s what -- Jane, here`s what -- here`s what it tells you about this case. When you`re a criminal defense attorney, no matter what your position in a case, no matter what your defense -- and this is a private matter, not something you share with the public. You can get all the Henry Lees you want.

But in a case like this, you need to have at least one, if not two, if not three forensic psychiatric, and psychological evaluations that you don`t share with anybody. So I sure hope, reading this, this information, I`ve gone through to discovery online, screams to me I hope they got plenty of evaluations of their client.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re talking about the defense.

FINDLING: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And how would they use that, Pam Bondi?

BONDI: Well, unless they`re going to claim insanity, I can`t see a way where it`s even going to be relevant. Because their defense is she didn`t do it.

FINDLING: Well, you still -- but you have to do it. You have to in good conscience as an officer of the court...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what`s the purpose of it?

FINDLING: Well, the purpose is -- the purpose is you don`t know whether you can believe your client, because remember when you -- let me give you a little seminar for the public.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We don`t have time for a seminar. You`ve got ten seconds.

FINDLING: When you -- when you get an evaluation, it`s what the person`s condition was at the time of the alleged event and whether they can even help their attorneys in the case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

FINDLING: We don`t even know whether she could help them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Pam Bondi...

BONDI: Competency issues. Competency issues, sure. And that`s to protect the defense in post-conviction proceedings. Yes, that should be done. But here, she`s saying...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we must end it right there. Panel, fantastic. Please come back soon.

Coming up, breaking developments in the desperate search for 5-year- old Haleigh Cummings. New questions surrounding Misty Croslin. Stunning, shocking new developments just in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: Shocking new developments in the search for little Haleigh Cummings: more questions surround Misty Croslin`s, the father`s girlfriend. Following up on tips of a possible Haleigh`s sightings in Tennessee, cops reportedly questioned Croslin`s relatives who lives there. Too many leads, too few answers -- where do investigators go from here?

Then, I`ll have the latest on octo-mom Nadya Suleman. Did she really buy a million-dollar home?

And shocking twists in the alleged beating of pop superstar Rihanna. I`ll tell you about it.

Stunning new developments coming in fast and furious in the search for missing Florida girl Haleigh Cummings: now the story has crossed state borders. Police today questioned Misty Croslin`s cousin, now referred to as Joe, hundreds of miles away in Tennessee. Reports suggest that it was this cousin who got into a fight with father, Ron Cummings hours before little Haleigh disappeared and that he had taken off to Tennessee afterwards.

All this made more compelling by a tip that a girl matching Haleigh`s description was seen in a Knoxville, Tennessee Carrabba`s Restaurant in a red Toyota RAV-4 with Florida license plates and that her face was shielded by a man.

Haleigh`s family held a news conference today and answered the many questions about this mysterious cousin, Joe, who Misty says she doesn`t trust.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I bet you don`t trust him?

CRYSTAL CUMMINGS, HALEIGH`S AUNT: We don`t either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don`t you trust him?

NEVES: Well, from the newspaper clips that we have and what we`ve heard, he might not be a very good person for Haleigh to be with. We`re just hoping that if he does know something that he tells someone so we can bring her home safely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel comfortable with this man who you consider potentially a pedophile in a home with Haleigh? He was in the home at one point.

TERESA NEVES, HALEY`S GRANDMOTHER: You know, you trust your friends and your family to bring in people that you can trust. He did not carry a sign that says "I`m a sexual offender and I`m going to steal your child." He carried nothing like that.

As far as the cousin, I mean, Ronald wants Haleigh home and he doesn`t care who has her, how they got her. He wants her home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Also in the mix, a car impounded and a sex offender at large. Could any of this lead to a major break in the case?

I want to go straight to my expert panel to examine all the various leads.

Don Clark, former special agent in charge in Houston FBI. And Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney. Plus, Lisa Bloom, anchor on the legal network "In Session" and T.J. Hart, program and news director at WSKY 97.3 FM, on the scene.

T.J., what is the very latest, particularly as regards this Joe person?

T.J. HART, WSKY 97.3 FM: This Joe person has become a person of interest. We`ve been hearing lots about a man who may be a relative up until late yesterday who lives in Tennessee and who may have been here during the time frame when young Haleigh disappeared.

Now he has a name. He goes by Joe. At least that`s how he`s being identified today. Misty Croslin was on morning television today, and she spoke a bit about this character Joe, this cousin, and she said she doesn`t trust him, she doesn`t trust him at all. She doesn`t think he`s a good person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is there any confirmation that he indeed has some kind of record as a pedophile because that`s what the family was referring to in the news conference.

HART: That`s the suggestion that`s being made, and that`s the lead that we`ve been following for a couple of days now. One, who is this cousin? What is this person`s full name? What is his age? And I`ve been looking through the sexual predator registries on just what I have. And of course, you`re not going to get much with what I`ve told you already.

But in the press conference yesterday at 3:00, with Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy, he said I`m not going to answer that question. So he just declined to answer; very tight-lipped about the situation and the status of this cousin.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, so much to talk about.

The girlfriend of Haleigh`s father, Ron Cummings, appeared on "The Today Show" this morning. When asked about this cousin in Tennessee, here is what Misty said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MISTY CROSLIN, GIRLFRIEND OF RONALD CUMMINGS: He`s -- you know, he`s a criminal pretty much. He`s been in trouble his whole life. I don`t trust him. No, I don`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa Bloom, this is such scary information. And then you dovetail it with this tip about a child that looks like Haleigh being spotted at a restaurant with a white male and, according to some reports, a mystery woman as well.

And my thought is why didn`t we know about this a long time ago? I mean, if this guy had had a fight with the father of this missing child, wouldn`t that be the very first person they would go to find since he would have some kind of motive?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR OF "IN SESSION": Jane, you are putting your finger on the most important development in the case over the past couple of weeks, and that is Misty, 17 years old, having the presence of mind to say on television, you know what, I don`t trust this guy. I don`t trust my cousin.

And you would expect her to say, well, he`s my family member, I`m sure everything`s fine. She doesn`t say that. And we know that when a child is missing it`s about a 95 percent chance that somebody in the family or somebody she knew is the one who abducted her. It`s the stranger abduction that gets all of the attention, but usually it`s a family member or somebody who knows her.

So I agree with you. Look, I`m sure Misty knows her cousin`s real name and they doesn`t just call him by Joe. I`m sure she knows where he lives.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

BLOOM: And I hope that she`s given that information to the police and they are following this as closely as you are because this is a very significant development.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m just wondering, we`re in day 11 now, why this didn`t happen sooner.

New reports suggest that it was Misty`s cousin Joe who was fighting with Haleigh`s dad, Ron, the night before she disappeared. But when asked about that fight yesterday, here`s what Ron had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: There was no fight with no cousin over a gun. I don`t know where people are getting information from. But you know, people say -- people say a lot of things, and they don`t know what they`re talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t have an altercation with anybody verbally, physically at all before --

CUMMINGS: I don`t have any enemies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But that report claims came from a relative, Don Clark. Now if this fight in fact did occur, wouldn`t it be in the father`s best interest to come clean with it immediately to help police?

I mean, wouldn`t he want to say to the cops, "Check this out, I got into a fight right before Haleigh disappeared and he might be seeking revenge?"

DON CLARK, FMR. SPECIAL AGENT, HOUSTON FBI: Absolutely. The two adults involved here, number one, the young lady who was there, that person has to be continually talked to in my opinion if her defense attorney`s going to allow. Or hopefully a defense attorney would allow it.

But also the father too. They can`t be playing these games if that`s a good person, and that is a good person. The key is here let`s get the information that`s going to give the police some leads to try to find this little girl.

And it doesn`t make any difference about whether this was a good person or not. Now, if there`s an issue there, let`s spell it out right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: T.J. Hart, was this cousin at the trailer hours before little Haleigh disappeared? Because I remember a week ago hearing that there was an air-conditioning repairman there. He had been questioned and cleared. And there was also a report at the same time, I can`t remember the source, that Misty`s cousin had stopped by the trailer earlier with some of her nephews.

Is this the same person, this Joe because that would explain everything? I mean, it could account for how this door was mysteriously opened that was supposed to be locked. If somebody`s in a trailer, they can unlock the door when nobody`s looking.

HART: Well, Jane, this right now is having this person of interest, Joe as he`s being referred to, being in this area, this tight little area, during the time of the disappearance. But no one has said anything about cousins, and no one has said anything about nephews, rather, at the time.

This is something I`ve not been able to confirm at this point. But it is something that my other reporters are working on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, girlfriend Misty was re-questioned yesterday and was reportedly at the sheriff`s office for five hours. Misty was also asked on "The Today Show" about finding the pink shirt that Haleigh was supposedly wearing when she disappeared. This was her response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROSLIN: I was looking by the dirty clothes for the clothes that she was wearing earlier that day for school, and I found that shirt, and found that shirt and I showed it to the detectives. If I was hiding something, why would I show the cops the shirt?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa Bloom, another part of this puzzle is that there have been inconsistencies in Misty`s story. There were various stories about where she was sleeping vis-a-vis the two kids, and there were some claims, according to one tip, that she left the trailer that night, possibly after the kids went to sleep.

BLOOM: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m starting to see a picture. It`s almost like a portrait is sort of emerging of what possibly could have happened. If this cousin had been in the trailer home and then had gotten either -- unlocked the door or had gotten into a fight and had come in there and then she puts the kids to sleep, then she leaves, then he could come in and possibly take the child.

BLOOM: Right. And the pink shirt is very intriguing. I believe Misty. There is something about her that I find credible. And she says I`m the one who showed the police, look, here`s the pink shirt that I told you that she took off in.

I mean, so I think she`s right. It`s hard to imagine she would have called that to their attention if she did something wrong. What it does sound like, and she`s very certain that Haleigh was wearing that shirt the last time she saw her is that somebody came in, removed the shirt and maybe other clothing from Haleigh, put other clothing on her, wrapped her in a blanket, and abducted her.

That may be what happened. Because it is very strange to think that her shirt ends up in the dirty laundry, the same shirt that she went to bed in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Lisa, precisely to your point, all of that couldn`t happen while Misty was asleep. And I think that why she`s being questioned over and over again is not that -- I don`t think anybody believes that she was complicit in anything that happened to this child, but it`s more like a case of was she negligent --

BLOOM: Wait a second. Why couldn`t it happen when she`s asleep? Somebody comes in and threatens that child, "Shh, don`t tell," maybe they have a weapon, they have a gun, they`re threatening. I mean, children are abused and taken all the time, and there`s not a peep out of them. It`s very easy to intimidate a five-year-old.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the reason I say that, and T.J. Hart, clarify, please is that people are saying this is a double-wide trailer. It`s squeaky. The previous tenant said you can`t do anything without it making a lot of noise and that this is not something that could have happened without somebody noticing, especially if the child`s changing clothes now.

HART: That`s absolutely true.

We spoke with Dr. Smallwood. He`s now a minister up in Claxton, Georgia. He was describing the double-wide trailer that he lived in with his family, and he said unless they did some major repairs on it, it is pretty darn squeaky. You can hear anybody moving about the house. That`s something that`s pretty --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, we`ve got to go, but just one final little detail; an army of investigators searching the woods today 200 yards behind the home. We know this story is going somewhere. I pray that this little girl is still alive.

Don, T.J., thanks. Lisa, stay right there.

A reminder, "Nancy Grace" is up immediately following this program.

But first, right here on "ISSUES," awful details emerge in the alleged beating of pop superstar Rihanna. A shocking photo we`re going to show you in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll have an update on reports the octo-mom was looking to buy a million-dollar home.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight: news in the alleged beating of pop superstar Rihanna. TMZ uncovered a shocking photo. Take a look at this before and after of the alleged beating. It`s sickening. Look at it.

Fellow pop star Chris Brown is accused of choking, biting, and beating a woman alleged to be Rihanna on February 8th before the two were scheduled to appear on the Grammys. Rihanna`s representative had no comment on this photo. What a shocker.

I am joined now by my dear friend Carlos Diaz, correspondent for "Extra." Carlos, wow. I was walking down the street, and I saw this on the cover of the paper, and there were people grouped around just staring at it in shock.

What does is this awful photo tell us about the extent of Rihanna`s injuries?

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": I mean, it does look terrible and I think this photo puts a face to domestic violence. You know, there are people that are outraged, that have said, "Oh, this photo should not have been released because it`s a private case, you know, it`s a private case between Rihanna and Chris Brown." I completely disagree. I think that this shows this is a serious case.

Now Rihanna can`t come out later and say oh, it wasn`t that bad. Now we know the extent of her injuries.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there`s one thing -- when you hear about something like this, you never know, well, was it a momentary slap and there was immediate contrition. No, something like this with the photo we just saw has to be a repeat event, in other words something that is going on over a period of time because it covered so many aspects of her face -- her lips, her eyes. It`s really horrifying.

At this point Chris Brown hasn`t been charged with anything. It`s very important for us to stress that. But he was arrested after the incident and released a statement a week later saying, "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother, and other loved ones. And I am committed with god`s help to emerging a better person."

Now, Rihanna has not commented on the matter, but sources close to her claim that she is appalled by Brown`s statement. Carlos, too little too late?

DIAZ: It`s -- you`re not going to get any more from him. I mean, he is -- Chris Brown is in a tough situation that he himself put himself into. But he cannot come out and give an interview to Oprah because this is an ongoing investigation. So he has to stay mum. He can only issue a blanket apology. He can`t get specific about it. And we`re not going to know until that first week in March, when he goes to court, any more information.

But I tell you right now, for the next two weeks this picture is the face of the investigation. And then when he goes to court, the somber look on his face is the new picture.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And by the way, just ironically, it`s kind of a sad note. Today is Rihanna`s 21st birthday. And wherever she`s recuperating, we here at "ISSUES" wish her a very, very happy birthday. And get well soon is the message from the folks here at the show.

All right, Carlos. That was "Top of the Block."

I want to turn to an equally outrageous story. Reports that octo-mom Nadya Suleman may be buying a $1.24 million home in California that you`re looking at right now. Does this new mansion have anything to do with the octo-mom`s future TV plans?

I`m sure it`s nice and roomy. Look at that pool. That looks pretty good. I`d like to dive into that right now. It`s nice and roomy also for a big reality TV crew, I would imagine. But cable channel TLC says they have no plans to work with octo-mom.

Meantime, Suleman`s dad was interviewed by Oprah today. That episode set to air on Tuesday. He had some choice words for his daughter, saying he questions her mental situation and adding that both Nadya and her doctor were "absolutely irresponsible;" couldn`t agree with you more, dad.

Joining me, Lisa Bloom, anchor on the legal network "In Session" and Carlos Diaz, back, correspondent for "Extra."

Carlos, TLC says no to Suleman. Does this mean Suleman is actively pursuing a reality show elsewhere, or is she looking to make another kind of deal, say, with the tabloids? Or maybe has she already made a deal?

DIAZ: Well, that`s the thing. You have to think -- you`d have to think a tabloid deal wouldn`t be as good a deal as a reality show because a tabloid deal is a one-time paycheck. A reality show, if by chance the public likes it and it becomes some sort of a hit, could go for years. This could be our very own version of "The Truman Show" watching these kids grow up.

And real quick, one thing, though, Jane, and I love you, but you keep saying $1.24 million home. Come on, you live out in L.A. You know, the picture`s nice but in Indiana --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have three words for you: location, location, location. We`re talking wittier.

DIAZ: Ok. But still, though, $1.24 million is not the same in the Midwest as it is, you know, in California. All right?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Yes, but it`s wittier. They`re not talking about Hollywood or west L.A. or Beverly Hills or Bel Air. I`m from L.A. too. Look, it`s a depressed housing market, in case you haven`t heard.

DIAZ: That`s true. That`s a good point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Maybe it`s a foreclosure. And ironically, Lisa --

DIAZ: She`s stimulating the economy by buying a home there.

BLOOM: She`s stimulating something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, exactly.

Ironically, her mother`s home is threatened with foreclosure because the grandma is ten months behind on her payment.

So try to sort this out for us, Lisa. We`re hearing so many reports depending on which news outlet you read. Either she`s buying this home, she just went there to tape the TV show and also that her own mother`s home is threatened with foreclosure, which is where she was supposed to go with the 14 kids.

BLOOM: Yes. First priority would be to pay mom back for everything mom has done to help raise the other six kids over the years, including all of the time that she was on bed rest with the octuplet pregnancy. It would be crazy for her to buy a house if she came into money and not help her mom out.

If indeed she was there to do a TV show, I understand that maybe that was Dr. Phil`s show, then I don`t see her actually buying the house but I don`t know why they did the "Dr. Phil Show" there. They have a beautiful set at Paramount; I`ve been there many times. That doesn`t make any sense either.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t make sense and none of it does. We`ll be right back with more, though.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re back talking about the latest fallout from octo-mom Nadya Suleman. With me again: Lisa Bloom, anchor on the legal network "In Session;" Carlos Diaz, correspondent for "Extra."

Now Suleman`s dad wasn`t totally critical of his daughter in the whole interview with Oprah. At one point he said, "You know what? She needs help. I say to everybody now, people, we do need help. Do not punish my daughter for what she had done and do not punish the babies because they were given by God."

Carlos, as a matter of fact, Gloria Allred, who happens to be the mother of Lisa Bloom, is working with this group Angels in Waiting, offering Nadya Suleman around the clock nursing help. They have been doing this for a week and last we heard, she has not responded. Why on earth would she not accept a handout like that which is unbelievably generous which would solve many of her problems?

DIAZ: You have to wonder, it`s $135,000 a month for this kind of service and it`s around the clock treatment. But it would have to be through donations. They`re not offering -- they said they could offer it for a few months but in order to keep it going -- maybe she`s weighing out all of her options before she picks which way she wants to go.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now on Thursday, octo-mom took a shot at people who are trying to make her put her kids up for adoption. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nadya, how do you feel about efforts to take your kids away?

NADYA SULEMAN, OCTUPLETS` MOM: I think whoever wants to do that just wants publicity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa Bloom, weigh in here because this woman is a mystery.

BLOOM: She really is, like mildly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a vortex. Every time you start covering this story because nothing that she does really makes a whole lot of sense.

BLOOM: I don`t think actually she is that much of a mystery. Unfortunately, I think she`s very self-focused and she doesn`t focus much on the kids. I can`t imagine any single mother not taking somebody up on an offer on free help with the kids. That includes me.

Anybody who wants to come and help me with my kids is more than welcome. And she`s got 14 under the age of seven. How on earth she could turn down free, experienced nursing care, educators, people who work with medically fragile infants, which is what she`s got in her hands, how she would just ignore that blithely is really is beyond me.

Nadya, you have to accept it -- I guess partly it`s because those kids would not be in her home. They would be in a special home by "Angels in Waiting. And maybe she doesn`t want that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Maybe she doesn`t want people watching her every move, especially if she`s up to who knows what. Right?

BLOOM: Right and letting go of some of the control.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, the mystery continues somewhat.

BLOOM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly.

Thank you both so much, Lisa and Carlos, for joining me.

BLOOM: Thanks Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and you are watching "ISSUES" on HLN.

END

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