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Questions Raised about Husband`s Story about Missing Wife

Aired December 17, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a bizarre new twist in the case of the missing Utah mom, Susan Powell. Could the stunning discovery of a notebook shine light on Susan`s troubled marriage and her disappearance?

Meanwhile a cloud of suspicion hangs over her husband. Police say he`s been acting abnormally, and more and more people question his story about the night Susan vanished.

And a 10-year-old boy was taken by his father off the school bus, and the whole thing was caught on tape. This poor boy was begging for help, saying his dad hit him. Now he and his dad are nowhere to be found, and his hysterical mother is crying out for help. What role did the police play in this nightmare? Were they tricked by the father.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight chilling new developments in the desperate search for a Utah mom. Could Susan Powell`s secret notebook hold clues as to what happened to her?

"The Deseret News" is reporting police recovered a notebook in her desk at work. It reportedly contains some details, possibly, about Powell`s marriage. It also may describe threats made against her.

Also, Susan`s family is now publicly reacting to the mounting suspicion around her husband, Josh. Do they buy his claim that he took their two young sons camping after midnight right around the very time Susan vanishes? Coincidence?


SHELBY GIFFORD, SPOKESMAN FOR SUSAN POWELL`S FAMILY: The fact Joshua has been named a person of interest in this case deeply saddens the family, but it is not a surprise, given the events and his reactions to them in the past week.

We know that Susan is an excellent mother and would not have tolerated her children being taken out of the home after midnight to go camping in dangerously cold conditions.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ah-ha. Relatives are wondering whether Josh is really saying everything he knows about his wife`s disappearance. Listen to Josh`s brother-in-law on ABC`s "Good Morning America."


KIRK GRAVES, JOSH POWELL`S BROTHER-IN-LAW: I wouldn`t be surprised to find that he gets arrested within the next, I don`t know, seven days. Even if he`s innocent there`s still something more that he`s not telling us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Susan has been missing since Sunday, December 6, and police suspect foul play. Police have named the husband as a person of interest. Here is the assistant chief on NBC`s "The Today Show."


ASST. POLICE CHIEF CRAIG BLACK, WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH: Described him as abnormal under the circumstances. This is not normal -- normally what we see happen from loved ones of a missing family member.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to know what you this about this case. Give me your theory. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and WABC radio talk show host. Boy, I want to hear from you tonight, Curtis. Can`t wait. Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist. Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney. And joining me on the phone, Captain Tom McLaughlin of the West Valley City Police Department. They`re handling this case but we begin with Pat Reavy, reporter for "The Deseret News."

Pat, what can you tell us about this notebook?

PAT REAVY, REPORTER, "THE DESERET NEWS": Well, sources have told me that there was a notebook that Susan kept in her desk at work and that, after she went missing police went into her work, with a warrant, seized some items, including the notebook, possibly other items. Not sure.

And as far as this notebook, we have a source telling us that possibly she wrote down a threat that was made. And we don`t know if this notebook is a journal, a diary and it`s one sentence. That`s all still unclear. All that, my sources are telling me, is that there is this notebook that now is in the custody of the police.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But there`s significance to the fact that it was kept at the office as opposed to the home.

REAVY: Well, you can assume that. Once again, hypothesizing on this case. If it was a threat, why wouldn`t she take it home? Why wouldn`t she tell her husband? Why did she feel she needed to keep it at work?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Excellent questions.

Josh Powell faces a growing course of doubt about his camping story. Getting a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old out of bed after midnight to go sleep in a van in the freezing cold. Listen to this.


KIIRSI HELLEWELL, SUSAN POWELL`S FRIEND: It`s absolutely unexplainable. I cannot understand it. And I know everybody is having a hard time believing it. I am myself having a hard time believing it, even though I`m Josh`s friend and I want to stand by him.

BLACK: His lawyer has told us that there are questions that he would prefer Josh not be asked at this time.

CAPT. TOM MCLACHLAN, WEST VALLEY CITY POLICE: He has not really been that forthcoming. Or making himself available for us to interview him and get clear and direct answers.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Curtis Sliwa, law enforcement calling him uncooperative and saying he is behaving abnormally

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Jane, what a Fruit Loop trooper this guy is. All the furniture upstairs rearranged in the wrong rooms.

But, unlike a lot of other guys who had killed their wives or their lovers, at least he didn`t run to the police, stage a vigil, you know, have her name imprinted on a T-shirt while leading a search for the person that he was to begin with.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in. We cannot jump to any conclusions...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me finish -- that he killed anyone. I mean, we have to say that, first of all, we reached out to the husband and his attorney and asked them for comment. We did not get a comment back.

And they have an open invitation to appear on this show and explain their side of the story. The man you`re looking at there, Josh, open invitation. You come on our show and you tell your side of the story, because we`d like to hear it. Jayne Weintraub.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I`m not defending him, but I am defending his rights. And what has to be said is this. Exactly what Curtis said is the opposite, we cannot rush to judgment, one.

Two, I agree completely, bizarre behavior. However, bizarre behavior doesn`t equal guilty of murder. And the most important point here is, you know, there`s a difference between cooperating and giving information to help the police find his wife, such as the last time he saw her. He told them where he saw her. He told them.

What he didn`t want to be tied down to are alibi questions. Well, exactly show me where you were. So that then...


WEINTRAUB: I`ll tell you why. I`ll tell you why.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If your wife is missing and you`re desperately trying to find her, why not?

WEINTRAUB: You`re not going to find her on that campground, No. 1, because he`s saying that. And No. 2, that`s not helping to try and find her. That`s implicating him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I disagree. Let me -- let me move on, because we have -- we have Captain Tom McLaughlin on the phone.

Thank you for joining us. Sir, I just want to set up the situation and get your commentary. Police say Josh will not tell them exactly where he took his sons camping the night Susan disappeared. He says he took them to Simpson Springs on the Pony Express trails.

Well, get this. We did a Google map. OK. It`s about 100 miles from the Powell`s home in West Valley City to the closest point in Simpson Springs. Police cannot verify the story themselves, because there`s snow covering the area which would obliterate any tire marks.

Captain McLaughlin, is that what you mean by uncooperative, that he won`t say where he went camping?

CAPTAIN TOM MCLAUGHLIN, WEST VALLEY CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT (via phone): What we`re talking about in terms of being uncooperative is we have many specific questions that we would like to ask him. Any time you interview anybody, you go back, you go through that, you kind of assimilate that, and that always generates additional questions. We do have additional questions. And he is either not illegal or unable to answer them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about his vehicle? I understand the family had one vehicle. The last time that Susan was seen she was at home. She went to take a nap Sunday evening at around 4 p.m., 4, 5 p.m. Then he says he took his kids or he told a friend who was there for dinner, "I`m going to go sledding with my kids."

Then he`s seen coming back, and then he takes off, he says, camping after midnight with his kids, going 100 miles, at least, to the nearest point that he identified. Even though he was due at work the next day.

Now, have you taken his vehicle and looked at it to see, "Oh, what`s going on in that vehicle?" Have you confiscated it and tested it, sir?

MCLAUGHLIN: We have served -- we served a search warrant on that vehicle, processed it. I`m not going to discuss what we did or did not find. And then that vehicle has been released back into his custody.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That quickly, huh? I mean, in other cases I`ve heard of the vehicle being taken for a long period of time. And really analyzed carefully because sometimes -- look at the Casey Anthony case. I mean, they went through that trunk and they found things at various times. Just one hair, or just a little bit of a scent of decomposition that the dogs hit on.

I mean, you were able to do all of that and return it that quickly?

MCLAUGHLIN: All I`m really going to say is we served a search warrant on it, processed the vehicle, watched that inspection, and then beyond that we could no longer hold that vehicle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Captain, I just want to ask you just one last question. Everybody seems to have problems with this story about taking two little children, ages 2 and 4, camping after midnight when you`re due at work the next day. And according to his own description of where we went, going about 100 miles or about 100 miles in sub-freezing weather with these two kids, leaving at midnight. What do you make of it, sir?

MCLAUGHLIN: It is very strange. And these are some things we wish to go back over and discuss with him in an interview setting. And at this point, we are not allowed to do that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When you say not allowed, he`s claiming that he is cooperative and that the attorney that he hired had made him available. But it`s just that he`s not answering?

MCLAUGHLIN: I don`t think the attorney -- don`t want to get into an argument match with him. I don`t think the attorney is being forthright in this description.

He did bring him -- or Josh Powell brought the attorney to our division. The attorney is indicating that, you know, this was for an interview. Well several basic questions were asked.

But the real reason for this visit to our department is we had a warrant to collect DNA samples from him as we have collected from other individuals in this case. And after that DNA sample was collected, like I say, he answered very few general questions. And then his attorney terminated any -- terminated the contact. So, his attorney giving the indication that he`s serving him up on a silver platter is not accurate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you can hang on, Captain, you`re giving us tremendous insight into this case. Everyone stay right there.

More on Susan Powell and the desperate search for answers in her case. We`re also taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Plus, a little boy allegedly kidnapped by his own father. It`s all caught on videotape. Why is the boy`s mother and her attorney calling it government-assisted kidnapping? This is a story we`re going to bring you. It is guaranteed to make your blood boil. It`s outrageous.

But first, are the walls closing in on Josh Powell? A family spokeswoman talks about the agony of not knowing where Susan is.


GIFFORD: Susan is a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a niece, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend. She`s loved by many. Our primary focus as a family is to remind everybody that Susan has not yet been found.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think he`s capable of doing anything to her. Because even though he was controlling, in his own way, he did love her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Susan Powell`s friend. She doubts Josh could hurt Susan, though she was rather critical of how he treats his wife. Let`s listen to what Josh`s brother-in-law said about him on the NBC`s "The Today Show."


GRAVES: Josh is an interesting person. He`s a little different personality. I think controlling is a safe word to use, but I also don`t think it should be overused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you in your heart of hearts think that Josh had something to do with Susan`s disappearance?

GRAVES: Wow. I have very carefully avoided analyzing that question on my part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must have a gut reaction, though?

GRAVES: Too many emotions, too many family members. I just pray no.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Such conflict for the family. So many calls coming in. Melanie, Ohio, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Merry Christmas, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Merry Christmas to you.

CALLER: Jane, my question is has -- has anyone questioned these children, even though I know they`re at a very young age? Have they been questioned at all? And has he ever gave a logical explanation why he would take them on a camping trip in subzero temperatures?


MCLAUGHLIN: These are some of the additional questions that, you know, we wish to ask Josh. And, yes, we have interviewed the children, but you have to be very, very careful when you`re interviewing young children.

Now, the oldest is 4. And he was the only one that was interviewed. And by Utah law, we have to do the interview under very strict circumstances and very strict guidelines to avoid tainting any -- any answers that they may give.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And they`re very impressionable, as well. So you have to be careful about that, putting something in their minds, because they`ll parrot it right back at you.

Here`s my big issue. Was Josh really confused about what day it was? Why would he go camping after midnight on a Sunday night when he was expected at work early the next morning? Here`s how he explained it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn`t you call in sick?

JOSH POWELL, HUSBAND OF MISSING WOMAN: I was somehow thinking that it was Sunday. I didn`t go to church, and I -- I just missed a day and thought we`ll come back Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you got confused on what day it was?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, last night here on ISSUES, I spoke with Susan`s good friend, who ate dinner with them at the Powells` home the very night Susan disappeared. Here`s her take on Josh getting his days mixed up.


JOVANNA OWINGS, SUSAN POWELL`S FRIEND: When I was there we were aware that it was Sunday.


OWINGS: After I left, I have no idea what happened in his mind or in anything else.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What did -- what did he say he was going to do?

OWINGS: He said he was going take the boys sledding.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brenda Wade, he did not seem, according to the friend who was there, confused. He seemed to know what day it was Sunday night. How is he suddenly confused Monday?

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Jane, you know, just in terms of how we analyze those kinds of things, we use what`s called a mental status exam. And unless he was high on drugs or he`d been drinking or hit over the head, it`s very unlikely that someone who knows one minute what day it is and is oriented, an hour or two later can`t remember what day it is. That doesn`t add up, unless there`s some organic process like he got hit on the head.

I don`t buy it. I`m sorry. We just don`t lose our memory in that way and lose track of days, especially if you`re a working person. You certainly know when you need to show up for work on Monday.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s rewind and look at those crucial hours around the time Susan vanished. She told her family and her dinner guest that she was tired and went to take a nap somewhere around 4 or 5 p.m. Sunday evening. Josh told the friend he was leaving to take their two sons sledding.

At around 8:30 that evening, a neighbor reports seeing Josh return home and pull into the garage. Then Josh says he left again after midnight, 12:30 a.m., to take the boys camping, even though he was due at work in a few hours.

Now Susan was reported missing after her boys didn`t show up at daycare Monday morning. Josh did not return home with the kids until at least 5 p.m. Monday evening. Curtis Sliwa, there`s an almost 24-hour window between when she is last seen by her friend and when he comes home.

SLIWA: And not only that but, if you saw in that interview, but if you saw in that interview, he acted like a stoner, like he had hit the bong, smoking the Maui Wowie, the Hindu Cushion; couldn`t remember anything. That`s why he`s not telling the cops what he did all day December 7. He can`t tell them what camp site that he went to. He`s acting as if he has this amnesia, as if this is part of his cover.

I would suggest we give him a KSM, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a little water boarding, a little pain compliance to extract the truth out of this guy.

MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me. Excuse me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Panel, stay where you are. We`re going to have more on this heart-wrenching mystery, and we`re going to bring you a whole bunch of information.



POWELL: She wasn`t not feeling well. She was feeling well. She just went to bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About five-ish. Is that what we heard? We heard 5. I don`t know if that`s true. You would know better than we do.

POWELL: No. She went to bed that night.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Josh Powell a few days after his wife, Susan, disappeared. It`s been a week and a half since anyone saw her.

Phone lines lighting up on this one. Rose from Virginia, your question or thoughts, ma`am.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. Happy holidays to you and the panel. I have a question for the detective. I`d like to know whether or not they`ve done a search of gas stations within that 100-mile radius. If there`s video.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent question. And we`re going to throw that to Pat Reavy, reporter for "The Deseret Morning News," who`s been on top of this story.

REAVY: Whether they searched gas stations, I don`t know specifically. I`m sure if there`s surveillance tape to be had. Remember where he went camping there aren`t a lot of gas stations out there or surveillance video, even, to collect.

And of course, Susan`s cell phone, her keys, and her purse were still found in the house, so there`s been no activity in trying to trace those items. No use of her credit card. No use of her cell phone that we know of, since they were in the house. So I -- that`s the best I can answer that question.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, it always comes down to this. And I say if we have to put a camera on every telephone pole in America to solve these cases, let`s do it. Because really, if he had to drive -- if he says he`s driven 100 miles one way and then 100 miles back, unless he has some kind of super duper hybrid electric vehicle, he would have probably had to stop and get gas somewhere.

WEINTRAUB: That`s right. And I`m sure that`s something that they looked at. I`m also sure you don`t need a telephone in the police station. They`ll get that information, Jane.

Also, I`m sure that they already have his cell phone records. I`m sure they`ve already looked at the cell phone towers. And I`m sure that there is some GPS device or way to manage that out.

But the bigger question is, you know, it`s obvious that she did not voluntarily leave that house. For two reasons. One, she didn`t leave the house because she left a 2- and 4-year-old there. And any mom knows she didn`t just leave in the middle of the night like that.

And No. 2 is she left her cell phone, wallet and everything there. So we know that either it was in a huff and an anger -- you know, anger management problem that they`re having together, and she would have shown up by now, or she was taken.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Susan`s friends have described the Powells` troubled marriage. Listen to how Rachel Marini described Josh.


RACHEL MARINI, FRIEND OF SUSAN POWELL: I didn`t like the way that he treated her, and I didn`t think that she should stand for it.

Very controlling. He controlled pretty much everything that she did.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brenda Wade, controlling. And then we`re hearing about this notebook. And let`s factor in the fact that a couple of years ago he declared bankruptcy and reportedly had $200,000 debt.

WADE: You know, clearly, this guy has problems. But Jane, there are a lot of people in debt, a lot of people who are bankrupt, a lot of husbands we would say could fall under that heading of controlling. Each one of those things alone doesn`t mean that this is a guy who would harm his wife, as we`re all in the back of our minds thinking. I`m certainly thinking it.

But the reason I`m thinking it is because the story doesn`t add up, along with that background. So all those pieces together make me suspicious. And to have a friend say, "I don`t like the way he was treating my friend," something was going on that was fairly serious to have a friend make that kind of comment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`ve got to say, we covered the war on women here on ISSUES. We are not going to let this story go. We`re going to stay on top of it and update you over and over again. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Stick around: the horrific story of a kidnapped boy, snatched right in front of his mom and cops. It`s an outrage that could have been prevented with a simple phone call.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A 10-year-old boy taken by his father right off a school bus and the whole thing was caught on tape. What role did the police play in this nightmare and were they tricked by the father?

A father on the run accused of kidnapping his own son. Tonight there is an international manhunt going on as we speak. Where is 10-year- old Jean Paul Lacombe?

His mother fears they can be anywhere in the globe. Jean Paul`s dad allegedly tricked a court into granting him custody, presenting documents in Spanish as proof of custody. We`re going to show you those documents. Here they are.

The court couldn`t read them because they were in Spanish so the court allegedly said, "Ok. Good. Now we`re going to grant you an order to take temporary custody of your son. Cops even helped hand over the boy, snatching him off his school bus kicking and screaming. There is the child right there.

We have the videotape. Listen as this poor little boy frantically screams, "He`s not my dad."


JEAN PAUL LACOMBE, KIDNAPPED BY OWN FATHER: Please help me. He`s not my dad. He`s not my dad. I don`t want to live him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. You`re going to have to get off the bus. Come on.

LACOMBE: No. I don`t want to live with him.

I want to stay with my mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not going to let him do anything to you.

LACOMBE: No. Please. No, no, no, no, no, no.

Someone help me please. Someone help me please. Someone help me please.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How terrifying. And get this. Jean Paul`s mom claims the document that her ex showed the court was actually a warrant from Mexico for his arrest.

The boy`s mom, Berenice Diaz, is living a recurring nightmare. This is the second time this has happened. Almost five years ago this guy whisked his son off from Mexico to France. Jean Paul`s mom had to fight for two long years to get him back from France.

She believes her son is in extreme danger as we speak right now tonight and says he doesn`t have his medication, medicine that he needs for emotional problems that stemmed from the last time his dad took him away.

Berenice refuses to give up hope.


BERENICE DIAZ, MOTHER OF MISSING BOY: I keep hope. I`m getting the help we need to get close and I send you a lot of love, so we`re getting closer every day that he`s coming. So don`t cry any more, be strong, you`re always been strong and pray to God that this is going to be over soon. I love you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Straight out to my fantastic panel and also joining us, Yami Virgin, reporter with HLN affiliate KABB.

I got to tell you, Yami, this story makes my blood boil. I mean, the police, the court system, it`s all supposed to protect us, not facilitate a kidnapping. It`s almost unbelievable Yami.

YAMI VIRGIN, REPORTER, KABB: It is unbelievable. And for two months this is what I`ve been hearing: a mother crying; attorneys telling me paper work, you have to follow trail.

I can tell you this much. As a mother, those screams right there yesterday that I heard made me believe that we were right all along, especially when you call the Mexican courts and you ask them point blank, you ask them point blank who has custody of the child. Does the mother have custody of the child or does the father? And they tell you mom still has custody.

When immigration in Mexico puts out paper work alerting for anyone that sees Jean Paul, six, seven weeks ago to grab him because his father doesn`t have custody that`s the end of the story for me right there. That`s right there what`s telling me the Mexican courts said this is what`s right. American courts have to follow it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: As the police took this little boy off the bus he begged them, "Don`t make me go with him." He also screamed that his father hits him. Listen to this.


LACOMBE: I don`t want to live with him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is so hard to hear. You know, Jayne Weintraub, if a child is screaming, "My dad hits me, my dad hits me," isn`t there an obligation on the part of law enforcement to immediately call Child Protective Services? Instead what law enforcement did is they said, "Here kid go with the guy who you`re saying hits you," without asking any questions, without making as much as a phone call on behalf of this child?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Jane. I mean anybody who was there on the scene, you don`t have to have specific training to hear the panic in that boy`s voice and to see the fear in his eyes. Why didn`t that cop put the brakes on and just say I don`t care if I have a court order, hold on. Why didn`t he listen to the mother? Why didn`t he get a D.A. on phone? Why didn`t he call his supervisor? Why didn`t he look at something himself before he handed that child who is so fearing the consequences and so scared over?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue tonight. Common sense, people. That`s my big issue: common sense.

WEINTRAUB: Yes, I`m with you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Shouldn`t a judge, of all people, have had some common sense? He signs off on a piece of paper he can`t read because it`s in Spanish. Why didn`t they get translated? There`s translators all throughout the court system, we all know that.

Here`s the judge`s excuse. Listen to your honor.


JUDGE SOL CASSEB III, BEXAR COUNTY TEXAS: You have lawyers. Your officer of the court telling you here`s the order, here`s my client swearing to you that something`s going to happen to the child. You have to understand in this case, these people, they`re making allegations, they were swearing to me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, making allegations and swearing.

You know, people lie. What did these two attorneys for this father know? We reached out to them and they say they did nothing wrong. We also called the judge and got a big "no comment".

I think absolutely, Curtis Sliwa, there has to be an investigation into what went down.

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: You know, it would be interesting to know how smooth this father was, particularly when talking to the cops. When they went on the bus...

WEINTRAUB: Curtis, I`ll tell you how smooth he was. You know what happened here? Unusual. An ex-parte -- that means only one side -- an ex- parte emergency hearing, where it can only be life threatening to the child, evidence has to be produced to change custody.

That didn`t happen. But I want to bring...

VIRGIN: But there was an ex-parte order.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring Yami in.

Yami, I think there needs to be an investigation into everything that happened in court. I think they need to look at the judge, how he made the decision, why they didn`t call a translator.

I mean it`s Texas. I`m in court all the time. There are translators everywhere. They actually take this guy`s word for it? And it turns out it`s an arrest warrant from Mexico. They never get a translator to take a look at the documents? Why?

This guy is a millionaire. He has a lot of money. He`s coming in with two high-powered attorneys. He`s from France, as they say.

VIRGIN: Well, what the attorneys told me that first day when I called them, that Monday or Tuesday morning they said this father didn`t need to do this. He had custody in Mexico. He could have called the police and picked him up. Instead we thought he was on the up and up because he came to attorneys and wanted to do this the right way.

That`s what they told me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He kidnapped this kid once before and took him to France.

Liz, New York, your question or thought?

LIZ, NEW YORK (via telephone): I don`t -- I can`t even explain how I feel about this. The child was screaming. The police should have at least took him to the station and called the mother or talked to them and gone back and figured out what was going on. I don`t understand how they could just hand him over.

VIRGIN: They wouldn`t even listen to the mother who was on the scene.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, They wouldn`t listen to the mother. It`s interesting because she has a Spanish accent and I`m wondering if there was any prejudice that may have played a role in this. I mean she`s a very educated woman. She speaks beautifully but she has an accent as so many people in America do. It is a nation of immigrants.

Yami, do you think there may have been some kind of condescension...

VIRGIM: I want to be fair. I want to be fair. This is San Antonio. We deal with the Hispanic culture here every day, every single day. And I don`t have that feeling here.

I think the feeling here is that the constables had an order. Normally the order would have said bring the child to me, take the child to a safe place. This was different. And the constable made sure that he wants everybody to know that this one was different.

So the question should go back to the Judge Casseb. Why?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or the lawyers.

BRENDA WADE, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think the constable has some responsibility, Jane, as well as the judge because our court systems are charged to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children cannot protect themselves and in this situation all law enforcement are responsible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you something, we`re dealing with a millionaire. I think there should be an investigation. You know what I mean?

WADE: Yes, I agree with you. Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everyone stay right where you are. We`re all over this case and the international manhunt, the outrage. How could the court have allowed this to happen? Where is this child tonight?

We`re taking your calls. 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.


DIAZ: He can be anywhere, anywhere. He`s a Mexican citizen. He`s a French citizen. He`s married to a Russian woman. So I don`t know.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here on ISSUES we`re getting ready to celebrate the holiday season. But do you know how much environmental wreckage occurs every holiday just from the packaging, the boxes, the ribbons, the tissue paper?

It`s time to think outside of the box, people. Here`s a fun alternative. Use a newspaper to do your gift wrapping. Use this as wrapping paper and it`s colorful too. Look it won`t be easy. Actually, it`s a lot easier than you think to switch to an environmentally sensitive holiday.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and that`s your "Green Alert."



LACOMBE: Please help me. He`s not my dad. He`s not my dad. I don`t want to live with him.

CONSTABLE: Come on. You`re going to have to get off the bus, come on.

DIAZ: No, I don`t want to live with him. I want to stay with my mother.

CONSTABLE: We`re not going to let him do anything to you.

DIAZ: No. Please. No, no, no, no, no, no.

Someone help me, please. Someone help me, please. Someone help me, please.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is horrifying. "We`re not going to let him do anything to you." Yes, you did. He kidnapped a child.

Police ignored that terrified little boy`s pleas. They handed him off to his dad just because they had a court order. In turns out the order was based on bogus paper work. The judge couldn`t read it because it was in Spanish. And he just didn`t have time or whatever to get it translated.

The last time Berenice Diaz, the mom saw her son she had a hunch, oh, maybe it`s - they`re at the airport. She goes the airport. She says, she sees the child, tries to take him but the child says no because dad is going kill me if you take -- kill you if I go with you. So he`s trying to protect his mother and won`t go with his mother.

Listen to his mom.


DIAZ: I took my son and asked him, let`s go Jean Paul. And he told me, no mom. Because my dad said if I run away he`s going to kill you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is honestly one of the most mind-boggling stories that I`ve covered in months.

Linda, Michigan, your question or thought, ma`am?

LINDA IN MICHIGAN: Hi, I`ve been a school bus driver for 17 years. I have seen it all. I have been in situations where -- divorce situations that dad can`t have them. And we have no et cetera -- my question is what did the bus driver do when -- if the father got on the bus, I couldn`t see on the TV show.

But anyway what did the bus driver do? And I think some of the responsibility should be on to the bus driver`s shoulders, because me as a bus driver would have done something and if he called my dispatcher. I would not have let the father on the bus if he did get on the bus we`re not allowed to get parents on the bus. I would have shut the door and kept the father on the bus if he would have gotten on the bus and called for help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But see, Linda, I think you`re making excellent points. But the whole issue here is that the police were facilitating what, essentially, was a kidnapping. And we have Jean Paul`s mom on the phone right now.

Berenice Diaz, thank you so much for joining us. I know this has got to be excruciating for you. We can`t get our mind around the fact that the police facilitated your ex kidnapping your son.

DIAZ: Yes. He was begging, he was begging to the policeman, "Please don`t let me go with him. He mistreat me, he hits me. I want to be with my mom." He`s asked them so many times. And I begged them as to why you know this is a big mistake you`re doing. They just told me we have court orders and we have to follow them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But why wasn`t there a hearing to allow you to express your side of the story?

DIAZ: I think that it`s conspiracy between, you know Juan Felipe and the lawyers because they came on Friday, you know, 3:30 to pick up my child and they had to be on Monday. This Monday never came. So they never gave me the chance to defend myself. Why didn`t they -- they told me before you have to be in court with Child Protective Services. But they didn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, tell us about your ex-husband. I understand he`s very wealthy.

DIAZ: Yes, he`s a wealthy man.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what does he do? We`re looking at a picture, we want to find him. We want the whole world to look, this goes all over the place.

Let me tell you something Berenice, we`re going stay on your story. And we`re going to put this man`s picture up there night after night because we want -- look at this guy. He could be in Russia, he could be in France...

DIAZ: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... he could be in Mexico, he could be in Texas, ok.

DIAZ: Yes, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What does he do? What does he do for a living?

DIAZ: You know, long ago he had money from his family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So he`s a trust fund baby, he`s a trust fund baby who thinks he can do whatever he wants...

DIAZ: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... and the rules don`t apply to him and he`s special.

DIAZ: Yes. He thinks that he has all the power, all the money and he`s beyond the law. That`s why he thinks that. And he thinks that he`s going to gain the love of his son with money? That`s the way he is, you know. He thinks that he has the power of everything.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, your son actually became -- your son actually became sick the last time your ex kidnapped him and took him from Mexico to France. And it took you two years to get him back. What kind of sickness did he suffer during that first kidnapping?

DIAZ: He had post-traumatic disorder and he`s very afraid of everything, even from the darkness, he`s afraid because -- he told me he that left him at home alone while he went, you know, partying or I don`t know why. And he`s having this post-traumatic disorder. That he can`t trust very much anyone. He`s very nervous.

So because he couldn`t talk to me in two years. He was only five years old when he took him away the first time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you thought of hiring a bounty hunter? I mean, I think really Mad Dog Chatman and what are these other high profile bounty hunters?

Curtis Sliwa, shouldn`t they get involved, I mean, we`ve got to find this guy.

SLIWA: Well, there`s no question there. And that would be an opportunity to that.

DIAZ: Please, I need all the help that I need. That I can get. I need all the help I can get.

VIRGIN: It takes a lot of money. This mother has been fighting her ex-husband for seven years. Where is the money? We made the mistake, allegedly we made the mistake, shouldn`t we go find him. Where is she to get the money to pay these people?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I mean -- listen, we do not have a blind justice system. The law, you know, the scales of justice tip when you put a little money here.

Everybody, stay right where you are. I am not suggesting that there is anything untoward, but I am saying it is just not fair. We`ll be right back with more.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is he not your dad?

LACOMBE: Because he hits a lot of times. I don`t want to live with him. I want to live with my mother please.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was 10-year-old Jean Paul Lacombe Diaz. He was taken by his father even though his dad presented the judge with a Mexican arrest warrant instead of custody papers. But it was in Spanish and reportedly, allegedly, the judge didn`t see the need to get it translated to verify it.

So he just went ahead with the idea, the little kid is taken away from a school bus, taken away from his mom. And now, nobody in the world except the dad knows where this child is. It is an outrage.

And apparently, you are getting some help, Berenice -- we`re talking to the mom -- from somebody who has some sense in that county; Bexar County D.A. Susan Reed, she`s taken up your case.

DIAZ: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s listen first to her talk. And then we are going to get your reaction to the fact that somebody who has half a brain is helping you in that county. Let`s listen to this D.A.


SUSAN REED, BEXAR COUNTY D.A.: The officers are initially under responsibility to report any form of child abuse that they are aware. You have a child who is out crying. Common sense would be that the officers call Child Protective Services. And they didn`t do that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. So finally the D.A. -- hallelujah for the D.A. - - that has got some smarts and is realizing this is an embarrassment.

Mike in Pennsylvania your question or thought.

MIKE, PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): I was a former police officer and working for the courts. And number one is -- when we got the court orders from the courts, you don`t know what is in them court orders. They only say this is a writ of bodily attachment or pick up the person and take them in. The police officer has no latitude or discretion on the court order or he is held in contempt of court.

Number two is that the lawyers that went before the judge, if they pulled something over the judge`s eyes then this should rest in their laps whether -- whether it`s true or it`s not true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike, very good point. Yami, what is happening with the lawyers who represented this guy? How much were they reportedly paid?

VIRGIN: From what I understand in the paperwork that Mr. Lacombe was trying to get back $150,000 that he said had cost him to find her and legal fees, so, anybody`s guess at this point. But that`s what was in the paperwork that it cost him $150,000.

And also to answer his question, right now, Susan Reed basically said, you know it is up to the civil side now to decide what they want to do. Well there was a hearing -- a sanctioning hearing and they decided that the attorneys had done nothing wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Berenice, Berenice, was your child hit by your ex?

DIAZ: Yes. He said that. He said that several times. He said that to the -- to his doctors because I had him here in treatment. With the doctor, who is well known. And he said that several times. You know, that he, he hits him. So, you can imagine how I feel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Berenice, we`re going to stay on top of your story. We are not going to let it go. I want you to come back, day in, day out.

It is an outrage. There must be an investigation into what happened in court.

Thank you. You are watching ISSUES on HLN.