Return to Transcripts main page


Lead Investigator in Jet Ski Shooting Murdered; Dying Girl Taunted Online

Aired October 12, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, the desperate search for a missing deaf girl takes a horrifying new twist. Her parents claim Zahra Baker was kidnapped in the middle of the night. But now cops say her step-mom has admitted writing the ransom note herself. Tonight, the Amber Alert is off, and a homicide investigation is on as gut-wrenching new abuse claims come to the surface.

And escalating violence in the war on women. A woman vanishes just days before she`s set to file for divorce. Now her estranged husband is nowhere to be found, either. Tonight, family members fear for her life. I`ll talk to Amanda Sinkhorn`s frustrated, devastated brother. Why aren`t cops calling this foul play?

Plus, a dying girl bullied on her death bed. This beautiful 7-year- old girl has a deadly brain disorder, so why are adults teasing her on Facebook?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: First, breaking news in the Falcon Lake shooting incident. Another murder. This time, the lead Mexican investigator, who was trying to help the United States find the body of David Hartley, that Jet Skier who was gunned down. Investigator Rolando Flores was -- are you sitting down? -- beheaded.

His head was sliced off and delivered to the Mexican military in a suitcase. If that isn`t a clear message as to the level of violence these drug cartels are capable of, I do not know what is.

This nightmare started almost two weeks ago when Tiffany and David Hartley took a sight-seeing trip on Falcon Lake on their Jet Skis. The massive lake straddles the U.S./Mexican border. They didn`t realize that the Mexican side is controlled by feuding drug cartels.

Zapata County sheriff in Texas tells it like it is. Listen to him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason they`re killing people is just to lure them away from the investigation. In other words, they`re going to take control of the area. That`s all there is to it. If anybody tries to mess with them, trying to take control of them, they`re going to be taken care of.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tiffany watched as her husband David was shot and killed, and she`s been begging the Mexican government to find David`s body ever since. Investigator Rolando Flores was helping. Now he`s dead, too.

In fact, Flores and his depraved murder comes just one day after Mexico announced they had identified two suspects in David`s murder. Two brothers who were reputed members of the Zeta drug cartel. A very brave Tiffany Hartley told me right here on ISSUES last night that she knows who killed her husband.


TIFFANY HARTLEY, WIDOW: The cartel had shot my husband. And this border needs to be secured.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So now what? The lead investigator murdered. Will Tiffany ever be able to recover her husband`s body? Was the murder of Rolando Flores in direct response to the naming of two suspects in David Hartley`s senseless death?

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

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel, first, to KRGV reporter Farrah Fazal.

You, Farrah, broke the story on this unbelievably gruesome beheading. Tell us how it went down.

FARRAH FAZAL, KRGV REPORTER: As we understand it, Jane, apparently, Rolando Viagos (ph) Flores was on his way home last night, and he never made it home.

In fact, he was probably kidnapped on the way home. His body was found along with his head in a suitcase. His head was stuffed in a suitcase, left at the military garrison, Miguel Allamande (ph). And that was a calling card, the sheriff says, to everybody that, hello, is that the cartel is here. They do not want you to continue this investigation.

In fact, that`s one of the reasons why the sheriff believes police investigators -- this state police investigator was murdered, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s unbelievable, the sheer depravity of the investigator`s murder has to make Tiffany Hartley think twice about her own safety, but here`s what this very brave young woman said to me last night here on ISSUES.


HARTLEY: No, I`m not afraid. I mean, I didn`t get shot that day. I mean, God is protecting me, and I do believe he`s still protecting me. And I -- I don`t believe that I am in any danger.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Gomez, news reporter, you`ve been tracking this situation with the cartels for a while now. Tiffany has been very vocal about what happened on Falcon Lake. Should she, in your opinion, be worried for her own safety now, as well?

JOE GOMEZ, NEWS REPORTER: Well, Jane, to be honest, you know, this sort of thing has happened to me. Drug cartels have sent groups of assassins across the U.S. border and into the U.S. before. There was a father in the Laredo area whose daughter went missing. He believed that she was taken by drug cartels, maybe made some sort of a drug slave, one of them.

He was very vocal about the fact that, you know, we`ve got to find her. She`s in Mexico somewhere. The cartel sent a band of assassins across the Rio Grande to get this guy. Luckily, federal agents found out about it in time to stop them, but yes, she should probably be afraid for her life. Those cartels could reach into Texas.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, absolutely. And remember, there is a lake here. There`s only a couple of buoys that indicate where the U.S. side and the Mexican side is. So if there is still searching going on for David`s body on the U.S. side, which has been going on, then those people might be in dangerous, as well, Casey Jordan.

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: It`s entirely possible. And this latest development really does. It`s a frightening development, because it means the investigators were on the right track. Perhaps, you know, things speak for themselves.

Investigator Flores got really close to the people responsible, and they let people know "We will not be investigated." And I don`t know that brings any comfort to Tiffany. Whether she`s in danger or not, I think that she has to probably adjust to the idea that she may never recover the body of her husband, because it`s simply too dangerous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree that the Zapata County sheriff who`s investigating Hartley`s shooting on the U.S. side says he knows exactly why the Mexican investigator was brutally beheaded.


SHERIFF SIGIFREDO GONZALEZ JR., ZAPATA COUNTY: I would assume he was killed because he was either trying to assist in the rescue operations or search operations or because he may have provided documents to the media, from what I understand.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have proof in my hand right now that Investigator Flores was trying to help the United States find Hartley`s body. His name is mentioned in this CNN e-mail about the search from a couple of days ago. In response to questions as to whether anybody was really looking for David`s body, Rolando Flores` office told CNN, quote, "That`s not true. We are not lying. We`re searching with everything we have. We`re were out in the water until 6 or 7 last night and resumed at 7 a.m. this morning."

So Joe Navarro, former FBI senior profiler, here`s this poor guy who is trying to help, and he gets viciously murdered. This drug war has victims on both sides of the border. There are good people in Mexico who want to help, but they can`t live to see it through, Joe.

JOE NAVARRO, FORMER FBI SENIOR PROFILER: Jane, this is -- this is completely out of control. This goes beyond this incident. This is a message that`s going out all over the border states, that no one is safe. No one is no longer safe in Mexico. It doesn`t matter whether you`re a policeman or you`re a governor or you`re the military. No one is safe over the border.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, here`s my big issue. You bring it to me tonight. Was this beheading a murder message? Mexican authorities...

NAVARRO: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They identified two suspects. That was just yesterday they announced they ID`d two suspects. And then the next day the chief investigator is beheaded. Now, it doesn`t sound like the search for David Hartley is over. So listen to what the Zapata County sheriff told us. And this is just from moments ago.

Listen to this.


GONZALEZ: As far as we know, we`re still looking for a body. But I can tell you is that we`ll continue doing so as long as we think that there`s a possibility of recovering something there. But we must also admit that, as time goes by, the possibilities or the probabilities start getting slimmer and slimmer.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Gomez, just the other day, I was reading how Mexican president Felipe Calderon plans on completely revamping all the police departments in Mexico. They have more than 2,000 of them, and they are no match. These small police departments, for the drug cartels. This beheading is proof.

So what he wants to do is take -- get rid of the 2,000 police departments and put them under a unified command, and he`s also afraid that, you know, these cartels have been known to infiltrate the local police department. That`s why he wants this monolithic police agency that`s going to cover all of Mexico.

Could this murder have occurred because somebody from the drug cartel infiltrated the police investigating David Hartley`s death?

GOMEZ: Well, Jane, look, there`s no question the drug cartels definitely have some Mexican police authorities under their thumb. I`ll give you an example. Something that came up. These Mexican cops don`t make any money at all. If a drug cartel member came up to them and offered them a lump of cash and they put that on the ground and they put a picture of, you know, his -- the police officer`s wife and his baby girl and he said, "Hey, you work for me now," what is he going to do?

There`s no question a lot of these guys are corrupt. Mexico just fired like 3,000 of their Mexican police officers, you know, just about a month and a half ago. So it`s like sweeping a dirt road. Honestly, I mean, I think that corruption in Mexico, you`re going to have to get rid of the cartels before you can absolutely eradicate it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you`re not going to get rid of the cartels until you get rid of the demand for drugs. We talk about addict nation here on ISSUES. The United States and the people of America have to clean up our side of the street and acknowledge our role in this drug cartel war.

The United States is the biggest consumer of drugs in the world. The drug wars are occurring because people in the United States want drugs. So for every addict out there, for everybody who is doing drugs out there, look in the mirror, and you can take responsibility in part for what is going down on the other side of the border.

Everybody stay right where you are. Terror on Falcon Lake. We`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. Plus, a woman vanishes from a college campus. Now her estranged husband, nowhere to be found. You won`t believe the developments that we here on ISSUES found out, and I`m going to talk to her outraged brother next.

But first, the search on Falcon Lake takes a deadly turn. Horrifying violence. Beheading rips through the Mexican border.


HARTLEY: I could tell by his reaction, waving me forward and telling me we needed to -- we needed to go. I could tell that this was not going to be a good time.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sure that your husband got shot?

HARTLEY: Yes, he was hit in his head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Was he -- was he thrown out of the Jet Ski, then he`s in the water or something?

HARTLEY: He was thrown off the Jet Ski, and I couldn`t pick him up to get him on mine. He`s just too big.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news as the lead Mexican investigator in the Falcon Lake incident is beheaded, his head delivered to the Mexican military in a suitcase. This poor man was trying to help Tiffany Hartley recover the body of her husband, David, after he was gunned down on his Jet Ski, suspected by drug cartel members.

Loraine, New Mexico, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: My thought is, Jane, why is not our government, why are they not posting on the State Department`s Web site that it`s not safe to go to Mexico, first of all? These people have basically declared war on us. Cutting off a man`s head and putting it in a suitcase? These people are crazy. They need to shut our borders, not allow them to come over here, and tell Americans do not go over there. I am just completely outraged.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just say a couple things, and I want to get Joe Gomez, who`s down there in Houston, and also Farrah`s input on this. First of all, Mexico is a big place, and there are plenty of tourist spots like Cabo San Lucas that I`ve gone to many, many times that I consider to be safe. Cancun, that type of thing. So we don`t want to demonize the entire country, but we are talking about an extremely dangerous situation along the border.

Farrah, will you address that?

FAZAL: Absolutely. You know, I think the biggest implication, at least tonight, and it is, in fact, really a commentary on what is happening at the border, this investigation could be delayed tonight, Jane, the investigation into finding David Hartley`s body, at least from what the Zapata County sheriff believes. These cartel members did this, really, as a message to both Mexican police officers and investigators on this side.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right, and Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney, but what I`m saying is I don`t think that a warning, don`t travel anywhere in this very large country, -- we have murders here in the United States all the time. We don`t say to people, "Hey, you can`t come to the United States, because a tourist has been murdered all over the place." And we`re -- there`s murders that happen all over the place in this country.

But I do feel that the situation along the border, obviously, is extremely dangerous, and the U.S. government should do something about that. What`s your thought?

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You`re absolutely correct. You can`t -- you can`t demonize the whole country, because there`s parts of Mexico that are not as dangerous as these border towns. But the border towns are -- they`re getting to the level where there really is a war. You know, this war on drugs that America has really is a losing war. We`re not winning the war on drugs.

When you bust a guy with 200 kilos, there`s a guy with 500 kilos coming in right behind him. So the war on drugs is not really working. You have to attack it at the source, and what is it`s source? Is the users.

You can do a couple different things. Either one, legalize some of these drugs and take that power away from the drug cartels, or No. 2, start putting more money into educating your drug users. And to stop throwing them into jail for two, three, four years, some minimum mandatories of three, 15 and 25 years. Take away those minimum mandatories and start educating drug users, and use them in more programs to rehabilitate the drug user instead of punishing them by putting them into jail. That would start to win the war on drugs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are talking my language, because I think the war on drugs is a total joke. First of all, more people are OD`ing on prescription drugs that are made by pharmaceutical companies...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... than they are doing -- OD`ing on illegal drugs. And, if you took away the black market and legalized drugs, the price of the drugs would go way down so people wouldn`t have to be doing home invasions and mugging people and killing people to get the money to buy drugs, because it would be as expensive as a pack of cigarettes.

So you`d eliminate most of the crime in this country, a large percentage of which is drug related. And then you could use that money to do drug treatment, because -- and I`ll go to Casey Jordan on this. The bottom line is supply and demand. As long as America is the biggest user of drugs in the world, are demanding these drugs, this drug war will not end.

JORDAN: OK. I`m going to agree half with you. Supply and demand, I`m going to argue that it`s for prevention and deterrence. I don`t want to see the money spent on prisons. And rehabilitation is extremely expensive, and it`s worthwhile if it works. But it doesn`t always work the first time.

How about we raise our children to stay away from the alcohol and drugs in the first place? If you put your money into that, that would put more of a dent. That would get rid of the demand, and then you would have a chance at getting rid of the suppliers.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When you think drug cartel, think drugs. And who`s using them? Fantastic panel, thank you so much.

A little girl vanishes in the middle of the night, sparking a desperate search. What did cops find inside the home? You won`t believe it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, outrage rips through a Michigan neighborhood after a dying 7-year-old girl is taunted on Facebook by her neighbor, a 38- year-old mom.

Little Kathleen Edwards is in the final stages of Huntington`s Disease. Look at that precious child. Her mom died of Huntington`s last year. Still, an angry neighbor attacked the dying girl on Facebook, posting pictures showing the little girl`s face over a set of crossbones.

In another picture, Kathleen`s mom is depicted in the arms of the grim reaper.

When a Detroit TV reporter asked why she did this, the woman said, quote, "Personal satisfaction," end quote.

I am joined by Michelle Yerigan, a close friend of the little girl`s family. Thank you for joining us. Apparently, this war of words is the result of a long-simmering neighborhood feud over some play date invitation. How hurtful has this been to the child and her family during this difficult time?

MICHELLE YERIGAN, CLOSE FRIEND OF GIRL`S FAMILY: Well, Jane, it`s been very hard. The family is trying to go forward right now to keep Kathleen in the best possible spirits.

She`s at the point right now where some things she doesn`t know what is going on because they`ve hidden it from her. You know, we`re just rallying together. And, you know, our goal right now is to really bring awareness to this kid-on-kid bullying and stuff, the senseless bullying of adult to child. I mean, this is insane.

You know, we need to have some kind of laws about bullying and cyber bullying and put a stop to this insanity. There`s too many kids that are killing themselves and people that are getting away with this. You know, I went through this 20 years ago, and it`s just outrageous. I mean, it`s got -- the nonsense has got to stop.

And, you know, we`re doing a big rally for her. We`re expecting over 2,000 people. And, you know, everybody is showing support from all over the world. And the family is just very grateful, but they`re very tired. Every day, they have something going on. And they`re going to have to take a break for a couple days and let Kathleen rest, but the response has been amazing and we`ve just been very, very blessed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now I have to say, legally, that this neighbor has not been charged with anything criminal. We attempted to reach her but were unsuccessful. And she is invited on any time to tell her story.

But as we understand it, this sick Facebook stunt is not the only prank allegedly pulled by the neighborhood. Kathleen`s dad says that after her mom died last year, the neighbors drove their truck with the words "Death Machine" past their home and honked the horn. And the truck reportedly had a coffin attached -- attached to it.

The neighbors say they tricked out the truck with macabre decorations because they`re fans of the FX show "Sons of Anarchy."

So Michelle, this neighbor`s husband says he was suspended from his job and might get fired over all of this. The neighbor now admits what she did was ignorant and wrong and said she`d apologize in person if it wasn`t for the protection order taken out by the family against her. Do you buy that apology?

YERIGAN: Heck no. She was out on the porch in the street hollering yesterday, where she was denying saying any "F-ing" things.

And you know, at this point right now, we`re not focusing on those people. We`re choosing to focus on Kathleen and her family. And, you know, the family want no part of any negative thing towards these people that have done this. We`ll let the justice system take care of this.

Right now, we need to focus on all the love and support and positive prayers for this little girl. So I`m just asking you all to just send a card if you like, and we`re going to make a difference. You know, I was planning...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s beautiful. Beautiful little girl.

YERIGAN: I don`t even know what to do. I mean, she`s loving. And she`s just so sweet, and I`m just hoping that people see this and know that we can make a change. And let`s stand up for this little girl and show her the love. And I`m hoping that the Michigan legislature hears this story and will help me get a bill passed in her name so maybe we could do it before her days are ended.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Up next, an unbelievable story. Thank you, Michelle. Watch this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The desperate search for a missing deaf girl takes a horrifying new twist. Her parents claim Zahra Baker was kidnapped in the middle of the night. But now, cops say her stepmom has admitted writing the ransom note herself.

Tonight, the amber alert is off and a homicide investigation is on as gut-wrenching new abuse claims come to the surface.

And escalating violence in the war on women, a woman vanishes just days before she`s set to file for divorce. Now her estranged husband is nowhere to be found, either. Tonight, family members fear for her life. I`ll talk to Amanda Sinkhorn`s her frustrated, devastated brother. Why aren`t cops calling this foul play?

Breaking news, and fast breaking it is, as the desperate search for a 10-year-old girl turns into a homicide investigation. Police -- we just found out this, moments ago -- are searching a wooded area several miles from where little Zahra Baker was last seen.

Affiliate WSOC is now telling us that cops have spent more than seven hours looking for clues around a wood chipper and in piles of mulch. That search began after cadaver dogs hit on that equipment and the mulch around it.

WSOC also reports Zahra`s father worked in the tree trimming business and had access to the very equipment on that property. Little Zahra`s stepmom, Alyssa Baker, is in jail on unrelated charges. There she is -- there is that woman.

Police said yesterday they did not believe her story then. The case blew wide open when they asked Alyssa about the ransom note found at the home.


CHIEF TOM ADKINS, HICKORY, NORTH CAROLINA POLICE DEPT: Alyssa Baker admitted to writing the ransom note left on the vehicle at the fire scene at Zahra`s home on the Saturday morning. After admitting to writing the note, she requested an attorney.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A search warrant says a cadaver dog also detected the smell of human remains on the family`s two vehicles.

Meanwhile, Zahra`s horrific home life is now being revealed. She was a cancer survivor -- look at this precious child -- who wore a prosthetic leg and had to wear hearing aids as well. She was basically deaf. Relatives say they regularly saw her being beaten. They dropped this bombshell on the CBS "Early Show".


BRITANNY BENTLEY, RELATIVE OF MISSING GIRL: She was locked in her room, allowed five minutes of the day to eat. That was it. She was beat almost every time I was over there for just the small things. If Alyssa would get mad, she would take it out on Zahra. Things the kid didn`t deserve. She`s had a horrible home life.

She had -- one time, I remember, she had a black eye, and she said it was from the door. But we all knew it was -- she took from Alyssa.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who on earth? Was anybody sticking up for this poor little child? Where was her father?

We`ll have more on that in a moment. Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

I want to welcome my fantastic expert panel; straight to Joe Navarro, former FBI senior profiler. What do you make of the stepmom admitting she faked a ransom note and then asking for an attorney and meanwhile word that now the cadaver dogs are hitting on this mulch pile?

JOE NAVARRO, FORMER FBI SENIOR PROFILER: Well, you know, I`m glad to hear that at least some of the truth came out. It appears that this child has suffered terribly, and if the step-mother was involved in any way, I mean, I`m glad that at least she has admitted to this. What awaits is what other horrible things transpired prior to this death? And I think that`s what awaits us in the future.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, we have information on what this poor child went through.

And this is my big issue. Was she killed by silence? Why didn`t somebody scream out, this girl is in danger? Relatives say they eyeballed, they witnessed the stepmom torturing Zahra with severe beatings.

This from the CBS "Early Show".


BENTLEY: She was an amazing child. She was never angry, depressed; always happy, always loving. So I didn`t understand.

The only time I ever saw any anger in her is when she comes to play with on the weekends. When it was time for her to leave, she would just get mad, I hate you, I hate you. And I explained to her mother to understand why, but she didn`t want to go home because her home life was miserable.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: (INAUDIBLE) the little girl was kept locked in her room and only allowed out for five minutes a day to eat.

Now, I have to ask Michelle Golland, psychologist, if the abuse was reported to authorities as the relatives claim, why on earth was Zahra not removed from this home?

MICHELLE GOLLAND, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: That I do not know. I mean I think we need to find out exactly what was done, and if any investigations were opened on this, and if the relatives actually did make these phone calls on Zahra`s behalf.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They said they did. Ok. They said that the Department of Children and Family Services was aware of this situation.

GOLLAND: Ok. Well, and then my next question is, and this is a really hard one is that, as Jane, you said it, it`s about silence. And I think what is really painful in hearing these family members is that, you know, if you don`t feel like action is being taken enough, then you need to take further action. There is no other person that is going to protect an abused child than the one who is witnessing it and is going to speak out against it. I am horrified.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. This is horrifying.

Donna, Ohio, your question or thought, ma`am.

DONNA, OHIO (via telephone): Yes, hi, Jane.


DONNA: I saw an interview with the father on the "Morning Show", and it seemed to me that his tears were about as fake as -- what was it, Susan Smith?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes Susan Smith, who drove her kids into a lake and then claimed that somebody carjacked her car. Ok, go ahead.

DONNA: Yes, they just didn`t seem real. And I`m wondering what our society is coming to that all the parents are doing this to all their kids. It just seems like it`s an epidemic.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Donna, it`s not all the parents, but you raise a very important point, and we`re going to play that sound bite for you right now.

Zahra`s dad was asked if he believed his wife could be involved in his daughter`s disappearance. Here he is yesterday on ABC.


ADAM BAKER, ZAHRA`S FATHER: I wouldn`t like the things said but (INAUDIBLE) it could be possible. I didn`t talk to her very much when I called the police. I think just about every officer in Hickory came to the house. And I haven`t really seen my wife since then. I just hope I can get my daughter back. I miss her so much.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, there the father is -- Bradford Cohen --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Michelle. What is your analysis of the piece?

GOLLAND: I have to say, I mean, if there are relatives that did not live in the home that knew of this abuse and then we see this father, I am enraged hearing him. And clearly, if what we believe happened, he is culpable as well. He knew that that child, his daughter was being locked in the room and not let out for ten, except for ten minutes.

I am just horrified that this is what we have come to. That people are not seeing that this level of abuse and taking further action to help these children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I got to tell you, friends and relatives are claiming the girl`s father watched his wife, the stepmom, abuse the child. Again, this is a child who had cancer and a prosthetic leg and was deaf. This, from CBS.


BENTLEY: That`s the crazy thing. I never saw Adam like spank her, punish her, or do anything. But he would sit there and watch Alyssa do it to his child. He would just sit there and not say anything.

Yes, her daughter, actually, reported it to DSS, and they came. I don`t know how much was done. But yes, it was reported.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney, what should happen to this father?

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, we still need to see what is involved. Just for what we know right now, there may be some criminal liability for what we know right now. Who knows what his role was in the disappearance of this young girl because they`re saying they don`t even know when she actually disappeared. She could have been gone up to 30 days. No one saw her for the past 30 days except for immediate family. So who knows when she really disappeared?

This mom, this stepmom that is coming forward and saying she wrote this note. I think the next step is she starts laying the blame off if she starts to talk and her lawyer starts to formulate a defense, starts laying the blame off -- I might have written the note, but it was all his idea or someone else`s idea. That may come to the forefront. Then you`re going to see this father be charged as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And don`t underestimate the fact they were transients and this child was home schooled which means that there`s no teachers or principals or anything like that to be assessing the child on a day-by-day basis.

People who abuse children often move very frequently. I have seen that in many, many cases because as soon as somebody starts to figure it out, let`s get out of here and start the same thing somewhere else -- pull a geographic.

Robin, North Carolina, your question or thought ma`am.

ROBIN, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Hi, Jane. I just want to say there has got to be a special place in hell for this stepmother, so-called stepmother. Anybody that can mistreat a disabled that`s already been through what else she`s been through is just beyond belief with me. I just can`t imagine.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it really is so sad.

GOLLAND: You know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Final ten seconds, Michelle.

GOLLAND: I wanted to say something that is really important to understand that we have to watch out for children that are disabled because they are at higher risk of abuse because the parents are more frustrated and may require more support and not be getting it. So it is important to know that as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is no excuse for beating a child --

Golland: No.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- any child, any child, much less a child who is deaf and walks with a prosthetic leg. How sick, how pathetic.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

At the top of the hour, Nancy Grace will talk to members of Zahra`s family right here on HLN. Stay tuned for that.

Coming up, a woman on the verge of divorce suddenly disappears. Now her estranged husband is nowhere to be found. You won`t believe what we here at ISSUES found out about this case. I`m going to talk to her very frustrated and devastated, frantic brother.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two weeks before she was missing, she had went over to a friend`s house, and she come back home with choke marks on her neck where he had gotten a-hold of her again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A mother of three disappears and her husband is nowhere to be found. Now, nearly three weeks later, her panicked family is desperately searching for answers with virtually no leads. Did I mention it`s been three weeks?

Amanda Sinkhorn`s brother dropped her off for class September 22nd at Kansas City, Kansas Community College. She told him she was visiting a friend after school but never showed up. Two days later, campus police spot her on surveillance video but since then, she has vanished without a trace.

Her brother says the 35-year-old woman was on the verge of filing for divorce before she vanished. The brother claims her estranged husband, Lee Anthony White, was violently abusive, once breaking her arm, her rib, and beating her unconscious.

Police are not calling White a suspect, but they do want to talk to him. My question is why haven`t they released his photo? I`m outraged there`s no photo of Lee White on this press release about the case.

He`s missing, cops want to talk to him, but how can the public provide information about where he is when they don`t know what he looks like? And guess what, we here at ISSUES found him right on Facebook. I`ll tell you what shocking information we also discovered on his Facebook page in just a minute.

But first out to Amanda`s devoted brother, Brandon Dow. Brandon, what have cops told you is going on with this so-called active investigation?

BRANDON DOW, BROTHER OF AMANDA SINKHORN: I have been told nothing. They have had very little communication with me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And were you -- well, I`m going to get to the biggest stunner of the case. I want you to look at your monitor so that you can take a look at the Facebook page as we look at it. One of my producers found Lee White`s page on Facebook, and Brandon take a look at that guy. Is that your sister`s husband?

DOW: I`m sorry. I don`t have a monitor in front of me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, you don`t. Ok. Well, we discovered some jaw- dropping information. You confirmed all of the facts that are about this husband that matchup with the facts on his Facebook page.

DOW: Yes, ma`am.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here is the information, the beginning of August, Lee`s relationship status on Facebook was married. Now, it says widowed. This is huge. We reached out to campus police and asked them point blank, what do they know about the striking development? They admitted to us they were aware of it and said they`re monitoring Facebook pages but they`re not calling the husband a suspect or a person of interest and they`re not releasing his photo.

Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney, what the hell is going on here?

COHEN: Yes, it`s kind of surprising that they`re not saying he`s at least a person of interest. I can understand when you say someone is not a suspect in terms of you don`t want to limit yourself to one individual and say that`s all we`re looking for, this one guy, and this is the key to the case, et cetera, et cetera. But at least say that he`s a person of interest and put his photo out there that he`s missing as well. Maybe both of them disappeared.

I mean there`s a lot of angles you could take that I`m very surprised that this police department there is not taking. Because you could almost say he`s missing as well and we need to find him. Maybe something happened to him as well. We don`t know.


COHEN: Wouldn`t you want to put your picture out to at least say both of these individuals are missing? Let`s keep our eye out for both individuals. It`s very surprising that this police department is behaving the way they are unless they know something that they`re not releasing.


Well, yes. And we`re not calling this guy -- we are not calling this guy a suspect. We have no idea what happened. All we could tell you is that she disappears. He disappears around the same time, and then a person matching his description with all the information that dovetails with his personal information says he`s widowed.

Here is my big issue to night -- this is not foul play. Cops are not even saying that they think there`s any foul play here. But to me, it seems this is more than just a missing person`s case. This woman disappears right around the same time her estranged husband does. He allegedly had a history of beating her. His Facebook page now reportedly says "widowed". Why are they not even, Casey Jordan, looking at this as foul play?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Because they`re not taking it seriously, and they should be. When a woman goes missing, her husband is automatically going to be a person of interest, her ex-husband, her boyfriend. But if she`s recently estranged from a husband who has a history of violence, who has a history of abusing her, that is beyond a person of interest.

In our classes when we teach the dynamics of domestic violence, students often say why don`t abused women leave? And the answer is because that is when they are most likely to get killed when they try to emancipate themselves, get control of their own lives.

So if she`s missing and Lee can`t be found and he`s changed his status to "widowed", there`s something going on here that police need to take seriously. We have no evidence that anything good has happened to her, so foul play should be what they assume as they go forward with the investigation.


COHEN: I`m sorry. Jane, it could be that they have information that they`re not leaking, and they`re not talking about. And they`re not saying he`s a suspect because they want to get him to come in.

There`s a lot of different angles on this that we could take. We don`t know what they know. And certainly they`re not going to tell a family member what they know because they`re afraid the family member might speak about it on air or might speak about it to another family member.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Brandon I want to give you the last word on this. What would you like police to do in terms of communicating with you?

DOW: I would like to know more of what`s going on. So far we`ve been kept in the dark about everything. Everything that I have learned has come from other news stations that has told me more than I`ve received from the police department.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brandon, we`re going to get more to you -- more on the other side. Hang in.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A mother of three vanishes. Her allegedly abusive husband is MIA. Brandon, do you feel that cops are doing everything in their power to find your sister?

DOW: To be honest with you, I don`t know what they`ve done. If they had better communication with me, I would know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what -- do you call them and say, well, we`ll get back to you, or they don`t return your calls? What --

DOW: They tell me it`s an ongoing investigation and they leave it at that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mary, Ohio, your question or thought, ma`am. Mary?

Ok. I want to throw this out to Casey Jordan, criminologist. Why the heck is a community campus police department investigating this? That blows my mind.

JORDAN: Well, right. You`ve got to remember, I`m a university professor, and I can tell you that some campus police are incredibly good, but in this particular case it sounds like they have got to get with the local police department, maybe even the state police, and really get some outside help in this investigation.

Now, it is true that sometimes police have holdbacks and they don`t let all the information out because that is part of their investigation technique but not usually. That`s when they think they have a suspect who`s lying to them, that they want to keep close to them.

When somebody`s AWOL, no one knows where they are. Putting their photo out there, there`s no downside. The public can help solve these things. They do it all the time very quickly.

I hope the campus police reach out for help if they need it because it doesn`t sound like the investigation is getting the attention it needs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brandon, your wife is terrified for Amanda. She said this to CNN affiliate KCTV5. Listen to this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On September 22nd Amanda told you she was going to a friend`s house and she never showed up. Then two days later she was seen on campus surveillance video walking to class and to the parking lot.

Brandon, have there been instances where your sister said she was going to a friend`s and instead went to see her husband? And do you think that could have been what happened the last time you saw her?

DOW: There hasn`t been in the past. And I would certainly hope not. I know that her main objective was for coming to stay with me was so that I could protect her from him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did she get a temporary restraining order against him?

DOW: No, ma`am, we were in the process of filing all that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you were?

DOW: Yes, ma`am.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you actually file any of the paperwork?

DOW: No, ma`am. She has not filed anything, as far as I know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Had she filed any divorce papers? You said that she was contemplating divorce from this individual.

DOW: Yes, ma`am. We were -- had spoken with several lawyers and were trying to get a cost of what it was going to -- excuse me, what they were going to charge us to file paperwork.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I understand that you are sort of new to your sister`s life. Tell us about that.

DOW: I just met my sister about four months ago. She has a different mother than I do, and we have never been in contact prior to that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she decided to come live with you instead?

DOW: Yes, ma`am. She was staying with a friend of hers, and I had contacted her and we had talked. And we decided rather than her going to a women`s shelter that she would come to my house so that I could provide for her and make sure she got --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brandon, got to leave it there. We`re going to keep your story alive.