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Step-Mom Admits to Faking Ransom Note; Miner No. 29 Rescued; Widow Responds to Murder of Police Investigator

Aired October 13, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, horrifying stomach- churning new twists and turns in the desperate search for Zahra Baker. Cops now searching a wood chipper at a mulch pile an hour from the family home. Could this poor child have been murdered? And thrown in a wood chipper?

And sending a deadly message. Tonight, Tiffany Hartley reacts here on ISSUES to the gruesome beheading in Mexico. The lead detective in her husband`s death was tortured, murdered, and his head was cut off. Tonight, is this case too dangerous to keep investigating?

Also, a story on the rescued miners you won`t find anywhere else. What happens next? Will these brave men become rich and even more famous? Or are they headed back underground? We`ll have the very latest on this amazing rescue, including a possible miner love triangle.

Plus, an accused child molester on the loose. Cops say he ripped off his ankle bracelet and threw it into a lake. So why wasn`t he monitored for the entire weekend? And how many predators are doing the exact same thing right now? The answer will blow your mind.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Weeping and cheering, the whole world is watching as 33 Chilean miners trapped more than 2,000 feet underground for more than two months, inside a collapsed mine, are finally being brought home. It`s amazing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in a foreign language)


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right now, they are in the process of rescuing miner No. 29. They`ve got four left after that. Their harrowing story of survival is truly incredible.

But tonight here on ISSUES, we`re asking, is their ordeal over or is there even more drama ahead for these men? You will not want to miss what my panel has to say about that. We`re talking movie deals, book deals, who knows? We`ll have the very latest from Camp Hope in Chile. And we will go live to the scene each time a man reaches the surface.

It`s all coming up tonight on ISSUES.

But first, sickening details in the disappearance of a missing 10- year-old girl. They`re starting to sound something like a horror flick.

Starring in the role of the alleged evil step-mom, Elisa Baker. There she is. She was in court today on an obstruction charge, stemming from her admission that she wrote a phony $1 million ransom note. And her attorney had the audacity to call that obstruction charge excessive? What?

She admits she wrote a phony ransom note, faking the kidnapping of her stepdaughter, who is now missing and feared murdered.

Tonight, little Zahra Baker`s neighbors and relatives are revealing the alleged abuse this little girl suffered at the hands of her step-mom. This from CBS.


BRITTANY BENTLEY, RELATIVE OF MISSING NORTH CAROLINA GIRL: She was locked in her room, allowed five minutes out of the day to eat. That was it. She was beat almost every time I was over there for just the smallest things. If she 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, expected it was from Elisa.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is sick. This poor little girl had cancer. She lost a leg. She lost her hearing.

Step-mom Elisa reported her missing Saturday afternoon. Just three days later, police canceled the Amber Alert and said Zahra was believed to be dead. Cadaver dogs have now hit on, of all things, a wood chipper. Listen to this.


JOHN MILLER, "THE HICKORY DAILY RECORD": They hit on a wood chipper in the family`s backyard several days ago. Apparently, they did the same at the wood chipper at the location they`re searching again tonight. This find is significant, because this is the business where Adam Baker worked.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, what does the child`s father, Adam Baker, know? Relatives say he was well aware of his wife`s brutality towards his daughter. Did he choose to look the other way in order to protect his wife?

And does a Goth -- that`s right, Goth -- Web site linked to the stepmother hold clues to what happened to this precious child?

Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. But first to Tara Servatius from WBTV radio in Charlotte.

Tara, what is the very latest?

TARA SERVATIUS, WBTV RADIO: Well, we`re learning now. This is shocking everyone here, members and other students at her school knew she was beaten. Family members knew that she was being abused. All of her neighbors knew she was being abused. Yet there was minimal efforts to help her, which is truly sad.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I mean, that`s horrific. If you see somebody being abused, don`t assume that somebody else is going to take care of it, especially if it`s a child; especially if it`s a child with cancer; especially if it`s a child with cancer who has lost her hearing, who was being cared for by a somewhat bizarre stepmother who was into Goth.

Psychologist Luis Laviena, your thoughts?

LUIS LAVIENA, PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, definitely. This is definitely something that we really have to take under consideration. You really have to act. You cannot stop and wait for somebody else to do -- or to interfere, or to report it, because this is what ends up happening.

Supposedly, this child has been murdered. And if you think about it, everybody around, the neighbors, the friends, people knew that there was something going on that was not right. There was something that indicated that this child had been abused, that this child had been taken care of improperly, and that probably something terrible was going to happen to the child. Yet nobody did anything.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Never wait. Now, how did authorities zero in on this wood chipper last night? Just hours earlier, the police chief said this. Listen to this.


CHIEF TOM ADKINS, HICKORY, NORTH CAROLINA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: We cannot confirm with any confidence how long Zahra has been missing. Without this information, we cannot positively select the area to search for her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, suddenly investigators are looking at a wood chipper about an hour from the family home, a wood chipper the girl`s father reportedly had access to through his tree-trimming business. The wood chipper that cadaver dogs had hit on.

Criminal profiler, Pat Brown, what do you make of them honing in on this far-away spot after initially saying they didn`t know where to look?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, I think they`re just trying to open up the investigation to make sure that, if people have information about where they`ve seen this man running around, or the stepmother, that they might have some other choices.

But it`s interesting that they`re looking at a place where he`s been employed. We see this happen quite often. A person who has committed a crime in a panic, and I do think this was in a panic. I think that happened all that night. And they were trying to get rid of the evidence real quick and stage a really bad crime scene.

So they have to find a place to get rid of a body. They`ll pick someplace that they know and are comfortable, and they think, "OK, nobody`s going to see me here. I know the layout of the land. I know the police aren`t around." And oddly, they`ll pick places like their place of employment, which doesn`t work out real well in the end, because obviously, who else is going to dump the body at your place of employment? So it`s a very foolish move, but it`s a very common one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue. Is Zahra`s father guilty of denial or outright deception? It`s pretty hard to believe that he`s not hiding something.

Listen as the dad, Adam Baker, gets all weepy on ABC.


ADAM BAKER, FATHER: I think about every officer in Hickory came to the house. 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: The local sheriff is now saying, Debra Opri, "I don`t know how sincere the dad`s concern is." Should the dad be given a polygraph?

DEBRA OPRI, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Well, you know, you can ask him to take a polygraph, but Jane, you know it`s not admissible into evidence.

What I would suggest is this: the father via the third-party witnesses who now come after the fact to say there was child abuse of this child, and they didn`t feel it was their position to say anything, they wish they had. The father certainly should be charged with child endangerment, child abuse. And let it lead to that; let him make some deals. He is not innocent. There is blood on his hands as well as others.

As a family law attorney, and I say this over and over again, and I want to use your show to say this, all of you must come forward and report child abuse, because this story is not new. It is not new. And this child is dead, because people didn`t think enough to protect a minor child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a really shocking development. A MySpace page that appears to be the step-mom, Elisa Baker`s, has some very dark content. The user name is GothicFairy6668. When you go to the first page, it plays a Rob Zombie song called "Living Dead Girl. A page has a photo of Zahra with a caption that reads "The Dark Child! LOL!" which stands for "laugh out loud."

Pat Brown, if this page is proven to be Elisa`s, could prosecutors use this as evidence against her?

BROWN: Yes. It certainly shows her mind-set. She`s a little bit old to be into the Goth scene, in my opinion. It`s not like a teenager who`s experimenting around.

This woman has a very, very negative view on life. She says a lot of interesting things on that page, along with the dark generalities. She says that family is worthless. And she praises her husband for standing behind her in just about everything.

And my guess is that`s what happened this time. She got fed up with that child, she took it out on her, she got rid of the child, that little dark child. And her husband liked what he`d got, so he was willing to stand up for her and maybe help get rid of the body so he can keep his wife because she was more important than his daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And get this, Luis Laviena, psychologist, according to published reports, the last time the user logged onto that Goth site was the day before the little girl was reported missing. And in the detailed section of the page, the user wrote that she`s a proud parent, but under mood she wrote, "Crazy." Crazy.

LAVIENA: Yes. Definitely. Definitely. This definitely shows how all these things worked out. A lot of parents of handicapped children are overwhelmed, and if you`re not intact, psychologically, or emotionally, people tend to react. And then people around them tend to justify that type of behavior.

Therefore, the father seems to turn the other way and look the other way while his daughter is abused. However, this is inexcusable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. It`s totally...

OPRI: All aiding and -- all aiding and abetting in this child abuse. All of them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is sick. And they can`t find this child, but they fear she`s been murdered. Everyone stay right where you are. Could this wood chipper development lead to further charges?

We`re taking your calls right on the other side. April from Virginia, I`ll get to you in a moment.

Plus, I`ll talk one-on-one with Tiffany Hartley. The lead investigator in her husband`s murder has been beheaded. Are they sending her a deadly message?

But first, could little Zahra`s death have been prevented? Tonight her family members are speaking out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Amber Alert on Zahra Baker we`ve canceled today, and the decision to focus this investigation from a missing child, or abducted child, will turn into a homicide investigation.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going live to Chile. There it is. Miner No. 29 has just been pulled out to the surface. There he is. Hugging loved ones. And people at Camp Hope. His name is Juan Carlos Aguilar. He`s 49 years old. He`s a mechanic. They have four more to go.

As you know, the whole world has been watching as they`ve been pulling these 33 miners out that have been trapped for almost 70 days. More than 2,000 feet underground. It`s dark now in Chile. This has been going on for hours and hours and hours.

And these men are absolutely extraordinary. They really became a band of brothers down there, showing unbelievable courage. And just grace. Look at the smiles. Nobody began finger pointing. There was no bickering. They maintained a cohesive unit. And there he`s going into the stretcher.

And what`s interesting is that, yes, he still has his sunglasses on. It was so dark down there, that they couldn`t allow them to come up without wearing sunglasses, because it would blind them. So even though it looks like it`s getting dark there, they are still wearing their sunglasses, which gives you an idea of the abrupt transformation from almost total darkness 2,000 feet below ground to what they`re experiencing now.

Again, we have four more to go. We`re going to stay on this. And we`re also going to talk with a team of experts about what is going to happen next to these courageous men. Is this going to be a gold mine for them, or will they perhaps be back in the mines in a year? It`s an unbelievable story. A billion people around the world watching, and we`re going to keep you updated.

All right. We`ve also got some very, very significant breaking news in the disappearance of little Zahra Baker. This is the 10-year-old girl with a prosthetic leg who lost her hearing, who has been missing. Her stepmother has been arrested on obstruction of justice charge.

We`ve got some new information now, that law enforcement is draining a pond in the area. And we`ve got some video of that draining of the pond that is going on as we speak.

Now, we had just told you that they had been searching a wood chipper where the father had access, because of his job in the tree-trimming business. And now it appears they`ve moved to this pond.

So this is becoming, Pat Brown, I would say more and more ominous as they get to this pond. I don`t think they just stumbled upon this pond. They must have some information that is leading them there. We`re looking at this video that just came in. North Carolina.

BROWN: Yes, I think more and more probably from the stepmother, she might be giving up information at this point. I`m not sure how much her lawyer is keeping her from talking. Or little bits of information on the father. Or from other people who know where these people have been hanging around.

And this is -- I have to say, you know, this -- as I believe it went down that night, I think what we`re seeing is a panicked couple of people who really didn`t plan out this very well, because they didn`t have time to plan. So that`s one of the advantages we have in this particular case. There`s going to be so much evidence in the cars, in the house, in the wood chipper, everywhere. There`s going to be tons of evidence. These people are going down, and they`re not going to come back out again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tara Servatius, my understanding is the biological mother lives in Australia and hasn`t been in the child`s life for years. My understanding also is that this child was being homeschooled by this family, which is a transient family that jumps from place to place.

And there is the stepmother, who wrote all those bizarre things on her Goth Facebook or Web site posting. What do you make of this fire that happened at 5:30 in the morning, nine hours before they reported the girl missing? A fire in their home. Pretty darn bizarre, isn`t it?

SERVATIUS: It sure is. It`s one of the first things that investigators locked onto, and it made them realize something wasn`t quite right here.


SERVATIUS: We talked to -- we talked to family members today, by the way. We have some breaking news to WBVT. Family members said that Elisa Baker, the stepmother, was a well-known drug dealer. She was selling drugs...


SERVATIUS: ... to members of the family. We had one family member who said they bought drugs from her. And that she said, Brittany Bentley (ph) said people didn`t believe her about what was happening to Zahra.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that is a bombshell. Thank you for bringing us the very latest.



TIFFANY HARTLEY, WIDOW: I still believe they are going to do what they can for David, and for us, for bringing him home. So we do know that they`re still going to be searching for him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A message sent loud and clear, as the lead Mexican investigator in the Falcon Lake shooting is beheaded.

David Hartley was gunned down nearly two weeks ago, allegedly by members of a drug cartel, when he and his wife, Tiffany, Jet Skied into Mexican waters. Tiffany watched as David was shot but with no choice but to leave him behind under fire.

She begged for help to find David`s body. Finally, the Mexican government did step in. Now, this poor man, Rolando Flores, who risked his safety trying to help recover David`s body, is dead. His head delivered to the Mexican military in a suitcase, of all things. It was all happening just one day after Mexico identified two suspects, brothers, in the very dangerous Zeta drug cartel.

Joining me now is David Hartley`s devoted wife, Tiffany.

Tiffany, I know this is a very difficult time for you. Thank you so much for joining us. What is your response, what was your first reaction when you heard about this horrific development, the beheading of the lead investigator?

HARTLEY: I couldn`t believe it. I was -- once I heard, my heart just broke for his family. I just -- I can`t explain how much, you know, I appreciated him meeting us. And going over what they planned on doing for the investigation. And he was so sincere and so considerate to us.

It just breaks my heart that somebody would do that to him, who`s just trying to help, you know, his country. He`s serving his country. And the authorities.

And my heart goes out to his family. We`re praying for them. I mean, they`re going through what we`re going through right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you met him, or spoke to him on the phone, or both?

HARTLEY: We met with him, yes. We met with him. And he was -- he sat right next to me. And I visited with him through a translator. And they just, you know, encouraged us and told us they were going to do whatever they could.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did he seem scared at the time? When you were talking to him, did he seem scared for his own safety at all?

HARTLEY: It didn`t seem like it. I mean, it seemed like he had been in that field for a while. You know, so he didn`t seem like it to me. But, you know, maybe he was. I don`t know. But he didn`t seem like it that night.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is so frightening. People involved in this case are dealing with a very dangerous drug cartel. The Zapata County sheriff believes these thugs are killing people too obviously -- it makes sense: scare them away from the investigation. They don`t want anybody messing with their control of this area.

But apparently, the beheading has not stopped the search, Tiffany. Crews were out there today. Have you given up hope that your husband`s body will be found or are you still hopeful?

HARTLEY: We`re still hopeful. I mean, we also have to realize, we`re 13 days into this. And, you know, we -- every day that passes, it`s going to be harder and harder to find David. But we`re still standing and praying that we`re going to get him back.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What would you say to the people who murdered your husband and this investigator? Couple of seconds.

HARTLEY: I just want to plea to them that we just want David back. And maybe they can`t provide a body. I don`t know. But they can provide something of evidence. Anything that would tell us, you know, that -- where David`s at. We just want him back.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I totally understand.

HARTLEY: And then we`ll go away.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our hearts are with you, Tiffany. We`re going to stay on top of this story.

Up next, the amazing mine rescue, new developments. We`ll bring them to you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A story on the rescued miners you won`t find anywhere else. What happens next? Will these brave men become rich and even more famous? Or are they headed back underground? We`ll have the very latest on this amazing rescue, including a possible miner love triangle.

Plus, an accused child molester on the loose; cops say he ripped off his ankle bracelet and threw it into a lake. So why wasn`t he monitored for the entire weekend? And how many predators are doing the exact same thing right now? The answer will blow your mind.

An explosion of emotion and joy as those 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,000 feet underground for more than two months inside a collapsed copper mine, are finally coming home. Check this out.

One billion people all over the world have been literally mesmerized by images of these superhuman survivors being hoisted to the surface inside a narrow capsule. These guys endured untold physical challenges, not to mention the psychological trauma.

Rescued miner number two who is being called "Super Mario" described how he was able to get through this ordeal.


MARIO SEPULVEDA, 2ND MINER RESCUED (through translator): I was with God, and I was with the devil, but God won. I held on to God`s hand, the best hand.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cheering, hugging, celebrating; but what awaits these miners after their harrowing ordeal now that they`re above ground? Is the road ahead paved with gold? Or are they facing some serious issues.

I`m taking your calls, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. Straight out to my fantastic panel and I`ve got to say, you know, Bonnie Fuller, we are dealing with Hollywood celebrities all the time who, my gosh, if everything isn`t perfect in their dressing room, throw a you-know-what fit. And if somebody doesn`t bow down to them, become offended. And these guys in there, 2,000 feet below ground for 70 days, almost 70 days, behaving with super-human grace. Don`t you think they have a message to teach Americans?

BONNIE FULLER, PRESIDENT, HOLLYWOODLIFE.COM: They do have a message. They already have sent a message. Look at the solidarity that they`ve had. Look at the grace under pressure. Look at the bravery, the courage. But they also, they`ve got drama.

We don`t even know all the stories about their survival. Apparently they`ve taken a vow of silence about the first 17 days. Things were so difficult.

And then there`s the romance drama. I mean, there`s one miner who has a wife and a mistress who met at a vigil, because they were each holding a picture of him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Absolutely. Rescued miner number two, "Super Mario" became the group`s spokesperson. His family reportedly said he is made for television. Check this out.


SEPULVEDA: I want to be treated as Mario Sepulveda as a worker, a miner. That`s what I want. I want to continue -- I want to continue to work, because I think I was born to die tied to the anvil. I believe I was brought up in a beautiful way.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, let`s see. This is a live picture right now that you are looking at. And of course, it`s gotten dark there in Chile. And they have been doing this for so long now. But despite their exhaustion, gee, they`re on, what, they`ve only got three more miners to go. This is truly amazing.

Now, here`s my big issue. Is there a gold mine ahead for these miners? Some published reports claim the miners are being offered up to $400,000 for exclusive interviews. There are rumors of big money deals, big book deals, big endorsements. So what is next for these guys, Bonnie Fuller?

FULLER: What`s next is that they have decided that they want to get rich. They don`t want to have to work for the rest of their lives. And they`ve also decided that to do that, they have to stick together. Apparently they had a lawyer draw up legal documents, send them down to the chamber that they were in, because they want to negotiate everything as a group. All 33 will stand together and all 33 will share equally in the profits of everything they do.

And you know what, they`re going to have so many offers. Yes, we`ve heard the same thing, even up to $500,000 for exclusive interviews. But they will not do anything until they make these decisions together. I think they`re very, very smart.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, what about the flip side? What about the dark side of what lies ahead for these guys? These guys range in age from 19 to 63 years. We`ve heard all the sad stories of lottery winners who win, you know, many millions of dollars and end up tragically right where they started before their stroke of luck. And we`ve all heard about the heroes who basked in the media spotlight and go back to being ordinary citizens and become depressed.

It happened after the Oklahoma City bombing. It happened after 9/11. So Luis Laviena, psychologist, what is the potential down side here? What might their psychological issues be a few weeks or months down the road?

LUIS LAVIENA, PSYCHOLOGIST: Definitely, the next couple of months are going to be pivotal in terms of how this evolves in each and every one of them. We have seen how they have created sort of a mini society, where Mr. Luis Urzua, their leader kind of put order. Each one of these miners took a role, and helped everybody. So they created sort of a small society, where everything was taken care of.

Now suddenly they`re outside. So it will be interesting to see what`s going to happen. Even though they have taken a vow of making decisions together, that was taken under the pressure of being down there. I bet you that in the next couple of months, you`re going to see how this goes sort of in two modes: people who are going to want to stick together and people who are going to fly solo. It will be interesting to follow closely what happens.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Karl Penhaul, cnn correspondent, live in Chile at the scene, bring us up to date. What is the very latest?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, the man we have in the Phoenix 2 rescue capsule is Raul Bustos. He was a miner and he has a special story there. You see there his beautiful wife, Catalina, waiting for him as she has waited for him for 70 days. Tears are coming. And here comes that rescue capsule.

Raul Bustos, miner number 30, out of the hole. Let`s just take a look at these pictures, Jane, and see the emotion that has been going on all day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s number 30. There is his wife apparently or his loved one. There he is, wearing sunglasses again. And they have to wear those sunglasses, even though it appears to be quite dark there at this time because they were in such darkness for the 2000 feet below. That even this light that is just evening light is going to blind them.

So Bonnie Fuller -- you know what; I want to go to Ann in North Carolina. Ann, what is your question or thought, ma`am? Ann?

ANN, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Yes.

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

ANN: My thoughts are that this is one of the most beautiful, spiritual experiences I`ve ever seen on television. And these people are absolutely -- the humility that they have, their gratitude is just overwhelming.

My thing is if they were Americans, they would be coming up wanting to know what they`re going to eat, what they`re going to drink and who they`re going to sue. It`s just a beautiful thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s listen a little bit more to number 30, hugging his wife. That guy`s been underground 2,000 feet for more than 70 days and he is smiling. And everybody around him at Camp Hope is also smiling.

You know, what strikes me about all this, is that they really made the best of a terrible situation. When they were down there they were giving each other nicknames and writing love letters. As somebody pointed out, nobody asked for an anti-depressant. There were no ugly recriminations. There was no whining despite two months of confinement. More than two months.

Again, I really feel that America could learn a lot from this attitude because in our country, we are blessed with so much material abundance, so much material abundance, Luis Laviena, psychologist.

LAVIENA: Yes. And this --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And first -- wait, I want to go back to Karl Penhaul.

Karl, is there a sense there that these miners have something to teach the entire world about gratitude, about optimism, about hope, about dignity, about grace?


But I want to tell you a little bit more about Raul Bustos. He hasn`t just survived this mine cave-in, he -- during the February earthquake and tsunami on the Chilean coast, he was living in a town of Talcahuano.

That town was partially wiped out by a tsunami. But Raul Bustos and his wife survived the earthquake. They survived the tsunami. And now Raul Bustos came here looking for work. There was no work in the south of Chile. So he came here, to the north of Chile, came right up to the desert.

He got into that mine, tried to earn an honest wage for himself and his wife, and then bam, he gets hit by this cave-in. But he`s a survivor. Raul Bustos, this man probably has the nine lives of a cat.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He sure does.

PENHAUL: Because we`ve seen him --


PENHAUL: -- there coming out, hugging his wife. And you`re absolutely right. They have bags to teach, especially their families --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to leave it right there.



SANDRA BOLTON, RESIDENT OF FORSYTH COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: I really think that ankle monitors are not sufficient to take care of situations like this. And I think much stricter regulations should be in place. I mean, we have a criminal on the loose now who doesn`t need to be out there. I mean, he needs to be in jail.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shocking revelations that accused child molesters are thumbing their noses at the court system by literally cutting off their ankle monitors and going on the run. It`s happening in one Georgia County, and at least three men are on the run right now as we speak.

Let`s start with this guy, Dustin Grant. Cops say he cut of his ankle monitor and was missing for two days before anybody knew about it. He`s accused of molesting his kids` babysitter and taking hundreds of pornographic photos. And he is still on the loose right now.

After Grant cut off his ankle monitor, he chucked it into Georgia`s Lake Lanier. It was sending a distress signal for two days. And nobody knew it. Why, you ask? Good question. Because the person in charge of detecting that distress signal was in Disney World on vacation. What good is an ankle monitor if nobody is there to monitor it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you put ankle monitors on them, they have a chance to run.

BOLTON: I think definitely the system needs fixing. And if you can cut those things off, then -- then they are not worth very much.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Three men all set to face trial on child molestation charges skip out on court. If they had been denied bail, we wouldn`t be having this conversation right now. They`d be behind bars. This is proof that our justice system does not take crimes against women and children as seriously as they should.

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

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel; we are very honored to have with us tonight Marc Klaas, father of Polly Klaas who was kidnapped from a slumber party and tragically murdered at the age of 12. Marc, thank you so much for all you do and for joining us tonight.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The monster who killed your daughter, Richard Allen Davis, was wanted for a parole violation when he took her. I would guess that you have some very strong opinions about these three men being allowed to wear ankle monitors and roam free after just basically treating them like they`re junk.

KLAAS: Well, first of all, I think you`re exactly right in your -- in your previous statement, that our society does not take, or our criminal justice system do not take these kinds of crimes seriously enough. Because we keep ratcheting up the -- the punishments and we see these kinds of things continue.

First of all, with these ankle monitors, the punishment for failure to comply has to be a felony. They had -- they need to be extremely difficult to get off. And the reality is, that most of these characters, if the -- if we need that much monitoring of them, deserve to be in jail in the first place.

The good news is, is that because we`re talking about this now, it`s only a matter of time before this character is caught. And hopefully put in prison for the rest of his life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dustin Grant and Marcus Tillman both cut off their ankle monitors. It was that simple. It`s elastic. What on earth is wrong with this picture?

KLAAS: Everything.


BOLTON: I really think that -- that ankle monitors are not sufficient to take care of situations like this. And I think much stricter regulations should be in place. And we have a criminal on the loose now who doesn`t need to be out there. I mean, he needs to be in jail.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. I think we need to improve this ankle monitor. My big issue tonight, scissor-proof monitors, duh. These guys are just cutting them off. In most cases the straps are just made of rubber or elastic.

Pat Brown, criminal profiler, maybe they should make the strap out of something that can`t be cut off?

PAT BROWN, AUTHOR, "THE PROFILER": Well, you would think so.

But I -- I -- I go along with that statement you and Marc both said. If this guy -- these guys are violent offenders, they`re sex offenders, and certainly the one that just molested the girl and had all the pictures, there was evidence he was a serial offender. This is not somebody that`s safe for society.

So if you can`t promise that the person is safe for society, I mean, for anything major, like if they -- they`ll shoplifting is one thing, but safe in the sense that nobody`s going to be raped, molested or murdered, if you can`t promise that, why are these people are being put out on the street? I mean, that`s just to me, you either need to be in prison -- or you know, just be in prison, how about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the reason why Dustin Grant was missing for two days before anybody realized it was because the person who should have received the distress call was on vacation at Disney World, at Disney World. He`s walking around enjoying the sights while Dustin`s ankle monitor is furiously going off at the bottom of a Georgia lake for two days.

Robin Sax, the D.A. calls this a breakdown of the system, and I agree with him.

ROBIN SAX, FORMER SEX CRIME PROSECUTOR: Well, are you kidding me here; breakdown of the system, missed opportunities? Whoops, we had a clerical error in so many cases that you cover on this show time and time again. The fact of the matter is though an ankle bracelet, a GPS monitoring device isn`t going to even monitor whether or not someone is committing a sex crime, it`s only going to tell them where they`re committing the sex crime.

So bottom line, like Marc says, like Pat says, like you say, GPS has no place in a sexual assault case. Give the GPS to Lindsay Lohan on an alcohol case. Give it to someone else on a drug case but not on a sexual offense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you mentioned Lindsay Lohan. She claimed, Marc Klaas, that her ankle bracelet went off because somebody spilled a drink on it, which I don`t think anybody bought. But it just gives you an idea of the people wearing these ankle bracelets are not taking them very seriously. I`m not suggesting she`s a child molester, by any means, Marc.

KLAAS: No, of course not. But she is -- these people are gaming the system. And I think the simple fact that we`re calling this child molestation when we`re talking about rape --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side.

KLAAS: It`s something that also needs to be considered. I mean this is --


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Tonight: accused sex offenders skipping out on their trials and cutting off their ankle monitors literally. In one case, the distress signal from a ditched ankle monitor wasn`t detected for days because the guy who was in charge of that was at Disney World having a good time.

This is unbelievable. Wanda in New Jersey, your question our thought, ma`am? Hey, Wanda?

WANDA, NEW JERSEY (via telephone): Yes.

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

WANDA: Well, the question is, I mean, normally in any workplace, right, because this guy supposedly was on vacation, that was supposed to be monitoring these guys. I mean you normally have a backup, someone in place so if you are not there on vacation, leave of absence, sick or something, your job is being done. How come nothing like that was actually set in place for this?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s unbelievable, Robin Sax, you`re a former sex crimes prosecutor. Apparently the person who was on vacation was some sort of middle man between the company that actually monitors the bracelets and the court. So when the middle man went on vacation there was no one to tell the court. So it wasn`t technically the court`s problem. Do you buy that?

SAX: Well, even if it`s technically not the court`s problem, the court never seems to care too much because they are 100 percent immune from negligent situations. All they can do is have their arms thrown up. Once we start holding courts, prosecutors, police officers accountable and be able to actually sue them personally for some sort of negligence, these things won`t happen. But so long as there`s immunity, we`ll have courts continue to miss opportunities and offenders will go free like this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And you know what? This is happening all over the United States. Marc Klaas, you know this better than anyone. I`ve read studies that say something like 1 in 7 child molesters are AWOL, either no address on the National Sex Offender Registry or a bad address that`s just a lie?

KLAAS: But to give this some perspective, only about 15 years ago, we didn`t even know who these characters were. So in effect they were all AWOL. We have to have a better procedure for keeping track and monitoring who these individuals are and the penalties for noncompliance or for absconding have to be very, very severe and they have to be enforced.

And once we get into that kind of a mind-set, I think we`re going to find much more compliance than we currently have.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, Dustin Grant was out on bail with an ankle monitor, even though he faced 23 felonies in connection with the assault of a teenage babysitter. And not only did he allegedly drug the girl and assault her, but when they arrested him, they found hundreds of pornographic photos on his computer.

So Pat Brown, in my opinion, a guy like that shouldn`t get bail. Ten seconds.

BROWN: I totally agree with that. Don`t get bail. And if you actually get something like parole or probation and you break it, one strike you go back and you get nailed real big time with it. You don`t get to just keep playing around on the outside.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely, we`re going to stay on top of this. Fantastic panel thank you so much.

Next, a Nancy Grace exclusive: she will talk to step mom Alyssa Baker`s sister.

You are watching ISSUES. And of course, we`re going to stay on top of those amazing miners.