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Reward Doubled for News on Kyron Horman

Aired July 27, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight explosive new developments in the desperate search for Kyron Horman. Police in Portland finally break their silence. Have cops now cracked this explosive case? Tonight we`ll go inside the dark secrets of Kyron`s step-mom as the grand jury hears brand- new evidence. Are we minutes away from an arrest?

And the war on women rips through Kentucky. Heartbroken family members say this beautiful young woman vanished just days before testifying against a convicted sex offender. Cops say he`s a bad dude who took off with this very same girl just last year. Now desperation mounts. Has he taken her again to stop her from testifying? Tonight I`ll talk to Brittany Kustes` frantic, devastate mother.

Plus a billionaire pedophile walks free. Tonight we`ll go inside Jeffrey Epstein`s sordid sexual world filled with money, young girls, and private jets. Tonight this monster only served about one year of house arrest. How is he now a free man? Did he get special treatment?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight fast-breaking developments in the Kyron Horman missing child case, but it`s not coming from where you`d think. The sheriff`s office breaks its silence. But it was a news conference notable for what was not said.

Is this investigation stalled or even at a dead end tonight? There is now a $50,000 reward in return for information that leads cops to Kyron. But cops refused to take one single question about their investigation or even how they view Kyron`s step-mom Terri Horman, the very last person to see the boy. So will it be left to a grand jury, now reportedly hearing testimony, to give us the real scoop?

Kyron`s mom, dad and stepfather were at this afternoon`s news conference, but only Kyron`s mom, Desiree Young, spoke. And her words were heartbreaking.


DESIREE YOUNG, MOTHER OF KYRON: We love you, Kyron. Never give up hope. We are all coming to get you, to bring you home. Thank you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: For more than seven weeks. And reporters were hoping to hear about a major break in a case that has captivated the nation. Some reporters even verbalized their frustration.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why was the news conference called? We got nothing but history and a reward.

LT. MARY LINDSTRAND, MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: Well, it`s an ongoing investigation, and it is what our press release said it would be, following up on the questions and an update on the case. And we did bring the family in also.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kyron`s step-mom Terri Horman, the last person known to see Kyron at his school Friday June 4th. There`s questions about Terri`s movements in the three hours after the little boy vanished. Her best friend, DeDe Spicher, has just appeared before a grand jury. Tonight we`re learning Spicher`s attorney thinks Terri will be arrested or will be indicted. Could DeDe be the key to finding out what happened to little Kyron?

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

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel but first to Jean Casarez from our "in session" sister network TruTV.

JEAN CASAREZ, TRU TV: There are some big things I think that came out of the press conference. No. 1, the reward money was doubled. An anonymous donor has stepped forward and taken that reward from $25,000 to $50,000. What that says to me is that law enforcement believes somebody out there knows so much, and they are trying to motivate that person to come forward.

Secondly, you see law enforcement standing there, and you see the family standing there. And the family had said so much to us through press conferences in the last week. And I think they are working together. And I think we can believe everything that we have heard the Kyron Horman family tell us about possible suspects and who could be responsible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. That`s fascinating. But it wasn`t what we`d hoped. There was speculation that cops might actually announce an arrest today. No such luck.


CAPT. MONTE REISER, MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: We believe that Kyron`s disappearance involves criminal behavior. because his parents have been deprived of their son for 53 days.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Today I`d like to announce that the initial reward of $25,000 offered through the Multnomah County Sheriff`s Office is being increased to $50,000 effective at 3 p.m. today.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: After 53 days, 11,000 hours of investigating, and 3,500 tips, if we don`t get more than that, could it mean this investigation has stalled somehow?

Victoria Taft, you`re a radio personality in Portland. Is there frustration in Portland tonight? Why hold a news conference and then take no questions?

VICTORIA TAFT, RADIO PERSONALITY: Jane, you`re so right. I am so annoyed by this news conference today. The fact that they even called it a news conference was an insult to the intelligence of the media.

And furthermore, I`ll tell you something else. The media have done a poor job of advancing the story in this respect. They could have pulled an old Sam Donaldson to President Reagan thing and yelled out questions today and ignored the fact that they weren`t going to take questions, and forced them to respond and do something to get a reaction out of the authorities. But they did not. They chose to sit on their hands.

We got a $50,000 reward, which to me tells me that there is some dead end going on here in this investigation.


TAFT: They need to shake a rock loose or something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. I`ve got to say I was disappointed personally. And it made me think, whoa, have they really hit a dead end? Mike Brooks.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, that`s -- I was listening to that thing live. And when they said they`re doubling the reward, that says to me, if there was an imminent arrest, they would say so. But there`s not.

So is this grand jury that we`re talking about? And we`re talking about her friend DeDe Spicher. Is all of this having to do with maybe the murder-for-hire plot? Because they`re talking about criminal behavior. What does that mean? They`re not talking, saying anything. They could be...

TAFT: They did address it.

BROOKS: Say again?


TAFT: They did address that in the news conference today. One of the things -- because I was listening for the same thing to, because I thought they had advanced the story a little bit or that the information about the murder-for-hire plot, but they said criminal behavior with respect to Kyron Horman`s disappearance.

BROOKS: Disappearance, exactly.

TAFT: They specifically said that today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, let`s get into this whole grand jury issue. Now, step-mom Terri Horman`s best friend and confidant, DeDe Spicher, was reportedly working as a gardener near Kyron`s home the morning that the child vanished. Witnesses claim DeDe abruptly left her job for 90 minutes with no explanation. There is DeDe right there. Cops have searched her home and car.

Here she is after appearing before a grand jury just yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know if Terri is hiding something? Were you with her on June 4?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why won`t you say anything? It`s important. This little boy has been missing for a long time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, Stacey Honowitz, we got new information. DeDe`s own lawyer is now saying DeDe is cooperating with cops and adds that he would be surprised if Terri Horman, her buddy, the step- mom was not indicated or arrested in this case. So here`s my big issue. Could DeDe Spicher, the so-called BFF, turn into the star witness in a trial against her friend, Terri Horman? DeDe showed up at the grand jury yesterday. but she didn`t testify. Stacey?

STACEY HONOWITZ, PROSECUTOR: Oh, I was -- here`s the bottom line. Of course she can become the star witness. Evidently there`s some information that she holds that we`re going to hear about later on, not now.

I find it very interesting that the media is very concerned about not hearing anything. The bottom line is, if you have an ongoing investigation, if a grand jury has been impaneled and if you have witnesses that are going before the grand jury, you`re not going to hear anything until someone is indicted. You could scream out a million questions to that police officer, and he would say, "I have no comment. I can`t comment right now."

Slowly but surely, you are going to get information.

Can she become the star witness? Does she maybe have crucial information? Absolutely. And that`s what we`re going to have to wait and see what comes in the grand jury investigation.

BROOKS: Jane, where have we been getting all our information? We`ve been getting it from Desiree Young, and we`ve been getting it from Kaine Horman. They have been -- as I said earlier today -- the conduit for law enforcement on getting this information out there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Got to get in Candy, Ohio. Your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: hi, Jane. Thank you for taking my call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: My question is there`s got to be someone else. If Kyron is still alive, which I pray to God he is, somebody has got to be harboring him. Somebody`s got to be tending to him, feeding him. Has anybody tried to follow up on phone calls or followed people to see if there`s contact or communication with someone else?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jean Casarez, we know that there were two other friends whose homes were searched. They apparently took polygraphs, friends of Terri and they passed, right?

CASAREZ: Yes, they did pass. All along we need to listen to the family. They have say they believe more than one person is involved. They say along with Terri Horman other people involved.

Now, remember back with the gymnasium that Terri Horman allegedly tried to abduct Kiara...


CASAREZ: ... when the family was living apart? Well, that state of mind right there, could she have abducted the child and someone could be harboring him? I think a lot of us are hoping he is still alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We are all hoping.

All right. Everyone, stay right where you are. More on this desperate missing search. This is such a crazy case. What happened to this child? Are cops inches away from making an arrest, or are they at a dead-end? And we`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Plus, a young woman vanishes just days before testifying against a sex offender. Has this monster struck again? I`m going to talk to her absolutely frantic mom in a bit.

But first cops in Portland finally speaking out. We`re going inside, deep inside the search for Kyron Horman.


MICHAEL COOK, FRIEND OF KAINE HORMAN: It`s only reasonable to assume that people would speculate and become suspicious of Terri. But it doesn`t mean that she had anything to do with it.



YOUNG: We remain confident in the actions and constant commitment of law enforcement in the mission to find our son.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, here is my big issue tonight. And I`m talking about the Terri Horman pressure cooker.

The step-mom has been accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband -- that`s Kyron`s dad -- months before little Kyron disappeared. So if Terri Horman is indicted by the grand jury on that murder-for-hire alleged plot and gets locked up for that, will that put pressure on her to talk about what she knows about Kyron`s disappearance?

To me it kind of reminds me of the whole Misty Croslin thing. You know, cops got her on drug charges, but of course, they`re really trying to find out what happened to little Haleigh Cummings.

Stacey Honowitz, they say the experts say they can`t hold a grand jury on Kyron`s case, because let`s pray the boy is found alive. They have not found a body. So what would they charge her with?

HONOWITZ: Well, I mean, there`s so many things. Harboring, if she did something with the child, and she harbored him somewhere. Obstruction of justice for not coming forward. There`s a myriad of other charges.

I think you`re right in what you`re saying. If they arrest her on the murder-for-hire charge, which is a pretty serious charge. It wouldn`t be just to arrest her to get -- put pressure on her, but it certainly would put pressure on her, if she had information leading to the finding of this child.

So there`s a bunch of other charges. I mean, thank God right now we don`t have any kind of death charge. But there`s obstruction. There`s harboring. There`s a series of crimes that she could be charged with.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Eileen, Connecticut.

TAFT: You kind of wonder why they don`t do that. You kind of wonder why they don`t do that. Why they don`t -- if they`ve got enough information on her, if they know there`s been criminal activity, that they don`t do that in order to bring pressure upon her and put her in an orange jump suit and then trot her out there for the perp walk. You would think that they would do that if they had the information.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is what...

HONOWITZ: What they were saying is they couldn`t judge the credibility of this gardener. I think that`s what they`re working on. They have to ferret out whether or not this person is telling the truth, because he came forward six months later. So I think until they conduct that full investigation, they can`t do anything to put pressure on this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Eileen, Connecticut, your thought or question, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes. I`m confused. Is -- they keep saying the step-mom was the last to see him. Was Kyron actually at school? Did the teachers see him there?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jean Casarez, my understanding is Kyron did go to school. In fact, he posed in front of his science project, and Terri Horman, the stepmother, took a photo of him. And she claims she left him at the school at 8:45 a.m., waving to him as he was walking toward his class. And the next thing we know is she pops up almost three hours later, 11:39, going into her gym. Isn`t the big question what did she do in those three hours?

CASAREZ: Right. But it is confusing the school scenario, because there was a science fair that morning before the classes started. So he was there during that time. But she says she waved good-bye to him when he was going to his class. That`s when he was never seen again.

And law enforcement specifically is asking friends and families and parents any photos they have or videos they have of that science fair day that morning at school. They want that video.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, here`s my other big issue tonight. Sexual obsession. According to Kyron`s dad, cops told him that Terri allegedly offered a landscaper/would-be hit man not only money but sexual favors to try to get him to kill her husband.

On top of that she allegedly began sending Kaine`s high school buddy, Michael Cook, sexually graphic photos of herself after little Kyron vanished. We`re talking about the lady there in the red hair.

Now, add to the possible sexual obsession, the body obsession. Take a look at this. Five years ago, she was totally into her body when she took part in competitive body building. It`s almost hard to believe that`s the same person. The transformation from this to her present-day look is just mind-boggling. It really is hard to see that it`s the same person.

And Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist, you add a third obsession. She was obsessed with her young daughter that she had with Kaine. Friends say her life revolved around her little daughter, Kiara. So what do you make of all that?

DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I think there are a couple of issues. No. 1 is she was obsessed with her body. And frequently an obsession with body can cover up issues of self esteem and a dependency and very needy state, which she obviously had after her husband moved out. Then she reportedly started sexting and looking for love and affection. So outside, while she looked good, she was confident. But inside she`s incredibly needy and manipulative and a really disturbed individual.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But don`t you think also she could be resenting having to take care of the stepson when she suddenly has her own new baby that she`s fixated on, and she`s lost her figure that she was so proud of?

TAYLOR: Well, she had three children. She had an older son who was adopted. She had Kyron, and then she had the baby. So here`s a woman who is clearly trying to define herself, but she has to take care of all these other people. And some women, some men cannot handle the pressure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sally, Pennsylvania, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: I was wondering, since Terri and her husband have been having marital problems for quite a while, was there ever any doubt in her husband`s mind that Kiara was his baby?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, that`s a heavy-duty one. I`m going to throw that to Victoria Taft, because you can handle anything.

TAFT: Well, you know what? I tell you something. I hadn`t heard that. I -- considering what we`ve been hearing about her sexual proclivities, I can see why you would ask that question. But I have not heard one word about whether or not there was any question about that. I thank you for the question but I ain`t heard nothing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you have Stacey Honowitz about the issue of immunity. The friends de Spicher shows up for the grand jury but reports are she doesn`t testify at all. She leaves, and they say they`re going to call her back. Couldn`t she be waiting to make some kind of immunity deal just for her information? I`m not saying she`s done anything.

HONOWITZ: Yes. Absolutely. When you see cases like this where someone is called to the grand jury that might have very important information and might be -- it might be information that incriminates them, they might be waiting for a deal. Certainly we`re speculating. I`m sitting here speculating.

They might have told her that they just don`t need her today in front of the grand jury. But it also could be that, if she has information and she`s part and parcel of what`s going on, that she`s waiting for some kind of...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fantastic panel. Stay right where you are. We`re not done. What happened to little Kyron? We are hunting for answers next.

Plus a 19-year-old vanishes. We`ll talk to her mom.



YOUNG: You need to do what is right, not for me, not for Tony, not for Kaine and not even for Kyron. You need to do it for Kiara because she needs to see that you did the right thing to help bring her brother home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kyron`s mom, you just heard from her there, took NBC "Dateline" on a tour of her home in Medford, Oregon, and also of Kyron`s room. Check this out.


YOUNG: It was pretty hard to handle. I cried solid for two months and didn`t leave the bedroom because I didn`t understand why she somehow equated to something that was better than me. And my son.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Janet Taylor, what do you make of the fact that Kyron`s mom says that she can`t even make his bed because she needs to keep it exactly the way it was the last time he was there?

TAYLOR: You know, there`s no loss like the loss of a child. And even for parents who physically know that they`ve buried -- they`ve lost their child, keeping things the same is so important, because grieving can go on for a long time. Even though this is an active case, they are still in the process of actively grieving because he`s not there. So they are just waiting and keeping up hope that one day their little son will walk through the door.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We still don`t know the identity of the mystery landscaper Terri allegedly seduced and tried to recruit in order to kill her husband Kaine, who thankfully that never happened. We spoke to a different landscaper here on ISSUES, who said he tried to answer the ad and expressed shock that the landscaper she tried to hire didn`t call cops back months ago when he could have.


ZACH GALLINGER, ANSWERED TERRI HORMAN`S LANDSCAPING AD: If I was approached in that situation I would definitely go to the police right away, and that would, in my estimation, would give you the best chances of catching somebody in the act, not six months later. And I wish that that gentleman had come forward sooner regardless if there is a missing child or not. It would just be the right thing to do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my question, Victoria Taft. We know Terri`s friend DeDe Spicher was working near Kyron`s home and abruptly left according to witnesses. Now, Terri tries to hire a gardener or landscaper to do in her husband. I`m not saying that DeDe is that landscaper, allegedly. But could Terri have met her somehow through the gardening world that de is involved in?

TAFT: That`s -- as I understand, that`s the connection. And that`s what I understand that they had an affinity for body building and working out as well as an avocation of gardening and that that person de Spicher who was out of work decided she would use her time while she was out of work to learn how to be a specific kind of gardener. And as we see there`s some sort of gardening connection here beyond, it seems, their -- their mutual...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I guess what I`m saying is you don`t I think call a stranger and say, "Hey, I`ll give you sexual favors -- allegedly -- if you kill my husband." You probably do that with somebody that you at least met through a friend. Unless you -- all right.

Listen. You know what? We`ve got to leave it right there. It`s such a crazy case. We`re going to stay on top. But I know we can talk about this all night long. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Plus, a family`s worst nightmare. Their teenage daughter, Brittany, missing. Could she be with a sex offender she was set to testify against? I will talk to her mother, next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The war on women rips through Kentucky. Heartbroken family members say this beautiful young woman vanished just days before testifying against a convicted sex offender. Cops say he`s a bad dude who took off with this very same girl just last year. Now desperation mounts. Has he taken her again to stop her from testifying? Tonight I`ll talk to Brittney Kustes`s (ph) frantic devastated mother.

Plus, a billionaire pedophile walks free. Tonight we`ll go inside Jeffrey Epstein`s sordid sexual world filled with money, young girls and private jets. Tonight this monster only served about one year of house arrest. How is he now a free man? Did he get special treatment?

Breaking news tonight: a news conference held by authorities in Portland, Oregon -- much anticipated -- about the disappearance of little Kyron Horman. There was only one problem. They didn`t take any questions, and they didn`t say very much at all except that they`ve increased the reward to $50,000.

You might say the big elephant in the room at today`s news conference was Terri Horman, Kyron`s stepmom who reportedly failed two polygraphs after claiming she left the boy at his school. Nobody even mentioned Terri, not even Kyron`s mother Desiree, who previously attacked Terri as uncooperative.


DESIREE YOUNG, KYRON HORMAN`S MOTHER: Our goals are to expedite the search for Kyron, to bring him home as quickly as possible, and to bring justice to any person responsible for his disappearance.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, why not at least make some reference to Terri Horman? She hasn`t been maimed a suspect or person of interest but everybody has been reporting that she is the focus of this investigation.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, they just ought to call a spade a spade, if you will, and the whole gardening industry. She is a suspect. I don`t care what anybody says. Some people say person of interest. I call her a suspect. Why is she a target? No.

I would call her a suspect but they`re not. They`re playing their cards very close to the vest, Jane. And they`re letting things play out.

But I was very surprised too, that Desiree Young did not mention anything in her little emotional plea at the end was basically we`re coming to find you. I`m not getting a good vibe from that, Jane, not at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now me either.

BROOKS: I hold out hope. God, I hold out hope that this little precious boy is found alive. But after hearing that, Jane, I`m not having a good feeling about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mary -- go ahead.

MARY, MARYLAND (via telephone): Hi Jane.


VICTORIA TAFT, HOST, KPAM 860: Desiree was crying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I`m going to let Victoria Taft finish her comment then we`re going to go to the caller. Go ahead Victoria.

TAFT: I`m sorry, Jane. Don`t pull out the gavel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, I`m going to get the big gavel out in a second.

TAFT: What I wanted to say was Desiree Young was crying before she even got to the podium this afternoon.



TAFT: She was crying. She was clearly broken up. She was shaking and she was shaken. And I wondered why.

This is a woman who has been so composed through so many interviews at this incredibly tough time of her life. It`s the hardest time she`s ever had in her life and she was a broken woman going before the podium today. What happened? What does she know?

BROOKS: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s sad to think about.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kyron`s mom, Desiree Young, we`re talking about her right now. She says she found out about Terri when she, meaning Desiree, was eight months pregnant with Kyron. Young told NBC`s "Dateline" that Kaine Horman, Kyron`s dad, was unfaithful to her. Listen to this.


YOUNG: It was pretty hard to handle. I cried solid for two months and didn`t leave the bedroom because I didn`t understand why she somehow equated to something that was better than me and my son.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Now, Kaine, that`s Kyron`s dad, maintains that he and Desiree -- the woman you just heard from -- were actually broken up when he started seeing Terri.

But I have to say, Stacey Honowitz, this adds a whole new possible motive into the equation because you have two women who at one point fought over the same man, the father of the boy who`s missing.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: This is a very, very difficult situation. And I think it really happens quite often. You do have to look at the family dynamics in order to try to solve the pieces to this puzzle. We can all sit here and speculate that there could have been jealousy.

And certainly hearing that she wanted to put a hit on the husband brings a whole new light to it too. So police are investigating all of these things, Jane. They don`t go unnoticed. It`s not just people calling in with theories. Investigators are panning out. They are talking to witnesses. They are trying to investigate, trying to find out if any of these theories fall into the mix.

And like Mike said, we`re going to have to wait and see how things fall out. Maybe the mom today did get some information and that`s why she was shaken up. Or maybe she just thought, I thought there were leads all along and standing here today doubling the reward is telling me that we`re at a dead end. So maybe reality is starting to set in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I`ve got to say this. It`s funny how the story has changed. When this story first broke we were reporting that Terri, the lady you see as a stepmother, was a good friend of Desiree who once she split up from Kaine she became sick with kidney failure and Desiree had to go to Canada. So the little boy goes to live with his biological father and Terri moves in to help raise the kid and what a wonderful person she was.

Now we`re hearing a totally different story. Oh, my gosh, it`s really flipped 180 degrees.

Mary, Maryland, thank you for your patience, ma`am. Your question or thought.

MARY: Hi, Jane. I had a thought today that Terri came up with the $300,000 out of nowhere. Could she possibly, being the sicko, she is sell Kyron to another sicko?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Mike Brooks.

BROOKS: Well, you know, we always say in all these cases what do you do? You follow the paper trail. I can guarantee you maybe they don`t have enough probable cause to make an arrest but they probably have enough for a judge to sign a search warrant to go ahead and subpoena or let`s get a subpoena to look at the bank records. Because where did this money come from? Was it because of some other criminal activity?

It`s something that could be articulated by investigators to look into her bank accounts and find out where the money is coming from. Or she could have gotten a loan. But --



BROOKS: So who knows?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or she could have sold her story to get $350,000.

BROOKS: That`s another possibility.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- to reportedly give that to her attorney.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are we going to see her story pop up? Are we going to see her story pop up in some tabloid?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s a good possibility and you can find out if you follow the paper trail because I`m sure there has to be a canceled check somewhere if that was the case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hate to bring out the big gavel but we have to move on. Thank you so much, fantastic panel.

It is no secret that I am passionate about the environment. It`s up to us, you and me, to keep this planet clean and beautiful. There`s one easy way you can start doing your part.

You have to throw away the plastic. I have all this plastic here I try to throw away every day. I don`t use these things anymore. This here, get rid of it. Instead of those horrible plastic water bottles, how about trading them in for this lovely reusable canteen? I love this little guy.

ISSUES wants to be part of the solution, so we`ve designed an ISSUES water canister. We want to hear how you`ve made a positive impact on your environment. We`re going to feature these stories live on ISSUES. Those who have made the most difference will get one of these environmentally- safe water canisters. We`ve already started getting tons of e-mails. We just started this yesterday.

Here`s a fabulous one from Peter J. Pilot. "You don`t clean up the earth. You don`t clean up your town. You don`t even clean up your neighborhood. You merely pick up one piece of trash a day. When many people do this, the earth, your town, your neighborhood gets cleaned up. If even ten people in your town joined, that`s 300 pieces of trash picked up every month.

And while we`re picking up one piece a day, we`re developing what I call CEC, Clean Earth Consciousness. A simple shift in attitude so that we don`t throw away any more trash on the earth."

I love it. Now we`ve got to recycle everything that we pick up. Do you have a green improvement? Send it to me; Let`s all be part of the solution. Let`s all go green. So excited about this.

Up next: inside the twisted life of a billion-dollar pedophile; young girls, sex and lots and lots of money -- billions. Why in the heck is this guy walking around a free man?

Plus, the war on women escalates in Kentucky. A 19-year-old woman vanishes without a trace. Tonight family members devastated fear the worst. I`m going to talk one-on-one with her frantic mother next and we`re taking your calls, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`re listening or if you can see this, we love you. We`re looking for you every day and night and we will find you. We will find you. I love you.




LINDA, VIEWER: Lindsay`s in jail because she thinks the rules don`t apply to her. And now that she`s there all they do is reinforce in her head that the rules really don`t apply to her. I got two DUIs over ten years ago and I (INAUDIBLE) the judge didn`t allow me special treatment.

I was afraid to go to jail. That`s where I wound up. Thankfully I got clean and sober but it wasn`t until my 40s. Maybe if the judge laid the hammer down who knows, maybe things would have turned out differently.

Bottom line is though, I`m clean and I`m sober. Jane, that`s my rant.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Linda, I love your rant. Thanks for sending in your ISSUES rant.

Are you at home outraged about an issue you see on this show? Send us a video rant. It`s a lot of fun to do. It can be about this or any story you see that gets your blood boiling. Send your ISSUES rants to 30 seconds or less and we will air them live.

All right. Switching gears to a very, very sad story. Tonight a desperate search under way as a beautiful 19-year-old girl goes missing in Kentucky. Cops say Brittney Kustes may be with a 34-year-old convicted sex offender who they call a bad dude. That`s an understatement.

No one has heard from Brittney in a week and a half when she was last seen at her grandma`s house. Now cops believe she is with this man, Roy Elwell, a non-compliant registered sex offender with a rap sheet a mile long.

The thing that makes this story so tragically strange, cops say this is not the first time he has taken off with this girl. The first time her mom says she came back addicted to meth. But her mom adds she went to rehab. She got clean. She got a job. So the question is, did Brittney go willingly? Her mom doesn`t think so.


LAURIE KUSTES, MOTHER OF BRITTNEY KUSTES: No, there was no problem for her to take off and leave. She hated this guy, actually.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now there have been sightings of Brittney who reportedly had black marks and bruises on her face.

Joining me now, Brittney`s desperate, frantic mom, Laurie, as well as Detective Scotty McGaha from the Bullitt County Sheriff`s Department; we also are joined by HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks.

Laurie, first of all, everybody here at ISSUES we hope you find your daughter ok. We know you`re going through a living nightmare. What makes you think Brittney is with this guy against her will?

KUSTES: There`s been numerous calls that have said that she has tried to get away from him. She has tried to use her phone and he`s in control of everything.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, how come, if we`re hearing, detective, about numerous calls, et cetera, and there`s been people who have spotted her apparently beaten and bruised that somehow they managed to elude authorities?

DETECTIVE SCOTTY MCGAHA FROM THE BULLITT COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: Well, it appears at this point that as late as driving here to the studio tonight I received like three tips on her. But it`s just like we`re one step behind them. They`re always just like one step ahead of us. But the tips are getting stronger by going to the media. And hopefully we`re going to find them soon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I would beg if this guy, Roy Elwell is watching, do yourself a favor, dude. Let her go. Just leave her wherever she is and walk away. This is what you should do. Ok. Leave her wherever she is and leave.

Cops say Roy Elwell is a bad dude. For one, he`s a registered non- compliant sex offender, busted in the mid `90s for kidnapping a 17-year- old. Elwell`s arrest history also includes domestic violence, assault, robbery, stalking and drug offenses.

Cops say this guy knows they want to talk to him. But get this. This is what upsets me the most. Friends of his reportedly have told police he laughs off requests to come into the sheriff`s office.

Laurie, how did your daughter first hook up with this guy?

KUSTES: I have no idea.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, she was doing drugs at one point, correct?

KUSTES: She was.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell us about that.

KUSTES: She was. She came up missing. It was a little over a year ago. And the cops found her then with him. And when we got her back, she was addicted to meth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what did you do then?

KUSTES: Sent her to a rehab. And she straightened up, doing great. Everything was great. Life was good.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So she`s at home?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: With the grandmother swimming in her grandma`s pool. What happened then?

KUSTES: Later on that night, she comes up -- she`s gone. About 8:30, 9:00; she`s been gone ever since. Her truck --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And apparently he was going up and down the block, right?

KUSTES: Right. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, how do -- you know, here`s the thing -- I`m a recovering alcoholic, so I`ve been there. There is something called a slip, where you`re supposed to avoid the people, places and things with which you did drugs or alcohol because that triggers a craving.

KUSTES: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is it possible that he may have lured her into going away as opposed to kidnapping? I`m just trying to figure this out.

KUSTES: I`ve been trying to figure it out as well. But there is no way she left with him intending not to come back. She left everything behind. And we had plans of shopping that she was looking forward to for over a week and a half. She never left intending not to come back, if it was voluntarily.

Wow. Now, Brittney`s first brush with Roy Elwell was when she was just 17 years old. That`s about a year and a half ago. Brittney`s mom -- she`s here we`ve been talking to her. She says Brittney was into the drug world and that`s how she met this guy.

Cops say they don`t believe she was with him willingly then or now. So this is what`s so bizarre about this case. This is the second time the same individual has allegedly taken off with the same young girl and held her against her will.

It`s my big issue tonight -- deja vu. Has this guy developed a sick fixation for Brittney? One of the problems with our criminal justice system, Mike Brooks, is criminals can have access to their victims after they are out of prison. They can continue to stalk them.

BROOKS: They do. We were just talking about that on "Prime News" tonight about stalking and the laws of stalking, that we`re trying to give them a little bit more teeth.

One of my questions, detective, the last sighting you had on the way to the show, do they believe that they`re still in the state of Kentucky, and if so, whereabouts in Kentucky?

MCGAHA: Well, the sightings we`re getting is mostly Bullitt. It`s pretty much the lower (ph) metro area, that being Jefferson County, Bullitt County, Spencer County. And we`ve had sightings in southern Indiana, but as you know that`s just across the Ohio River Bridge. So it`s not that distant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Laurie, do you fear for your safety given that this guy is out there?

KUSTES: I do. This guy has actually tried to break into my home before. He`s threatened my life, my parents` life, all to Brittney if he couldn`t have her. So it`s a very sick, sick situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re right. This is a sick stalking situation, and it`s been taken to the nth degree because the stalker -- the alleged stalker has taken off with the alleged victim.

We pray you find your daughter. We`re staying on top of this case, Laurie. We`re not going to let it go. We`re going to keep her face out there and his face out there. We`re with you on this here at ISSUES.

Thank you so much.

KUSTES: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A sex predator billionaire -- this is a story your jaw will drop, right after the break.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Turning now to the lavish, jet-setting lifestyle of an admitted pedophile, hedge fund mogul Jeffrey Epstein is a free man after serving just 13 months in a county jail. Epstein could have faced sex trafficking charges that carry a 20-year sentence. So how did this sex offender land such a sweet plea deal?

Some people claim it`s because of his massive -- and I mean massive fortune, his dream team of lawyers, his VIP connections. Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution and soliciting a child for prostitution but "The Daily Beast" claims the FBI identified, ooh, dozens of alleged victims going back years.

Epstein has reportedly settled more than a dozen lawsuits from alleged victims who were all under age. They reportedly claimed he molested them somehow at his home and paid them at least 200 bucks. "The Daily Beast" reports Epstein paid each girl more than $1 million to settle their lawsuits.

So why didn`t the prosecutor throw the book at this man? One of them explained it this way.


LANNA BELOHLAVEK, PROSECUTOR: There were a lot of considerations made by the state and if they can testify and their feelings regarding that -- embarrassment to them, which might occur. And so it`s just been a long time albeit coming to what we thought was an appropriate resolution.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to Conchita Sarnoff, contributor to "The Daily Beast". Tell us what you know about this really bizarre and disturbing case.

CONCHITA SARNOFF, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, Jane, first of all, thank you for having me on your show. The case came to me because I`ve been investigating child sex trafficking for over 4 years. And during my investigation a friend of mine mentioned the fact that Mr. Epstein was incarcerated.

I thought, of course, it was for tax evasion. Never imagined that it would be for child sex trafficking or prostitution, which was the actual charge that he went to jail for.

And when I found out about it, I started to investigate the case. It took me about a year to investigate what I have written about and contacted many, many officials. I`ve had conversations and multiple interviews from the Department of Justice to the FBI to Mr. Epstein, USAG, state attorney`s office, et cetera. So it`s been a very --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I guess my bottom line question is it`s my big issue. Does Epstein`s wealth and status make him above the law? He was able to afford the very best defense team that money can buy. Do the names Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr ring a bell?

Conchita, you`ve made some jaw-dropping allegations against the legal team. Like what?

SARNOFF: Well, basically that the legal team, who defended Mr. Epstein, obviously have a great deal of influence in our government. And even though we all like to believe that justice will always be served, regretfully in Mr. Epstein`s case, I don`t feel that justice was properly served.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, certainly not if he got away with something. I have to say that we independently cannot confirm here at HLN your reporting and we have reached out to Mr. Epstein and his entire legal panel. And we invite them on our show if they want to tell their side of the story any time. Ok?

Come on and explain yourself, Mr. Epstein. We`d love to hear it. Thank you very much Conchita.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.