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Scientist Pleads for Access; Oil Cleanup Workers Sickened; Tracking Cleanup Health Effects; Killing the Well; Suspected Serial Killer Caught

Aired July 7, 2010 - 23:00   ET


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Good evening again from the Gulf. Anderson Cooper is off. I'm Sanjay Gupta, filling in tonight.

You know, it's been truly sobering what this pipe at the bottom of the Gulf has done to so many lives. I've seen it firsthand now, yet when it comes to measuring how much oil is leaking, where it's going and what it's doing, BP doesn't seem to want to know, even says it's not important to know.

In a moment, you're going to hear from a renowned independent scientist. His name is Ira Leifer. He is a member of an all-star team of researchers who has come up with a plan, it's called Deep Spill Two, to do all of the above, to measure the oil's impact.

Now, two months ago he proposed an early version of it to BP. He heard nothing. But on June 10th, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey got into the act, directing BP to contact Dr. Leifer. Still nothing. Then last week Dr. Leifer's team released a detailed proposal, 88 pages, $8.4 million to implement. And you guessed it, still nothing.

Now, bear in mind, $8.4 million is 1,500ths of a percent the $5.6 billion BP earned in the quarter before the spill. It's about four hundredths of a percent of the $20 billion BP set aside for spill- related claims. It's about 2.5 hundredths of a percent of the $33 billion Sandra Bernstein (ph) today estimated the spill was going to cost BP.

You can decide for yourself whether that's a small cost for this company to pay. I spoke about it earlier with Dr. Ira Leifer.


GUPTA: Now, Dr. Leifer, it's been more than three weeks since Congressman Ed Markey asked BP to give your group the green light to do this kind of testing, it's kind of testing to -- to measure the flow rate, to measure the impact overall of the oil on the ecosystem.

There's a huge list of things you're trying to study and yet you've heard nothing from BP is my understanding. Why do you think that is?

DR. IRA LEIFER, RESEARCHER UCSB (via telephone): I really don't know. I wish they would pick up a phone and just give me a call so I can walk them through the proposal. The experiment is very important, I've gotten very good feedback from scientists within the government and so on. And I'm hoping that having the full technical proposal for their consideration they'll, too, recognize its importance and actually give me a call.

GUPTA: The study that you're proposing, is it going to be of benefit to the people right now here in the Gulf, to the workers, to the residents of this community, the knowledge that you gained?

LEIFER: The simple answer is yes. I mean, there are many things we just simply do not understand. We know there are plumes of oil in the deep sea. We don't know where we're going. We don't know why.

And similarly, there are reports of submerged oil near the surface. And any time one finds that one has to say I don't know or we're not sure about why, what's happening, you cannot respond effectively, you cannot protect the resources that need the greatest protection first, because you're operating in the dark.

And what science is all about is to shine a light on the darkness so that we can actually do the best job possible, to actually protect resources, people, fishermen, the ecosystem, lives today as well as for our children.

GUPTA: Yes. You know as a scientist, I mean, you say that this is a unique opportunity to be able to study the impact of an oil spill like this. Now, I keep coming back to this simple question, Dr. Leifer. I think it's really at the core of this whole thing.

Does BP, does the federal government want the American people to know what's really happening out there on the water or don't they? I mean, because you're trying to find out what's actually happening and how much oil is coming out and what the impact is. Why can't we get that simple answer almost three months into this?

LEIFER: I really do not know exactly why we are at this situation that we are in; still not knowing many very specific things. Part of it has been the response mentality in that always dealing with the current problem, what's around the corner for the next two days instead of actually having plans that try to address more forward looking, which is what our team has put together so that we can actually make plans and get the data that's needed while the tornado is happening.

A good analogy here is that if you study a tornado by looking at the broken houses, if you don't learn how to build a house properly. You want to study it while it's happening. And so we're requesting -- the team that science be green lighted, that science be brought to the core to protect because when science is done, everyone wins.

GUPTA: Dr. Ira Leifer, if you do hear from BP or get some of the funding necessary to conduct those studies, please come back and tell us about it. We certainly would be interested in hearing from you. Thanks so much for joining us.

LEIFER: You're welcome. I hope I can have good news in the near future. Thank you very much.


GUPTA: And as always, we reached out to BP today, trying to get an executive to come on the program. Then I watch Anderson say this almost every night. I guess it's my turn now, I guess to say the same thing.

We did mention Congressman Markey. He would come on with us and we spoke a short time ago.


GUPTA: Congressman Markey, you wrote a letter to BP back on June 10th requesting specifically their support and funding for Deep Spill Two, this is a study. First of all, has BP responded to your letter?

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: BP has yet to respond to my letter. I have not heard back from them yet.

GUPTA: But you know, as a starting point, Congressman, I mean, given the enormity of what we're talking about here and the impact, really, across the entire country, why do we need BP's permission? I mean, why doesn't the government for example foot the around $8.4 million bill, I think that's how much it costs, and let these scientists get to work to answer some of the questions that you're raising?

MARKEY: Well, I think that BP should pay for it. I think that BP should stand for bills paid. And this is certainly something that BP should pay for. I think it makes a lot of sense for this experiment to take place, especially the use of fluorescent dye in order to measure accurately how much oil and natural gas is coming out of this pipe.

And I think if it does require the federal government to pay for it, they should just put it on BP's bill, because ultimately BP doesn't want to know the answer to the question because they have to pay a fine per barrel of oil. And if it's gross negligence at $4,300 a barrel, the difference of just 10,000 barrels per day for 77 days is $3 billion.

So, perhaps we shouldn't be waiting for BP to be spending that money, because they don't want to know how big their liability is. They want to lower their liability and at the same time, the federal government, on behalf of the American people, have a stake in knowing just how big this problem is so that the fine on BP reflects the punishment that is equal to the harm, which they have inflicted on the people in the Gulf.

GUPTA: And again, they have not responded to your letter. But you're convinced that this is -- this is complete obstructionism. That they simply do not want to know the answers that a lot of people want to know?

MARKEY: Well, right now, people say, BP says, experts say that the flow could be 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day. Well, if it's 45,000 barrels a day, that's an extra $3 billion in fines. If it's 55,000 barrels, that's an extra $6 billion in fines.

So, yes, there is a disconnect between the amount of scientific work that has to be conducted and finished and BP's interest in actually conducting that research.

GUPTA: As things stand now, Congressman -- I mean, I'm down here looking at the health effects. Do we know if there are any long-term health effects of this oil spill? Do we know what they are and when they're going to start to happen?

Well, at the hearing in our committee, I demanded from Tony Hayward that he make accessible to the National Institutes of Occupational Health and Safety all of the information about all of the workers down there in the Gulf of Mexico.

And up until then, they had been equivocating. Up until then, they had refused to do it. But the next day, they began to turn over all of this information and there was, as a result, an increase in the transparency.

But I think we're going to have to monitor this situation on an ongoing basis because nobody knows better than you, there are physical harms here, but there are also mental health consequences to -- to this event because people's lives are being affected in a way that could change the whole course of family's histories.

GUPTA: It is really remarkable. Being down here, Congressman, for the reasons you just mentioned. And that's exactly what we're going to be talking about today, the physical and mental toll that it's taking.

Congressman Ed Markey, thank so much for joining us.

MARKEY: Thank you for having me.


GUPTA: And there you have it. Let us know what you think. Of course, the live chat is up and running.

Just ahead, my conversation with the head of BP's medical response team in the Gulf and what he says about the number of cleanup workers they're treating, that surprised me.

But up next a "360 Investigation": a former Exxon Valdez cleanup worker is speaking out about the cleanup today, his concerns, his allegations, we're "Keeping Them Honest".


GUPTA: You know, it's not just wildlife getting sick here in the Gulf. Oil cleanup workers are also falling ill and tonight, BP is facing a serious accusation. Some critics say BP is taking a page straight out of the playbook they've seen before, more than 20 years ago when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound.

Drew Griffin, of our special investigations unit, is "Keeping Them Honest".


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Roy Dalthorp says he started getting sick 21 years ago, when the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in Alaska. But back then he thought the Valdez was a blessing.

ROY DALTHORP, EXXON VALDEZ CLEANUP WORKER: I was -- I was out of a job. I was in (INAUDIBLE). I had no choices on that because I was behind in my house payments and so -- and no health insurance.

GRIFFIN: For six weeks, he worked on a ship that super heated sea water to pressure wash Exxon's crude oil off of rocks. His photos on board show the steam that he says was an oily smelling mist, permeating the ship where he worked 16-hour days and that is when the cough began.

DALTHORP: Nobody ever checked with us, nobody. They never did a follow up on us, never asked if we ever had any consequences of it. They could have cared less. I'm serious. There was no follow up.

GRIFFIN: Exxon told us it doesn't know how many cleanup workers became sick. Dalthorp never filed a lawsuit and never filed a claim. He could never prove the work he did on the Valdez made him sick.

(on camera): Exxon did pay to study the health effects of almost every single creature that came in contact with oil in Prince William Sound; every creature, but one.

DENNIS MESTAS, ATTORNEY: From clams and mussels to fish and otters and even deer and bears, but they never studied what this oil was doing to the workers, to the human beings in Prince William Sound.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Alaska attorney Dennis Mestas represented one of the few workers who did sue, but in the process found out that hundreds of workers involved in the cleanup had fallen sick.

(on camera): And you found all of this out years later, based on --

MESTAS: On one worker that I represented.

GRIFFIN: Who is still sick?

MESTAS: Who is still sick to this day. Even Exxon was forced to concede, eventually, that Gary Stubblefield was a very sick man.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Mestas' client, Gary Stubblefield, sued Exxon and the Valdez cleanup. Mestas traveled from Alaska to an Exxon office in Houston where Stubblefield's medical records and those of thousands of other cleanup workers were being held, records Exxon has asked a court to seal for privacy reasons.

MESTAS: I was shocked, yes -- GRIFFIN: Mestas says the records revealed of 11,000 cleanup workers, 6,722 had gotten sick. It was explained away as a simple virus, the so-called Exxon crud, a flu or cold that Exxon was not required to report to federal health officials.

At the time NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, was in agreement.

MESTAS: Total BS. The only epidemiology was that there were a few head colds that they could identify and NIOSH didn't have any of the records.

GRIFFIN: Exxon never admitted fault in Stubblefield's case but reportedly settled the lawsuit for $2 million; Stubblefield, one of the very few workers to get compensation.

Exxon says the few lawsuits brought failed to show any evidence of injuries or illnesses known to be caused by exposure to crude oil or the chemicals they used to clean it up.

"Keeping Them Honest", Dennis Mestas, the attorney says he is concerned that workers cleaning up in the Gulf today may be headed for the same fate as the Exxon Valdez workers. They get sick while their medical records are controlled by BP.

Louisiana's Health Department has reported 128 cleanup workers believed to be sick from exposure to this spill. But BP tells us they have recorded just five illnesses related to inhalation exposures in the entire Gulf.

(on camera): BP is also insisting that government air testing is showing, quote, "We have not had a single reading above OSHA regulations to date". And as for respirators, the company says, "There has been no demonstrated need for them, no single issue high enough to warrant a respirator."

DR. RIKI OTT, MARINE TOXICOLOGIST: On anything that I thought --

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dr. Riki Ott an environmental activist studied the effects of the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago. With this BP spill, she says, once again, out-of-work fishermen are lining up for cleanup jobs that she says will put them in harm's way.

OTT: I'm feeling like BP is forcing them into this situation where BP holds all the cards and BP is letting these workers get sick.

GRIFFIN: Back in Alaska, Roy Dalthorp's coughing has never stopped, he now has skin rashes. His health is literally crumbling.

DALTHORP: I'm going blind.

GRIFFIN (on camera): You think you were poisoned out there?

DALTHORP: Yes. Yes. Silently poisoned. And that's what's happening to those people down in the Gulf.


GUPTA: Drew is joining us now.

You know, Drew, health officials are monitoring cleanup workers here in the Gulf. I mean, we've seen some of that. Are you -- are you saying that there was no one monitoring in Alaska and there was no follow up either?

GRIFFIN: Sanjay, there was certainly nothing near the type of monitoring that's going on right now in the Gulf. And absolutely no follow up.

In fact, Exxon/Mobil even confirmed that to us in an e-mail, saying that the lack of studies, they say, is due largely to the fact that the cleanup workers, this is a quote, "Tended to be transient, temporary workers, making any medical follow-up incredibly difficult". Sound familiar?

Congress is trying to make sure that that doesn't happen again, Sanjay. And I just want to point out that the Committee on Energy and Commerce has sent a letter to the Chairman of Exxon/Mobil, trying to not repeat these mistakes, asking for any and all health records that Exxon/Mobil might have still pertaining to that 1989 spill and ask the question, really, of government itself, why there wasn't any government follow-up of these workers like -- like Roy Dalthorp.

GUPTA: Right. It's interesting, Drew, because so much in medicine is predicated on lessons learned. I mean, that's -- that's how you build knowledge.

Drew, stick around -- stick around and listen to this. Earlier today, Dr. Kevin O'Shea, he's the physician in charge of BP's medical response in the Gulf, he told me that on the four states affected by the spill more than 1,500 cleanup workers have now complained of some illness or injury.

He said, he isn't aware of any significant respiratory illnesses as of yet. But yet, I'll tell you as a doctor, I was curious, what is BP doing to monitor possible long-term health effects from the cleanup? As Drew was just asking, are they taking blood samples for example that will allow them to track changes in liver or kidney function in workers exposed to dispersants like Corexit, which isn't even used in Europe because it's considered too toxic.

I started off by asking Dr. O'Shea about the specific symptoms we're hearing from these cleanup workers.


GUPTA: If someone has been out there, and you've heard these complaints, I'm sure, like I have. They complain of burning in their sinuses and their throat, lightheadedness, nausea, headaches, what is that? Is that exposure to these toxic elements?

DR. KEVIN O'SHEA, BP'S MEDICAL UNIT LEADER: Regarding the symptoms that we're seeing, we don't have a good explanation. GUPTA: Does it surprise you that there's not a good explanation? Because I mean, there are -- there are a lot of people are saying is that, look, we're smelling this stuff. We don't feel well afterwards. We are exposed to this stuff.

O'SHEA: Right and they do come in. And we do evaluate them. And we do treat them. And assure that there hasn't been any ill effect from a chemical out there. Sometimes we can't explain why.

GUPTA: But I mean there are gray areas of medicine.

O'SHEA: Oh, absolutely yes.

GUPTA: You know that better than anybody.

With regard to testing, if someone comes in with any kind of complaint, are you just getting baseline blood testing or are you only doing it in cases where you're strongly suspicious of something?

O'SHEA: We do not have any set protocols out there. So we rely on the occupational medicine physicians, the emergency room physicians to do appropriate evaluation and treatment of the individuals.

So I would know in some cases, yes, there's blood work being done. In all cases, I can't tell you that.

GUPTA: And it's like these patients coming in, they have -- they have cold-like symptoms, they got these rashes and other things and they're just told that this is all due to a virus. I mean, it just -- that didn't sound right to me. Does that sound right to you?

O'SHEA: Not being able to evaluate any specific examples, but we have 40,000 responders out there. People will get sick as well. So, we are not influencing the practitioners out there in any way. We are relying on them to use their clinical judgment, understand what the exposures are and understand what the symptoms are and give their best diagnosis for the situation.

GUPTA: Because of this concern that, you know, you're with BP --

O'SHEA: Right.

GUPTA: -- and a worker may say, look, you've got a dog in that race. If they come to you, a worker, and they're not happy with what you or your doctors have told them, can they go somewhere else?

O'SHEA: Absolutely.

GUPTA: And will it be covered by BP?

O'SHEA: Well, as far as going somewhere else, we know that people have bypassed the EMS personnel that we have and have gone in to see their personal doctors. And we don't have a problem with that. They just need to go through that claims process and worker's compensation process and that would be handled that way.

So we know that it's happening. We're not forcing people to see any of the health facilities that we have out in the field.

GUPTA: After Valdez, they said of 11,000 workers that were studied, some reports say that more than 6,000 of them eventually were -- got ill. Some longer term, some shorter term, some very long term and they developed significant problems. Is that something you worry about?

O'SHEA: It is. And that's why we have engaged the Institute of Medicine and other government agencies, health and human services, NIH, to look at long-term health studies. We are --

GUPTA: But there aren't any right now to look at, right? I mean, there's no --

O'SHEA: Yes, the long-term health studies, no. I don't believe from any of the oil spills -- the Institute of Medicine had a seminar here and there were not any long-term health studies that were out there.

GUPTA: So you're working in a little bit of a black hole? I mean, you just don't have the precedent to base this on.

O'SHEA: For long-term health studies, no, we do not.


GUPTA: Well, up next, we're going to give you an update on the relief wells. They might be the only way of stopping oil that we're talking about. We'll bring you a progress report.

And later, what this is doing to the oysters and the generation of families who rely on them.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: You're looking there at the leak, oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the 79th day; 79 days. They've tried a giant containment box, top kill, top hat. They've been planning all week to hook up a third tanker to siphon off more oil. But choppy seas are stopping that from happening as well.

The only real hope of a long-term solution relies on drilling two relief wells into the bottom of the leaking one and killing it from below.

You know as a neurosurgeon, it's kind of annoying when someone says that something isn't brain surgery. In this case, though, it's close.

And Tom Foreman is here with the latest -- Tom.


You know this whole idea of drilling down through a mile of ocean water and then two miles of rock and sand in the seabed. Look at this when we dive down here and just contemplate what we're talking about. You're going through all of this, all in the hopes of hitting something about the size of a dinner plate. That's how big the leaking pipe is all the way down where they're trying to hit it. That's a massive technological challenge.

So what if they miss? Then what? Well, for starters, they can try again. Look at this, these are the relief wells coming in here that we've been talking about all this time. If they were to miss this, with the one that's closest down here, they can try again. This drill can be repositioned and they can take stab after stab at it, trying to get close as long as the equipment holds up and there is hope that it might work.

Then, let's say they actually made the intercept. This is what we're talking about. Again, the pipe itself would probably be only about this wide underneath there. They've got to intercept it and then penetrate it from the side, cutting in from the sides over here. Once they do that, here is a measure of how difficult this is and how tough this pipe is. The actual cut in could take a full week to accomplish.

If they accomplish that, though, if that's done, then what you're going to see is the pumping of this heavy drilling fluid or mud we've talked about. It will come down from here into the line and gradually it will start stacking up in the line as it's pushed upward by the oil. As it stacks up, because it's so heavy, it will be pushing down.

So, let's say that's not enough to stop it. Well, then, Sanjay, the option is they look over here at the second line. They bring that second line in and they try to bring in even more mud at a higher rate, pushing it in, increasing the weight to many, many, many tons.

The belief is that somewhere they reach a stasis here and that cuts off the flow of the oil and it stops it. At least, Sanjay, that's the theory about the relief wells.

GUPTA: You know, I'm a little bit scared to ask almost, Tom. Let's say that also fails to stop the flow. It's a fascinating description. What else can be done? Are there any other plans?

FOREMAN: If that doesn't work, there are other plans they're working on right now, one of which you mentioned a minute ago. Right now we've been talking about this top hat sort of system where they have a cap over the top of the blow-out preventer down here and they have lines that are coming up to ships up here that are taking this oil up and siphoning it off. They're capturing what they say is pretty good bit from that right now.

They are trying to bring in another ship here. They've been held up by the bad weather. But if they can get another ship in there, the idea is that they run another line up there. They're even talking about a tighter-fitting cap down here. If all of that works the way they want it to, they think they could possibly get up to 90 percent collection of the oil that's escaping. At least that is their stated goal, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You know, those are remarkable graphics and actually really make it quite clear. I hate to be sort of the Thomas Doubtful here, Tom but I think in the sake of completeness, if nothing works -- a lot of my friends have been asking this, and the leaks on the bottom just continue expand to the point that they cannot be controlled, what then?

FOREMAN: Yes. That seems, Sanjay, to be highly unlikely when you talk to scientists. Really one of the few ways that could happen is if you have some kind of catastrophic failure around here where you ended up with multiple leaks out of the sea floor and simply couldn't do anything about it. That seems really unlikely.

But if you have something like that happen and this simply gushed and gushed and gushed. The thing is, no one knows. The estimate of how much oil is in this reservoir vary from tens of millions of barrels to maybe a billion.


FOREMAN: So, suffice it to say if that remote circumstance came to be, you could look at years of oil spewing up into the Gulf like this, Sanjay. But of course, we're very, very much hoping that won't be the case -- Sanjay?

GUPTA: All right. Yes. A lot of people optimistic right there with you as well. Fascinating stuff, Tom, thanks so much.

And next on 360 a high price for the cleanup. Oysters are dying and oystermen say not because of the oil but because of how it's being kept away and the men who rely on this work. Their lives are being changed forever. We're going to take you straight out on the water.

Also tonight, under arrest: a suspected serial killer who police say played a deadly cat-and-mouse game for 25 years. We've got those details, coming up.


GUPTA: Recently some oyster beds that were closed because of the spill were reopened. And that should be some encouraging news, but it's not for some oystermen here. Here is why.

Louisiana is diverting freshwater from the Mississippi to push away the oil from the marshes and when freshwater mixes with saltwater, oysters can die. Oystermen have known that. They've known that these days were coming but today we saw that these days are in fact here. Oysters are dying. Take a look.


VLAHO MJEHOVICH, OYSTERMAN: You can see all these boats that are tied up right now. They closed the fishing ground due to the oil coming in. None of these boats are working. Don't have much left with the freshwater coming and now oil is coming, it's a dual thing. It's going to destroy probably everything out there.

What freshwater doesn't kill, the oil will kill it all. Then that's it. Game over.

There's a lot of dead oysters right here in this spot last time I was out here. One live crab, that's recent. Everything is dying; little ones, everything. That's dead. That's dead. That's dead. It's all within two weeks.

When they die, they break apart. This doesn't stay long. This does not stay -- it goes like this, like this stuff. See all this stuff? Dead. After so many days, this is fresh kill. These are all dead.

It's disgusting. This is -- I mean, it takes an oyster from -- this oyster is about three months old. For it to get from this size to this size, this is about a three-year-old oyster. Three years of damage you're looking at there. It takes it to go from that to that.

Ninety-five percent casualties; there's no oysters out here. There is that spirit, I can't. What I did is gone. It's in the water. Shot. It's dying now. It's going to keep dying.

I've seen areas ten years go without oysters coming back. This is not something that's going to be done and fixed overnight. People have to understand. This is going to take years to come back.

It's like what do you do? I had a business. Now I don't have a business. My business was taken from me overnight. I have to go look for a job now.


GUPTA: We want you to meet the oysterman that we just profiled in that piece. His name is Vlaho Mjehovich. Thanks so much for joining us.

MJEHOVICH: Thanks for having me on.

GUPTA: Everyone just heard your story. You said for right now your job is done. You don't have work. We've been hearing a lot about these vessels of opportunity, using your boat to try and help with the cleanup efforts. There's a whole process involved with that.

Is that something you've been involved with or tried to do?

MJEHOVICH: Yes. I called and registered a month and a half ago. And I haven't heard a response. I have three vessels and they haven't called them at all. Right now they can call you and you get on it. It's the best that you can do right now, in my line of work.

GUPTA: But you're just not hearing back?

MJEHOVICH: No, I'm not hearing back. There's 3,000 vessels registered right now when I registered there was about 400. A lot of my friends registered after me got hired on. I really don't understand how it just works. It's not fair.

GUPTA: What happened to the oysters, a lot of people might relate to that -- is that a little bit of a forerunner of what happens to other fish? Is this what's going to continue to happen?

MJEHOVICH: Yes. Out there, the water has to be brackish. The mixture of salt and fresh, it's going to destroy everything out there is what I've seen. The oysters can't move. The other stuff is moving around, trying to get away from it. And it's going to (INAUDIBLE); either the freshwater is going to kill everything now or the oil to -- it's coming to an end.

GUPTA: The mixture of freshwater, the brackish sort of water or the oil?


GUPTA: I don't mean to ask an obvious question, but what do you do now for the next several weeks or months?

MJEHOVICH: You try to take it day by day. You get up. You know, try to watch -- don't spend any of the money you have. You have to live off of that now.

GUPTA: Most of the money you were making was during the summertime?

MJEHOVICH: Yes. That is our peak time to work is the summer. In my position, summer was the best.

GUPTA: What do your colleagues think as you get together and have discussions? What do you think about next summer or the summer after that? How long does this take?

MJEHOVICH: What I've seen out there today, the spat, those fingernails, they're dead. They take three years to grow to mature and they're gone. So, minimum three years for us to come back.

GUPTA: I appreciate you coming on and joining us. I think a lot of people like you need to hear what's happened here. Thanks so much Mr. Mjehovich.

MJEHOVICH: Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Next on 360, he is known as the Grim Sleeper. And tonight, police say they finally captured the infamous serial killer. We have the details, coming up.


GUPTA: In "Crime and Punishment" tonight, the arrest of a suspected serial killer. For decades police in Los Angeles have been trying to hunt down the Grim Sleeper. Today they believe they finally caught him.

Here is Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He preyed at night, trolling the streets of south central L.A. for victims. And there were many.

It is believed Deborah Jackson was the first to die. The 29-year-old cocktail waitress left a friend's home on August 10th, 1985. Her body was found days later. Jackson was shot to death.

Over the next two decades, he would take many more lives, all but one were black women. Some, working as prostitutes, most were shot to death.

DET. DENNIS KILCOYNE, LAPD: He would spot them and does spot them, victimize them and then just discards their body in alleys, like they're trash. He is a monster.

KAYE: A monster that detective Dennis Kilcoyne pursued for years. And he and his team believed it would only be a matter of time.

KILCOYNE: We've got this beautiful DNA profile, all these dashes and dots and this and that. There's no name and address or face to go with it.

KAYE: Now they say they do. Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the 57- year-old, was arrested Wednesday in front of his home in south L.A.

CAPT. KEVIN MCCLURE, LAPD: We made an arrest here in the 1700 block of 81st street of the suspect that has been known to many as the Grim Sleeper.

KAYE (on camera): He is suspected of killing at least 11 women. But for now, police will only charge him with ten murders. He doesn't have a lawyer and there's been no plea. But police say he is the killer they call the Grim Sleeper, a name coined because of the long gaps between killings.

(voice-over): News of the arrest reached the family of Alicia Alexander, who on September 11th, 1988, asked her father if he needed anything from the store. She was found murdered days later.

PORTER ALEXANDER, FATHER OF VICTIM: I was so -- you just -- my body just -- such a good relief that I found that I had.

KAYE: Nineteen years after Alicia was taken, Franklin allegedly claimed his last victim. Janeisha Peters (ph) was discovered January 1st, 2007, shot in the back and dumped in a garbage bag.

A quarter of a century of killing is over. And now police say they can finally put a name to the Grim Sleeper.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.


GUPTA: Just some incredibly gruesome details there. And joining me now are criminologist Casey Jordan and Margaret Prescod, who worked closely with the families of those allegedly murdered by the Grim Sleeper suspect. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Casey, the thing that strikes me and most people, is it normal for serial killers to take such long breaks or intervals between murders?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: It's relatively unusual. What makes a serial killer is not just the fact that they have three or more victims, but that they have a cooling off period between the victims. Typically these last a few months, sometimes a few years.

Jeffrey Dahmer had a gap of maybe three years between his first and second victim. BTK had about a 15-year hiatus. Other than that, it's relatively rare to have a gap of a year or two. The 14-year gap for Franklin is what led the trail to grow cold and why it's probably not a very famous case to people outside of Los Angeles.

GUPTA: That's right. I don't think a lot of people had heard of it outside of Los Angeles.

Margaret, are you pleased with the way the LAPD has been handling the investigation into these murders? Anything they should have done differently?

MARGARET PRESCOD, FOUNDER, BLACK COALITION FIGHTS BACK: Well, let's hope that they've caught the guy. But that can't whitewash what has gone on before. This has been going on for over 25 years.

A 911 tape was only released last year. It was taken in 1987 by an eyewitness. And we believe that there have been a lot of problems with the investigation.

Sanjay, you and I know that if these murders had happened in Beverly Hills, in a wealthy part of Connecticut, you know, wealthy part of Manhattan that this not only would have been local news, but it would have been national and international news. And we think that every life has to be of value.

GUPTA: Along those lines, Casey, most of the Grim Sleeper's victims were black, many were prostitutes. Do serial killers tend to murder victims that are alike in some way? And what about Margaret's point?

JORDAN: What is the most common denominator in almost all of these is the vulnerability. Not really the race, but the occupation of being a streetwalker, drug addict is the number one variable that we see in these victims.

In other words, Margaret is absolutely right. They're very often considered the sort of population that society doesn't care about. And we see this typically -- I could name a dozen serial killers that the general public has never heard of, prolific serial killers. But because of the nature of their victims, the cases never got the attention. Police really left it as a very low priority and we see that this is a real epidemic.

It's not just the serial killers, but the fact that they get away with it because they choose people who won't be missed and who don't have empowered families to fight for the attention these cases need.

GUPTA: That's incredibly sad --


PRESCOD: Yes but we can't assume that all of these women -- we can't assume that all of these women were sex workers, by the way.

JORDAN: I didn't assume that.

PRESCOD: Some of these women are mothers. They have family. Yes, but I just want to underscore that point.

Also, when the Hillside Strangler operated in Los Angeles -- I lived in New York City and I knew all about it. The fact that these were black women in south L.A., I do believe race played a factor. But we can all learn a lesson from here and we can all move forward and realize whether it is one white young woman killed in Aruba or women in south L.A. That that's some mother's daughter, that's some father's child.

GUPTA: An important message, I think, for sure, Margaret.

You have been in touch with many of the victims' families. How are they feeling? Are they still waiting to make sure that police have the right person before they breathe a sigh of relief?

PRESCOD: Well, I think everyone is being cautiously optimistic. I'm speaking more from the community end. I'm not speaking for families. They can speak for themselves, but we're being cautiously optimistic in the Black Coalition Fighting Back serial murders because we've been this route before. We want to make sure that the evidence is absolutely airtight and it won't be like the case of Ricky Ross, the sheriff's deputy that was charged in some murders some time back and then released.

GUPTA: That's exactly what I was thinking of as well.

Thanks to both of you so much for joining us, Dr. Casey Jordan and Margaret Prescod as well.

JORDAN: Thank you.

GUPTA: And tomorrow we have a 360 -- thank you -- tomorrow we have a 360 exclusive, a family torn apart just when they thought they had achieved their dream.

Abby Dorn, she nearly died after giving birth to triplets. She did survive, but just barely.


GUPTA: Can you look at me? Look over here, Abby. Can you blink yes for me? Blink yes.

Abby's parents, here with me, say she can communicate. Yes and no by blinking. Her ex-husband disagrees and says her blinking is simply spontaneous. It is not communicating.

Does this hurt at all, Abby?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That was a yes.

GUPTA: You think she's communicating right now?



GUPTA: Abby Dorn's children are now 4 years old and they haven't seen their mother since they were 1. Her parents say she has communicated that she very much wants to see her triplets but her ex- husband says the children are too young and will be too upset seeing their mother in this condition.

It's a tragic story that raises a lot of important, compelling questions. My exclusive report tomorrow on 360.

And up next: "One Simple Thing" to save honeybees. Sure, they sting, but they're also vital insects. Wait to see how people are helping with this special cause in their own backyards when 360 continues.


GUPTA: The honeybees do much more than buzz. They pollinate dozens of commercial crops here in the United States. They're essential to the agriculture industry and they're disappearing at an alarming rate.

Now scientists struggle to understand why the honeybees are vanishing. Ordinary Americans are stepping in to try and save them.

With tonight's "One Simple Thing" report again, here is Tom Foreman.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Suit up. Strap in. That's how Catharine Reeves transforms herself from a mild-mannered government employee into a backyard hero.

(on camera): This is the place?

CATHARINE REEVES, BEEKEEPER: Yes. This is my strong hive.

FOREMAN: one of thousands of city folks on a crusade to save the honeybees.

REEVES: You go in once a week just to check to see that the queen is laying eggs. You feed them.

FOREMAN: Everybody is working, nobody is slacking off.

REEVES: Yes, right. No, they're always working. I'm not a terribly environmentally conscious person but I saw that there was a need for people to keep bees, because there aren't any bees anymore.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In recent years, bee colonies all over have been dying at staggering rates. Last winter, one out of three did not make it. No one knows exactly why. Parasites seem to be part of the cause. But the impact is clear.

(on camera): How badly has this disease hit bees in this country?

BARRY THOMPSON, BEEKEEPER: It has devastated bees in this country.

FOREMAN (voice-over): So, experienced beekeepers like Barry Thompson and Dave Bernard hold training sessions to bring more city folks, doctors, accountants, attorneys like Catharine into the bee keeping world to help them set up their own bee hives at home.

THOMPSON: You can keep bees on a very small amount of land. They can be kept actually on the porch of a townhouse. They can be kept on the roof of a building, an apartment house, that sort of thing.

FOREMAN: The cost is minimal: A few hundred dollars for the hives, the gear; so is the time, a half hour or so once a week.

(on camera): How many times have you been stung?

REEVES: Twice. Twice.

DAVID BERNARD, MONTGOMERY COUNTY BEEKEEPERS ASSN: Only sting in defense of their hive. They're not aggressive. They're defensive.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But the return is enormous. Bees cared for like this, with adequate food and water are healthier and more likely to survive to pollinate our flowers, our crops, our fruits.

(on camera): You can't go out and save whales and you can't change global warming.


FOREMAN: And you can't go rescue the grizzly bear but you can take care of bees.

REEVES: Yes. There's a problem and people -- we need people to keep bees because it will affect all of us.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And millions of bees are depending on this "One Simple Thing" to survive.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Bethesda, Maryland.


GUPTA: All right Tom. Fascinating stuff. Well, that does it for this edition of 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.