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Where is Julie Ann Gonzalez?

Aired April 29, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, desperation mounts in the frantic search for a young mother from Austin, Texas. Julie Ann Gonzalez vanished without a trace more than a month ago. Last night on ISSUES, bombshell revelations. A strange woman used Julie`s credit card. So what does this mean, and why won`t cops call this foul play? Tonight, I`ll talk to a slew of family members, including Julie`s husband and her frantic mother.

Plus, the runaway mom finally breaks her silence. She was married and had a 1-year-old daughter. So why did she abandon her family and run off to Florida to be with her lover? Why not get a divorce? You will not believe what she has to say.

Plus, Bret Michaels fights for his life. The `80s rocker and reality TV star suffered a brain hemorrhage. Tonight, I`ll talk one-on-one with Bret`s sister.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the drama unfolds after bombshell revelations right here on ISSUES last night. And we`ve got breaking news in the search for 21-year-old Julie Ann Gonzalez.

The family could not understand why cops would only call it is missing persons case. Well, tonight a major turn-around. Julie`s family says cops are now calling Julie a missing person in danger. You think?

Julie disappeared in Austin, Texas, March 26. We found out right here live on ISSUES yesterday that a female unknown to the family used her credit card 12 days after she vanished. We had Julie`s entire family on ISSUES last night: her mother, aunt, uncle and estranged husband. And the information vacuum led to a lot of finger-pointing. We saw a heated back and forth, for example, between the family and the woman`s soon-to-be ex- husband, who was the last person to see her.


GIL SOTO, JULIE`S UNCLE: Well, Julie didn`t trust you. You know that.

GEORGE DE LA CRUZ, JULIE`S ESTRANGED HUSBAND: I understand they suspect me because I was the last person. Like I said, if anyone sees -- of course they`re going to be a suspect. Like I said, I`ll be willing to do anything.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to give him props for coming on the show.

Julie left behind her pride and joy, her 2-year-old daughter, Layla. Her family says she would never leave the child voluntarily. But even yesterday, cops weren`t convinced something criminal was going on.


MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: 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.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what is that new information that caused Austin police to change the status of Julie`s case to missing person in danger? Could it have anything to do with the fact that we`ve been covering it on this show for two days straight? I`m not saying. I`m just wondering. I`m asking.

And I`m taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586- 7297.

Straight out to my awesome expert panel: HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks with us tonight; investigative reporter Michelle Sigona of, and once again, we`re honored to have Julie`s family here, her frantic family. Her aunt, Dora Cooper; uncle, Gil Soto; and Julie`s mother, Sandra Soto.

Sandra, we begin with you. Tell us what police told you about Julie`s case today and what made them change the case to a high priority?

SANDRA SOTO, JULIE`S MOTHER: Today they called me, and they told me that she was now considered missing, endangered and high priority. They didn`t tell me why or they didn`t tell me, but they just said that they are definitely investigating.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what did you say in response?

S. SOTO: I said, "Thank God. It`s about time. Thank God."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that was it? It was like a really short conversation? "Hey, we`re making this a top priority. See you later." I mean, or did they give you any other details?

S. SOTO: They would not give me any details. You know, I asked them, are you looking into this, are you looking into that? You know, and they said, "Yes. Yes, ma`am, we are looking into everything."

And everybody is under the microscope right now. You know, everybody as far as friends, even relatives, everybody is under the microscope. And that`s fine. My main concern is let`s find her.

You know, they already dragged their feet too long on this. It took them a month to finally get her, you know, as missing and endangered. You know, now they`re trying to play catch-up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s hope that we do solve this case. Last night, another bombshell dropped here on ISSUES when we found out that an unidentified woman used Julie`s credit card. Listen to this.


S. SOTO: There was one credit-card purchase.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was that for?

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

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh! Whoa! That`s huge!



VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. So that was a shocker. What did the woman buy? Well, the PG movie "Spiderwick Chronicles." And we actually went out and rented it today. It`s from Paramount Pictures. Here it is.

Now look at it. It`s a 2008 fantasy film targeted at school-aged children. What a bizarre choice. The card was used on April 7. The missing woman`s mother was shown this video on April 20 by police.

Back to the mother, Sandra Soto.

What do you make of the purchase of a children`s video, and what did police tell you about the video when they were showing it to you?

S. SOTO: They asked me, does Julie like to watch movies? I said yes. We all like to watch movies. You know, we all go out and buy movies just because we`re such a big family that, you know, it`s better if we just buy the movies and watch it at home than for all of us to go to the movie theater and watch it at the movie theater. That`s just the way we are. We`re close that way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Would she watch a movie like this? I mean, she wasn`t the person purchasing it. Somebody else was who you could not identify.

S. SOTO: I don`t know. You know, she has children`s movies. She has action movies. She has all kinds of movies in her -- in her library.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this. Where was this Best Buy? In other words, she disappeared from Austin. Did police tell you, "Well, this was the Best Buy in -- nearby? In Austin?

S. SOTO: They didn`t -- no, they did not tell me where the Best Buy was. I don`t know what store it was purchased at.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But was it in Austin, somewhere in Austin, or they didn`t tell you that?

S. SOTO: They just said Best Buy. They didn`t tell me city. They didn`t say what part of town. They didn`t say anything. They just said Best Buy.

BROOKS: So Sandra, it was the police that brought this to your attention about the Best Buy, then?

S. SOTO: No. It was actually -- it was actually us.


S. SOTO: My sister has access to Julie`s bank statements, and she was the one who discovered the purchase, you know, that was made.

BROOKS: Oh, OK. All right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So she called cops and said, "Hey, the credit card has been used. Check this out." They checked it out. And then they show you the videotape.

S. SOTO: Yes, but it didn`t -- it didn`t even take -- it wasn`t even like as soon as they got the information they looked into it. It took them at least a week or two.

BROOKS: But what about any other activity on her credit card or debit card or any other account, Sandra?

S. SOTO: Nothing. You know, if she were to run away, you would think that she would use the money that she had in her bank. Because, you know, she`s going to run away, she`s going to need money.

BROOKS: Now has law enforcement -- you were saying the car she bought is -- was repossessed and is over at a lot, and they`re getting ready to sell it. Did law enforcement tell you today if they`re planning on going over there now and printing the car or processing that car, possibly?

S. SOTO: They didn`t tell me that they were going to do that. They just told me that, if I wanted to go remove her belongings from the car, that I could do that. That they no longer need the car.

BROOKS: I wouldn`t go over there, Sandra. If you go over there and remove her belongings, call the police and have them go over there with you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Michelle Sigona, there seems to be something a little -- can I say back asswards on television, about this? What are you hearing?

SIGONA: Well, this is -- it`s kind of interesting. I did speak with Detective Scott last night, as I mentioned for a long period of time. And I just spoke with him a little while ago. Unfortunately, he is not allowed to comment if this case has been elevated to an endangered persons case -- endangered missing persons case as a high priority case or not.


SIGONA: Without -- without the permission of his public information office, which is interesting.

BROOKS: Well, I called the public information office. I spoke to -- to Anna, who runs the public information office.

SIGONA: So did I. Yes.

BROOKS: And she says that apparently investigator Detective Scott`s commander, that she will not give him permission as of right now because -- because, she said, it is now a national story.

SIGONA: Right, right.

BROOKS: So there you go, Jane.

SIGONA: And I really feel -- a lot of these cases and sometimes departments that they feel overwhelmed and they don`t really know which direction things are going in. But it`s important, if it is an endangered person case, to be able to come out and say, "Yes, this is an endangered missing person case. We do need all the tips possible, and this is the best information we have."

BROOKS: Right. And we`re they`re friend on getting -- friend on getting the information out. Otherwise no one else would know it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. But it`s pretty fascinating that after we cover this for two days, suddenly it`s a missing person in danger.

BROOKS: A little bit of backstroking.

G. SOTO: Maybe it wouldn`t have happened otherwise.

BROOKS: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re here to solve problems like this. That`s why we exist.

G. SOTO: That`s correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to be in the solution.

Everybody, stay right where you are. So many other pieces to this puzzle. We are hunting down this missing mother, and we`re taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Plus, the runaway mom finally squawking, and, boy, does she have some explaining to do.

But first, the mystery mounts on a war on women. A beautiful mother vanished in Austin. What happened to Julie?


DE LA CRUZ: If you want me to be there with you all, I want to be there with y`all. But I know I`m not wanted. So why be there if everyone`s going to look down on me?




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: And here is my big issue tonight. Why now? After all this time, why did authorities reportedly change Julie Ann Gonzalez` missing persons case to a high-priority and a missing person in danger? Did cops uncover anything? Or was it just a response to the fact that we`ve been talking about this for two days straight here on ISSUES?

We`ve been calling them for a couple of days now to appear on ISSUES. Police do not want to talk to us about it.


DORA COOPER, JULIE`S AUNT: 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 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.


COOPER: What defines foul play?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And look, I want to make this clear. I want to be wrong. I don`t want this to be foul play. I sincerely hope Julie is OK and safe and just made a very bad decision, kind of like the runaway mom who we`re going to cover in a little while, and simply needs therapy.

But to me, when you hear that a stranger is using her credit card, I personally think that is suspicious.

Marcie, New York, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes. Hi, Jane.


CALLER: I love your show.


CALLER: I commend you for doing this case.


CALLER: and I was wondering if the police who were investigating it - - she`s Hispanic. I notice that a lot of young white women when they go missing, the police care more than if it was a Hispanic or black woman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, I don`t like to play that card ever, but I want to toss it out to the family. Dora Cooper, Julie Ann Gonzalez`s aunt. Do you feel that, let`s say, you would have been treated -- you`re treated differently than you would if you were, let`s say, perhaps a wealthy family or a famous family or a family from another background?

COOPER: Yes, I do.


COOPER: If we had money, yes, I do. Also, it depends on -- it would have depended on who she was related to. If this would have been a high- profile person`s daughter or niece or whomever, well, yes, they would have been all over the street. But, you know, we`re just a regular family. And, yes, I do believe that. I wouldn`t say because she`s Hispanic. I just think that because of, you know, where she came from, maybe.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hmm. Well, last night on ISSUES, the family talked about James the Web designer, somebody who was allegedly texting Julie in the days before her disappearance. Listen to this clue.


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.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gil, you`re the uncle. You`ve been very vocal about this so-called Web designer. How did the family learn about this mystery man, James the Web designer? And do you think he exists?

G. SOTO: No, I don`t. I don`t think he exists. And it came up through a supposed friend of Julie`s who we have not heard from anymore. We heard from her one time. And now she just doesn`t want to speak to anyone.


G. SOTO: And that`s where it`s at right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Sandra, you`re the mom. Explain the Web designer and this -- this girl came up to you and said, "Oh, I don`t know what to say." She`s hanging her head low. And then she said she met a guy called James. What`s the story, very briefly?

S. SOTO: Well, she just told me, you know, "I`m sorry I kept this information from you," because she came to me a few days after we reported Julie missing. And she was just hanging her head low, you know, just saying, "I shouldn`t be here. I shouldn`t be talking to you."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What did she say about James?

S. SOTO: She just said, "Julie texted me saying that she had met James at her work and that he was a Web designer and that he had..."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, at her work? Now we`ve got another piece of the puzzle, Mike Brooks.

BROOKS: Absolutely. Now, when did she say that Julie, you know -- when did this woman -- or Julie confide in this woman about the Web designer at her work? Did she say?

COOPER: Well, now, Mike, I`ve to give you a little bit of background on this. I spoke with Julie`s best friend today...


COOPER: ... which is Natasha. And Natasha and Amber. And Natasha said, you know, "I heard from Amber that she was with this guy James. So then I called Julie. Julie did not answer the phone. And she sent me a text message, saying, `I don`t feel like talking right now. What`s up?` And she says, `What`s going on?` She says, `I met this guy named James.` And she says, `What James? What are you talking about?` She says, `I`ve never heard of a James`."

S. SOTO: So these are text messages. These are text messages.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is there a James at her work? Have you called her workplace, the Walgreen`s where she was a pharmacy technician? Is there a James there?

COOPER: No. I`ve spoken with...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time, please. OK. OK. Go ahead, Mom. Was -- is there a James at the work?

S. SOTO: There is no James at the work. And the pharmacy where Julie works at is so -- there`s so many people coming in and out of there that even, you know, people...

G. SOTO: He could have been a customer.

S. SOTO: You know, even people that...

BROOKS: What about...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Mike.

BROOKS: What about possibly, you know, Walgreen`s, it`s not based there. What about a regional office for Walgreen`s in that area that may service the difference stores with their computers and, as a technician, she may deal with him if there`s a technical issue?

S. SOTO: You know what? There`s a lot of what-ifs.


S. SOTO: But when it comes down to it, Julie went to work, and when she wasn`t at work, she was with Layla. And when she wasn`t with Layla, she was at work.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re going to go to break. But let me tell you something. We`ve got to talk about the pings. Now that they`ve declared it a priority, maybe they could check out her cell phone and find out where the pings are coming from.

We are all over this desperate search. Stay right there. We`re back in a moment with more.



S. SOTO: 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: You know, there has been so much news on this case. And it`s trickling out as people speak. Now we hear the details of that again, and what popped out at me was the word "Colorado."

Now, Sandra Soto, you`re the mother of the missing girl. Did you tell police to check out Colorado? Are they checking out Colorado?

S. SOTO: Well, you know, I`ve given them all the information that I have. We have all given them everything. Everything that we know about Julie, everything we found out about Julie. And, you know what? It`s taken them a whole month just to get to where we are at right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did they check the surveillance video of the lot where her car was found abandoned? Her new car?

S. SOTO: To tell you the truth, I still don`t know. I still don`t know.

G. SOTO: No, you know what? Also, Jane, there`s a security camera inside the Walgreen`s at the registers. They stated -- somebody stated that a young lady went inside and said, "I`m having car trouble. I`m leaving my car here, and I`ll be back in a couple of hours to pick it up."

Now, we went and asked the clerk, and he couldn`t identify if that was Julie or not. Now, that`s a new vehicle and for her to be having car trouble and leave the vehicle there, we couldn`t understand. We didn`t -- we don`t have any answers for that either.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is it a brand-new vehicle, or was it just purchased, newly purchased and it`s a used car?

COOPER: Newly purchased. But...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. So I`ve had some lemons, let me tell you. I`ve bought new cars. If they`re used, they break down.

COOPER: But APD never contacted any one of us or even Sandra to verify that that was Julie entering the store.

G. SOTO: Or to watch the video.

BROOKS: Gil -- Gil, what did they say, that the car was dropped off at the Walgreen`s? At that particular Walgreen`s? And how far is it from her Walgreen`s where she works?

G. SOTO: I would say it`s a couple of miles. It`s a good distance. As far as...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And just for our viewers -- just for our viewers, she works at one Walgreen`s as a pharmacy technician. She dropped her car -- her car was abandoned at another Walgreen`s a few miles away.

G. SOTO: Maybe -- maybe three blocks away from George`s house.

S. SOTO: And a mile away from my home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amy, Pennsylvania, quick question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes, I just have a question about the credit-card purchase. Now, I know that the police won`t tell them where they can get this information, but there has to be a way where they can call the credit-card company and get the information about where that was purchased, also. Because they`re not being informed, and maybe they`re just not asking the right questions, as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to say something. We only have a few seconds. If for some reason Julie Ann Gonzalez is out there and watching us, we want you to call us. We want -- you can see your family loves you very much. They are here. You should contact them, contact us or contact the police, but don`t stay out there.

And I hope that that`s the scenario. I hope nothing untoward has happened. We`re staying on top of this story. We won`t let it go. Thank you, family, for coming on, and thank you also, fantastic experts Mike Brooks and Michelle Sigona.

Next, two star-crossed lovers running to Florida to start a new life. You won`t believe this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So the runaway mom finally breaks her silence. She was married and had a 1-year-old daughter, so why did she abandon her family and run off to Florida to be with her lover? Why not get a divorce? You will not believe what she has to say.

Plus, Bret Michaels fights for his life. The `80s rocker and reality TV star suffered a brain hemorrhage. Tonight, I`ll talk one-on-one with Bret`s sister.

Tonight, the so-called runaway mom tells the world, "Sorry, my bad -- oops." Tiffany Tehan ditched her husband and their 1-year-old daughter in Ohio to start a secret new life with a married man. Her disappearance left her panicked family worried that she`d been kidnapped and triggered a massive search.

Meanwhile, Tiffany and her married lover, Tre Hutcherson, were soaking up the rays in Miami -- must be nice. Police spotted the lovebirds outside their hotel and the gig was up. Tiffany broke her silence on "Inside Edition". Listen to this.


TIFFANY TEHAN, LEFT FAMILY TO START "NEW LIFE": I`m totally embarrassed and humiliated. And, you know, the only reason I`m here now with you is to try to maybe set some things straight and ask people to forgive me and give me another chance.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A day after Tiffany vanished, her car was found at a park near her home. It had a flat tire and the keys were in the ignition. So was she trying to stage a kidnapping? She says no.


TEHAN: I didn`t want to do anything illegal. But I truly thought no one is going to miss me that much. Let`s get in the car and go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s an idea. You fall in love with a guy you meet at a convenience store, get a divorce. You`re going to hear why she didn`t do that in a moment.

Straight out to my fantastic panel: once again, HLN law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks; along with psychiatrist Gail Saltz. And we begin with Paul Boyd, correspondent for "Inside Edition".

Paul, great job, you did that fantastic interview with Tiffany. What was your impression of her?

PAUL BOYD, CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": You know, the first thing I thought as I looked into her eyes and she told me this story is this wasn`t a mom who just had a really bad day and said, "I`m out of here." She plotted and planned for four months this getaway. And that really struck me.

And my overall impression was I felt sorry for her. I felt really sorry for her, but that does not take away this awful, awful thing that she did to her family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think she has psychological problems talking to her or is she just immature?

BOYD: I think there`s a possibility that she does. I asked her about postpartum depression. She said no. I believe her daughter was 4 months when she began this relationship, so postpartum may factor in there.

She says, "I didn`t feel like I needed to go to the doctor. I just didn`t feel loved. I wasn`t getting the attention I wanted at home." And all of a sudden, this guy walks into her life and he`s complimenting her, telling her how beautiful her eyes are. And they started this relationship and one thing leads to another and away they run.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, this brings me to my big issue. Ever heard of divorce, Tiffany? Imagine if everyone who had an affair decided to disappear and start a new life.

Paul, you asked Tiffany about divorce. Let`s listen to her answer.


BOYD: You just took off. Why didn`t you just ask for a divorce?

TEHAN: I wish it was that simple. For probably appearances and also my spiritual beliefs, a divorce wasn`t as simple for me as it sounds. And it really in my mind wasn`t even an option.

I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed in my -- you know, my real life, my regular life, and this just seemed like a way to get away, start over, start new, be who I want to be. I think everyone has a little bit of a dream of that in them.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I`m no theologian but in what religion is it ok to take up with a married man and abandon your baby? I think it`s called the church of twisted logic.

Maybe Tiffany couldn`t bear to tell her hubby she was having an affair. Listen to what she said about the other man. This is crucial.


TEHAN: The relationship made me happy. And made me feel good and being around him made me happy.

BOYD: And your husband knew nothing about this new man that was in your life?

TEHAN: That`s correct.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Paul, where is she now? Has she gone back to her husband, who is bizarrely understanding, or is she somewhere else?

BOYD: She`s in limbo of sorts. She says she`s trying to figure things out. My gut instinct is she will not be going back to her husband, but that remains to be confirmed.

We can break news here on your show that she has leased an apartment for six months in the area. And she has her own car.

I think Gail will talk about this a little bit. She`s started to break away from this life now in a lot of other ways, getting some separation from her family.

But the official line right now is that she`s thinking about what her next move is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gail Saltz, you`re the psychiatrist. Help us out here.

GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, you know, there are obviously multiple possibilities. Could this be a woman who just, you know, immaturely and self-absorbedly wants what she wants and did what she did? It could be.

But these statements of nobody would notice if I disappeared; this plan made absolutely no sense, but I carried it out anyway. I have no idea what I`m going to do. I just had to get away.

Those are all statements that really would make me wonder about depression -- significant depression -- because the whole thing is so illogical and a woman who believes that nobody will notice if she disappears, that is really a kind of a classic thought of somebody who is actually extremely depressed.

The other thing I would wonder about is her early growing up. She said she had sort of very religious and sort of authoritarian father. You know I wonder more about that. Did she feel so boxed-in by her past that she basically had some psychopathology from that and is therefore making some very poor choices?

Not that this excuses anything because let me say at the end of the day, no matter what your problems are, get treatment. Get help. Don`t act it out and inflict it on your 1-year-old.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Listen, people do fall in love. They get infatuated. It happens. And sometimes they`re married and sometimes they have a young child. I don`t know how many of you have experienced that kind of infatuation or love at first sight, but I think it`s -- I`ve experienced it. And it`s very powerful.

In fact, I believe -- correct me if I`m wrong, Dr. Gail Saltz -- they say that that kind of feeling is actually like a chemical high. It triggers certain chemicals in your body and you really get a rush from it.

The point is why couldn`t she say to her husband, "It`s not working. I`ve got to move on. I`ve met someone else."

And you know Mike Brooks, what strikes me is that we see this in so many cases with men. Men sometimes would prefer to kill their wives than to say I want a divorce.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: True. You know I see a lot of parallels here though, Jane, with -- remember Jennifer Wilbanks, Duluth, Georgia, the runaway bride. I saw so many parallels on the appeals from Jennifer Wilbanks` family and from Tiffany Tehan`s family during and then after the -- they came forward and found out that it was all a ruse on both sides.

But you know what? Jennifer Wilbanks, she faced the music because she got charged for making a false police report and all of the assets that law enforcement went into looking for her. Now, is this going to happen to Tiffany Tehan since she did stage this? Flat tire, left the keys in the car, made it look like maybe there was, you know, an incident that happened at the car.

I`m going to be anxious to see if law enforcement will pursue this. I think they ought to take a close look at it, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I read somewhere that they could charge her possibly with inciting panic, which I thought was kind of -- given that nobody has been physically hurt in this story -- kind of amusing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But it`s not a funny story.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, Tiffany is saying -- apparently we just heard -- we broke some news thanks to Paul Boyd of "Inside Edition", she`s just leased an apartment as she figures out what her next chapter is going to be.

Now, let`s talk about the husband. He sounded awful forgiving last week, almost bizarrely forgiving. Listen to this.


DAVID TEHAN, HUSBAND: She may have made some mistakes, but everyone does. And I can`t blame her for any of them. She`s a person like everyone else. You know, getting through life, it`s not always easy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paul, that`s got to really hurt that you`re that understanding and after all that, she still doesn`t go back.

SALTZ: Jane --

BROOKS: Come on, pal. Man up.

SALTZ: Jane, you know Jane, he is in a state of shock. He is an utter state of shock. This is a man who thought that his family was doing fine and his wife loved him and, you know, this was all a complete surprise.

So let`s hear from -- you know, we don`t know what you`re going to hear in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. At this point, he -- just because she did this to him doesn`t mean that he stopped loving her that instant. You know, he wants it to go back the way it was.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paul -- 10 seconds -- I understand that the married man`s wife that Tiffany was having the affair with, she`s not forgiving. She`s filing for divorce.

BOYD: She is filing for divorce. She`s heading back to California to be closer to her family. That relationship is over. And Tre Hutcherson is putting all his cards in Tiffany`s deck and we`ll see if they truly do end up together.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Paul --

BROOKS: They should have kept that car. They might be living in it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Great job, Paul. Great interview. Please come back soon as well as our fantastic panel.

Face-to-face with an accused killer. Her daughter brutally murdered, today Somer Thompson`s mom faced the man accused of killing her beautiful child.

Plus, fighting for his life: we`re going to go inside Bret Michaels` recovery from a brain hemorrhage. I will talk live with his sister and his band mate, next.

We`re taking your calls as well, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.


MICHELE SYCHAK, BRET MICHAEL`S SISTER: He`s such a gorgeous person, he really is. I don`t know anyone that doesn`t like Bret Michaels. No matter what he`s so charismatic and friendly and he is just a great person. He really is a great, great person.

I`m not saying that because he`s ill, it`s -- it`s the truth. You know I wouldn`t say it if I didn`t feel it. He`s a genuinely good guy.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, an update on 80`s rocker Bret Michaels from his sister, live here on ISSUES.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Seven-year-old Somer Thompson went missing last fall and was found dead in a Georgia landfill. Her devastated mother, Deana, vowed not to rest until the little girl`s killer was captured. And for the first time today, she faced the monster cops say murdered her beautiful daughter.

Here is how this courageous mother described that horrific moment.


DEANA THOMPSON, SOMER THOMPSON`S MOTHER: It`s hard to keep myself in the seat and not want to say something to him and just -- he`s so much of a coward, he can`t even turn around and look at the mother of the child that he murdered.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jared Harrell was originally arrested on child porn charges and was later charged with Somer`s murder and sexual battery.

Deana attended his hearing today in which a judge denied all three of the defense motions -- way to go, judge. This monster does not deserve a break.

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

Fast-breaking news, after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage, ailing rocker Bret Michaels is speaking and sounds good. "He sounds like Bret," says his sister, Michele Sychak.

Tonight in a rare interview, we`re going to talk to Bret`s sister right here on ISSUES. She says the 47-year-old Poison front man and VH1`s reality star is not out of the woods yet, but he is doing better and he sounds coherent after a major setback earlier this week.


SYCHAK: Things are definitely looking up. You know, he`s still in ICU. He`s still in critical but stable and you know, I have had a chance to speak to him. He does sound like Bret. And you know, he sounds good. And the truth be known, I think he`ll outlive us all. But, you know, he seems to be really sort of very lucky.


SYCHAK: You know, I think the fact that he even lived through the initial rupture is a miracle in itself.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That from RadarOnline.

We are talking to Bret`s sister in a moment. Here she is in this photo with Bret and their dad.

We`re also delighted to talk to Bret`s dear friend, Poison drummer Ricky Rocket. Bret was rushed to an Arizona hospital last Friday after a rupture in his brain caused a hemorrhage stroke.

Bret`s sister says although her brother`s brain is throbbing he is doing good. The singer`s road manager is also staying very positive, posting on Bret`s official Web site that Bret hopes to get back on the road to finish up his concert tour in just one month, May 26th. But doctors have still not pinpointed the exact cause of the rupture in Bret`s brain.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel; I want to first go, though, to CNN producer Alan Duke. Alan, you have some new information. What is the very latest?

ALAN DUKE, CNN PRODUCER: Well, in just the last few minute minutes, we`ve gotten a new statement. In fact, it`s posted on that says that they`re going to hold a news conference and they`ll tell us Friday the details of the news conference. But we do know it is planned for Tuesday.

Doctors will be there to tell how they`re treating Bret, what his condition and his prognosis is.

So we`re going to hear some real details in a few days. But for now, he remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital, -- they`re not telling us the name -- perhaps we`ll learn during your show.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michele, Bret Michaels` sister, first of all thank you so much for joining us. And our hearts go out to you. We`re all rooting for Bret. He`s a fantastic guy. And we want him to come through with flying colors.

SYCHAK (via telephone): As do we. As do we. Thank you so much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you. You say, you`ve talked to him. Tell us what he sounds like and what his spirit and mood is.

SYCHAK: You know, he very much knows, you know, what he is saying and who he`s talking to. He sounds, you know, out of it and groggy and sedated and, you know, you could tell that he`s probably going through something probably pretty horrible, you know, a lot of pain. You know, I can imagine that recovering from a hemorrhage in your brain is probably very uncomfortable.

But, you know, Bret is a tough guy. And he tries not to show, you know, too much. And, you know, keeps us -- makes us feel good and that`s the way he`s always been. So --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michele, how did all of this happen? How did it all happen? Where was he? And just paint a picture of -- some people say this is like a giant headache that just gets worse and worse. What happened to him when he -- did he collapse or did he make it to the emergency room on his own?

SYCHAK: Well, you know, I wasn`t there so I can only go by what I was told. You know, my understanding was he was fine, he was watching TV. The next thing, he felt like a -- kind of a weird feeling almost like a pop in his head. And then he had this like excruciating headache that felt like somebody hitting him with a baseball bat type of thing. Just like somebody driving a railroad spike into your brain.

He did not lose consciousness as far as I know and was able to get to the hospital immediately. And I think that`s the difference of why he did not succumb and perish from this because there was immediate -- Christy took him immediately to the hospital and thank God for that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s his wife or girlfriend?

SYCHAK: That was just, you know, somebody -- a very good friend of his that was with him at the time, the mother of his children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, ok. All right. Bret has suffered for most of his life from diabetes. Listen to this from VH1`s "Behind the Music".


BRET MICHAELS, SINGER: At the end of season one on "Rock of Love" when me and Jess were going on a date, I literally had what you`d call a near-death experience with my diabetes. And I got really sick. And I just -- they brought the ambulance in. And I couldn`t get out of it. And I think it reflected in the show. I think you can see it in the show. And that`s -- that was after hours and hours of being violently ill.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gail Saltz, quickly, could diabetes be a trigger for hemorrhage? Yes or no?

SALTZ: You know, classically it`s not. People get sub-arachnoid hemorrhages for all kinds of unknown reasons. And so it`s not necessarily because he had diabetes. But she`s absolutely right that, you know, his immediate care makes all the difference because you can definitely bleed out and die from the sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, but you can completely recover, and it sounds like he is on his way to recovery, as long as they - -


VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, Ricky Rocket from Poison weighs in. Hang in there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are talking live to Bret Michaels` sister Michelle and his dear friend and Poison band mate Ricky Rocket. Ricky, great to talk to you and hear your voice; it`s been a while. We`ve actually done festivals together, green festivals, world fest and others. What can you - - hey, Ricky, how you doing?

RICKY ROCKET, BRET MICHAELS` BAND MATE (via telephone): It`s good. It`s good to hear your voice as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Tell us what you know about your dear friend Bret`s condition and your insights into this situation?

ROCKET: I talked to him about every day that he`s been there. I flew in the day after the incident occurred and stayed a couple of days (INAUDIBLE).

You know it`s been up and down. We`ve even gone so far as to joke a couple of times about a few things. And then other times he`s really out of it, sort of slurry.

You know, here`s the thing. Bret is the kind of guy that he`s not used to laying around, ok? I think it`s kind of thrown his body into shock that he`s actually had to lay around, you know, in this hospital room.

And I don`t mean that facetiously. I mean seriously, think it`s thrown his other levels off a little bit. You know he`s a hard-working guy. He`s like he`s always doing stuff. He said to me already, he said I`ll relax when I`m dead. So I`m like bro, you`re really close right now, so it`s about time to relax.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, when you`re able to joke, that`s always a really, really good sign for recovery.

Now, what`s really interesting about this is that during a live performance at the 2009 Tony Awards, there was a very big problem. A huge set piece fell directly on top of Bret`s head. Take a look at the photo he posted of his injuries on His nose was fractured. He was treated at the scene.

Michelle, you`re his sister. Do you see any connection here? Have doctors told you there may be a connection between this head injury and what happened to him?

SYCHAK: I mean obviously there could be. I don`t want to speculate on that because I think this is a situation where anybody can have an aneurysm ruptured. Does a head injury maybe increase the possibility of that happening? Absolutely. But I don`t want to speculate on that at this time because that, you know, that answer -- that question has not been answered yet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Ricky, I want to go back to you for a second because on Bret`s Web site, it says that he is actually hopeful that his concert tour could resume in a month. But, of course, doctors are saying he`s not out of the woods yet. What do you think of that?

ROCKET: He`s not out of the woods. But, you know, of course he remains hopeful. And you know what? I think deep in my heart that he is going to pull through this. But at the same time, you know, we`re taking everything hour by hour really.

I mean, I`ve been getting updates from some of the folks that are back there right now about every two hours approximately (ph).

And, you know, I`m still pretty freaked out about it, I`ve got to be honest with you. We`ve been friends for like close to 30 years. So this is not going down easy for me at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we certainly here on ISSUES wish you, Michelle, the best. And we`re rooting for Bret. Sometimes these near death experiences can have profoundly positive impacts as well.

And we want to you to keep us updated and come back soon so you can tell us, "He`s out of bed and he`s ready to get back on tour."

Thank you so much, Michelle and Ricky.

And tomorrow night, another riveting show. Andrew Young joins me live tomorrow night to talk about Rielle Hunter. You`ve got to see that.