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Cops Find Girl`s Body in Landfill; More 911 Calls Released from Balloon Boy`s Family

Aired October 21, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a gruesome discovery in the search for a missing Florida girl. Seven-year-old Somer Thompson vanished while walking home from school. Now police say the body of a small child has been found in a South Georgia landfill. Is it little Somer? We are hoping it`s not her, but this is every mother`s worst nightmare. It`s hell for the family. We will have the very latest.

Also, heart-wrenching new insight into the search for Morgan Harrington. The Virginia Tech student vanished during a crowded Metallica concert on a college campus. Her mom says Morgan was looking forward to this concert for six months. But when the band finally came onstage, Morgan was nowhere to be found. We will track this mystifying, terrifying case.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, police fear the worst: a tragic end to a desperate search for missing 7-year-old Somer Thompson. The body of a young child found buried in garbage at the very landfill where trash from Somer`s neighborhood is dumped. Cops say they have not identified the body as Somer, but they say they believe it could be her.


SHERIFF RICK BESELER, CLAY COUNTY, FLORIDA: It`s with deep regret and sadness that I have to inform you that a body has been found in the landfill in Folkston, Georgia. The body appears to be that of a small child.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Somer has a birth mark on her leg. Police say they could not make out if there was a birth mark on the body. They are, however, saying the case will proceed as a homicide investigation.

The second grader vanished without a trace while walking home from school Monday on this street in Orange Park, Florida. Somer`s siblings told their mom she ran ahead and out of sight. The frantic search began just 20 minutes later. They got a jump on this case.

Her mom begged for her daughter`s life on ABC`s "Good Morning America."


DIENA THOMPSON, SOMER`S MOTHER: They should know that she`s one of the most loving little girls in the whole wide world. She doesn`t know a stranger, and if somebody has her, please just bring her home. She`s got a twin, and he misses her. And we all miss her, and we just want her to come home OK.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That poor mother. Imagine what she is going through tonight.

Police scoured Somer`s neighborhood. It is swarming with sex predators. This map shows the three-mile area around where the little girl went missing. All those blue dots, more than 100 registered sex offenders. What`s going on with this area?

A chilling possible clue: an attempted abduction just days before Somer`s disappearance. Police say somebody tried to lure another little girl into a blue Nissan, and that happened just one block away from where Somer disappeared. Is there some kind of serial child snatcher on the loose? Are these cases connected?

You know, we cover way so many of these horrendous stories. Too many, way too many. Let`s call it what it is tonight. It is a national crisis. We need to stop letting predators terrorize us, attacking women and children. It is time to say enough, and we`re going to say it tonight, here on ISSUES. I`m saying it right now.

I want to hear from you. How do you at home think we`re going to stop this senseless random violence that is terrorizing all of us?

Straight out to my outstanding expert panel: former FBI investigator, Joe Navarro; psychotherapist Robi Ludwig; CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom; and WJST reporter Adam Landeau.

Adam, this is a fast-developing story. What is the very latest?

ADAM LANDEAU, WJST REPORTER: Well, I just talked to the sheriff, Jane, probably about three minutes ago, and he told me that they are zeroing in on Tuesday, yesterday. A Dumpster that may have been taken to Folkston, Georgia, a landfill there, with this body that we all presume is that of little Somer Thompson.

This story has changed so fast. At about 3:30 we were expecting an update from the sheriff and the governor, just to say, "Here`s where we are now." Well, that really changed at about 10:04, when we were told they had to postpone their news conference because of a major development.

At 4:15 we got that major development. The sheriff and the governor coming out and saying they have found a body in a landfill in Folkston, Georgia. Presumably, it is that of 7-year-old Somer Thompson.

We were standing here when that announcement was made, and there were volunteers around here, many of them falling to the ground when they heard what the sheriff had to say.

Now that we all pretty much know what happened, the sheriff says it`s time to look for whoever did this. Right now, they say, this is certainly a homicide investigation -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa Bloom, what will the autopsy tell us about, not only the identity of this child but how the child died and who might have killed her?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First of all, I have to add, I`m just so sickened by this story, Jane. I agree with you. We`ve got to put a stop to this. I just get so tired of covering stories of little girls` bodies found. Even if it`s not her, it`s some child who died and it`s equally horrendous. Either way, it`s disgusting.

Now, as for the autopsy, of course we`re going to hope for hair, fibers, DNA of the perpetrator. Usually there is, unfortunately, a wealth of information when the body is found that ultimately can link this to the perpetrator. Dear God, what a story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And all of this happens. It`s awful. You know, all this is happening so quickly. This child went missing the day before yesterday, coming home from school on Monday. And now we`re talking about the very real possibility that she could be dead, because they found a little child`s body.

A frantic search for the little girl began almost immediately after she went missing. Cops went for two days without any clues. Listen to this.


BESELER: Somer disappeared off the face of the earth. She walked down the street after getting out of school. No one has reported seeing anything. There is no physical evidence. We just don`t have a clue right now as to where she is.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Navarro, you`re the investigator. The sheriff said the first place they look when they have no clues they go to the garbage, where that are is sent. Now, does the discovery of a body in the landfill where the local trash is dumped indicate, if this is, in fact, Somer, that she was killed quickly by a local person and then dumped in short order somewhere in the neighborhood?

JOE NAVARRO, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATOR: Well, it certainly indicates to that. And obviously, you start within the five miles of the home, and you look at where possibly would a perpetrator dispose of, unfortunately, a body. And we seem to find that within five to six miles, we usually see that victims are taken and something like this takes place.

But going to what you asked earlier, you know, this national crises, you know, used to be we just talked to kids about the birds and the bees, and that was the hard conversation we had. We need to have a conversation with them about their security and about predators, and what`s out there every day. Because I mean, how many more missing children do we have to have in Florida this year?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We don`t have to have any more to declare this a crisis. It is.

Here`s the big issue tonight, preying on our kids. We have horrifying violence against innocent children. We`re covering it too many times. It`s depressing. It`s demoralizing. We feel helpless. Somer Thompson, Jessica Lunsford, Haleigh Cummings, Sandra Cantu. The list goes on and on. Violent predators terrorizing our neighborhoods, snatching our children from under our noses. And then look at the horror that the mothers go through.


THOMPSON: For everybody who`s stopped by, who`s passed out flyers, who`s brought me food to my work and my friends and my family. And if anybody can help me find her. But I just wanted to say thank you to everybody. And just bring her home to me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s beyond comprehension. I want to open it up to the panel.

Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, I have to tell you right now. I am refusing to cover this story as another missing girl, business as usual. We have to just say, "Enough." Especially we as women, we as women journalists and psychotherapists and lawyers have to say, we need to know, why is this happening in America? And we have to somehow make this horrific tragedy part of the solution so that another mother doesn`t have to weep like that ever again.

But I am personally at a loss. I feel this is domestic terrorism. But I feel very helpless in terms of saying anything that could possibly be a force for change to stop it from happening again.

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I think -- and I have a 7-year- old daughter, so this is particularly painful, because any mother who has a child identifies with this poor woman who is dealing with this extraordinarily horrific loss.

I think we need to go into the school systems and -- and have school systems, with the community, train parents on how to talk with kids. Not necessarily to frighten them, but maybe they should be a little scared. Maybe areas which seem to be safe, where kids can walk alone, maybe they can`t really now in this day in age.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what, Lisa? I want to jump in with Lisa Bloom. Here`s the thing. You know when you were watching "Mayberry RFD," and the kid`s running along and the dog and they`re whistling? That`s -- that`s gone. That is no more America.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s a really sad change. Because that was part of what made America great, that we had this freedom and this big open territory. And now we`re all living in fear. And you`re a parent, as well.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s got to stop. It`s so depressing. I didn`t even sleep last night thinking about Morgan, the girl who is abducted. We`re going to talk about her later. I woke up every hour. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, "What`s happening to Morgan right now? What is happening to her right now?"

BLOOM: This gets to all of us. We`re human beings. We cover this story. I agree with you.

Look, here`s what we have to do. Of course we need to educate our children. But a 7-year-old is never going to be able to defend herself against an adult male predator, and that`s clearly what we`re going to be talking about here.

So we`ll give her the information, sure. But let`s be realistic. Seven-year-old girls cannot walk around the neighborhood by themselves anymore. The risk is just too high.

And recidivist sex predators -- and I`m sure that`s what we`re going to find out here -- need to be locked up for life. Because they repeat their crimes over and over again. I`m not talking about a 19-year-old who has sex with a 17-year-old. I`m talking about an adult who has preyed on a child. They need to be locked up, because they can`t be stopped. It`s an obsession, and we see it over and over again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are about 100 sex predators within a three-mile radius of where this child lived. Correct, Adam?

LANDEAU: Yes. There are a lot. I mean, we heard exactly, maybe 80 in the immediate area, and then of course, when you expand the search, you`re talking about more than that. Police say they talked to all of them. That was as of this morning. Whether or not they found anything suspicious, they haven`t told us. But the sheer number just jumps out at you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s mind boggling.

LANDEAU: Especially when you show that map and you picture a kid walking down the street home from school, passing sex offender after sex offender after sex offender. And you look at it, and it makes you sick.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on this horrific development in just a bit. Hang out. We`re going to get back to you. We`re also taking your calms at home: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. What do you think? How are we going to fix this?

Coming up, unfortunately, yes, another missing girl. What is going on here? It`s a war on females, a war on women. That`s what`s going on. But first, a little girl`s family fears the very worst after a small body is found.


BESELER: Our prayers and our hearts and our thoughts and the worst, you know, it just goes out to the family.



THOMPSON: I did her hair for her in the morning and put it up in a ponytail. I can`t even remember if I told her I loved her. And I went to work and told her to have a good day. She wasn`t feeling well, and I told her, "Just try to go to school. If you need me, call me."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s no words. There are no words to describe what that woman is going through right now, the mother of missing 7-year- old Somer Thompson. Police discovered a child`s body in a landfill. They believe it is quite possibly Somer. We`re waiting for police to identify those remains.

And it`s just -- you know, we`re all so traumatized by this as a nation. And we`ve got to do something to stop it. We`ve got to do something to say, "No, this is not business as usual."

Phone lines lighting up. Lisa, Arizona, your question or thought.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. It`s time that we as a people stand up and say, "Enough is enough." We need a law of the land that`s going to dictate that, if you rape or you kill a child, you can count on spending the rest of your days in prison without parole, or you will end -- and/or you will face the death penalty.

We need to stand up as a people and say, "You are not going to kill our babies anymore." As a nation. Not -- there`s a Megan`s Law. There`s this law. There`s that law. We need a unified voice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you 100 percent, Lisa from Arizona, and I want to go back to Lisa Bloom.

I have been discussing this with just people. And -- and there is no consensus about how to proceed. I know that everybody`s fed up with the criminal justice system. We lock up more people than any other country in the world, but it`s not stopping the violence.

And I think that the entire system needs to be revamped, because half the time we`re locking up people. It`s a -- what do you call it? A criminal factory, prison. We`re churning out criminals, locking them up for stupid things. But the ones who really need to be locked up, the predators, the rapists, those are the ones who either don`t get locked up or get released. It`s a crazy world.

BLOOM: I agree 100 percent. We are incarcerating way too many people for the wrong thing. And I personally think we should legalize marijuana and stop expending resources to go after people for petty drug offenses. Who cares? We have more important things to worry about, like this poor mother, and our hearts all go out to her, who God forbid has lost her daughter. Or if not her daughter, somebody else has lost their child. This is horrendous.

And sex predators need to be locked up for life. I couldn`t agree more. People who do petty crimes, who bounce checks, we don`t care about that. We`ve got to get serious as a nation. Don`t worry about the nonviolent crimes. Let`s worry about the serious crimes so that no more little girls have to suffer like this girl invariably did.


BLOOM: It`s a crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely 100 percent agree with you. If you`re in prison for a nonviolent crime like drug consumption, get that person into a treatment center and free that cell up so that somebody who is a violent felon can be put in there. And they`re not 100 sex offenders in a three- mile radius of this little girl.

Now I want to go back to Adam Landeau, the reporter. What about this other case. Apparently, very recently there was an attempted abduction a block from where this child disappeared?

LANDEAU: Yes. We talked to the sheriff about that yesterday and today. There was a description of a car, and the sheriff did tell me that they found that car. They talked to the people that may have been involved in this, and they don`t think it is related to this case. They didn`t give specifics necessarily about what may have happened, but they do not believe it has to do with this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but let me jump in here. Robi Ludwig, if there was any problem, shouldn`t they issue a warning while they still have any kind of question? If this neighborhood had been on high alert, perhaps this mother wouldn`t have allowed her daughter to walk home with her two siblings.

LUDWIG: I agree. I agree. And I just want to say to you that, when I meant community education, I meant exactly that. Not that we would expect a defenseless 7-year-old to protect herself, but that parents would know, "Hey, listen, unfortunately we live in a neighborhood where it`s not safe."

I live in a neighborhood where I make sure that I have to walk my kids to school every day. To not do so would just be a crazy thing to do. So we don`t want to blame anyone.

BLOOM: And Jane, very important point. This is a typical neighborhood in a major urban area. This is a typical number of sex offenders. This is not out of the ordinary. So if anybody`s watching and they think, "Wow, this neighborhood is really filled with sex offenders, look at all those dots on the map," don`t be deluded. If you living in an urban area, you`re living in the same exact conditions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s the same exact thing.

And one of the things we need to do is break down that map and take the ones who had -- were 19 when they had sex with a 17-year-old and separate them out from the predators going after the 9- and 8- and 7-year- olds. We`ve got a lot of work to do in this country.

Everybody, thank you.

Let`s think about what it`s going to take to put an end to these sick, tragic stories once and for all. We need all of us to participate in the solution. And I know my action-oriented viewers are going to help, because they may know somebody who may be facing some danger. In my book "iWant" I talk about my destructive addiction to alcohol and how I struggled to overcome it, getting sober 14 years ago. If you`re battling an addiction, sugar, food, alcohol, drugs, my story can help you. You can order "iWant,", or it`s also in bookstores.

And coming up next, we`re going to have the very latest on balloon boy. You won`t believe the latest developments.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All day you`ve been hearing about the release of Richard Heene`s original 911 call, saying Falcon was inside the balloon. We`re going to play that for you in a second. But there`s another call that other shows are kind of overlooking. Did these Heenes have the cops on speed dial or what?

This time balloon boy`s dad, Richard, claims he was threatened, possibly by a man who once co-signed a car loan for him. And he said the construction workers near his house were acting a little funny. This call was made the morning after the alleged threat against Richard Heene. Listen.


RICHARD HEENE, FATHER OF FALCON: There was a guy running around our house late last night after the threat, and then this morning at 8:30 there were two suspicious-looking characters doing things that are just not conducive to what I know about construction work in front of our house and they just simply painted a line and they were just looking at the house.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cuckoo. Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, is Richard possibly suffering from paranoid delusions?

LUDWIG: Well, that`s possible, but you know, there`s the fear, the wish, and it sounds like he hopes everybody`s looking at him and his house. And he wants just to tell the world that people are looking at him. So I think -- I don`t know if he`s delusional, but it`s certainly a wish on some level that everybody`s noticing him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, he is a narcissist, that`s for sure. I think we can agree on that.

Robi, listen carefully to this humdinger. This is the first 911 call made by Richard to report the infamous balloon incident.


HEENE: We thought we had the thing tethered down.


HEENE: And my -- I think my 6-year-old boy...


HEENE: He got inside. And it took off. Yes.


HEENE: He`s in the air.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh! This is bad acting, Robi Ludwig. I mean, give me a break.

LUDWIG: I know. Hey, listen. He`s not getting any Academy Award. That`s for sure. But if you are receiving that phone call, you want to be safe rather than sorry. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

But here`s a guy who`s so desperate for attention, he is willing to put his kids at risk, anyone at risk just to get the limelight. And it`s a sad commentary on, in part, of what`s happened in our culture. We`re a culture of entitlement, and attention is what`s important at all costs. You can certainly see this guy saying Jon Gosselin`s got nothing on me. I should be in the limelight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. He is the ultimate negative expression of the reality TV culture we live in.

And here`s another development. His wife, Mayumi has reportedly hired her own lawyer. She met with him yesterday, sparking speculation that her interests may not align with her husband`s, if you get my drift. A friend said that she was, quote, "a slave" to Richard. He kept her isolated from everyone. What do you say?

LUDWIG: Are you asking me, Jane?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Is it a hallmark of abuse?

LUDWIG: Well, you know what? It sounds like he chose somebody who would be kind of -- he could overpower and control. I mean, here`s a woman who was obviously from another culture. He probably saw her as somebody who was easy to control. She might have admired him on some level.

And, yes, you could see this guy being on a power trip at home. It certainly does not surprise me. In fact, I would not be surprise if she was really not aware of all the ins and outs of what was going on on that particular day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but she could be charged along with him.

Thank you, Robi Ludwig.

A desperate search for a missing college student. We`ve been talking about this for days. Morgan Harrington`s dad is going to be with us to share his horrific story in a desperate attempt to find this beautiful, beautiful child. Next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Heart wrenching new insight into the search for Morgan Harrington, the Virginia Tech student vanished during a crowd the Metallica concert on a college campus. Her mom says Morgan was looking forward to this concert for six months. But when the band came on stage, she was nowhere to be found. What happened?

In the spotlight tonight: a gripping and tragic story about a young couple torn apart by violence. The story featured on a special series called "LATINO IN AMERICA" premiering tonight on CNN -- got to check it out.

Twenty-five-year-old Luis Ramirez, loving fiance and father, brutally beaten by a group of high school kids in July of last year in the Pennsylvania town where he worked and lived. He died days later.

CNN`s Soledad O`Brien investigated this horrific crime. She spoke to Luis`s distraught girlfriend.


SOLEDAD O`BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: do you think about the way he died?


O`BRIEN: Crystal Dillman was his fiancee.

DILLMAN: I think about seeing him in the hospital bed and I mean, I don`t wish that on my worst enemy. I`ve never been so scared in my life.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Four teenagers were accused in the killing, none convicted of murder. The killing exposed long simmering tensions between residents of the blue collar town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania and a growing population of Latino immigrants.

The controversy has not subsided. Was Luis`s killing a hate crime? Or as some locals claim, just a street fight gone wrong?

"LATINO IN AMERICA" tackles these questions and many other issues including inspirational and fascinating stories about the millions and millions of successful and upwardly mobile Latinos in this country.

I`m Puerto Rican so this is a very personal subject for me, as well.

Without further ado; a fellow Latina journalist and the author of the fantastic book, "Latino in America," Soledad O`Brien.

O`BRIEN: Hi Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Soledad welcome.

O`BRIEN: Thank you very much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Congratulations on an amazing series.

O`BRIEN: Thank you very much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this. Did you find that there`s this huge difference between perception and reality? Statistics show Latinos are not just the largest minority group in the U.S. but we`ve made tremendous strides, in business for example, in the professions but do people have this perception of us?

O`BRIEN: You know, it`s interesting, 70 percent of Latinos are born in this country, are native born. And yet if you were to ask people in polls, which they`ve done, they put that number more like 30 some odd percent. So you can see a huge difference between perception and reality.

And I think that was really at play in that Shenandoah story. People come to these things with their mind set about who Luis Ramirez was. And I think that that ended up having some devastating consequences obviously for that young man.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s this perception that Latinos are illegal immigrants and that`s a very small percentage of the number of Latinos in America. And yet we don`t hear these stats, 66 percent of children live with two married parents, the poverty rate, something like 20 percent. That means 80 percent of Hispanics are not living in poverty, they`re doing okay.

Now, "LATINO IN AMERICA" features a star-studded line up of Latino celebrities, including George Lopez, for example. Lopez is set to host a new late night talk show and that premieres in November.

Larry King asked about whether we need another late night show.


GEORGE LOPEZ, HOST, "LOPEZ TONIGHT": I think we need one that is diverse and inclusive. I think we`re on the right bath 20 years ago when Arsenio Hall had some success for 5 years and then it`s kind of gone away.

Now that we are Latino in America, Larry, I think that we need to be the bridge between the black and the whites.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is a very vanilla landscape there in the late night talk show world. I think he`d be a wonderful addition.

I want to talk about your own personal experiences in bridging cultures. Your mom is African-American and Latina, your dad was from Australia. Tell us the story about a former TV station manager who asked you to consider changing your name.

O`BRIEN: In Connecticut one of the very first times I was trying to get a job as a reporter and he said to me after he kind of gave me the tour around the newsroom, "Soledad, that`s such a tricky name to say. Would you consider changing it?"

My full name is Maria de la Soledad which means the Blessed Virgin Mary which means, of course, you can`t change that, you`ll get struck dead by lightning on the way home. So I said no. And also, I grew in an all- white neighborhood, everyone could pronounce my name. I didn`t think it would be a problem. He seemed to think it would.

I called my mom crying and she said get over it find a new job and that`s exactly what I did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Maybe that`s why he`s in Connecticut and you are where you are today, my dear.

Another celebrity who has a major part in "LATINO IN AMERICA" is Eva Longoria-Parker. She spoke to CNN`s Wolf Blitzer about attitudes towards immigrants in the United States. Listen.


EVA LONGORIA-PARKER, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: There`s a strain obviously economically in our country. We`re the scapegoats again or these immigrants are the scapegoats. Okay, get out. You can`t have that push/pull effect and we can`t welcome these people as laborers but deny them as citizens.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now Eva Longoria`s (INAUDIBLE) superstardom has become a very active and outspoken advocate for Latinos in America. Soledad, how is she featured in the series?

O`BRIEN: You know what`s amazing about Eva Longoria-Parker is that she`s is a ninth generation American which means that her people came before the folks who came in the Mayflower.

Amazing story. We talked to her and George Lopez and other Hollywood greats, Edward James Olmos, America Ferrera.

We`re really finding out, what is the situation, which you really see like in any community, it`s a mixed bag. You do have wild success, people doing really well. And you also have people who are struggling, sometimes because the infrastructure is really failing them, especially when you look at on the education front.

But she`s part of our story of wildly successful people who feel like, you know, she`s like, "I haven`t been pigeon-holed and stereotyped at all in Hollywood. I`ve been wildly successful."

There are some others on the other side who would say, "My situation is not exactly the same." And I think that that mixed bag is kind of the story of "LATINOS IN AMERICA."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I say take your heritage and make it a plus because that`s what it is. That`s how I feel about my Puerto Rican heritage. And what I always remind myself is that we are a nation of immigrants. Give us your hungry, your tired, your poor. Everybody who is criticizing illegal immigration should be reminded that they themselves, unless they are descendents of indigenous, Native Americans, are immigrants and they didn`t come over, as you mentioned, Soledad, on the Mayflower.

O`BRIEN: Exactly. The bottom line is this is a nation of immigrants and one of the things we wanted to explore was the story of all people who are coming here: Latinos in this particular case, African-Americans when we did "BLACK IN AMERICA;" a look at how the country is changing because of the demographic changes and how people are changing because they`re joining this melting pot and becoming Americans.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And as we sign off, I`m looking forward to your series. I think it`s exciting, I think you -- it`s a huge accomplishment. Documentaries aren`t easy, so congratulation congratulations, Soledad O`Brien, and we`re all going to watch it tonight.

O`BRIEN: Thanks Jane. Appreciate it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, Haleigh Cummings` ex-stepmom Misty Croslin making headlines again. Just wait until you hear what cops say she`s done this time.

And then it`s been five days since Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington went missing. Morgan`s frantic dad joins us to talk about the case right after the break. And I want to hear from you on this one, 1- 877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586-7297. Help us.


LT. JOE RAIDER, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: At this point we have no reliable information whatsoever that criminal misconduct has occurred. Circumstantially, we have to be very concerned.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let`s meet today`s winner, Lisa H. from Atlanta, Georgia. This is Lisa in the `80s, partying it up. Okay, you look pretty good there, Lisa. Still, not long after this picture was taken, however, Lisa went to work with booze on her breath, her boss called her on it and then she realized, I`ve got a problem, and she found support to quit.

Now, 23 years later, she`s still in recovery. Look how good she looks. Fabulous, darling. Still drug and alcohol free; way to go. And get this -- she even helped her own dad get sober for the last 14 years of his life. That`s so fantastic. Lisa used what she learned on her path to create a program called Teens Talk Truth to help kids stay sober and healthy as well.

Lisa, for sharing your very inspiring story, you`re going to get an autographed copy of my new book, "I Want," plus a chance to win a trip to New York City and visit me right here on the set of ISSUES. If you win, I promise you, I will show you a very good time. Congratulations on your wonderful and long sobriety.

Members of the rock band Metallica lend their voice in the desperate search for missing Virginia Tech student, Morgan Harrington.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight. Breaking news: Misty Croslin robbed during a drug deal gone bad? That`s right. The chain-smoking teenager is widely known as the last person to see little Haleigh Cummings alive. Ever since the walls have been crumbling around her from her mom publicly doubting her to her 7-month long marriage to Haleigh`s dad Ron ending in divorce.

Police say the mysterious Misty and her two friends went to an apartment complex on Saturday allegedly to buy some drugs. She allegedly gave a complete stranger her money and then they ran off to it. And then a car pulled up, people jumped out, they grabbed Misty`s purse.

Dramarama everywhere this girl goes. This isn`t the first time we`ve heard claims that Misty had drug problems. She allegedly went on a three- day bender on the days leading up to little Haleigh`s disappearance.

It all raises the question, is Misty a drug addict? Well, Misty, I have a tip for you. Own up to your problems, girl, and get help. And while you`re at it, get honest about everything before it is too late.

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

We started the show with a desperate search for a darling 7-year-old girl who has vanished. Sad to say there`s another missing female, this time from Virginia Tech: lovely student, Morgan Harrington.

This war on women is continuing; it is escalating. It is a crisis in America. Is anybody out there listening?

Harrington went missing during a Metallica concert with friends. She got separated from those friends Saturday night and that`s it. No word from Morgan since she called and said I can`t get back into the arena.

According to today`s police press conference, Morgan can be placed at or near the John Paul Jones Arena at the University of Virginia from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. this past Saturday night. That`s later than the 8:40 p.m. we`d heard earlier.

Cops confirm her cell phone was found without the battery inside.


RAIDER: Whether or not the battery is missing from the cell phone may at some point be pertinent. But in this particular situation, based on interviews we have conducted, it would not be unusual for this particular incident, that the battery have dropped out of the cell phone.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joining me now, along with my expert panel, Morgan`s frantic dad, Dr. Dan Harrington. Doctor, thank you again for joining us. As I said the last time, let`s hope something jars somebody`s memory and we can be of service in finding your daughter.

It`s a horror story, and we want it to have a happy ending, we pray. Police are now saying they have evidence your daughter was milling about around the arena between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. after calling her friends to say she couldn`t get back in and would find her own way home. She didn`t have a car.

Doctor, does it make sense to you that your daughter would think she could find her own way home without a car on her own?

DR. DAN HARRINGTON, FATHER OF MORGAN HARRINGTON (via telephone): No, it doesn`t make sense to me because she did not have lots of friends in Charlottesville and there`s certainly no one close that we knew of that she would know in Charlottesville. So how would you get home if you -- JMU, which is where she would have been sleeping that night, is about a 45- minute drive. So it doesn`t make sense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What also doesn`t make sense is that her friends don`t hear from her, they go home -- and correct me if I`m wrong -- they don`t say anything. They don`t tell anybody, oh, "We lost Morgan somewhere along the line." So apparently you guys lost 16 crucial hours. Tell us about that.

HARRINGTON: You know, I think what happened was in the conversation, you know, they are -- are young people and I think that they don`t have the feelings that they have any limitations and are indestructible I guess in some ways.

And I think the friends thought that, you know, if Morgan knew a way to get home, then so be it. They did stay after the concert for several hours waiting for Morgan and looking for Morgan. You know, and -- you know, I don`t think -- I don`t think they`re to blame for this at all.

But I think from my standpoint, from looking at Morgan`s situation, you know, this is not behavior of Morgan running off. I think Morgan was taken. And I think she is a very trusting individual. And, you know, we don`t know what happened afterwards.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this, doctor. Police were asked if they had any information about whether Morgan was drinking that night. Let`s listen to what law enforcement had to say about that.


RAIDER: As far as her condition, her condition is being looked at from interviews. We`re not prepared to discuss her condition at this time. However, she was in a condition that she was able to move around the arena freely, and be able to converse with people.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Dr. Harrington, it`s an awkward question, but they serve alcohol at the arena. Was your daughter known to enjoy drinking or perhaps using any substances? And we only ask to possibly be of help in finding her.

HARRINGTON: You know, Morgan was not somebody that, you know, drank a whole lot. I really honestly don`t know. You know, that she was somebody who partied a whole lot, you know, on the campus, this wasn`t something that we were aware of if that occurred.

But I just know from my standpoint of having Morgan here all summer with me there was certainly no alcohol. She rarely went out, spent most of the evenings with us. So I don`t know the situation in Charlottesville as to whether she could have had some alcohol.

I don`t think that Morgan -- I don`t think Morgan is someone, though, who`s used drugs and certainly alcohol has not been a significant problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you said she did not have a boyfriend, correct?

HARRINGTON: No, she did not have a boyfriend.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you could stand by, Dr. Harrington, thank you so much.

I want to go to Judge Karen Mills Francis. You`ve covered so many of these cases. What do you make of the situation, police saying they`ve studied the surveillance video, it doesn`t really help them? They know that she was milling about but they don`t seem to be able to connect the milling about with any individual or vehicle at this point.

JUDGE KAREN MILLS FRANCIS, HOST, THE JUDGE KAREN SHOW: Well, there are a lot of people at that -- at that concert, Jane.

And I listened to your first segment, and you talked about Mayberry. I think that we have to redefine what normal is. You know, it was nothing for you and I to walk home from school when we were kids. You can`t let your kids walk home. You can`t go to the bathroom by yourself if you`re at a concert with thousands of other people because there`s nowhere where women and children are safe.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This gets me furious.

MILLS-FRANCIS: 2,300 women and children...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It gets me furious that we have to sit here and talk about women can`t do this, children can`t do this. Women can`t do this, and it`s what I call the psychological burqa.

Why don`t we talk, Robi Ludwig, about what these criminals, who are overwhelmingly male -- this is not to attack men, it`s to say those are the statistics -- what they should be allowed to do and not do as opposed to restricting our freedoms because at the end of the day, we could stay in our own homes.

You know that beautiful Nashville anchor, Anne Pressly, she was brutally raped and beaten and killed while sleeping in her own home.

So if you use that logic, we wouldn`t go anywhere. And even if we didn`t go anywhere, we`re still in danger.

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Right. Well, obviously, listen, people have to live their lives. And it is a very sad commentary where there is no safe place and there used to be a time when college campuses seemed safe.

But I think we need to educate women and men, too because there are men that are also vulnerable to crimes, that even though a campus seems safe, that there`s a buddy system, if your friend is missing. There`s reason to be concerned. Because what we do know about women in the young age groups, they are a target. They are vulnerable. Why because they are out late at night.

MILLS-FRANCIS: 90 percent, 90 percent of all of the...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, hang on everyone, we`re going to come right back with more debate on what to do about this.

And meantime, we`re going to do everything we can to find this beautiful young woman. We`re talking to her dad.

More, after the break.


HARRINGTON: I`d like to say, if Morgan is out there and hears us, please come home. And if someone has Morgan, please let her come home safely.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re talking about missing Virginia Tech student, Morgan Harrington. We`re trying to do something to find her. Maybe somebody remembers something; she was last seen Saturday outside Metallica concert.

Phone line is lighting up, Adelmo, South Carolina, your question or thought?

ADELMO, SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, I just want to say, I can`t believe that this girl just disappeared off the face of the earth. At these concert halls, there are cameras at every exit. I can`t believe nobody seen her. None of the security guards seen her?

I believe her friends know something they`re not saying and I believe the solution to all these women going missing, you need to castrate these people and put them in prison. That`s what you need to do, put me in office and I`ll take care of these idiots, once and for all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Adelmo, you do raise a good point about the surveillance cameras.

And I want to go to Joe Navarro, investigator. Ok, University of Virginia has tons of surveillance cameras. Remember, they piled on these surveillance cameras in the wake of the nearby Virginia Tech massacre where this young lady attends.

So, cops said today at the news conference that they didn`t find anything on the surveillance video. How can they be so sure, this quickly?

JOE NAVARRO, INVESTIGATOR: Well, I don`t think they can be sure this quickly. I think they`re going to have to go back and look through all the tapes and all the security cameras from every location, ATM machines and so forth.

And I have to say this. All it takes is one predator to do it just right. You can do everything right, but all they have to do is get it right one time and they can ruin your day. So, let`s not be too hasty with this situation. Let`s see where it goes. Hopefully, we`ll be able to find her and recover her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s pray. Morgan`s friends and family and those who desperately want here home are going online. Even one of Morgan`s favorite bands, Metallica, is trying to help find her; the band which was playing that night. She never saw it because she went outside. Posted a statement on their Web site saying they are deeply concerned about her disappearance. Rockers even put up her picture and said, "People here`s how you can help."

That`s not all. There`s a Facebook page called Help Find Morgan Harrington. It`s where people can offer their support, tips, other help and tomorrow, a $50,000 reward will be offered through Crimestoppers.

Back talking with the father of this missing beautiful woman. Dan Harrington, did you watch the news conference? To me, it struck me as a little odd. It seemed like law enforcement was carefully dancing around every single word they said.

And some of the things that they said didn`t really add up like nothing came out of the surveillance video. Yet, we know that she was milling about at 8:30 or 9:30. What do you make of how police are handling all this, sir?

HARRINGTON: We have been pleased with the University of Virginia as well as Virginia State Police. I think they`ve been professional. I do think that they jumped on this very quickly after they were notified.

I guess the question that I have is when would this become a case for the FBI and, you know and one other thing that I`d like to add is that the reward for Morgan is over $100,000 right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Karen Mills, last word. Should the FBI get involved? Obviously?

MILLS-FRANCIS: Yes, I think the FBI should get involved. And you know what? I think we need to change the laws. The highest recidivism rate is among rapists and predators and 90 percent of predators are men. We keep murderers in prison forever. We need to keep these sexual offenders in prison forever.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got it right there.

You are watching ISSUES on HLN.

Let`s pray for Morgan.