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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Serial Killer Caught?; Search for Kyron Horman; 2-Year-Old Vanishes
Aired July 28, 2010 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, fast breaking news just coming in to ISSUES. An alleged serial killer finally faces justice. Tonight, we`ll go inside this monster`s alleged double life working at U.P.S. by day, researching murder by night. Cops say he killed two mothers and two daughters, all to satisfy his twisted family fetish. So, why are cops calling this guy a brilliant serial killer?
And the sickening plot thickens in the desperate search for Kyron Horman. His tearful mom now believes Kyron is still alive and quote, "being stashed somewhere." Tonight, is Kyron a pawn in a vicious rivalry?
Also, it`s every parent`s worst nightmare. A 2-year-old boy vanishes from an Arizona camp site. Family members say he`s wearing nothing but a diaper. So, did this tiny toddler sneak out of the family tent without waking anybody up? Or is the child the victim of something far more sinister?
Plus, a beautiful college student vanishes into thin air. Is this another chapter in the war on women? Marcy Elliott was last seen walking alone on Thursday night, and she hasn`t been seen since. Tonight, we`re doing everything we can to find her.
ISSUES starts now.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL (on-camera): Tonight, breaking news. A man who cops fear could be America`s latest serial killer. He`s behind bars tonight as authorities try to figure out why he allegedly targeted pairs, pairs of mothers and daughters. A 27-year-old Jason Thomas Scott has been charged with the double murder of one mother and daughter, Delores and Ebony Dewitt whose bodies were found burning in an abandoned car. Maryland police believe this monster may have the blood of at least five more women on his hands, including another mother-daughter pair.
Investigators say Scott led a secret double life, working at, are you sitting down? U.P.S. by day and carefully plotting murder by night.
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GLENN IVEY, PRINCE GEORGE`S COUNTY STATES ATTY.: And I hope that this indictment will help to bring some sense of calm to the community.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Scott, who was described as smart and successful, even brilliant lived in this average-looking house. They say this predator may have used U.P.S. company database to choose and stalk his innocent victims from a list of potential customers. A U.P.S. spokesperson tells HLN, quote, "he is a former U.P.S. employee and hasn`t worked for the company since the summer of 2009. He worked part-time in package operations where there is no access to software. He had no face-to-face interaction with our customers," end quote.
Scott was arrested a year ago after he was caught selling -- you want to hear this -- machine guns, assault weapons and silencers out of the trunk of his car. That led investigators to an old abandoned mansion which cops believe was doubling as a thief`s lair. This is some kind (ph) of a sick movie. The (INAUDIBLE) is where cops reportedly found evidence linking Scott to this heinous mother-daughter murder.
Tonight, we`re asking the question, will he be linked to dozens of other female victims? More victims in the war on women in America. Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. But first, to Major Andy Ellis, public information officer with the Prince George`s County police department. Sir, thank you for joining us. I know you`re very busy because this case is breaking as we speak. What can you tell us about what is happening with this suspect tonight?
MAJ. ANDY ELLIS, PRINCE GEORGE`S COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, Jane, he was -- Jason Scott was indicted yesterday by Prince George`s County, Maryland grand jury for the deaths of Delores and Ebony Dewitt. We do suspect that he is also involved in the deaths of a mother-daughter of the Loftons (ph), which occurred three months prior and also of another woman that occurred the previous year.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God. But he hasn`t been charged in all of those, he`s been charged with the one mother-daughter pair?
ELLIS: That`s right. This is a complicated investigation. He is -- he`s somebody who covered his tracks well, who studied police forensics, and so he made it difficult for us to find him. It was a massive investigation involving 150 police officers, working at the beginning around the clock. And we are glad that we have identified him. And that he`s been charged with at least two of the deaths so far.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this very bizarre estate with this mansion that was acting as a thief`s lair, what`s that about, sir?
ELLIS: Well, that`s all part of the investigation. And I think that`s coming from sources, so I can`t discuss that. But I can tell you that it is a very involved case. A lot of evidence, mountains of evidence, hundreds of suspects --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hundreds of suspects? That you`ve gone through and you narrowed it down to this guy?
ELLIS: That`s right. Absolutely. Yes. At the beginning, we went through hundreds of suspects. Just had a huge dragnet out. And we`re able to whittle it down, and with the assistance of the ATF, we`re able to focus in on Scott. And he`s been indicted.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got to say that they must have been doing some pretty good thievery there because that`s a pretty nice house that they got there as a thieves` lair. Now, Scott is the prime suspect as we`ve been discussing in three other murders. In 2008, Vilma Butler, (ph) who lived with her daughter was home alone when she was gunned down before her home was set on fire. Karen Lofton (ph) and her daughter, Carissa, were shot to death in their home last year. An intruder neutralized their home alarm system and slipped inside.
Karen, a 45-year-old nurse was shot as she tried to hide in the corner. Her 16-year-old daughter, Carissa, was shot as she frantically dialed 911. Police were baffled by this. The doors were locked and there were no signs of forced entry. Michelle Sigona, investigative journalist, you were the first reporter inside the Loftons home back in 2009. Tell us about that bizarre double murder for which this man is now the prime suspect.
MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: The home was set up just like it was a little bit prior to their death, Jane. And when you went inside, I could see the alarm panel on the wall. There was also a motion detector. And there was a lot of fingerprint dust because obviously the scene had been processed where investigators believe that that may have been the way that he exited, was through the window. And then when you went around to the upstairs, Carissa`s room was on the left. That is the place where she was allegedly shot and called 911 from. And when you went to the back of that hallway, that is where her mom, Karen, would normally sleep. And that is where she was shot. And that`s where her body was found. When I was there --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does this guy know these women? Is there any connection between him and these women? Or does it appear that he targeted strangers?
SIGONA: It`s hard to --
ELLIS: we don`t believe --
ELLIS: I`m sorry. Go ahead, Michelle.
SIGONA: No, no, major, you go ahead.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Major, you go ahead.
ELLIS: We don`t believe that he knew these women. Still, that`s part of the investigation, but there`s nothing to indicate to us initially that he knew these women.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, he is targeting total strangers. Here`s my big issue tonight, why target mother-daughter pairs? To try to understand the why, you have this chilling pattern. We are going to bring in right now one of the world`s top serial killer experts, Dr. Helen Morrison. She is the author of "My Life Among the Serial Killers." She has profiled more than 80 serial killers, including the infamous clown obsessed killer, John Wayne Gacy, who committed more than 25 murders and hid the bodies in a crawl space in his home.
He actually sent Helen crazed Christmas cards and paintings as presents. Helen, you`re the expert. What do you make of this targeting of mother-daughter pairs?
DR. HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Well, generally it must have been that the first time he killed someone, it was imprinted on him that mother-daughter pair was what he learned to do. It`s like someone who`s addicted to a specific drug. That drug becomes their goal. And as he continued these murders and his alleged involvement in these murders, he just continued that same pattern of choice of victim. It doesn`t mean he did the same type of murder each time, and indeed, would have changed his pattern, as most serial murderers do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in here and say that two of the mothers were also nurses. Could that be part of the pattern? Maybe he had a bad experience with nurses at some point in his life.
MORRISON: The problem with serial killers is we always want to find a motive for them. And we always want to find an explanation for what they do. The basic thing is that we will never find a motive. And it`s just that they like to kill. It could be coincidence that they were nurses. It could be coincidence that they were mother-daughters, but highly unlikely. He had to know something about these people even though --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa Bloom, you know what scares the wits out of me is the fact that he worked at U.P.S. and may have used the computer system to find victims. Remember the BTK serial killer and he worked in --
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, yes, absolutely.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alarm systems? And that`s how he learned how to dismantle the alarm systems, to go in and torture and kill his victims.
BLOOM: That`s right, Jane. And this is an educated guy who`s knowledgeable about computer systems. And as a U.P.S. guy, he may have had knowledge about the neighborhood and who was home to pick up mail at any given time. It`s absolutely creepy. And I agree, this does not sound like a coincidence. This sounds like a guy who`s targeting mothers and daughters. Perhaps, he liked the emotional thrill of it. It had to be a very chaotic, horrific crime scene.
Maybe that`s something that he enjoyed, but one thing is clear to me as these are premeditated murders. You could do one murder and argue there was a crime of passion or something went wrong, but this similar, it had to be premeditated.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And is so sick. Somebody who is now being described as brilliant, allegedly using that mind to kill.
All right. Everybody, stay right where you are. How many more victims could be out there? We`re taking your calls on this on the other side of the break, 1-877-jvm-says.
Plus, a 2-year-old boy vanishes during a family camping trip. Did he simply wander off or was he abducted?
But first, a suspected serial killer preying on mothers and daughters, setting them on fire. We`re going to go inside his sick, twisted mind next.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel much better with him behind bars. There`s a peace now knowing he`s off the streets.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What satisfaction will you get out of taking lives? Why?
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a suspected serial killer behind bars. A 27-year-old Jason Thomas Scott charged with the double murder of a mother and a daughter. Is he a serial killer targeting women and their young daughters? Police say yes, he is. They think he`s linked to at least five more murders. And we got somebody, Major Andy Ellis, who is with the police department investigating all of this. What I thought was fascinating, sir, was he apparently allegedly used bleach, arson and altered the placement of bodies. Tell us what you know, sir.
ELLIS: And that`s, Jane, what made is so difficult for us to investigate this case. You`re right, he used bleach in the Lofton case, and he used other methods I don`t want to go into, but to change the way the scenes looked. And it made it more difficult for our officers, particularly in the Dewitt case when he burned the bodies, that made it particularly difficult for us to investigate that murder.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: John Lucich, criminal investigator, usually the serial killers have a specific pattern. Yes, he did have a pattern allegedly with the mother-daughter pairs and the mothers being nurses, but in terms of how these crimes were carried out, he really mixed it up. And authorities believe he did that precisely to throw them off so that they didn`t think a serial killer was on the loose.
JOHN LUCICH, FMR. CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Absolutely. This guy`s got a history of crime right down to burglaries. This guy knows how to choose a target, get in, and get out. He researched everything, the forensic side of everything, the computer forensic side of everything. He was using all these methods to destroy the evidence because he knows that just walking onto a scene, he`s dropping DNA. He`s creating DNA and evidence all over this. So, he went -- he planned this entire thing out to make sure the cops had the toughest job, but kudos to the cops. They did a great job because they knew those bodies were moved.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Scott graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Information Systems Management. He`s a smart guy. Something he`s brilliant. He worked for nine years at U.P.S., but a neighbor says he was a troubled child, saying, quote, "it all started when he was around 10 years old, peeping Tom, recording people when they were asleep or undressing, then it went from breaking and entering, stealing vehicles, somehow being very, very intelligent led him to a very bad history." Dr. Helen Morrison, you are the expert on serial killers. You spent hundreds of hours in a room alone with serial killers. What does that profile tell you?
MORRISON: The profile basically says that this kid did not show any severe violence disturbances, but like every other serial killer, he starts out with peeping Tom or he starts out with recording people or taking underwear off of clothesline or whatever. And then gradually moves up in intensity to the crimes, breaking and entering is not unusual for serial killers. But again, these are not violent crimes. These are crimes in which people will say, well, no one was hurt.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why? Doctor, why? I think everybody wants to know why kill a stranger? Is it a thrill kill? Is there no reason? Is there a sexual rush? I know BTK serial killer tortured his victims and got a sexual rush out of torturing them.
MORRISON: Well, that`s what people said he did. But you have to understand that serial murderers are so good at manipulating. That they will tell us what they want us to hear. And they will tell us --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, I don`t mean to be graphic, but this was a case of evidence showing that he became sexually aroused, in the form of semen at the crime scene.
MORRISON: Oh, yes. But it`s not unusual. It`s not unusual. But it`s not something that drives their crime. It`s something that accompanies the crime in some cases, but not all cases. And so, graphic --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Major Andy Ellis -- go ahead. Sorry, ma`am.
MORRISON: No, go ahead.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to ask Major Andy Ellis, we`re talking about the sexual aspect to some serial killings. Was there any notion that he may have sexually abused these women before they died?
ELLIS: You know, Jane, we haven`t gotten to trial yet. That`s not something I can talk about with Mr. Scott`s case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.
BLOOM: Can I jump in on that? Because these are clearly crimes against women. Even if his earlier crimes as a young person weren`t specifically violent, a peeping Tom is crime against a woman. It`s an intense violation of her privacy, and going after these mothers and daughters had to be crime against women, kind of behavior. I think you`re really on track, Jane, when you talk about war on women in this case. Even if there`s no evidence of sexual assault, that`s clearly what`s going on here.
SIGONA: And also in this neighborhood, Jane, there were at least 40 burglaries just prior to when these murders happened. So, there`s a chance, and Major Ellis and I spoke about this earlier, that he could possibly be connected to some of those, or maybe all of those, and maybe he was going in and canvassing and figuring out which homes he was going to target.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my god. It`s so --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, go ahead.
LUCICH: Yes, just real quick, the fact that this guy used bleach, I think there`s a high degree of possibility that there was a sexual assault.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Say that again?
LUCICH: Because he used bleach at the scene, I believe there may have been a sexual assault.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s the connection?
LUCICH: The connection is he`s trying to destroy (ph) potential DNA evidence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re getting back to semen left at the scene.
LUCICH: Yes, absolutely.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, he would use bleach to clean it up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So gross. James, Florida, your question or thought, sir?
JAMES, FLORIDA: Yes. How are you doing, Jane? I appreciate your show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
JAMES, FLORIDA: the question is, this is an African-American, did he just only target African-American women? Sort of like the Atlanta murders who were targeted blacks and Jeffrey Dahmer would target to gays? That`s my question to you and the panel, was that the only type of woman that he targeted were African-Americans?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go back to Andy Ellis. Who wants to answer that?
ELLIS: I`ll answer that. I can tell you in this case, of the five murders that we believe he`s involved with, all five women were African- American.
MORRISON: But you have to understand --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, doctor.
MORRISON: Yes. You have to understand that as an individual who`s Caucasian going into a black neighborhood would be highly noticed. It was what happened to Wayne Williams, nobody ever suspected that an African- American male would be killing African-American children. But if he stands out in a neighborhood, he`s going to be spotted much more quickly than someone who is of the same ethnic background.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, doctor.
Up next, college students disappears without a trace in Georgia.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a shocking new theory surfaces on what could have happened to little Kyron Horman. His biological mother told "People" magazine that she thinks Kyron`s step-mom stashed him somewhere. Could that be possible? Could somebody be feeding little Kyron and taking care of him? Kyron`s mom, Desiree Young, spoke directly to her son yesterday. Listen to this. It`s a heart breaker.
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DESIREE YOUNG, KYRON HORMAN`S MOM: We love you, Kyron. Never give up hope. We are all coming to get you to bring you home.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kyron, the missing boy almost eight weeks now. Kyron`s step-mom, Terri Horman, isn`t a suspect officially, but she`s in the spotlight. Does she happen to know what happened to Kyron. Straight out to Bruce McCain, retired captain with the sheriff`s office, the very sheriff`s office investigating this little boy`s disappearance. Bruce, tell us about the new documents you just got your hands on.
BRUCE MCCAIN, RET. CAPTAIN MULTNOMAH CO SHERIFF`S OFFICE: Well, Jane, again, thank you for having me back, and this is really breaking news on your station, believe it or not. These were facts just within the last hour. And this deals with the civil divorce (INAUDIBLE) about how Kaine has been using that process to keep the pressure on Terri, including a show cause hearing for contempt, a show cause hearing about where she got the supposed $350,000. This afternoon, Terri Horman`s divorce lawyer, not her criminal defense lawyer, filed what`s called a motion to abate the case. Not to dismiss it, but abate it. Meaning, they (ph) were going to set it off to the side.
His basis is all of the publicity that his client is getting. What`s significant about this, Jane, is that if the court grants this motion to abate, it automatically stays any motion practice, because I do practice law here in Portland, Oregon after retiring, and this actually would prevent in theory any appearance by Terri Horman to explain the money or explain the contempt. And the big piece that he`s throwing -- the bone that he`s throwing out here is that he`s saying Terri Horman will not contest to divorce. She will stipulate to the entry of divorce, and she will also stipulate that she will not go after any of Kaine`s assets. In other words, she`s going to surrender on the divorce case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And the $350,000, just to bring our viewers up to date, is that Kyron, his father believes that Terri, the step-mother, who was with the boy when he disappeared, had $350,000 to pay to hire an attorney, and the dad wants to know, where the heck did she get $350,000 clams, thousand clams?
MCCAIN: That`s right, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. To think that it strikes -- go ahead.
MCCAIN: No, I was going to say, her lawyer is saying, that`s not the correct amount. He also stipulated that was not borrowed funds, and it was not her own money, but the key about this motion, that it was basically preventing Terri from having to answer in court until this Kyron issue is resolved.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear you. The thing that strikes me about this whole case is the lack of physical evidence. None has ever been recovered. There`s no clothing, no personal effects. Usually, there is something. Let`s go back to the Casey Anthony case, for example. Now, she allegedly borrowed a shovel from a neighbor right around the time her daughter, Caylee, went missing. And then Drew Peterson, he had a blue barrel, according to a relative, and the relative says Drew asked him to remove the barrel and it was warm to the touch. But in this case, there`s nothing. There is no physical evidence, Bruce. What do you make of it?
MCCAIN: You`re absolutely right, Jane. There`s no physical evidence related to Kyron. But there is at least physical evidence in the forensics on the electronics. This is clearly a circumstantial case at this point unless and until we find Kyron dead or alive. And I know Desiree told "People" magazine that she believes that he`s stashed away. I spoke with "People" magazine this afternoon and asked them the critical follow-up question, did you ask her, is that just a maternal gut feeling or is it based upon evidence that the investigators provided?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we know it`s a gut feeling. Thank you, Bruce.
MCCAIN: Yes, unfortunately.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Every parent`s worst nightmare. A 2-year-old boy vanishes from an Arizona campsite. Family members say he`s wearing nothing but a diaper. So did this tiny toddler sneak out of the family tent without waking anybody up, or is the child the victim of something far more sinister?
Plus, a beautiful college student vanishes into thin air. Is this another chapter in the war on women? Marcy Elliott was last seen walking alone on Thursday night and she hasn`t been seen since. Tonight, we`re doing everything we can to find her.
Tonight, a 20-pound toddler, wearing nothing but a little diaper vanishes from an Arizona campground. Now searchers are racing against the clock in a frantic search for 2-year-old Syler Newton.
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SGT. JEFF NEWNUM, YAVAPAI COUNTY, AZ SEARCH & RESCUE: This entire area that you see that`s surrounded by these mountains has been grid- searched like that. This area that you`re standing in has been searched four times.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Syler was last seen at 12:30 in the morning on Monday, when cops say his soon-to-be adoptive mom tucked him into a sleeping bag in the family tent. Mom-to-be told cops that Syler was gone when she suddenly woke up at 1:45 a.m. What happened to the boy in that 1 hour and 15-minute gap?
KPHO News reports she thinks someone took him because, quote, "they can`t find his body", end quote. She claimed a, quote, "Mexican man", end quote, near the campsite was bothering them, staring at the family the day before.
But cops point out that custodial mother has a criminal history that includes making a false report to police. Meantime, cops are investigating whether Syler could be the subject of some sort of custody dispute. Cops are investigating mom-to-be`s claim that she`s in the process of adopting this little boy. They`ve already given that mom-to-be and her mom polygraph tests.
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CHRISTINA PRIEM, SYLER`S CUSTODIAL MOM: This is horrible. My baby`s gone.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the custodial mom. As for the biological mom, she lives in another state. HLN affiliate KNXV reports she and the mom-to- be, you just saw there, are buddies -- BFFs. Cops are investigating that relationship as well.
I`m taking your calls on this, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.
Straight out to my fantastic panel: Debra Opri, family law attorney - - there you are, Debra; Joe Navarro, former FBI senior profiler and author of "Louder than words"; Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist. And we begin with Christina, reporter with KFYI Radio in Phoenix. Christina, what is the very latest?
CHRISTINA ESTES, REPORTER, KFYI RADIO, PHOENIX: The latest is that searchers are still looking for little Syler. It`s been nearly four days now. They`re searching by air, they`re using horses, ATVs, blood hounds.
They`ve been concentrating on a one-mile area around that campsite because they say based on their past experience with search. They`ve been using computers that that`s their best chance of finding him alive.
But after nearly four days, they continue searching. But they`re also digging into that relationship you mentioned between the custodial mother and his biological mother.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, if Syler did wander out of his tent and into the Beaver Creek Campground, how far could a 20-pound toddler in a diaper get?
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ANGELA GODINEZ, SISTER OF ADOPTIVE MOTHER-TO-BE: That`s what is the worst; we`re preparing for the worst right now. We don`t know what`s going on. There`s a lot of possibilities.
Somewhere along the water; that`s why I`m really, really scared because he`s always loved the water.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say mom-to-be, Christina Priem, says she last saw little Syler at 12:30 a.m. Monday. When she woke up about an hour later, Syler was gone.
Fifteen minutes later, somebody calls 911. Deputies show up at 3:00 a.m. That`s about two and a half hours of a little boy wandering around. Yes, there are creeks running through the campground, pools of water deep enough to be -- well, this kid could be in over his head.
ISSUES has also confirmed there`s a campground host who keeps track of everybody`s comings and goings. Joe Navarro, you`re the former FBI senior profiler, what do you make of it, sir?
JOE NAVARRO, FORMER FBI SENIOR PROFILER: This is highly suspicious. This case -- there`s just so many intricacies here and actually, it should be quite simple. Someone that`s less than 2 years old, their mobility is probably less than a kilometer in about three to four hours and especially in rough terrain.
The dogs would have been sent out there, they would have sniffed for this dog -- for this child. And there`s so many unexplained things, such as, where were the people attending to this child? Where was the tent? Why wasn`t the tent zipped up? Why wasn`t the child properly clothed? How could he have escaped? And how come there is no evidence, or indication of where this child is? It is highly suspicious.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, KPHO reports that Christina Priem, who is the custodial mom, says a Mexican man near the campsite was bothering the family, staring at them all day. Now, remember, Priem has a criminal history that reportedly includes making a false report to police dated back to 2007. As well as -- let`s see -- prescription drug violation in 2004.
We`re not comparing this case, but we can point out there have been infamous cases in the past with this element of pointing a finger at a stranger. Remember, in 1994, Susan Smith killed her own children.
NAVARRO: Smith, yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: At first they were considered missing. During the nine-day search Susan repeatedly implicated, quote, "a black man", end quote, who had car jacked and kidnapped her boys.
What do you make of it, Debra Opri? You`re the family law attorney.
DEBRA OPRI, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Well, as a family law attorney I`ve handled a lot of custody issues. The first thing a court is going to look at, and I`m sure the law enforcement is going to look at it as well is, is this parent competent in terms of parenting skills 101. Health safety, welfare of the child, did she put the child in a place of endangerment.
When you put a 2-year-old child at a campsite, you have to say, can he wander off, can he fall and hit his head, can he get poison ivy, can he be subject to abduction. I`m leaning towards this. They all went to sleep, the child is up and he might have wandered off and been abducted.
But we have to look at all the potential escape routes by anyone who would have abducted him. You indicated earlier that they have these check points for people coming in and out. So I`m going to say, doing custody, you look to the soon-to-be adoptive parent. She failed miserably in terms of custodial obligations of protecting this child`s to his health, safety and welfare.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, why is somebody with a criminal history in a position of adopting a child, Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist?
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: And why would the biological mother choose a woman like this to be the custodial mother is the big question. You know, maybe this child was difficult to handle. And the biological mother couldn`t handle him. And so in order to protect him from her inability, she gave this boy to her best friend. And this best friend was also unable to take care of him. Birds of a feather flock together.
You`re right, it does sound very, very suspicious. I don`t like this woman said there was a Mexican man in the area who looked suspicious. It does sound a lot like Susan Smith`s claim. You know, somebody who -- a dark man looked dangerous. It just doesn`t ring true to me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Christina Estes, my understanding is that the biological mother suffers from depression and she said she gave the child away because she wanted the child to have a better life?
ESTES: What she told a reporter was that just because she said her life, quote, "was messed up" didn`t mean she didn`t love him and want what was best for him. She also said that this is not a custody battle, but she thinks it`s an unfortunate accident.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Investigators have searched high and low for Syler. But they`re also being pragmatic. Listen to this.
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DWIGHT D`EVELYN, YAVAPAI COUNTY, AZ SHERIFF`S OFFICE: The longer this takes the more concern we have that the child may not be here. That`s always a possibility. We just don`t know.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Patty, California, your question or thought, ma`am?
PATTY, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Hi, Jane. Good afternoon. My question is, what are the chances that possibly since the tent was unzipped and the other children were in there and they left it unzipped or whatever, that a wild animal could have come into the tent and dragged the child out?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, I hate to blame animals for a situation like this. Chance of that happening is extremely remote. I don`t know -- how about Joe Navarro?
OPRI: You would have heard the screaming.
NAVARRO: Jane, I have to tell you, in the absence of facts, you go with statistics. Children that age are hurt or injured by their own family. The statistical probability of an animal or an outsider committing this is statistically minuscule.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I have to say that this whole thing smells a little bit but I also want to say that the custodial mother is not being named a suspect or a person of interest.
Christina Estes, you`re the reporter on the ground, we understand that she has been given a polygraph? What do you know?
ESTES: That`s right. Police say that she has been cooperating and that she has taken a polygraph, as well as her mother. They are not releasing the results of that polygraph.
Let me go back very quickly, if I could, to the caller`s question about an animal maybe taking Syler. Syler was in the tent with his custodial mother, with her daughter as well as her mother. So there were two adults and another child in the tent with Syler when he was reportedly last seen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, that`s something out of a movie. You remember the whole line, "A dingo took the baby."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We don`t want to go there. It`s absurd.
OPRI: It is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But it`s not funny, because there`s a beautiful little precious boy missing and we want to find him. We`re going to stay on top of this story.
Thank you, wonderful panel.
Up next, a student vanishes. Could she be another addition to the war on women? What`s going on here with all these beautiful young women vanishing? I am so sick of this trend. We`ve got to do something about it, and we`re taking your calls, 1-877-586-7297.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cops came to my apartment at the (INAUDIBLE) and knocked on my door and asked if I had seen her. But I don`t know where she could be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no phone activity. Nothing.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: I try to make the environment priority number one in my life. It`s up to all of us to protect this beautiful planet earth. And one easy, easy way to do it is to say no to plastic.
We designed this, an ISSUES water canister. I love this little guy -- where is it? There we are.
We want to hear how you`ve made a positive impact on your environment. We`re going to feature some of these stories live here on ISSUES. And for that, you`re going to get one of these environmentally-safe water canisters, which I will not throw because we want to use these.
Some of you have already taken up the challenge to go green. Viewer, Jennifer from Reno sent us this video of her coffee shop. Get this -- the shop recycles glass cans, bottles and even coffee grounds. Local gardeners then use those grounds in their flower beds. Way to go, Jennifer. Your Issues canister it is in the mail, girl. Love it.
Do you have a green improvement? Send them to me at CNN.com/jane. Let`s all be part of the solution. Let`s go green.
Switching gears now to a very disturbing story. A cruel mystery unfolding in Georgia; what happened to Marcy Elliott? The 21-year-old college student vanished without a trace last Thursday night. Marcy left a friend`s apartment in suburban Atlanta at about midnight. Her family says she intended to walk to another friend`s home. She never made it there.
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CAPT. JAMI SAILORS, CARROLLTON, GEORGIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: It`s hard when somebody just disappears into thin air. She was last seen getting out of her vehicle at an apartment complex and nobody`s seen her since. It`s just real unusual.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police told us no one has used her cell phone, her e- mail account, or her bank card since she went missing.
This is a week already tomorrow. They found Marcy`s car still parked exactly where she left it, at a friend`s apartment complex. Somebody had to see something.
Seems like every night we cover a new case of a missing woman here on ISSUES. What the heck is going on in this country? This has got to stop. It`s terrorizing all of us. All of us women feel like we have to live with a psychological burqa, walking around in fear because of this sick trend.
I only hope and pray that Marcy is not the latest victim in the war on women. And I am taking your calls on this. What are your theories? 1- 877-JVM-SAYS.
Straight out to my fantastic panel; let`s start with the Captain Jami Sailors from the Carrollton, Georgia Police Department.
Captain, I understand the police went to Marcy`s parents` home this evening where she had been living for the summer. What have you found out about this terrible disappearance?
SAILORS (via telephone): Well, we`re still working on searching the area. We have made contact with a couple of people that did see her; one in particular that we`re still talking to. But as far as leads go, we`re still drawing a blank.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, are you using scent dogs? Because let`s face it, there`s a pretty young woman who walks at midnight down a street, and she`s never seen again, and then she doesn`t use her ATM, doesn`t use her cell phone. To me that says foul play. It`s got foul play written all over it.
SAILORS: Yes. That`s the way we`re going about the investigation. I hope it`s not that.
We`ve actually put detectives on the ground, started at the complex, in teams of two, and walked the entire area, almost a square mile just around that apartment complex.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what about the dogs?
SAILORS: We haven`t worked, or brought any dogs in yet.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why not?
SAILORS: Just didn`t seem feasible at the time. Just putting people on the ground, searching everything within the area.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think, John Lucich?
JOHN LUCICH, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: I think they need to get the dogs out there. I`d love to be able to see because the more people that start flooding that area, the less chance a dog is picking up on a scent. The more time that goes by and more rain and other weather that comes in, it`s going to make it a lot harder.
What I think they need to do starting off right away is grab her computer. You never know what this woman was doing online. And who may have been stalking her or send her a threat that she just didn`t take seriously. Did she post it online where she was going so someone would know where she was and where to pick her up?
And I think one of the last things I would like to see the community do is having all the stores taking a look at all the video to see if this girl comes up anywhere.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue. Do we need Amber Alerts for adults? I don`t want to treat Marcy`s disappearance as business as usual. We need to start talking about solutions otherwise we`re part of the problem.
And I believe Amber Alerts do get results. The justice department, in fact, says that program has saved more than 500 children. So why can`t a communication system like that, like the Amber Alert, be tailored to save missing young women who disappear, Mark Eiglarsh?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I wouldn`t restrict it to women. But I can understand why you might. These stories involve a lot of women. I think that there`s missing boys and sometimes men as well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Let`s include everybody. When somebody goes missing, there is a communication system that`s already set up that`s very effective in finding children. Because we all know, we are driving on a freeway, we see it in the big billboards, electronic billboards. We hear it on the radio. It`s even going to truckers.
So this system is already in place. Why not use it when adults go missing?
EIGLARSH: I don`t have an answer to you in the contrary. So it should be used. I could tell you that you`re doing your part. I would like everyone who`s watching this show to look at those photographs because most of these crimes are solved when somebody says, wait, that girl that I just saw in the 7-Eleven, isn`t that the same girl I just saw on TV?
So thank you for doing your part; that`s the most that you could do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This case reminds me of another missing Georgia woman who vanished last summer. Police say Kristi Cornwell was walking along a rural road when she was abducted. And this happened about a hundred miles from where Marcy vanished last week.
Tips in Kristi`s case led police to a suspected kidnapper and rapist, James Kerringer (ph). But by the time they got the lead Kerringer was dead. He killed himself during a police standoff.
Here`s Kristi`s mom on ISSUES.
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JO ANN CORNWELL, KRISTI CORNWELL`S MOTHER: I`m not going to get too excited until I know for sure there is a connection. I know that the GBI had said that they have not found any concrete connections between the Kerringer man and Kristi`s abduction at this point.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Robi Ludwig, only a couple seconds. These disappearances of missing women just are obscene.
LUDWIG: It`s scary -- it`s very scary, but young women are vulnerable to this. And I think the investigator made an important point. Computers can be dangerous, and we need to have better safety in place at these colleges, as well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We do. More on the other side of the break on this case.
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REBEKAH HAGINS, RESIDENT: The cops came to my apartment at the lofts (ph) and knocked on my door and asked if I`d seen her, but -- I don`t know where she could be.
SAILORS: There`s no phone activity, nothing.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marcy, the missing young woman had been staying at her parents` house for the summer. That parents` house is about 40 miles away from the apartment complex where she was last seen. The building is on the outskirts of the University of West Georgia where Marcy is a student.
Her dad insists his daughter is responsible and would call even if she was just going to be five minutes late. So Captain Sailors, this is really disturbing because even though it`s not officially being called foul play, you consider it foul play. Correct?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, do we know about a boyfriend? Does she have a boyfriend? Does she have -- who was she going to see? She left one friend`s house, she was headed out to visit another friend`s house. Who was that other friend?
SAILORS: We don`t know the other friend`s name. We`ve also checked - - we don`t have a boyfriend, nobody in connection relationship-wise.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the surveillance footage, have you been able to find anything from surveillance footage in the area?
SAILORS: Not in this area. The apartment complex, this one in particular, does not have any video surveillance footage.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a shame.
Tabitha, Ohio, your question or thought, ma`am.
TABITHA, OHIO (via telephone): Yes. I just had a question on why in the world aren`t they making a law where young people like this aren`t getting hurt and getting captured and making people not want to do this anymore?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, make it a law. I mean, there are laws on the books, Mark Eiglarsh. You`re a former prosecutor. Everybody says why do people commit crime? There is no rational reason to commit crime. Anybody who was rational wouldn`t commit a crime.
These people are violent, self-destructive people who don`t seem to care because they almost always get caught, that they`re going to spend the rest of their lives in prison or depending on the state, even get the death penalty. They`re just sick of people who are resorting to violence because that`s what they know.
EIGLARSH: I don`t disagree with you. Most of the clients that I defend, if not almost all of them, don`t think, "Boy, I`m going to get caught." That`s the first thing.
The second thing, there are laws on the books. How much worse can you get than death, which would be the penalty that somebody`s facing for first-degree murder, assuming that`s what happened here?
Kidnapping would be a life in most states. At some point it`s something that we have to accept. Unfortunately it`s part of our society, and as a result, take precautions, not the psychological burqa that you speak so unhappy about, but take --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you ever put a burqa on? I have, ok?
LUDWIG: Also, Jane, but also, Jane too, is that a lot of times these offenders are compulsive about their crimes. There is a compulsivity that they really can`t control themselves, so even if they know what they`re doing is wrong, it is beyond their wherewithal to control themselves. That`s why institutions need to recognize this and protect our teens and youth in a better way than really what`s going on across the country.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I refuse to accept the idea that we`re never going to have a world without violence. Yes, it`s sad that women have to look over their shoulder all the time. It`s a fact of life. But it`s a fact of life that we have to change.
We have to change it by revamping our system to prevent crimes, not just to react to them after they happen.
Thank you so much, and thank you, Captain Sailors. I hope you find this young woman safe and sound.
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