Return to Transcripts main page
ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Missing Child Found Safe with Mother, Sex Offender; Police Await Results on Tests in Nevaeh Buchanan Murder
Aired June 24, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VINNIE POLITAN, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a huge sigh of relief. A nationwide missing child alert leads to the discovery of 4-year-old Haylee Donathan, found safe with her mom and her mom`s sex-offender boyfriend, Robby Potter. Cops found the trio last night at a Christian retreat near San Diego. Potter and the mother were immediately arrested. What happens to Haylee now?
Then, an update on the hunt for a child killer. Earlier this month, 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan was found murdered, her body encased in cement. Cops still have no suspects, but the results of two crucial lab reports could help them zero in on the monster responsible for this one.
And more frustration in the search for 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio. Cops come up empty after draining a septic tank on the property of person of interest James Hataway, the man last seen with Tracy. Now, Tracy`s father is taking control. I`ll tell you how he`s become indispensable in the search for his daughter.
Plus, more fallout from the Jon and Kate divorce. Kate`s brother slams TLC for destroying the family`s lives. Meantime, Kate points the finger at herself, saying she failed. So was someone to blame, or is this what happens when private people become public spectacles?
ISSUES starts now.
POLITAN: Welcome to ISSUES. I`m Vinnie Politan, in for Jane Velez-Mitchell. We start with breaking news tonight.
The frantic nationwide search for a missing Ohio girl and her mother is over. Four-year-old Haylee Donathan has been found alive. The little girl was taken on the run almost one month ago by her mother, Candace Watson, and her mother`s tier three sex-offender boyfriend, Robby Potter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ELLIOTT, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: Robby Potter has been captured, along with Candace Watson in San Diego, California. In the company of Candace was her daughter, Haylee. She was safe and we are going to be bringing her back to her grandmother here very, very shortly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: The missing trio was found after cops raided a Christian retreat ranch near San Diego, California, where they reportedly had been staying for at least a week. Both Watson and Potter reportedly worked in an avocado grove and told fellow ranchers that they were a family.
Candace Watson and Robby Potter were immediately arrested while little Haylee was with sent to Child Protective Services. Now, it`s not often we get to report good news, but the desperate search for Haylee captured national attention, and her safe return is the happy result.
The U.S. Marshal`s task force even thanked this show and Jane specifically, as well as Nancy Grace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLIOTT: I cannot compliment the media enough here for getting the message out for us. And I know the Nancy Grace show was out there for us, and the Jane Velez-Mitchell show us out there for us. And I appreciate that. We appreciate that, because that provided a lot of tips to us and for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: U.S. marshals were alerted to the trio`s whereabouts after a fellow ranch member noticed a photo of Haylee and the truck plastered on a nearby billboard.
So what kind of charges will Haylee`s mother and the sex offender face, and what happens to little Haylee?
Straight to my panel: Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor, joins us tonight. Dr. Dale Archer, a clinical psychologist. Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney. And Alexis Wiley, a reporter with WSYX in Columbus, Ohio. But first, joining me is U.S. Deputy Marshal Brian Fitzgibbon, the lead investigator on this case.
Marshal, first of all, congratulations on a happy ending to a long and somewhat scary search. Can you explain for everyone how you managed to track this trio down and recover Haylee?
BRIAN FITZGIBBON, U.S. DEPUTY MARSHALL: Thank you, Vinnie. I just want to say thanks for having us and thanks for putting the word out there on this case. It helped us out immensely.
The feeling that we had in the room, throughout the country, we had dozens of states that were involved, between the marshal`s service, local police departments, parks rangers, Bureau of Indian Affairs. We had so many agencies and police officers that were just delighted to see that this arrest did take place yesterday and that it happened safely and that little Haylee was recovered.
POLITAN: Now, you say it happened safely. I mean, officers went in there heavily armed, ready for the worst, but that didn`t happen. But what was the reaction of the mother, of the sex-offender boyfriend when they were arrested? Did they say anything? Did they explain why they did what they did?
FITZGIBBON: When officers made entry, they said that it appeared that they were relieved. They said, "Hey, they found us. Here we are, you know, we`re giving up." So they were somewhat relieved that the hunt was over. I guess they were tired from looking over their shoulder.
POLITAN: Now, here`s the other thing. And we`re just finding this out today. Now Deputy Marshal, it`s spring time. Love is in the air. I understand that. And I`m all for love. But now we`re hearing from your comrade, U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott that Candace, the mother, is saying that she is in love with this sex offender. Is that true?
FITZGIBBON: You know, if that`s the case, so be it. But, you know, when we profiled Robby Potter, we knew that he was somebody that had the gift of gab, and we knew he would befriend somebody, much as he did out in San Diego. So we were expecting something like that. Obviously, he`s pulled one over on her, and she`s believing his story and his quest for love.
POLITAN: So from your perspective, you think, well, maybe she is in love, but he`s probably not in love with her, is what you`re saying tonight?
FITZGIBBON: I wouldn`t be surprised, dealing with somebody like Potter.
POLITAN: Unbelievable. Finally, how about the reaction of little Haylee as she`s rescued here? What -- you know, what was her reaction to all of this? Did she have any idea what was going on?
FITZGIBBON: I`ll tell you, little Haylee, she was scared at first, but I did speak to the San Diego sheriff`s deputies out in San Diego, and they were able to inform me that Haylee was doing well.
One of the female deputies had her in her arms. And Haylee was holding a teddy bear that was provided by San Diego sheriff`s deputies. And she was eating a cookie and having a good time with them. So it`s good to see that she`s in good spirits, and that helps us all sit well.
POLITAN: All right. Deputy Marshal -- Marshal Brian Fitzgibbon, thank you for joining us tonight. And what a great job you all did in getting little Haylee back.
All right. Right now, let`s turn to my panel on this one. And oh, my goodness. Stacey Honowitz, I want to talk to you first. This case, we`re talking about love. This woman is saying she`s in love with a sex offender. How scary is that?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, Vinnie, you would be surprised how much of this I see. You know, you asked the deputy. You said, do you think that he doesn`t love her or she doesn`t know she got the wool pulled over her eyes?
We know from the investigation that she knew what he was all about. She met him at her -- the father of the child`s apartment. She knew he was coming from a halfway house. So she knew he was a sex offender.
Could she be in love with him? I`m not a psychologist, but certainly I believe that it happens. I see many cases where we have sex offender where the women is in love with him. So is it possible? Absolutely.
POLITAN: Well, good news...
HONOWITZ: Is she in a lot of trouble? Yes.
POLITAN: Good news, we`ve got Dr. Dale Archer with us tonight. Dr. Archer, come on. She`s -- do you think she`s really in love?
DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, I mean...
POLITAN: Is it possible? He`s a sex offender. It`s a little girl. I mean, doesn`t -- she can`t see through any of this?
ARCHER: Who knows? I mean, love schmuv, who cares? Really, what it`s all about is you have to put your child first, no matter what.
So typically in a case like this, you have someone who has had a turbulent childhood themselves. The first person that shows them the least bit of attention, they`ll latch onto them, and they say, "Oh, he loves me. I love him. Everything`s great." But it comes back to being a good mom first, and clearly, she was not.
POLITAN: She was not in this case.
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But...
POLITAN: Go ahead.
KAVINOKY: Vinnie, if I can chime in on this one, you know, I`m delighted with the outcome, too, although when I first heard about the case, it sounded like a bad joke, like you know, an unfit mother, a pedophile, and a 4-year-old walk into a bar. And, you know, hijinks ensue.
If she -- if she is in love with this guy, she better get a defense lawyer in there to tell her to keep her mouth shut. Because she faces a variety of criminal charges: child endangerment, child neglect, maybe even helping this guy escape, and...
HONOWITZ: How about aiding and abetting?
KAVINOKY: Yes, exactly. And what she really needs to do is -- is to posture herself as a victim in this case and not be in love with the guy, but simply be under duress and be doing...
HONOWITZ: That defense won`t fly, because...
POLITAN: The lawyers, the lawyers, order in the court. I`ve got to bring in our reporter, Alexis Wiley, reporter. How about this family that this poor little girl is a part of? I mean, her mother is in love with this sex offender. Her uncle looks like he`s going to be going to trial soon. Or he`s locked up for another eight years. Plus, her biological father helped the sex offender get out.
Alexis Wiley, what`s going on with the family here of little Haylee?
ALEXIS WILEY, REPORTER, WSYX: Well, it appears that many of them played an active role in this situation. We know that when Robby Potter escaped, he went from the Mansfield Halfway House to James Donathan`s home. Now, James Donathan is Haylee`s father. He used James Donathan`s girlfriend`s cell phone to call Candace. Candace came and picked him up. Cyle Watson, Haylee`s uncle, was also involved in this, played an active role.
And it appears that Candace really made a lot of effort to make sure that she could evade authorities. I mean, she died her hair, and they changed the car. And they even came up with some stories when they got to the farm in California.
So it appears that everyone here, except for the grandmother, Mary Watson, played a very active role in helping this guy escape.
POLITAN: And Stacey Honowitz, I mean, that`s another big factor, isn`t it going to be, as this case goes forward, the fact that they changed their appearance, that they went to a place where they don`t have TVs, where you just go out and you pick avocados and then you go back home and you go to sleep.
WILEY: Absolutely. I was trying to talk to Darren before. You know, the love defense is just not going to fly. She wasn`t under any duress. She was active; she participated; she knew what was going on.
And not only that: if she was really under any kind of duress or felt threatened, she was on a farm with all these ranchers. She never ran to somebody and said, "I need help. This guy is holding me hostage."
So she`s got a lot of explaining to do. But she`s going to have to explain it when she`s behind bars, because she`s going to have a lot of charges filed against her. No one`s going to forgive her for anything she`s done in this case.
POLITAN: No, no. A tough, tough spot. Alexis, thank you so much for your help.
Everyone else, hang tight. More on this amazing news in a minute. What sort of punishment should Haylee`s mom face? Give us a call: 1-877- JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. Let me know.
Then, cops hit another dead end in the search for 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio. I`ll speak with her parents, who have taken the search into their own hands.
But first, in an incredible twist, cops found little Haylee Donathan safe last night. Here`s a preview of the charges cops will level against the mom and her sex-offender boyfriend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLIOTT: We believe there`s a harboring charge that could be provided or put on her. This individual, Mr. Potter, also may be looking at a case of the Adam Walsh act, which is a ten-year felony on top of a state charge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY WATSON, HAYLEE`S GRANDMOTHER: I do want to say something. I want to thank all the U.S. marshals for their help and all the TV stations for all their help. I`m very happy that my granddaughter`s coming home, and I just want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: Little Haylee`s grandmother thanks authorities and the media for bringing the precious 4-year-old home. Haylee was found last night at a Christian retreat center in rural California. Both her mother and her mother`s sex-offender boyfriend are in custody tonight.
And I`m back with my panel. Plus, by phone, Michael Nolting, news director at WMRN-AM in Marion, Ohio.
Michael, let me begin with you. What are you hearing about little Haylee? How is she doing? Where is she? And when is she coming home to Grandma?
MICHAEL NOLTING, NEWS DIRECTOR, WMRN-AM (via phone): Well, right now we`re hearing that she`s in the custody of the San Diego County Child Protective Services. That they`ll hold her for a minimum of 48 hours.
Now, just as of late, we have heard that Candace has filed some sort of an action to disrupt the temporary custody that was awarded to her mother. So we`re...
NOLTING: ... watching that situation and trying to figure out exactly how she can do that.
NOLTING: Unbelievable. So not only is she in love with the sex offender, folks. Now she wants her child back.
Darren Kavinoky, is this a joke or something? What is going on? Does she not realize what has happened in the last month?
KAVINOKY: Yes. She`s got an uphill battle on this one, because I`m sure once a judge looks at this, I have a feeling that being in custody may be a disqualifying factor when it comes time having sole physical custody over the child. You know, is Grandma behind bars? No, I think we`re going to let Grandma run show here.
HONOWITZ: I think that she`s probably gearing up for her mental defense, because she obviously is mental if she thinks that she`s getting...
POLITAN: Dale Archer -- Dr. Dale archer, is it possible that she`s in denial, that she doesn`t really realize everything that`s going on here? We`ve heard talk that maybe she`s bipolar.
ARCHER: I`m going to not say bipolar, and I`m not...
NOLTING: Her mother during the -- during the news conference, her mother did make a comment that her daughter was bipolar. But I think that the main thing to focus on here is the effectiveness, No. 1, of law enforcement, the way that the public was able to pitch in and...
POLITAN: Absolutely. Absolutely, Michael. You talk about the public outcry here and the public attention and all the help with the billboards and the coverage and everything else. Let me -- Dr. Dale Archer, I wanted to ask you about her state of mind, Mom`s state of mind here.
ARCHER: Right. First of all, it doesn`t matter if she`s bipolar. That doesn`t give her insanity defense, not even close. And I`ve not seen anything in what I`ve seen or read to indicate that that`s the case. So if she does happen to be a very mild condition, and that really means nothing here.
What`s important is that she...
NOLTING: I couldn`t agree more you, but I would just add to you, we have been following this story since June the 2nd. And this story has taken more twists and turns than I`m sure you guys could ever imagine.
ARCHER: There may be twists and turns, but I think that when you`re talking about her mental state, the bottom line is that she willingly and knowingly helped this guy escape and then went to great lengths to keep from getting caught.
KAVINOKY: She changed her appearance, hung out...
HONOWITZ: Forget that! Forget that!
POLITAN: Here`s what we`re going to do, folks. A quick time-out. I want to bring in one of our viewers and watchers here, Ivy in California.
Good evening, Ivy. What`s on your mind tonight?
CALLER: Yes, Vinnie. I hope that the mother of that little Haylee, she needs to be punished severely for what she put that little child through. Having her with a sex offender. My problem now is, I wonder what psychological damage she has done to this little Haylee.
POLITAN: Yes. That`s a two-pronged question. Dale Archer, first.
ARCHER: I`d like to weigh in on that. I think that`s very important, because what`s important is what did Haylee perceive this to be? It could be that, in her mind, this was nothing more than a great, fun vacation and nothing happened to her.
So there doesn`t necessarily have to be any psychological ramifications from them, and that`s what child protection will be figuring out over the next two days. Very gently interview the child. You don`t put any suggestions in their head, and you make sure there`s no signs of abuse or trauma. And if there are not, she may be able to go to the grandma and do fine with nothing more being done.
POLITAN: Stacey Honowitz, as a prosecutor in this case, who do - who is the worst offender here? The sex offender, Robby Potter, or the mother? Who do you see as the true villain in this? ^
HONOWITZ: Well, listen, he`s already been a convicted sex offender. He`s a pedophile. I really think in this situation, that she is worse. To endanger this child and allow her to be in the company of this person.
And what she did was, she allowed him to violate all the laws. And according to the Adam Walsh Act, he never checked in; he never registered. All those terrible things that you hear about pedophiles never doing, she helped him, she aided him, she abetted him in doing all those things. And then she`s subjecting her daughter to it.
So really, when you look at this scenario, she`s worse than he is. Unless, of course -- unless, of course, he touched that child or did something to that child.
HONOWITZ: Then, of course, he becomes the worse of the two.
KAVINOKY: Stacey, weren`t you listening to Vinnie at the top of the show when he was talking about how important love -- I can`t even do it with a straight face.
POLITAN: Come on. Stop the love, would you? I mean...
KAVINOKY: The things we do for love. There was a song about that, wasn`t there? The things we do for love.
HONOWITZ: I`ll tell you, Vinnie, I want to ask another question. I`d like to know how a lawyer, seriously, if somebody filed that paperwork for her to get custody back, I`d like to know how a lawyer could pick that case up. How a lawyer could look at that with a straight face and file papers.
KAVINOKY: Yes, but everybody`s entitled -- everybody`s entitled to representation.
POLITAN: Hold on.
NOLTING: And that`s a great point. But I think that we do need to consider here that the entire family comes from a culture of incarceration, of living on the wrong side of the law. Whether it was the little girl`s father, the little girl`s uncle. That was their life.
POLITAN: All right. Well, thank you, everyone. We`re out of time. We`re out of time, folks. But thank you so much.
More on this truly happy ending a little later on in the program.
And be sure to watch "NANCY GRACE" tonight, 8 p.m. Eastern. She`ll have all the latest developments from the story, including an exclusive interview with Haylee`s grandmother, Mary Watson.
Meantime, here on ISSUES, cops await two key lab reports on Nevaeh Buchanan, the 5-year-old who was murdered and dumped into a shallow grave. Will the results help them find her killer?
Plus, from a breakup to a blame game, Jon and Kate are officially divorcing. So whose fault is it? You may be surprised by Kate`s answer.
POLITAN: In the "Spotlight" tonight, the hunt for a child killer who could still be on the loose near Detroit. Authorities are desperate to find the monster who murdered 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan and who could still be out there.
Cracking the case could hinge on results from the autopsy and toxicology reports, which authorities are still waiting for. Nevaeh`s remains were found earlier this month in a shallow grave covered with quick-dry cement. The grisly discovery was made by a man out on a fishing trip. According to published report, he also spotted remnants of a fire and a partially-burned surgical glove. There are also reports of a beer can and cigarette butt left at that scene. But seemingly, no other needs.
So when will those two crucial reports come out? And what will they reveal? Let`s get answers right now from Dave Murray, special assignments editor of the "Toledo Blade," who joins me by phone.
Welcome, Dave. You know, we heard that Nevaeh`s case was moved to the top of the list at the crime lab. So what`s taking so long here?
DAVE MURRAY, SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS EDITOR, "TOLEDO BLADE" (via phone): You know, Vinnie, I think we`re in a phase we like to call the rumor phase. Cops are not saying anything right new, but we`ve been hearing -- last week we were hearing rumors that they were on the verge of making an arrest. This week we`re hearing...
MURRAY: Yes. This week we`re hearing from people close to the investigation that they are no farther along than the day she was kidnapped. I really don`t believe the police have a clue as to who did this.
We know they are out interviewing sex offenders. There are 117 registered sex offenders living in the city of Monroe where Nevaeh lived. It`s hard to believe there are that many, but there...
POLITAN: I have a question. Out there, the sex offenders, do they have to provide DNA samples? Do we know if those things are on record, if they have an access, if they were able to get any DNA from this scene, if they`d be able to attempt to match it up?
MURRAY: I don`t know that. I believe that when you`re convicted of a felony in Michigan, you do have to provide a DNA sample. So I would not be surprised of that.
I think one of the reasons we`re not -- we do not have a report for the medical examiner was because of the -- we`ve been told the decomposition was so bad of the remains.
I mean, this little girl could have been, you know, in this concrete grave, I guess we`ll call it, for over ten days. It`s hot. It`s humid. It`s at the site of a river. You know, I don`t know if it`s possible to find DNA samples, other than of her in there. So there`s a lot of unanswered questions.
And the community is very scared and upset that this man or woman, probably a guy, is still out there.
POLITAN: Now, you bring up the fact of DNA and what intrigues me in this case is that you`ve got this remnants of a fire that the fisherman reported about. You`ve got, perhaps, a beer can, a cigarette butt. That is a place where, perhaps, you could pick up some DNA. Also, a partially- burned surgical glove. Isn`t that right?
MURRAY: I think this really shows premeditation on whoever did this. We`re jumping to some conclusions, but there was a fire, remnants of a fire right nearby, and authorities found a partially-burned latex glove. That`s not something you take fishing with you.
So we know investigators are looking at the fact that this was very methodical, that her body was brought there, was handled. There was a grave dug. She was placed in it. They poured the concrete over it. And then what? They had a fire, and they burnt the gloves and had a couple of beers? It`s a bit wacky but also very premeditated and pretty scary to think that somebody`s out there that could have done this.
POLITAN: Yes. What`s scary, in addition to the premeditation, if they`re trying to burn evidence afterwards, that shows what they`re trying to do is cover things up. Unbelievable story.
Well, you`re going to continue to follow those rumors, and we thank you so much tonight, Dave.
POLITAN: All right. An amazing conclusion to the Haylee Donathan mystery. The 4-year-old was found safe. So what will happen to those adults who put her through this nightmare?
POLITAN: More frustration in the search for 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio. Cops come up empty after draining a septic tank on the property of person of interest, James Hataway, the man last seen with Tracy. But I`ll tell you how Tracy`s father has become indispensable in the search.
Plus, more fallout from the Jon and Kate divorce: Kate`s brother slams TLC for destroying the family`s lives. Meantime, Kate points the finger at herself, saying she failed. So who`s to blame?
More on Jon and Kate`s messy split-up in minutes, but first, back to the safe recovery of Ohio girl, Haylee Donathan, who was missing for almost one month with her mother and her mother`s sex offender boyfriend. The missing trio was found at a Christian Retreat Center in rural California.
Tonight, Haylee`s mother, Candace Watson and sex offender Robbi Potter are behind bars.
I want to bring back my panel: Stacey Honowitz, Florida state prosecutor; and by phone, Michael Nolting, news director with WMRN 1490 AM in Marian, Ohio. And I think about what`s going on here in this case, it`s a happy ending.
We don`t get this, Stacey, we don`t get this that often, where we have the safe recovery of a little girl that we were all looking for.
Stacey Honowitz, from your perspective, you know, prosecution, this is a case now where the victim survives. Will she be able to testify? This young girl?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, as long as mentally she`s able to cope right now, there`s no reason why she couldn`t testify as to what transpired.
I mean, and some -- they`re going to be interviewing her to see if she was ever touched by him because he`s a sex offender. But she will be able to testify as to where they went, how they went and how they got there, what things were told to her, if they told her to lie, if anybody ever approached them.
So hopefully she`s in good enough mental condition to go forward. But as long as everything -- as long as she`s in the same spirits as she is right now -- we`ve heard that she is in good spirits -- there shouldn`t be a problem for the prosecution.
POLITAN: And that`s a great sign.
Now, Haylee`s grandmother, Mary Watson, spoke to a reporter from the Mansfield News Journal after the press conference. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think, also, about Robbi Potter? I mean, he was a big part of it.
MARY WATSON, HAYLEE DONATHAN`S GRANDMOTHER: Right, you don`t want me to tell you what I think of him. He really doesn`t matter to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he deserves whatever he gets?
WATSON: Yes, you`re right. I sure do. He deserves more than what he`s going to get. He really does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: Now, the marshal mentioned in the press conference that Potter could be looking at the Adam Walsh Act, which is a ten-year felony on top of a state charge.
Stacey Honowitz, what kind of charges could Potter face for this month-long fugitive run?
HONOWITZ: There`s a slew of charges, there`s escape, there is the Adam Walsh Act, there`s -- harboring a fugitive and really a lot of the charges are going to be towards her. Her, she`s a principal in getting and helping him escape, aiding and abetting, harboring a fugitive, child neglect, he -- for child endangerment. I mean, there`s a slew of things that they can load them up on.
And so I know that the public is waiting for the prosecutors to come down with these charges, because there`s everybody, as you said, Vinnie, has been involved in this search. And because it`s been out in the media for so long and because someone was able to see a billboard with their photos, this child was brought to safety.
POLITAN: All right.
HONOWITZ: So it is a credit to everybody involved, not only the police officers, but the general public that helped in that.
POLITAN: It was a team effort. Unbelievable and unbelievable the way it all came down.
Michael Nolting-- looking at the reaction and the reaction in Ohio, where this story started, where you are, what are the thoughts of the public out there? Is the public on board with what we`re saying tonight, that the mother may be more of a villain in this case than the sex offender?
MICHAEL NOLTING, NEWS DIRECTOR, WMRN 1490 AM MARIAN, OHIO (via telephone): I think you`re absolutely correct. I think that there are a lot of mixed emotions out there in the public right now, because for a long time, folks there weren`t really 100 percent sure how everything transpired.
Once the uncle broke with the escape story and then recanted it, changed his story, people started to get wise. And I think after they know that Haylee is safe, I do think that you`re absolutely right, people really want to make sure that these people are punished.
POLITAN: Yes. And you talk about the punishment here, we have no idea exactly, what may or may not have happened to little Haylee. We don`t know what the evidence is going to be and I`m sure investigators are speaking with this little girl and trying to figure out, you know, what if anything she suffered from.
But our thoughts and prayers are that she`s as happy as she looks in some of these pictures we`re looking at.
Stacey Honowitz and Michael Nolting, thank you both, for joining us.
Now: turning to the frustrating search for a beautiful 27-year-old Florida woman, Tracy Ocasio. Cops reporting they`ve got nothing in the way of evidence after searching a septic system yesterday on the property of a person of interest.
Tracy disappeared after leaving a local bar in the early hours of May 27th, where she`d been watching her beloved Orlando Magic in the playoffs. She was last seen leaving the Florida Tap Room with person of interest, James Hataway.
Hataway told cops that Tracy gave him a ride home that night. He`s now locked up on an unrelated case. But get this, he`s charged with assaulting a woman who had also given him a ride home nine months earlier. Is this all a coincidence?
Meantime, news that volunteers and police have, quote, "Hit the wall" will not deter Tracy`s parents. The Ocasios are doing everything they can to keep this investigation alive while still facing a very grim reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH OCASIO, TRACY OCASIO`S MOTHER: Who wants to think of what may have happened to their child, really. If they found more than one body with my daughter, it wouldn`t surprise me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: Right now I have the great honor to be joined by Tracy`s parents, Joe and Liz Ocasio. Thank you both for your time tonight, we appreciate it and we are with you.
Liz, we just heard a short clip of you talking about what might have happened to Tracy. It seems you`ve come to terms with the worst possible outcome here, yet again, it seems like you haven`t given up hope. Where are you getting this strength from?
L. OCASIO: I have no idea. I had not totally given up hope, but I have to be realistic at the same time. But I just go to church and pray and hope she`s ok, but at the same time, reality doesn`t seem to bear that out, not with what this guy has done before.
Joe, now Joe, you asked us to show this image of the car Tracy had recently purchased right before she vanished. We`re taking a look at that car.
Now, this car was found just blocks away from Hataway`s home. It`s been searched, it`s been tested by police, but you still think it`s significant. Can you tell us why you want any witnesses who may have seen this car in the early hours of May 27th to come forward and talk to authorities?
JOE OCASIO, FATHER OF TRACY OCASIO: Yes. We received a lot of tips so far about Hataway and his character and everything or what`s surrounding him, but we really haven`t received any tips about that car being seen between 2:00 and 8:30 in the morning.
And making an assumption that he was involved in that car being dropped off by, in this case, or most likely Hataway, the assumption is that at one point I know that he must have driven that car.
So someone has seen that car and it will be critical to our case in finding Tracy.
POLITAN: Joe, I`m looking at a picture of Hataway right now. If you had an opportunity to be in the room with him, sitting across from the table, what question would you ask him?
J. OCASIO: That`s a tough question. That is a tough question to ask a father.
L. OCASIO: Where is my daughter?
J. OCASIO: That`s going to be hard for me to answer, because I would probably have a lot of anger and I don`t know if I could really even ask a question.
I mean, right now, he was the last person to be seen with her. I`m not saying he`s guilty, by any means, we don`t have proof of that, but at this time, everything surrounds him and his story is very inconsistent with everything else.
So I really guess the first question would be why you`re not being forthcoming and truthful about what you know about our daughter. I mean, I guess that would be the first question.
POLITAN: Yes, well, we have some video now of the new Web site, TracyOcasio.com, designed by a local Internet company, that you have launched in an effort to find Tracy.
There`s also now a $5,000 reward out there for tips, the number is up on the screen.
Now Joe, people have asked and people have said, she`s a grown woman, is it possible that Tracy somehow left on her own? Now, obviously, you`re going to say, no way. But tell us why, knowing your daughter, why this is an unlikely scenario, that she just got up and left on her own.
J. OCASIO: Well, I`ve looked at different facts. I mean, when this first happened, I looked at -- let`s make an assumption that everything we know about our daughter and how she`s been, it hasn`t happened and we don`t know her.
So I went down that road and first I drove to the location where the car was dropped of at, late at night. There`s no lighting in there, my daughter`s very afraid of the dark, very unlikely that she would have gone there on her own and walked out of that area.
I called the cab companies in the area to see if somebody had been picked up in that area. Went to Amtrak, Greyhound, I found the people that worked that morning and the night before, showed pictures of my daughter, nobody really has seen her. So I really went down that road and really came back in full circle, back to inconsistencies with Hataway.
So that`s really the angle at this point that we`re looking at along with the police.
POLITAN: All right, Joe and Elizabeth, as you know, our hearts are with you as is the rest of the country. Thank you so much for your time. And I hope we`re helping in getting the word out about Tracy and that you all have some news very, very soon.
J. OCASIO: By all means, and we thank you very much for what you`re doing.
L. OCASIO: Thank you.
POLITAN: All right, up next, a man busted in a child porn sting has altered photos of Miley Cyrus on his computer. The details are truly horrifying.
Plus, Jon and Kate Gosselin announced their split, but the drama has just begun. Who`s to blame for their family`s downward spiral? Call 1- 877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297 to sound-off.
POLITAN: Now that Jon and Kate have announced their divorce, it`s time to start pointing fingers. We`ll debate who, if anyone is to blame.
But first at the "Top of the Block" tonight.
A sick and twisted child porn arrest in Tennessee with a scary link to teen sensation, Miley Cyrus. Cops say Michael Wayne Campbell juxtaposed the faces of three young girls on to the bodies of nude adult women. One of the faces -- Miley Cyrus who is only 16; the other two were identified as local girls, both under the age of 13.
In a creepy admission, Campbell claims that he just wanted to see what they would look like as adults. Cops arrested Campbell on 31 charges of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
And that is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Tonight, Kate Gosselin is speaking out and the once-private divorce filing has leaked out. The embattled reality star announced her split from her husband of ten years, Jon Gosselin, on their TLC show, "Jon & Kate plus 8."
Now Kate is telling "People" magazine, it feels like she failed, an echo of the sentiment she expressed on Monday night`s show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": The label that "we failed," how that will affect our kids. How they`ll be another statistic. That`s primarily input (ph) from myself. I don`t really want to be alone. I don`t want to do this alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: Meanwhile, Kate`s brother, Kevin, is calling for a boycott of the show, and now he`s telling RadarOnline that the network that airs Jon and Kate, TLC, should be ashamed of itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN KREIDER, KATE GOSSELIN`S BROTHER: TLC, I think, should be ashamed of themselves for airing the destruction of a family like this. And not only should they be ashamed of themselves, but they are -- while they`re sleeping in their high-threadcount (ph) beds, we`re having kids crying because their dad didn`t get to kiss them good night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: Monday night`s show ratings reached a record 10.6 million viewers. Is TLC just laughing all the way to the bank? The show is going on a break now until August, but TLC plans on bringing it back despite the divorce. Even Kate admits her eight kids will come out of this with some dysfunction.
So is it time right now to just pull the plug on this show? And what about those sealed divorce papers? Some of the information is a little surprising.
Straight to my expert panel: back with us, Dr. Dale archer, clinical psychiatrist; and A.J. Hammer, host of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."
A.J., there`s so much going on here. You`ve got to bring us up to date. What is the latest with Jon and Kate? It seems to change moment by moment.
A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Yes. It is changing moment by moment. You hit some of the finer points there Vinnie, the fact that the show is now going on hiatus.
And while a lot of people are still maintaining this show should go off the air for good for the sake of these kids -- at least this is a step in the right direction, give everybody a chance to regroup.
But yet Kate now speaking out to "People" magazine; this is a bombshell interview. It`s going to hit newsstands on Friday. And some of what she is revealing in this interview is that while on the good days she does feel relieved, she certainly has bad days where she feels sad, she feels like she has failed. Something that so many people were paying attention to the story can certainly relate to.
A lot of people are wondering, what`s going to happen to the kids? What`s the deal with the custody? She reveals in the issue of "People" magazine, no long-term plans, but at least for now, they`re going to rotate in and out of the house. Sometimes Jon will be there, sometimes Kate will be there.
POLITAN: I kind of like that. Instead of in the usual divorce situation, the kids are the ones that get bounced around, let`s bounce the parents around a little bit. It`s their fault anyway.
HAMMER: Well, in all honest -- and your other guest can speak to this -- I think there`s a great deal of stability at least in the fact that the kids are going to be able to stay in one place because they moved pretty recently into this $1 million house in Pennsylvania. So at least they don`t have to be shuffled back and forth for the time being.
POLITAN: All right. Dr. Dale Archer, let`s talk, of course, about the kids first because everyone cares about the kids. The parents are doing what they`re doing.
How does all this affect them? The fact that mom and dad are going to be split up on top of the fact that the whole world knows about it; on top of the fact that there`s cameras videotaping all of it?
ARCHER: Look, kids in America go through divorce every single day. And there`s really not a whole lot of difference in the kids` minds because when a kid`s parents go through divorce, their family knows, their friends know, the people in the school know. And in today`s America, that`s the norm.
So in many communities, the divorced family is the norm, not the couple that`s still together.
So the will be fine if the parents were totally open and honest with them throughout. The problems come in for the kids when the parents try to sweep it under the rug, pretend like nothing`s going on and lie to them. That`s when kids have problems.
And I think that`s the case here. This divorce is real, but the timing is very, very suspect. The timing was planned for season five`s opening. You don`t, all of a sudden, have this infidelity break three weeks before the show comes on the air and then, boom, you have a divorce.
This has been going on for months -- maybe years -- and they`ve been pretending like everything`s fine. So if the kids have any problem at all...
POLITAN: Wait a minute, Dr. Dale Archer, are you saying that a reality show is not real? A.J. Hammer...
HAMMER: Well, no, here`s what I want to know...
POLITAN: Is this possible?
ARCHER: Here`s what they should have been doing. They should have been showing their long, in depth conversations trying to work things out. They should have been showing the confrontations between each other. That`s what would have made it real.
POLITAN: But, Dr. Archer, how well can this go for them if this divorce is number one, playing out on TV; if number two, you have Kate Gosselin telling "People" magazine how it was to tell the kids about the divorce and she says, well, my two 8-year-olds, one of them said, you know what, I saw this coming, another one just cried about it. This is now in a magazine.
Normal kids going through divorce when their parents aren`t on TV don`t have to deal with the fact that everybody in their community, everybody on the planet is going to be reading about this. I don`t see how any of that is going to be...
ARCHER: Yes, but everyone does know about it in a small community, especially, because people talk. And when mom starts dating and dad starts dating, it makes the rounds in the school. The kids do have to face it.
This is obviously on a bigger scale, but again, if the parents would be up front and honest -- which I don`t think they were in this case -- then it would be fine. But I think that they are so upset because they had known something has been wrong a long, long time. And the parents have been pretending like...
POLITAN: And A.J. -- aren`t we hearing now A.J. that this has actually been going on for a couple of years? And, you know what, dad has been away at times and they really haven`t been together for a while. So it might not be that shocking to the kids.
HAMMER: Yes, well -- I don`t know about that. I mean, we are getting mixed realities as far as that is concerned. But Vinnie, you also know -- you have seen the divorce filing which has created a bit of a set of murky waters here in terms of Kate indicating that they had been separated for two years. You have more of a legal background than me.
POLITAN: Yes, I do.
HAMMER: My understanding -- my understanding is that this was to sort of fast track the divorce because of Pennsylvania laws.
However, this brings up a whole other issue that if they are now saying that they have essentially been separated, even if they`re under the same roof for the past two year, it kind of makes you wonder if the show has been a bit of a sham.
ARCHER: Sham -- exactly, exactly.
POLITAN: Everyone, stay where you are. Stay where you are.
Don`t forget, you can catch A.J. Hammer on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. We`ll have all the latest from the fallout from the Jon and Kate divorce.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": I`m excited and hurt at the same because I have a new chapter in my life. I`m only 32 years old. I really don`t know what`s going to happen.
POLITAN: Jon Gosselin seemingly excited about his new lease on life.
We are back and we are taking your calls. Let`s go right to Lisa who is in West Virginia tonight. Lisa, you are on.
LISA, WEST VIRGINIA (via telephone): Yes. I have two comments. As far as who is to blame between Jon and Kate, they are both to blame. There`s no one person to blame on this; they both chose to be on television, they both chose to be out there and be publicized and the paparazzi. It is both their fault.
As far as the brother saying -- blame on TLC, hello. They are the ones that wanted to be on the air.
POLITAN: Great point, Lisa. Thanks so much for the call. That`s a great point.
You know, I want to bring this up and get both of your reactions to this. There`s some positives to this reality show for this family: $75,000 per episode; the million-dollar home. This is now a home with divorced parents. They are going to have to find another place to live at some point as well. You can put away money for a college fund.
I only have three at home and I have about $2.50 in my pocket tonight. You know. There is an upside to all this A.J., isn`t there?
HAMMER: I don`t know. Vinnie, you and I have talked about this when you have been on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." I understand there`s an absolute need for them to make some money. But they are still exploiting the kids. You put the kids on television and that`s how you make your money, by definition, that is exploitation.
There`s no way to get around this. This isn`t going to be good for the kids down the line. I have to read one quick thing from the "People" magazine in the interview that Kate gave. She said -- and this is talking about the divorce. She said, "I know that my kids will come out of this to a degree with some sort of dysfunction. I`m not stupid."
Guess what. That dysfunction, I`m sorry to say, all likely -- in all likelihood is already in place thanks to this reality show.
POLITAN: Dale Archer, is there any upside to this reality show for the kids?
ARCHER: Look, first of all, parents get divorced every day that are not on TV. We can in no way, shape and form say the TV show was what broke them up.
Secondly, kids go through divorces every single day and they turn out just fine.
But I totally disagree with the fact that these kids are automatically going to be labeled as having psychological problems. You know what? If they appear they can be dealt with. Just to say yes, blanketly because they went through this, they will be scarred, no.
I treat patients every single day who`ve been through much, much worse of this and are doing just fine.
POLITAN: All right. So let`s hope all these kids, all eight of them, do well and do a little bit better than their parents are doing. A.J., Dr. Dale Archer, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
I am Vinnie Politan, filling in for Jane Velez-Mitchell. You are watching ISSUES on HLN.