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Dead Tots` Grandma Speaks Out; Runaways Found in Man`s Shed

Aired August 19, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, escalating outrage over a South Carolina mother charged with suffocating her two sons and trying to make their deaths look like an accident. Police say she believed killing them would set her free. But now she could be locked up forever, or worse, could she be put to death? Tonight we`ll finally hear from the suspect`s mom, who cops say argued with her daughter just before the murders.

And explosive reactions to Misty Croslin`s latest story of screams, a machine gun, and an attack on little Haleigh Cummings. With Misty`s story constantly changing, can we believe her this time? Find out what Haleigh`s grandmother, Ron`s mom, has to say about Misty`s shocking new claims.

Plus the latest crop of drama queens. Snooki, Michaele Salahi and Tila Tequila taking entertainment to a whole new level. Are these notorious train wrecks so addicted to fame they`re willing to do anything for the spotlight? If you could say anything to these wacky media magnets, what would you tell them?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight stunning insight into the South Carolina woman cops say confessed to killing her two young boys with her bare hands. Now, suspect ShaQuan Duley`s mom is speaking out for the first time, saying, "Don`t judge my daughter."

Also tonight the suspect`s lawyer says we don`t know the whole story, insisting there are mitigating circumstances that will explain everything. Really? So what could that mystery element be that would make sense of this unimaginable horror?

Cops say Duley had a big fight with her own mother shortly before she killed her sons Devean and Ja`Van. Here is the grandmother.


HELEN DULEY, SHAQUAN`S MOTHER: Please don`t judge my daughter for what she`s done, but please help and encourage and pray for her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That poor woman, the hell she`s going through.

The sheriff says ShaQuan Duley smothered the boys at a motel, strapped her dead sons into their car seats, and drove the car right into the river. Then she allegedly tried to cover it up by hiking for help, saying she`d been in an accident. But cops say she soon confessed.

This single mother of three was unemployed, struggling, and they all lived with her mother. Here is the suspect`s sister.


ADRIANE DULEY, SHAQUAN`S SISTER: I`m a single mother. I am unemployed. I know what it`s like to struggle. But I`ve always had my mother. I`ve always had some support. But you don`t ever need to feel like you`re totally alone.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So was ShaQuan`s sister relying on the grandmother, as well? Was the grandmother being asked to take on way too much?

It was that grandmother who demanded her own daughter take more responsibility, an argument cops say led to the murders.

I`m taking your phone calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. But first to psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor.

Dr. Taylor, were there just too many people relying on this one grandmother?

DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, it certainly appears that way. I mean, here you have this cycle: single mother, single mother. There`s every indication that ShaQuan Duley`s own mother was single, unemployed, lived in a rented house. And certainly, the burden of poverty, the burden of trying to support other people may have been too much for her, and she might have been saying to her daughter, "Take care of your own life." That frustration must have been immense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The parallels between ShaQuan Duley and another South Carolina mother convicted of killing her children are spine chilling.


SUSAN SMITH, MURDERED CHILDREN: I can`t even describe what I`m going through. My heart is so -- it just aches so bad. I can`t sleep. I can`t eat. I can`t do anything but think about them.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bad acting job. That was Susan Smith when she was still lying, telling cops that somebody carjacked her and took her two boys. This is all the way back in 1994. The truth was she herself had driven her car into a lake with her boys strapped inside.

Smith`s false statement sent local law enforcement on a massive nine- day search that ended when the woman finally confessed.

We`re very honored to be joined tonight by Tommy Pope, who prosecuted Susan Smith, who is behind bars as we speak tonight.

Sir, what was your first reaction when you found out this had happened again in South Carolina and again involving two young boys?

TOMMY POPE, PROSECUTOR: I think the first thing you see is, you know, it`s a tragedy and, unfortunately, here we go again, it seems like.

I think if there`s any credit due, if there`s such a thing in Orangeburg, we didn`t go through nine days of it. We didn`t get taken -- the public, the media -- searching for those kids, like we did in Union. And so if there`s a blessing there in that regard, law enforcement got on it quick and was able to solve the case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the suspect`s attorney says we don`t know the whole story. There are mitigating circumstances that will explain everything. Of course, that`s a big question mark to us tonight. What on earth might he be talking about? What mitigating circumstance could explain this?

POPE: I don`t think you can explain it ultimately, because there`s always alternatives. I don`t care how desperate somebody gets. Now, there may be mitigation that may take this case toward a life without parole as opposed to death penalty case, but you know, only the prosecutors and law enforcement will know that. You and I will be the last ones to ultimately know that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Tommy, do you feel that this woman should get the death penalty if she`s convicted, given that she has confessed, according to police?

POPE: I tell you, when we -- when we tried the Smith case, you know, I said whatever the greatest punishment we had, that`s what Susan Smith needed.

In this case, we -- back then, we didn`t have life that meant life without parole. There`s life without parole available now. And so it will be a difficult case. But I know the prosecutor. I know he`ll weigh everything and -- and reach a decision that calls justice to this particular case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now ShaQuan Duley reportedly got into a huge fight with her mother shortly before cops say she killed her sons. Helen Duley has to live with that memory for the rest of her life. Listen to this.

All right. Guess what? We don`t have that, but we`ll get it to you in a second.

Nobody, certainly, can blame the grandma for what happened to those two boys. She let her daughter, the woman you`re looking at there in orange, and her daughter`s three kids live with her, eat her food. Cops say she did however demand that this woman, her adult daughter, the suspect, do more to raise her kids.

So my question -- Debra Opri, you`re a family law expert. Why on earth would a very reasonable demand so infuriate ShaQuan Duley that cops say it would inspire her to kill her two sons?


We have to look at the mental stability issue. As a lawyer, I`d want to know first, before she took her children home, does that state -- and I don`t think it does. But is South Carolina one of 38 states that screen, give a mental test to see if these people are capable, competent to care for children? Parenting classes. If it`s not, this is a good example of why it should be.

This woman possibly perhaps had a psychotic break under whatever pressure she felt. She may have been an accident waiting to happen, and unfortunately, those children became problems for her. But she had enough motivation and intent to plan their deaths.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. This is my big issue tonight. Could the whole idea that this woman was so desperate, broken, overwhelmed, be a big, fat red herring?

Reports are she was unemployed for the last two years, but she handed a $100 bill to the motel clerk when she got a room where cops say she killed the two boys. Where did that money come from? She lived with her mother. They`re not going to be thrown out on the street. They`re eating.

Also Duley`s 5-year-old daughter was in kindergarten during the day and her two boys, ages 1 and 2, who are now deceased, were in day care. So how did she afford that?

And Mike Brooks, if she wasn`t working, why did she need to put her 1 and 2-year-old sons in day care if she`s not working?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Exactly. That`s what -- that`s first -- one of the first things I was thinking about.

You know, with that $100 bill where did she come up with that money, too, Jane?

I don`t care what you`re going through. What -- if she had some kind of altered mental status, you still -- or whatever the mitigating circumstances. There`s nothing. There`s nothing that can say, "Yes, I think I`m going to kill my two children because I had an argument with my mother." I`m not buying that story whatsoever.


OPRI: She didn`t harm the 5-year-old.

BROOKS: Right, exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So that`s interesting. A gender difference.

Dr. Janet Taylor, the two boys that cops say she smothered with her bare hands, her two youngest sons, boys. The older child, the 5-year-old, a daughter, not smothered. What do you make of it?

OPRI: Well, I mean, it might have just been an opportunity. The 5- year-old was in school.

Plus, the two year old -- the two boys were the ones that require the most -- most labor intensive and probably the ones least self sufficient and the ones that she would argue the most with about her mother -- with her mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say just something. Every six seconds somewhere on this planet, a child dies of malnutrition. There are millions and millions, an estimated 143 million orphans, many of them abandoned by their parents, on this planet.

I believe -- and Tommy Pope, you`re the prosecutor of Susan Smith -- that we need a consciousness raising across the planet about what it means to have a child, that it`s not just a right; that it`s a responsibility and a lifetime commitment.

POPE: Well, I think what you see, too -- and in this circumstance this sounds callous. But when these people in these arguably depths of despair, they don`t take their own lives. They kill their kids to free themselves up.

And again, I`m not advocating, obviously, suicide. But you know, there`s -- it can`t be so bad if you`re willing to keep yourself around and take the children`s lives.

So I think, you know, primarily it`s a goal for freedom. It`s a goal to get rid of the kids. A second level may be...

OPRI: Knee-jerk reaction.

BROOKS: Yes, exactly.

POPE: I was going to say a second level may be punishing Grandmother. You know, maybe Grandmother loves those kids so I`m going to show her. You know, as macabre as that sounds, I`ve seen that happen, too.

OPRI: Psychotic break. That`s a psychotic break.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Debra Opri tell me very briefly what you were going to say.

OPRI: That`s a psychotic break, because when you`re having a knee- jerk reaction because you`re angry, you`re not thinking straight. This woman had mental instability problems. She won`t have capacity to stand trial, in my opinion.

TAYLOR: That`s not necessarily true. That doesn`t have to be a psychotic break. She made a decision and a choice to hurt her grandmother.

BROOKS: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She knew right from wrong, because she covered up the crime say cops.

BROOKS: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on this unimaginable tragedy in just a moment, and we`re taking your calls.

Shocking discovery in Ohio. Ten kids in a shed behind this guy`s house, half of them runaways. What the heck were they doing in his shed?

But first ShaQuan Duley confessing to killing her two small children. What could make a mother do the unthinkable? We`ll examine some theories next.


H. DULEY: I`m asking the people not to judge her for what she`s done but to understand that we all have problems and we never know when things might get out of hand.




H. DULEY: People sometimes keep things bottled up. Don`t do that. Before you let it get to a point that it will explode into a situation that we`re facing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Helen Duley speaks out just two days after the murders of her two grandsons at the hands, cops say, of her own daughter.

A memorial service was held for the boys today. Their funeral will be tomorrow.

Duley`s daughter ShaQuan, meantime, sits in a jail cell tonight. The sheriff says she suffocated the boys on Monday, put them in car seats, and drove that car into a river.

Melissa, Oklahoma, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Jane, thank you for taking my call. I`d just like to know if -- was she getting public assistance or, if not, why not?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Janet Taylor, I want to ask you about that. Because as we mentioned, she had the two youngest boys in day care. Now, you don`t need to have a 1- and a 2-year-old in day care for educational purposes. If she wasn`t working, how could she afford that, and why would she have those kids in day care?

TAYLOR: Well, most likely she probably was getting some kind of public assistance to have the kids in day care, probably with the thought that she may be working on her GED or working on some kind of vocational aspect so that she could get a job.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hmm. Well, you know, we hear many explanations of why mothers kill their children. Andrea Yates heard voices that commanded her. Susan Smith wanted her kids out of the picture, because she got involved with a man who didn`t want kids.

Now this one, Dominique Cottrez in France, admitted murdering her eight babies -- eight of them -- because -- get this, are you sitting down, everyone? She didn`t want to see a doctor for contraception. And she still didn`t want to have any more children. So that was her solution.

BROOKS: Put them up for adoption.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And how about a Florida woman. Diane Ellers reportedly believed she was the Virgin Mary when she drowned her three daughters 30 years ago. And she is about, possibly, to get out of a psychiatric hospital.

So, you know, all of these women have their so-called reasons, but I have to ask. And let me go to Debra Opri. You`re a family law expert. You`ve dealt with many of these cases. Do you think there`s an underlying psychological commonality that suggests this could be a form of self hatred? After all, the children killed all came out of the bodies of the killers.

OPRI: I`ll keep it along the legal analysis. There are people who are not ready to be parents or should never be parents. And if you go and look at these cases after the fact, it`s too easy for all of us to say what went wrong. She was a nut case.

But there has to be screening, because I`m concerned about children`s rights, too. There have to be screening procedures out there across the board in all 51 states so that, before people take custody of a child, they are screened mentally, physically, everything. And that`s something that finally maybe in South Carolina the legislators should take up today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And how about encouraging people with education to realize that they have options other than having a lot of children if they can`t afford them?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What ever happened to that? There used to be parenting classes, Dr. Janet Taylor. What ever happened to that?

TAYLOR: Back to -- I mean, most of the cases of women who unfortunately kill their children -- and most don`t -- are powerlessness, a lack of social support, isolation and also depression and psychosis. So you can have those factors.

But for women who have education, they still can feel overwhelmed and need support and feel like there`s nowhere -- no way out. But there always are resources.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That`s why I say I think the money issue is a red herring. I really do feel there is some deeper psychological...

OPRI: I don`t agree with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead. What?

OPRI: I don`t agree with that, because money is an issue. Half of these cases where children are abandoned, left, murdered, killed, abused is because of financial stress in the home.

Now, we don`t have the funds because of all the budgetary problems we have throughout the United States. So I do not agree with you that it`s not about money. It is always about money and the pressures on parents.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Sharon, Tennessee, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes, Jane, thank you for taking my call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you for calling.

CALLER: I`m so tired of psychiatrists giving excuses for what these women do. This was not some young child who got pregnant. This was a 29- year-old woman who chose to have three children. She wasn`t even nine months -- I mean, she was just nine months pregnant, turned around and had another...

OPRI: Chose to have sex, hon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead. Let the caller finish. Sharon, go ahead. Well, I guess Sharon got -- Sharon got clicked.

Dr. Janet Taylor, you`re the psychiatrist on the hot seat.

TAYLOR: It`s not an excuse, but I think we need to understand what happens to these women so that we can try to prevent it. And it`s not an excuse, but I think there usually are reasons why people commit heinous crimes, and we need to understand them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ShaQuan Duley`s three children all have the same father. Let`s talk about the dad. The couple was never married. As far as we know, Dad still has not emerged in the wake of this horror.

For the husband of Susan Smith, the reality of losing his children was almost too much to bear. Listen to him.


DAVID SMITH, SUSAN SMITH`S EX-HUSBAND: It took me many years to actually allow myself to think of how they drowned, you know, having to, you know, breathe in water and just the horrible way that they probably had to drown.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. So, Mike Brooks, we -- what about the father`s responsibility? I mean, come on. Two children dead, a family in crisis, and that`s still not a reason to show up?

BROOKS: Yes. Was he paying child support? We don`t know that either, Jane. So -- and we go back again to financial.

But you heard what the coroner said just yesterday, Jane, that the 2- year-old had defensive marks on his body, that he tried to fight his mother off, that very large woman and a 2-year-old little boy.

And just like what you heard Susan Smith`s husband, what do these children go through, looking in the eyes of their mother and her looking at them?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They`re in heaven now. Got to leave it right there.

BROOKS: I don`t want to think about it. Yes, they are.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Haleigh Cummings case, next.



SGT. MARK CARPENTIERE, LORAIN POLICE DEPARTMENT: He saw the officers, went back to the shed, tried to close the door. This, of course, made our officers suspicious. They looked inside, and they found approximately ten underage juveniles inside the shed.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, tonight a shocking discovery inside a shed behind a home in Ohio.

Cops say they found this man, 39-year-old Kenneth Freeman, inside the shed with ten underage kids, half of them runaways. Cops came to the home investigating possible missing kids on the property. When they spoke with Freeman, they say he reeked of alcohol, ran into the shed, tried to close the door. That`s when they found out about all the other kids in there.

Freeman was arrested on charges of resisting arrest and obstructing official business.

Straight out to radio reporter Ken Robinson with WTAM Cleveland.

Ken, what a bizarre story. Who are these kids and why were they in that shed?

KEN ROBINSON, REPORTER, WTAM: Well, it appears half of these kids were runaways. Five of the kids were runaways who had missing persons reports filed on them. Ten kids in all inside that shed. I had talked to Sergeant -- Sergeant Mark...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One of the sergeants. You talked to a sergeant.

ROBINSON: One of the sources. I talked to so many people today.


ROBINSON: And the police officer told me that these kids habitually run away. At least five of them run away quite frequently. They`re well known to police. They don`t know why they`re running away.

But I talked to other sources in the county, and they tell me that, when the weather gets warm, kids tend to run away, at least the habitual runaways do. When the weather cools off, they tend to stay home.

Now, the -- of the ten kids, two in the shed were the suspect`s daughters. Mr. Freeman`s daughters say that their dad just likes to befriend kids. He`s sympathetic to them. And that there was nothing funny going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: While he`s drunk? OK, the kids in the shed.

ROBINSON: Police say he did smell of alcohol, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. The kids hiding in the shed ranged in age from 12 to 17. And as you just said, they include Freeman`s daughters and niece, and they insist Dad wasn`t doing anything wrong.

Let`s listen.


ALEXIS FREEMAN, SUSPECT`S DAUGHTER: I don`t really think he should be in jail at all. I don`t think he should because he did not know this he were runaways until the cops came.

JORDAN SIMMONS, SUSPECT`S NIECE: In his mind I truly believe he sees it as, "Sure, you guys can come over." He doesn`t really process the fact that they`re runaways.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Five of the kids runaways with missing persons reports. So I assume that their parents are happy to have them home tonight.

But what do we know about this guy Freeman? Apparently, he does have a record. What does he do for a living?

ROBINSON: Not sure what he does for a living. But I did learn that he has been arrested before. He spent some time behind bars for cocaine possession and receiving stolen property. He`s also had some minor traffic infractions. Those convictions -- the cocaine conviction going back to 2004.

Nevertheless, police say that, as far as they can tell, there was no abuse going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the kids -- I think this is very key. The kids didn`t seem to be complaining. In other words, they weren`t, like, "Get me out of here," like we obviously know of that horrific case where Jaycee Dugard was kept, you know, in a shed against her will. This seems to be somewhat different, right, Ken?

ROBINSON: Yes. From what I hear from police, this was a shed where kids just kind of, like, congregated. It was like a hangout or maybe a club house, a place they felt comfortable just hanging around.

One of the kids, a 16-year-old, was arrested because he became belligerent, according to police, and gave cops a hard time, wouldn`t cooperate with them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much, Ken. Great report.

Next, disagreement and finger pointing in the Croslin clan.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Explosive reactions to Misty Croslin`s latest story of screams, a machine gun, and an attack on little Haleigh Cummings. With Misty`s story constantly changing, can we believe her this time? Find out what Haleigh`s grandmother, Ron`s mom, has to say about Misty`s shocking new claims.

Plus, the latest crop of drama queens, Snooki, Michaele Salahi and Tila Tequila, taking entertainment to a whole new level. Are these notorious train wrecks so addicted to fame, they`re willing to do anything for the spotlight? If you could say anything to these wacky media magnets, what would you tell them?

But first tonight, it`s the battle of the grandmas in the Haleigh Cummings case. Misty`s Grandma Flo says she believes the terrifying tale that Misty now says she told cops about what happened the night little Haleigh vanished. But little Haleigh`s grandma, Ron`s mother, she ain`t buying it. Here`s both sides.


FLORA HOLLARS, MISTY CROSLIN`S GRANDMOTHER: She said Joe came in looking for the machine gun that Ron had because he was going to steal it, and it wasn`t there. And he started swinging his knife and telling everybody that he would kill them if they said anything. And Misty said that he started towards her with the knife, and she went and grabbed Junior and jumped into bed and covered up her head, and that she heard Haleigh cry in the living room.

TERESA NEVES, HALEIGH CUMMINGS`S GRANDMOTHER: Why would you hide and let a little 5-year-old scream like that? You know, how can the neighbors not hear her? Things just don`t add up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Point/counterpoint. Misty now claims her cousin Joe busted into the family trailer looking for a machine gun and snatched little Haleigh as a substitute. She says Haleigh screamed as she was attacked. Misty says she and Ron, Jr., cowered under the covers. Cousin Joe insists this is all a big lie and he`s totally innocent. That`s cousin Joe right there. Ron`s mom also says she does not understand how Misty could be cowering under the covers and also at the very same time see Haleigh being put into a bag.

Tonight, we`re also hearing from Haleigh`s biological mom, Crystal Sheffield. Does she believe Misty`s story? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. We begin with Kim Picazio. You used to be the attorney for the missing girl`s biological mom, Crystal. What do you make of Misty`s latest story?

KIM PICAZIO, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR HALEIGH`S MOTHER: Well, I tell you, it`s going to make it very difficult for any prosecutor to take this crime all the way only because we don`t have a body. We don`t know if there`s sufficient forensic evidence. And with Misty going all over the place, this is a defense attorney`s best-case scenario, to have your key eyewitness -- if what she`s saying is true about Joe -- your key eyewitness has told a million different stories on the air and to the cops. So it`s just making the entire case very difficult.

Why wouldn`t she come forward that night when she was asked by police? She was afraid of Joe? She could have said it at any point in time after that, after this 100-pound wet Joe Overstreet went back to Texas. So I guess what I`m going to say is it`s the first time in my life that I will agree with Ms. -- with Teresa. And I would say that the whole thing does not make sense. She should have come forward. It`s been 18 months. She has only made it more difficult to solve this crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does anybody on my panel think this story is true?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No? Levi (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don`t think it`s true. I mean, Kim Picazio was totally correct when she said that they could have ratted Joe out as soon as he went back to Tennessee. And this is Tommy and Misty in the house when this is happening. It`s two on one. They could have took on this skinny doofus, Joe Overstreet.

And I got to tell you something else, Jane. James Werter (ph) is saying that the story between Tommy and Misty is jibing because they haven`t talked to each other since January. But you know, use a little common sense. They could have cooked up this BS story before they were arrested, and they could have also been doing all of this in cahoots with their attorneys because we know that even though they haven`t been able to communicate, they could through their attorneys because Casey Anthony was allowed to do it with her mother through Jose Baez.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Nikki, Virginia, your question or thought, ma`am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. My comment is you`re dealing with a family who`s very dysfunctional, number one, and...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And as far -- well...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, that`s the understatement of the century.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, and as far as -- I mean, I just don`t understand. This has been a rather lengthy, lengthy case. It`s untimely. My -- and it`s very despairing. I think I would not accept Misty`s statement right now. It has too many discrepancies and it`s very inconsistent. I would encourage the police authorities to go back, visit that crime scene, put more pressure on every last one of those family members in jail right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what, my dear? Well said. But what more pressure, Mike Brooks, can you put on somebody than telling them they could go to jail for 240 years, which is exactly what Misty is facing now on these drug trafficking charges? And she`s supposed to be sentenced in October.

BROOKS: Exactly. And you`ve given -- she`s failed four polygraphs, a voice stress test. Then you have Grandma Flo, who`s given about four or five -- at least five different stories. So you know, where is she getting the information? Somebody`s lying to her. She`s making it up. This whole family wrote the book -- they just -- they rewrote the book on dysfunction. They really have.

PICAZIO: And I think that`s what is most telling here is, if you look at the sentence -- Tommy Croslin was just sentenced to 15 years -- it is painfully honest to anyone -- you don`t even have to be a lawyer to see that, obviously, law enforcement is not buying his story.

BROOKS: Right.

PICAZIO: He did not get any credit for substantial assistance to resolve another crime. That was not given to him. His sentence could have been commuted to a lesser crime, such as possession with intent to sale. That didn`t happen. He wasn`t even given a negotiated plea, which is offered in Putnam County. And that would be where it was already written down and ready for the judge to rubber stamp. He didn`t get that.

Instead, he was thrown into the court, given an open plea. And his attorney allowed this. They didn`t go to trial. And you can just clearly see law enforcement is not buying this. They did not tell that prosecutor to give him credit on this...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Werter is tainting the jury pool!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: James -- yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s tainting the jury pool, trying to throw out this Joe Overstreet BS, and so is Robert Fields, Misty`s attorney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whose jury? Who`s going to go to trial here, Levi?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who`s going to go to trial?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s bring this factor in and remind our viewers...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all should, for murder!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The new Misty story dovetails with that highly publicized river search, remember that, down by the river, the search for the missing girl`s body this past spring. After reports surfaced that Misty and Tommy said the child`s body was dumped in the river, cops actually dragged Misty down to the river, along with Tommy. And Misty`s attorney says Misty told cops this story about cousin Joe allegedly attacking Haleigh way back in January, when she was originally arrested on drugs. So that`s seven months ago. They`ve interviewed Joe Overstreet twice. They`ve never named him a suspect.

So again, Kim Picazio, it`s another sign they don`t believe his story, I think.

PICAZIO: I think so. And I don`t know, and none of us do, know what Joe actually said. I know that he was interviewed, but also very early on, we know that he was interviewed and we know that law enforcement went up to Tennessee and interviewed him. We also know that he lawyered up very early on. We don`t know if this last round of interrogations was all a 5th Amendment type of deal with the law enforcement, with him saying that he would not talk. We have no idea what information he has given to law enforcement.

And without someone -- usually in a crime, an eyewitness will give you a murder conviction. In this case, our eyewitness is Misty Croslin? That -- we can`t believe her. She`s said a million different things, even to her own private lie detector test scenario, when she was submitted to that, and on her own volition, she said a different story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Haleigh`s biological mother has not spoken out a whole lot in the 18 months since her child vanished. But she did speak out in the wake of Misty`s shocking bombshell scenario. Listen to this.


CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, HALEIGH`S MOTHER: Do I believe my daughter is dead? No. Until they show me something, I won`t. Deep in my heart, I know she`s out there. And nobody knows the pain that I go through. Nobody! And they never will!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That poor, poor woman. Sadly, stories like this aren`t isolated. Little Casey Anthony`s grandmother, Cindy Anthony, has said that she thinks the child is still alive, even though the child`s remains have been found. Kyron Horman`s biological mom says she`s convinced that her missing 7-year-old son is still alive.

Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, what do you make of this incredible hope in the face of all odds?

STACY KAISER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I think, as a parent, when you don`t have any hope left, you have nothing else. But it`s also really well known that one of the first stages of grief is denial. And I think that`s a little bit of what`s going on here in some of these cases. These women really don`t want to look at the possibility that these kids could be gone for good.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pat, Illinois. Your question or thought?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honestly, I think Misty Croslin is just too dumb to have pulled any of this off. I don`t -- I don`t think she would lie for anybody but Ron.



BROOKS: Jane, you know, I`ve been saying that...



BROOKS: I still say, and I said it before, I think they were so screwed up, maybe they really don`t know exactly what happened. They got little bits and pieces of memory, but they were all so screwed up, they don`t know exactly what happened!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the caller makes an excellent point because Ron dialed the home, Misty`s number, 90 times that night. What was he worried about? He knew what went down.

BROOKS: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, he dialed it 90 times that night. Yes, I seem to remember that. That is bizarre. Why would he do that before the child...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he knew what was going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... went missing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don`t know that information.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We don`t know what happened. That`s the truth. Thank you, fantastic panel.

On the other side of the break, drama-rama! Drama queens ruling television. Why we can`t get enough of these kooky, kooky celebs.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, attack of the drama queens. They`re the women we cannot stop watching, even though their antics make us want to just -- you know. Of course, it`s not like we have any choice. I mean, seriously. Snooki from MTV`s the "Jersey Shore," she`s up our grille (ph) even if we don`t watch that show. Snooki was busted for getting hammered and sloppy in public at the end of July. She was slapped with a slew of charges, including -- get this -- annoying others on the beach. Ya think?

You know who else won`t go away? Tila Tequila. She did herself in harm`s way on purpose by going to a concert where she knew spectators were going to hurl things at her. Then she got hurt and got upset.

And then there are those kooky Salahis. Their latest dramatic development, TMZ reporting the Washington insider wannabes were sued and lost for not paying a supplier at a charity event. ISSUES reached out to the Salahi camp. We did not hear back before air time.

You guys at home, if you could say anything to these drama divas, what would it be? Give us a holler, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my expert panel. Of course, we need the shrink, Stacy Kaiser, and Dylan Howard from Radaronline. But we begin with Bonnie Fuller, Bonnie, I`m almost afraid to ask. What is the latest on the Snookster?

BONNIE FULLER, PRES. & CEO, HOLLYWOODLIFE.COM: Well, the Snookster may or may not have a brand-new boyfriend. She`s dumped the last one, but this one likes her, even though she`s drunk most of the time. Those are his own words. And we certainly saw that because you showed the pictures. She was on the beach. She was crawling around. That`s why she got arrested. And we`ve also heard that, apparently, handbag manufacturers -- like, designers -- are giving her handbags of their competitors because they want...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at her on the beach!

FULLER: ... because they want their competitors to look bad because she`s carrying their bags.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I thought she was on the beach doing yoga, Dylan Howard, until I found out she was drunk because she seemed to be doing, you know, "downward dog" and other yoga poses. But apparently, she just couldn`t actually get up off the sand there. Why are we fascinated with this particular individual, Dylan?

DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RADARONLINE.COM: Jane, it`s a bit like a car crash. You drive past, you shouldn`t look, but you do. We find the drama associated with these people to a lot of people as captivating, and they do provide drama.

And these characters, if you like, are people who crave the spotlight. And by being in the spotlight, they give us natural drama, and consequently, we`re reporting about them. Just like Snooki and just like Tila Tequila, they continue to put themselves as front page news for the celebrity tabloids.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and the -- look at her falling off the bike! It`s just too funny!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tila Tequila -- she admits to being addicted to attention. She told me that right here on ISSUES last January. Let`s listen to the Tilster.


TILA TEQUILA, INTERNET CELEBRITY: A lot of people have an addiction, whether it`s drugs, alcohol or whatever else. My addiction is the Internet.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, now, as for Tila`s latest brilliant move, TMZ is reporting Tila knew that she had this coming -- wham! She`s hit with rocks there -- that she was warned before performing at the Insane Clown Posse concert and there were claims she didn`t care that spectators said they were going to hurl rocks and other things at her. What`s more, TMZ is saying she`s now suing.

So Stacy Kaiser, we`ve got to bring the shrink in on this one. Wouldn`t anybody have backed out, knowing that they were told in advance they would be hit with rocks?

KAISER: Yes, Jane. Anybody who is a normal, regular person would do that. But I`ve actually had a chance to talk to a couple of these characters. That`s what I call them, too, Dylan, just like you. And what I have found, shockingly, is the attention is so important to them that it overrides anything -- injury, public humiliation, horrible, trashy media. They just don`t care, as long as they`re getting looked at and attended to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cheri, California. Your question or thought, ma`am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My thought is, why the hell are we putting these women on TV when they`re bottom fish?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) is nothing more than a media whore.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well, who wants to take that one? I always throw the hot potatoes over to Bonnie Fuller.

FULLER: Listen, look at -- obviously, a lot of people want to see these people. "Jersey Shore`s" ratings are going through the roof. It is the most watched reality TV show right now. And so I think what people look at -- when they look at these characters, they see real, live soap operas. And you know, they`re much more entertaining knowing that the characters are true. As for Tila, she had not had a lot of attention in -- in, gosh, several months...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Since January. Since she was on ISSUES in January.

FULLER: Really.

HOWARD: Bonnie, here`s the interesting thing...

FULLER: So she had to really put herself in danger to get that attention.

HOWARD: Here`s the interesting thing with Tila.


HOWARD: Here`s the interesting thing with Tila. When she was at that concert, she decided to try and diffuse that attention by baring her breasts.


HOWARD: Can you believe that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s why they threw...

HOWARD: She took her top off...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... the rocks at her because she`s one of the few...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... who`s probably not surgically enhanced in Hollywood, I think, if my recollection serves me well. Michaele Salahi -- how about that? We got more negative attention. Her appearance on ABC`s "The View," She claimed Whoopi Goldberg hit her. Here`s what Whoopi said about that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... because you`ve been abusing me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you get back to the White House, please?


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": OK? Afterwards, Michaele was very upset about what was said about her on the air. And then I was told that she thought I hit her. So I went up to her and I told her that she knew I didn`t hit her. And yes, you know how I said it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I got to say that all the kooky people we`re covering tonight, they are original. They broke the mold. They did not come out of a factory in Piscataway. Dylan Howard, I actually met the Salahis at a party, and I found myself charmed by them because whatever you want to say about them, they are kind of charming when you meet them in person.

HOWARD: They are, Jane. I spent a full day with them at their Virginia farmhouse, and they are an engaging couple. Now, I watched a documentary this week. And Michaele Salahi, however, said that her and Tareq are tired of being, quote, the "it couple."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is one upstate New York town declaring war on wildlife? Protests have erupted and emotions are running high in Cayuga Heights, near Ithaca. The residents are divided over the town officials` plans to wipe out most of the area`s deer population, saying they damage plants, carry ticks and get hit by cars.

Listen to one of the proponents of this mass slaughter.


MAYOR KATE SUPRON, DRAC CHAIRPERSON: A really important feature of this is that the deer become more wary of humans. That`s really important because when you open your door and walk out and yell at the deer, nothing happens.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So if nothing happens, why kill them? That woman, who is now the mayor, is spearheading the killing. Here are some of the deer reportedly slated to be culled. And we`ll discuss what that means. The village government confirms it plans to kill about 150 of the roughly 200 deer in the area. Critics say they will be lured with bait and shot at close range.

Straight out to one of those critics, award-winning documentary film producer James La Veck, who lives nearby Cayuga Heights. James, why are you against this plan?

JAMES LA VECK, DOCUMENTARY FILM PRODUCER: Well, Jane, this plan is unethical. It`s dangerous. It is expensive. And it is going to damage our community in many, many ways. There`s just no excuse for a mass slaughter of wildlife in a situation where a non-violent solution is just so easy to come by.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What non-violent solution?

LA VECK: Well, basically, this situation is coming about because deer are eating plants in people`s gardens, and that could easily be prevented by allowing the people who want to to put up fences. But the trustees of the village not only want to slaughter the deer, they also don`t want people to put up fences to protect their gardens, thereby creating an artificial conflict that is going to result in all this bloodshed and all this violence in our community.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is what one committee member and Cornell instructor had to say about the deer situation. Listen to this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s actually a protest. But let me just say that this one Cornell instructor said -- he was quoted as saying that deer are a weed species. Now, he says he was taken out of context and he was actually referring to the deer population`s boom.

And tonight, we called the village government, and they told us they have chosen to cull or get rid of the deer because they claim deer birth control programs don`t work, although they do plan to sterilize a small population of the does while culling the remaining deer.

What`s your take on their strategy? And what do you think culling means?

LA VECK: Well, Jane, first of all, when a qualified faculty member at the veterinary college describes an indigenous species as a weed species, I don`t think there`s anything scientific about that. I think that that`s sending a message to the public that we should think of these animals as weeds. And what do you do with weeds? You eradicate them? And that`s the mentality that is behind this.

We live in one of the most educated cities in the United States, and yet this barbarism is what we`ve fallen into simply because of this unwillingness to let people protect their gardens with very reasonable fencing that would be almost invisible. It`s just deplorable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, I know you have an organization. is the Web site, if people want to find out about it. We invite the mayor of Cayuga Heights and that instructor to come on our show and give their side of the story any time they want.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.