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Family of Missing Austin Woman Seek Answers

Aired April 28, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Breaking news tonight. A tragic heart- wrenching scenario playing out in Austin, Texas, where family is desperately trying to find their precious 21-year-old daughter. This beautiful young mother vanished more than a month ago, and the family does not understand why police aren`t doing more to find her. They say the clock is ticking.

Last night, here on ISSUES, it was bombshell after bombshell after bombshell. Julie`s aunt Dora came on the show, and then Julie`s mother and her estranged husband called in, each to tell their side of the story.

Now, Julie has not been seen since March 26. That`s more than a month. She and her husband, George, a security guard, are in the middle of a divorce. George De La Cruz says he last saw Julie when she came to his house to pick up their 2-year-old daughter.


DORA COOPER, MISSING WOMAN`S AUNT: He`s sticking to his story that she showed up, she just was acting funny. And she just abruptly said, "You know what? I`m not going to take her. I`m going to leave her with you for a few days and I`ll be back."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So the estranged husband is the last person to see Julie before she vanished. The smallest victim in all of this, Julie`s little girl, 2-year-old Layla.


GEORGE DE LA CRUZ, ESTRANGED HUSBAND: I want to be part of the investigation. And I want to know answers, too. Like I said, my daughter is here. She suffers a lot for her. And it makes me sad to see her cry when she asks about Julie.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Julie`s family says they`re the ones who found Julie`s car abandoned outside the Walgreen`s where Julie worked as a pharmacy tech technician. It had been there for days, they say.

The family also says cops did not find it in that obvious location and then never bothered to fingerprint the car. Why not? Has the Austin Police Department dropped the ball here? I am taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my phenomenal expert panel, along with HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks and investigative reporter Michelle Sigona,

We have four members of Julie`s family. Let us introduce them to you. Her aunt and uncle, Dora Cooper and Gil Soto. Then we also have Julie`s estranged husband, George De La Cruz. Thank you for joining us, George.

DE LA CRUZ: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And also, the missing woman`s mother, Sandra Soto. Thank you all so much for being here. All we really want to do is to solve this mystery and find Julie and help you do that.

Let`s start with the mother. Sandra, when was the last time you spoke to Austin police, and what did they tell you they are doing about your daughter`s disappearance?

SANDRA SOTO, MOTHER OF JULIE ANN GONZALEZ: The last time I actually spoke with them was this morning. And they just had a few more questions for me and just asked me, you know, some basic questions. And then -- then that was just early this morning. I haven`t really spoken with anybody else. I`ve been waiting by the phone all day. But no more phone call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second. Now, they called you this morning?

S. SOTO: Let me see. No, I called them this morning.


S. SOTO: I called them. I went ahead and called them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Now, when -- before that, when did you speak to them?

S. SOTO: I speak to them on a daily basis.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. That`s good.

S. SOTO: I`m trying to -- I`m trying to, you know, find out why are they not doing what they should have been doing since day one?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think they should have been doing?

S. SOTO: They should have looked at her car. They should have looked at any video footage from any of the places where she was said to have been last seen. They haven`t done that. They should have polygraphed people who said that they spoke to her last.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You mean her estranged husband, George?

S. SOTO: Well, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. What else should they have done?

S. SOTO: And the only -- the reason that I say that is because, you know, if George has nothing to hide, I want him to at least, you know, eliminate himself from this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. And he says he`s willing to take a polygraph. So here`s my big issue tonight. Where are the cops on this?

Let me get this straight. A 21-year-old college grad, pharmacy tech disappears, leaves behind a toddler, a loving family. There`s been no sign of her for more than 30 days. She leaves her job. She leaves behind her brand-new car, and police aren`t out searching for her?

Now, we tried all day to ask Austin police the following questions. Did they fingerprint Julie`s car? Are they tracking her cell phone? Have they executed any search warrants? Are they conducting any official searches with or without canines? Has there been any activity on her credit cards or ATM card?

We finally got a response from Austin police late this afternoon. Quote, "The case is still open and ongoing, but the Austin Police Department can assure everyone that the case is being investigated to the extent allowed by law."

Investigative journalist Michelle Sigona of joins us live now. Michelle, I understand you have new information on this case.

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I do. Jane, within the last hour, I was able to get in touch with Detective Scott, who`s one of the lead investigators, and I asked him all of those questions. We sat on the phone for 25 minutes. And here are the answers.

First of all, Detective Scott does want everyone to know that there is some, quote, "some indication" that Julie may have wanted to withdraw contact and also that there is no foul play suspected in this particular case at this time.

And so when I asked him about the particular -- about her car and about it being fingerprinted he said, no, not at this point, because there is not foul play, and they need to focus their resources into tracking down those particular leads.

As far as the pings on the cell phone, he says that he does not have the ability at this time because of the foul play issue to be able to move forward with those particular search warrants to obtain -- to be able to track her cell phone. Because if she wanted to go missing, she does have a right to do that.

Also, as far as the executed search warrant, he said every single person that he has reached out to has been extremely helpful, including George, and we`ll let George -- he says, "Hey, look, you can take my computer. You can look at it. You can do whatever you`d like." And George, as you mentioned, has also been willing to take a lie detector in this particular case.

And as far as the activity on the ATM card, Detective Scott says, "Hey, I cannot comment on the ATM card at this particular point, but that`s one thing that we are looking into."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Excellent work as always, Michelle Sigona.

Dora Cooper, Julie Ann Gonzalez`s aunt, if, in fact, police think that this is not, as you just heard, foul play, have they given you any indication whatsoever as to why they think this is not foul play, since you think it is?

DORA COOPER, JULIE ANN`S AUNT: No. I`m sure if they would have found some blood or some semen or a glove or something, maybe they would have suspected foul play, but what -- what signs need to be shown in the vehicle or anywhere she was for them to classify it as foul play? They have not been able to define foul play for us yet. What defines foul play?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, wait. Sandra Soto, you`re the mother. You say your family found the car. They didn`t find the car, and then they didn`t fingerprint it. My question is, how do they know there`s no foul play if they didn`t fingerprint the car?

Now, did Julie have a computer, Sandra?

S. SOTO: No, she didn`t. When she moved, she didn`t have a computer. She just had her iPhone, and she did all her texting from her iPhone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. George De La Cruz, Julie Ann Gonzalez`s husband.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. You have a computer.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, I do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did police look into your computer?

DE LA CRUZ: No, they haven`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So they came to your house. What did they do?

DE LA CRUZ: They searched, like, every room, outside, the sheds that we have back there. They searched everywhere. Just to make sure we weren`t hiding her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But did they -- they didn`t look in your computer?

DE LA CRUZ: No, they didn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Mike Brooks, you`re listening to all of this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re the law enforcement analyst. How do they know there is no foul play if they haven`t looked in the computer, if they didn`t fingerprint her car, and they didn`t do any searches?

BROOKS: First of all, Jane, thousands of people go missing every single day. At least 2,000 children go missing every single day. And as I said yesterday, that they classify missing persons cases as critical or non-critical.

Foul play: when they found the car, were there any keys in the car left in the car like someone may have snatched her out? No. Was there any sign of a struggle? Was there any blood visibly in the car? No. Were there any windows broken out? No. There`s nothing to indicate that there is foul play.

And to do a search warrant, Jane, on anything, you need probable cause. A judge signs that. It`s the same with a subpoena.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mike, let me...

BROOKS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let me finish. Same with a subpoena for cell records. You just can`t go look up somebody`s cell phone. You know, she may have wanted to go missing. What did George tell us last night when he last saw her? I`d like to hear that story again also.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, let me ask you this question, Mike. Don`t you think if they knew they had reason to believe she left on her own that they -- that they should tell the family, "Well, here`s why we think she left on her own"? I`m -- I`ve got the whole family here. Has anybody from the police told anybody in this family why the police think she left on her own?

S. SOTO: No.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have they given you any indication of that?

COOPER: No, no.

G. SOTO: Not at all. I personally...


G. SOTO: You know, George speaks of that he`s in the investigation and he`s trying to help and assist. When, in fact, we were passing out flyers in his neighborhood where she was last seen. He called the police and advised the police we were harassing him for passing out flyers.


G. SOTO: Now, not once did he show up. Not once did he come and say, "Can I pass out flyers? Give me flyers." Not once.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s hear George`s side of that.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, I`m not wanted because you`ve always been pointing fingers at me. And I know this from the beginning.

First of all, that same -- Saturday night when we reported her, I got a threat from Dora`s son. I didn`t like that so, yes, I`m going to protect myself and I called the police.

And I am doing stuff that you don`t see. I passed out flyers on 6th Street. I do it around neighborhoods, because I`m trying to find out, too. And you just say I`m not cooperating, I`m not cooperating. And like I say, if you want me to be there with y`all, I want to be there with y`all, but I know I`m not wanted. So why be there if everyone is going to look down on me?

G. SOTO: Well, Julie didn`t trust you, and you know that. Every time Julie went to go meet you with Layla, to do the exchange, she always went escorted because she didn`t trust you. This particular time she wasn`t escorted, and this happens.

So you have to understand us. We don`t trust you because of what you`ve done in the past. Now, she has received texts from supposedly your dead uncle from heaven, stating some big old stories how you guys should be together. Now, how is your uncle from heaven going to be sending texts to Julie? She just has a weird -- from -- weird responses from you.

COOPER: And on top of that, you claimed amnesia before you attempted suicide. And you played that so well. Now, why was that vehicle found four blocks from your house? A mile away from my house?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s give George a chance to respond, because we have to give him props for coming on this show, calling last night and then appearing on this show. And he is not considered a suspect. In fact, police say they don`t think it`s foul play.

George, what`s your side? What`s your response to what the missing woman`s family has said about you just now?

DE LA CRUZ: Like I said, I understand they suspect me because I was the last person, but like I said, if anyone seeing -- of course, they`re going to be a suspect. But like I said, I`ll be willing to do anything. Lie detector. They can search my house, tear it apart. If they do, they can do that. They can actually put a -- a police to track me down everywhere. Like I said, I have nothing to hide. And I`m here. I`m not running away. I`m trying to help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That`s why we`re talking to you. We`re trying to solve this mystery. I think it would be probably a smart idea to give him a lie detector test to eliminate him as a suspect, if only to give the family some comfort.

Everybody stay right where you are. We`re just getting started on this desperate mystery.

And we`re talking your phone calls. They`re lighting up: 1-877-JVM- SAYS.

Plus, Sandra Bullock`s bombshell. She has filed for divorce and adopted a beautiful little baby boy. Is Jesse going to fight for custody?

But first, we`re trying to track down Julie Ann Gonzalez. What happened to this beautiful mother?


COOPER: Julie is a very responsible 21-year-old mother. She is not one of these 21-year-old types that just want to be out and party. She`s always been responsible. Always looked out for the best interest of her 2- year-old daughter, and that was her main -- main concern, 24/7.




DE LA CRUZ: She looked completely different. She kind of looked sad. She was down. She was out of -- like, not there. Like, not concentrating. And like I said, I know -- I know her. Like I said, I was with her. And I`m married to her. So I know when there`s something wrong. And I tried asking her what was wrong. And she never told me what was wrong. She said, "I`m OK, don`t worry about it."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The estranged husband of the missing woman, George De La Cruz, talking about his wife the last time he saw her. He is appearing right now live on our show. Julie Ann Gonzalez has been missing for more than a month now. The family says police in Austin aren`t doing enough. Police say they don`t suspect foul play, but they haven`t told us why they don`t suspect foul play, and they haven`t told the family that either.

Phone lines lighting up. Tammy, Nebraska, your question our thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes. I`d like to know why, in the state of Texas, that they`re so lax on when a person goes missing. Because I had a sister missing for 2 1/2 years before they find out whether she was dead or alive, and she was in the state of Texas. And we waited 24 hours. They said they couldn`t do anything about it for 24 hours. Well, at that point -- within that 24 hours, you know, she was abducted and killed the same day.

And I pray to God that that isn`t happening to this Julie Ann, that that happened to her. But my question is why, in the state of Texas, are they so lax on doing investigations when people are missing?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, I don`t want to -- it`s a good question, but I don`t want to cast dispersions on an entire state by any means at all. There`s a lot of good police doing a lot of good police work.

We`re trying to understand, Michelle Sigona, if they don`t think it`s foul play, why not let the family in on the secret as to why they don`t think it`s foul play?

SIGONA: Well, I agree with you. And I understand what you`re saying, Jane. And trust me, I sympathize with the family. And I hope and I pray that Julie Ann is found.

But the problem is, is that when these particular investigations happen, investigators have things that they`re doing behind the scenes to connect the dots, to be able to come out and say, "You know what? At this time we don`t suspect foul play." And they may have their reasons that they`re keeping close to the vest, because maybe they have an idea as to where she is. Maybe they`re going out to talk to her. We don`t know at this time. But a lot of times...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle, I would agree with you except that the fact that they didn`t search the pings and try to triangulate the pings...

BROOKS: You need a subpoena, Jane, to get the cell records.

SIGONA: You have to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, but let me tell you this. When Josh Powell, OK, went camping and his wife disappeared, OK, they...

BROOKS: Totally different circumstances. Apples and oranges, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... went and they searched with canines.

BROOKS: Different case. Why did they do that? Did they think there could be foul play? What was the unusual circumstances that he was involved in?

G. SOTO: Do you need a subpoena to fingerprint -- do you need a subpoena to fingerprint the car or take photos?

BROOKS: There`s...

G. SOTO: I have a camera, a disposable camera. I could take my own photos.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time.

BROOKS: I hope you all find your relative. I hope you find her. Wait a second. But there`s always -- there`s something you can do. If you feel law enforcement is not doing enough for you, and that`s get someone to dedicate all their time to this and...


BROOKS: ... as many people do, hire a private detective.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, they`re trying to do that, actually. We`re going to try to try to put up some information as to, if people want to help them, but go ahead. Somebody said an APB.

COOPER: APB actually told us that if we feel they`re not doing their job, well, maybe we should hire a private investigator. Really? Should we feel so safe? Should we be so taken care of in Austin, Texas? Taxpayers are paying for this service, and this is the service we get?

G. SOTO: Now, do you know the definition of malfeasance of duty? Does anybody -- has anybody ever looked at that and what that means?

COOPER: Her car was not found at her job location. It was found in a different Walgreen`s location.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, OK. That`s a good clarification.

BROOKS: There`s also -- you know, you can go above the police department.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to bring out the big gavel.



COOPER: We`re very concerned about Julie but also concerned about my granddaughter, because George does have a -- an attempted suicide on his record.


COOPER: An attempted suicide on his record. In January, when he separated -- when Julie left him, he attempted to commit suicide while he was taking care of Layla.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is this true, George?

DE LA CRUZ: No. I wasn`t taking care of Layla. At that time I didn`t have her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But George later told us that, yes, he was despondent after the break up. And he did try to overdose with pills, but he has recovered. And he is with us tonight, along with the missing woman`s family. We are trying to find out what happened to Julie Ann Gonzalez.

Phone lines lighting up. Melody, Ohio, you question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes, Jane. I also agree that law authorities are not following the proper procedure. My question is, did she have a history of mental illness? And if this person is found right where the police should have been looking or doing something, can the -- can the police department -- could they get a lawsuit going? Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s ask the first question. Both good. Sandra Soto, you`re the mother, or anybody in the family. Did Julie have money problems, credit-card debt, a foreclosure, a conflict at work, a history of depression, or a history of drug or alcohol abuse?

S. SOTO: None of those.

G. SOTO: None of the above.

S. SOTO: None of those. None of those. She...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does she have an arrest record?

S. SOTO: No, she doesn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She -- did she -- did she graduate school?

S. SOTO: Yes, she did. She graduated from high school in three years, because when she was in junior high, she found out that you could finish high school in three years; and she set her mind on that, and she did it. She accomplished it.

When she was a sophomore, she was going to high school, and she was going to community college, because she was trying to get dual credits to finish high school in three years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me ask you this question. George says when -- the last person who saw her, that she seems despondent or strange. Any family member, did she seem at all strange, out of sorts, different at all in the days leading up to her disappearance?

S. SOTO: No, she didn`t.

COOPER: I spoke to her the Thursday before she went to pick -- or the day before, and she was making plans. Friday she said she was going to run errands. That`s her day off. She made plans to go see the babysitter, to pay the babysitter. She made plans to go to a baby shower we were going to be having on Sunday.

S. SOTO: And she also made plans -- she also made plans to go down to the courthouse to pay the extra fine to get George served with the divorce papers.

G. SOTO: Because he refused to voluntary go sign.

S. SOTO: Because he would not sign the divorce papers. So she was going to pay the fine to the constables.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. All right. George, is it true that you didn`t want to sign the divorce papers?

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, at that time I did. But eventually I gave in, and I did it. So like I said, the papers are in. Like I say, it`s in the process.

So, like I said, I know back then I was giving -- I was being hard- headed not to sign it, but eventually I gave in, because you know what? It`s not going to be fixed, so I just signed them and returned them to the court.

S. SOTO: When did you sign them, George?

DE LA CRUZ: Well, about three weeks ago. Four weeks ago.

S. SOTO: Three weeks ago?

G. SOTO: How convenient.

S. SOTO: Really?

G. SOTO: How convenient. After the fact.

S. SOTO: Well, I have something to say to George. George, you and I have talked, and you were the last person that we know of that saw Julie.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, can I interrupt? Can interrupt you?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re not done. Hang on, everybody. Finish that sentence on the other side.



SANDRA SOTO, MISSING WOMAN`S MOTHER (via telephone): They never fingerprinted the car that sat in the parking lot of that pharmacy for, you know, up to almost eight days.

DORA COOPER, MISSING WOMAN`S AUNT: And they didn`t find the vehicle. I found the vehicle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dora, you were going to say something.

COOPER: Austin police department did not find the vehicle. I found the vehicle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you`re saying they never fingerprinted the vehicle?


S. SOTO: Never, never.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Controversy and concern tonight as a search should be under way for a missing 21-year-old woman by the name of Julie Ann Gonzalez. She has been missing for more than a month. The last person to see her before she vanished, George de la Cruz, her estranged husband, who said she decided she wanted to leave the child with him and said she would come back.

Now, George, I have to ask you this question. Leila`s(ph) medicine was reportedly found inside the car that was abandoned at a pharmacy. Not the pharmacy that she worked at, but another Walgreen`s according to the family.

Now, why wouldn`t she have given you -- if she was leaving voluntarily, why wouldn`t she have given you the medication for her precious child? And did you ask for that medicine?

GEORGE DE LA CRUZ, MISSING WOMAN`S ESTRANGED HUSBAND: Well, I didn`t know about the medicine. Like I said, I had medicine at that time. She had plenty of it. I didn`t know anything about the medicine.

And, yes, Julie would give it to me if -- like I said, there was medicine. I didn`t know about the medicine.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle, does that sound strange to you that a mother would leave voluntarily but not give the medicine?

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, especially, you know, a mom who obviously -- she has a job. She`s educated. She cares about her child. And she cares about her relationships, especially with her family.

It does seem a little odd that if she were going to leave voluntarily that she would not pass over that medication to George and say, "Hey George. This is for the baby just in case, you know, I don`t come back," or whatever the case may be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dora Cooper, you`re the aunt. I want to ask you about the messages that have come in from somebody purporting to be Julie. Now, I`m kind of unclear on this. Did they come in on a cell phone? Did they come from her cell phone as text messages or did they come in as MySpace -- from her MySpace or both?

Tell us about -- what did the messages say and where did they come from?

COOPER: There were messages posted to her Facebook and her MySpace via her mobile. The ones to MySpace stated that she wanted to run away; there was a lot of BS in her life. And she`s got something to make that happen.

And then another blog on her MySpace stated that she was running away and everyone just needed to leave her alone.

GIL SOTO, MISSING MOM`S UNCLE: And this is actually -- was the high time in her life right now. She was actually doing good. She was getting out of a relationship that was abusive relationship. She didn`t want that relationship.

She was doing good in her job. She had just bought a car. She saved money to buy a car. And it just doesn`t make sense that those comments were made that way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So did -- did the message refer to another individual like, "I`ve met someone else?"


VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, they didn`t?


S. SOTO: Well, there was a friend of hers that came forward several days after we reported her missing saying that she held back some information and she wanted to let us know what it was.

So she called -- I talked to her on the phone and she said, "I need to let you know something very important. Julie texted me and said that she met some guy named James who is a web designer who bought a new house in Colorado and he`s taking me away for the weekend to show me a good time."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. James, a web designer. Ok. Well, we know, Mike Brooks, that a lot of untoward people have used the Internet posing as --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- web designers and other people like that and they`ve seduced people over the Internet where they can create whatever persona they want.

And I`d like to get your thoughts on this -- this is new information. Just right now, we`re hearing it on ISSUES.

G. SOTO: And that was done to Julie from supposedly George`s dead uncle, giving Julie a message that he wanted them back together.

BROOKS: Mr. Soto, where were the messages supposedly from the dead uncle? Where were they originating from? Do we know?

G. SOTO: We don`t know. It was like a phone, one of those throw-away phones because we tried to track that phone down. She told everybody in the family what was going on with George.

He would leave her messages on her windshield, little notes here and there. He would follow her. Things like that. And she told us everything.

COOPER: She left a suicide note in the diaper bag and called her and said, "Look in the bag. I left something for you."

BROOKS: Did Julie ever get a protective order against George? George, did she ever get a protective order against you?

DE LA CRUZ: No, she didn`t.

G. SOTO: Well, she should have. She should have at that time. She didn`t know how things -- how bad things were going to get. She never suspected.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look. Did you tell the police about James the mystery web designer?

COOPER: The police have spoken to that --

S. SOTO: They have all of that information. They have all that information. They are also questioning the friend who held back that information. She also -- she also approached me at one time when we were holding up signs, you know, asking people if they had seen Julie.

And when she approached me, all she could do was look down and apologize and tell me that, "I`m so sorry, I`m so sorry. I don`t feel like I should be here. I don`t know what I`m doing here. You know, I don`t know what else to do."

BROOKS: Is this friend a confidant of Julie`s? How well --

G. SOTO: She never did like George. And all of a sudden now they`re friends on MySpace. She never did like George.

BROOKS: Before that, though, how close were they?

COOPER: They went to school together.

S. SOTO: They went to high school together. They went to high school together but before George -- when Julie and George were together, George didn`t like for Julie to hang out with her friends. George wanted Julie to stay at home with him and with Leila and George didn`t like for Julie to go visit the family.

And so, you know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on one second. A couple of things. George, quickly, your response to that.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, like I say, yes, I didn`t like the type of friends she had because of the stuff they did around her. And, like I said, the stuff that they did wasn`t really considered being friends. Smoking weed, doing drugs, that`s not being a good friend. Like I said, I wanted Julie - -

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second. I understood from the family that Julie did not do drugs.

G. SOTO: Not at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. She did not? Or did she?

S. SOTO: She has asthma.

DE LA CRUZ: She did. Yes she did.

S. SOTO: She has asthma. Why would she smoke?

BROOKS: Is that why on your MySpace, you`re getting high and you`re getting drunk?

S. SOTO: And you`re playing beer pong in front of your daughter?

DE LA CRUZ: We had family there.

BROOKS: Yes, now it`s private. Now we can`t see it because it`s private.

Here`s the thing that concerns me is James, the mystery web designer.

Michelle Sigona, that -- that concerns me because either this person exists and she`s with him or this so-called mystery web designer could be some kind of pedophile, you know, predator is what I mean on the Internet who could have used the Internet to seduce her.

SIGONA: You`re e exactly right. We`ve seen these cases so many time, Jane, where these men and women, for that matter, pose as someone different. They lure in their victims. And they get them to meet them and take advantage of them. That is something to be concerned with for sure.

That`s why if anyone out there has any information, you`ve got to pick up the phone and you`ve got to call investigators. That`s the first thing.

The second thing is that if investigators have verified that maybe she did, in fact, meet someone and she did possibly leave, maybe that`s why they aren`t suspecting foul play. But they just haven`t connected all the dots 100 percent. Maybe sometime -- hopefully this week, maybe we`ll learn a little bit more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang on. We`ll continue this on the other side of the break because we want to solve this mystery. It sounds like we`re getting there. Everybody -- back in two seconds.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is 21-year-old Julie Ann Gonzalez? She disappeared more than a month ago.

Her desperate family has come on ISSUES tonight in a desperate bid to try to get some answers about what happened to their precious daughter. You`re looking at her there. She has a 2-year-old daughter of her own. She was in the process of getting divorced.

And her estranged husband, George De La Cruz, is also on with us saying he is not responsible, even though he was the last person to see her and even though the family has questions about his story. He`s saying, "I have nothing to hide, and I am here right now."

Evelyn, Georgia, your question or thought, ma`am?

EVELYN, GEORGIA (via telephone): Yes. My thought is that first of all, the family doesn`t get along with the husband. With Julie`s husband and I think that since she was working in Walgreen`s, she might have met somebody and left.

And also, he said that -- you notice that she was sad, but to me I think that she was leaving her child behind, that she felt comfortable because she knew that the husband was going to care for the child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, ok. These are interesting theories. I want to ask whoever knows the most about James the Web designer. Was it Dora?

S. SOTO: Oh no, that would be me, Sandra.

G. SOTO: That`s actually a smoke screen.

S. SOTO: That would be me, Sandra.

COOPER: And that is a smoke screen.

S. SOTO: That is just a text message that Julie`s friend received.


S. SOTO: It wasn`t a voice phone call. It was a text message out of Julie`s text -- her cell phone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Gil, you`re the uncle.

S. SOTO: So we don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think about this James text?

G. SOTO: Well, you know, texts have come into Julie`s phone from -- like I said, the dead uncle. Random texts, anonymous calls, things of that nature, and this is just another one; this is just another smoke screen.

BROOKS: Gil, who is --

G. SOTO: And just --

BROOKS: Gil, who is paying the cell bill? Who gets the physical bill or able to go online to keep the phone running?

S. SOTO: I do.

G. SOTO: My sister can.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, has there been any credit card or ATM activity on her credit cards?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: No activity?


G. SOTO: No money has been withdrawn from the bank, you know. If she ran away, she would need money.

S. SOTO: There was one credit card activity.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I beg your pardon, Sandra?

S. SOTO: There was one credit card purchase.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was that store?

S.SOTO: It was purchased at Best Buy. They showed me the video and they asked me to identify the person who used the credit card and it was not her.


BROOKS: Who was it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s huge.

G. SOTO: Yes, that`s one of the red flags that I tried to bring up to the point today because I had a conversation with the police chief on the radio today. I caught him off guard because I -- it was a call-in show. So I spoke with him before he knew who I actually was.

And I mentioned, you know, there are some red flags out there. What is your detective doing about those red flags?

BROOKS: Yes, who was the person at Best Buy? A description of that person? Was it a male, female?

S. SOTO: It was a female, but it wasn`t her. Julie is five feet tall, very petite, not long-legged and the person who was on the video was obviously not Julie.

BROOKS: And how long ago was that?

S. SOTO: The purchase was made April 7th, but they showed me the video just last week.

COOPER: The 20th.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But this is what I don`t understand. I don`t understand -- now, you didn`t know who this female was. In other words, it wasn`t one of her regular friends, right?

S. SOTO: No, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it was an unidentified female using her credit card to purchase what?

S. SOTO: A movie.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A movie? What movie?

S. SOTO: "Spiderwick Chronicles."


S. SOTO: "Spiderwick Chronicles."

BROOKS: Was -- was the card used as a credit card or was it used as a debit card? Do you know?

S. SOTO: I believe it was used as a credit card.

BROOKS: As a credit card?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. You know what, we`ve got to transition because we`re -- it`s technical stuff. But I want to ask all of you, put all the panel up, please, for one second.

Ok. They`ve agreed that they will come back tomorrow. We`re going to stay on top of this. We`re going to solve it. We`re getting closer but we haven`t solved it yet.

It`s shocking that somebody else used her credit card and we`re just getting to that now. Wow.

All right.

Stunning and moving developments in the Sandra Bullock/Jesse James saga: Sandra is filing for divorce and coming back with a bang after the cheating scandal. The star went into hiding.

Tonight, Sandra reveals she`s been secretly living with another man, a little man -- her brand new baby, Louis Bardo Bullock (ph).

Look at that adorable little baby. Sandra adopted the 3-month- old boy from New Orleans. She tells "People" magazine she and Jesse began the adoption process in secret four years ago. Sandra even carried Louis`s tiny green socks inside her purse for good luck on Oscar night and it worked.

This certainly gives more meaning to her Oscar speech when Sandra tearfully said "What this film was about for me are the moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from."

Sandra has given us some hints. Check out this interview she did on "Ellen" while promoting her hit film "The Blind Side."


SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS: I`ve always felt like just -- just because a child didn`t come from inside your body doesn`t mean that it`s not your child. It just arrived somewhere else, you know?


BULLOCK: But the thing that affected me the most profoundly was you - - when people think of adopting a child, they go I want a brand new little baby that is -- you know, there are so many children that are just dying and waiting to be loved and give you love back a thousand times more than what you could ever give them and they`re everywhere.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Classy lady. Is this one woman who can take the high road no matter what?

Even though she and Jesse began the adoption process together, Sandra is now adopting baby Louis as a single mom. Wow. This woman is the epitome of class. She really, really, really took the high road.

Get this -- she even praises Jesse James as a dad and says she hopes her little son someday has a relationship with Jesse.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: we are delighted to have with us the legendary celebrity divorce attorney, Raoul Felder; plus, syndicated radio host, Carlos Diaz.

Carlos, I actually tear-up and started crying reading that "People" magazine article of her adopting this beautiful baby boy during -- and everything she did during the midst of this heart-aching situation.

CARLOS DIAZ, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Yes. This is a huge story. And if you tried to pitch this to a Hollywood producer, they`d throw you out of the room because this is an unbelievable story that it was kept under wraps for this long.

Here is Sandra Bullock, one of the biggest stars in the world. She adopts a baby boy from New Orleans in January, keeps it a secret from everyone. The friends and family kept it a secret. And then wanted to announce it after the Oscars.

She wins the Oscar for best actress. She`s on top of the world. She finds out what happened with Jesse James. Her marriage falls apart, and then she, on the day that she announces that she`s getting a divorce, tells the world, and I have adopted this beautiful baby boy. This is -- this is a Hollywood script that no one would believe.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Raoul Felder, the legendary divorce attorney, now apparently the reports are she filed in Texas. And we`re being told he can`t get anything because in Texas you have to be married ten years to get spousal support.

RAOUL FELDER, DIVORCE ATTORNEY: Yes. It`s a miserable state if you`re a woman, but, you know, the funny thing is he`s sort of the woman in this case because she has the big bucks. He may be entitled to some of that in a different state.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But do you think that if they have a pre-nup that could throw everything --

FELDER: Oh, sure. The pre-nup trumps everything else. And I`ll tell you, if they don`t have a pre-nup, they don`t need lawyers, they need a psychiatrist in a case like this.

DIAZ: Ok, but don`t forget in this case though, Jessie James makes millions of dollars on his own, his -- his motorcycle shop, his TV shows, he is doing very well on his own. He`s not going to be going after Sandra Bullock for money. The guy has got his own money.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? It`s never stopped people before.

FELDER: Yes. That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. I think you`d say that.

But we`ll continue on with this conversation. Carlos is often right. Stay right where you are.

More on Jesse and Sandra in just a moment.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sandra Bullock`s filing for divorce and we learned she has a baby boy that she is adopting. Oh, my gosh. Did art imitate life for Sandra? Check out this clip from "The Blind Side".


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who`s the big guy eating with your little brother?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think what you`re doing is so great.

(AUDIO GAP hn281950 04:27 to 4:53)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- for her to take not only just the child but an African-American child from New Orleans, and we know the story in New Orleans. She`s a true saint, and God bless her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Dale Archer, you`re the psychiatrist. How did Sandra maintain her class and her forgiveness and all these good qualities in the midst of this really ugly messy situation?

DR. DALE ARCHER, PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, well, my hat goes off to her. I think that this is absolutely fantastic that she drew a line in the sand and said, "I don`t care what we had before, you broke the trust, and I`m moving on with my life."

And I think that many women out there have to take an example from her because so often they will stay because it`s comfortable. In her case in the grand scheme of things everything might have worked out for her for the best.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And that is one cute little baby boy.

ARCHER: You bet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue tonight. Is Jesse James in desperate denial? Listen to his response to all this.

Jesse says, quote, "The decision to let my wife end our marriage and continue the adoption of Louis on her own has been the hardest. Right now it is time for me to beat this addiction that has taken two of the things I love most in life. I know in my heart that I can be the best father possible to my four children, and the mate sandy deserves."

"The mate sandy deserves?" Raoul Felder, it sounds like he still wants to get back.

FELDER: Well, you can`t blame him. There`s a big payroll at the end of this. His fame is hooked up with her fame. There`s a family made to order. But lawyers are cynics, and so let me blow an unpleasant breeze through this thing.

Kudos to her; she`s doing a wonderful thing adopting the baby. The baby`s going to have a wonderful life. It`s a little boy, a gorgeous little boy.

But you know "People" magazine is maybe not the best place to announce when you adopt a child. And I think that bothers me a bit. I don`t know why she would do that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think that Carlos Diaz can tell us why she would do that.

DIAZ: Hey, Raoul, I respect your opinion a lot, but I mean, come on, she`s done everything right and today was just another example of another great move on Sandra`s part. I mean what is she supposed to do, not tell the world that she`s adopted this beautiful baby --

FELDER: No, if somebody adopts, they send out an announcement, maybe call up your friends. But why do you want to put this child on the cover of "People" magazine --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll tell you why.

DIAZ: It just goes to show that she has -- she has even more strength than we knew she ever had. And the fact that she kept it under wraps for so long to me is incredible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And to me it`s like she put a positive spin on a very negative story. In other words, coming out and saying here, here`s what you should concentrate on, this beautiful child. And she`s an inspiration to other people. So many children need homes.

FELDER: Well, you may be right. But you know, I`ve been through this kind of thing before. And I rather suspect that there was a room full of public relations people that made a decision and the best place to do it is the cover of "People" magazine.