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Off-Duty EMTs Ignore Dying Woman

Aired December 22, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, blood-boiling outrage in New York City. Two off-duty EMTs are accused of ignoring a pregnant woman as she laid dying on the floor of a coffee shop. Witnesses say the EMTs didn`t bother to help because they were on their lunch break. Now they`ve been suspended. Why didn`t they try to save the victim?

And jaw-dropping developments in the desperate search for Susan Powell. Friends now say the missing Utah mother was afraid her husband would kidnap the kids if she filed for divorce. And she was preparing for the worst. All this as published reports say the husband put hundreds of miles on a rental car just days after her wife vanished. Why?

Plus, ISSUES is on the hunt, searching for this man, accused of tricking the courts and kidnapping his own son from a school bus with the unwitting help of law enforcement. Tonight, ISSUES has startling new information. Are cops doing everything they can to track this guy down?

Tonight, we`ll talk with Dog the Bounty Hunter and the little boy`s desperate, heartbroken mother. We are now tracking this case around the globe.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A pregnant mom gasping for air, allegedly ignored by EMTs and left to die.

Witnesses say two off-duty EMTs were more interested in chowing down breakfast than in helping a dying woman. Twenty-five-year-old Eutisha Rennix was working as a cashier at a coffee shop in Brooklyn when she collapsed. Her co-workers went into panic mode, screaming, "She`s turning blue. She`s pregnant. She needs help!"

They assumed the two emergency medical technicians buying coffee would immediately drop everything and swoop into action. But Eutisha`s mom says witnesses told her the EMTs just said, "Call 911" and walked out.

Listen to this.


CYNTHIA RENNIX, EUTISHA`S MOTHER: They ignored it totally. They said call it in.


C. RENNIX: Call it in. Call 911. They felt that their break was more important than saving a life.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: By the time an ambulance arrived, Eutisha was in cardiac arrest. She died at the hospital. Doctors tried to save her unborn baby, but the infant died, too.

Jason Green and Melissa Jackson have been suspended without pay, and now they`re the subject of a potential criminal probe. The D.A. is looking at all this. But their supporters say, although they are trained as emergency medical technicians, they`re only dispatchers.

A rep for the EMTs` union also says one of the EMTs did, in fact, call 911. So there are conflicting stories tonight. It`s like "Rashomon." Everybody is seeing something else, but they`re all watching the same thing. What really happened?

I want to hear from you. Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. Joining me tonight, attorney David Givot, and criminal defense attorney and psychologist Terry Lyles. But we begin with Simone Weichselbaum, a reporter for "The New York Daily News."

Simone, this story changing by the minute. What is the very latest?

SIMONE WEICHSELBAUM, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, the very latest is the two medics were identified, and now they have representation with lawyers. And we`re trying to figure out here at the "New York Daily News" what really happened. We`re still speaking to the family.

We`re also trying to track down the medics ourselves to see what`s their side of the story. How did this really happen?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let me read a statement from the lawyer for the two EMTs, who are reportedly -- are they dating each other, Simone? The two EMTs?

WEICHSELBAUM: Yes, according to our sources, it seems that they are. I have no idea how that really came about. But this whole crazy story happened that morning last week. They went out to get some bagels, and this poor story ended with this poor woman dying later that day.

We`re still trying to put the pieces together ourselves. A very strange piece here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I got a statement from the lawyer for the two EMTs. He says, "My clients wish to express their sympathy and offer their condolences. Nevertheless, it would appear there`s been a rush to judgment with respect to the vilification of their actions. While I cannot discuss any charges, as none have been served as yet, I am confident the true facts and evidence will establish my clients acted appropriately to the best of their abilities."

Now let`s rewind, and recap and review before we talk to a gentleman from the EMTs` union, OK? Let`s -- let`s review what happened at the coffee shop that morning.

Nine a.m., Eutisha collapses, approximately, and two EMTs in the shop, reportedly getting some bagels, are asked for help. Witnesses say the EMTs said, "Hey, we`re on a break," and they told the employees, "Call 911."

The employees do, but an ambulance doesn`t come right away because apparently, they don`t realize how serious this woman`s condition is.

At 9:24, 911 is called a second time. Eutisha`s condition has worsened. She begins foaming at the nose and mouth.

Nine twenty-six, the ambulance arrives. Nine twenty-eight, paramedics arrive. Nine forty-eight, Eutisha`s finally taken to the hospital, and she is pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m. By the way, these are all from published reports. So we are sort of gathering all the words that are coming in from various published reports. This is not from any kind of court document. So they could be off on their times.

Robert Unger, you are the spokesman for the Uniform EMTs and Paramedics Union. We`re hearing reports that these two EMTs are A, dating. And b, they said, "We did call 911." So tell us what happened.

ROBERT UNGER, SPOKESMAN, UNIFORM EMTS AND PARAMEDICS UNION: I couldn`t comment on their personal lives. I`m not aware of it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So tell us what happened.

UNGER: The -- we -- there is an allegation that these EMTs failed to give proper attention to a woman who was pregnant and not feeling correctly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, here`s my question. We know the whole basic story. We just explained it. What I`m saying is, they`re there. They`re getting bagels. This woman is collapsing, has some kind of problems. What do these two EMTs do? Because the reports are that they said, "Call 911` and left. Did they leave and go somewhere else?

UNGER: There`s an investigation into exactly what happened in the Au Bon Pain. We don`t know. The members say they did all that they could do. We don`t know the facts because the investigation is ongoing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you would know, if you`re talking to them and you`re defending them, whether they stayed there until paramedics arrived or whether they left. That`s a very -- because the relation is, even though the union, which is you, is saying yes, they called 911, the allegation of the employees is that they walked out and they left the woman there at the coffee shop, and they left.

And so that`s the problem, not that they called or didn`t call 911, even if they had done that, the suggestion is they should have stayed there with the woman, perhaps guiding the ambulance crews in and telling them what she was experiencing.

Because isn`t your defense -- your defense is you`re saying, "Hey, these are dispatchers. They`re not people who are trained to do CPR." But aren`t they trained to do CPR?

UNGER: It`s not just CPR. And we are not saying that they are not trained. In fact, all dispatchers and EMS are fully trained EMS, EMTs and paramedics, qualified by the state of New York and through the New York City EMS academy. So it`s not accurate to say they are not trained personnel.

As far as their responsibility, we view it that any EMT, paramedic who is on duty should do all that they can do for any patient, anywhere in the city at anytime that they`re summoned. And we have various department regulations that require that. The investigation is to determine whether, in fact, they violated that -- those rules and regulations by not attending to the patient.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Some suggested perhaps these two fire department medics were burnt out. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is furious. Listen to him.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: There`s no excuse whatsoever, as far as I can see. I don`t know what kind of burnout you could have. Try just not being a decent human being.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, again, the attorney for these two particular EMTs saying this is a rush to judgment.

I want to bring in David Givot. Tell us who you represent and what about this criticism that even if -- some people have said, you know, if they had touched this woman, then if she had died on their watch, they would be legally responsible.

But what about just the suggestion that, hey, you shouldn`t have left. You should have stayed there with her, called 911, while in the woman`s presence and alerted 911 as to the urgency of this situation.

DAVID GIVOT, ATTORNEY: Well, you know, there`s a lot of stuff they should have done. Absolutely. They should have stayed with her. Calling 911 is a good step.

But I think you`re right in saying there is a rush to judgment. We don`t know both sides. And when considering whether they`ve done anything criminal, we need to decide whether their failure to act actually resulted in the patient`s death.

We don`t know what two EMTs with no equipment and nothing with them but bagels, what they could do for this patient, other than maybe give her moral support until she stopped breathing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The only thing that I could think of in their defense is, Terry Lyles, that somebody said, "Oh, you know, there`s a woman that`s not feeling well" and maybe didn`t explain the severity of the situation. They were like, "Well, call 911," not realizing, hey, it`s not the sniffles or a headache, but it`s a woman who`s collapsed on the floor and who`s seriously ill.

GIVOT: Jane, you hit it right on the nail earlier in your earlier discourse. These people are trained how to talk on the phone and how to listen and assess without even seeing. And they should have been able to look and at least assess, if they would have taken the time, and said this woman is in serious trouble, get on the phone and coach the people on the other end of the phone, in this case 911 themselves, to say, "You need to get here." And they at least can give not only moral support, but they could actually instruct those people to the severity of what was going on around them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, it`s all about that this is not just a job. It`s a vocation. It`s about serving the people. And they are paid for by the taxpayers.

We`re all over this story. How could anybody walk away from a pregnant woman as she lay dying on the floor? We`re taking your calls on this: 1-877 JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Plus, a little boy ripped from his school bus by his own father. Now they`re nowhere to be found. ISSUES is on the hunt for this guy. And we`ve been developing some new information. We`re also going to tell you about that and talk to the bounty hunter about this international hunt for justice.

But first, witnesses say two EMTs simply walked away as a pregnant woman was dying on the floor. Should she have been saved?



C. RENNIX: They ignored it totally. They said call it in.


C. RENNIX: Call it in. Call 911.

BLOOMBERG: There`s no excuse whatsoever as far as I can see. I don`t know what kind of burnout you could have. Try just not being a decent human being.




EUDANE RENNIX, EUTISHA`S BROTHER: My sister was in the back dying, and if they would have just helped, did something there`s a possibility she would still be alive today.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the twin brother of the pregnant mom who tragically died as two EMTs allegedly stood by, ordering breakfast and refusing to help. Their lawyers argue they are being vilified, and they did, in fact, call 911. So we`re getting conflicting stories tonight.

Bill, Virginia, your questions or thoughts, sir?

CALLER: The issue is very simple. One of the elements of negligence is duty to act. If the individual is not on duty, just because you`re an EMT does not meet the requirements to have a duty to act. We have a lot of EMTs in this country, which are not -- are not actively running on the streets. They are certified EMTs only.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think you raise some very good questions. Now, some officials have said EMT workers have an obligation to act in an emergency and that leaving a patient is an act of abandonment.

Again, everybody is weighing in. We have all sorts of experts giving different opinions.

But I think a couple of key things here. Simone, you`re the reporter for "The New York Daily News." Were they on duty on a break? In other words, I`m at work. I might take a break for lunch, but I`m still at work.

WEICHSELBAUM: This is what I understand. And I spoke to one of the witnesses who actually interacted with these two individuals. And this is -- paint the scene for a second. It`s around 9 in the morning. This is an institution, a bakery in the same place at the FDNY headquarters.

So not only are these workers serving on-duty; they`re also serving off-duty people. I was told this young woman used to open the doors earlier, sometimes even serving the same two individuals who sort of left her on the ground.

So I was told that she passed out in the back in the kitchen area, sort of away from public viewing. Some of her friends ran to the front, screaming for help. Remind you again: this is a lobby filled with on-duty and off-duty FDNY and EMS workers.

So one of her friends asked these two individuals, who supposedly were in full uniform, obviously indicating they were about to go to work at some point, "Hey, we have a woman passed out in the back. She`s pregnant. We don`t know what to do. Can you help us?" And I was told by this woman that the people told her to call 911, took their bagels and just walked out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So they left? Is that what you understood from the witnesses at the scene?

WEICHSELBAUM: Yes. They just took their bagels, advised them to call 911 and just walked out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, first of all, I`d like to say that these two individuals, these EMT workers who have been suspended, are invited on this show at anytime to tell their side of the story, as well as their attorney. We want to be fair. We want to get all sides.

But you just heard it right there. Robert Unger, you`re the representative for their union. What do you say to that?

UNGER: What we say is that, contractually, paramedics and EMTs in New York City actually don`t get a meal break or a breakfast break. We have, when on duty, an obligation to do the best that we can for any given patient at any given time. As long as our members stand up to that, then they`re in good standing. When a member were to violate that, and if such a violation would cause harm to a patient, well ...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You think -- you`re a good lawyer. You`re a union rep, but you`d make a very good lawyer. But I`m asking you...

UNGER: I am a lawyer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, then they walked out.

UNGER: That is a subject of the investigation itself.


UNGER: I wasn`t there. I didn`t see if they walked out or not. I can comment on -- on the results and what our union believes should happen if they did just walk out versus if they didn`t. But I can`t comment on the facts of the story, when I hadn`t been there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I agree with you. Because what if they had walked out and they were outside in the lobby and nobody could see them, but at that point they were walking out to get a better cell phone signal to make the call and say, "Hey, you`ve got to get in here because inside this Au Bon Pain, there is a woman on the ground." You never know and you can never assume a rush to judgment.

But I have to say, this isn`t the first time a controversy, something like this has erupted. Do you remember this horrifying story? Look at this hospital security video. A mother of six waited in a New York emergency room for almost 24 hours. She actually slides to the floor and goes into convulsions for more than 30 minutes. An hour after she falls down, a hospital employee nudges her with her foot. Only then do they realize the woman is dead. The family eventually settled with the hospital for $2 million.

So Karen DeSoto, you`re a defense attorney and former prosecutor. This family in this case, the family of the woman who died at the -- during the Au Bon Pain incident has hired an attorney. Do they have a civil case against the city?

KAREN DESOTO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, they always -- you know what? I was the cooperation counsel for the second largest city in New Jersey. So whether they have a case or not, it doesn`t matter, because they`re going to file it anyway.

The biggest problem I think that you have in this case to overcome is the fact that these were -- allegedly it`s been reported that these EMT workers did not have, normally, patient contact. They had no equipment.

Therefore, you know, it`s not like we see on TV, that they`re going to run over and start doing CPR. They actually have a mask that they put over the person. They didn`t even have that with them.

So there would be -- if they did, in fact, go ahead and touch them, there`s a whole host of liability issues there. On top of it, she was pregnant. And I think that they hesitated. Why? Probably because there are so many frivolous cases that, you know, it`s going to require a person to go ahead and hesitate.

I`m not saying you should walk out. It`s also been reported that one of the EMT workers did, in fact, actually call. So, you know, it`s one of these things where you do need to root out all the cases. But you know what? I -- my courtroom as a prosecutor, you always have...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. What about -- what about just staying there till the paramedics arrive?

DESOTO: Well, you know...


BLOOMBERG: Somebody is dying down the street and they say, "Help them," and they just sat there. There`s no excuse whatsoever.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your 3-year-old grandson, how`s he doing? This must be so difficult, especially with Christmas just a few days away.

C. RENNIX: Well, he`s doing -- you know, we`re trying our best to help him understand the transition of his mother`s death. However, he doesn`t understand the concept of the death. He thinks that he has to take care of his mom, because his mommy is dead. When I look into his eyes, I feel sadness for him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is Eutisha Rennix`s mom, speaking out HLN`s prime news. Her daughter fell to the ground, was reportedly turning blue. Two off-duty EMTs allegedly did not help and left after suggesting frantic employees dial 911.

Their union rep says, "Whoa, they did call 911."

Their lawyer says, "Hey, it`s a rush to judgment."

Of course, this case exploded after the mayor of New York said on camera that these people did not do the right thing. So I have to ask you, Terry Lyles, about attitude. How much of it comes down to an attitude? If they displayed an attitude of callousness, according to the employees, even if they did what they claim they did, call 911, is that -- go ahead.



LYLES: Sorry. That`s the thing. We don`t really know what happened there. But as the eyewitness said, you know, they just called and left it. That`s really what happened. It`s even worse than it appears to be. Because there is a responsibility. I think, you know, the mayor said it best. I mean, there`s a human responsibility, even if they didn`t touch these people, to at least assess and look to see if they could help, because the woman was on the floor. She`s pregnant. She needs help. At least they could do something that they`re trained to do. I wouldn`t want them to answer the phone if I was in need.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My big issue tonight: do these two EMT dispatchers fall beneath the call of duty? A flurry of investigations underway to find that out.

As a contrast, we want to remind you of two off-duty firefighters who went above and beyond the call of duty. Joel and John Rechutz, off-duty, jumped into action, jumped into a burning van to save a little boy. Take a look at this amazing video. The little boy survived because of them. Listen to this.


JOEL RECHUTZ, FIREFIGHTER WHO SAVED BOY: Five, ten seconds made a difference between this boy living and this boy dying. It was a tremendous team effort. I`m proud to be part of Milwaukee. People put differences aside. You know, everyone came together to perform a miracle.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: David Givot, that`s an example of what it means to protect and serve. You were a paramedic. You defended EMTs. What would your defense be in this case?

GIVOT: Well, you know, first of all, the fact that they left is egregious, and there`s no doubt that their conduct was -- was far below the standard of care.

But I think what we`ve been talking about before is that we need to see all sides, see what exactly happened. Did they -- did they believe they could help better by going outside and calling 911? I know that they -- the Au Bon Pain was right down the street from the fire house. Maybe they thought they could summon one of their friends.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, you never know. The devil is in the details. We do not want to prejudge.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Are cops any closer to finding Susan Powell? She vanished more than two weeks ago. Tonight, we`re going to have all the new details, including reports that Susan`s husband put hundreds of miles on a rental car just days after his wife disappeared. Are the walls closing in on this guy?


JOSH POWELL, HUSBAND OF MISSING WOMAN: We just miss her, and we want her back. And I love her, and my boys love her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are they doing?

POWELL: They`re doing OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any idea what happened to her?




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jaw-dropping developments in the search for Susan Powell. Friends now say the missing Utah mom was afraid her husband would kidnap the kids if she filed for divorce and she was preparing for the worse. All this as published reports say the husband put hundreds of miles on a rental car just days after his wife vanished. Why?

Plus, ISSUES is on the hunt, searching for this man accused of tricking the courts and kidnapping his own son from his school bus. Tonight ISSUES has startling new information. Are cops doing everything they can to track this guy down?

It`s been two week since 28-year-old mother of two Susan Powell mysterious vanished from her Utah home. Tonight: new clues.

Why did Susan`s husband, Josh, reportedly drive hundreds of miles in a rental car just two days after his wife went missing? Cops are investigating that. Josh rented a car for just 2 hours, and police have no idea where he went. They say he is not telling. Have cops taken that rental car into evidence.

And did Susan fear Josh would kidnap the kids if she ever left him? Shocking new accusations from one of Susan`s friends. Plus, police say they`re being pressured to arrest Josh. He`s still the only person of interest in this case.

Susan`s friends and family want answers.


SHELBY GIFFORD, SPOKESMAN FOR SUSAN POWELL`S FAMILY: Susan is a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a niece, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend. And she`s loved by many. Our primary focus as a family is to remind everybody that Susan has not yet been found.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Josh`s strange behavior and his bizarre alibi of camping in the middle of the night have raised eyebrows, but police say he is still not a suspect. Are they taking their time for a good reason?

Listen to this from ABC`s "Good Morning America".


CAPT. TOM MCLACHLAN, WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH POLICE DEPT: Your pressure is to conduct the investigation of this missing person in a legal fashion, or we can get a resolution that will stand up in any court in the land.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sounds like cops don`t want to be rushed into anything -- certainly can understand that.

Joining me now: criminal defense attorney Karen Desoto; and Jovonna Owings, a good friend of Susan Powell.

Jovonna, thank you for joining us once again. I know this has to be very tough for you. And I know you`re doing this to try and help find your friend. And we`re going to try to help as well.

Did Susan ever tell you she feared that Josh would kidnap her kids? Did she ever tell you anything about being afraid of her husband or not getting along with him or wanting a divorce?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Period, end of story?

OWINGS: Period, end of story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you are close with her. You went to church with her. You sometimes babysat the kids, I understand. You crocheted together and you were actually there the very night that she vanished. In fact, is it correct to say you were the last person aside from her husband and family to have seen her?

OWINGS: As far as I know, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That night, did you sense anything at all? I mean, scratch your brain and just see, was there anything off at all in their interaction?

OWINGS: No, there wasn`t. It seemed like a very nice, normal, beautiful Sunday evening.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did they do anything affectionate to each other, like give each other a peck on the cheek or a kiss on the lips or a hug?

OWINGS: It was affectionate in that Josh sensed that Susan was chilled and he gave her a blanket and covered her up with that. And she thanked him for that and called attention to how kind he was to do that. And he was cooking a meal for her and she called attention to that. He cleaned up the meal and cleaned up the floor when a mess was spilled on the kitchen floor. He took care of the dishes. He was very nice and kind and she was able to just sit and visit with me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That`s just hours before she disappeared. Now, contrast that with this. Friends are coming forward with insight into Susan and Josh`s troubled marriage.

Here`s another friend of Susan`s on NBC`s "The Today Show" telling a different story. Listen to this.


RACHEL MARINI, FRIEND OF SUSAN AND JOSH POWELL: Over the eight years it got progressively worse and Josh became more and more controlling and it was harder for her to remain herself and remain the happy person that she was. He controlled everything in their marriage from the money Susan spent to what groceries she could buy, what she could eat.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Karen Desoto, those are two totally different stories. Could you contrast a little bit? Why are we hearing these diametrically opposed explanations of their marriage?

KAREN DESOTO, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, I think in this particular scenario, I think the person who goes to church with somebody is probably a little bit different of a friend, somebody who`s watching your children and you`re going to church with is a little different than a friend that`s the same age that maybe you have more confidence in. Maybe that`s what`s going on here.

A lot of times women in controlling relationships do not confide in a lot of people. They`ll pick one or two people, maybe one, sometimes none, Jane. You`ve heard those stories where nobody finds out anything until it`s too late.

The fact that she told maybe one or two is very common. That`s not odd at all. And unfortunately, there`s a lot of shame, Jane we know, that goes with having somebody who`s controlling or maybe somebody who`s abusive. You don`t like to tell people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but by the same token when you`re in the house as a baby-sitter and as a friend, it`s -- they always say, that`s why it`s the nanny diaries. The nannies are the ones who see everything.

DESOTO: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They`re behind the curtain. So it`s very -- it`s very perplexing, actually.

Now get this. The Powells were reportedly recently having some big financial troubles. Now Josh`s family says it`s unlikely he will be able to make payments on his home. He`s probably going to lose the home.

Here`s my question. If you`re about to lose your home, would you miss a day of work to go camping and forget to call in sick on Monday?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Would you risk being fired with your house on the line?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now listen to this.

DESOTO: No. Absolutely not.


JOSH POWELL, HUSBAND OF SUSAN POWELL: 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 go and come back Sunday.

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



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jovonna, do you buy that he got confused thinking that Monday was Sunday? You were there with him on Sunday. You had dinner with him on Sunday. Was he confused about the day?

OWINGS: Not as far as I could tell at that time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I mean, elaborate a little bit. Didn`t you say something to me the other day that she knew she had to go to work the next day, so she decided to take a nap?

OWINGS: She was just -- she knew it was Sunday. And, you know, because we had talked about the fact that it was Sunday and that we had gone to a state conference. He was aware of that because he heard us talking.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right so the idea that he would then leave to go camping overnight and wake up the next morning and not realize that it was Monday, and there is no explanation of where he was, when he arrived home late Monday. At that point, it had been almost 24 hours since you, Jovonna, had seen her when she went to take a nap.

Karen Desoto, weigh in here.

DESOTO: Wow. Well, you know what? One thing the police don`t like and one thing that juries don`t like are coincidences...


DESOTO: ... and facts that just don`t add up. And taking your kids camping, I think, we can agree, Jane, that that is just a horrible fact in his favor. And to be honest, he comes across like he`s not believable. I have to say his interviews he just does not...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we have to add this fact, which is going to be analyzed in the coming days. He rented a car after the police confiscated his minivan and drove that car -- according to published reports, several hundred miles, and is not telling authority where is he went. This is shortly after his wife disappeared, after she was reported missing.

Very interesting.

Thank you, fantastic guests so much.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we will stay on top of the story Jovonna. We hope we find your good friend.

Coming up, ISSUES is on an international search for a father and his young son. Can some new evidence bring this guy to justice?

We are taking your calls on this story; 1-877-JVM-SAYS and we`re going to be talking with Dog Chapman, the bounty hunter next, and the mother who is desperate to find her child. Give me a call, 1-877-586-7297 and take part in our discussion to find this youngster.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are staying on top of the case of the worldwide search for a 10-year-old snatched off his school bus. The boy`s mom is joining us in a moment. And we`re also going to talk to bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight: a little bit of good news to tell you about in an otherwise really horrendous story. The teen doused in rubbing alcohol and then set on fire is now out of the hospital.

These are brand-new pictures of very brave Michael Brewer -- look at him. He was attacked by a group of boys and burned over 65 percent of his body. These photos are heart breaking, but we`re so glad to say Michael will be with his family on the holidays after spending months in a hospital bed.

Tomorrow we`re going to hear from his mom and his doctors about his amazing recovery -- courageous young man.

And that is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

And now to an ISSUES exclusive: the desperate search for a 10- year-old boy allegedly kidnapped by his own father reaches a fevered pitch tonight. Shocking developments in the case of 10-year-old Jean Paul Lacombe.


JEAN PAUL LACOMBE, KIDNAPPED BY FATHER: No, he`s not my dad. Please help me.

CONSTABLE: Officer come on court order.

LACOMBE: No, no, he`s not my dad. He`s not my dad. Please help me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In October, San Antonio, Texas cops dragged Jean Paul off the school bus and delivered him to his father despite the child`s protest. He was screaming, "No, no don`t let him take me."

Now the dad Juan Felipe Lacombe is an international fugitive. Prosecutors say he duped a judge into giving him custody by showing the judge a bogus document in Spanish that the court didn`t bother to translate. They just accepted this guy`s word for it.

You say it`s your kid? Ok.

He and the boy could be anywhere now, anywhere in the world. Remember, the school bus snatch went down two full months ago. Dad has dual citizenship in Mexico and in France and is reportedly married to a Russian woman.

Now we here in ISSUES have been doing some digging on dodgy dad, but he`s not the only one we`re outraged about. We want answers from the authorities about what they are doing to bring this little boy back home. And we`re not sitting around waiting.

Ok, Dog the bounty hunter is on the phone.


DUANE "DOG" CHAPMAN, BOUNTY HUNTER: (INAUDIBLE) looks like, listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, I`m listening.

CHAPMAN: It says, arrest record felonies.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dog knows the ropes in Mexico, where the two could be. In fact, Dog got himself into big trouble there after nabbing American fugitive Andrew Luster in 2003. Luster, you remember that wealthy heir to the Max Factor fortune, who is facing 87 counts of rape and poisoning women using the date rape drug GHB.

We`re going to get the lowdown from Dog. But the bottom line is Dog knows how to catch these fugitives.

My big issue: hunting for answers. We can`t seem to get any answers from cops, the prosecutor or the U.S. marshals. And we want to know, why is that? This kid has been missing two months.

I want to hear from you. Give me a holler on this story 1-877- 586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic panel: Yami Virgin from HLN`s San Antonio, Texas affiliate KABB -- we`re delighted to have you here tonight; and of course we`re thrilled to have Berenice Diaz, the missing boy`s mom. Thank you for joining us Berenice.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she is there along with her attorney Miguel Ortiz who joins us by phone; and Duane "Dog" Chapman, the bounty hunter who is in Hawaii.

Dog, we reached out -- we reached out today to the prosecutors, the U.S. marshal, the police and guess what? Nobody is getting back to us. And we want to know why. What do you think?

CHAPMAN: Well, you know, I reached out, too.

And when someone is wanted, the first thing they do is put them on NCIC, which is called the National Crime Computer, so that, you know, if the guy gets pulled over, the warrant is on him. And so far, you know, it might just be because we`re in Hawaii, but so far he`s not on NCIC.


CHAPMAN: So if he gets -- if he gets pulled over, you know and they run his name, unless, you know, the cop that pulls him over saw your show, then they`re going to let him go.


CHAPMAN: So the first thing they`ve got to do is get this guy on NCIC so we can get some kind of authorities to give us some kind of help.

The second thing is we need a picture of his estranged new wife. Because I`m sure he would be traveling with her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, let me get to a lot of that. The pair as we`ve been reporting could be in Mexico. After all it`s just a car ride away.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what about Russia? If Lacombe took his son there, is it too late? Listen to this.


RONALD BROT, ATTORNEY SPECIALIZING IN ABDUCTIONS: It`s important to do this before they get to Russia. We have no extradition treaty with Russia and Russia is not a member of the Hague Convention on international child abduction. We must find that child before he`s taken to Russia.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: According to little Jean Paul`s mom, Berenice -- who we`re going to in a second -- her ex-husband is currently married to a Russian woman.

Now, Michael Board, you`re a reporter from WOIA radio in San Antonio, Texas. You join us by phone. You`ve been doing some digging. Tell us what you have learned about this mystery Russian woman who the mom says is married to her ex-husband.

MICHAEL BOARD, WOIA RADIO, SAN ANTONIO: Yes, the husband is married to a Russian woman that he met. A very beautiful woman, you can imagine, he`s a multimillionaire, so he can pretty much get any girl he wants.

Now, the last time we -- anybody has seen Juan Felipe Lacombe, he was at the San Antonio International Airport trying to get away to Mexico. Once he gets to Mexico, you can get anywhere in the world and nobody can track you from Mexico. And he could be anywhere in the world.

You know I like a said Jane, he`s a multimillionaire, where could you go with multimillions of dollars? Anywhere you want and hide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Something is fishy somewhere. And if it`s not Denmark, it could be Russia, it could be Mexico, if could be France or it could be in Texas where -- I don`t know. I don`t know about this investigation.

ISSUES reached out to police, prosecutors and the U.S. marshals. We had some very simple questions today. We heard back from nobody.

Tonight`s big issue: why are we the ones hunting for answer? For example, we made this wanted poster ourselves.

Did you know Lacombe`s official last name is Vega and that he allegedly uses an alias? And what about the description of Lacombe`s car, district attorney Susan Reid told ABC News that authorities said the car was seen crossing into Mexico in October.

It is now almost Christmas, people. But they weren`t sure if he was in it. Well, why not issue a description of the car and put that up somewhere so people in Mexico or wherever could be looking for the car.

Yami Virgin, you`re the reporter all over this story.

YAMI VIRGIN, KABB-TV, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: Well, all I can tell you is when we started this, nobody was listening to this woman. Everybody threw up their hands. Said this is civil, we can`t touch it. We cannot touch it, even if the saying that the child was abducted, that she had custody. Until Susan Reid stepped in and said we`re going to charge -- we`re going to charge him with criminal charges in this case.

Now don`t take their silence as them not doing anything. That`s all I want to tell you on that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? Say that again.

VIRGIN: Don`t take their silence as they`re not doing anything. They are taking care of this. I think the authorities understand that they basically got egg on their face down in San Antonio, Texas, and they got to get this one right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, mom, Berenice Diaz, you gave them the photo you say, of the wife. And what did they do with it?

BERENICE DIAZ, MOTHER OF KIDNAPPED BOY: I don`t know. I know that they`re doing an investigation. They are working on it but I don`t have any information from them right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do they call you every day and say, hey, here`s what we`re doing?

DIAZ: No, they don`t. I think they don`t work that way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody, stay right where you are. More, we have got a lot of details on this worldwide manhunt.



CHAPMAN: The little boy sounds like he is going to be very vocal and talk to a friend or talk someone he meets and say, "Hey, would you get a hold of my mother." I think that`s what will happen. The little boy will let slip where he is at trying to find the mother.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re here with the mom, Berenice Diaz. Have the authorities given you any advice as to be by the phone? I mean, are they communicating with you about the status of this investigation? What they`re doing?

DIAZ: No. They don`t communicate with me, no. They haven`t. I don`t think it is a way that they work.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, something doesn`t seem right here, Dog. I heard you and Michael Board the reporter going back and forth and talking about what should be done during the break. Bring us up to date what you think is the story behind the story here.

CHAPMAN (via telephone): Well, you know, you have to get a series of like three arrest warrants issued for him. Number one would be out of Texas, of course, out of America which has to be put on the national computer data, the crime data, which shows everybody that`s wanted for a felony across the United States.

Then the federal marshals have to request a USAP (ph) warrant which is a warrant that requests the judge to sign because the person has left the United States.

Then the third warrant if he goes to Mexico and they think he is in Mexico, the federal marshals have to request a provisional arrest warrant which is only done out of Mexico City.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. I`m looking at a piece wire copy here that says authorities have told me that Lacombe`s car was seen crossing into Mexico back in October but we aren`t sure if he was in it. This is from the Texas -- I think it`s pronounced Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reid.

I`m pulling my hair out. Two months ago the car went into Mexico and we haven`t gotten a description of the car? I know you say, Yami, that they`re working on it but why not enlist the public`s help?

VIRGIN: You know what? Like you guys have said it. This guy has a lot -- a lot of money he can get around. We are focusing on Mexico. He could be anywhere.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But it doesn`t matter. You have to start with something and if a car -- why is it that the public -- Michael Board, am I crazy or do you think that the public should have been told, this is what the car looks like?

BOARD (via telephone): Of course, that`s what the info should have gone out immediately just like an all points bulletin like someone that has a stolen car in you neighborhood. Police will put out a bulletin right away for looking for that certain car. That information should have gone out right away.

You have to wonder, is it too close to Christmas? Are the federal officials, you know, waiting to go home to Christmas and not worrying about this family?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Berenice, what are you going through right now?

DIAZ: Oh, I`m devastated. I haven`t had a life since they took my child. I am worried to death. You know? I am so weary. I`m praying all the time. I want my kid back. I want my son back.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have to tell you something Berenice.

I have a message for you -- get with it on this case. I hope I`m wrong. I hope you`re doing some fabulous work behind the scenes to solve. But we do not even know what kind of care he was driving.

VIRGIN: Jane it took them two months to get into this case. What do you expect? It took them two months. Nobody listened to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why did it take them two months? Until the media got involved right?

VIRGIN: Exactly.