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"Growing Pains" Actor Missing

Aired February 22, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a desperate search for a Hollywood actor who vanished into thin air in Vancouver. Andrew Koenig has been missing for a week. He starred on the hit show "Growing Pains." He`s also a personal friend of mine. Friends and family say he was battling depression. Now they`re frantically trying to track him down. Tonight we`ll talk to Andrew`s good friends and colleagues about his passions and pressures.

Plus, outrage in Austin. Blood-boiling developments in the suicide plane attack, the pilot`s daughter now calling her dad a hero. What? And she`s not alone. Fan pages for this domestic terrorist are actually popping up on Facebook. This guy burned down his house, flew a plane into an IRS building, and killed an innocent man. How is that heroic? Tonight we`ll hear from the victim`s enraged son.

And a family of four simply vanishes. They mysteriously disappeared more than two weeks ago and haven`t been seen since, their pets left without food or water, the house untouched for days. The family car found abandoned by the Mexican border. A mom, a dad, two young kids. What happened to this beautiful family? We`re searching for answers.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a stomach-churning nightmare for the family and friends of "Growing Pains" star Andrew Koenig. It`s like he`s disappeared into thin air. Friends say he`s battling severe depression, and by the way, this missing man happens to be my friend and former colleague.

Nobody has heard from Andrew since February 14, when he was supposed to return home to L.A. from Vancouver, Canada. But he never got on the plane. Now here`s how you will probably remember Andrew, as "Boner" in the 1980s ABC sitcom, "Growing Pains."


ANDREW KOENIG, ACTOR: I can grow facial hair. I`ve been thinking about making some big, big changes in my life. Don`t you ever feel that...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a role one fellow comic says he possibly regretted years later. No doubt the nickname "Boner" is not easy to live down. A while back I worked with Andrew on, a vegan cooking show. He is a fantastic editor and photographer. VegTV often featured stars talking about their vegan lifestyles. Listen.


JAMES CROMWELL, ACTOR: I know that I`ve changed -- I`ve added something, because I`ve not consumed another animal. I know my body feels better, and I know my head feels better.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: One of Andrew`s friends who will join us on the panel, says before leaving for Vancouver Andrew turned down job offers and gave up his precious possessions. We`ll talk to a psychiatrist about why that is so worrisome.

Andrew is one of the nicest, most sensitive people I`ve ever met. He`s one terrific human being. We have got to find him. I pray that he is OK.

Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Joining me now, my fantastic panel: former criminal investigator John Lucich; and my friend and former colleague, VegTV host Marie Oser, who also worked alongside Andrew. Also, Andrew`s good friend, Lance Miccio, as well as Constable Tim Fanning of the Vancouver Police Department, who joins us by phone.

Constable Fanning, first of all, we want to help find Andrew. That`s our primary purpose. What is the very latest, sir?

CONSTABLE TIM FANNING, VANCOUVER POLICE DEPARTMENT (via phone): Our investigators have been working tirelessly on this file since February the 18th. Andrew was last seen at a friend`s home in Vancouver on the 14th of February in the evening. He was supposed to return from Vancouver home to L.A. on the 16th. There was a flight booked. He never got on that flight and never returned back down to his home in California.

We had a call from his parents on February the 18th in the evening, and that`s when our investigation began. As you said from the top of the show, you know, we want to find Andrew just as much as his family and friends, people that love him and care for him, and we are thankful for all the media`s attention to this -- to Andrew`s plight. He is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the letter? Apparently, his father said that he`d received a letter from Andrew that was dated the day before he disappeared in which he sounded very, very despondent.

FANNING: Yes. You know, I can`t get into the details of letter.


FANNING: But I can confirm, certainly, he was despondent, and that`s the reason for our concern. People don`t just fall off the face of the map without, obviously, having some sort of problems, and we`re hoping that maybe he`s just trying to lie low and, you know, spend some time by himself. Perhaps he will hear the news reports of all the worry and concern, or somebody out there will be able to report that they`ve seen him.

We are getting tips coming in from the public of possible sightings of Andrew. We`re following up on those, as well as going back through all the details of our investigation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to tell you, we just got this in from actor Kirk Cameron, who starred with Andrew on "Growing Pains." "Life & Style Weekly" reports Cameron says he has a message directly for Andrew. "Andrew, if you`re reading this, please call me. Mike and Boner could always work things out when they put their minds to it. I`m praying for you, pal. Hope to hear from you soon."

Lance Miccio, you`re a good friend. Has Andrew talked to you about this struggle with depression?

LANCE MICCIO, FRIEND OF ANDREW KOENIG: He didn`t talk to me -- a little bit. You know, I worked with him very closely. We just did a film called "Land of the Rising Fastball" we submitted to Tribeca, and I spent a lot of time in the editing suite with him.

And, you know, it`s something he`s been dealing with his whole life. It`s not a sudden occurrence. This is something that he`s, you know, he`s dealt with, too. And he`s dealt with it, really. So...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And as for anything about drugs, I worked with him. There`s no drugs.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: No -- he never -- this guy never even picked up a drink, ever.

MICCIO: No. Well, he...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He was the most clean-cut guy I ever met.

MICCIO: Well, he`s a vegan and very concerned over went -- what went into his body.

But, you know, I`ve worked with Andrew over the last six years on a lot of projects, and he isn`t just a one-dimensional guy. He`s very talented. He`s funny. He does a podcast. He did a number of different things.


MICCIO: Radio. And the films he did with me are just starting to be successful and getting recognition. I`d hoped to have a long, kind of further career with Andrew and enjoy the success as much as the struggle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So let`s hope -- let`s hope you do. Let`s hope he`s out there. And Andrew, if you`re watching, we all love you. I love you. You`re one of my favorite people on this planet.

You know, Andrew and I worked on a Web site called VegTV together. He`s incredibly talented as a photographer, as an editor. And sometimes he appeared on camera. Take a look at this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I used to have trees like most of us, a giant, real tree. Cut it down, take it into the house. And then my consciousness got raised about the entire issue, and I really couldn`t enjoy having a tree that was killed just for Christmas in my home for Christmas.

KOENIG: Growing up we used to get live trees. My mom would get live trees. And they weren`t huge trees. They were only, like, four or five feet tall, but the nice thing was we planted them. And for years they would grow and continue to be live trees.

In fact we had moved out of the house, and years later I went back to the old house just to check it out. And one of the trees had grown to about 20 feet high. And it was kind of a special thing to see something that was only about four feet, which when I was a kid was really tall.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. You know, that was in my apartment, and it brings back memories of many fun times Andrew and I had along with Marie Oser, who still runs VegTV.

Marie, let`s talk about Andrew and the type of person he is. You and I worked with him on so many of those cooking shows. We had so many laughs. He was so clever.

But he was a serious, serious young man who was very sensitive. His family says he was suffering from depression. You know, to me, Marie, he struck me as an extraordinarily sensitive young man. We know he`s an ardent environmentalist, an animal activist, a vegan. He really feels the pain of the helpless. And I think the world`s cruelty is often quite frustrating to him. What do you think?

MARIE OSER, VEGTV: Yes, I remember Andrew as being very sensitive, very introspective, and very kind and compassionate person. He was a pleasure to work with, and I was so surprised when you called to tell me this. I was very saddened to hear it.

And Andrew was just a wonderful photographer. He was an excellent editor. We spent many hours together in the editing suite and -- at VegTV, and like you said, it brings back some wonderful memories. He was a pleasure to work with. And...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And a gentleman. And a gentleman. I mean, this is a guy who never cursed. He was not vulgar. He was almost like an old- fashioned gentleman, Lance. I mean, that`s the sense that I got from him.

OSER: Well, you know, when you said clean-cut, that fits him. He`s clean-cut, clean living. He was vegan, as we are, and a kind and gentle person. I hope he`s OK.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Andrew, if you`re watching, dude, the world needs you. You are the kind of person the world needs. They`re so rare. OK? We can`t lose you.

Everybody, stay right where you are. We are all over this search for Andrew Koenig. We`re taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1- 877-586-7297.

Plus, a kamikaze pilot on a deadly pity party kills an innocent man in Austin, wrecking his plane, smashing it into an IRS building. So how is it that people are calling him a hero tonight? What`s that about?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shot right across the road. It was going really fast. Those aren`t fast airplanes. They cruise about 115. And he was -- it`s on -- the engine was on full-blast.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re talking about former "Growing Pains" star, Andrew Koenig, who was reported missing February 18 in Vancouver.

Guess what? We just got a call from a Chris in Vancouver who says he thinks he saw Andrew after the time that he was reported to have disappeared. John Lucich, former criminal investigator, that makes me very hopeful that somehow perhaps he`s alive on some kind of sojourn, trying to find himself. How do you find somebody if they don`t want to be found?

JOHN LUCICH, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Well, you know, that is good news, if in fact, he did see him. One of the things you`re going to be focusing in on is going to be the banking activity at the same time that that cell went dead. If that banking activity showed that somebody was taking money out and they have photos of the individual inside the bank or at the ATM, and that individual is Andrew, then that`s a great sign that he`s taking money out to sustain himself going forward somewhere else.

However, if that banking activity shows that he`s giving money away, much like he`s giving money away -- much like he`s giving his other possessions away, that`s a very, very bad sign.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go back to Constable Tim Fanning from the Vancouver Police Department. First of all, we`ll try to hook you up with this Chris in Vancouver who called and then hung up, but he claims that he`s 99 percent sure he saw Andrew in the Vancouver area after February 18. What about the banking activity, sir?

FANNING: Well, as part of the investigation we checked his use of debit cards and credit cards, and as I said, and the cell phone. So we`ve gotten that information. Investigators aren`t prepared to release that information just yet as to the last time he used it. We may release that information later. But we`ve got it, and that`s part of the investigation; helps us -- gives us places to look.

But I can tell you from that information we still believe that Andrew is in the Vancouver area.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you believe, and I don`t want to even be morose about this, but you believe that he is alive and simply perhaps depressed and running away from people, but not -- not that anything untoward has happened to him?

FANNING: There`s nothing right now to believe that anything has happened to him. We`re certainly very concerned, as his family and friends. But there`s no evidence to believe that there`s foul play involved at this point.

We just, you know, hope, and we`re grateful, again, to your show for broadcasting this story. Because that`s what we need to get the word out there, his picture out there, and hopefully somebody will be able to help us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, being a child star is never easy. Many of us had a rough go of it as adults. I say us, but it`s not really me. It`s this young man and others.

Gary Coleman from "Different Strokes." He`s been in and out of jail for assault, disorderly conduct and domestic abuse.

Jodie Sweeten from "Full House" admits she became addicted to meth after the show stopped taping. She told ABC it was difficult to discover who she truly was after the show ended.

And Danny Bonaduce from "The Partridge Family" says he found himself battling poverty and even drug addiction when he couldn`t find work.

It`s -- it`s horrifying, really, and I can relate to it because I did do a little bit of acting as a child, and it didn`t go very well. Maybe that was a blessing. Maybe I was lucky that I never got a foothold. Because these former child stars go through hell, Lance Miccio.

MICCIO: Yes. You know, Andrew -- Andrew didn`t like just being remembered for his TV role. But he had a lot more going for him than that. As you said, he was a terrific editor. We have a film we`ve got -- you know, we submitted to Tribeca about the history of Japanese baseball. We have another film that`s out in Miami in the film festival.

But, you know, that was -- that was a tough thing for him. You know, but -- I think he was dealing with it well. I think that he moved on in his career where he started -- he still acted. He still did the things he wanted. But he`s also very talented at telling a story. As a director, I found his services invaluable and could not have done what I did without him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me say this. Lance, he worked on VegTV. He was a photographer. He was an editor. He was all around. He could do anything. He could do sound. He could do camera, both. Edit. And as you saw, he was on camera, and hopefully, we`ll play that again in a second.

But the thing that I found most fascinating about him, Lance, is that he never told me that he was on "Growing Pains."

MICCIO: He didn`t like "Growing Pains."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I knew him for a couple years and we were driving around Venice Circle one day, and he said something about, "when I was an actor on `Growing Pains`."

And I was like, what? You were on `Growing Pains`?"

I knew him for two years, and he never told me about his dad being Chekov on "Star Trek," which I -- if I find Andrew, you know, that was one of my favorite shows. I can`t believe they didn`t tell me about that. You know, it`s very interesting. He didn`t want people to know. He just wanted to be Andrew.

Shawn, Kansas, your question or thought?

CALLER: I like your show, by the way.


CALLER: And I enjoyed the "Growing Pains" show. But I was wondering, what goes on in the mind of a child star or their life or whatever that causes them to turn out really messed up, such as Michael Jackson or the people you mentioned, or in this case, Andrew, you know, being so depressed and all. But someone like Kirk Cameron can turn out a Christian, a straight-laced person. They`re leading a great life.

And I just don`t know what goes on, whether it`s the parents or something`s going on that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, no. You know what? I think it really has a lot to do with being a child actor.

Danny Bonaduce is joining us.

And of course, you`re a former child star and now radio host on 94.1 WISP in Philadelphia. Danny, we`re talking about Andrew Koenig, former child star from "Growing Pains," missing.

DANNY BONADUCE, FORMER CHILD STAR: Well, I will tell you that Andrew was an acquaintance of mine. I won`t go as far as to say friend, but he was an acquaintance. And he did seem like a very nice young man.

But if the constable is correct, he is capable of so many things, but if he is alive he seems to be incapable of making a flight from Vancouver. So I don`t think we should overestimate the problems of this young man. I mean, we`ve got the IRS. A man has flown a plane into the IRS. We`ve got...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, no, no, no. That`s a totally different story. We`re going to...

BONADUCE: No, I realize that, but there`s news and big news, apparently that "Growing Pains" has lost its Boner and so has Tiger Woods. Why are we picking this news?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Guess what? This guy is a friend of mine. OK, Danny? I don`t know if you`ve been -- if you were glug, glug, glug.

BONADUCE: I was listening the entire time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK? Hang in there. But this guy`s a friend of mine, you know? And I want to find him, because the world needs him. He`s an upstanding dude.

BONADUCE: I realize that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s caring.

BONADUCE: But the fact that he`s a friend of yours does not make it news.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s a star and he`s missing. What is your problem, Danny?

BONADUCE: My problem is I don`t care about celebrities missing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, then go away.

BONADUCE: I don`t care about any other human being.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go away. Go away.

More on the desperate search right after the break.

BONADUCE: Would you prefer that I care about the 3-month-year-old baby that was thrown in a river today?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Plus, a family of four -- here`s some more news for you -- vanishes without a trace. Their car, home, all abandoned. Where is this beautiful family? We`ll investigate.

And horrifying details in the suicide plane attack in Austin, next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We cover a lot of missing person cases here on ISSUES. This one hits close to home. My very good friend and colleague, actor Andrew Koenig, has been missing in Canada since February 14. His parents say he`s severely depressed. I worked with him on a show called VegTV.

Let`s watch him again as he did a little standup. And we`ll get to that in a moment.

Brenda Wade, you`ve been listening to all of this. I am most troubled by the fact he was giving away or selling possessions before he left. Of all the things that I`ve heard, that troubles me the most. What about you?

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: It should trouble you the most, Jane, because as we know, that`s what people do when they`ve given up. They feel hopeless.

And someone who struggled for a long time with depression -- and I feel very badly for Andrew, his family and for you as his friend. But when someone struggles for a long time with depression, we know that the core of depression is negative thinking. A sense that "I`m worthless, life is hopeless; I`ll never get out of this. Therefore, why should I try?" And then the giving away, the selling, that sense that, I just can`t go on with it.

Now the only thing, if Andrew is still out there, that will turn him around is some good news about new treatments for people who are depressed. We know that there`s a constellation now of treatments that work. Everything from diet, exercise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Yes, he was -- he is diet -- you never get a person with a better diet than this guy. He ate completely healthy.

WADE: I hear you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He was a vegan.

WADE: That helps. But the cognitive piece is critical because it corrects the thinking. And we`re finding that people who add to all of those things, the cognitive, emotional and meditation.


WADE: It works.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. And I appreciate that.

Andrew had a lot to live up to. Here`s another aspect of this. Trekkies will know his dad, Walter, from the famous TV show, "Star Trek."

Here`s a clip from DesiLu Productions. Andrew`s dad landed the role of Chekov. There -- there`s Chekov, right there, in the 1967 -- in the "Star Trek" series. And he went on to play the same character in the first seven "Star Trek" movies. And, you know, Walter and his wife, Judy, say they`re totally distraught, and they just want to find their son.

Lance, do you think that was another pressure on him, growing up in the shadow of a famous father?

MICCIO: Well, I know -- I know he -- he was very proud of being Walter`s son. Very proud. You know, he talked about his dad very fondly. And you know, my heart goes out to him.

But I also know that he didn`t like being introduced as Chekov`s son, or Boner. You know, he stated that quite clearly to me. I was at a film event with one of the films we did, and I introduced him as -- and he said, "Look, don`t ever do that again to me." You know...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, yes. It`s so interesting because he never told me that Chekov was his dad. Again, it told him two years to tell me he was in "Growing Pains."

And Marie Oser, you worked with him, as well, on VegTV. Did he ever tell you that he was in "Growing Pains"? And did he ever tell you Chekov was his dad?

OSER: Never. The only reason -- the only way that I knew that he was a child star was because you told me way back when. Then he never discussed it with me. I had no -- this is the first time I`ve heard of his dad being on "Star Trek," Chekov.


OSER: I had no idea.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: First time I heard of it was today.

Andrew, Andrew, if you`re listening, because this is broadcast in Canada, we love you. Marie, me, your friend Lance, so many other people. You`re a great guy. The world needs kind, compassionate human beings like you. OK? Call us.

Fantastic panel, thank you.

The man who committed suicide flying his plane into an IRS building being called a hero. What?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Outrage in Austin: blood boiling new developments in the suicide plane attack; the pilot`s daughter now calling her dad a hero. What? And she`s not alone. Fan pages for this domestic terrorist are actually popping up on Facebook.

This guy burned down his house, flew a plane into an IRS building and killed an innocent man. How is that heroic? Tonight we`ll hear from the victim`s enraged son.

And a family of four simply vanishes. They mysteriously disappeared more than two weeks ago and haven`t been seen since. Their pets left without food or water, the house untouched for days. The family car found abandoned by the Mexican border.

A mom, a dad, 2 young kids; what happened to this beautiful young family? We`re searching for answers.

Now to outrage boiling over in the wake of last week`s deadly suicide plane attack by a deranged pilot. His daughter is calling him a hero. What?

Fifty-three-year-old Joseph Stack was furious at the government, the IRS, to be exact. And he thought, "Well, I`ll send them a message."

On Thursday he flew his single-engine plane smack into an IRS office in Austin, Texas, but not before penning a 3,000-word manifesto posted online, ranting against the government, and setting fire to his own home.

Controversy tonight over what Stack`s daughter said earlier on ABC`s "Good Morning America." Listen.


SAMANTHA BELL, JOSEPH STACK`S DAUGHTER: I think too many people lay around and wait for things to happen. But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is your father a hero?

BELL: Yes, because now maybe people will listen.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She later called to retract the hero statement. But Miss Bell, you cannot unring that particular bell. That poor choice of words enraged the son of Stack`s only victim killed in the plane crash, 61- year-old IRS collector Vernon Hunter. This, from ABC as well.


KEN HUNTER, FATHER KILLED IN PLANE ATTACK: How is it that you can call someone a hero who gets -- after he burns his house down -- he gets into a plane, and takes out seats, puts an extra gas tank in it and deliberately flies it into a building to kill people?

My dad Vernon did two tours of duty in Vietnam. My dad`s the hero.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hear, hear. Your dad is a hero. Meanwhile, hot debate about Joseph Stack has exploded online spilling on to Facebook. Some users are now also calling him a patriot. Others say he was a cold- blooded revolutionary.

Why don`t we just call him what he is: a murderer and a domestic terrorist.

I know you have an opinion about this. Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: John Lucich, Brenda Wade, Judge Michele Lowrance and joining, Jenna Hiller, reporter with News 8 in Austin, Texas.

Jenna, on the ground right in front of the building that Joseph Stack attacked, Jenna, what is the very latest?

JENNA HILLER, REPORTER, NEWS 8, AUSTIN, TEXAS: Well, today they actually did rule his death a suicide and said it was caused by --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Speak up, darling, it`s very, very loud where you are.

HILLER: I`m sorry, we`re by a highway. They have ruled his death a suicide, said caused by blunt force. They`ve also ruled Vernon Hunter`s death a homicide. Obviously there are a lot of people who work for the IRS have had concerns after what`s happened to this building.

And today -- this afternoon just a few hours ago they did have a town hall meeting to discuss how they`re going to make sure there`s more security at other IRS buildings here in town.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I would say so, especially in light of the fact that some people are saying, oh, this is a great thing. I mean, look at that destruction. How dare they?

What was Stack`s possible motivation for torching his own $230,000 home before smashing his plane, his own plane into the IRS building? His daughter attempted to explain on ABC`s "GMA."


BELL: We pay taxes on our home as well. And my belief is that the house was part of the government, and I think he wanted to get rid of what was left.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? His house is part of the government? In his 3,000-word suicide note, he wrote, quote, "I have had all I can stand. I choose not to keep looking over my shoulder at Big Brother while he strips my carcass," end quote.

The big issue to me is -- was this a deadly pity party? Boo- hoo-hoo-hoo Joseph Stack; you had a 2,500 square foot home worth almost a quarter million dollars, a car, and oh, yes, your own private airplane, not to mention the guitars you were photographed with. Joseph Stack may have been in debt but he still could have sold his property and worked his way out of a financial hole.

Judge Lowrance, this self-pitying moron had a whole lot more than a vast majority of human beings on planet earth, many of whom don`t even own a toothbrush. What a sense of entitlement.

JUDGE MICHELE LOWRANCE, AUTHOR, "THE GOOD KARMA DIVORCE": Yes. It`s so odd that people would even consider him a hero. This is hardly heroic when you kill somebody. But at the same time, let`s not forget that prior to 9/11 there were Senate hearings on some of the tactics of the IRS. After 9/11 they never went back to those Senate hearings.

So a lot of people are aligning with the anti-IRS sentiment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, we know all about the TEA parties and stuff, but this is not politics.

LOWRANCE: No it isn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you something. He was fighting with his wife all night before he did this. And you know they say people don`t dream about politics, I don`t think at the end of the day they really kill about politics. They kill about something that`s very personal, and deep and toxic within them, Brenda Wade.

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Exactly. And, Jane, how many of us have felt beat up by the system? How many of us have felt somehow the IRS or the policeman gave me a ticket or something like that, was something I didn`t deserve. But we don`t go out and kill people over it.

He felt like he was a big victim and clearly it`s not just the fight with his wife. This guy has had a long history of a downward spiral in his affairs, which tells me he had a deep inner problem.


WADE: That was his own problem that he did not seek treatment for. Instead he lashed out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If it was money, sell your private plane. If it was money, move into an apartment. A lot of people live in apartments. There`s no shame to it.

Sky, Pennsylvania.

WADE: There`s no shame but he needed help and he didn`t get it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course. Of course, he needs to see a shrink like you, Brenda.

SKY, PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): I would like to know how -- I would like to know how he kept renewing his pilot`s license, whether he had any background and whether or not he lied on the application because every three years you have to disclose whether you`ve seen a psychologist, whether you`ve been hospitalized. I wonder what that`s going to reveal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know. A very interesting point ma`am but I don`t think he had a criminal record and the problem was he didn`t go to a psychiatrist. If he had gone to a psychiatrist, we wouldn`t be looking at this footage right.

And I have another issue with this story. Why is the government not listing this as an act of domestic terrorism? Listen to this from Thursday`s ISSUES show.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The thing is, when you stop respecting the meaning of words and use them any time you want to for political purposes, the word gets trashed and then it has absolutely no value and that`s what we`re doing to the word terrorism by not considering this and the Fort Hood incident acts of terrorism.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely, Jane. Absolutely. You look at the definition of terrorism, this is domestic terrorism, the unlawful us of force or violence to intimidate or coerce a government or civilian population or any segment thereof and the furtherance of political or social objectives.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: According to the Patriot Act, terrorism is an act dangerous to human life, check; a violation of U.S. laws, check; intended to influence the policy of a government, check. Come on, John Lucich. This is domestic terrorism.

JOHN LUCICH, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Absolutely, 100 percent. There is no difference if this guy walked in with a bomb on his vest or flew that bomb into the building, it is domestic terrorism. This guy died, not a hero, but a criminal. End of story.

There is no reason, regardless of the tactics of anybody, whether right or wrong, does not give you the right to take life, innocent life. When he flew that airplane into that building, he knew people were going to die. He also took that airplane into a dive to get that thing up to speed to make sure he gave the most amount of damage possible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is domestic terrorism, and the U.S. government should declare it, because otherwise it emboldens people to make these kind of patriot statements. And the government is really providing the room for that by not declaring this what it is: domestic terrorism.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

A California family vanishes without a trace. A wild story: a father, mother and their two gorgeous children missing for two weeks. We have the very latest on this search. Where are they?

And we`re taking your calls on this, too; 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have the father.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A family of four mysteriously vanishes from their San Diego home without a trace. Tonight a desperate brother searches for answers. He is releasing brand new photos and home video, praying somebody might have seen his family. He fears they have been kidnapped. Summer and Joseph McStay and their two kids, 3-year-old Joseph and 4-year- old Gianni have been missing more than two weeks.

Police searched their home and found no evidence of a struggle, no evidence of foul play.

There is one chilling clue. The McStay`s two beloved dogs Bear and Baby Bear were left alone in the yard with no food or water. A friend says Summer would never leave her dogs. She called Bear her first child.

Take a look at this home video from YouTube.


SUMMER MCSTAY: There are so many toys and he`s never played, ever. Oh, get her, bubba. Get her. He`s playing. He`s never played ever. I`ve had Bear for seven years and he`s never once played. He`s destroying it now. Get it, bubba.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Summer and Joseph wouldn`t just leave. They have recently moved into a new home and they were planning a house warming party. Friends say they were happy.

Look at this home video from YouTube.


JOSEPH MCSTAY: Yes. Go Chuba, go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That precious child and his family could be in terrible danger tonight. The family`s car was found abandoned about 80 miles from McStay`s home just two blocks from the Mexican border, the children`s car seats still inside.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: also joining me tonight, I`m delighted to have by phone the Lieutenant Dennis Brugos from the San Diego sheriff`s office and also by phone, we are so honored to have Joseph`s McStay`s brother, Michael McStay.

Michael, first of all, let me say that I cannot imagine what you are going through right now. It`s our hope that something we say tonight will help find your precious family.

You believe your family has been kidnapped. Why?

MICHAEL MCSTAY, JOSEPH MCSTAY`S BROTHER (via telephone): Yes it`s so far from the norm, it`s the only -- and I`m trying not to hope -- I`m trying to hope for the best. But, yes, it`s -- you know -- it`s just overwhelming. The only thing I can -- reasonable explanation I can have, even though I don`t -- you know, have any evidence to say that, you know?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the McStays were last seen February 4th. Their cell phones apparently went dead on February 6th and the family`s car was found abandoned on the 8th. Yet the police weren`t notified until the 15th, apparently.

Why do you think nobody realized that they weren`t missing sooner? And before you answer, take a look at this video that the family posted on YouTube.




J. MCSTAY: Hey, come on, let`s go look and like who`s this? A new Cadillac bike. What`s up, Jay? First bike ride ever, Jay, come here. Oh, my God.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Michael it looks like your family was friendly --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and often played outside in the neighborhood --

M. MCSTAY: Yes, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and nobody noticed they were missing.

M. MCSTAY: Well, you know, I do want to clarify, the 4th is when they stopped answering e-mails.


M. MCSTAY: The 8th is when the car was found abandoned or towed. The 9th is when all the phone calls started and the friends were pushing me to call earlier, but I was saying, wait, being that both of the weekends overlapped, there was a three-day weekend one weekend. I didn`t want to, you know, jump to any conclusions, what if they took a ten-day, I thought you know? You know, one weekend going into the other.

So there was someone that had checked the house on the night, someone checked the house on the 12th. I was already in contact with him multiple times to that week and then I met him on the 13th and that`s when I climbed through the window because I tried to get emergency numbers. If they went somewhere, what, you know, get the mother-in-law`s phone number, whatever.

So, you know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did -- did -- ok. You`ve said that your brother had no enemies. Seems like --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- this seems like a wonderful family.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I know that he had this business and he was very excited about a large order. Has anybody checked that out? Is it possible that perhaps there was something up with this large order, that it was bogus and that there was a money problem?

M. MCSTAY: You know he shipped fountains all over the world. And I don`t know a whole lot about his business, I mean, other than what he does. But, you know what? You have to do a half down and a half completion anyway, so -- contact 50 percent of the fund would have to be release on the project anyway, so I don`t think there`s anything to that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to turn -- Michael, I have -- I want to talk to you about so many questions. Would you mind hanging on just while I talk to the sheriff?

M. MCSTAY: Sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Lieutenant Dennis Brugos, how did their car -- do you have any idea how their car ended up near the Mexican border? Do you get a sense that somebody else drove it there? Have you been able to find anything from your analysis of the vehicle? And there`s the car right there.

LT. DENNIS BRUGOS, SAN DIEGO SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT (via telephone): No, nothing, there`s nothing to suggest that anyone else drove it there. There were, as you stated, there were two -- the child safety seats were in the back, they were attached to the backseat. But the car was locked, and we did process it this weekend at our crime lab. But there was nothing in the car that would indicate that there was a struggle or any evidence of violence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about cell phone and cell phone pings? Because I know you`re looking at surveillance video to see if they crossed the border into Mexico. Wouldn`t that come -- I mean, a family of four crossing the border into Mexico that would probably pop up pretty quickly.

BRUGOS: Well, we actually do have those tapes. We`ve been reviewing them. Additionally we`re checking with the airports and bus stations in Tijuana as well as the taxi drivers who service the border area.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The McStay family moved to San Diego a few months ago. They posted this video of themselves driving to their new neighborhood on YouTube. Check this out.


J. MCSTAY: I can`t do this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What? This is beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s our house.

J. MCSTAY: You`ve got to be kidding me. This is beautiful.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Michael, was there any disagreement about moving to that new neighborhood that they had moved from the coast into this new neighborhood to get a larger house? Was there any turmoil within the family about that?

M. MCSTAY: I actually believe that was -- initially that was -- Summer, you know, Joey referred -- Joey referred to that as, you know, his Long Beach road. Because he was from San Clemente so that just -- he referred to that drive right there as his Long Beach road.

So he was ok with it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But was there any conflict I guess is what I`m asking between your brother --

M. MCSTAY: I don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and his wife.

M. MCSTAY: I don`t know. I don`t know. I don`t think so. I can`t really comment on that, no. I don`t think so.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Because on the video it was hard to hear, but apparently she said on the video, "I don`t want to do this," you know, implying perhaps she didn`t want to move to the neighborhood. We`re not asking you to put you on the spot.

M. MCSTAY: I don`t know. Sounds like you`re reading in something. I don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. All right. I don`t want to read into anything.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just -- ok. Let`s say there`s absolutely no marital troubles, and there`s no other troubles. There doesn`t seem to be any rational explanation for a family of four disappearing, John Lucich.

LUCICH: I totally agree; especially leaving the car by the Mexican border, not a very good sign there. I have to agree with you, Jane, though from an investigative point of view. I see this guy has his own business but he`s also doing -- a real estate agent. That tells me that he can`t be as successful as --


BRUGOS: When the patrol deputy was there he seen certain things. I can`t be specific about what they were. That thought -- that were somewhat alarming to him. He gave us a call. That`s how we got involved in the case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just doesn`t look like a vacation?

BRUGOS: That`s correct.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Lieutenant Dennis Brugos talking about what was found in the home of a family of four who mysteriously vanished. And he joins us by phone.

Before I get to you, though, the brother of the missing man wanted me to say that he did not have financial troubles, to his knowledge, whatsoever. In fact, the reason why he didn`t sell real estate is that his real estate license expired. He didn`t need to sell real estate.

His business was selling those fountains and the brother said it was a stable business and that we shouldn`t jump to conclusions that he had money problems. Ok? I want to set the record straight on that.

Lieutenant Dennis Brugos, my understanding is that it seemed like the couple left in a hurry because there were items that should be refrigerated left out. Is that correct?

BRUGOS: That is correct. There were certain items of fruit and as well as vegetables that were on the counter that should normally be refrigerated that were left out. In addition to what you mentioned about the animals hadn`t been provided with water or food. So those were the things that were quite alarming to the initial deputy who was at the scene. And that`s why we were called.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I understand the brother that we were just speaking to took those dogs back with him as he`s trying to desperately search for his beloved family.

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

LINDA, ARKANSAS (via telephone): Yes. I love you, Jane. You`re doing a great job.


LINDA: My question was if the family did have some financial problems, and is it possible that they rode their bicycles across the border due to that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me -- I think, you know, it`s interesting that we obviously are going to speculate about something happening in Mexico since their car was found about two blocks from the border.

Now, here`s what I would like to ask you, Dennis, lieutenant, Joseph McStay`s father said his son did business in Mexico and had been there in December. What do you know?

BRUGOS: Well, we`re looking into that right now. We have two liaison deputies who actually work in Mexico, their working with the Mexican authorities trying to run down any of those leads.

As of now we don`t know that he ever actually went into Mexico, himself. Our understanding is there were times when he would purchase certain materials for his business in Mexico and have them delivered to the border. In talking to his work colleagues and family he would not travel in Mexico.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And actually we have a sound bite which we`re going to play for you right now that`s going to shed some light. Listen to this.


J. MCSTAY: Hi, Jay. Did you just make the perfect latte? Actually cappuccino for mama? Wow. Look how perfect it is. That looks absolutely perfect. How did you do it?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I understand also, lieutenant, that one of the - - the youngest child has a raspberry-sized birthmark on his forehead, which would be a good, good identifier. So if people are out there and you see a family of four, if the littlest one has a little birthmark on his forehead, that is this family, right?

BRUGOS: That`s correct. That`s Joseph, the youngest one. He`s 3 years old, described as being 2-foot, 6 inches, 35 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think happened, lieutenant? Any guess?

BRUGOS: I`d really hate to speculate and I don`t think it would be responsible to speculate. At this time there`s --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.