Edition: U.S. | Arabic | Set Pref

 

Return to Transcripts main page

ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

More Questions in Haleigh Cummings Disappearance; Jon, Kate Argue Over Twins` Birthday Arrangement

Aired October 9, 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, head-spinning new developments as the plot thickens in the Haleigh Cummings family soap opera. Teen bride Misty Cummings, who was the last person to see little Haleigh alive, is now pointing the finger at other family members. She says she had nothing to do with the girl`s disappearance and is blaming, quote, "the other side of the family."

But who is she talking about here? Her husband, Ron, who is now trying to divorce her? And what did she have to say about her failed polygraph test? We`ll have a look.

And inside a family`s desperate search for a missing Georgia woman. Kristi Cornwell vanished nearly two months ago. She was abducted while walking on a country road near her parents` home while talking on her cell phone with her boyfriend. Now investigators say they`re finally making progress. We`re going to talk to Kristi`s brother to get the very latest developments.

Also, a millionaire murder suspect walks out of jail, free on bail. This is the very same guy who was doing a kooky striptease show in his jail cell just last week. He`s accused of executing his wife with a gunshot to the head, then calling 911 and admitting his crime. Now he`s changed his story so why is he back home relaxing in his big mansion?

Plus, Jon and Kate`s birthday drama. The reality TV couple in a knock-down, drag-out fight right before their twins` ninth birthday party. Reports say Jon wanted to bring in cameras. Kate wanted nothing to do with Jon. I know this couple`s going through an ugly divorce, but can`t they at least act civilized at their kids` birthday party?

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, is Haleigh Cummings ` mystery about to finally bust wide open? Misty Cummings, who was watching little Haleigh when she vanished, has been under suspicion. We all know that. But tonight, Misty is firing back with stunning accusations of her own. Misty is now pointing the finger of blame at the little girl`s biological family. Listen to what she told the CBS "Early Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MISTY CROSLIN CUMMINGS, STEPMOTHER OF HALEIGH: Someone came in and got her, obviously. I feel like it`s on the other side of the family that has her. That`s just how I feel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rather cryptic accusation, is it not? Who exactly is she accusing? Is she talking about Haleigh`s mom, Crystal Sheffield, or is she talking about her husband, Ron, who now wants to divorce her? The infamous teen bride was so vague, we don`t know.

The spotlight has been on Misty since Haleigh, little Haleigh, precious Haleigh, vanished eight months ago. She claims she woke up -- Misty, that is -- discovered Haleigh was not in her bed and found the back door propped open.

Well, now Haleigh`s dad is ending his marriage to his 17-year-old bride. Is that because Ron doubts her story? Here is Misty on "The Early Show" insisting her soon-to-be ex-husband doesn`t blame her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he believes you`re guilty now of something?

M. CUMMINGS : No, I don`t think so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What has he said to you about this?

M. CUMMINGS : He just -- he hasn`t really said like much about it, you know. He believes me. He doesn`t think I had anything to do with Haleigh going missing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, Misty tries to explain why she failed those polygraph tests. And what about Misty`s bizarre, and I mean bizarre, road rage incident in Orlando recently, where she was cuffed and interrogated?

Straight out to my outstanding expert panel: clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Dale Archer -- boy, do we need you tonight -- former police detective Steve Kardian; Florida prosecutor Stacy Honowitz; criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh and Marlaina Schiavo, producer for "THE NANCY GRACE SHOW."

Marlaina, so glad to have you on our show tonight. What is the very latest?

MARLAINA SCHIAVO, PRODUCER, "THE NANCY GRACE SHOW": The very latest, Jane, is that Misty Croslin Cummings, soon to be back Misty Croslin, speaks out to the CBS morning show, the "Early Show."

She`s saying, and we think she`s saying, that Ronald`s ex-girlfriend, the biological mother of Haleigh Cummings, may have something to do with Haleigh`s disappearance.

Now, like you said, it`s a cryptic thing that she said on the show. But Crystal Sheffield, the biological mother, has spoken out against Misty in the past, so is this Misty lashing out at Crystal? Possibly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So we couldn`t really tell who she was talking about. She`s like "the other side of the family." And then she didn`t really say which other side of the family. I mean, that`s such a vague comment. That could mean anybody. Could mean Ron. It could mean Crystal. It could mean Crystal`s family. I mean, and it`s such a can of worms in terms of the interrelationships with all these people. Do we really know who she`s accusing and what she`s accusing them of?

SCHIAVO: We -- we don`t know. But what we do know, though, there was a lot of in-fighting when all of this came about, Jane. Now, we know that Crystal was, you know -- has a lot to say about Misty being there the night and not really understanding what happened. She thinks that she`s hiding a lot.

And we know that Ronald and Crystal have had a lot of issues ever since this started. Well, they had issues even before this started. But my sense is that she is talking about, quote, "the other side," meaning Haleigh`s biological mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Well, Crystal Sheffield has never been named any kind of a person of interest by law enforcement, so that`s pretty shocking that she would suddenly point the finger at her, because Crystal Sheffield is a victim here. She lost her precious daughter. And that adds insult to injury.

Police say Misty`s story about Haleigh`s disappearance has been all over the map. It certainly did not help that she failed more than one polygraph. Misty tried to explain that on the CBS "Early Show." Listen to this explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. CUMMINGS : I didn`t want to take the polygraph. I was supposed to do a hypnosis. That`s what I was supposed to do. One of the guys says it could be the reason I`m failing is because I feel like it`s my fault, because I was the last one seen with her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Dale Archer, can a person feeling guilt suddenly have a polygraph result that says deception because they`re feeling vaguely guilty? Is that how the polygraph machine works?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: No, it`s not how it works, but I think that what we have to remember here is that we`re dealing with a 17-year-old girl, and when the episode occurred, she was 16. So we think about people we know in our own lives who are 16 and 17 years of age, and how would they handle the type of stress that goes along with a high- profile situation like this. I mean, it`s got to be overwhelming to her.

So I`ve got to say that I feel sorry for everything she`s going through, and as a result, I think that we have to show a little bit of compassion for her as she goes through...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane -- Jane...

ARCHER: ... this to make sure she`s not a psychological victim along with the mom.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark, help me out with that. Because you know what? I mean, I have sympathy for a lot of people, but Misty is not top of my list.

EIGLARSH: I know. And so you`re not going to like what I have to say, my dear friend with three names. Let me tell you, it could have affected the exam if the relevant question -- it all depends on what was asked. If the relevant question was, do you feel responsible or in any way were you responsible for the disappearance? That could have two meanings. That would be a poorly-worded question, and her response could show deception.

And again, I don`t know if she was involved or not. But that wouldn`t be a good question, and she would show deception because she personally might feel some responsibility. She was the only one there that night.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Stacy Honowitz.

STACY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Put aside even the polygraph examination for now, because we know lots of times it`s not admissible in court because it`s not deemed to be reliable. But let`s put that aside.

How about the millions of inconsistent stories that she has told from day one in this situation? And for her to go on "The Early Show" and to sit there and try to blame the other side for doing something of which they`re not involved, is really a desperate plea on her part. It`s desperate measures.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it`s vicious. It`s vicious.

(CROSSTALK)

EIGLARSH: She is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because the mother of the missing girl is suffering and now, this girl who was supposed to be watching little Haleigh when she disappeared, who we know was on a three-day drug binge before that -- that crucial incident where Haleigh vanished, now she`s turned around and saying, "Not only did you lose your baby, your precious daughter, but I`m going to point the finger at you." That`s nasty, Steve Kardian.

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: Jane, she`s 17 years old. Think about that.

EIGLARSH: It seems like a vein attempt by her...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Steve Kardian.

KARDIAN: yes, it seems like a vain attempt by her and her lawyer to put the focus elsewhere. And we see her in this interview. She`s extremely more polished than she`s been when appearing before the camera in the past. So she was really prepped for this one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just a few days ago, Misty and another woman were accused of threatening a driver with a gun in Orlando. The driver was freaked out and called 911 from her car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were hanging out of the window flipping me off, you know, telling me they`re going to kill me, you know. Motioning as if they had a weapon in the car. You know, it turns out they didn`t have one but they definitely wanted me to think they did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marlaina Schiavo, another bizarre incident to add to Misty`s repertoire. Tell us about it briefly.

SCHIAV: OK. Really quickly, I spoke to the road rage victim yesterday, Courtney Ballinger. And basically, she said she didn`t do anything, and all of a sudden this car comes out of nowhere. They`re yelling at her. They`re threatening her. They`re threatening to kill her. They`re threatening to beat her up, and they`re waving something that appeared to be a gun to the point where she got so scared, Jane, she called 911.

The cops come. They pull them over. They cuffed Misty. They cuffed the driver. And in the end, no charges were filed, but it was just such a bizarre twist in this already crazy story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And it`s -- something doesn`t add up here. And that`s the problem with this entire story. I mean, here`s a young woman pointing the finger at a woman who has lost her daughter on Misty`s watch, and yet, police are picking her up because she`s involved in this alleged road rage incident. What is going on with Misty up here?

More on Misty Croslin`s side of the story in a moment.

Coming up, what happened when Jon Gosselin showed up to his kids` birthday party? Did Kate let him in?

But first, Misty Croslin, the last person to see little Haleigh alive. She says she had absolutely nothing to do with the little girl`s disappearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. CUMMINGS : I got up because I had to use the bathroom but I didn`t make it to the bathroom. I seen the kitchen light on and I walked in the kitchen and the back door`s wide open. I mean, I didn`t notice about Haleigh then until I seen the back door open. And then I go in the room and she`s gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA CROSLIN, MISTY`S MOTHER: Deep down in my heart, yes, I think my daughter`s holding something back. I think they both are holding something back. That`s just in my heart.

I want to tell her I love her, and if you know anything at all, please tell me. We can work it through. We`ll -- I`ll be right there by your side. We`ll get through it. Just please tell me whatever you`re holding back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chip off the old block. That was Misty Cummings ` mom, sounding none too confident in her own daughter`s innocence.

Now Misty is trying to redirect the suspicion away from herself. She says, quote, "The other side of the family" has Haleigh. But she didn`t get any more specific than that, so we`re all left to wonder what the heck is she talking about?

Back to my fantastic panel. And I`m delighted to have Nancy Grace`s producer, Marlaina Schiavo, with us. Now, the mom has been arrested, the woman you just heard from, Misty`s mom. Tell us about that.

SCHIAVO: Well, you know, she was arrested on forgery and theft charges, Jane. And this goes back to also when Tommy, Misty`s brother, was arrested on stealing a gun from this neighbor. At that same time, they`re saying -- they`re alleging that Lisa Croslin stole checks, ten checks from him and wrote one out for $400 and cashed it to herself and that`s what she`s been arrested on. She`s being held in Tennessee, and awaiting extradition back to Florida.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Stacy Honowitz, it would appear they`re putting pressure on Misty`s side of the family, to put the squeeze on them so that they can say what they know. And I believe the brother, when he was jailed, spilled the beans about him going over to the house that night, right at the time where she says they were up and knocking on the door, and nobody was home.

HONOWITZ: Right. You`re 100 percent right, Jane. They`re not arrested in order to squeeze but now that they are in custody, I can tell you one thing, that they might be willing to talk a little more freely if, in fact, later on, it`s going to help them.

And I think what you have is you have Misty going on this "Early Show" and you say she was so vague in what she had to say. She`s vague because she doesn`t know what she`s talking about. She`s just throwing these ideas out there to see what sticks against the wall. She`s vague because there is no story, there is no proof on her part that the child is with anybody on the other side of the family. And that`s why you have right now her saying these things.

EIGLARSH: One reason -- Stacy, my dear Stacy, that is one reason, but one other reason is she`s not the orator that you or my dear Jane are. She`s 17 years old. She`s surrounded by people who commit offenses. She`s not articulate; she`s not intelligent.

HONOWITZ: You don`t have to be articulate to tell a consistent story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Stacy?

HONOWITZ: You do not have to be articulate and skilled at speaking in order to tell a consistent story.

EIGLARSH: I don`t disagree with you, Stacy. I`m not defending the woman. I`m just saying that her actions could be because of guilt but also because of being the person that she is.

HONOWITZ: ... on the other side.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll put a twist on what Stacy said. You don`t have to be sophisticated to tell the truth.

Misty has been under a cloud of suspicion since day one, so what does soon-to-be ex-husband Ron Cummings think about his teen bride`s ever- changing story? Listen to his clip from "NANCY GRACE."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, HLN ANCHOR: You told me that changes, even subtle, small changes, in Misty Croslin`s story about the night Haleigh went missing bothered you. What changes...

RON CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH: Yes, ma`am.

GRACE: ... if any, do you recall?

R. CUMMINGS : There`s -- I can`t really recall the exact changes, and they`re real small. It`s not like she -- she pretty much tells me the same thing each time she -- I ask her about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whether or not Ron wants to admit it, police say Misty`s story has changed. She`s also failed polygraph tests.

Dr. Dale Archer, this is not a very sophisticated young lady. We`ve already established that. So how come she has everybody pulling out their hair, and nobody can get a straight story out of her? They can`t manipulate her in any way, shape or form to basically spilling her guts. You know, it takes a lot of sophistication to stonewall an entire nation.

ARCHER: Well, I think that we have to look at the fact -- look, let me preface this by saying, obviously, I`m aware from the start that there were things that made me shake my head and go, "What is she saying here?" The story did seem very inconsistent, and it has changed.

But we have to understand that, not only is she not sophisticated -- she`s 17 -- she was 16 when this event occurred. So we have to at least put that into the equation that, look, this is a kid we`re dealing with. This is someone who`s not old enough to vote or to drink yet. So put all that together, and it`s not surprising this is a very perplexing case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes, and certainly...

KARDISN: I`ve had plenty of kids, 16- and 17-year-olds, commit horrific crimes against people. So don`t put that aside.

ARCHER: No, but I`m not defending her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Certainly a cautionary tale that a 16-year-old shouldn`t be watching two kids, especially a 16-year-old who has a propensity to go out and party.

And Marlaina Schiavo, I know you`re going to be on "NANCY GRACE" later and you`re going to have in-depth information on all of this. I look forward to watching that. But give us the 411 on who drop-kicked who right before this whole disappearance occurred. Was it Misty out partying with friends? Isn`t there talk of drugs?

SCHIAVO: There is. And you know, and the whole family has confirmed that she was out for three days. As a matter of fact, this is what led up to Ron, you know, calling her incessantly the night that he couldn`t get a hold of her, the night that Haleigh went missing.

She was out for three nights. They were fighting about that that night, and there are talk of drugs. There`s no confirmation that drugs were involved. We know about this jail letter that surfaced. Investigators are sort of pooh-poohing this letter, so we can`t really get too much more into that. But it did talk about drugs and her partying.

So Jane, I mean, this is what`s going on. Investigators need these questions answered. OK? And that`s why we can`t even answer them right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Mark Eiglarsh, I mean, this one is unique in the sense that we can`t tell fact from fiction. There is this crazy jailhouse letter that made some allegations that had absolutely no substance. Most people think that it is a hoax, that it`s not true, but it was this wild accusation that the little child may have OD`s on OxyContin of all things.

EIGLARSH: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So when you get so crazy with the stories, how do you even tell the truth from fiction?

EIGLARSH: Well, we don`t have to do anything. Investigators have to. We`re watching; it`s entertainment for us. The reality is, the investigators are the ones who should be breaking this case down, ignoring all this craziness, understand that we`re dealing with someone who was 16 at the time, 17 now. Who may be absolutely lying, for sure. I`m not defending her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I know you`re not. We`re going to have to leave it right there. You`re not defending her.

Up next, new details on the search for missing Georgia woman, Kristi Cornwell. We`re going to talk to her brother.

Then, did the gloves come off when reality TV dad Jon Gosselin showed up at his kids` ninth birthday party? The jaw-dropper after the break.

In my new book, I talk about how I fought addiction to booze and got sober. Now I want to hear your success story. What addiction have you overcome? Tell me about it. You could get my book.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: Stop taking pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a couple more. A couple more. Just a couple more.

K. GOSSELIN: Hey, what did Mommy just say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?

K. GOSSELIN: I asked you to stop taking pictures, and you continued.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We`re not your kids, ma`am. We`re not part of your plus eight.

K. GOSSELIN: Don`t talk back to your mother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to admit, that`s pretty funny. Kate Gosselin jokes about the paparazzi following her on "The Jay Leno Show," but she`s not laughing when it comes to her relationship with the soon-to-be ex- husband. The latest issue 00 of course, there`s always one -- how much time each parent would have to spend with their twins at the girls` ninth birthday party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: I just got an e-mail from Kate saying she doesn`t want to see me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says she doesn`t want to see you?

J. GOSSELIN: No. She wants to change custody: "I would appreciate if you would pick them up at the bus stop tomorrow at 4 and stay until 6." That`s ridiculous. I`m going to stay longer than that. I don`t care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s supposed to be a joint day because it`s a birthday.

J. GOSSELIN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that was for all...

J. GOSSELIN: Holidays, birthdays, whatever, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you end up dealing with this when...

J. GOSSELIN: Doesn`t matter. It`s joint shared. I can stay as long as I want and I will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why the sunglasses? Just asking.

I`m joined by Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ. My good buddy, Mike, it is hard to keep up with these two freaks. What is the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well, I`ll tell you what. I mean, let`s start with that. I mean, that was a birthday party that happened yesterday, and what he`s reading is what he says is an e-mail from Kate, saying he can only stay from 4 until 6.

And we were there, because we were expecting this to be a big blowout, because he said, "I`m going to stay as long as I want." Well, when confronted yesterday for the twins` birthday, they actually were peaceful, and he stayed until he put his kids to bed which, of course, is what we hope for this family, is that the kids don`t get hurt because of them.

But I`ll tell you what: it`s getting so nasty. They`re throwing this back and forth. Now, I`ve looked at the court documents, and $230,000 did come out of an account that they shared jointly, but it doesn`t say who took it. Kate says Jon robbed her, and she can`t pay her bills. Not true. They both pay $7,500 a month into an account to pay the bills, so that`s not being said.

A lot of people say Jon looks bad in this because he`s talking to the press. Kate`s on TV, on TLC, and she`s the one doing a new talk show. She`s on TV.

I don`t know what to think of these two and who`s telling the truth. All I do know is that Kate`s got three lawyers, one being pit bull Marty Singer, who you know really well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

WALTERS: And two other ones there. Jon is getting a little bit of a bad advice from his manager...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

WALTERS: ... and his attorney at this point. But let me end with this. By the way, that clip, Mikey Day`s the guy in the clip who works for Jay Leno for JMZ. I went to high school with him. How funny is that kid?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, man.

WALTERS: We were in drama together. How great is that kid?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, apparently, the Gosselins one-upping each other didn`t end with this e-mail. We actually have a picture of Jon picking up a cake at a New York bakery for his girls.

WALTERS: Oh.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you`ve got to tell us about this. Apparently, they spelled the name wrong.

WALTERS: Oh, my God.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell us about that, Mike.

WALTERS: OK. So he goes and gets the cake. We get the tip. We call the place. Cupcake Cafe, it`s called, and the owner tells us that Jon went in, and he was like, "Oh, I want to buy some cupcakes."

And they were like, "No, you have a cake. Here it is." And he was really confused.

Well, guess what? Apparently someone -- some TV show called "Entertainment" something -- she couldn`t remember the rest of the name -- called and ordered the cake and said that they were going to come in and ask permission to shoot for their TV show while he orders the cake and pays for it. And so he did, and they spelled the name wrong. Somebody from "Entertainment" something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pathetic. Can you spell pathetic?

Mike, I love you. Stay on top of these freaks.

WALTERS: OK.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re going to cover a very serious story when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And inside a family`s desperate search for a missing Georgia woman: Christi Cornwell was abducted while walking on a country road near her parents` home. Now there`s finally progress in the case. We`re going to talk to Christi`s desperate brother to get the very latest developments.

Also, a millionaire murder suspect walks out of jail, free on bail. This is the very same guy who was doing a crazy strip show in his jail cell just last week. He`s accused of executing his wife with a bullet to the head, then calling 911 and admitting his crime. So why is he back home relaxing in his big mansion?

Are investigators closer to finding out what happened to Christi Cornwell? She is the Georgia woman who was mysteriously snatched off a country road two months ago. You may remember her desperate family begging for her return.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANNE CORNWELL, MISSING WOMAN`S MOTHER: I just want to ask them to have mercy on her, to let her go, let her come back to us. She has a 15- year-old son that desperately needs his mother and to let her go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here are new family photos of the missing 38-year-old woman. Her cell phone was found three and a half miles away from where she vanished and now, we`re hoping -- this is hopeful news -- we are hearing investigators may be close to a break in the case.

Joining us now, Steve Kardian and of course, he`s a former police detective; and we are honored to have Christi`s brother, Richard Cornwell, with us.

Richard, I have no idea of what you`re going through. When I first covered this story, I thought about it night after night. This woman snatched off a road, minding her own business, walking down a country road near her parents` home for exercise. What is wrong with this country that we keep covering stories like this? They say there`s no war on women. This is a prime example of the war on women.

This beautiful woman who did absolutely nothing to anybody, who is a mother, who has a 15-year-old son who is being tortured psychologically right now because he has no idea where his mom is, snatched off a country road while she`s walking, just getting some exercise.

What, Richard, is your family going through right now?

RICHARD CORNWELL, MISSING WOMAN`S BROTHER: Of course, this has been torture for my family. And we`re going to see to it that this predator is put behind bars so other families do not have to endure the torment that we have been through.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my gosh. Her mom, your mom, what is she going through?

R. CORNWELL: Of course, the loss of a child is the absolute worst thing you can imagine, not knowing where she is. It`s complete torture for my mother and father.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I agree with you, we`ve got to put this predator away but we have to find out who this predator is first, and that`s the big mystery.

Christi Cornwell is a 38-year-old mom, as we mentioned, 15-year-old son. There you see the boy when he was younger. The mom disappeared in rural Blairsville, Georgia. When she disappeared, Christi was on an innocent walk near her mom`s house. She was on her cell phone with her boyfriend, who was very far away.

He reports that Christi saw an SUV pass her by and then heard a struggle. Now, this is very significant because it`s really the only clue that police have. Christi is a former probation officer, so she knows how to fight back, and that makes police believe that she`s in extreme danger.

Tell us, Richard, everything you know about what the boyfriend heard at that crucial moment when she was abducted.

R. CORNWELL: Well, she indicated to Douglas Davis, her boyfriend, that a vehicle was approaching. And she indicated that the vehicle was stopping and he then heard a struggle between Christi and the predator or predators. And based on my conversation with her boyfriend, there`s no doubt in our minds that Christi was abducted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he is certainly not a suspect. He was far away, way too far to be anywhere near there so he`s been eliminated.

R. CORNWELL: I understand he was in Atlanta at the time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. So that`s far away. Christi was abducted in northern Georgia but the search has expanded far beyond that state. Investigators are now looking in Tennessee and North Carolina. There weren`t any witnesses to the actual abduction but people in the area saw a white SUV and a gold sedan near where she was taken.

Take a look at these two vehicles, people, because this could be the biggest clue. These vehicles or vehicles like these seen in the area around the time of her abduction. Investigators now believe a stranger may have taken Christi.

I think this is -- Steve Kardian, you`re a former police detective -- to me, this is the most terrifying kind of abduction, a stranger abduction, when there`s nothing to go on.

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: Yes, Jane. And Richard, I`m very sorry for the loss, the suffering that your family has endured. But yes, the stranger abduction, it`s not a good thing, Jane, by any means. And you know when we have a stranger perpetrate a crime like this, unfortunately, it`s very critical law enforcement and the community has to act swiftly to try to identify the many factors that are involved here, the vehicle and any evidence that they may have seized at the scene.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Richard, we`re hearing reports that police say they`re hopeful that law enforcement says there could be a break in the case, but they will not elaborate at all. Do you have any idea what they`re talking about?

R. CORNWELL: We have not been briefed by investigators on the new development. We`re continuing to be hopeful that they have narrowed down the scenario. And hopefully, they`ve determined whether this was, in fact, a stranger abduction or otherwise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How is the 15-year-old son of the missing woman -- your nephew -- dealing with this?

R. CORNWELL: He`s a very strong young man and he`s dealing with the situation as well as he can.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, we have something here on ISSUES called the war on women and the other day, someone challenged me and he said there`s no war on women, what are you talking about.

And I`m not talking about the 89,000 reported rapes a year, not alone, but look at this case. Look at this woman, minding her own business, innocently walking down a road and is abducted. If that`s not a war on women, I don`t know what is.

And Richard, I know your family`s going through hell, but back me up here. There is a war on women in this country. We`ve got to do something about it, correct?

R. CORNWELL: I believe you, I agree with you 100 percent. And we`re going to see to it that we use this opportunity to reduce the number of these dreadful cases. And we`re going to do everything we possibly can.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to tell everybody out there, look at this woman`s face. If you have any thoughts at all, any ideas, any theories, give law enforcement a call. They have very little to work on.

They found her cell phone three and a half miles away, so they can`t follow the pings because the pings just were a dead end, three and a half miles away. They`ve got nothing. They don`t have videotape.

They`ve got nothing and this woman is missing. Her family is in hell, living in hell. And whoever did this, if you`re watching, dear God, please, please show some compassion, show some humanity and just let this woman go.

Up next, a head-spinning development in another war on women case: TV anchor woman Anne Pressly`s brutal murder. I`m talking about confession tapes.

And then a man admits to killing his wife and gets to go home to his mansion? His mansion? What the heck`s going on here?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s meet today`s winner Christie Abe (ph) from Dewey, Arizona. Christie was addicted to nicotine for 40 long years -- 40 -- before quitting cold turkey in 2006. She joined an online community for support. Way to go. How about this for a visual? She wiped down her TV and computer monitors and then hung the brown rag on the wall to remind her about all the nasty chemicals polluting her lungs.

Christi, for sharing your story, you`re going to be getting an autographed copy of my new book "I Want" and a chance to win a trip to New York City and visit me on the set of ISSUES. Way to go, girl.

And now, tonight`s "Top of the Block:" an update in the gruesome murder of an Arkansas TV anchor woman. A judge has ruled all taped confessions and DNA evidence taken from accused rapist and killer Curtis Vance be admissible in court -- right on.

Vance is charged with capital murder in the vicious beating death of KATV`s Anne Pressly. On the tapes, Vance told police he struck Pressly with a garden tool, shattering her arm when she tried protecting herself from being hit in the face, this while she was at home minding her own business.

His lawyers tried sweeping that confession under the rug but Vance acknowledged to cops he 100 percent knew what he was doing when he signed the confession papers. A trial is set for next month. And prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty.

This was one of the most horrific cases we have covered here on ISSUES in the war on women and we will stay on top of this case until justice is done for Anne Pressly.

That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Mind-blowing new developments in the murder case against a multi- millionaire charged in his wife`s execution death. J. Robert "Bob" Ward, allegedly shot his wife, Diane, in the head.

Tonight, he is out of jail on $100,000 bail. Instead of a cell, he is sitting pretty in his $5 million mansion. Wow, that looks more than $5 million, people. It`s got a pool, it`s got a spa. Look how big that is. That`s where he is right now.

Ward was arrested after making a chilling 911 call saying quote, "I just shot my wife, she`s dead. She`s on the floor of the master bedroom," end quote.

Now he`s changing his story. He`s pleading not guilty. Bob Ward`s behavior in jail was unbelievably cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo. Here he is behind bars. He is doing a striptease. Look at that. A striptease. His audience? His own daughter and his dead wife`s sister.

Tonight, a brand new mind-boggling twist: The sister of the woman Ward allegedly murdered, she`s in this video laughing with the suspect and she has admitted on the stand that she begged cops, "Please don`t arrest him."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you not beg detective Brian Cross (ph) to make this incident an accident? That Mr. Ward was under so much stress, to just make it an accident?

PAULA SAARE, WARD`S SISTER-IN-LAW: After he told me what he was charged with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why would this woman want to help the man who admitted to killing her sister in cold blood? Now, the victim`s daughter is also speaking out and she`s also defending her dad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love my dad more than anything in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be afraid for yourself or your sister or anybody else if your dad were released by the judge?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad would never hurt anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is so totally puzzling. Straight out to my expert panel: criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh.

How is this man charged with such a heinous crime free after posting a measly $10,000 on a $100,000 bail? We know he can afford it, no problem. Why such a low bail for such a rich guy?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let me explain something and people are going to mistake what I`m saying as me supporting him. I`m not. He suffers from Drew Petersonitis, when you act like a buffoon behind bars, ok?

However, the point of bail is simply to have you return to court and the judges have a law that they must follow and that is to impose the least restrictive conditions to ensure a defendant`s appearance in court.

Bernie Madoff, it upset us that he was out but he showed up. It did the trick and now he will not be out. Hopefully the same thing will happen with this guy.

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a big issue. Coming up in a moment, because I don`t necessarily buy it, a lot of people are held no bail at all after they allegedly murder someone.

Shocking jailhouse tapes caught the accused murderer joking and laughing during a visit with his daughter and sister-in-law after the death. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. ROBERT WARD: Hello.

SAARE: Hey, handsome.

WARD: (INAUDIBLE) beard?

SAARE: You look good. I`m completely here for you 100 percent, because you know that you`re my hero. I also want to let you know how nice I think that you look right now. I have been trying to get you to wear pajamas for years now.

WARD: Oh, God you look great. You look really, really good.

SAARE: Yes. I`m hanging in there. I`m showering daily, which is obviously very important, you know how we feel about hygiene. I`m glad to see that you`re showering. I`m just so disappointed you would have to keep putting the dirty jump suit back on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: After originally saying, "Oh, I killed her." He changed his story and said essentially that she committed suicide, but the medical examiner testified that this woman`s deadly gunshot wound to the face was not consistent with suicide or even with a struggle for the gun.

Dr. Dale Archer, how do you explain the lighthearted nature of these conversations given, first of all, the dire problem that this guy has? He`s got serious, serious issues.

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Yes. Early in my career, I actually worked as a psychiatrist for a prison so the one thing I learned is you can never, ever believe anything you see or anything you hear with these inmates, because they always have an agenda. There`s always secondary gain, some angle that they`re working. So I don`t really place a lot of stock into what he`s doing.

But what just stuns me beyond belief are the sister and the daughter. I can`t believe you have just lost your mom and your sister, and you`re sitting there cutting up and clowning with this guy. It`s shocking.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at this guy. He`s smiling and he`s laughing and it appears that he really enjoys the attention as he`s released. Ok? He is having, it appears, to be a good time. He`s smiling.

My big issue tonight, does money talk, why is this millionaire accused of shooting his wife in the face, killing her, allowed to reportedly pay just 10,000 clams and as you see right here, walk free and he`s got a grin on his face. Is he getting preferential treatment because he`s a wealthy guy living in the same neighborhood as Tiger Woods and Shaquille O`Neal?

Get this. Listen to him complaining that the jail isn`t the Ritz Hotel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: Believe me, I`m not here in the Ritz.

MALLORY WARD, DAUGHTER OF ACCUSED KILLER: Such a lifestyle change for you. I can only imagine. I know you`re missing a (INAUDIBLE).

WARD: This place hasn`t been cleaned in I can`t tell you when.

SAARE: Well, I`ll definitely get on housekeeping for that. I`ll call housekeeping right now and make sure and I`ll have them put a mint on your pillow, too. Ok.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey -- 10 seconds -- why isn`t he held on no bail?

STACEY HONOWITZ: Look Jane, the bottom line is there`s a lot of factors for the court to consider. In this case if he`s had no contact with law enforcement prior to this, he probably has ties to the community.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry that knows him probably came into court to talk on his behalf. And yet people take the stand and saying they`re never going to be afraid of him and all these things in consideration. The judge looks at that to make a determination. It`s not a first-degree murder case and that`s why.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think this guy is a flight risk on top of everything else...

EIGLARSH: Jane, Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...because he has money problems, even though he`s rich. Like we know, many rich people declare bankruptcy. He`s one of those.

Everyone stay right where you are. We`re going to have more on accused murderer back home in his big mansion, right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. WARD: Perhaps they like watching me doing the show?

M. WARD: Yes -- I`ll (INAUDIBLE) and don`t drop the soap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t drop the soap. That was a jailhouse video tape showing a visit between a millionaire charged with murdering his wife and his daughter. She`s joking about don`t drop the soap when her mom is dead and her dad is in jail? And why was his bail so very low?

For example -- here by comparison -- Raymond Clark, the suspect in that heinous murder of Yale student, Annie Lei. He was held on $3 million bail. Now, he`s a 24-year-old lab techie. So there`s no way that he could afford to post that bail; as it should be.

Now, millionaire Robert Ward did reportedly have extreme recent financial troubles, bankruptcy, et cetera, but he`s currently living in a nine-bedroom palace in an exclusive neighborhood. He`s been a millionaire for years.

Stacey Honowitz, I`m going to ask this big question time and time again. Don`t like the answer I`ve been getting. Why couldn`t he be held without bond or at least set the bail higher?

HONOWITZ: You`re absolutely right. He could be held no bond and it could have been a higher bail. I don`t know why it was set the way it was. The only thing I can tell you is, in taking all those factors together, the judge might have thought he`s not a risk of flight, he`s on a GPS monitor. I`ll set it at this amount.

I`ve heard (ph) the lawyers argued that he doesn`t have the money. But he absolutely could have been held no bond.

Also, I think the fact that he...

(CROSS TALK)

EIGLARSH: Jane, let me jump in here -- Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead Mark.

HONOWITZ: The fact that he made these...

EIGLARSH: Jane, I`ve got to jump in here. Jane, I`m taking exception to what you are saying. You`re suggesting my Pita loving vegan...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

EIGLARSH: ...that the state prosecutor and the judge here somehow did something wrong.

HONOWITZ: No, she`s not...

EIGLARSH: And let me tell you something...

HONOWITZ: I don`t think she is at all making that point.

EIGLARSH: Let me explain something to you. Let me make the point here.

First of all, anyone who posts a bond here in Florida, in state court would pay 10 percent of the total bond. Second of all, the judge, not us, were privy to all the facts and deemed $100,000 and a GPS monitoring device...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok...

EIGLARSH: ...sufficient to secure his return to court.

(CROSS TALK)

HONOWITZ: But the fact of the matter is...

EIGLARSH: But also have to stand back here and say they did something wrong...

HONOWITZ: ...he could have set it higher.

EIGLARSH: ...or something was preferential is not appropriate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok.

Dr. Dale Archer, here is my theory. Shatter it, if you will.

My theory is that justice isn`t blind and that people who are millionaires and show up in courts and suites and look like that get treated a little bit differently than people who are gang bangers and show up with a ripped t-shirt and their pants hanging down half way down to their knees.

Ok, I don`t think the judges are blind. I don`t think lawyers are blind. And I`ll tell you why. Because I worked at celebrity justice for years and I was in court to cover celebrity cases and I would get there early and I see how they would treat the people who had the public defenders. And they couldn`t get them out fast enough and lock them up fast enough.

And then when the important cases came up with the rich and famous people, it all got dragged out until we all forget what we were talking about and the person gets probation or charges are dropped.

DALE ARCHER: I agree with you completely Jane. You know how it works, a phone call to the judge, a friend of the judge saying, "Look, I know this guy, he`s a friend of mine. He`s cool. He`s not going to be a flight risk." So the good old boy network is at work, no doubt about it.

And of course, they get preferential treatment. We`d be foolish to think that they don`t. Is it right? No, it`s horrendous but it`s a fact.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to go.

EIGLARSH: I don`t want anyone suggesting that the judge did that in this case.

HONOWITZ: We had jumped into an awful big conclusion that every judge is crooked and that they take a phone call from somebody and say that this guy is a good guy.

ARCHER: No way I said that he was crooked.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`ve got to leave it right there.

EIGLARSH: No.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m not saying crooked, we`re saying not blind.

ARCHER: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, fabulous panel.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.

END

Home  |  Asia  |  Europe  |  U.S.  |  World  |  World Business  |  Technology  |  Entertainment  |  World Sport  |  Travel
Podcasts  |  Blogs  |  CNN Mobile  |  RSS Feeds  |  Email Alerts  |  CNN Radio  |  Site Map
© 2009 Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.