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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Toddler Falls into Fire Pit at NYE Party; Grandmother Accused of Drowning Grandson

Aired January 6, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, mind-blowing allegations from a drunken New Year`s Eve party. A 2-year-old boy fell into a blazing fire pit, and cops say his drunk father allowed it to happen. We`ll have all the details, including this guys incredibly boozed- up 911 call.

And horrifying family violence too disturbing to comprehend. Cops say a little boy was drowned by his own grandma so he wouldn`t grow up with divorced parents. Who could do this to their own flesh and blood?

Also, Casey Johnson`s downward spiral. The billion-dollar heiress grew up in glitz and glamour, but she died alone, cut off from the family fortune. What happened in the dark days before her death? We`ll talk to a friend of her Casey`s.

Plus, tracking Tiger Woods. Where in the world is the billion-dollar golfer? He hasn`t been seen since his Thanksgiving debacle. How is he avoiding the paparazzi and when is Tiger coming out of hibernation?

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, an appalling New Year`s Eve nightmare. Police say a2-year-old boy fell helplessly into a fire pit at a, quote, drunken party. Police arrested the boy`s dad, 24-year-old Michael Bargeron, at his home near Cocoa Beach, Florida. Witnesses say he did nothing to rescue his son.

The toddler suffered devastating burns on his arms, stomach and backside. Witnesses say his dad had ignored their warnings to please keep the boy away from the fire. The two were apparently play wrestling when the boy then fell right into the flames.

His mom grabbed the child and rushed him to the hospital. Cops say, then, only after that, the very inebriated father called 911. Listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys had a fire there and what happened?

MICHAEL BARGERON, FATHER: No, it wasn`t a fire. I mean, we just had a little fire. No, nothing happened. I mean, he fell into (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said he got burned.

BARGERON: Yes, he fell into the fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Huh?

BARGERON: And he`s only 2 and a half years old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did what in the fire?

BARGERON: He fell. He fell into the fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why didn`t anybody dial 911?

BARGERON: Not -- not completely in the fire, but he fell into the fire. But not completely in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Believe it or not, it actually gets worse, people. The party was held at the home of not one, but two -- count them -- two registered sex predators. Did this parents know that when they brought him and even his younger sibling there that night to celebrate?

I want to hear your take on this. Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1- 877-586-7297.

Now, we`re going right out to my fantastic expert panel. We are delighted to have Judge Greg Mathis, star of "The Judge Mathis Show," with us here tonight.

Hello, your honor. How you doing?

JUDGE GREG MATHIS, "THE JUDGE MATHIS SHOW": Hi. Thanks for having me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you for being here.

We`ve also got Tanya Acker, an attorney and blogger on the "Huffington Post." Good to see you.

Clinical psychiatrist -- yes, Happy New Year to you. Dr. Dale Archer, we need you tonight.

And we begin with Drew Petrimoulx, reporter for WDBO Radio.

Drew, this is a horror story. I`m almost afraid to ask, what`s the very latest on this?

DREW PETRIMOULX, REPORTER, WDBO RADIO: The very latest is this 2- year-old child is still being treated for some of those burns that you talked about. The father, 24-year-old Michael Bargeron, he`s still in jail right now, $50,000 bond. He`s accused of child abuse.

What happened was, he was playing with his child near a fire pit on New Year`s Eve. Apparently, he was intoxicated. Some of the witnesses there said they told him to stop doing it, that it was dangerous.

The kid falls in; he`s being burned. The father doesn`t even help him out. It was actually the mother who ended up pulling him -- pulling him out. They rushed off to the hospital.

Later on in the night, you can hear him calling 911 to try to find out where his child and the mother is at. And he is definitely intoxicated by the way he sounds; doesn`t really know exactly what`s going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

PETROMOULX: The 911 operator is pretty shocked, because she doesn`t know why he would be calling 911 to try to find his child who is at the hospital. So...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He might be in a blackout. That`s what I`d say, as a recovering alcoholic. He`s probably in a blackout and doesn`t even know -- he didn`t know what he was doing at that time. And this is what alcohol does to people.

You know, we`re going to play pretty much this entire 911 call for you in bits and pieces, because it is so shocking. The suspect slurring and confused during this 911 call. He was so wasted, the dispatcher had to call him out. Here`s another part of this outrageous 911 call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you need police, fire or ambulance?

BARGERON: Yes, my son -- do you have any record of an almost 3-year- old checking in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

BARGERON: Do you have any record of a 3-year-old checking in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 3-year-old checking in?

BARGERON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh, no. Did you lose your son?

BARGERON: No, no, no, no. He`s with his mom, but he got burned and they went up there and I`m just -- They went up to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you called the hospital?

BARGERON: No, I haven`t. I haven`t called the hospital yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, what address did he get burned at?

BARGERON: I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, have you been drinking tonight?

BARGERON: Yes, actually yes...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you might want to sober up and try to find out what address he was at.

BARGERON: Are you serious? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Sober up?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, God. I mean, that pretty much tells the whole story right there.

This father is charged with aggravated child abuse. That could land him up to five years in prison. Five years in prison. But given how reckless this all seems, I want to ask Judge Mathis, should he have faced a more serious charge, like assault or something that would result in more jail time?

MATHIS: Certainly, more charges. Criminal neglect, for example, should be another charge.

Also, I`m concerned about the witnesses. If they warned him and they were there, it`s kind of like they stood by and didn`t do as much as they could to protect the child. If he`s that drunk to allow it to happen, they should have been sober enough to grab that child to prevent that child from falling in. So I think a lot of other people should face some charges, as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And what about the mom? She was there. Yes, in a sense, you might say she was heroic in taking the child to the hospital. But what the heck was she doing, Tanya Acker, while the party was going on and her husband is wrestling with -- or her boyfriend, I don`t know if they`re married -- but her husband or boyfriend is wrestling with her flesh and blood right near a fire pit. Should she face charges?

TANYA ACKER, HUFFINGTON POST: The entire situation, Jane, just reeks of criminal negligence and negligence around the board. Listening to this phone call, it sounds like he didn`t even know where he was, which is disturbing in and of itself.

But beyond that, you`ve got to think about the fact that parents who are entrusted with the care of their children, you know, on a boozy evening, where there`s going to be alcohol and I don`t know if there`s anything else there. But certainly, you know, these folks were intoxicated.

The notion that there wasn`t some sober caregiver around to look out for this child -- I mean, you wouldn`t play with a child in front of a fire if you were completely sober. I mean, even that is disturbing. This is reckless.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My dear, you have -- you have brought me to my big issue tonight. And that big issue is, does a drunk dad equal a bad dad? In my opinion, absolutely 100 percent yes. How could this allegedly drunk dad care for two kids under the age of 3 when he can`t even answer dispatchers` questions?

Here`s a little bit more of the call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your name?

BARGERON: I`m not going to fall into that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

BARGERON: I said I`m not going to fall into that trap.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m trying to help you out.

BARGERON: No, I know you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. First of all, Dad obviously seems more interested in protecting himself than helping the dispatcher locate his son with severe burns.

My personal feeling, Dr. Dale Archer, is once you have young children under your care, I believe you have lost the right to get drunk because as this story shows, when you are drunk, anything can happen, and these kids are not capable of taking care of themselves.

DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: I totally agree with you. And we need to understand how alcohol affects the brain. And it preferentially affects the frontal lobe. That`s up here in the cortex, the thinking part of the brain. And what it does is effectively put that to sleep, and it allows us to act on our instinct, our intuition. Without thinking ahead, without planning, without rationalizing. What could go wrong, if I do this?

So it sounds like an OK idea. "I`ll go play with my son and wrestle around with him by the fire." But a thinking person would say, no, that`s a horrible idea, because could get burned. When you get drunk, you lose that ability to think, which is why we constantly hear of people doing stupid things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or -- or you`re in a blackout. I mean, you actually do not know you`re there. But you do not know you are there.

And I`m not proud to say that I know that for a fact, because as a recovering alcoholic, I was a blackout drinker. Something I don`t like to say, because it`s embarrassing. But it`s true. And when you`re in a blackout, you have no idea what you`re doing.

These people who drive the wrong way on a freeway -- you remember the famous freeway crash also involving young children here in New York -- they don`t have any idea that they`re even on the freeway. That`s why they`re capable of driving the wrong way on the freeway.

MATHIS: But let`s be careful. We don`t want to give them a defense. Because in some instances, some slick lawyer would say, "Well, they`re not responsible, because they didn`t know what they were doing." And you must be caught -- you`re only culpable if you have knowledge of what you`re doing.

And he certainly had enough knowledge to not tell that 911 dispatcher his name. He knew -- he was smart enough or knowledgeable enough not to do that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Now hang -- hang on, everybody. We`re going to be back. We`re going to talk about the sex predators at whose home the party occurred. The two of them. And Drew, you`re going to bring us up to date on that.

And we`re also going to talk about what this little, young child is in for in terms of his severe burns.

So we`re taking your calls on this New Year`s Eve party from hell. How do we stop this kind of thing from happening to another child? What`s your idea? Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Plus, the story of a woman accused of drowning her own 5-year-old grandson in a bathtub. It`s completely unthinkable, but what`s truly shocking beyond that, which is already quite shocking, is why she says she did it.

But first, booze, fire and kids. It is a recipe for disaster, and it nearly killed a 2-year-old boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys had a fire there and what happened?

MICHAEL BARGERON, FATHER: No, it wasn`t a fire. I mean, we just had a little fire. No, nothing happened. I mean, he fell into (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said he got burned.

BARGERON: Yes, he fell into the fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Huh?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When did he get burned?

BARGERON: Twenty minutes ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we have gotten no calls on that. So you might want to call one of the ER`s, because we haven`t gotten any calls on a 3-year-old being burned.

Where are you at?

BARGERON: I`m in Palm Bay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What address?

BARGERON: No, we had a fire going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

BARGERON: We had a fire going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pathetic. That man`s 2-year-old son now fighting for his life, tonight, as we speak with severe burns. Police say Dad and the toddler at a drunken New Year`s Eve party, wrestling near a fire pit. The boy falls in. This guy doesn`t really do anything about it.

According to cops who are quoting witnesses, the mom ends up taking the kid, rushing him to the hospital. And then the dad comes out of a stupor and calls 911. Oy.

Paula, Missouri, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes, Jane, I would like to say that I think both parents should be held accountable with child neglect for one and child endangerment for having him around two sex offenders.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Drew Petrimoulx, what do you know about the sex offenders?

CALLER: Well, apparently, two sex offenders live in that house that hosted this party. Now, they could all be facing charges for violating the terms of their release just for being around the children.

And somebody talked about earlier, was there any responsible adult around that could have stopped this or said anything? And my initial impression is based on that and based on some of the things that you hear about were going on there, that there wasn`t that adult at that party. It wasn`t that kind of party.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God. Now, here`s the really scary part. What does this little toddler have in store, if he survives? And let`s pray he does.

We`ve got to go back to this recent case. Michael Brewer, you know, the 15-year-old. He was severely burned when other kids doused him in rubbing alcohol and set him on fire. We remember this case. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE BREWER, MOTHER: In the shower, they take a piece of gauze and they wipe off all the dead skin. They gave him painkillers for that, but it`s incredibly painful, and it breaks my heart every time that they have to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of ever getting completely over this, it`s a lifelong thing. This is a life-changing event.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So imagine going through the full procedures at the age of 2. How extraordinarily traumatizing is that?

Again, the phone lines lighting up on this one. Laurie, Florida, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: My comment is this. With you being in recovery, like I -- what I see you do, which I see a lot of people do -- I am 12 years sober myself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Congratulations.

CALLER: Thank you. And you know, this guy needs drug treatment. He doesn`t need jail. And, you know, I mean, it`s a very sad situation that alcoholism takes us to this with our kids being abused and all that. On the air, and you know, you don`t think he feels ashamed enough. And you know...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sure he feels ashamed. But we just talked about these horrific treatments. They`re called the torture sessions that these burn victims have to go through, where changing their bandages is excruciating. And it`s a life-long process of recovering from severe burns.

So we`re not talking about a little mishap here. We`re talking about something that is -- left a young boy in severe pain and traumatized at the hands of his own father.

However, Laurie, in Florida, I agree with you. I agree that we can`t just lock people up. And that`s one of the themes of this show, that we address over and over again. you know, we lock up more people than any other country in the world, and we`re not solving these problems. The question becomes, and Laurie raises a good one. Dr. Dale Archer, how do we stop this from happening, again?

We can lock up this dad. And of course, hen he sobers up, as he has undoubtedly sobered up by now, he`s horrified, presumably, at his behavior. He`s remorseful, as all people with drinking problems are. But it`s too late. But how do we stop the next child from being dropped into a fire pit?

ARCHER: Well, I think there`s two things. First of all, yes, I`m sure he does have remorse at this point. But he has to take responsibility for his actions. So he does need help for his alcoholism, but also he needs to be punished, because what he did was harm another human being, in this case a small child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand he needs to be punished. We need to go beyond crime and punishment in this country. Again, we keep locking people up. And then we`ve got another case right here. A similar tragedy happened a year and a half ago in Washington state.

A father boozed up at a house party and passed out with his 7-month- old son on his chest. The baby wondered into a backyard fire pit and died of his injuries. The dad pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He`s now serving two years in prison. That`s not a lot of time. Certainly, as much as a life was lost.

But you know, we`ve got to find a way to stop this cycle of drunken, misguided behavior and then kids getting...

ARCHER: Yes, there`s no doubt you need to address it, but you do that by education. You do that by educating people, that this is what alcohol can do to you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a nice word, education. I appreciate it, Dr. Dale.

Tanya, jump in.

ACKER: But it`s important, though. We are jumping to a lot of conclusions. I don`t know if this guy`s an alcoholic. I know he was drunk on New Year`s Eve, like a lot of people were drunk on New Year`s Eve.

He made the very bad decision, as did this child`s mother, to bring them, unsupervised, to a party where there was alcohol, which is just bad parenting. And I do think it gives rise to a suggestion of criminal neglect.

I don`t know that we should be sitting here suggesting that, you know, he needs -- he may not be an alcoholic. He got drunk on New Year`s Eve and made a bad decision. I think it should probably have some criminal consequences.

ARCHER: It absolutely should have criminal consequences.

MATHIS: You know, Jane, when I was a sitting judge in 36th District Court in Detroit, I would sentence to rehab and to Alcoholics Anonymous...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

MATHIS: ... any time they came before me and I had a window to do it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got it.

MATHIS: But it -- even if they were drunk once.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge, got to go. But that`s a great idea.

Toxic secrets of a hard-partying socialite. We`re going to talk to one of Casey Johnson`s friends as we go inside the days leading up to her tragic death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This next truly incomprehensible story takes senseless violence to a whole new level. Really, it`s a head spinner. I don`t understand it.

A little boy allegedly murdered by his very own grandmother. Cops say the woman you`re looking at right there, looks like a great grandma. Seventy-one-year-old Marianne Bordt drowned her 5-year-old grandson, according to police. Why? Police say she confessed, explaining she did not want the boy growing up in a divorced home. What?

Her husband told police he found his grandson facedown in the bathtub, so he raced to the local fire station for help. But apparently, left the child at home. What?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY ABBOT, ST. GEORGE ISLAND FIRE CHIEF: We were just overwhelmed. Like, is this real? And when he came to the firehouse, we asked where is the child? We thought the child was in the car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The elderly couple apparently took their grandson, who lives in Georgia, on vacation to Florida. Tonight, that grandma you`re seeing there just before, is being held without bond, accused of murder.

Joining me now, investigative reporter, Michelle Sigona, MichelleSigona.com.

Michelle, what do police think happened to provoke this? It really doesn`t make any sense.

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: It really doesn`t make sense at all. And at this particular point, Jane, what we do know is the grandmother is charged with first-degree murder. She did have a hearing yesterday.

And what had happened was on Monday, apparently, her husband had left around 2, and asked if she wanted to go to the store with him. She didn`t want to go. That was fine. She stayed at home with the 5-year-old son [SIC]. They were actually on vacation together in Florida.

And when he came back, about two and a half hours later, that`s when she came in, and she was wet from the neck down. And apparently, she told them that she had killed their grandson and that she had tried to commit suicide in the ocean but came back in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have a couple of thoughts. One, you don`t commit suicide or try to commit suicide and end up wet from the neck down. That means she didn`t even dunk her head in the water.

SIGONA: You`re right. You`re right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So that`s not attempted suicide. That`s a swim in the Gulf of Mexico, as far as I`m concerned.

SIGONA: A very cold swim.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. A very cold swim in the Gulf of Mexico. That`s no suicide attempt.

Now, the lawyer for this 5-year-old, Camden`s father, David, released the following statement. Quote, "David Hiers is extremely distraught and overwhelmed with grief over this incident. He and his family ask only for thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time."

Here`s what I don`t understand in this crazy, horrific story, Michelle. The divorce that she`s apparently referring to was amicable. It happened about, what a few years ago?

SIGONA: Three years ago, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

SIGONA: Almost four years ago, actually. I mean, this isn`t something that just happened within the last few months. It happened a long time ago. And the grandparents were apparently staying with -- with their daughter, who had full custody of the child. And everything seemed to be worked out fine. From what I`ve learned, is that she had a great relationship with her grandson, so something snapped.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the mother and father of the child had a good relationship. Even though they were divorced, they were friendly.

SIGONA: They were very friendly. They always put the child first and -- and the child`s needs. So this is -- that`s why this is so bizarre. This sort of came out of nowhere, especially for a husband and wife. They`re from Germany. She speaks little English.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, they`re from Germany, this couple. So that adds another odd element. Her passport has been taken away, clearly. Wow. We`re going to stay on top of this. There`s more to the story, much more.

Thank you so much, Michelle.

SIGONA: Thank you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She grew up with bright lights and high rollers, but died alone and reportedly in squalor. What caused Casey Johnson`s tragic downward spiral? We`re going to go inside the days that led up to her death and talk to one of her friends, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Casey Johnson`s downward spiral. The billion-dollar heiress grew up in glitz and glamour but she died alone cut off from the family fortune. What happened in the dark days before her death? We`ll talk to one of Casey`s friends.

Plus, tracking Tiger Woods: where in the world is the billion-dollar golfer? He hasn`t been seen since his Thanksgiving debacle. How is he avoiding the paparazzi and when is Tiger coming out of hibernation?

Tonight, an avalanche of shocking details about life and death of 30- year-old heiress Casey Johnson: her disturbing downward spiral.

Splashed on both New York newspapers, again tonight, this is for the second day in a row. Take a look at this. The "Post" blaring, "Poor Little Rich Girl" and I`m going to show you the "Daily News" screaming, "The Lost Heiress".

This young beauty was once in line to inherit billions of dollars from the Johnson & Johnson fortune. But she was found dead Monday in her rented Los Angeles home called "Grumbleknot" -- that`s actually the title of the house on the doors you`re seeing there. TMZ`s law enforcement source says she could have been there for several days.

"The New York Post" reports Casey was living in squalor; garbage reportedly everywhere, rats in the pool, no water, no power. The post says it spoke to a source close to her family who said Casey, a diabetic often failed to take her insulin correctly. She had been rushed to the hospital in the past.

So we`re all asking tonight what killed this young beauty who seemed to have it all? No official word until the toxicology reports come back, of course.

But take a look at this video from RadarOnline of the heiress from a couple months ago. Check it out. She`s a wild party girl and this video seems to illustrate that.

"The Post" reports that friends say Casey popped painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs. Her friends reportedly claimed she even tried to commit suicide in November after a fight with an ex-girlfriend where Casey`s hair caught fire. ISSUES has no independent confirmation of these claims.

But meanwhile Tila Tequila who announced her engagement to Casey on youstream.com is getting backlash for twittering about her girlfriend`s death. Plus TMZ says cops interviewed Tila after Casey`s death. Now was it about her reported claims that Casey might have overdosed?

Again -- we still do not know why Casey died.

So much turmoil and drama. Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: once again, Judge Mathis, star of the "Judge Mathis Show"; psychiatrist Dale Archer; and "Inside Edition`s" Jim Moret who is out with a wonderful new book called "The Last Day of Life". I read it. And boy, it`s a quick read, a page-turner and it has an amazing message that relates very much to this story; the messages that money and success really are not what this is about. Boy, does this story prove that.

And joining us now Rob Shuter who`s a columnist with AOL popeater.com and who is also a friend of Casey Johnson`s. Rob thanks for joining us. I know this has to be a little bit difficult because you were a friend of Casey`s but...

ROB SHUTER, COLUMNIST, AOL POPEATER.COM: Yes. Thanks for having me Jane. Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I want to get your insight into all these reports. We were reading all these papers coming out with report after report that she was living in squalor. That she had her Porsche in her garage that it wouldn`t get repossessed. That there were rats running around the house. Give us your take on this.

SHUTER: It`s heart-breaking. It`s absolutely heart-breaking to hear these stories. Many of Casey`s friends haven`t seen her in a very long time.

The last time I saw Casey was probably about eight months ago. And I`m going to say it the Casey I saw eight months ago was happy and she seems full of life. This is not a girl that was always drunk or depressed. She was a fun-loving girl who had her demons, don`t get me wrong. She definitely had her demons, but she wasn`t a train wreck. She wasn`t a 24- hour train wreck. It absolutely wasn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sometimes it`s not a 24-hour train wreck, but it can still be a train wreck.

SHUTER: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In other words, there are people who are very functional at some moments and have a lot of clarity at some moments. And at other moments, they are out of control.

I mean, the reports are that she was in and out of rehab, that her parents had cut her off and said no more money until you go to rehab. They had tried desperate to get her into rehab. She had checked out early at one point.

What do you know about those reports?

SHUTER: I know that Casey suffered terribly with demons. When she was with her friends, she never spoke about her family. She was almost embarrassed of the Johnson name. Sometimes Casey had this sort of like, you know, "so what" attitude because nothing she could do would ever be as great as the achievements her family accomplished.

So she was always under the shadow of this Johnson name. So she tried. She did try to be happy. In the way that Paris Hilton, her friend, found happiness in fame; Nicole Richie, another friend of hers, found happiness with children. Casey never found happiness. And that`s the saddest thing.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She never seemed to find a purpose is, I think, what we are hearing here.

SHUTER: That`s the word. Jane, that`s the word. She never found a purpose.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And Jim Moret, we were talking about this earlier that when you are that rich, if you have nothing to work for, if everything is handed to you, apparently she got Chanel bags and Cartier watches worth many tens of thousands of dollars at a very young age, that that can actually cause low self-esteem because you don`t have to accomplish anything. Therefore you have no sense of accomplishment.

And she didn`t seem to really get that far into any kind of charity work or go into the family business. So she kind of ended up being good at being bad.

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, and look what happened. I mean, she didn`t really find happiness with everything. And then she was eventually cut off apparently by her family certainly financially when she went down these dark paths with these alleged drug abuses. And then she really lost her way because she had literally nothing and no anchor.

It`s sad because the video that you showed of her walking with that friend, apparently drunk or high, that`s a tragic way...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Show it again.

MORET: ... it`s a tragic memory of this girl who died at 30 years old. And we still don`t know why.

You`re right. The tox reports won`t come back for a few weeks. But it doesn`t make sense for a 30-year-old to drop dead and it doesn`t appear initially that it was the diabetes that killed her. They`re still obviously looking into that as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That shot there from, I believe this is RadarOnline from October 23 -- that`s not too long ago. There`s a girl like showing her top. There`s this -- oh, she`s pulling her shirt down.

This is the kind of thing, I have to say, happens -- I have lived in Hollywood for 18 years even though I`m in New York right now. Jim Moret, you are in the middle of Hollywood. Rob Shuter, you know about this scene. This happens all the time.

SHUTER: It does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you drive around Hollywood Saturday night, that kind of behavior you can catch it all over the place on Sunset...

SHUTER: You`re right. And if you add Johnson to that, the amount of hanger ons -- like every time she went to a club everybody wanted to be her friend. This is Casey Johnson. This is one of the richest girls in the world. Everybody knew it.

The amount of people that pretended to be her friend that wanted to be seen with her, that wanted that photograph taken with her was shocking. The girl didn`t stand a chance. That`s why I think it`s so sad here today that we all sort of suspected this outcome. It`s terrible, but it`s true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we won`t know what killed Casey Johnson until the official toxicology report comes back. The autopsy report reportedly showed no signs of physical trauma or disease. TMZ says there`s no evidence of homicide or suicide.

But according to several published reports, including "The New York Post", Casey had a big blow up with an ex-girlfriend awhile back who allegedly set Casey`s hair on fire. Casey was reportedly rushed to the hospital several times in the last six months, according to a friend who spoke to "The Post" about her alleged misuse of insulin.

And then, of course, there are the numerous reports in "The Post" and elsewhere about Casey`s use of prescription meds; some of the meds that have been mentioned by "The Post" Oxycontin and the anti-anxiety drug clonopin and Adderall which is prescribed for ADD in kids.

Dr. Archer, if you have diabetes, are you supposed to play around with alcohol and even prescription meds or can that be a very dangerous, deadly combo?

DR. DALE ARCHER, PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, it can all be a deadly combo, without a doubt. Then of course diabetes uncontrolled can cause swings in blood sugar which can affect your behavior so the two can go hand in hand. But, certainly, with the reports of Oxycontin, clonopin and Adderall, all of those can be a lethal combination of drugs that she was taking.

And I want to comment on the fact that sometimes she seemed totally normal. That is the hallmark of addiction. You are not always intoxicated. You`re not always having problems. You fight for a while, you get sober for a while and then you relapse, then it gets worse and worse and worse. The fact that some people see her and say she`s looking ok doesn`t mean that she didn`t have an addiction problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to tell you, we`re just scratching the surface of this story. We are going to stay on top of it until we find out what killed this beautiful young woman. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Now, imagine how things change. Last year, we couldn`t turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing Tiger Woods big smile; but now nowhere to be found; MIA, off the radar. So where is he and when is he going to show his face.

We are taking your calls on this one. Where do you think Tiger is hiding and why? Give us a call. 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

And from a guy no one can find to a guy who just won`t go away, the man behind the balloon boy hoax, back on television and he`s still in denial. Just wait until you hear what he says really happened - there he is. This one even has cops shaking their heads. You won`t believe it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quite honestly, I`m shocked that he would make such statements. The evidence against Mr. Heene and Mayumi at this point is really overwhelming. It`s -- there`s no doubt in my mind that this thing was a hoax. And I really doubt that there`s very few people in America who don`t understand at this point that this was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Richard and Mayumi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, we are tracking Tiger Woods. Of course, he hasn`t been seen since Thanksgiving. Not even the paparazzi can find this guy. So where is he? We`re going to dive into that question next with an expert.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Oh, yes, balloon boy`s dad is just days away from jail. And he`s making some pretty outrageous comments.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty, as we all saw, to tricking rescuers and frankly tricking the world into believing his son was adrift on a weather balloon.

Well now, he denies that it was all a hoax aimed at getting his family on TV. Here he is on "Larry King Live".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD HEENE, BALLOON BOY`S FATHER: I asked him and I said why did you say that? What are you talking about? And he said a Japanese cameraman from some -- holding a giant camera asked him to show him how he got into the attic for his TV show. That`s why Falcon answered that.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": He didn`t mean that you we`re doing it for a proposed TV show of your own?

HEENE: No. I`m not disputing the fact that I did have to plead guilty and when I say have to, I had to do it to save my family and my wife.

KING: How so?

HEENE: The threat of deportation was eminent.

KING: Deporting who?

HEENE: My wife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He has to save his family. Is he serious? Heene is supposed to start serving his 90-day sentence on Monday. This is a humdinger. You`ve got to see the full interview on Friday`s "Larry King Live" on our sister network CNN. Check it out.

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

All right, where in the world is Tiger Woods? The golf legend has not been spotted for months now. And the rumor mill is just flying. We have heard Tiger is everywhere from -- let`s see yachting in the high seas to hobnobbing at Trump Towers to a safari in Africa. The latest gossip, it`s rumored he`s in Arizona getting plastic surgery.

Is any of this true? It can`t all be true. We reached out to Tiger`s camp, they gave us a big, "no comment". Now, the last time we heard a peep out of Tiger was in this leaked voice mail. You remember it.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: Hey. It`s Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ever since the scandal broke, snapping a photograph of Tiger has been like a big game of "Where`s Waldo". And believe me, the paparazzi -- here it is, where is Waldo -- they are looking for this guy. Take a look at this. Paps are usually relentless in their pursuit of celebs. And that photo is going to be worth a whole lot of money.

If they can`t find Tiger -- if these people you`re looking at here can`t find Tiger, I don`t think anybody can.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel and also joining me, speaking of paparazzi, Ben Evenstad, he is the owner of the National Photo Group and a paparazzo. Ben thanks for joining us.

BEN EVENSTAD, NATIONAL PHOTO GROUP OWNER: Hi, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How much could that first photo of Tiger post-scandal bring in?

EVENSTAD: Well, I think it`s going to depend on what he`s doing in the photo. If it`s a photo of him running into his lawyer`s office by himself versus a picture of him on the beach with one of his girlfriend, it`s going to be quite a difference.

But that photo that we`re looking for, that, him running around with these girls, that`s we`re probably looking in the half a million dollar range.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or maybe him running around with like a fat lip or something. I mean, maybe it really depends on what his face looks like when you take the photo because there`s the handsome Tiger Woods right there in sunglasses with the perfect smile and perfect teeth.

What if he looks a little beat up when you finally get that picture of him? That could increase the value as well, no?

EVENSTAD: Sure, sure and if there`s marks, the injuries, if the photo show that, that absolutely will. And I think, I wonder if one of his strategies is well, the longer I stay in hiding the hunger for this photo or people chasing me -- that will diminish.

And in fact, it`s increasing as time goes on. There`s more people. There`s more hunger for this photo. And we are certainly doing everything we can to try to find him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well, let`s -- I just want to do some figures here, everybody, give me an idea what you think like the best photo of Tiger, the post-scandal would be worth. Ben, just give me -- throw out a figure.

EVENSTAD: $500,000.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, I think it could be more -- Jim Moret?

MORET: Well, look, $500,000 is a lot. I mean, I think that the fact that he is so hard to find, I agree, I think the value could go up as time goes on. But it really depends at -- what he`s doing in the picture. I mean, if you just have the picture of Tiger and he looks fine, I don`t think anyone will buy it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, let`s talk about Tiger`s wife, Elin. Ok, she`s not being quite as elusive but frenzied reporters tried to track her down and have a big problem. Elin`s got a doppelganger -- photos or the photographers anyway thought they had the mother lode photo.

Elin`s giant diamond engagement ring was back on but guess what, it was her identical twin sister Josephine. Elin remains tight lipped. Only TMZ managed to track her down. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi how are you? Do you still love Tiger, Elin? Will you ever forgive him? Are you going to divorce him, Elin? What do you think of his 14 mistresses? What would you say to them?

ELIN WOODS, WIFE OF TIGER WOODS: How about something nice like how are you holding up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you holding up, Elin?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, so Elin is reportedly skiing in the Swiss Alps, all right, but where is Tiger? That`s what we want to know.

Ben, we get all these reports. He`s at Trump Towers, he`s on a yacht, he`s in Africa. How do you separate the good rumors from the bad rumors and where are you tracking him now -- Ben?

EVENSTAD: Well, we have a few leads including some in California.

This reminds me of after Rihanna`s incident with Chris Brown. There were rumors she was in Barbados, New York, Los Angeles; we actually tracked her to a house she was renting in Mexico. We were able to get the first photo that time. That sold for over $100,000. We`re hoping for a repeat here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you have any word? Because we`ve heard so many different reports, and everybody is so convinced that they`re right. We can`t repeat them all here. Somebody has got to -- only one person is right. He`s only in one place. That`s what we know.

EVENSTAD: Look, if I had something solid I would be there shooting it right now instead of here talking to you. But I -- you know, after Michael Jackson`s trial verdict in 2005, he went to Bahrain and no one could get him there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We remember well. We`ll be right back with some more.

Stay there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR: He`s insulated and no -- if Charles -- if Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan can`t get...

ROBIN MEADE, HLN HOST: Right. That`s insulation. You have his number, right?

LEE: And those are his boys.

MEADE: You have his number right?

CHARLES BARKLEY, TNT BASKETBALL ANALYST: He changed his number.

LEE: If Charles and Michael can`t get to him, then...

MEADE: What`s going on?

LEE: ... these other people are making bad moves.

BARKLEY: I think when you have these fires in your life as I call them, you need to talk to somebody else who`s famous who have been through things in their life. I don`t think you can talk about it to your family and friends because your family and friends are not famous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Charles Barkley and Spike Lee saying even they don`t know where to reach their friend, Tiger.

We`re bag with my fantastic panel. I want to point out Ben Evenstad; he does business with HLN from time to time. He`s a very well- known photographer who actually took the last photograph of Michael Jackson on the day of the superstar`s death.

I want to go to the phone lines now. Tammy, Michigan, your question or thought, ma`am?

TAMMY, MICHIGAN (via telephone): Yes, I have a question how he is paying out all this money to his mistresses, why can`t his wife sue the mistresses knowing that they were married?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to throw that one out to Judge Mathis.

JUDGE MATHIS: That`s an old law that`s no longer enforced called alienation of affection. But you know, Jane, we kind of wish that he would have been charged now with malicious destruction of property, because then law enforcement would be able to tell us where he`s at. He`d have to wear a tether. Really he could be a danger to himself and we should know where he`s at.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue tonight. It`s a totally different issue, marketing BS. I want you to take a look at this "Vanity Fair" cover. Photographer Annie Leibovitz captured the real Tiger and that`s why she`s a genius because she could take a photo and get past the mask and the phony facade and get the flesh and blood person underneath that facade.

This was taken long before the scandal broke. Now, it`s on the cover of "Vanity Fair". Listen to what the author of that article had to say on NBC`s "The Today Show".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUZZ BISSINGER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: We wanted to believe in a landscape of sports and celebrity and entertainment where so many are getting into trouble. Here was this one guy who was perfect so in terms of the media we didn`t do the scrutiny. Maybe we should have done -- the public just bought it hook, line and sinker. But I think fundamentally and I think we had it right. We were disappointed in this guy, really disappointed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why should anyone have an image? That`s my big issue tonight. Why not just be who you are? In my opinion it`s a form of deception and false advertising to create some kind of image, especially an image of perfection when it`s likely to mask some toxic secrets.

Dr. Dale Archer, you`re the psychiatrist. This is a metaphor for what`s wrong in America today, the fact that we`re creating images. And what does buying a watch have to do with the fact he`s a good golfer? Nothing.

ARCHER: No, it has nothing to do with it. I think that Tiger is making a huge mistake in this entire process by not coming out periodically and saying, "This is what`s going on. Please give me time to be able to be able address this issue on my own. I`m going through a very difficult period." And he would take the mystery completely out because when there`s a mystery people think the worst.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We have to leave it right there. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Tomorrow on ISSUES, a boat full of anti-whaling activists ripped apart when a Japanese ship rams it on purpose. The activists` crime? Just protecting whales from Japanese whaling fleets.

But here`s a twist, game show host and activist Bob Barker has a big stake in all this. I`m going to talk to him live tomorrow right here on ISSUES. Join me for that.

END