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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Police Stumped on Playboy Model`s Murder; Cruelty in Dairy Industry Caught on Tape

Aired January 29, 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 a horrifying turn of events in the gruesome slaying of a gorgeous "Playboy" model. Her body was found burning a Dumpster. Now cops in Miami admit they`re at a dead end. They have video. They have witnesses, so why don`t cops seem to have a clue? A killer is on the loose, and cops warn he could strike again.

And a desperate family pleads for help. Seismic developments in the search for Kristi Cornwell. She was abducted back in August while walking on a country road. Now an anonymous woman has written a letter claiming her grandson could be involved. So who is this mystery man, and who wrote this letter? Tonight, Christie`s mother is begging this woman, please, step forward.

Plus a family torn apart. Stunning new details in the tragic death of Nancy Kerrigan`s father. The Olympic icon has been plagued with tragedy. Now her dad is dead and her brother is behind bars. We`ll go inside her brother`s violent past, a past consumed with jealousy of his famous sister.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, has the desperate search for a sadistic murderer hit a dead end? Who killed "Playboy" model Paula Sladewski? Police say they desperately need the public`s help tonight.

Paula was murdered January 3. Her body was tossed out into a Miami Dumpster and then set on fire. She was burned beyond recognition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY FARRIS, PAULA`S SISTER: She did not deserve to die in this way. We can`t even give her an open casket. We can`t even see her again. I can`t see myself going back to work. I can`t -- I can`t see myself living a normal life until I know whoever did this is -- pays for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The morning before her murder, Paula and her boyfriend, Kevin Klym, got into an alcohol-fueled argument at a nightclub. Bouncers kicked Kevin out at about 7 a.m. He went back to their hotel and never saw Paula again, he says.

Paula was escorted out about 20 minutes later. This grainy surveillance footage shows bouncers walking her out. Police had hoped to release a suspect sketch, but they just don`t have enough to go on. The only thing witnesses have told them is that Paula walked away from the club with a man described as a black male.

You`re telling me a horrific crime occurs in downtown Miami, the only thing anybody can recall is the mystery man`s race and gender? How about his height? How about his weight, his hair, his clothing?

They walked away after 7 a.m., means it was broad daylight. Just doesn`t make any sense.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Judge Karen Mills Francis, host of the fabulous "Judge Karen Show." We`re also delighted to have criminal profiler Pat Brown with us. And of course, we are very honored to have Lieutenant Neil Cuevas from the North Miami Police Department, who`s going to explain the investigation and where it`s at.

But we begin with Paula`s sister, Kelly Farris. She joins me by phone.

Kelly, once again, as always, our condolences over the horrible loss of your precious sister. We`re hoping something we say tonight will help.

How are you and your family holding up in light of there being no suspects in your sister`s murder?

FARRIS (via phone): We`re not holding up very well. There`s people out there who know something, who have seen something. Like you said, it was broad daylight, and all they can tell you is that it was a black male? It makes no sense to me. There`s more information out there. I`m just begging anybody to please come forward.

We have put up a reward through Miami-Dade Crime-stoppers, and, you know, I`m going to definitely keep on this until somebody`s found, because I don`t -- this doesn`t need to happen to another family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I heard you say you put your entire life on hold for this. You are determined to devote yourself to finding justice for your sister?

FARRIS: Yes, definitely.

FARRIS: Wow. It`s -- it`s -- there are no words to describe what you and your family members are going through. And the only thing that will provide some solace is finding out what happened, and who did it.

Investigators need Paula`s dental records in order to identify her. Her body was so horribly burned they`re unsure of exactly how she died. A crime lab is trying to identify the substance used to start the fire in the Dumpster. So, did Paula`s killer leave behind any evidence on or near the Dumpster?

Lieutenant Cuevas, thank you for joining us. Bring us up to date. Have you gotten anything? Fingerprints, skin, hair, anything off of that Dumpster?

LT. NEIL CUEVAS, NORTH MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, within the last few days, we have gotten leads and tips from people that have reported an individual leaving the front of the club with Paula. And we`re pretty confident that, within the next few days we`re going to be able to put together a sketch composite of that individual.

In addition, we also have processed several cars that we believe might have something to do in this case. Although I`m not at liberty to disclose what led us to these cars or how they might be involved.

As far as the forensics, within the next week or two, we should have an official ruling on the forensics in this case. Any evidence that we`ve already submitted that`s being processed that could lead to new leads in the case or amplify what we have so far.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s my concern. This happened right after the first of the year. We`re at the end of the month already. My big issue tonight is: are these witnesses suffering from sudden amnesia?

Paula left the club at about 7:30 in the morning. It was broad daylight, and all people remember is she walked away with a black male? Was he 100 years old? Was he 15 years old? This is downtown Miami. Nobody can recall a single useful detail?

But now you`re telling us, Lieutenant Cuevas, that you are getting some details because you are going to come up with a sketch. Here`s what I don`t understand. The last time we talked, you said, well, these witnesses couldn`t remember anything except it was a black male, and that was it, and that you weren`t able to come up with a description or a sketch.

CUEVAS: That`s correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But now those same witnesses have suddenly -- their amnesia has worn off, and they`re starting to remember? I don`t get it. Something doesn`t add up to me.

CUEVAS: Well, try to understand this. It`s not the same witnesses, but these are additional witnesses that have come forward within the last few days. And they`ve come forward, because this story is still out there in the media.

As far as anyone having seen her walking away with someone, you have to remember: this is a club, a club with intoxicated people, people that are on drugs. And it`s not as though they were watching a crime unfold before their eyes and they knew it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was there a doorman?

CUEVAS: Yes, the club has doormen. They have bouncers, and they have employees.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If there`s a doorman outside, and I have gone to nightclubs, those doormen stand out there, and they check your I.D., and sometimes they charge you a cover. But they`re standing pretty much outside the club. They`ve got a view of the outside of the club, so wouldn`t that doorman there have seen what went on?

CUEVAS: Well, I can`t say where the doorman was in relation to Paula leaving the club. I can`t say if he was inside or outside. I do know they`ve he interviewed all the employees that were working that evening, and they continue to interview them, as well. The club has been working with the detectives, as well as the employees. That`s not a problem. It`s not an obstacle for us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Judge Karen Mills Francis, you`re down there in Miami. What do you make of this? This is in downtown Miami. Give us your insight.

JUDGE KAREN MILLS FRANCIS, "JUDGE KAREN SHOW": In all fairness to the police, I know this club, because when I was a judge on the bench in Miami, I had a lot of criminal misdemeanor cases normally that came out of Club Space.

It`s a very popular club, and I agree with the officer. When that club lets out at 6:30, 7 in the morning, there were hundreds of people, mostly drunk and drugged people, who are coming out of there.

It`s not like there was a crime going on, and so we should expect that whoever`s standing at the door should have noticed something. There wasn`t really anything to notice, except that this club was emptying itself of its patrons for the night.

What I think about this incident, this burning happened less than a mile away from a house. As a matter of fact, it happened across the street where I take my car to be serviced.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What?

FRANCIS: Across the street. I could walk there. So I know the area very well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This Dumpster we`re looking at? Wow.

FRANCIS: And -- but Club Space is in downtown Miami, and where this Dumpster is, you really would have to know the area to know where this Dumpster is. So it`s got to be somebody who knows the area, I say locally in the city of North Miami. It`s got to be somebody locally. I don`t know what the leads are the police officer has.

And also, I want to offer my condolences to the family here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

FRANCIS: This is a horrendous crime to have to deal with, but I believe that the police are doing all they can to try and find out what happened to this woman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kelly Farris, you`ve been listening. You are, again, to tell our viewers, Paula`s sister. You have vowed to not let up until the killer of your beautiful sister is brought to justice. You`ve been listening to all of this. What are your thoughts?

FARRIS: My thoughts are it all leads back to the club, and I really do believe that there`s people that know more than what they`re saying. On the tape, the two bouncers that follow her out, I never see them return back in, and I`ve watched the video over and over and over. So I really do believe, if they weren`t involved, they know who was.

She`s not going to leave with some random guy. Maybe the guy was already talking to her inside the club, but she`s not going to leave with somebody random that she never met. So I think that there`s more -- there`s 21 cameras in that club. Why are they not being looked at as to who she was -- who she was drinking with in there after Kevin was kicked out? Who was talking to her? I`m not understanding. Where are these videos?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Paula`s sister, Kelly Farris, thank you for your insight. Stay right there. Don`t go anywhere. We`re going to get the police response to that right after the break. Everybody, a killer is on the lose, and we`re tracking him down.

Plus, skating great Nancy Kerrigan`s father dead. Her brother is in jail. Could jealousy of his famous sister have led to his tragic death?

But first, a beautiful model found burning in a Dumpster, her family desperate for answers. Cops don`t seem to have too many clues at this point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATSY WATKINS, MOTHER OF PAULA SLADEWSKI: They`ve got to find who did this to my baby. They got to find who did this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bet they will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATKINS: I lost my baby, and she was only 26 years old. I`m just so mad that somebody out there knows something, that my little girl left with somebody -- I`m just so angry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paula Sladewski`s mom, trying to cope with her daughter`s murder, knowing that we don`t know what happened at this point. So far, police can`t give us any answers, really. I mean, that`s why we`re covering this story. And they`re glad we`re covering it because we`re all hoping -- the police, the family, here at ISSUES we are -- that somebody watching has the tip that could blow this case wide open.

Pat Brown, here`s the irony of our system, as it were. We set up cameras at major intersections to catch people speeding, because I`ve been caught. I`ve been caught on those cameras and gotten the letter, but we don`t set up cameras to catch potential murderers.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, Jane, the reason the cameras are set up are not to stop people from speeding but to make a whole lot of money. So there`s no money in looking for criminals, so -- but I agree with you entirely. We could really use those cameras around, because they really could lock down what happened outside that bar.

I want to point out another thing that`s very interesting to me, is the fact that her body was found burning in the evening. Where was she all day long?

It looks like if her boyfriend was not involved, she did go with somebody who took her someplace, to his place perhaps. Maybe she didn`t want to go back and hang out with her boyfriend because she was mad at him. "OK, I`ll go with you. We`ll hang out some more and chit-chat and have breakfast" and never got out of his location.

So it`s very interesting where she was dumped. I would say, yes, you want to focus in on that neighborhood, find out who might have been keeping her somewhere until that evening when he could then dispose of a body that he doesn`t want to be seen doing during the day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Lieutenant Neil Cuevas, have you canvassed the neighborhood where the body was found to see if anybody saw anybody walking into an apartment with a woman matching Paula`s description?

CUEVAS: Absolutely. I can assure that the detectives have been working nonstop, not just canvassing that area, but canvassing the area around the club, as well. Those are the questions that we want answered also. Where was she between the time that she was last seen at the club and the time that we found her body?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigators seem to indicate the mystery man seen with Paula was not inside the club that night but met her outside. Paula`s brother strongly disagrees, and as you just heard a moment ago, so does the sister. He thinks her killer set his sights on Paula inside Club Space. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS BUSSELL, VICTIM`S BROTHER: I totally think that she was stalked. I`ve seen the video. I`ve seen video footage for, I don`t know, since Sunday. And I seen three men follow her out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lieutenant Cuevas, he`s apparently referring to the bouncers. Have you cleared them, and if so, how have you cleared them?

CUEVAS: Well, the detectives have interviewed all the employees, not just the bouncers of the club, that evening. And for the moment, they feel pretty confident that they, at this point, were not involved. That`s not to mean that once we find this killer that that won`t change, but for now they were cleared as being involved in this homicide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you convinced that the person -- because this, I think, is the key issue here. That the family says, there`s no way she would walk away, you know, with somebody she just met on the street. How can you be so sure this wasn`t somebody -- there`s 500 people in the club, more than 500 -- that she didn`t meet inside the club if she was there with her boyfriend having an argument. She may have talked to somebody else. She may have had an argument with somebody else.

CUEVAS: Well, we don`t know that. And as I said earlier, that`s one of the things we`ll get to the bottom of once we find this killer. As to her state of mind when she was leaving the club, I can`t answer that, only to say that we do know that there were drinks involved, alcohol involved, and we all know what happens to people when they`ve been drinking.

So although I have no reason to believe or say that she would not have walked away with anyone under normal circumstances, she was out, and she was drinking. So we don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So the big question is did Paula meet up with a mystery man after she was escorted out of the club? Her brother said that`s just not something his sister would do. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSSELL: She just walked out by herself, and what, just picked some John Doe off the street? No way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kelly Farris, you`re Paula`s sister. What are your thoughts as you listen to us try to -- try to come up with answers here?

FARRIS: I agree. I don`t -- my sister would not leave with somebody that she had not already been talking to. Some guy walks up on the street and offers her a ride, she wouldn`t do it. There was a million cabs out there, too. Why is she leave going to leave with some strange guy who offers her a ride, if she had not already been talking to him?

I want to know where`s the video inside the club. There`s 21 cameras in there. Has anybody looked at those to see who she`s talking to? I`m not getting any answers from the police at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lieutenant.

CUEVAS: Well, there is evidence in this case -- there are aspects of this case, as in any case, that we`re not able to divulge, because we just don`t want to jeopardize the investigation, but that`s not to say that the information we`ve already released is -- is not correct. We released...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want to get back to what Judge Karen Mills Francis said. You said in court you actually dealt with a lot of cases coming out of this club.

FRANCIS: A lot of times.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Explain what you mean by that.

FRANCIS: Fistfights, battery on a police officer, public drunkenness, underage drinking. But because you`re reporting on this case and you`re not in Miami and a lot of -- not a lot of people are going to understand where this club is located. It`s located right outside of downtown Miami and sort of a warehouse district. So there`s nothing going on down there at nighttime but this club.

So 7 a.m. in the morning on a Sunday, there`s nobody in downtown Miami in that area. It`s highly likely that whoever she left there with was in the club, because there`s nothing else around there. She either had an option of taking a cab. They always have cabs outside.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent insights. And I want to thank you, fantastic panel.

Coming up, could an anonymous letter be the clue cops need to find missing Kristi Cornwell. We will have the very latest on this case. And straight ahead, another undercover investigation reveals horrific cruelty at New York`s largest dairy farm. You will not...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In tonight`s "Spotlight," the mind-blowing, horrifying results of an investigation into the abuse of dairy cows. The group called Mercy for Animals took their hidden cameras into a New York dairy, and what they found will shock you. We warn you: this video is graphic and disturbing.

The investigation took place at the Willet Dairy in Locke, New York, which reportedly supplies 400,000 gallons of milk to New York City. As you can see, the cows are in horribly overcrowded conditions with barely any room to move. Mercy for Animals says that`s the least of the abuses. Sadly, workers can be observed on tape mistreating the cows.

Listen to how they talk about what they`re doing to these poor, defenseless animals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) cold. I walked around behind him and I started kicking him in the balls.

[TO COW] That`s the fifth time. You`re going to get the fist next time. That`s probably why I got arthritis big time in this hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From punching cows?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You should know we are not showing by any means the most graphic video. There are some practices so horrible we cannot show them to the on camera.

Joins me now, Nathan Hunkle, executive director for Mercy for Animals.

Nathan, thanks for joining us. What abuses does Mercy for Animals say they uncovered at this dairy farm regarding cows` tails and horns?

NATHAN HUNKLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MERCY FOR ANIMALS: Our investigation found that workers were taking hot irons and digging into the skulls of these animals to remove their horns and taking a sharp blade and cutting off the calves` tails through their skin, nerves and tailbone without a single drop of painkillers. These animals were thrashing about, bellowing out in distress, in obvious pain. And we feel this abuse must end.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Willet Dairy is one of the largest dairy suppliers in New York. The man who runs the dairy talked to ABC`s Brian Ross. Let`s listen to his side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN ROSS, WILLET DAIRY: I`m disappointed, because I think what they`ve done is picked a lot of -- a few isolated incidents, and they`re trying to portray he them as something that is malicious on our part.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the dairy farm owner, as you just heard, says you selected a few isolated events, but in refusing to prosecute this case thus far, as I understand it, the D.A.`s office reportedly is saying many of the actions shown on tape are commonly accepted practices.

So it seems odd that they`re both using different explanations.

Now, as a result of this explanation, I understand there`s now a bill being introduced into the New York legislature to ban the cutting off of the cow`s tail, which is called tail docking. Tell us about that.

HUNKLE: Well, California passed a similar law last year that would prohibit this cruel and unnecessary mutilation of animals. It`s something that the American Veterinary Medical Association condemns as being cruel, and even many of the dairy industry`s own organizations say that this is unnecessary.

This is something that causes both acute and chronic pain to the animals, this tail docking. And we are hoping that the New York legislature will pass this bill prohibiting this cruel mutilation and sparing thousands of animals this cruelty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what are you doing vis-a-vis the horns?

HUNKLE: The horns is something that is not addressed in this bill, but we hope that as people become more aware of it, that we`ll see more movement in that area, as well. There are no federal laws to protect farm animals from abuse, and that`s one of the reasons why this abuse runs so rampant in the dairy industry. So we need more protection.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Billions of farm animals killed for food every year in the U.S. Nathan, thank you.

HUNKLE: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kristi Cornwell vanished five months ago, so could an anonymous letter lead investigators to her kidnapper? We`re going to talk to her mother right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A desperate family pleads for help; seismic developments in the search for Kristi Cornwell. She was abducted back in August while walking on a country road. Now an anonymous woman has written a letter claiming her grandson could be involved. So who is this mystery man? And who wrote this letter? Tonight, Kristi`s mother is begging this woman, please, step forward.

Plus a family torn apart: stunning new details in the tragic death of Nancy Kerrigan`s father. The Olympic icon have been plagued with tragedy. Now her dad`s dead and her brother`s behind bars. We`ll go inside her brother`s violent past, a past consumed with jealousy of his famous sister.

A bombshell development in the case of missing Georgia woman Kristi Cornwell: police have now announced that they`ve gotten an anonymous note from a woman who writes, "I think I know who did this. My grandson."

Police believe Kristi, a 40-year-old mother, was abducted. They think the very same man who took her had days before tried to grab another woman in North Carolina just 25 miles away from where Kristi vanished.

In the letter to police a mystery woman claims the man responsible could be her grandson. She says he was staying with her in North Carolina during that time, and it looks just like the man in the police sketch. She says his car matches as well; he drives a white Nissan Xterra. That type of car was spotted at both crime scenes.

Could this man have Kristi? Is there a chance that she`s still alive? Kristi was abducted six months ago while merely walking on a rural road near her parents` home. She was talking on her cell phone to her boyfriend and he heard everything that happened.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG DAVIS, KRISTI CORNWELL`S BOYFRIEND: We were talking about having dinner that Thursday night when she interrupted and said, "Hey, I have to get off the road. There`s a car coming."

Then it was just moments after that she began screaming. I heard her scream and it made me -- my first reaction that maybe the car that she`d spoke about maybe hit her, so I was calling her name. But then it became quite apparent to me that she was indeed being abducted by whomever these people were in this car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kristi`s mother is begging the woman who wrote this anonymous letter, please come forward. Tell us who you are.

Straight out to my outstanding expert panel: and also joining me tonight by phone, Kristi Cornwell`s mother, Jo Ann Cornwell.

Mrs. Cornwell, I think I speak for all of the panel; our hearts go out to you. We hope something we say tonight will help break this case.

Here`s a picture of Kristi and you when your daughter was just a little girl. What a precious child.

What can you tell us, ma`am, about this letter police got from this mystery grandmother?

JO ANN CORNWELL, KRISTI CORNWELL`S MOTHER (via telephone): Well, I know that what she -- she did claim that she was concerned that her grandson may be the person who abducted Kristi. That the sketch of this man looked like the man -- looked like her son, and also that he drove a vehicle, the Xterra that`s just like the sketch.

These sketches came from the woman in Ranger, North Carolina that had been bumped with a car and knocked down. And the police think that this man was trying to abduct her when another car came along. He jumped back in his car and took off.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mrs. Cornwell, do we have any idea where this letter came from? Have police shared with you the postmark, for example? Is it a North Carolina letter.

CORNWELL: No. They`ve not shared where they think it came from, but, you know, from what they`re saying -- some people say that they think it did come from Murphy, North Carolina.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Murphy?

CORNWELL: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And how far is that from Ranger where the attempt to abduct that first woman is?

CORNWELL: Ten or 15 miles. It`s in the same county. Ranger and Murphy are in Cherokee County, North Carolina.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, if you`re listening from that area, keep your eyes open because that is now becoming a focus.

But there`s a twist that involves Florida. So let me proceed. The anonymous woman believes her grandson is the man who hit a woman with his car as he unsuccessfully tried to abduct her. This happened just nine days before Kristi was taken.

Cops think these two cases are connected. First there`s the proximity. Kristi vanished from Georgia. The suspect attacked his other victim just 25 miles away in North Carolina. But now police are searching Florida, because in the letter the woman says her grandson had Florida plates on his white Nissan Xterra.

Pat Brown, is it possible this guy wanted to take a woman and failed so nine days later he tries again?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Oh, that happens all the time.

A serial killer is going to try to grab his victims and if he doesn`t get them, he`s going to be frustrated and say, "Hey, I didn`t get to have the" -- I hate to say that quote for him -- "fun that I wanted to have." So then he`ll try when he gets another opportunity. So he very well could be the guy.

And I want to point out something to the woman who wrote this letter. It is a very difficult thing to consider that someone you care about, someone -- one of your relatives could be this kind of person, but if you can match them to the sketch, you can match them to the car, the location. Also pay attention to the behavior because any guy that`s going to be a serial killer is going to be a sexual psychopath.

So he`s going to be, you know, very narcissistic, manipulative, has no empathy for anyone. He`s going to always think he`s right and you`re wrong. He`s going to have problems with relationships. Is this the kind of description for your grandson? If it is, then yes, you do need to contact the police. Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jo Ann Cornwell, I can`t imagine what you`re going through right now. And you are so close to some possible answers. You wrote a very moving letter begging this woman to come forward. I would like you to read it here on ISSUES for the public now.

CORNWELL: I would love to read it.

"I am pleading with the writer of the anonymous letter sent to the Cherokee County, North Carolina, and the UNION COUNTY, GEORGIA sheriff`s department concerning the abduction of Kristi Cornwell and her grandson`s possible connection to please come forward. I know how hard it would be to implicate your own grandson in a horrible crime. I`m a grandmother too, and I can certainly understand your love for your grandson and wanting to protect him.

But I`m asking you to put yourself in my shoes, a mother who gave birth to a precious baby girl 39 years ago. I know you must remember what it felt like to hold your baby in your arms for the first time. Remember the overwhelming love that you felt at that moment and that a mother continues to feel no matter how old their child is? A mother loves their child so much that they would gladly give their life to protect him or her from all harm.

But I was not able to (AUDIO GAP) protect her on August 11, 2009. She went for a short walk, and she never returned home. My heart is breaking. It not only is breaking for myself but for Kristi`s 15-year-old son. The last time he saw his mama was the morning she dropped him off at school on the day of her abduction.

My heart breaks when I think about whether Kristi is cold, hungry, or being abused. So I beg you as the grandmother of Kristi`s possible abductor to rid yourself of the guilt you must be feeling knowing you have the information that could lead us to Kristi. Please come forward and end the nightmare her family is going through."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Mrs. Cornwell, nightmare is the word. Thank you for reading that hear-felt letter, and we hope, we pray that this grandmother is listening or somebody who knows this grandmother and can connect the dots.

Now we`re going to give you again the description. Police are looking for a man in his mid-20s with dark hair. Take a close look at this sketch, people. If you have seen this man or a car that he is driving -- we`ll show you that in a second -- or if you know somebody that spent time doing handiwork in North Carolina for his grandmother this summer, who left Florida and said, "I`m going to see my grandmother in North Carolina," please call authorities immediately.

We have the number up on the screen that you can call. Kristi`s life could depend on it.

Judge Karen Mills Francis, it`s so exasperating to know that there`s somebody out there who has the information. Why wouldn`t they give their name?

JUDGE KAREN MILLS FRANCIS, HOST, "JUDGE KAREN`S COURT": I hate to be the one to say this, but I`m a judge and I deal in realities.

I feel that that grandmother knows that something really, really bad has happened to the woman in this case. And she may be worried about the penalty that her grandson is going to be facing because Georgia carries the death penalty. Maybe she couldn`t live with that because I can`t imagine no other reason why she wouldn`t -- even as an anonymous call make the call unless she was worried about the penalties that her grandson was going to face.

Obviously, she understands that it`s wrong what he`s done, and she has the reason to have the suspicions that she has. So I am feeling that the reason why she can`t bring herself to do it is because she knows what penalties he may be facing.

BROWN: I disagree with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

BROWN: I think what happens to people is they have suspicions, but they simply cannot believe it. And they want -- the thought of turning in your own grandson for a heinous crime like this and he didn`t do it, you feel stupid, you feel horrible and guilty and all about it. The thing is you can`t cross that line to say I think you really did do it.

I think that`s her difficulty.

MILLS-FRANCIS: But if he`s innocent -- but if he`s innocent, the police are going to question him and they`re going to find he`s innocent.

BROWN: But his grandma turned him in. Can you imagine how it`s going to feel? His grandma...

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If he`s innocent, he has nothing to worry about. But if he`s not innocent, this grandmother has to come forward and anybody who know this grandmother. Ok?

BROWN: I agree with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you`re out there. If you`re a neighbor, if you`re a relative, Mrs. Cornwell and her entire family are going through hell. Call the police.

And Mrs. Cornwell, we`re going to stay on top of this. We`re not letting this go. Thank you, ma`am, for coming on the show.

CORNWELL: Thank you so much for having me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our thoughts are with you.

CORNWELL: Thank you so much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up right after the break, shocking testimony at Drew Peterson`s pretrial hearing. Could it be enough to convict him?

And skating legend Nancy Kerrigan grieves for her father. Her brother remains behind bars who is charged with the allege attack. Was jealousy of his famous sister the motive?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY STERLING, SPOKESWOMEN FOR THE KERRIGAN FAMILY: Nancy described her father as, quote, "My support. He was there behind me always."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A heartbroken Nancy Kerrigan attends her father`s funeral while her brother remains behind bars. That is next.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Shocking revelations coming out of pretrial hearings for Drew Peterson`s murder trial. Three bombshell testimonies, pointing the finger right at the former police sergeant.

Peterson`s former co-worker testified that in 2003 Drew asked him to, quote, "Take care of his third wife for $25,000." And get this. After Kathleen died, Drew said, "The favor I asked you to do, I don`t need it anymore."

Also from Thursday`s testimony, Peterson`s sister-in-law says "Stacy confided that if anything ever happened to her it would be Drew`s fault." This conversation just two days before Stacy vanished.

Finally a minister from Stacy Peterson`s church testifies today about counseling sessions he had with Stacy. She allegedly told him that her husband, Drew, confessed to her that he murdered his third wife.

Drew Peterson, currently on trial for the murder of wife number three, Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in the bathtub with a gash in her head in 2004. Peterson also the only suspect in his fourth wife Stacy`s disappearance but has not been charged. It seems like she could be speaking possibly from the beyond.

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

Also tonight tragedy strikes Olympic figure skating legend Nancy Kerrigan. Her own brother is behind bars after allegedly violently attacking their 70-year-old father who later died.

On Sunday cops were called to the Stoneham, Massachusetts home where 45-year-old Mark lived with his parents. Mark was arrested after they found his father passed out on a bloody kitchen floor.

Cops saying Mark told them he got into an argument with his dad that became physical. They say he admitted to grabbing his father around the neck and that at some point his father collapsed.

Was this an isolated incident? Apparently not. Mark Kerrigan`s ex-wife claimed her relationship with this guy was violent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET KERRIGAN, EX-WIFE OF MARK KERRIGAN: He strangled me in the bedroom. The rage was beyond controllable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet also says Mark drank. Police say he was, quote, "Clearly intoxicated and extremely combative when they picked him up. Mark is charged with assault and battery. Right now, he is undergoing a mental health evaluation.

Meanwhile, a very sorrow-filled day yesterday for Nancy Kerrigan and her mom Brenda as they said good-bye to their father and husband. In a bizarre twist the family reportedly insists that the death was the result of a heart attack not related to Mark`s alleged assault. And Mark is sticking to his story as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENISE MOORE, MARK KERRIGAN`S ATTORNEY: He denies responsibility for this. He is quite distraught about his father`s death. He is grieving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ISSUES did reach out to Mark`s attorney for comment and did not hear back before the deadline.

So much to discuss including Mark`s troubled past. Was there sibling rivalry?

Back with Judge Karen Mills Francis, former Miami-Dade county court judge and the star of the new "Judge Karen`s Court" premiering this fall; Pat Brown criminal profiler -- I`m glad to have you back. And we begin with Milton Valencia, a reporter with the Boston Globe.

Milton, where is Mark right now and how are authorities going to determine whether or not to upgrade the charges against him?

MILTON VALENCIA, Reporter, The BOSTON GLOBE: Mark`s at the Departments of Corrections Mental Health Evaluation Hospital in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He`s staying there for a full mental health evaluation while the case remains under investigation. He`s due back in court on the assault and battery charge February 24th, but in the meantime investigators are looking at case law. They want to see what their options are and what exactly happened that night.

A lot happened. We know Mark allegedly admitted to the assault, but they`re going to look at autopsy results, they can look at the father`s age, condition. And they`re going to examine exactly what their options are and potentially bring this to a grand jury, which tends to happen in Massachusetts before any charges are brought. That could decide the future of Mr. Kerrigan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Pat Brown, he admits that apparently he grabbed his father by the throat. Dad later found dead. They`re doing the autopsy. How might this evolve, if charges are upgraded against him? What would they find in the autopsy that might indicate, yes, he didn`t just assault him, he killed him?

BROWN: They found out -- have to find out the cause of death. They`re thinking you know, -- you have to be sure this is some kind of a natural cause. That -- even though he was attacked he sort of just dropped over anyway because of his age. So - but that even then -- if you push that person into their grave because they`re elderly and you`re assaulting them and give them a heart attack, really quite frankly that`s really murder as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fascinating viewpoint, actually, yes, because the family may be trying to protect him by saying he had a heart attack, where actually it could be helping prosecutors if they decide to upgrade the charges.

Mark Kerrigan did not attend his father`s funeral because he remains locked up after Sunday`s arrest. Former prosecutor Wendy Murphy made a very interesting point here on CBS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: The bail is only $10,000. Certainly his family could have made the bail for him if they wanted him to be there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So not that anybody knows what Nancy Kerrigan`s bank account looks like, but Judge Karen, presumably $10k bail is very easily affordable. So -- I`m finding it fascinating that on the one hand they say they`re sticking up for him by saying it`s a heart attack, but on the other hand they`re not bailing the guy out?

JUDGE KAREN MILLS-FRANCIS, HOST, "JUDGE KAREN`S COURT": The minister at his father`s eulogy called Mark the prodigal son. I get the impression that he`s been a troubled person his entire life. He was probably that one child that the father couldn`t control, that the parents couldn`t control, that disappointed everybody.

Apparently had a drug problem, he had an alcohol problem. He had a prior conviction. And maybe the family has said you know what, Dad tried to help him so much. Dad overlooked everything that he did but we can`t be - we can`t be like dad. We`ve got to let him suffer the responsibility of what happened.

Because right, it`s $10,000; you come up with 10 percent of that, I`m sure the family could come up with $1,000 if they wanted to. But maybe they thought he got rescued too many times in life and maybe he needs time to think about what happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or maybe they feel safer with him behind bars. That`s something to consider. He`s violent, apparently, according to his ex-wife.

Milton, how do you explain this difference between the fact that they`re saying he died of a heart attack, the dad, thereby sticking up for the son. And on the other hand they`re letting him sit there in prison, in jail, behind bars -- and he looks pretty miserable there.

As you ponder that question, we`re going to take a quick break, get the answer on the other side.

Everybody, stay right where you are. We`re going to have more on the tragic death of Nancy Kerrigan`s father.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s just a great guy and just -- he`s close to my son-in-law and my daughter and grandchildren.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was just a wonderful, wonderful man; very kind, gentle, always smiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear about him driving that Zamboni around in his extra time to pay for Nancy`s career.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He certainly did. That was their home away from home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kind words for Nancy Kerrigan`s deceased father.

Tonight`s big issue: was there sibling rivalry between Ice Princess Nancy Kerrigan and her troubled older brother? Here`s more from Mark`s ex-wife Janet on CBS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRIGAN: He would just say it`s always Nancy, Nancy, Nancy; that`s what he would say. The focus was always on her and that`s when he felt very insecure. He would drink.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Milton, "The New York Post" is reporting Janet also said Mark envied the attention his sister got from their parents. According to their report they mortgaged their home to pay for Nancy`s skating lessons but then they declined to support Mark`s bid to play professional ice hockey. Does this sound like textbook sibling rivalry to you?

VALENCIA: It sounds like it. I`m not sure which came first though. My understanding is that the family was really close and Mark was part of the family and Nancy would actually go skating with Mark.

And that`s part of, you know, how she loved skating. She would watch her older brother play hockey. And for a long time this was a situation where the family tried to keep Mark within the inner circle. And it was before the Olympics that Mark started to get into trouble, long before the Olympics.

His troubles go way back. So really we have to look at when those troubles started and were they fueled by Nancy`s success? Which came first, in other words? It seems that Mark has had trouble for a while now and it seems the family has always tried to reach out to him and who knows where things came from.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Especially polar opposite between him and Nancy; she seems like the perfectionist and he seems like the underachiever. Unemployed, an ex-con; troubles all the way everywhere you look.

Now Olympic medallist Nancy Kerrigan is certainly no stranger to public tragedy and scandal. We all remember, in 1994 how she was viciously attacked by a hit man hired by the ex-husband of rival figure skater, Tonya Harding. The images of Nancy writhing in pain backstage at the Olympic trials and crying -- remember this -- "why, why me? Why?" Unforgettable.

Tonya`s ex Jeff Gillooly was convicted and Tonya pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution. Well get this.

Is everybody sitting down? For chutzpa, the chutzpa award goes to Tonya Harding. On Tuesday in the wake of Dan Kerrigan`s death, Tonya had the nerve to issue this statement. "Tonya feels very sad for Nancy and her family and extends her deepest sympathy and condolences to them. Tonya`s beloved dad passed away this past April so she understands the grief Nancy and her family are feeling at this difficult time."

Judge Karen Mills?

MILLS-FRANCIS: You know what? She never had any class. Why are we expecting class out of her right now? It was irrelevant that her own father died a year ago in order for her to feel some sort of compassion for somebody who lost a father. So it always turns back to Tonya. It`s back to Tonya. You know, "It`s not about you, Nancy. It`s about me and then it`s about you." She had a lot of nerve.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s also about Tonya`s desire to get her name in the paper and on television; an insatiable desire because we`re dealing with a bottomless pit.

I want to thank my fantastic panel for joining us tonight. It`s always a pleasure. You are watching ISSUES on HLN.

END