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Joran Van Der Sloot Formally Charged with Murder and Robbery

Aired June 11, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, mind-blowing twist and turns in the Joran Van Der Sloot case. Peruvian cope now say the man accused of brutally murdering Stephany Flores told them he knows where Natalee Holloway`s body is. But he will only reveal the location to Aruban authorities.

Is Joran trying to use Natalee`s remains in a scheme to escape from Peru? Or is this just another Joran hoax?

And surprising new developments are shaking up the case of missing mom Julie Ann Gonzalez who vanished 2 1/2 months ago in Austin. A neighbor now claims he saw Julie Ann walking to her former home with two men the day she vanished.

Could a suspicious hole found in the backyard of that home have something to do with her disappearance? We`ll talk to her mom and her estranged husband`s lawyer.

Plus Gary Coleman`s distraught parents speak out defending themselves against charges they were bad parents. The tug of war is escalating over Coleman`s estate. And there`s even a battle over the former child star`s remains.

Tonight I`ll talk to someone very close to Coleman`s parents.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More wild developments tonight as we begin with big breaking news. Joran Van Der Sloot is finally charged with murder. Hours ago, he was thrown into an armored truck with 11 other prisoners and he was taken to the holding cell in the basement of Peru`s judicial palace.

Police say Joran broke down tearfully Monday and confessed to brutally beating 21-year-old Stephany Flores to death in his hotel room.

Now take a look at this. This is crystal clear video of their very first encounter inside a Peruvian casino.

Joran is also charged with robbing Stephany. Police say after he snapped her neck he tried to hide evidence. He changed his clothing and then fled with the dead woman`s cash and plenty of it. And credit cards.

Police say they have a growing mountain of forensic evidence including the victim`s blood on Joran`s clothing.


COL. MIGUEL ANGEL CANNILA ORE, PERUVIAN NATIONAL POLICE (Through Translator): Yes, we found blood stains on the victim`s clothes and we found blood stains on his clothes which according to biological testing they correspond to the victim.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is Joran now trying to play games with the cops? He told them he knows where Natalee Holloway`s body is buried, but Joran says he will only -- only -- only spill the details to Aruban authorities.

Is this guy for real? He`s facing a murder charge and possibly decades in prison and he is still trying to call the shots. Who does he think he is? The Joker?

Here`s the attorney for Natalee`s mom on NBC.


JOHN Q. KELLY, ATTORNEY FOR NATALEE HOLLOWAY`S MOM: He`s trying to find a way to get out of the corner he`s boxed center into right now. But it`s no secret that he holds the key to where Natalee is and what happened to her. We`ve always known that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But can anything Joran says be believed? He`s already tried to sell bogus details about Natalee`s death to her mom. Police say Joran tried to extort the poor woman for a quarter of a million bucks.

So how do cops handle Joran`s latest offer to reveal Natalee`s burial site? Straight out to my fantastic panel, all experts in this case.

But first to "In Session" correspondent Jean Casarez who is live in Lima, Peru, smacked dead in the middle of all this drama.

Jean, what is the very latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": You know, Jane, this has been a very, very big day today because for the first time ever, we can say defendant Joran Van Der Sloot --s for the very first time, he was charged today, formal charges. It is a murder case here in Lima, Peru, along with robbery.

That is called a qualified murder in Peru, meaning there are aggravating circumstances that can lead to a higher sentence. And as prosecutors said, he ferociously and without any caring at all killed Stephany Flores. Of course he has a private attorney now by his side that says this case will go to trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now that we know the specific charges, Dan Conaway, international law expert, how much time could he serve maximum if convicted?

DAN CONAWAY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: If convicted now, he could serve up to life in prison.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Because we`ve been hearing, in Peru, you don`t serve that much time, there`s no death penalty for homicide, the maximum is 35 years, but this is a little bit different because it`s this special qualified murder with the aggravating factor of robbery. Tell us about that.

CONAWAY: That`s right, Jane, and basically what Peruvian authorities are saying is that they`re not messing around in this case. They`re going to throw the book at him and that Van Der Sloot`s lawyers better stop playing games and start negotiating. Otherwise he could serve the rest of his life in a Peruvian prison.

But remember he`s got two potential death sentences. One he could easily end up like Jeffrey Dahmer and we know what happened to him. Or two, he could end up spending the rest of his life there. And then the U.S. wants him after that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is huge news and everybody in the world it seems is interested in it.

Kathy in Missouri, your question or thought, ma`am?

KATHY, CALLER FROM MISSOURI: Yes, I was just wondering, is Van Der Sloot -- is he an only child or does he have siblings?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My understanding, Stephanie Good, author of "Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise", is that he has two siblings. What do you know?

STEPHANIE GOOD, "THE TRAGIC UNTOLD STORY OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY": Well, I do know that he has one brother through -- through his mother and father, and there is rumored to be an illegitimate brother that his father had. So --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And -- you know, it`s got to be hell on the siblings. I mean just because he is a cad and a jerk and a confessed murderer, even though he`s trying to take back the confession now, doesn`t mean that there`s anything wrong with his sibling.

I mean, you know, criminals put their families through hell. They really do.

GOOD: You know, that`s true.



GOOD: Well, I was going to say that if it`s true that this illegitimate child is his brother, or half brother, he was rumored to be a very big drug dealer and his nickname was "Ecstasy," so I`m not so sure --


GOOD: -- they`re all that innocent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well, we have no independent confirmation of that and if this individual cares to come on our show and dispute it, he is very welcome.

Just last month, Joran promised to reveal the location of Natalee`s body to her mother Beth in exchange for 250 grand. That turned into an FBI sting operation. Now the attorney for Natalee Holloway`s mom did meet face to face with Joran told NBC Joran lied, taking 25 grand and then leading them to a bogus location. Listen to this.


KELLY: About a week later, he indicated it was all a hoax, which was sort of his MO along with everybody. Get the money and then say it`s a hoax and you know, avoid criminal prosecution.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now Joran is again saying, hey, I`ll reveal where Natalee`s body is buried, but only to Aruban authorities.

Mike Brooks, is he basically saying, hey, I need to go back to Aruba to show cops exactly where the body is in the hopes of getting out of Peruvia`s -- Peru`s hellish prisons and somehow being allowed to stay in Aruba?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, it sounds very familiar like someone else who want to get out of jail to help find her little daughter, Jane. But, you know, why can`t the Aruban authorities, if he just wants to talk to them, why can`t they come to Peru and talk to him while he`s in custody there, and spill the beans of what he allegedly knows?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue tonight. Is Joran now using Natalee`s body as a bargaining chip?

It`s horrifying to even think about it. But basically that`s what he did with Natalee`s family last month. Beth Holloway`s attorney John Q. Kelley explained how it all went down on the "Today" show. Check it out.


KELLY: He thought he was bringing the 25,000 and I got into a long series of conversations trying to get as much information as I could. Then told him at the very end when he was pushing the issue that I did have money with me.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did he get angry about that?

KELLY: Very angry, very agitated, very upset. You know, left almost immediately with me walking with him actually. We went through with it, then we took me a couple of car rides. He took me to the location where he said Natalee was buried and located at that time. I took pictures of him in front of the house pointing to the location and it`s memorialized very well.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But eventually Joran did get 25 grand and in return, he lied, made up a totally phony story. So now Joran still feels he is holding the ace card, i.e., Natalee`s secret burial location.

Psychiatrist Dr. Allen Lipman, Joran is starting to remind me of one of those cartoon villains like the Joke who thwarts all the good guys because he`s an evil genius.

Where does Joran get the never to do something like this?

DR. ALAN LIPMAN, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE: Well, he may be the Joker, Jane, but he`s only holding one card and he knows it. When he walked into room 309 that night, he had a trail of lies behind him already about one thing that he was using violently, coldly and remorselessly. The manner of death and the place of death of Natalee Holloway.

As we know from the Aruban prosecutor, Peter Blankly, he lied on every occasion there, he lied on the Interpol sting. And so what possible reason would we have to believe that he would give up the only card that he is holding now. He is evil.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because now --

LIPMAN: Jane, he is not a genius.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now he`s against the wall. He`s against the wall. Could he actually use this as leverage?

LIPMAN: I think it`s possible, but I think what we`ve have seen, Jane, is that every time he`s been against the wall, think back to the Natalee Holloway case and also think of the FBI sting. He has used a lie about where Natalee`s body is and how she died.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but now --

LIPMAN: To his credit.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s like the boy who cried wolf. Now as he tells the truth nobody is going to believe him unless they go there --

GOOD: But Jane --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and actually find the body.

LIPMAN: He is a psychopath and what we see with psychopaths is that they repeat the same mistake over and over.

And let`s remember, Jane, each time he has done it, he`s gotten a reward for it. $25,000.


LIPMAN: No prosecution, or at least no final resolution in Aruba. So this is someone who believes, and that`s why he`s saying I`ll tell you if I can go to Aruba that he can once again roll the dice and get away with it. But I agree with Dan, not this time. His back is against the wall.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Not this time.

GOOD: Well, what --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody --

GOOD: What kind of leverage -- what kind of leverage are you talking about?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stay right where you are.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. On the other side of the break, we`re going to get to you, Stephanie Good, author on Natalee Holloway book. Plus the latest developments in the case of missing mom Julie Ann Gonzalez.

Is her heart-broken family any closer to finding her?

But first does Joran Van Der Sloot really know where Natalee Holloway`s body is? Could this finally be a break or is it another cruel vicious demented hoax?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need justice for our family, for Natalee`s family, too. I think he`s a psycho, a murderer, and he has to pay.




BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: Callousness, lying, poor behavioral controls, drug abuse, parasitic lifestyle. That`s at the top of the list. His whole life has been parasitic. Since Aruba, he has lived off the notoriety or infamy of this case and now he lives off this woman trying to take her money in a casino and that`s parasitic as well as homicidal.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, parasite, indeed. Psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall giving her take on Joran Van Der Sloot. Joran has now been charged with the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores as well as robbery. He told Peruvian cops he knows where Natalee`s body is buried, but he`s only going to give that information to Aruban authorities. Presumably, he wants to get on a plane and go back to Aruba.

Good luck with that Joran.

Sue, Wisconsin, your question or thought, ma`am?

SUE, CALLER FROM WISCONSIN: I was wondering if Stephany was on the computer, were those keys dusted on the computer or the computer itself? Did she have to open it up?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Jean Casarez, tell us about the computer? I understand that authorities have not gotten the approval from the Peruvian courts to even go into that computer to see what was on Joran`s laptop. What do you know?

CASAREZ: That`s right. It`s much like the United States. You need to have a court order to forensically look at that computer and find all of the e-mails or what information is on. That definitely will come from a court.

But here`s what police confirmed with us, which is interesting to just listen to the language. They said that Joran was reading e-mails that he had gotten about the Natalee Holloway case. And those are the e-mails that Stephany Flores started to read while he left to go get what we now is confirmed two cups of coffee were in that room. But the cups were filled with coffee. It had not been drunk by either person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What on earth should law enforcement do with this information, Mike Brooks? I can`t imagine they could just ignore it because you`ve got Beth Holloway who desperately wants to find out what happened to Natalee.

What should the international powers that be do about this dilemma?

BROOKS: That`s an interesting question, Jane, because, you know, you`ve got the Aruban authorities, where the incident -- where the alleged murder and disappearance of Natalee happened. You`ve got him now in Peru, and then you`ve got her as a victim from the United States.

So, you know, could the FBI legal attache in Barbados working with the Aruban authorities, you know, get together with the Peruvian police through the legal attache in Santiago, Chile and try to put this case together? I would say yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dan Conaway, you`re the international law expert. There is apparently something called the passive personality principle. Explain in plain English how that might work here.

CONAWAY: OK. The way the passive personality principle works is this, is that if you are -- if you are murdered or killed and you`re a victim, and you`re abroad, your home country -- in this case, the United States -- can go ahead and exert jurisdiction over the case.

So what this means here is the United States can actually go after Van Der Sloot for the murder of Natalee Holloway and they can exert this international principle. Same one used against terrorists.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That would be absolutely amazing if that happens. Now --

BROOKS: And Jane, we brought back a number of people from other countries. When I was on the joint terrorism task force involved in a number of rendition bringing people back from overseas for acts of terrorism where the United States citizens were killed abroad.

CONAWAY: And on top of that --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what? This guy is a terrorist.

BROOKS: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In some way, shape or form.

CONAWAY: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want to get back to the whole situation in Peru and what happened with Stephany and Joran. Surveillance cameras caught Joran and Stephany going into his Lima hotel room on the morning of the murders. She appears to be in complete control there, following him in voluntarily, but the big question is why, why did she go to his room?

It`s doubtful Stephany was interested in Joran in a romantic sense. We`re going to talk now or listen to a woman claiming to be her ex- girlfriend on ABC saying Stephany was a lesbian.


STEPHAINE JIMENEZ, FRIEND OF STEPHANIE FLORES RAMIREZ: This guy, I mean, appeared out of nowhere. They went to a hotel and I just can`t believe that. I don`t see how she could have gone to the hotel with this guy. She wouldn`t do that. She wouldn`t do that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So some are wondering could Joran have lured her to his room with the promise of maybe a little party? Some published reports say he tested positive for marijuana and cocaine and admitted popping amphetamines.

Jean, what do we know about the toxicology results for Joran and for Stephany?

CASAREZ: This is very interesting, Jane, because Joran said during his interrogation that he was high or he had ingested marijuana. Well, guess what? Peruvian police confirmed with us in an interview that there were no drugs found in the system of Joran Van Der Sloot. No drugs found in the system of Stephany Flores which contradicts what he said himself in the interview.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That makes no sense, Dr. Lipman, only a couple of seconds.

LIPMAN: There are only two things to really keep in mind. A psychopath is a specialist at luring people to dangerous situations and he had spent three days with this woman watching her collect her winnings. So they had probably formed some kind of a bond and he made some kind of a seductive, dangerous offer, with or without drugs obviously.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to -- hang in. We`re not done. Who is also in charge of Gary Coleman`s will? His ex-wife headed to court. And more Joran.



DWAYNE "DOG" CHAPMAN, BOUNTY HUNTER: Once he killed like that, he have to almost kill again.


CHAPMAN: He`s very arrogant. Why? He`s that --


CHAPMAN: It`s like in his DNA. He`s just -- you know, you become that. You become this evil beast like that that thirsts for murder.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dog the Bounty Hunter speaking out on Joran Van Der Sloot.

Joran has now been charged by Peruvian authorities with the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores. Joran now also says he is willing to give information about the location of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway`s body but only to Aruban police.

I want to go straight out to Stephanie Good who is the author of "Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise."

Stephanie, they have searched, it would seem, every inch of that island of Aruba which is only 19 miles long and five miles wide. Where could this body possibly be if he is now going to come forward and tell the truth that they haven`t already checked?

GOOD: First of all I have to question whether or not he would come forward and tell the truth. And also I don`t see what benefit there is for him to tell the truth. Because if he does this -- and he could be charged by Aruba for murder or whatever it is that he did, you know, what they`ll charge him with. And they don`t plea bargain in Aruba.

So I don`t see what benefit there is, unless Peru wants to make a deal with him and frankly Peru has enough evidence, it looks like, to charge him and convict him on the murder and robbery of Stephany Flores. So --


GOOD: Go ahead.

CONAWAY: Go ahead --


CONAWAY: Just to follow up on that, Stephanie.

GOOD: I just don`t see the advantage here. Yes.

CONAWAY: To follow up on that, Stephanie. You know an intriguing detail is that when he was picked up in Chile --


CONAWAY: When he was picked up in Chile, he was found with a map of the tidal flows in Lima that he had printed out. So this suggests people during the Holloway murder had suggested that he and his father had created a plan to put Natalee into the sea.

And what other reason would he have to have printed out the tidal flows in Lima. Take with him --

GOOD: Well, that`s true.

CONAWAY: -- and be found with that.

GOOD: That`s true.

CONAWAY: Than to be thinking of the same thing. You know there`s an old saying that we had at Yale.


CONAWAY: Past behavior predicts future behavior. And if he did it, with Natalee, he might have been planning to do the same thing with Stephany.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s see --

GOOD: Well, I agree but --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- would the irony be that after all of this, if he dumped Natalee`s body in the water, it wouldn`t be there anymore. It would have dissolved and tragically her remains would have scattered, Mike Brooks.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So he might not ever be able to point to where she is because the best guess is that somehow Natalee ended up in the ocean.

CONAWAY: In the sea.

BROOKS: Exactly. That`s -- I mean, there`s so much shoreline there, absolutely. And you know we just had that -- they thought they had a sighting underwater by some vacationers there, but that turned out to be nothing.

But, you know, there`s also another theory early on, Jane, that he and his father took her in a boat over to Venezuela and buried her there. You know there`s so many other theories out there. But is he telling the truth? I would be highly suspect of anything he says.

GOOD: I agree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And remember.

GOOD: I agree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a guy who throws his own father under the bus. Dad died in February and he has since said, oh, yes, dad, helped me dispose of the body. Nice kid. Huh?

Dr. Lipman, 10 seconds.

LIPMAN: Burns through his father`s inheritance, lies to Natalee Holloway`s mother in order to get 15 grand, lies even when he is in the face of his own potential death sentence. This is a guy who is a class A, as we said in the lead-in.


LIPMAN: Class A psychopathic murder.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it there.

LIPMAN: That`s what we got.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But that`s a good way to leave it.

Next Austin mom Julie Ann Gonzalez missing since March. New developments.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Surprising new developments are shaping up the case of missing mom Julie Ann Gonzalez who vanished 2 1/2 months ago in Austin. A neighbor now claims he saw Julie Ann walk into her former home with two men the day she vanished. Could a suspicious hole found in the back yard of that home have something to do with her disappearance? We`ll talk to her mom and her estranged husband`s lawyer.

Plus Gary Coleman`s distraught parents speak out defending themselves against charges they were bad parents. The tug of war is escalating over Coleman`s estate and there`s even a battle over the star`s remains. Tonight, I`ll talk to someone very close to Coleman`s parents.

Bizarre new twists and turns in the desperate search for Julie Ann Gonzalez. Tonight, could two mystery men hold the key to finding this beautiful young mother?

Julie vanished in Austin, Texas back in March. The 21-year-old was going through a bitter divorce. It was earlier reported that Julies estranged husband, George de la Cruz, was the last person to see her alive. Julie stopped by George`s house to pick up their 2-year-old daughter but he insists she changed her mind on his doorstep and has not been seen since.

Tonight a slew of really stunning new developments as multiple people are now coming forward claiming they have eyeballed Julie Ann walking around Austin, Texas.

Cops say there`s no evidence of foul play. But Julie`s family is desperate; obviously, they fear the worst.

Joining me tonight, Julie`s heart-broken devastated mother, Sandra Soto. Sandra, I cannot even imagine what you`re going through and our purpose here is to help find your daughter. But what do you know about these purported sightings of your daughter in the very same city and even in the very same neighborhood from which she disappeared.

SANDRA SOTO, MOTHER OF JULIE ANN GONZALEZ: Well, from the reports that -- well, the calls that we have gotten from the witnesses saying that they have seen Julie, it`s usually, they see her, you know, maybe drugged, maybe drunk, someone is usually helping her walk if not carrying her, late hours of the night. You know, just different places all over Austin; not all in the same place.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, is it credible? I mean, in your opinion is there credibility to this?

SOTO: I think everything is worth looking into. But I don`t understand why APD has not questioned these witnesses to get some composite sketches and try to match them up to see if everyone is describing the same person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what you`re talking about is not just Julie walking around, but this new theory that has emerged. A neighborhood in Austin says he saw Julie the very day she vanished with two mysterious men in the backyard. Now the mother of Julie`s estranged husband, George de la Cruz, that mother is claiming she found a suspicious hole inside a shed in the backyard of their marital home.

Take a look at this picture. Look at that, there is new allegations this hidden hole could have been used to stash drugs and/or cash. So could this be connected to an abduction?

Sandra, what have you heard about this latest report of the two mystery men and the suspicious hole in the backyard?

SOTO: Well, this neighbor came forward from the very beginning and he said that he did see two guys going into George`s backyard, knocking on his front door, knocking on his backdoor, I guess going over there to look for George. And at the very beginning, this neighbor said that he saw a young woman in the car, he couldn`t tell if it was Julie or not.

Now he`s changing his story and he`s saying, yes, definitely, it was Julie. Well, you know, regardless, why were these guys at George`s house, that`s George`s house, not Julie`s house. George should know who these guys are.

If two guys walk into my yard, you know, knocking on my windows, I`m going to know who they are. But George knows who they are. George knows who they are.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got the impression that this was the marital home that they once shared. Is that correct?

SOTO: Well, Julie left him in November. She filed for divorce in December. George tried to commit suicide in January. In February, they went to court again. In March, Julie disappeared. In April, George admitted to wanting to kill himself again and in April, George failed a polygraph test.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, now, you have pointed the finger at George, the estranged husband. Julie and George de la Cruz were, as you mentioned, going through a bitter divorce. Julie`s family has been suspicious of him. You just heard Julie`s mom right there, but he is not been considered a suspect or a person of interest.

SOTO: Yes, he is considered --


GEORGE DE LA CRUZ, JULIE ANN`S ESTRANGED HUSBAND: I want to be there with you all, but I know I`m not wanted so why be there if everybody`s going to look down on me.

GIL SOTO, UNCLE OF JULIE ANN GONZALEZ: Well, Julie didn`t trust you. You know that. Every time Julie went to go to meet you with Leila to do the exchange, she always went escorted because she didn`t trust you. This particular time, she wasn`t escorted and this happens.

So you have to understand us, so we don`t trust you because of what you`ve done in the past.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sandra, with all these new developments: the two mystery men, the possible sightings of your daughter in Austin; is it time to start looking elsewhere? Past George to solve your daughter`s tragic disappearance?

SOTO: I think George still needs to be questioned because he knows something. He`s holding back information. And now that he has a lawyer, his lawyer is not allowing him to talk. He failed the polygraph and by him failing the polygraph, that means he`s holding back information. I don`t understand why this lawyer won`t allow him to talk.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well, guess what, we`re going to talk to the lawyer right now and we`re going to ask him that question.

George de la Cruz has declared his innocence from day one. He has an alibi and he`s sticking to his story that Julie came up to pick up their 2-year-old daughter and then decided to leave without the child and then vanished.

Listen to this.


DE LA CRUZ: I`ve been with her for at least four years so I know when there`s something wrong with her and I tried calling to her. I asked the question, what`s wrong and she said, well, I`m ok, don`t worry about it. I tried to let it go.

So I just said, well, she said Leila`s stuff. You want to go ahead and check at it to make sure that everything is there you can take her. That`s when she told me, well, you know what? I`ve got plans this weekend can you please take care of her?

And I go, yes. And I said, "So when are you going to come and pick her up?" She said, "I`ll let you know, I`ll call you whenever I want her." She said it was going to be this weekend. I`m like, "Yes."

So I just say, I never thought anything bad was going to happen.


Joining me now, George`s attorney, Patrick Fagerberg. Patrick, do you feel that this new information about the two mystery men and the suspicious hole clears your client.

PATRICK FAGERBERG, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE DE LA CRUZ: Well, Jane, let me start by saying that again, there`s still misinformation. Everybody keeps saying that George was the last person to see her, that`s not true. Jesse Corpus the neighbor had talked to police three times; gave them this story exactly.

He said at 2:00 on Friday, before he goes to pick up his wife, he unlocks his gate, backs his car out and while he was doing this, he saw Julie Ann Gonzalez drive up in the late model Chevy Malibu. She never left the car.

He saw two Hispanic males get out, walk directly to the back of the house. Did not knock on the door, did not knock on his two front door; did not knock on either door. Went to the back, it took him about five minutes to close the gates before he drove off. He drove off, looked at Julie directly in the eye and waved at her and she acknowledged him. He drove off.

So I want to get one thing really clear. Jesse Corpus is a very, very credible man and his story has never changed. So she was spotted at 2:00 at George`s house, with two Hispanic males.

And from my experience, I have done many, many federal drug cases, all over the country and the hole in the backyard, in my opinion, is a drug stash hole. I don`t know what those people were doing there, I don`t like to presume anything, but in my experience and opinion, that`s why they were there. They were there to pick up cash and/or drugs.

Furthermore that everybody fails to talk about is that Julie Ann, sometime later that evening, walked into the Walgreen`s and asked permission from a clerk to leave her car parked there. So that is another person that saw Julie Ann after 10:30 a.m. when my client saw her.

And --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Julie`s desperate family is doing everything they can to find their beautiful daughter. But what about the police? And let me just explain this. Julie`s mom says Austin PD is not doing enough.

Listen to this.


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: So Patrick Fagerberg, you`re the attorney for George de la Cruz, what is going on the with the police investigation? You`re saying all this stuff, we`re not hearing any of this from police. They`re saying nothing.

FAGERBERG: It is an ongoing investigation and I don`t think it does anybody any good to bad mouth APD. They are conducting this as an investigation, interviewing people they should. And I don`t think bad mouthing my client, bad mouthing APD is helpful in finding Julie.

We want to find Julie. And in my opinion, the theory that I put forward, that she somehow got involved with some people who were in narcotics, that will lead to where she is. And --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about these sightings of Julie?

FAGERBERG: I pray that they are true. Absolutely. But again --

But, again, when you have Julie Ann`s mother pointing her finger at my client, basically saying that he is responsible, that is counterproductive to finding her daughter. And all her --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re emphasizing that he is not a suspect in this case; he`s not a person of interest. And we want to be fair and get both sides that`s why we had you on. We hope you come back Patrick. Thank you so much.

FAGERBERG: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we pray we find Julie Ann Gonzalez alive and well.

Child star Gary Coleman`s family is battling over his will. Can his ex-wife convince the judge that Coleman wanted her in charge?


SHANNON PRICE, GARY COLEMAN`S EX WIFE: I`m just panicked, I don`t know what do. When are they going to be here, do you know?

911 OPERATOR: They`re on their way. It just depends on where in the city they were when we called them out.

PRICE: Gary. I just don`t want him to die. I`m freaking out like really bad.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the Gary Coleman death drama escalates. Ex- wife Shannon Price makes a full-on power play to control Gary`s estate and his remains. She told "Entertainment Tonight" that she intends to fulfill Gary`s wishes. Oh really?


PRICE: Gary didn`t want a funeral and he didn`t want a viewing. He didn`t want to see people to see him that way.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He didn`t want him people to see him that way; this from the very same woman who posed next to Gary on his death bed with tubes coming out of his mouth, a photo that ended up on the cover of a tabloid magazine, disgusting.

Shannon is locked in a heated battle with Gary`s ex-manager over everything Gary. His body, his estate, even his train sets and they are set for a head-on collision in court this coming Monday.

Meantime Gary`s estranged parents appeared distraught and defensive during an interview on NBC`s "Today" mocking how they`re being attacked by everybody in the wake of Gary`s death.


WILLIE COLEMAN, GARY COLEMAN`S FATHER: The Colemans are no good and everything, they stole his money and everything, and you know, and they`re rotten pair, and they forced him to work, there was no one the set when he was sick and everything. All this is nonsense, all this is untrue.

SUE COLEMAN, GARY COLEMAN`S MOTHER: As far as the money goes, we would never have taken the money from him. We weren`t raised that way. I mean, the way we were raised you just don`t do stuff like that to family or friends or anybody.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Colemans are responding to accusations by their son`s former co-star and friend Todd Bridges. You`re going to hear from Todd in just a moment.

But first to Victor Perillo, he is the spokesman for Sue and Willie Coleman, Gary`s parents.

Victor thanks for coming on. Gary`s parents told NBC News they`re not pointing fingers at Shannon Price specifically but they do want to know more about Gary`s accident, his fall which resulted in an intracranial hemorrhage which occurred while Shannon was in the house. Please elaborate.

VICTOR PERILLO, SPOKESPERSON FOR GARY`S PARENTS: Well, first of all I`m Gary Coleman`s agent from the time he was --


PERILLO: -- seven years old. And I have been with the Colemans and with Gary for 15 years and continued on after that. The Colemans have pointed no fingers at anyone. They have listened to their -- to the attorney, they wanted to know from the time that Gary died what happened. They received no information.

The only thing they received is a phone call from Shannon, and she left a message that was quite abrupt telling the Colemans that if they had any questions about what happened, they should talk to Shannon`s brother. He was handling this.

And the Colemans have always reached out to Shannon, even though they were estranged from their son. This is a horrible situation, in that this whole separation of Gary and his parents was orchestrated by the very people that are in Salt Lake City, Utah now fighting over remains, they`re fighting over Gary`s -- whatever Gary has --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s give our -- let`s give our viewers a little bit of background. Shannon has been criticized by a whole bunch of people for her behavior during and in the wake of Gary Coleman`s tragic death.

Now check out this clip from TMZ, this is a TV pilot in which Gary Coleman himself seems to criticize his ex-wife. Check it out.


GARY COLEMAN, ACTOR: The last two jobs I hated because they had something to do with "Diff`rent Strokes" and I did it to prove a point to you. All you care about is the money, that`s all you want. The love for Gary keeps fading away because you believe that Gary doesn`t want to support you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So here`s my big issue, is Shannon kooky or is she calculated? She posed for photos with Gary on his death bed. She`s been accused of selling those photos which she has not denied but she`s not admitted either.

The 911 call -- 911 call some say she sounded very reluctant to help him on that 911 call. She`s also the one who took him off life support. And then the comment about Gary, well, she doesn`t want him to end up like Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali is still walking around among the living.

ISSUES reached out to Shannon`s agent; we did not hear back before deadline.

But I want to bring in Dr. Alan Lipman, a psychiatrist. How would you characterize her behavior before, during and after Gary Coleman`s tragic death?

DR. ALAN LIPMAN, PSYCHIATRY PROFESSOR, GWU MEDICAL CENTER: Well, we want to be careful because of course all of this is during a very tragic circumstance and we`re viewing it at a distance, of course.

But in these circumstances, that very powerful "I want" reaches out and there are some very strange manifestations of it with regard to Shannon. She presents an un-witnessed, un-notarized will, handwritten, very recently, even though she`s already been divorced.

She takes Coleman off life support, as you mentioned, one day after he`s been put on life support, virtually leaving no chance for him to wind up well or disabled or to find out. She did not talk to the parents for a couple of days and then when they tried to contact the brother as Victor mentioned, the brother was not available.


LIPMAN: So there seems to be a pattern of distancing.


LIPMAN: And trying to protect her own interest that is really quite remarkable let`s say.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes now, Victor Perillo, Todd Bridges has made some harsh remarks about the people that you`re speaking for, the parents. What about the whole lawsuit where Coleman accused them of squandering all the money he made as a child star?

PERILLO: Well, I`ve heard the remarks of Todd Bridges and I -- I feel sorry for him. I don`t know what his agenda is. And a far as the lawsuit goes we`re not -- no one is paying attention to the fact that Gary Coleman had business managers. They were not his parents. They were business managers. That`s where the answer is. And no -- and those are the people that were in court. The Colemans and I, we all had to abide by the laws --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. We want to have you --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In tonight`s "Spotlight", a fabulous mercy mission for four rescued circus lions. These magnificent animals were freed from their pitiful, abusive existence in a Bolivian circus last month. Bolivia recently did what every country should do -- banned the use of animals in circuses. These majestic animals will live out their lives at the amazing Paws Sanctuary in northern California.

Our guest tonight, CSI star, Jorja Fox, who was right there for their dramatic arrival.


JORJA FOX, ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Lion number one -- come on down.

TIM PHILLIPS, ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL: These lions have lived their life in a tiny, rusting, disgusting cage on the back of a lorry. Tomorrow they`re going to feel the wind blow in their face. They`re going to feel grass beneath their feet. They`re going to be as lions, possibly for the first real time in their lives.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am so thrilled to welcome actress Jorja Fox, ambassador for Animal Defenders International. Jorja, great to see you.

Tell us how you felt inside watching these majestic animals take their very first steps into freedom.

FOX: Well, Jane, thanks for having me. It was sheer magic. It was such a beautiful moment. You know, these kind of thing don`t happen very often. I wish that I can say that they did. But to see animals that have been in cages their entire lives, large, endangered, land mammals, take to grass is a spectacular thing to see.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, while in the circus, two of the rescued lions had their fang cut out so the trainers could handle them. Another had her claws ripped out one by one without any anesthesia. You know it`s time for this kind of institutionalized animal torture to stop.

Check this out.


PHILLIPS: There`s a welfare problem at the moment, but that`s in the circuses. If we shut them we can give these animals a great life. So the world is watching.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jorja, what do people need to know about the scores of animals who are still suffering in the captivity of zoos and circuses around the world?

FOX: Well, I think there`s several thing that people should know. Number one, most of these animals are on the endangered species list or on the vulnerable list. We have so few resources left on this planet. And I really think it`s our responsibility to care for the one that we have.

The unfortunate truth about zoos and circuses is that they`re cruel, they`re arcane, they are not suitable places for animals, especially large wild animals. I think we`ve evolved beyond them. I think there`s a lot of people out there who realize in the same way that we`ve evolved beyond asbestos and lead paint that we`re now at a place in our evolution where we can say, you know what, this is not a compassionate thing, this is not a smart thing. It`s a waste of resources and it`s a waste of these animals` lives.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, when you saw the animals go from their cages and actually step on grass for the very first time, what do you think they were thinking? What kind of a transformation did they experience?

FOX: Well, these are animals that really had spent most of their lives in small pens on the back of a truck. Even though they were exhausted -- it was a 14-hour journey -- they weren`t fed during the journey. They did have access to water.

When they finally reached the sanctuary in a very rural, remote area in California, they leapt. They leapt like you would see small puppies leaping outside in the park somewhere.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am so happy and thank you so much. And the animals thank you.

Yey, Jorja Fox of CSI. And we love these lions. If you love them -- hey, don`t go to the circus.