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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Grandmother Accused of Selling Girl for Drug; Octomom Becomes PETA Spokesperson
Aired March 25, 2010 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, did a grandma pimp her own granddaughter for cocaine? Police say a Michigan man sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl for months in exchange for drugs, sparking a frantic manhunt for this alleged predator.
Plus, Octomom`s house saved by PETA? Nadya Suleman joins forces with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to spread a very important message. What could this odd couple possibly have in common?
And where is Mitrice Richardson? This beautiful 24-year-old vanished over six months ago after not being able to pay her tab at an exclusive Malibu restaurant. Now her desperate family is forced to take matters into their own hands. I`ll talk to her desperate father.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A grandmother accused of the unthinkable: selling her own granddaughter in exchange for drugs. Police say this sick woman took her 10-year-old grandchild to a 67-year-old man`s home and allowed him to have sex with the little girl over and over again.
Cops say Johnny Griffin molested and raped this innocent child and in return paid the child`s grandmother with cocaine. This allegedly went on for six hellish months. This monster of a grandmother is behind bars.
But tonight, Johnny Griffin is on the run, the subject of a massive manhunt. And police say this isn`t the first time he has harmed a child. They fear he will strike again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DET. SGT. JOE DUTOI, SAGINAW POLICE DEPARTMENT: We think that there`s more victims out there. And as far as we know, this -- this type of behavior could be continuing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The little girl is now with her mother, who has told police she had no idea any of this was going on. Cops say the sick cycle of abuse came to an end when Griffin assaulted another 10-year-old girl in his pickup truck. There you`re seeing him in his pickup truck. If this monster is caught, he faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life. I would certainly hope so.
Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: former criminal investigator John Lucich; sex crimes prosecutor Stacey Honowitz, who is the author of this fantastic book, "My Privates are Private"; interventionist Ken Seeley; and investigative journalist Michelle Sigona of MichelleSigona.com.
But first, straight out to Detective Sergeant Joe Dutoi. Tonight, ISSUES is learning shocking new information about this case. Detective, there were three little girls in this alleged predator`s truck, and that is how police got wind of all of this. What happened in that truck?
DUTOI (via phone): Well, there`s an allegation that Mr. Griffin reached back and touched the victim inappropriately, which led her to tell her mother of that crime and in turn brought the other victims forward, explaining her sexual assault.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, in other words, there were three little girls in this pickup truck. He reaches back, allegedly, and fondles one girl but that`s not the girl who has been sold, allegedly, for cocaine? That first girl complains to her mom, and suddenly this whole story involving the grandma comes out, right?
DUTOI: That`s correct.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you doing to find this guy?
DUTOI: I`m sorry, I didn`t hear you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you doing tonight to find this monster?
DUTOI: Well, you know, at this point we`ve reached out to the media. You know, we`re under the understanding that he has left the state. We`re hoping that your national viewing audience is able to either, one, see him and bring him to justice or that he sees it and turns himself in to local authorities.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take a look at that face. They`re looking for him tonight. This alleged child predator, Johnny Griffin, is on the run, trying to elude a dragnet. Cops fear he will hurt more children.
Now, watch this carefully. He`s driving a two-toned blue pickup truck with chrome rims and a black cover over the bed of the truck. There is a $26,000 reward. If you see this truck or this man, please call 989-759- 1288.
Michelle Sigona, you`ve got new information. What is it?
MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I spoke with Angela Blackwell`s neighbor, Mr. Burke. What he told me is, quote, "She had more traffic than Times Square running in and out of that home." And he says that Angela actually lived in the duplex where he lives for about the past year. And there was a lot of activity in and out of the house. And he never really put the pieces together before.
He also says that he used to give Angela rides to places. She would often come knocking on his door and ask if she and her grandkids, if they could hitch a ride somewhere because she did not have a vehicle.
He also says that she is on welfare. And so a lot of that money, Food Stamps and whatnot, were actually brought to the store, and she was supported, you know, by the government in her area.
In addition, I spoke with the clerk of the court, and I asked about her criminal history. And I do know in 2003 and also two times in 2009, she has misdemeanors in district court.
And as far as Griffin goes, back in 1990, he has a conviction for delivery of narcotics, cocaine specifically. Also, June 15th of 1990, possession of narcotics under $25,000. And September 17, 1999, he also has a possession of narcotics charge against him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh. Well you bring me to my big issue tonight. Family secrets. I heard the story, and I`m sure, as with the rest of my panel, it completely nauseated me. But an official at the sexual assault center for this particular county`s Child and Family Services says, quote, "It always seems that we portray sexual abuse as being a stranger against a child. But it`s typically by someone the child knows, loves and trusts."
Sex crimes prosecutors Stacey Honowitz, does in fact, most sexual abuse occur or get facilitated by somebody within the victim`s family?
STACEY HONOWITZ, SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, Jane. That`s 100 percent correct.
And I`m just grateful that this one girl was smart enough to tell her mother to get the ball rolling. And you mentioned at the top of the show about the book that I authored. And all I want to say is I wrote that book called "My Privates are Private," because so many of these kids never tell. And the book tells them don`t be afraid. If somebody touches you in a bad way, tell.
And in this case, if that little girl had not opened her mouth, who knows how long this predator ring would have gone on? Because the actual victim, who was trapped into having sex for him, never said anything for the six months. And it is true most of the cases happen within the families. They`re the secrets, and things never come out until something like this happens.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is it true, Detective Sergeant Dutoi, that the mother says that she knew nothing about this? Because I kind of, you know, question how is it that you could drop your daughter at Grandma`s house every weekend, and Grandma is doing, allegedly, cocaine, and the daughter has no idea. As a recovering alcoholic myself, you know, you could start to tell when somebody is cooked up on drugs.
DUTOI: Well, I think that, you know, through the forensic interviews that we did, Mom did say that she wasn`t aware of this. But I think, as she looked back, she said she did see -- she now senses that there were some signs that maybe she should have seen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What signs? Like maybe grandma`s completely out of it and walking around and taking the child, you know, in a truck somewhere with no explanation?
DUTOI: In her mind, Grandma is always with the granddaughter on the weekends, why Johnny is always involved in this. And things like that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, so the daughter -- in other words, the mother of this victim knows this suspect? This Johnny Griffin?
DUTOI: Mr. Griffin, it`s told to us that he is a friend of the family.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, some friend.
DUTOI: He`s been involved in their family for several years.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: John, isn`t this the way it always it? It`s always kind of the uncle type, the, quote unquote, "I`m the friendly little uncle down -- down the road" that -- that is, you know the one who always brings the ice cream and the toys. Take it away.
JOHN LUCICH, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Absolutely. It`s the people who take that relationship that`s already been built, and they build upon that to confuse and to entice these little children into -- from one step to another. It`s a -- it`s a full process where they take it from innocent, knowing what they want to do, right to pure evil.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this is why I say -- go ahead.
HONOWITZ: Pedophilia -- pedophiles are master manipulators. These predators know exactly what they`re doing. That`s who -- they`re going to find people who are single mothers, who are vulnerable, who want to spend time with children, and parents aren`t aware of the fact that someone is really occupying a lot of their child`s time. They better open their eyes. Because most of the time, not all the time, there is an ulterior motive to it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Coming with gifts, watch out. Everybody, stay right where you are. We`re going to have more on this horrifying, unthinkable crime.
Plus, talk about strange bedfellows. Nadya Suleman, Octomom, is the new face of PETA? She`s telling people who have pets, "Don`t become the next Octomom."
But first, cops say a 10-year-old girl was sold into sexual slavery by her own grandmother. Tonight, we`re talking to cops live. We`re tracking down the monster who allegedly, quote, "bought" this little girl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope they catch this guy. Somebody to be out there on the street like that, it`s just unsafe for the kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUTOI (on camera): In turn, how the drug dealer`s allowed to sexually assault the victim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That police officer joins us now on ISSUES. He is talking about a 45-year-old woman, a grandma, who allowed a drug dealer to sexually assault, allegedly, her 10-year-old granddaughter in exchange for cocaine.
That is the woman there. And she is being held behind bars tonight on only $15,000 bond, which to me is on outrage. That means all she has to do is plunk down 1,500 bucks, and she can walk. I don`t think that`s right.
Detective Sergeant Joseph Dutoi, you apparently believe there could be other victims. What are you doing to find if there are?
DUTOI (via phone): Well, you know, our investigation is ongoing. And we`re just at the preliminary stages of -- of it. It`s just come to our...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You executed a search warrant on this creep`s house, right?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you find videotapes or any names, evidence?
DUTOI: Well, you know, that`s part of our investigation. And I would hate to disclose what we did find.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
DUTOI: But we did find things that were material to the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. This is a truly unthinkable crime. But believe it or not, this is not the first heart-breaking story like this we have covered on ISSUES. Remember this beautiful little girl? We`re talking about 5-year-old Shaniya Davis. Her mother allegedly turned her daughter into a sex slave -- this child became a sex slave. Why? Police say to pay off a drug debt. The child was later found dead on the side of the road.
This heart-wrenching image caught Shaniya`s last moments alive, being taken into a hotel room where she was likely raped and murdered. Look at that little thing just hanging on, thinking, "Oh, you know, I`m with somebody I trust."
Addiction expert Ken Seeley, will an addict do anything for a fix, even something this horrific, even a mother or a grandmother?
KEN SEELEY, INTERVENTIONIST: Jane, that`s the result of addiction. And that`s what`s so devastating. You have to look for the signs. I guarantee you her mother saw the signs that the grandmother was demonstrating as you talked about. And you need to take action on them.
I don`t care if it`s somebody that is abusing drugs or crossed the line into addiction with the drugs. You need to not let your kids be with that person, period, because this is where it ends up. This is what addicts do. They kill people. They steal. They do all these horrific things. And this is one of the worst examples, the worst in my career.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`ve always said the one thing that can really destroy maternal instincts, and that would extend to a grandmother, is drug addiction. And the reason is that these people become zombies. The craving for the drug destroys your morals, your ethics. It commands the mind.
But that certainly is no excuse, Stacey Honowitz. I don`t care what the excuse is. This is absolutely a mind-boggling crime. And I`m quite shocked and disturbed to see that she`s being held on $15,000 bond. What`s that about?
HONOWITZ: Yes. Quite frankly, I don`t know why they didn`t really load her up. I mean, she really deserves to be loaded up on charges. She can have sex trafficking charges.
She can be charged as a principal in the sexual assault and sexual battery, which is looking at a 25-year sentence. Child neglect, child abuse, prostitution. There`s a slew of charges that can come forward. So I don`t know why the office decided only to hold her on that amount. The judge can always, though -- you know, when she goes into magistrate court, the judge can make the decision as to whether or not to raise the already- existing bond.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, John Lucich, could this man be armed and dangerous? Because we understand, along with the alleged criminal sexual conduct, that he faces two gun charges. So they`re looking for this man. And again, eyeball this man, viewers, because if you see him, you`ve got to call cops instantly. And he could be armed -- John.
LUCICH: Absolutely. He`s a dangerous person to start off with. But now that he`s facing what`s going to be the rest of his life, there`s no doubt about it, I don`t believe this guy wants to go in, especially the way they treat sexual predators in prison. This guy could be possibly have a gun to protect himself or think of protecting himself from the police. He`s on the run, but I`m sure he`s already in NCIC, and they`ve got to be on the lookout for him, called a BOLO. They`ll take him down soon.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Michelle Sigona, you`ve been involved in so many of these dragnets and these hunts for suspects. Where are the likely places to look? Where to start, and where are cops looking?
SIGONA: Well, a lot of times in these cases, what we really focus and hone in on are the habits and the personal traits, because you can`t change that. He could be a chameleon and change the way that he looks all day long, but a lot of those habits and -- and obviously, if he is guilty of molesting 10-year-old girls, that is a habit and a trait and something he is not going to be able to hide for very long. So he may be trying to prey on other victims. That`s something out there that the audience needs to zone in on that right now.
And also, a lot of the -- the key characteristics, the truck is definitely a good sign. Even if you think that you`ve seen that truck or you think that you`ve seen this man walk into a convenience store, he could possibly be in an isolated area hiding out, maybe in a vacation home. It`s really hard to tell at this particular point.
But at some time, he`s going to have to come out. He`s going to have to get something to eat. He`s going to have to find a way to get some money. And he`s going to cross someone`s path. So thank you, again, Jane, for putting this out there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, take a look at this face because he probably shaved his beard and his mustache and may or may not be wearing a cap or glasses. I mean, that`s how -- that`s the easiest way to change your appearance. If you`ve got glasses, don`t wear them. If you`re bearded, shave your beard.
Stacy Honowitz, based on the charges filed against this particular man -- he faces two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child. Not to be graphic, but we want to understand the seriousness. That means rape, does it not?
HONOWITZ: Yes. I mean, it might be hard for the audience to realize that, but that`s exactly what it is. And when you`re looking at a first- degree charge like this, you`re talking about some type of penetration with the child. An adult with a child in Florida, it`s under the age of 12 where they`re looking at a life sentence.
So, yes. The unimaginable, you have to think about. That`s what took place in this case. And that`s why, if the grandmother knew what was going on, she, too, can be charged with first-degree sexual assault. And she should be facing the same time that he`s facing. And I`m hoping that the prosecutors do load her up on the charges or the judge decides to keep her in.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Detective Sergeant, what about the -- the child? She is with her mother tonight. Is that necessarily a good decision, given that the mother may have shown terrible misjudgment in not realizing that her own mother was allegedly a cocaine addict who was allowing the granddaughter to be sold as a sexual slave? I mean, maybe this child should be in foster care.
DUTOI: Well, you know, that`s not really a decision for the police, but that decision was made by the forensic interviewers and our Department of Social Services.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Ken Seeley, do you buy it? Do you buy that the daughter could -- didn`t know a thing?
SEELEY: No. I think the daughter should be liable, too. And there needs to be consequences for her and her mother for this behavior. Because it just can`t happen. We need to set an example that these behaviors are unacceptable, and there`s consequences.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, fantastic panel.
Up next, rounding up and capturing a symbol of America. Why are thousands of wild mustangs being forcibly removed from their homes?
Plus, Octomom preaching birth control? Does that make any sense?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can`t make this up. PETA beat out porn in the race to help Octomom save her home from foreclosure. Nadya Suleman and her massive brood did a FOX reality special, but new TV offers are drying up, so how is this mom of 14 children supposed to pay the bills?
Well, Octomom says she will not do porn, but she will team up with animal rights group PETA. PETA is giving Octomom $5,000 and free veggie burgers and veggie hotdogs. She told ABC`s "Good Morning America" feeding all those kids gets expensive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me see if I`ve got this right. You go through $1,000 a week in food?
NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF 14: About.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that right? Seven hundred diapers a week?
SULEMAN: On average, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is the one I love: 4 1/2 gallons of milk a day.
SULEMAN: Well, there`s six other kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In exchange, PETA gets to put this sign on Octomom`s front yard: "Don`t let your dog or cat become on Octomom. Always spay and neuter."
This is a laugh riot. Joining me now, "Us Weekly" West Coast editor, Melanie Bromley.
Melanie, what is up with Octomom?
MELANIE BROMLEY, "US WEEKLY": It`s interesting, isn`t it? And it`s very unique way for her to make money. She`s behind on her mortgage payments. Her house is going to foreclosure. So she`s trying to find ways in order to meet those payments. And of course, this has come along, which is a great publicity opportunity for PETA, but it is, I`m guessing, some criticism, as well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. Well, listen, PETA is known for its controversial ads. And the crazier, the more attention they get. What do you think of when you think of people protesting naked? PETA, of course. PETA is famous for provocative ads like "I`d rather go naked than wear fur." It`s hard to ignore these wild ad campaigns. And who better to get them attention than Octomom?
But, Melanie, I have to say, full disclosure, I am a card-carrying PETA member. And the fact is if PETA held a serious news conference, saying, "Hey, millions of dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year, because there`s too many of them and nobody wants them," nobody would attend that news conference. I mean, we wouldn`t be talking about this right now.
BROMLEY: Totally. And I`m a huge animal lover, too. So, you know, if something gets publicity, and it`s going to help animals, of course. But I do see problems.
For the first thing, is that this sign is going up on her front lawn. And I`m sure that if this causes -- she lives, actually in an area that doesn`t get a lot of foot traffic. And if this in any way is going to mean that lots of people are driving by her house to see this controversial sign, then I`m sure the neighbors aren`t going to be very happy. And so there might be problems in the future as far as keeping that sign up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s a good point. But what about Octomom? Why isn`t she making money hand over fist? I mean, she`s all over the media. Didn`t she get a deal with some kind of British production company to do a documentary?
BROMLEY: She did. She had a deal with iWorks. And she`s made a lot of money. That`s why it is quite shocking that she hasn`t been able to make her mortgage payments. And of course, her overhead will be absolutely huge, feeding all these children.
But she`s also writing a book, which, of course, could bring her in a lot of money. And she also has deals with various Internet Web sites for interviews. And also, every time you see pictures of her, whether it`s pictures of her on the beach in a bikini or whatever it might be, those pictures are usually pictures that she`s getting a percentage of the money from the sale for that. So she shouldn`t be as hard up as -- and not be able to pay her mortgage.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. Something doesn`t add up. Thank you so much, Melanie.
And now we`re moving on to saving the mustangs. We`re going to talk to a Hollywood celebrity, Wendie Malick, as she fights to rescue these beautiful wild horses. Protests today in Washington, D.C., against the round up. Next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is Mitrice Richardson? This beautiful 24-year- old vanished over six months ago after not being able to pay her tab at a Malibu restaurant. Now her desperate family is forced to take matters into their own hands. I`ll talk to her desperate father.
Tonight: outrage after dozens of horses allegedly die in a U.S. government roundup. Critics say 77 wild horses and counting have died along with 39 little foals that were allegedly miscarried. The federal government is under fire tonight for allegedly mistreating thousands of beautiful majestic wild horses in an aggressive roundup.
The government sends low-flying helicopters to chase the horses into corrals and then takes them from the plains of the west to federal holding pens. The government claims it`s to save the horses from starvation. Critics claim the real motive is to clear the land for cattle grazing. Critics also say the horses are brutally traumatized.
As we speak tonight, more than 36,000 wild horses are stuck in U.S. government holding pens; that number given to ISSUES not by the protesters but by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. When we asked them why these wild animals were being forcibly removed from their natural habitat, in response they sent us a link to their, quote, "myths and facts" web page where they deny the claim about the cattle ranchers.
Now, today in Washington, D.C., just hours ago, there was a huge protest at the White House against these roundups. Among the tens of thousands of opponents are celebrities like Grammy award-winning singer Sheryl Crow and country music legend Willie Nelson.
Cheryl and Willie are just two of the big names behind this movement, and another star joins me tonight, award-winning actress Wendy Malick. Wendy is a wild horse advocate and we all remember her as a supersassy, sexy, age-obsessed ex-model in the hilarious sitcom "Just Shoot Me". Plus, we also have Ginger Kathrens, volunteer executive director of the Cloud Foundation. As well as Madeleine Pickens, philanthropist and founder of SaveAmericasMustangs.org.
We begin with Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst. Lisa, why so much outrage?
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Jane, these are beautiful wild animals, as you say. What is the excuse for saving them? Saving them from starvation? Really? Because the horses seem to be very healthy. The ones who have died from the helicopters chasing them until they ran themselves to death tend to be pregnant mares and young foals.
These animals are reproducing. They are healthy. And the real reason, as you say, is that we`re clearing the -- the ground, the land, to provide more land resources for cattle ranching.
In other words, this is yet another sad consequence of the meat industry. We already know it`s the number-one contributor to climate change. It`s a terribly cruel industry. It`s damaging to human health. And now it`s killing wildlife. This has got to stop.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to say if Interior Secretary Salazar wants to come on our show and tell his side of the story, he`s invited. He has an open invitation anytime. But as we say, we called the government and what we got was "check out our web site".
Critics claim dozens of horses have died during these roundups. A roundup lasting more than a month reportedly took place in the Calico Mountains (ph) north of Reno, Nevada. Critics say more than 70 horses died and 40 female horses aborted their late-term foals.
Look at that chopper, how low it is, chasing those horses.
Two foals allegedly had their hooves separated from the bone after choppers ran them for miles over rocky ground. Secretary Salazar, again, has an open invitation to appear on this program, but we have been asking the government why and what they say is "save from starvation".
Critics say in the roundups, the horses are traumatized and terrorized. Wendy Malick, why did you decide to get involved in this movement?
WENDY MALICK, ACTRESS & WILD HORSE ADVOCATE: Well, I am a horse owner. I have two horses in California and about a year and a half ago, Deanne Stillman sent me her book "Mustang" and told me about the roundups, which I was unaware of. And I think that once people are made aware of what`s going on with the Department of the Interior, they will be as horrified as I was.
When you look around at these magnificent animals, you realize they`re not on the verge of starvation. They are healthy, viable herds and they`re the last of our American icons that symbolize what this country was founded on. They`re the ones we road in on, the ones who helped us settle this land, fight our wars. They deserve a place on our public lands.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just hours ago, horse lovers gathered at the White House to protest and try to get through to President Obama. The Cloud Foundation says the roundups spiked in 2000. There you see the protests that we just got this video in just a little while ago. This is happening outside the White House today. This -- this spiked in 2000 during the Bush years, but it has not let up under the Obama administration.
Now, Madeleine Pickens, you are a philanthropist. You have spent upwards of $1 million trying to create a special sanctuary for these horses. You are willing to spend millions more. What exactly are you proposing to the government?
MADELEINE PICKENS, FOUNDER, SAVINGAMERICASMUSTANGS.ORG: There`s an issue right now. The government has gathered so many horses that they don`t have enough room for them. And they have them stuffed in these short-term holding pens. They`re butt-to-butt. There`s no trees, no shade. And they need a place to go. And the government has not come up with a solution.
So I said, let me create an eco sanctuary. I will buy the land. And we will take the horses there and we will create an eco sanctuary so that you -- parents can take their families there. Schools, girl scouts.
Let`s take back our American heritage. This is our history. This is John Wayne`s world. I mean, it was -- what a fabulous era that we`ve had and we`re abandoning it. We`re letting it go.
And I`m saying, ok, don`t go to the rain forest. Come to our eco sanctuary and let`s do it in the west.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: When it comes to animal abuse, many say follow the money. Critics claim this roundup of wild horses is really a battle over grass.
Here`s the Web site and bio of secretary of the interior ken Salazar. Quote, "Salazar has been a champion for farmers and ranchers." It`s on his Web site. The interior secretary`s Web site.
Ginger, you`ve witnessed and documented these roundups. Do these horses look like they`re starving to you?
GINGER KATHRENS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CLOUD FOUNDATION: Well, I`ve said for a long time, show me the starving horses because that mythology has been created by the Bureau of Land Management ever since they were charged with managing these animals in 1971. This is a myth that they have created along with the fact that they have to be rescued then because they`ll die. You know, on the range. It`s just pure fantasy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And when you`ve seen them, do the horses look as traumatized as we`ve heard? You`ve actually seen the roundups, Ginger.
KATHRENS: Well, I`ve been around quite a while on this issue and let me tell you that these magnificent animals in the wild with their families look nothing like when they get into these -- these pens and they`re forced in band after band, fighting each other, stallions trying to keep a-hold of their mares. The stallions separated from his mares. The babies separated from their mothers. And their heads just inches from the ground in depression.
In the case of Calico, it was absolutely unconscionable running these babies in winter. And the foals you see there, one of them died because their hooves separated from their legs.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We`ve been showing you that video of these helicopters. They go so low and they`re chasing these animals. Please. Anybody who has ever had a pet who knows anything about animals or any living creature knows this has to be terrifying.
Imagine if a helicopter was chasing you like that, how you would feel. If you don`t like what you`re seeing, you can take action. Go to thecloudfoundation.org and join. Get involved in the preservation of America`s wild horses on our public land.
You know, you can also call Secretary of the Interior ken Salazar. He is in charge of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency doing these roundups. Or you can take it right to the top and call President Obama.
Can our voices make a difference, Lisa? And isn`t there an act that was supposed to protect these wild horses?
BLOOM: Yes. The horses` land is supposed to be protected, but the cattle ranching land keeps expanding and expanding, now over several million acres. So the argument of the ranchers is that we have to get rid of the horses because we don`t have enough water and other land resources for the cattle. That`s why I say it all goes back to the meat industry.
But Jane, what you`re saying is so important. People can write to Ken Salazar. They can e-mail. Our voices can be heard. Our government is accountable to us.
And think about it. Do you want your tax dollars going to helicopters chasing wild horses until their foals and the mares who are pregnant and the sick horses die from exhaustion?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hell no.
BLOOM: Are they doing this to save them from starvation? It makes absolutely no sense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t. Thank you, fantastic guests. We`re staying on top of that story.
Meantime, new developments in the desperate search for Natalee Holloway. A new picture sparked new hope but did rescue workers find anything in the water?
Plus, missing in Malibu. Mitrice Richardson was arrested by police, released in the middle of the night and she has not been seen since. That was 6 months ago. Tonight, we`ll talk to her devastated father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATICE SUTTON, MOTHER OF MITRICE RICHARDSON: I believe she is still alive. And I will not give up hope that she is alive until we have her save in our arms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What happened to Mitrice Richardson? We will talk to her dad.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
Disappointment in Aruba: another day, another dead end in the tragic search for beautiful Natalee Holloway. Cops now say this tourist picture that appeared to show a skeleton on the ocean floor is most likely just coral. The photo sparked a two-day search -- intensive search of all the popular snorkeling spots in the area. Rescue workers could not find any skeleton. And they`ve now shut down that operation.
It has now been five years since Natalee vanished on her senior trip. I just feel so bad for her parents and I just hope Natalee`s mom and dad will one day learn what really happened to their beautiful young daughter.
And that is tonight`s "Top of the Block".
Turning now to the mystery in Malibu: it has been six months since Mitrice Richardson walked out of a police station and seemingly into thin air. Her family claims cops mishandled this case from the very beginning. The 24-year-old beauty queen was reportedly acting in a very bizarre fashion the night she vanished, claiming to be from Mars and speaking gibberish.
Mitrice`s family slammed police for releasing her in the dead of night with no ride, no purse, no money, no phone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUTTON: Clearly they knew that something was wrong with her. When I called the police department before she was even taken into the -- the facility to be booked, I spoke with the deputy. I told him this is not my daughter. This is not characteristic of her. She does not drink. She`s always the designated driver. Something is wrong with her. She seems to be in some type of crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We called the L.A. Sheriff`s Department for their response. We have not heard back.
The night Mitrice disappeared she had dinner at the swanky Malibu restaurant Geoffrey`s. She ordered dinner and a drink but apparently could not pay her $89 tab. Police showed up and they found a small amount of pot in her car. They arrested her and impounded her car.
Then at about 1:00 in the morning, she was released from jail in a remote area about 40 miles from her home with, again, not a jacket, not a coat and not a phone, no money, and she just vanished. Was Mitrice suffering some mental breakdown that night? And can a new massive search help find her and solve this mystery?
Welcome back, investigator John Lucich and CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom. And I`m very pleased to welcome Mitrice`s father, Michael Richardson.
MICHAEL RICHARDSON, MITRICE RICHARDSON`S FATHER: Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael, thank you for being here. I know you`ve gone through such an ordeal these last few months. And you`ve really taken this investigation into your own hands. Tell us about your search that you`ve organized this Sunday for your precious daughter.
RICHARDSON: Actually, Mitrice`s mother and a team of volunteers are going to go out to various areas in California where there were possible sightings of Mitrice. And we`re just going to make the effort (INAUDIBLE) where everything is done at the same time.
We hope that there`s going to be a big surge of volunteers to come out and kind of help find Mitrice and bring her home safely so we can bring some closure to a lot of the misinformation that`s out there.
Jane, since we last talked, we found out that Mitrice did have money on her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s new information.
RICHARDSON: Yes, ma`am. Her wallet was --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, we`re getting new information tonight. Proceed.
RICHARDSON: Yes. Her wallet was found in the car with the bank cards. She has several thousand dollars that they found out that came from her tax -- income tax. They found out that she wasn`t drunk. The marijuana was so less amount that they can`t even analyze it.
So now it`s just a tit for tat with the sheriffs. Now that we found out this information, they not only want to answer to you, they don`t want to answer to me. They`re trying to play the mother and me against each other. When they don`t return the mother phone calls, then when do things like this they go out and call me and make it seem like, oh, we made contact with Michael Richardson.
And it`s not true. They`re not cooperating. They know they released Mitrice. Mitrice was -- the LAPD found out with their expert doctors that Mitrice suffered from a mental breakdown that night. It was patterns (ph) in her diary that they looked at that show signs that she was regressing. And they should have had her evaluated.
Nine witnesses alone with Mitrice`s mother told them that night that something is not going on right. We didn`t think it was drugs. We didn`t think it was alcohol or anything like that.
RICHARDSON: And the arresting officers ignored all those witnesses and took her in and then released her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Now, I just want to say this. We have to be careful about giving both sides. The sheriff`s department has denied any wrongdoing in the past. A sheriff`s spokesman has said, "There was no reason to hold her in an involuntary capacity because she did not exhibit signs of mental illness or intoxication."
But, again, John Lucich, people at the restaurant reportedly said she was speaking in a made-up language. I mean, how much do you need more than that? Speaking in a made-up language, saying you are there to avenge Michael Jackson`s death, saying that you`re from Mars.
JOHN LUCICH, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Right. Well, it`s not what the people heard. It`s what the cops heard. If the cops witnessed that, I think this would be a different story. Apparently the cops did not witness that bizarre outburst.
Now, if this woman was acting a certain way in front of her friends and because she had been drinking, remember, alcohol can remove -- move through your system. Was she just coming down --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But -- but John, can I ask you a question?
LUCICH: Go ahead absolutely.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t cops interview -- like the people at the restaurant and take -- take that down -- write that down?
LUCICH: Absolutely. Now, I`ve arrested many people in my time. I can tell you this, many people are not going to be cooperative. They will sit there and make fun of you and give you strange answers on top of everything else that they do. I actually had a guy when I was videotaping make fun of me while my back was turned.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
LUCICH: They do this.
Now, let me just say this. She`s like a beautiful girl. And she really seems like she has a loving family. And I want this girl to be found. But without knowing what the cops saw, I can`t comment what the cops did was right or wrong.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well we want it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a controversial -- go ahead, Michael.
RICHARDSON: Jane, let me just say to you -- we saw the videotapes where Geoffrey`s talked to us and try to cooperate where Mitrice was acting strange and found in another patron`s car before even entering into Geoffrey. Geoffrey`s staff even let the officers know that. And they were saying something is wrong with this young lady. We don`t know -- we can`t quite put our finger on it but something is wrong.
No one listened. Her mother listened to the tape on BringMitriceHome.org, listened to the tape her mother called four times.
They were even supposed to allow Mitrice to call home and say, "Mom, I made it home safely." That call never happened. But yet still we have -- when we asked for the phone reports, we see a phone repairman coming out, changing out the phones.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well, if you want to help in the search, you could go to bringMitricehome.org.
And everybody stay right where you are. We are going inside this family`s desperate search for Mitrice. We`re just getting started. So much information to bring you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUTTON: This is my daughter, Mitrice Richardson. My daughter, a citizen was failed by the authorities who are hired to protect and serve us. They are not simply here to enforce and arrest us, but they also have a duty to protect us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why would cops let any woman walk out of a police station in the dead of night with no ride, no money and no cell phone? Here`s the family`s attorney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEO TERRELL, RICHARDSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: If Mitrice Richardson`s name was Spears or Lohan they would never let her walk out by herself. They would have escorted her home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s interesting he mentions Britney Spears. Here is Britney two years ago, tied down to a stretcher and taken to a hospital. She was placed on a so-called 5150 hold. That`s a hold for involuntary mental evaluation. And of course she`s since recovered very well.
Lisa Bloom, what do you make of this? Because there seems to be two sides of the story, but obviously we can all agree, we want to find her.
BLOOM: Yes. And my condolences certainly to her father and family who are going through a horrific ordeal. As a mother my heart goes out to you.
The problem is that the sheriff had an adult woman on their hands who they could no longer hold and who was entitled to her liberty. The only way that they could continue to hold her is that she`s a danger to herself or to others. Britney Spears was involuntarily taken in because she was a danger to herself or others. That`s how she was considered at the time.
A lot of people act strangely in jail. A lot of people act peculiarly when they`re released but because we value liberty in this country, we don`t involuntarily hold people unless they`re a danger. And the police made that determination.
Now I need to know, did the police have a reason to think that she was dangerous and they released her nevertheless? Not what happened hours earlier at the restaurant, but what happened in jail? So far I haven`t heard that.
RICHARDSON: Jane, let me respond to that real quick. First of all, I have 19 years in the health care business. It`s not up to the deputies to make the 5150. When several witnesses say the same thing expressing behavioral pattern, they`re to take her to the nearest facility for an evaluation where a clinician can make that evaluation to see if they`re a danger to themselves.
Police go through one hour of training for mental health. As you`ve been seeing lately, they`re shooting people with behavioral health. They`re killing people. They don`t have the experience or the knowledge.
That`s why according to her policy and procedures they are supposed to take her to the nearest facility for evaluation. And an assessment is made for them where it`s going to be a 5150 hold to make that determination not the officer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got it. Now by the way, I`m looking at your shirt and it says bringMitricehome.org on your shirt.
RICHARDSON: Yes ma`am.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So if people want to help in the search, they can go to bringMitricehome.org and we`re asking will a massive new search effort finally bring Mitrice`s family some answers?
Now here is a Google map of the areas that volunteers are going to search this Sunday. If you want to get involved and you live in that area, they need more volunteers. You can go to findMitrice.info to sign up as well.
Detectives are reportedly planning to send an unmanned drone aircraft. We`re going to show you that. These are these high-tech crafts that have cameras on them, and they`re going to scan the rough terrain. So we are doing everything we can.
Michael, our thoughts are with you. We hope you find your daughter. We`re there and we`re going to stay on top of this story.
RICHARDSON: I appreciate it, Jane. Thank you so much.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let us know how the search goes.
RICHARDSON: I will.
Thank you, fantastic panel.
You are watching ISSUES.