CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Jail Tapes Released in Haleigh Cummings Case; More Offshore Drilling Projects OKed Despite Spill

Aired May 13, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight shocking new twists and turns in the Haleigh Cummings case. We now have brand-new highly emotional tapes between Tommy Croslin and Grandma Flo. Tommy breaks down, telling his grandma he knows what happened to little Haleigh and he`s going to tell police. So why do we still not know what happened to this beautiful little girl?

And the war on women raging out of control. A beautiful college student from UCLA vanishes while jogging in sunny Southern California. It`s happened again. Where is Nancy Salas? Tonight, ISSUES joins the desperate search.

Plus, a horrifying murder too graphic for TV. Cops say this handsome little 4-year-old boy was tortured to death by his step-dad, and his mom helped cover it up. His little body was found mutilated and dumped. Tonight, did his mother fight hard for visitation rights just before the murder?

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, mind-blowing jailhouse audiotapes. Tommy Croslin completely breaks down, admitting he knows what happened to missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY CROSLIN, BROTHER OF MISTY CROSLIN: I need her to get my lawyer down here. It`s very important.

FLORA HOLLARS, GRANDMOTHER OF MISTY AND TOMMY: What`s the number, baby, 904? Hey, Lindsay, I`ve got Tommy on the other line. What is it you want me to tell her?

T. CROSLIN: Tell her to get my lawyer down here. It`s very important. I`ve got to do something. It needs to be done. It should have been done already.

HOLLARS: Get the lawyer down there. It`s very important. Do what, baby?

T. CROSLIN: Tell her I got to do something.

HOLLARS: Do something.

T. CROSLIN: Should have been done already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have the entire frantic phone call from jail that sparked that massive, desperate search for little Haleigh`s body in the murky waters of the St. John`s River, the very phone call that cracked this case and caused investigators to say Haleigh was murdered.

Misty Croslin was babysitting the little girl on the very night she vanished. More than a year passed with absolutely no answers from her, until Misty`s brother, Tommy, apparently couldn`t take it anymore. Tommy is behind bars on drug charges. He made this unbelievable collect call to his grandmother, Flo Hollars, on April 11. Tommy finally broke down and told his grandma that his cousin, Joe Overstreet, killed Haleigh. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLARS: Is it the story that Misty`s saying?

T. CROSLIN: Yes, but it -- yes, that`s it.

HOLLARS: Joe?

T. CROSLIN: Yes.

HOLLARS: OK. That`s what I`ve been thinking all along.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: After that call, Grandma Flo appeared here on ISSUES. She told us -- you probably heard it, you were probably watching. Tommy and his Cousin Joe had tied Haleigh to a brick and thrown her in the river.

Tommy`s attorney released these tapes to prove that Tommy never said anything to incriminate himself to Flo. Tommy insists he had nothing to do with little Haleigh`s murder or the cover-up. Tommy says he`s the good guy here.

We have tons of mind-blowing revelations, straight from the mouth of Tommy Croslin.

Straight out to my outstanding expert panel. They`ve been covering this since day one. Criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh. Crime blogger Levi Page, who joins us on Skype. How you doing there, Levi? Clinical psychologist Dr. Gail Saltz. And investigative journalist Art Harris. We`re going to start with the attorney on this one, because there`s so many legal angles.

Mark, what are the significance of these tapes?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, they could be huge. They could be used, first of all, by law enforcement to get people talking. That`s what we want. We want to find out what happened.

Now what`s great is that they all have these charges pending against them. In Florida, minimum mandatory, draconian -- what I believe is draconian -- minimum mandatory prison sentences. So their lawyers are telling them, "Look, there`s overwhelming evidence. Your only way out of this is to cooperate. Maybe they`ll reduce, you know, what kind of time you`re looking at." And thank God it looks like the house of cards are crumbling, and people are talking.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to say that Tommy is pointing the finger at Joe Overstreet, the cousin from Tennessee, but Cousin Joe has said repeatedly through his attorney that he`s been interviewed by the cops, and he did absolutely nothing wrong. So each is pointing the finger at the other.

Now let`s get back to Tommy and this fascinating conversation, a collect call from behind bars, that Tommy made to Grandma Flo. Tommy insists he had nothing to do with Haleigh`s death and that he wanted his grandmother to reassure his wife that he was not involved. Listen to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLARS: Do you know, Tommy?

T. CROSLIN: What`s that?

HOLLARS: Do you know?

T. CROSLIN: All I know is he`s got to pay. He can`t get to none of us so it don`t matter.

HOLLARS: He`s got to pay and he can`t get to none of ya`ll so it don`t matter. But get his lawyer there.

T. CROSLIN: Tell her I love her. Tell her to come see me when she can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigative journalist Art Harris, if Tommy wasn`t involved, how the heck does he know what happened to little Haleigh?

ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Remember, Tommy is the one who took authorities, through his attorney and private investigator, Steve Brown, to the river to show him -- show them where he says Joe dumped the body. Now, how would he know unless Joe took him down there? That is the story that has come out. But he has not given any details about that in this call to Flo Hollars.

At the same time, I can tell you my sources say that Misty is claiming that Tommy took her to the river to show her where he and Joe dumped the body. Tommy denies that, says it`s a lie, never happened. But, remember, we`ve seen Misty go down to the dock, led there by police, to try to remember and identify the dock as the one where she says Tommy took her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You need a scorecard at home to keep track of this. It`s a bunch of cousins pointing the finger at each other.

All right. Holly, Illinois, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Thanks for taking my call, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks.

CALLER: One of the questions I have is I`ve never missed any of the reports, and there`s a question on the time line. Misty claims she woke up to go to the bathroom, and that`s when she discovered Haleigh missing. But the 911 call was not made until Ronald either was coming up the walk or walked inside the home. The question I have is what time elapsed? What time precisely did Misty wake up and find Haleigh missing to the time that Ronald came home and the 911 call was made?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent question. We`re going to throw it back to Art Harris, who has studied this case.

HARRIS: I can tell you that officially I believe the call came in at 3:26. But Misty had made calls to her mother and to others in the family before that. Then Ron pulls up.

I`ve got, on ArtHarris.com, I`m going to release a conversation and interview that I had with Misty`s mother months ago, where she described the call from Misty. But that is an excellent question. A lot of the conflicts in Misty`s story. And as we know, Misty has flunked a number of polygraphs, including one, a secret police polygraph I reported on ArtHarris.com on February 26, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And another problem is that Tommy has also had a little run-in with the truth you might say because, remember, Tommy initially said that he went by the trailer the night that Haleigh disappeared at around 10 p.m. and knocked on the door, and nobody was home.

HARRIS: That`s right, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now we`re hearing a totally different story.

HARRIS: That`s right, Jane. I can tell you that I`m reporting that Tommy has now claimed he lied to police about the time he went to the trailer. He says he never went at 10 p.m. Of course, that was the story he says he now told to get out of jail to have his bond lowered on a gun theft charge.

EIGLARSH: Jane, this is the problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, go ahead, Mark.

EIGLARSH: That`s the problem with this case. If they ever want to flip, meaning have any of these people testify on behalf of the state, their credibility, every single one of these people from "The Jerry Springer Show" all, their credibility is shot. So unless they have forensic evidence, if one`s pointing the finger at the other, they`re all pointing back and forth. What kind of case do you have? That`s not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that dove tails with word that we`re hearing that Ron Cummings, Haleigh`s father, who`s also in jail on drug charges, might be about to cop a plea on the drug case, and there`s a possibility that he could testify against Misty in the drug case anyway if he does that. So that`s a shocker.

But what -- what weight does any of these people have, given that so many of their stories conflict? Levi Page, you`ve been studying this. What do you make of these jailhouse recordings?

LEVI PAGE, CRIME BLOGGER: Well, you know, what`s interesting is that, if you`re innocent, you only tell one story. You only tell the truth. If you`re not guilty, there`s no reason for you to tell all the completely bull crap stories and convolute the truth. So the reason they`re lying is because they`re involved.

And regarding this possibility plea deal with Ronald Cummings, they don`t need to cop a plea deal with Ronald Cummings. They got him on video. I don`t know why his attorney think that he`s going to be successful in getting, you know, a 15- to 30-year plea deal with Ronald Cummings when they have him on video popping a pill in his mouth in the back seat.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Wow. We are just getting started, everyone. Stay right where you are. More on this jailhouse bombshell phone recording. Will we ever find out what happened to beautiful little Haleigh?

Plus, a mystery in Southern California. A woman vanishes going for a jog. Was she abducted or did she run off? Fascinating new developments as we find out that she did not attend university, as she claimed to her parents.

But first, brand-new insight into the Haleigh Cummings case. Tommy tells Grandma he is going to spill the beans. So why don`t we know where Haleigh is already?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLARS: He was sort of crying when he started talking to me. He says, "Nanny, I don`t think I can hold this any longer." And that`s when I -- I mean, I cut down on him, and I cut down on him hard, and that`s when he started running his mouth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. CROSLIN: Tell her I`ve got to do something I should have done awhile ago.

HOLLARS: Do what, baby?

T. CROSLIN: Tell her I have to do something that I should have done a long time ago.

HOLLARS: Said he`s got to do something that he should have done a long time ago, and I don`t want to hear the answer to it because I already know it.

T. CROSLIN: I`m just, just scared. I don`t want no one to hurt my kids.

HOLLARS: I know it, I know it. Oh, my God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The shocking emotional jailhouse phone call that sparked a massive underwater search for the body of 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings.

Haleigh vanished in the dead of night more than a year ago. Tonight, we have audiotapes of Misty`s brother, Tommy Croslin, breaking down in prison talking to his Grandma Flo, asking for his lawyer so he can talk to investigators and, quote, "do something that should have been done a long time ago," end quote.

Everybody saying -- everybody in his family is lying. So, Dr. Gail Saltz, psychologist, does lying run in families sometimes?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHOLOGIST: Actually it really can. In fact, there`s probably some genetic hard wiring in the form of sociopathy or anti-social personality disorder, meaning you do bad things and it doesn`t really bother you; you really don`t care.

In addition to that, kids model their parents. So in the family, there`s already lying, you know, and bad behavior. The kids are simply going to model that. They`re all reinforcing each other.

And yes, this is one sociopathic family. I mean, they`re in all kinds of trouble. They`re lying to everybody. And, you know, it`s hard to know what this tape means. It could mean, you know -- it could mean just about anything. But probably mostly means he`s trying to save his skin in some way.

The only thing I would say is, if he`s actually worried about his own children, which I give a minimal possibility to, then he could be concerned enough to want to out somebody.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or to make up a story about somebody...

SALTZ: It depends, absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s a liar.

All right, if Tommy knew what happened, what took him so long to tell the cops? He tells his Grandma Flo he was scared of his Cousin Joe. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. CROSLIN: He`s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) crazy.

HOLLARS: Yes.

T. CROSLIN: He tried to kill all of us. Don`t be telling them until they get his (EXPLETIVE DELETED), because they`re going to get his (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

HOLLARS: OK.

T. CROSLIN: We`ve got people doing that. I don`t want him getting my kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He begged Flo, please don`t tell anybody about this conversation, because he feared for safety of his children. But Flo immediately did TV interviews like this one. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLARS: I believe in one, what Misty told me, that they tied her up in a rope and dropped her in the river. I just don`t know whether they raped her or not. But I sort of believe that they did. I just hope and pray that the child was already dead before she hit that water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Tommy says he feels threatened by Joe. Joe insists he`s innocent and being set up by his cousins, who he calls pathological liars. Now, Joe does not have a criminal record of violence.

So I don`t understand -- anybody want to take a stab at this one, so to speak? How do you explain them being so scared of Joe, if Joe really doesn`t have this track record of extreme violence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wants to go?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go, go, go. Mark.

EIGLARSH: OK, first of all, I don`t think someone needs a track record to be violent. We see people who -- and I`ve defended people who literally have had, you know, led exemplary lives and then did something outrageous.

Again, you mix in the drug addiction, which is something you can talk about, doesn`t necessarily make you more violent, but does make you more likely to lie; does make you do some very desperate, horrific things. And that`s probably what`s going on here. They were all apparently using and in the throes of addiction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely.

SALTZ: I would completely concur. I would say, first of all, there are a lot of people who never get caught by law enforcement doing something violent. But they do plenty of violent things or allude to or speak about doing violent things to their family in private and don`t get caught.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Patricia in Massachusetts, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Hi. My question is, was the brick outside of the door ever checked for fingerprints?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, good one. Let`s take that over to Art Harris.

HARRIS: Yes, it was. And you cannot get finger prints off this kind of a concrete block, Jane. There were several concrete blocks. And I`ve seen in photographs around the trailer, and this one was taken and has been analyzed. We haven`t seen the results. But that`s what experts tell me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Art, you have breaking news just in. You told me a second ago.

HARRIS: Jane, I can tell you this is taking a toll on the family and that Tommy Croslin`s wife, Lindsay, has filed for divorce. This is an emotional bombshell to Tommy, who adores his wife and their three children. And this could pull the rug right out from under him, and he is now at his most vulnerable. He`s been begging his wife not to leave him. She`s promised to stand by him.

I spoke with her several weeks ago, Jane, and she was hanging in with him. And I told her, I said, "Have you heard about the polygraph?"

She said, "Well, what do you mean?"

I said, "Well, call his lawyer." I didn`t want to tell her myself that I`d learned he flunked it. She called the lawyer. She learned he had flunked his own polygraph. And it has unraveled from there. I`m told she feels very betrayed, Jane. This is someone she believed in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But wait a second. The polygraph he flunked was the one before he supposedly told the real story, and that`s why he was actually inspired to tell the real story, because Grandma Flo said, "Hey, I hear you flunked the polygraph."

And then he started crying and said, "Yes, I did."

And she said, basically, "Tell me the real story." And then he told her this story about Cousin Joe did it, right?

HARRIS: I broke the story on ArtHarris.com that FBI, former FBI polygraph operator Ron Demeer (ph) out of Jacksonville got him almost to confess to at least knowing a lot more than he`d said before. And that`s when he was confronted with the conflicts and gave them information that led to the police search of the river.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Levi Page, your thoughts on all of this and the divorce? Now this guy, his wife`s leaving him.

PAGE: She`s divorcing him because she knows that he`s lying and that he could possibly be involved in a conspiracy to murder a child. I`d say that`s a good move on her part, not to drag the kid to that jailhouse to be around this kind of man. Who can`t get his story straight and lies through his teeth...

EIGLARSH: Let me say something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ten seconds, Mark.

EIGLARSH: Jane, again, I don`t know whether Tommy`s guilty or not, but knowing something doesn`t make you guilty. You don`t have to stop it, even. Just -- if he didn`t play any role, any active role, then he`s not guilty of anything. Knowing something doesn`t make it so.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. You know we`re coming back to this subject many, many times. Fabulous panel, thank you so much.

Cops say a 4-year-old boy was tortured to death by his step-dad. Horrifying details.

Plus, breaking news: a 22-year-old jogger has been found.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, a disaster of colossal proportions. And we have a shocking new report for you that, in the wake of BP`s oil-spill fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration has nevertheless rubber-stamped a slew of -- are you sitting down -- new offshore drilling projects. Have we learned nothing?

This amateur video from YouTube was shot 2 1/2 weeks after the deadly explosion. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing but a red mass of floating goo. It could have been prevented. I was horrified when I looked and saw how many boats there were on the horizon. It didn`t seem to be doing anything at all that was effective. For the first time in my environmental career, I find myself using the word "hopeless."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Despite this monumental disaster, Minerals Management Services, which is part of the Interior Department, has reportedly continued to allow oil companies to bypass certain environmental reviews and proceed with their drilling projects.

Straight out to Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Kieran, what`s your reaction to this apparent more-of-the-same policy even after this horrific spill?

KIERAN SUCKLING, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: It`s -- it`s just unbelievable. I mean, for the administration to go out, look at that oil spill in their backyard and then say, "Yes, let`s rubber stamp 27 more drilling permits and exempt them from environmental review." It`s criminal; it`s just criminal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you -- is there any explanation? Do they think people just won`t figure it out or find out about it?

SUCKLING: You know, I think that`s got to be the case, because this has been going on. They`re putting out new permits as soon as yesterday. And, yes, I think these guys are just as inept at public relations as they are on protecting our environment. And they just figured no one would find out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The inevitable finger pointing has begun. Here is yesterday`s hearing in Congress. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: BP is largely making it up as they go. They`re engaging in a series of elaborate and risky science experiments at the bottom of the ocean. We expected a lot more sophistication when it came to dealing with something of this magnitude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really? Well, Department of Interior honcho Ken Salazar said, "The problem is we only have 30 days for an environmental analysis of an oil project." He wants more time, 90 days.

Kieran, isn`t the real underlying problem that the fox is guarding the hen house? That the government officials that are supposed to regulate these corporations are often in bed with them? In fact, the Minerals Management Agency was involved in a sex-and-drugs scandal, accused in 2008 of taking gifts from oil companies, and the agency was described as an ethical wasteland.

SUCKLING: Yes, I mean, the problem here isn`t that they need 90 days instead of 30 days. What are they going to do with an extra 60 days, do more cocaine with the oil execs?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s not get -- no, I don`t want to get -- I don`t want to go there. I don`t have any proof of that. But what we are saying is that there is a conflict of interest inherent in having an agency that is supposed to regulate an industry also promote it at the same time and deal with it.

Kieran Suckling, thank you so much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news out of Los Angeles as a missing 22- year-old woman is found alive. The big question is was she abducted? Did she run away? What went on there that she disappeared?

The investigation took a very strange twist when police found out that Nancy Salas, who had gone off jogging and never returned, had been lying about attending UCLA for the last two years. Did she get scared and run off? And could the fact that her parents were throwing her a graduation party have been the trigger?

Salas disappeared after allegedly going on a jog yesterday morning. When she didn`t come home after several hours, her frantic dad started looking for her. Cops brought out search dogs and helicopters. They searched nearby Chevy Chase Canyon where she normally jogs. But she turned up nothing. Then cops heard the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. TOM LORENZ, GLENDALE PD: We learned from the UCLA Police Department that she has not been a student there since 2008. That certainly does put a crinkle on our investigation and we have to re- evaluate what we`re looking at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police abruptly called off the ground search. And now we`re hearing that Salas has been found alive in Merced, California and she is healthy.

Straight out to my fantastic panel: former criminal investigator Steve Kardian; psychiatrist, Dr. Gail Saltz; "In Session`s Beth Karas from our sister network TruTV; and Jason Wells, city editor for "Glendale News Press" joins us on the phone.

Jason, we begin with you. What is the very latest? What happened here?

JASON WELLS, CITY EDITOR, "GLENDALE NEWS PRESS" (via telephone): Yes, well, I`m on the scene here. There`s a scene of jubilation after about 30 hours of worrying family. The police announced just a short time ago that Merced police had picked up Nancy Salas and that she was being held there.

Glendale police detectives are on their way now to bring her back where she will be reunited with her family later tonight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now you have been following the story since it broke yesterday. They found out that she had not been attending university. She was supposedly a UCLA student. But there`s something very strange about this because apparently people saw her go into the university and attend some classes. Tell us about that.

WELLS: Yes, despite UCLA officials being adamant that she was not enrolled since as far back as fall 2008, she had classmates telling us that they saw her in class and that they were willing to vouch for it. The disparity between those two stories is something I think drew a lot of people off. Especially when we started looking at her online life via Twitter and her blog, it just got a little bit stranger.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why, what was online with the Twitter and the blog?

WELLS: Well, in her -- on her private twitter account, she posted things, like, April 26, she posted a tweet, prayers for Chelsea King and her family. And then a few minutes later, she posted, "Something feels very wrong. Trying to meditate on Matthew 6:25 through 27." That`s a biblical passage that basically deals with dealing with turmoil and moving on.

When I was out there this morning, I talked to her classmates and they said that she was not an avid jogger. They don`t know why she would have been jogging. She didn`t have a certain route. So then that got us to thinking, you know, that she`s setting up maybe this M.O. of jogging, sending these tweets out, shout-outs to Chelsea King`s family? It just seemed a little too odd.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what you`re pointing out is that Chelsea King is another tragedy in California that got a lot of publicity and it wasn`t so long ago a beautiful young girl in southern California more toward the San Diego area went jogging and she was raped and murdered by John Gardner who has since confessed to that case. It was a case that got a lot of publicity.

So it sounds like what you`re saying, Jason, is that you -- there`s a chance that she might have seen that story and thought, "Hmm, this is something I can sort of pretend happened to me. I`m going to go jogging and then I`m not going to come back and I will possibly be looked at as a Chelsea King?"

WELLS: Well, that`s what a lot of people here were wondering. And the fact that she supposedly had been telling her family she was going to UCLA when in fact officials there say she wasn`t and her family was planning a graduation party for early June. With that deadline looming, I think a lot of people are wondering if that may have been the trigger for this sort of erratic behavior. But those two very different stories I think are something that the police are going to have to reconcile. I think that`s the next big headline out of this story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist -- boy, do we need you. What can you -- what`s your analysis of this?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Yes. Well, you know, unfortunately, it`s not that bizarre a story, to have a child who perhaps feels that their family was counting on them to go to college, to finish, to be a certain kind of success. And maybe they find them themselves in a situation where they can`t manage it.

You know late teens, early 20s is a common time to frankly develop certain psychiatric problems or to feel overwhelmed and stressed and not be able to manage everything that`s going on. Rather than in certain families go to them and say I can`t cut it, you know, a kid could develop basically a secret life.

Telling their family they`re still doing what they`re doing. Without the thought of what am I going to do in the future here? When is this going to end and how am I going to tell everybody? They keep building a web of lies of this different life.

And then as they`re bringing up, you know, you`re kind of trapped. You`re going to have a graduation party and how`s that going to go?

But if this is what happened, she went to great lengths frankly to continue the lie.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what`s so bizarre is she went to the school -- what`s so bizarre about this is that she apparently went to the school and took some classes, even though she was no longer enrolled.

SALTZ: It`s not bizarre if you`re trying to maintain a double life. You`re trying to tell your family you still go there and your friends you still go there when you can`t go there.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Glendale police say -- Merced police have Nancy Salas in custody. Here`s what they had to say just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORENZ: Nancy Salas has been located. She is live and well. She is in the custody of the police department. At this particular time, we do not know what the circumstances are surrounding how she got there or why she ended up there. Our detectives have yet to talk to her. The most important thing is that she has been found alive and well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Beth Karas what do you make of this? Could she be criminally charged?

BETH KARAS, correspondent, "IN SESSION": I`m not sure she could be criminally charged. I would need to know more facts here. I thought it was interesting when they say she left her car, her keys behind. There`s no mention about identification and wallet.

UCLA says she`s not matriculated there. But I would want to know if she used any other names any other surnames. Perhaps no Nancy Salas is matriculated there. So there`s still a lot of questions that I have about this.

But if indeed she wasn`t matriculated, her parents may have wanted to go to her graduation ceremony so this would have contributed, of course, to her anxiety.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jason Wells, you were going to add something. You wanted to jump in.

WELLS: Well, I was just going to say, you know, she was also described as being very active on campus. She`s active at her local church and she`s active on Christian outreach ministries on campus there. So she`s well known.

So, I mean that may have contributed also to her feeling pressured to go to class, even though she wasn`t enrolled just to maintain that side of things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I know people who go to class even if they`re not enrolled. I`ve heard of that before. People who are interested in a subject in college, even though they`re not going to get credit for it have been known to go to class. Maybe she learned something despite the fact that she was being deceptive.

In no uncertain terms, police made it clear that Salas should have let them know that she is ok.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORENZ: There`s some type of deception going on. I think the most important thing that I can say right now is if she`s out there, hey, we have a lot of other things to do, number one. Number two, that if you`re ok at least let us know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Obviously that sound was from before they found her. And they were quite concerned. They were really frantic.

Now, just last month, there was a mother and wife who ran off to Florida with her boyfriend. Tiffany Tehan`s actions triggered a nationwide hunt until police found her at a Miami hotel. Tehan said she just wanted to start a new life.

So this is something that we see, Gail Saltz, over and over again it seems lately with women who just don`t like where they`re at in their life and decide maybe they`ve seen too many movies or read too many thriller novels, that they`re just going to take off and make it look like a disappearance.

SALTZ: You know, think lots of women who are in a very, very stressful situation think about disappearing and starting a new life. That`s not an unusual thought to tell you the truth. But it is an unusual step to go the next -- the next step and actually try to do that. That is someone who is, you know, really suffering, under highly unusual stressful situations or maybe has a psychiatric problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just wonder, Jason, ten seconds, do we know how they found her? Was she just sitting in a coffee shop? Or did she come forward and contact police?

WELLS: They`ve been -- remain mum on those counts. But the family did say that they didn`t know why she would be there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That`s no place for her to be; 275 miles away from home.

Thank you so much, fantastic panel.

A horrifying story of torture and murder: cops say a beautiful little 4-year-old boy was abused to death by his own stepdad. And his mother did absolutely nothing to stop it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just seemed fishy to me. I don`t know. I just had a bad feeling this whole time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Turning now to a sickening outrageous case of alleged child abuse and murder. I have to warn you, some of the details are extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing.

The beaten mutilated body of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy was found on Tuesday. It was wrapped in plastic. Taped up and buried in a shallow grave outside Salt Lake City.

Look at that poor kid. These sickos, police say his stepdad, Nathan Sloop, killed him and his own mom, Stephanie Sloop, helped cover it up. Police say after killing Ethan, Nathan took a hammer, took a hammer to Ethan`s face, knocking out his teeth and trying to make him unrecognizable. It didn`t work.

According to an affidavit, Stephanie, the mom, confessed that her new husband had viciously beaten and tortured the little boy for days. Police say not only was the mom aware of the abuse, she documented Ethan`s injuries on her cell phone camera. The couple confessed to cops that after the child died they quickly hatched a plan to hide the body. They even reported the child missing.

The entire community, including neighbors who helped search for Ethan, are absolutely shaken to the core.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just -- that makes me sick to know this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m so sick to my stomach. I don`t see how anybody can do that to anybody, much less a little kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The parents going to do something like this to a little boy, what`s the world coming to?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have to ask why Ethan was even in this home in the first place. His biological dad had primary custody. But the court awarded Ethan`s mom visitation rights. That ruling landed the child in the home of his alleged killer. Look at that little angel now dead, beaten to death.

Straight out to my expert panel: defense attorney, Mark Eiglarsh; psychiatrist, Dr. Gail Saltz. But I want to start with reporter, Chris Jones from KUTV.

Chris, I`m almost afraid to ask. What is the very latest?

CHRIS JONES, REPORTER, KUTV: Well at this point, the couple -- the Sloops remain here at the Davis County jail. They are separated from the general population. They have an initial appearance tomorrow where basically they will be read these formal charges against them.

Of course, Nathan Sloop facing aggravated murder charges tonight. The judge that you talk about who actually heard their divorce case of Joe Stacy against Stephanie Stacy, she says that she`s sorry that there was a death in this case, but she says that she never heard any of this evidence against Stephanie Stacy. She says that it`s not the kind of thing that came up during their hearing, which raises the question, why not?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and there are so many questions surrounding this hideous, hideous case. Look at this guy. Take a good look at this guy`s face. This is the face of a monster. Ditto for this one.

Investigators say Ethan was not at the Sloop`s home long before the abuse started.

Again, I have to warn you the details are just horrific. Photos on the mother`s cell phone dated May 4th showed Ethan with a swollen jaw and face. She told cops on May 5th Nathan took Ethan to his room and gave him a severe beating. His head and face began to swell immediately. The next day this couple locks Ethan in his room and they go to the courthouse to get married. With the little child suffering in a locked room with a swollen face.

Cops say both Nate and Stephanie admitted they didn`t take Ethan because somebody would see his injuries and call police. Then the next day, last Friday, Stephanie says her husband severely scalded the child in a bathtub. She claims over the weekend Ethan showed signs of severe brain injury, vomiting, fever, sleeplessness, lack of appetite. By Sunday morning, this precious child was dead.

I honestly have no words. This is just making me beyond sick. And there are no words.

JONES: I think -- I think what`s disturbed a lot of people here in Utah is not only was the child locked in that bedroom, to make sure according to those court documents that the child didn`t get out. We are told that the Sloops took the doorknobs off the doors so that the child couldn`t get out of the house for any reason.

So not only could he get out to show the injuries that he allegedly -- that he suffered, we`re told that if there was a fire in the apartment, the child would have certainly perished because there was absolutely no way out of that apartment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why would the mother document the abuse on the cell phone? How sick. How sick is that, Dr. Saltz, psychiatrist?

SALTZ: Well, it`s sick. I mean, it`s very, very sick. You know, sometimes there are bizarre instances where a woman is so enraged at her ex-husband and particularly if a child looks like their ex, if they feel like the child -- the husband got the -- got the child away from her, so to speak, you know, I`m afraid there are instances where even a woman will take it out on the child.

And, you know, you have to wonder, I mean, she may not have done the actual things. But she essentially killed him by not getting him any help or any care, protecting him in any way. And so, you know, she harbored some sort of, you know, tremendous animosity toward this child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here is my big issue -- courts, do your homework. Ethan was put on a plane and flown all the way from Virginia to Utah -- across the country -- to stay with these sickos for the summer. Maybe if a judge had bothered to look into Stephanie and who she was living with, she wouldn`t have been awarded the visitation.

Nathan Sloop. That`s the suspect, now accused of murder, that guy right there. Look at that sneer. He has a rap sheet: convicted of disorderly conduct; two felony drug charges. At the very least, maybe the courts would have required supervision.

In the divorce papers, Ethan`s dad, his biological dad, called his ex unstable. Quote, "The mother has abandoned the child and I`m afraid she`ll come and take him and I`ll never see him again". End quote. Prophetic. He`s never going to see his son again.

The judge who oversaw the custody case said she never heard that argument. Why on earth would she have not seen all the divorce papers, Vikki Ziegler, family attorney?

JONES: If I could say something about that -- if I could say something about that process --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

JONES: I mean, the -- as far as we know, Stephanie Stacy, Stephanie Sloop did not have any sort of criminal record. And the judge admitted, you know, we`re talking about a court system that basically grinds to a halt that is overloaded with cases. The judge admitted that, you know in cases like this a lot of times the magistrate will look at the case for maybe 10 minutes before passing judgment and allowing a case --

(CROSSTALK)

VIKKI ZIEGLER, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: No excuse. No excuse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what, I don`t buy the argument. I don`t buy the argument. When they`re busting pot dealers and giving people tickets for going through red lights.

On the other side of the break, we`re going to --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just seemed fishy to me. And I don`t know. I`ve just had a bad feeling this whole time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This story just turns my stomach. It just makes me question humanity.

Neighbors helped search for 4-year-old Ethan Stacy. Look at this precious young child, this little boy. Look at that small.

His mother and stepdad reported him missing. They`re now suspects in his murder.

Vikki Ziegler, family law attorney, I don`t buy this whole notion that the courts are overloaded that`s why they can`t research the details. It`s going to cost 1 million bucks to prosecute these sickos.

ZIEGLER: I agree. The courts do have resources to make sure things like this don`t happen to these poor defenseless children. A psychological evaluation should have been had, based upon the allegations that the father made against his ex-wife.

There is no reason why this child should not have been supervised when sent all the way to Utah alone for the entire summer. It`s ridiculous.

I don`t know what happened in this case. But the justice system did a major wrong. And now this poor family has to grieve this young boy. It is horrible. Morally, it is despicable.

And there`s a lot of people to blame in this case. As family law attorneys such as myself, this is what we do. We fight for children, children`s rights. We want to make sure children are safe. What is in the best interest of these children?

Ethan`s best interest was not to go with his mother and new stepfather who had a rap sheet, as you said, a mile long.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And why in the world would these sickos fight to get him, only to allegedly torture him to death? None of Nathan`s prior convictions are for violent crimes.

But there has to be red flags. His own cousin told a reporter, quote, "I actually spoke to somebody in the family and they said that Nate will eventually kill somebody and he will be on the news one day." I mean come on, Mark Eiglarsh, if a cousin says that, you know it has to be bad.

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And Jane let me just -- I don`t want to put all the blame on the judge here who again, sees whatever they have in front of them. I think there were failures here. But it`s someone`s job to bring that stuff to the judge`s attention.

The blame falls exclusively on this alleged monster Nate who I`ve nicknamed 47 because since 1850 Utah has executed 46 people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hope -- well, you know what? I don`t even want to get into it because --

EIGLARSH: The facts are so egregious.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m still too depressed about this little boy. I`m still way too depressed.

ZIEGLER: Jane, the funny thing about this case, it`s so ironic, is that they got divorced I think April 28th. They get remarried May 1st. Did, you know this -- did the father, Mr. Stacy, know anything about this individual? How long were they dating? Their divorce only took a couple of months. In my world, that`s a short period of time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve Kardian, what do you make of it? Why didn`t they research and find out she was living with this creep?

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: Well Jane, it`s quite possible that they didn`t have that available information that we`re hearing now to be presented to the judge. When a husband says he`s concerned about his wife`s mental state, it should be looked at very closely: his felony convictions, drug convictions, the absence of violence.

My big question is, what does it take for the maternal instinct to break down to this degree in which a mother -- normally we see associated with drug use or extreme emotional disturbance for this type of crime to occur.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, you`re absolutely right.

All right. We have to leave it right there. What a sad ending.

Thank you panel.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.

END