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Ron Cummings to Testify Against Ex-Wife in Drug Case; Face of a Monster; Recipe for Murder

Aired May 17, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, did Ron Cummings take a plea deal? Shocking new twists in the desperate search for Haleigh Cummings. New reports say Ronald Cummings is headed to jail for 15 years. It could have been decades longer. In exchange, he will now have to testify against Misty Croslin and Misty`s brother. Could this be the pressure needed to break open the case and finally find Haleigh?

And the pathetic monster. John Gardner face-to-face with his victims` outraged families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean this quite literally, you can go straight to hell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will burn in hell for the acts you have committed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m confident that you`ll never make it to heaven.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The murdering rapist was sentenced to life in prison. Tonight we`ll go inside the fiery courtroom, and I`ll talk live with murder victim Amber Dubois`s heartbroken grandmother.

Plus order up. A TV chef accused of hiring a couple homeless hit men to kill his wife. From the famous Food Network to the slammer mess hall. We`ll have all the tasteless details.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, fast-breaking developments in the Haleigh Cummings case. Ron Cummings turns on his ex-wife, Misty Croslin. Ron has reportedly accepted a plea deal. In exchange, he will testify against Misty, his teenage girlfriend who was babysitting his 5-year-old daughter Haleigh on the very night she disappeared.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, sir, let me talk to your wife. Let me get some information from her.



CUMMINGS: How the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) do you let my daughter get stolen, (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, here`s Ron in court last week. He will reportedly testify against both Misty and Misty`s brother Tommy Croslin in their drug trafficking cases.

In exchange, Ron will get a much lighter sentence. He will serve 15 years in prison for his involvement in that alleged prescription drug trafficking ring. He could have gotten half a century in the slammer. Will this new twist put even more pressure on Misty to crack and finally spill the truth and the whole truth about what really happened to little Haleigh that night?

Plus Tommy Croslin breaks down behind bars, revealing more details on what he claims did happen to Haleigh that night.


TOMMY CROSLIN, MISTY CROSLIN`S BROTHER: I have to do something I should have done a while ago.


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

HOLLARS: He said he`s got to do something 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 scared. I don`t want no one to hurt my kids.

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


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Tommy`s attorney is dropping still more bombshells. Was Cousin Joe in the bedroom with Haleigh`s dead body that night?

Tommy led detectives to this spot on the St. John`s River. They pulled cinderblocks and a cooler out of the murky water. Will they ever find Haleigh`s remains? Will Ron turning on Misty put the pressure, put the squeeze on her to tell what she knows about Haleigh`s death?

What`s your theory? Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: former prosecutor Wendy Murphy; psychiatrist Dr. Carol Lieberman; former attorney for Haleigh`s mom, Kim Picazio -- and there she is. Hi, Kim. And investigative journalist Art Harris. We have to begin with Wendy Murphy.

Wendy, you were a prosecutor. Give us their mind-set. What is the strategy in getting Ron to testify against Misty in the drug case? How could that pressure Misty to reveal the truth about the bigger case, Haleigh`s disappearance?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, the answer is simple, Jane. I`m so glad this is happening, because the point is to divide these nuts. You know, there`s nothing more frustrating for a prosecutor than knowing that a few people know what happened, and they`re stuck together like glue. As you know, they got married, Misty and Ronald did, which made the glue even stickier right after the incident.

And that`s really hard, because prosecutors may have a sense about what happened, but they don`t know exactly. And the way to get to the answer to what exactly happened is to get one of them to turn on the others. Well, you can`t just march in and insist on it, because they`ll all take the fifth. What you have to do is pull them apart from each other, and there`s no better device than having a prosecution against them for some other reason. They`re all in jail now for drug trafficking. It`s perfect. They are physically not together. You can make deals with one, squeeze the other.

And frankly I don`t think they`re looking at Misty as the ultimate suspect in Haleigh`s death. I think they`re looking at one of the guys. And they`re going to find out from Misty, because she`s going to be under a ton of pressure now. Plus she`s not going to like these folks anymore. She`s going to say, "They turned on me. I don`t care any more. I`m going to tell what I know." And you can bet she`s got the goods on exactly what happened to that child. I`m so glad, because this development has happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Art Harris, investigative journalist, do you think this one will work? They`ve tried every other trick in the book, and this 17-, now 18-year-old girl, who looks like a 12-year-old, has managed to tenaciously keep her mouth shut, despite the pressure cooker of the entire world demanding from her the answer. Will this one work?

ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Jane, this is the one man, the one person in the world police believe she cares about, she truly loves. She`s got his tattoo on her lower back. And this is someone, when they brought up Ron`s names to her in jail, she showed real emotion. In fact, law enforcement detectives told Ronald that. So they have been pushing for this moment for a long time, trying to isolate Misty, get her away from her comfort zone.

In fact, there`s some rumor that they may have pressured Ron into actually divorcing her. That`s not true, my sources tell me, but they have Misty right now where they have been trying to get her for over a year.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you talked about her love for Ron, and that is absolutely the case, because from what we`ve heard from Misty`s grandmother Flo, Misty is desperately in love with Ron. She is even writing him secret love letters from behind bars, begging him to take her back. Check this out.


HOLLARS: She has mailed letters to her mother mainly to be sent -- put in another envelope and be sent to Ron under her mother`s name, and I told her mother, I says that "You better not do it, because you`re sticking your foot in too deep." And she didn`t do it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Misty, also, as you just heard from Art Harris, tattooed the name "Ronald Cummings" on her lower back.

Carol Lieberman, the love of her life is turning on her. His testimony could help keep her in prison for most of her adult life. Imagine the devastation factor here. You`re wearing the tattoo of somebody who sent you to the slammer for your life, and you`re aware of that for the rest of your life. Because they don`t have tattoo removal behind bars.

CAROL LIEBERMAN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, it -- this is such a confusing story, because all of these people are unsavory characters, and there`s drugs involved. We don`t know what they were on at the time that the baby escaped, the child escaped or whatever happened to her, was killed. So even their memories or the realization of what actually happened could be clouded.

But I think that she has this romantic notion that she still wants to cling to the idea that he would, even after 15 years, that he will come out and marry her or get together with her, still love her. And so if she`s...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think they are, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton? They`re going to keep getting married over and over again? These -- these are not in the same category, my dear.

LIEBERMAN: Well, no. She...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Although -- although they do have acting in common. I will say that.

MURPHY: Bad acting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She still hopes that he`s going to be -- she`s going to be the love of his life. Now it depends what actually happened to the little girl. If, in fact, you know, one of the theories is that the little girl took some of these drugs that they had and died, and then Misty got someone to take care of the body, if she -- obviously this happened on her watch, and she doesn`t want him, Ron, to blame her for it. And for that to be the stumbling block for their getting together again.

So it`s all going to be -- it`s all going to depend on what actually happened to the little girl, as to whether now she`ll finally think, "All right. It`s over. There`s no chance of my getting him back, so I might as well just tell the story."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Since Misty has been behind bars on drug charges, she has had a very, very cocky attitude. In fact, she doesn`t seem to care, or is in total denial about the fact that she could spend the rest of her life, practically, behind bars. Listen to this.


MISTY CROSLIN, RONALD CUMMINGS`S EX-WIFE: If they give me 20 years in prison, it will be OK, because he`ll come see me. I`ll get out, and everything will be fine. I`m not scared. I`m not scared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ll be old and gray like me.

M. CROSLIN: I don`t care, you know. They`re not going to put me away for something I didn`t do, and I didn`t have anything to do with Haleigh, and if I knew who did, I would tell. I told them everything that I could tell them. They need to leave me alone about this. This - - why I`m in this jail has nothing to do with Haleigh.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Given that attitude, Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, I still don`t understand how Ron Cummings testifying against her in the drug case is going to get her to spill the beans about the other case in which nobody`s been charged, because they don`t have a body.

MURPHY: Well, you don`t need a body. I mean, if she does know, and she says what she knows, that`s good enough. If she was there and she testifies and the jury believes her, that`s good enough. You don`t have to have a body.

But, you know, here`s the thing. They`ve got to pressure somebody to tell what they know, and she, I think, is the most vulnerable, both because she`s the youngest. She`s the -- seemingly the least sophisticated. I think she can crack, because she`s going to say, "I have nothing left to lose. Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I was in love. That`s all gone now. I`m in prison, arguably for the rest of my life. Why not tell the truth?"

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s hope you`re right. From your mouth to God`s ear.

We`re also taking your calls at home on this. Phone lines are lighting up. Right after the break. 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Plus a recipe for disaster. A former celebrity chef gets burned for cooking up an alleged murder-for-hire Plot. The tasteless details on that story just ahead.

Plus, more on Ron Cummings and his plea deal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should know better than to get mixed up in none of Misty`s deals like that anyway. You knew that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Misty has always -- it seems lately Misty has been getting you in trouble, trouble, and trouble.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She don`t mean to. She just -- I don`t know what the hell to think about her any more.

CUMMINGS: I don`t know what the hell to think about her anymore. She`s got me worried.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ron Cummings reportedly strikes a plea deal, in which he will testify against his ex-wife, Misty Croslin, and Misty`s brother, Tommy," in their drug cases. In exchange, the father of missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings would have a sentence for drug trafficking reduced to 15 years instead of decades behind bars.

Kim Picazio, you represented the mother of the missing child. Do you think this plan will work and him turning against Misty will force her to finally crack?

KIM PICAZIO, ATTORNEY: Yes, I do. And I think that, I mean, let`s face it. They don`t need Ronald to testify against any of them to get a conviction here. They`ve got videotaped, they`ve got taped phone calls with the undercover police officers, plus their testimony, the undercover officers themselves.

So this is clearly a psychological ploy to finally, once and for all, get Misty to crack by getting her mad at the one person she`s never been mad at, and that is Ronald Cummings.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vicki, Michigan, your question or thought, ma`am. Hey, Vicki, are you there? All right. I guess she ran to the refrigerator. We`ll get another call for you.

Tommy`s attorney, James Werter, is dropping some huge bombshells about what happened the night Haleigh was murdered. He says Tommy Croslin now admits he was inside the trailer home and saw it all go down. Listen to this.


NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Tommy Croslin, your client, told you that Overstreet got very irate. Things happened from there. I`m quoting, "Overstreet where into the bedroom where Haleigh got out of control from there, and Haleigh was no longer alive. Overstreet was in a rage.

JAMES WERTER, ATTORNEY FOR TOMMY CROSLIN: Yes, that`s correct. He went in there looking for this gun that they were going to go borrow. It was an automatic weapon. And out there they do poach at night or shoot deer at night with the headlights and things of that nature. The gun was not there. Misty told them the gun was not there. That`s what set them off.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now we`ve reached out to Joe Overstreet`s attorney, we have not heard back, but Art, Joe, the cousin`s name, keeps coming up. They have not named him as a suspect.

Joe, you`re looking at him right there, insists he`s innocent and is being framed. Is it possible that Tommy`s story about, "Hey, he Joe took Haleigh, killed her and took her down to the river and threw her in the river is totally made up?

HARRIS: Jane, anything is possible here. Tommy has flunked a polygraph. Misty has flunked four. I reported on that, once Tommy flunked, his lawyers had a 24-hour lapse of -- you know, of wondering whether he was going to represent him or not, and then decided he would.

Now, Tommy comes up with the location of the body, presumably, takes law enforcement down to the river. Joe has denied at every turn that he`s innocent, but now you`ve got two people who have got to find another person who did it. And that`s Misty and Tommy. Very interesting that two warring siblings are now pairing up to finger the one person who they have got to pin it on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Interesting. Melanie, Ohio, your question or thoughts?

CALLER: Yes, Jane, I do not believe that this is -- Misty is going to change anything. And if Ron was looking at 15 years, it`s probably better than, because he claimed that if he found the killer, he would kill him. So maybe those 15 years is actually saving him a life sentence.

My question is, this is going on with Joe Overstreet. Where is he at? And what`s going on with him in this case?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s an excellent question. Art Harris, as I said, Joe has been interviewed by cops. He says he`s totally innocent and being framed. They haven`t arrested him. So if -- if Tommy`s telling the truth, why haven`t they taken action against Joe?

HARRIS: They have nothing hard other than two witnesses, Jane, who have repeatedly been proven to be liars. And so they don`t have much of a case. If they don`t have anything, or no forensic evidence to back them up, they cannot take this case to a grand jury, to a prosecutor and say, "Hey, we would like you to arrest Joe," because it won`t stick. It won`t be winnable before a jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s my big issue tonight. Is Misty in a pressure cooker? And what`s the next ingredient we`re going to put into that pressure cooker?

Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, the way I see it is now they`ve got to separate the siblings. Now Misty and her brother Tommy, who are the ones who were sort of like the final two that have not cracked, need to be separated. How do you do that?

MURPHY: Well, you know, I don`t know if you have to separate them so much. What you really need is for Misty to talk. And psychological pressure I think is good.

But in addition, remember, she faces a ton of time behind bars for drug trafficking. If the cops say to her, you tell us the truth and you walk out free, that`s a big something for her to consider. She`s a young kid. She`s got to be thinking, "I can rot in jail for 20, 30, 40 years, or I can walk scot-free and do justice for a little girl." I don`t think she had anything to do with that kid`s death.

And Joe Overstreet, that story doesn`t make sense. That`s why he hasn`t been arrested. He walked in looking for a rifle to shoot goose or whatever he was shooting in the middle of the night. That makes no sense. And because he couldn`t find the rifle, the girl died? That`s irrational; makes no sense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, counselor, hang on. We`ll have more after the break. Plus, John Gardner comes face-to-face with his victims` families.



CUMMINGS: Kill him. The same thing I said on the 911 call. I`m telling you, I ain`t changed my mind. Not a bit. I don`t care if they get me with injustifiable homicide. It doesn`t matter to me. It would be worth life without parole or the death penalty, whatever.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s out to kill the person who hurt his daughter. It kind of seems like when Ron lost his daughter, his own life became less valuable to him.

Phone lines against lighting up. Sandra in California, your questions or thoughts?

CALLER: Yes, I had a problem with this whole case from the very beginning. I personally believe that someone went into the trailer. The little boy said there were like four people in black. I believe they were in there trying to find a gun, could not find the gun, and took little Haleigh in its place.

And I personally -- I`m a grandmother myself. I personally believe that they sold her to prostitution. It makes me very upset, but that`s what I feel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Kim Picazio, do you want to weigh in on that since you`ve studied this case as the former attorney for the mother of the missing child?

PICAZIO: Yes. I think that, you know, there`s a lot of things that went on in the very early beginnings of this case, and I think law enforcement has now had a chance to ferret those things out.

With regard to the child`s allegations of a man in black, that was only one man. And I don`t believe that law enforcement at this time or even from day 1 is looking at a stranger abduction or Haleigh being sold into slavery.

And what you really have to be concerned with here is to look at everyone as sentences. Everyone is vying for that carrot that law enforcement is holding out of concurrent sentences. And if they get their sentences lined back to back, that`s 100 years. So what they`re trying to do is put that pressure on Misty to finally get that coveted prosecution, and what they will give her in return is maybe 15 to 30 years, as to 100 years in prison.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Dr. Carol Lieberman, she acts like she doesn`t care. These -- all these people don`t seem to have a lot of regard for their own lives. They`re all acting like they don`t care if the go to prison for the rest of their lives.

LIEBERMAN: They`re living in a fairytale, and in fact, Misty is living in a kind of a Romeo and Juliet sort of scenario, where she`ll go to the end of the earth, she`ll sacrifice herself as long as she can be together with her lover.

But I think if he finally -- if when he comes forward and testifies against her, if it`s not the sense of where he`s trying to protect his own skin, but where she really feels that he doesn`t love her anymore and can`t be coaxed into loving her again, then she`s going to be a woman scorned, and then she`s going to open up and tell whatever happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you know what they say, Wendy. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

MURPHY: I hate that myth. Damn Freud. No. You know, I don`t think women are inherently capable of evil things, to put it the way Freud did, but I will say this. That caller actually made a point that could be true. We just don`t know.

Ron Cummings had a big drug debt, according to some accounts. If you`ve got a big drug debt and people are coming after you, and you`ve got a kid, and they say, "Give us your kid," you know, people do horrible things to children in the name of resolving their personal crises, including drug debts.

If they wanted that child, whether it was for prostitution, porn or something else, and he wanted to get rid of that drug debt, or they were going to kill him if he didn`t give up his kid, that`s a possible story here. We don`t know. We`re speculating.

But Misty is really the key. And that`s the point. You`ve got to get to the truth. One of these rats is going to have to be the source of the truth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All I can say is I wish her tenacity was used in something good, like not breaking down when defending the country`s honor, but it`s not.

Next, a huge story.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: The pathetic monster, John Gardner, face-to-face with his victims` outraged families.


BRENT KING, CHELSEA KING`S FATHER: I mean this quite literally, you can go straight to hell.

MAURICE DUBOIS, AMBER DUBOIS` FATHER: You will burn in hell for the acts you have committed.

CARRIE MCGONIGLE, AMBER DUBOIS` MOTHER: I`m confident that you`ll never make it to heaven.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The murdering rapist was sentenced to life in prison. Tonight, we`ll go inside the fiery courtroom and I`ll talk live with murder victim, Amber Dubois` heartbroken grandmother.

Plus order up, a TV chef accused of hiring a couple of homeless hitmen to kill his wife. From the famous Food Network to the slammer mess hall; we`ll have all the tasteless details.

Tonight, gut-wrenching new developments in the case of rapist, murderer, pedophile John Gardner; police just announced that he has implicated himself in still more crimes. They say the other cases are assaults, not murders.

Tonight we`re asking how many more victims could there be out there?

This guy, Gardner, will serve life in prison for raping and murdering Amber Dubois and Chelsea King, but before he was sentenced, the families of those two precious girls got to unleash their anger in court.


KELLY KING, CHELSEA KING`S MOTHER: Look at me. Look at me, and you now have to spend the rest of your life and eternity in the worst and deepest parts of hell. Nothing, no one can save you.

B. KING: I mean this quite literally. You can go straight to hell.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Imagine those poor people, what they`re going through. Those were the parents of 17-year-old Chelsea King.

Gardner also abducted Chelsea three months ago as she jogged in a southern California park. His DNA was found on Chelsea`s underwear.

Gardner initially abducted and killed 14-year-old Amber Dubois a year earlier. Here`s what her Amber`s parents had to say to their daughter`s killer.


MCGONIGLE: I`m confident that you will never be allowed to hurt another human being, but most of all I`m confident that you`ll never make it to heaven.

DUBOIS: You will burn in hell for the acts you have committed.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s no way we can even approximate what those parents are going through tonight. Amber`s mom was repeatedly denied her request to meet privately with John Gardner, but last week Carrie McGonigle finally got her wish.

She asked Gardner for excruciating details about her own daughter`s abduction and murder. Here`s what she told "Good Morning America".


MCGONIGLE: She turned down a street one block over to head to school and the street had nowhere for her to go. Both sides of the street had fencing all the way down one to the back of the school and the other one to the river bed. And he was on the Main Street and turned -- saw her turn up and told her to get in the car or it would be a lot worse for her. And she had nowhere to run. She was stuck.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m honored to welcome Amber Dubois` grandmother Sheila Welch. First of all, Sheila, our condolences; our hearts go out to you and your family. We here on ISSUES just hope this dialogue will somehow move society forward toward solution, so we can evolve as a human species and avoid these horrors and your precious granddaughter will not have died in vain. That`s our hope.

We`re so happy to have you here tonight.

This case is so infuriating. Did Gardner`s sentencing -- and I understand you were there in the second row or something like that -- did it give you any peace at all?

SHEILA WELCH, AMBER DUBOIS` GRANDMOTHER: I can`t say it gave me peace, but I`m hoping that it will help towards the healing now that the event is over. Not necessarily the idea that I was at the sentencing, but that he is in fact sentenced and he can`t hurt anybody else.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There was an incredible moment during that hearing on Friday where Gardner`s rage suddenly surfaced. The mask fell. I mean you saw the real man.

A woman, Candice Montoya testified about being attacked by him. She got away by smashing him in the nose. Listen to this.


CANDICE MONTOYA, ASSAULTED BY JOHN GARDNER: And finally to ask him how his nose is.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, watch Gardner`s reaction. Look at that rage. He mouths the words, "She didn`t hit me." Look at him. He can barely contain his fury. He says to his attorney she`s a liar. Then listen to this.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know Sheila, as I saw that, it really was like the mask fell and we saw this real person, a vicious, rageful monster. Did you notice Gardner`s reaction to that nose comment? Were you in court? What did you make of that whole interplay?

WELCH: All I can think of when I saw his rage come out was that`s what Amber saw when he insisted that she get into the car and he threatened her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you about that, because your daughter has said that she normally took a certain route, and on that particular day she had taken another block. She was a block off her route, and that happened to be a street that was lined with fences, so she had nowhere to run when he approached her.

Do you have any idea why she was taking that route that particular day?

WELCH: Well, I think Jane that it`s been pretty well-documented that it was the day before Valentine`s Day and she had valentines for her friends. And I know from prior talks with her that she had a friend who lived one block farther down.

And knowing Amber, because that particular little friend of hers was having problems in her own family, I think Amber probably walked down to give her a valentine or see if she wanted to walk to school with her. That is so much like what she would do. If any of her friends were hurting she would want to help them. And I can envision her doing that.

And the street on one side is a crevice, and it`s blocked off. On the other side is the football field of a private school. So there was no way that she could run away. And she was an intellectual and a reader. She wasn`t a runner. So there was no chance that she could outrun someone like him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a beautiful young lady and a kindhearted child, and again, it`s so incomprehensible that this sicko was able to get away with that. It`s just awful.

Chelsea King, another victim, her parents used their victim impact statement to scold Gardner`s mother. Listen to this.


K. KING: As a mother, I feel she lacked the humanity and human decency to do the right thing, to possibly keep Chelsea alive. Your mother will always be intertwined with your horrific crimes, because she did nothing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Gardner`s mom, Katherine Osbourne (ph) listened to that from the front row at that hearing. The Kings say her experience as a psychiatric nurse should have tipped her off to her son`s potential to kill.

Gardner, let`s face it, was convicted back in 2000 of a violent sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl. He only served 5 years for that. He later registered as a sex offender using his grandmother`s address. But Osbourne never alerted police or neighbors that, hey, a sex offender was living with her when he was registered somewhere else.

Sheila, as the grandmother of a victim, do you think Gardner`s mother should share the blame for his crime?

WELCH: Well, I think there`s more than one way to share the blame. I can`t imagine that woman can ever hold her head up after the fact that she allowed this to be continued. She had to know, he was in jail before.

There`s one thing to say you want to protect your child. It`s something else to turn him loose against innocent girls. So yes, I think that emotionally and as a citizen she has blame to share with her son.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I want to talk about Gardner`s emotions which were all over the map at this sentencing. There were flashes of anger, as we have discussed. And there was a lot of weeping. There were steady streams of tears and sighs from him. At one point or twice his attorney patted him on the back.

To that I say, give me a break. This guy is simply playing the sympathy card. So many criminals, really violent people have, what I call, a victim mentality. They are just consumed with self-pity and rage and that`s a very dangerous combination that allows them to justify in their sick minds lashing out at innocent people.

You were there as one of the victims` grandmothers. Sheila, what do you make of his weepy performance?

WELCH: Well, possibly he should be nominated for an Oscar in criminal performances. I don`t believe for one minute that he feels remorse or sorrow for what he`s done. If he`s crying, he`s crying for his own pitiful soul.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, incredibly your daughter, Amber`s mom, says she has forgiven him, this killer. Here she is on "Good Morning America". Listen to this.


MCGONIGLE: I actually forgive, because I don`t want to be angry, and I don`t want to hold onto all that anger and all that hate. I mean, I was -- I was angry for 15 months, and I was miserable for 15 months. You know, like I said, I`ll never forget what he did, but if I hold on to that anger and hate, I won`t be able to move on and give Allison a proper life.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheila, Allison is your other granddaughter. What do you say about your daughter saying that she`s been able to achieve forgiveness? I mean that`s admirable. What are your thoughts or emotions on that?

SHEILA WELCH, AMBER DUBOIS` GRANDMOTHER: Oh, I think that if she`s able to forgive him, then that`s -- that`s a wonderful thing for her. If she needs that in order to heal, then of course I support her. I`m still angry. And I probably will be until I die.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Understandable. Any thoughts finally about the fact that you had hired -- that the family had hired police dogs which had gone to the location near where your granddaughter`s body was ultimately found, but the police apparently didn`t take those dogs seriously? What are your thoughts on that?

WELCH: Well, I`ve got -- I`ve got two very negative thoughts about the Escondido Police Department. One is the fact that they totally ignored the report of the dogs. They had it. They knew the dogs were there. They should have followed up on it. They promised to follow up on it. They made all of us refrain from telling Carrie and Mo what the dogs had found, because they said they were afraid of a leak --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it there.

WELCH: -- which was absolutely ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We will have you back soon.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning allegations tonight against a former Food Network star. Juan-Carlos Cruz, the calorie commando -- remember him? He`s accused of ordering a hit on his own wife. The would-be killers -- three homeless men; but this alleged murder-for-hire plot would fall apart when they spilled the beans to the cops.

So Juan-Carlos Cruz has traded in his apron for a jumpsuit and he is sitting in the slammer tonight as we speak, charged with attempted murder and solicitation of murder. Unshaven and in handcuffs, Cruz pleaded not guilty in court today. There he is making an appearance not on TV but in a courtroom. He`s being held on $2 million bond.

Prosecutors say the intended target was his wife, high school sweetheart Jennifer Campbell. It`s a stark contrast to the days when Cruz was on Discovery Health Network`s "Body Challenge", isn`t it?


JUAN-CARLOS CRUZ, CHARGED IN MURDER-FOR-HIRE PLOT: My life is so different. I look back at the first shows there, I just can`t believe what I looked like. I`m totally amazed.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s gone from chubby to fit to the slammer. TMZ caught up with two of the homeless men who claims Cruz recruited them for this murder-for-hire hit.

So what did they get in exchange for turning him in? A nice hotel room, pizza and beer, courtesy of the Santa Monica PD, and they couldn`t be happier.

Before his career as a star chef on the Food Network, Cruz reportedly made pastries for the likes of legendary actor Jack Nicholson, Oprah, Will Smith, Joe Namath, Nancy Reagan, and Julia Roberts. And you will see all of these people as I continue talking, but there he is.

How did he end up like this? This is such a crazy story, kooky. Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic panel: former criminal investigator Steve Kardian; psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman, we need you tonight desperately on this one; CNN producer extraordinaire Alan Duke; and TMZ assignment manager Mike Walters. You`ve been all over this story. You`ve talked to the homeless people.

Mike, how do you do it? We begin with you. Tell us about this new potential motive that TMZ is reporting as we speak.

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Jane, I can`t even make this up. This is what`s going on here: a Shakespearean-plot to kill his wife and then to kill himself. We are told that basically Juan-Carlos Cruz is telling the district attorney and his lawyer and everybody else that basically his wife had been depressed over a long period of time because they couldn`t have children, that she wasn`t fertile. And that he knew about it.

she wanted to kill herself, but because she`s a devout Catholic and it`s a mortal sin to kill yourself, that he was -- in a passionate, love Shakespearean move -- he was going to kill his wife and then kill himself, because that was her wish. And that is what he`s sticking to and that is what`s going on. I can`t even explain to you what that means or why that would be ok, and obviously the court and the judge is going to have to look at this, but we`re being told --


WALTERS: -- that is exactly what was going on in this situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Mike Walters, play it out for us, ok, because I spent a lot of time in Santa Monica. I know there is a large homeless population there, because they have a very, very generous attitude toward the homeless. What exactly went down?

WALTERS: Well, basically they told us, that he went down there and said look, I`m going to give you half of ten $100 bills basically split it up. He also gave them a box cutter, a cell phone and a pocket watch. And they planned out how they were going to get to his wife and kill her, and then once they did, these homeless men allegedly he said he would give them the other half of the $100 bills, which they could then turn into a bank and get the money.

So then the Santa Monica PD, once they figured it out -- actually one of the guys got arrested for loitering and told them about it. They set up a sting operation where they -- they brought Juan-Carlos Cruz out, they talked about the plot, they got it all on videotape and an audiotape. And so that`s how they arrested him and that`s where they came for the charges, attempted murder and solicitation of murder.

But like I said, we talked to these homeless guys, and to hear them tell the story is unbelievable. And they were just right back out there in Santa Monica talking about it openly to one of our reporters.

But unbelievable and just the Shakespearean thing -- the Shakespearean that happened, I can`t believe that that`s what`s behind the story. And that`s what Juan-Carlos Cruz is going to try to tell the court.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s my big issue tonight. This recipe for murder, I have to say it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, what kind of idiotic plan is this? To allegedly ask a couple of homeless people to kill someone.

Let`s face it. No offense to homeless people who may be watching this, in some store or something -- you know, Best Buy. But homeless people are not the most reliable people on the planet, although these apparently have a good relationship with the LAPD.


SERGEANT JAY TRISLER, SANTA MONICA POLICE: Well, we are very fortunate that we have a relationship and rapport with some of the homeless and that they were able to give us information.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, at least we can put a check mark in the "win" column in the war against woman. One woman`s life was saved, and I`m very happy about that.

By the way, the Food Network says, "Hey, he hasn`t been associated with us for years." They want us to say that so we will.

Dr. Carol Lieberman, what do you make of this -- this crazy cooked-up plan?

DR. CAROLE LIEBERMAN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well this has become an all too familiar plot in Hollywood, where people who are involved in reality shows or become stars for a brief period of time don`t want to lose their 15 minutes of fame and they become desperate. And I think -- I mean that story about killing his wife because she couldn`t have -- that doesn`t make any sense at all, because then he would have had her cooperation in this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In a couple of seconds, we are going to have more. I agree with you though.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Published reports say former Food Network star Juan-Carlos Cruz married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer Campbell, and told reporters in 2005, he always served her breakfast in bed. Apparently things have deteriorated since then.

Years ago when Cruz appeared on the Discovery Health Network`s "Body Challenge", his wife, the supposed victim here, made a cameo appearance. Watch this.


JUAN-CARLOS CRUZ, CHARGED IN MURDER-FOR-HIRE PLOT: My wife says that I`m downright cranky if I don`t get my exercise in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re faster, sleeker, stronger.

CRUZ: That`s right. A better Juan.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alan Duke, I guess cranky is an understatement. What are police telling you tonight?

ALAN DUKE, CNN PRODUCER: Well, The Santa Monica Police haven`t said a whole lot about a lot of this. The prosecutor, the district -- the district attorney also wouldn`t say very much after court today. We appeared -- he appeared outside in front of the courthouse in front of our cameras but would hardly do anything but spell his up name.

So, we really don`t know much officially. Much of what we know is from that interview with the homeless witnesses on TMZ.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, what is he being held on? How many millions of dollars bail?

DUKE: $2 million bail. It was $5 million, so it was reduced a little bit, but that is the statutory amount that the district attorney asked for. So that`s no surprise. Still, an awful lot of money and doesn`t seem to be any indication he is going to be able to post that bond any time soon.

We will see him in court on June 23rd for a preliminary hearing and maybe then, we will hear some of the official evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alan, he hasn`t been with the Food Network for several years. They are very insistent that we mention that. Obviously, they don`t want to be associated with this. So was he on a downward spiral as is so often the case in Hollywood? People have the 15 minutes and then things fall apart?

DUKE: Well, you only have to check the Internet and his Web sites. He owns several Web sites. And none of them seem to be active. Two of them are completely offline, at least soon after his arrest they were. And the one that`s still online that has video and other things on it doesn`t appear to have been updated in a couple of years about the time he was promoting his book, the "Calorie Countdown". So I don`t think he was doing a whole lot compared to what was doing five or six years ago.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator, why on earth would anybody choose homeless people to carry off a hit? I get the superficial reasoning might be, well, they are not connected, they are not he sophisticated enough to go to the cops but yet, they seem like the most unreliable people to try to engage in something this nefarious.

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Yes, Jane. I have been involved in other cases similar to this where they use street people or homeless people to commit heinous crimes. But you know, at the end of the day, when somebody gets arrested for a loitering violation and it turns into a solicitation for a homicide it is a home run for everybody.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I got to wonder, Dr. Carole Lieberman, you were touching on what is the subconscious motivation for all of this. I agree with you. I think this fertility story is undercooked, let`s put it that way.

DR. LIEBERMAN: Yes. I think the problem was that he didn`t have are a bun in the oven anymore. His career was going down the tubes and he wanted to -- he was feeling desperate and he wanted to continue living that lifestyle that he almost had or that he had for a brief period of time and I think it was his wife`s -- the potential of inheriting money from his wife that apparently got him to do this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And you know what happens when a man sometimes sees his career fall apart, who does he blame? The person with whom he is sharing a bed.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is not their fault.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.