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Is Missing Family Dead?; Jawbone Found on Aruban Beach; Killer Sues His Victim`s Family; Boy Mauled to Death

Aired November 16, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, escalating dread in the search for a missing Ohio family. Cops say there`s a very real possibility all the missing family members may be dead. The intense investigation is uncovering startling information about the suspect`s past. New reports say this 30-year-old loner may have targeted the family before cops say he kidnapped a 13-year-old girl. Were warning signs ignored? And is Sarah Maynard the sole survivor?

Then a shocking discovery in the Natalee Holloway case. A jawbone washes up on an Aruba Beach. Could it belong to the girl who disappeared more than five long years ago?

Plus a perverse twist. A driver who mowed down a 14-year-old boy and is behind bars for manslaughter sues the dead boy`s devastated parents. What? This convict is blaming them for their son`s horrific death. You will not believe why.

ISSUES starts now.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: The amount of blood, the fact that Sarah was found with one person -- with the suspect. No one else was found there. And we haven`t -- no one has apparently seen or heard anything out of Tina, Kody, or Stephanie since then.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s horrifying. An entire family vanishes after their Ohio home is drenched in blood and littered with beer cans. Who was drinking that beer? Tonight, did the man people called the town weirdo kill them all?

After five days of desperate searching, 13-year-old Sarah Maynard -- there she is there -- was miraculously found alive. So happy about that. She was bound and gagged, held captive in a basement. Cops arrested the homeowner, 30-year-old Matthew Hoffman, for kidnapping. There he is right there. We`ll talk about what he`s wearing in a minute. This is him in his court appearance today.

His bond was set at $1 million. He did not enter a plea. A public defender was assigned to represent him. Cops say right now this guy you`re looking at is the only suspect.

But Sarah`s mom, her kid brother and a family friend, they`re all still missing as we speak. The local sheriff says all four people were taken from the home together, and there`s a possibility that they are all dead, except for the teenage girl, who was found tied up in that sicko`s basement.

Did this man -- his own mother calls him a loner -- secretly spy on Sarah`s family, kidnap them, kill them and hide their families? Tonight, a glimpse into Matthew Hoffman`s sick, twisted mind.

Neighbors say he was a voyeur who hid in his trees in his backyard and eavesdropped on them. They say he was extremely disturbed. They tell us that he shot small animals in his yard and ate them.

Listen to this from ABC`s "Good Morning America."


KANA FOWLER, NEIGHBOR: He was killing the squirrels, because he doesn`t -- he doesn`t grocery shop. And he would actually kill the squirrels and them.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Matthew Hoffman`s parents live just down the road from this missing family`s home. Was this guy hiding in the trees watching them, plotting, waiting? Where are these three people tonight? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to Mike Brooks, HLN law enforcement analyst, news conference held today by law enforcement, and they are now saying there is a very real possibility that these three people are dead and buried somewhere, possibly.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. That`s what it looks like, Jane. And one of the things they were stressing, though, they want to put together this time line going back to Wednesday. That`s when they think all of this started. And they`re looking -- they`re looking for anyone who may have seen the three vehicles that are involved in this.

Now, they have all three vehicles. The first one, of course, is that Ford F-150 pickup truck that belonged to Tina Herrmann that was recovered over near the college. Then Hoffman`s Toyota and then -- and then Stephanie Sprang`s silver Jeep.

They want anybody who may have seen these around, in the vicinity, driving somewhere, to let them know if you saw somebody. Was there somebody in these vehicles? That is what they were out there today, putting this out, basically asking the public for their help, because he is not saying -- Hoffman is not cooperating with police. He`s now lawyered up. He`s got a public defender, as you said.

But they are looking for any clues whatsoever, but they have a lot. Apparently, a lot of forensics that they have to go through, Jane, because we heard...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bags and bags of it.

BROOKS: Bags and bags of it. And all that blood and the beer cans. There`s a lot of evidence on that. But was the blood just belonging to one person, or could it possibly belong to three?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is so terrifying. Because it reminds me of that Petit case in Connecticut where there`s absolutely no rhyme or reason. A home is invaded, and mayhem occurs. I personally don`t believe that anybody from this family was drinking all those beer -- those beers. The blood in their house? They didn`t spill it on their own.

BROOKS: Absolutely not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, one of the missing people, 41-year-old Stephanie Sprang, who was a friend of the family, her father says that she felt like she was being watched and followed in the days before she disappeared, along with the family.

Now, this dad told ABC`s "GMA" he is absolutely sure his daughter did not know this loner suspect.


STEPHEN THOMPSON, STEPHANIE SPRANG`S FATHER: We thought and thought how that connection was there, and we can`t come up with one. I have never met the guy. I have never even seen his picture until just the other day.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, clinical psychiatrist Dr. Dale Archer, as for the kidnapped girl`s missing mom and brother, cops are now saying this suspect, quote, "acquainted himself with this family, whether they knew he was acquainting himself with them or not," end quote. That is quite cryptic. What might cops mean by that statement?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I think that it`s clear when you look at him he has two of the signs that we look for of antisocial personality disorder: cruelty to animals and fire starting. And he had both of those at his house and in his yard. So this is a weird guy to begin with.

But I think that he probably had them targeted from a very early stage and was getting to know them, getting to know their routines before he struck. And I think he had them all targeted together, so I don`t feel very good about the results here.

BROOKS: Jane, we heard the neighbors say that he would -- look, there`s a hammock right up there. You know, that -- he would go up there and watch. And that`s the whole thing Dale was saying and you were saying. You know, he knew them, but they didn`t know him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you something, people. If you`re out there and your neighbor is hanging out in a hammock in the trees and shooting squirrels and eating them in the backyard and setting fires, please call the police...

BROOKS: Call the police. Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... before it gets to this point. Now, the sheriff, as Mike mentioned -- go ahead.

ARCHER: I was just going to say it`s very important also that, if you get intuition or a feeling that someone is watching you, that`s found to be remarkably accurate that something is going on. So if anyone out there has that feeling, the odds are that something`s going on. Maybe if she had known that and had reported it, maybe things would have been different.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to learn to trust our gut.

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hang on a second. Yes, but you know what, Jane, I`ve got to jump in on this. We don`t lock people up prospectively just because somebody may be in the words of Doc Archer a weird guy or they`re engaging in antisocial behavior.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Let`s wait until they kill somebody!

KAVINOKY: Well, look, when is national conversation -- when is the national conversation going to be about how we, as a society, are going to caretake people that are obviously suffering and in some kind of emotional chaos, acting out badly. I`m not saying that the best thing to do is to wait until they kills somebody, but there is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s not accused of killing anyone. He`s accused of kidnapping at this point.

Now, I understand your point. And I do believe we need to completely revamp our society, become proactive and get to people who are demented before they have a chance to act out. I agree with you there.

The sheriff is asking the public for tips on three cars that Mike Brooks referred to. Listen to this.


SHERIFF DAVID BARBER, KNOX COUNTY: They are the three vehicles that were involved in the investigation: the F-150 pickup truck that was recovered near Kenyan College, the Toyota Yaris (ph) which belongs to Matthew Hoffman, and the silver Jeep which was recovered at the scene on Ken Beach Drive (ph), which belongs to Stephanie.

We want people to think back last Wednesday, last Thursday: did they see one of these vehicles? Maybe at a restaurant, maybe parked along the road somewhere. Give us that information.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops reveal they first spoke to Hoffman Thursday, the day after the family vanished. He was sitting in his own car next to the missing mother`s abandoned truck. But cops apparently did not run his license plate or his name through the system. Had they done so, cops would have seen that he had a record for arson, burglary and had spent eight years in prison and had just been taken off supervised parole last month.

It was three days later the cops finally stormed his home and discovered the 13-year-old girl tied up in the basement. Darren Kavinoky, do you think -- it`s unfortunate that they couldn`t make that connection immediately.

KAVINOKY: Yes. Obviously, there`s -- you know, hindsight being 20/20, we now recognize that, if perhaps there hadn`t been some element of human error or oversight, that perhaps these missing family members might have been discovered; perhaps disaster could have been averted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think, Mike Brooks?

BROOKS: You know, it`s tough. Because you just pull somebody over. You go ahead and run a tag. Yes, you might get their history, but if there`s no wants or warrants on the guy, they`re going to have to let him go anyway.


BROOKS: But I think it helped -- it did help put some of the pieces together, because they said it was police intelligence, and -- which is kind of an oxymoron sometimes -- but police intelligence and good investigative work that led them to that house.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They had him, though.

KAVINOKY: Be careful, Mike. You`re sounding like a defense lawyer.

BROOKS: Exactly, exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They had him Thursday, and they waited, because they didn`t make the connection, until Sunday. That`s when they stormed his house.

Everybody, stay right where you are. We`re taking your calls on this. They`re lining up on the other side of the break: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Plus, a major discovery in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway five years later. A jawbone washes up on an Aruba beach? Could it be Natalee?

And much more to talk about in this missing family nightmare.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My friend dated him, and she just broke up with him like two weeks ago. He had choked her, and she had marks on her from where he had choked her.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a weirdo. He really was a weirdo. Like he sat in the trees. If you look back there in the tree, there`s a hammock where he would sit and watch people. He`s just different.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a $1 million bond set for Matthew Hoffman, the man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old Ohio girl named Sarah Maynard and holding her captive, bound and gagged in his basement.

I`m going to show you video of this sicko suspect who his own mother calls a loner in court today. Police say he could be responsible for the disappearance of Sarah`s mother, younger brother and family friend.

You see what he`s wearing there? It`s not a bullet-proof vest. It`s called a suicide gown. The sheriff`s office said that he threatened to hurt himself, so they put him in this suicide gown. Unbelievable.

Tammy, Georgia, your question or thought, ma`am. Tammy? All right. I`m going -- hey, Tammy, you there?

CALLER: Yes, I`m here.

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

CALLER: OK, I wanted to know, what is his occupation? And has he ever been married?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I know he`s a tree trimmer, and Tanisha Mallett, you`ve been covering this on the scene for WBNS. I understand he had a girlfriend that he allegedly choked. Tell us about that, Tanisha.

TANISHA MALLETT, REPORTER, WBNS: That was something that we had uncovered when we were covering this case. We found out that they had been together for quite a while. But here`s the thing, something we discussed about yesterday, Jane. She never pressed charges. She never filed any complaints. However, now anything related to the abuse is sealed and will now be dealt with as part of this overall case.

That young woman has spoken to people in our newsroom. She was one of the main people I spoke about yesterday who is very fearful about speaking out, but she has said that she was abused by this man on several occasions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Another lesson. If you are abused by somebody, please go to the police, because look what can happen if you let this person go without any repercussions.

This brings me to my big issue tonight: pathetic parole. This loner, Matthew Hoffman, went to prison for eight years for arson after he set fire to an apartment complex. OK, he used apparently -- what was it -- ten gallons of gasoline to cover up a burglary he committed, all right?

In prison he was disciplined for refusing to work, damaging property and assault. And he still gets off.

And he`s off on parole for only one month. In other words, his parole ended in October, and now he`s accused already in November of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and a whole family that goes missing.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We seen a big silver truck sitting in the backyard for the last four days, but I made my kids come in the house because he was having a fire. And he had said to my friend Jen that he had wanted to punch my kid in the face, and my kid`s 8. So I -- the guy`s disturbed, obviously.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. OK, this is a very violent guy. The warning signs were there. Neighbors say this guy was lighting fires in his backyard, threatening children, killing and eating small animals in his yard.

Mike Brooks, why on earth did the parole officers who visited this guy have no idea that he was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and possibly extremely dangerous? And why didn`t they yank his parole when he was supposed to pay, what, $2 million for damages in setting the fire, and records show he paid less than $5,000?

BROOKS: We just heard something very similar to this. The Petit case where one of those two monsters had just gotten a bracelet off, Jane.

But the problem with the parole system -- you know, I`m not making excuses -- they just don`t have enough people. They cut back -- when they cut budgets back for either a county or a state, one of the first places they go is the corrections system, the parole, probation and parole. They cut it out. And then they give every one of the parole officers a stack of cases this big that they`re supposed to be following up on. And they just don`t have the manpower to do it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this, Mike Brooks. I agree with you. And here`s my call to action. We can`t let violent, disturbed criminals go out and unleash them on the streets after they`ve done something like set fire to a condo complex.

Anybody who commits a violent crime needs to be monitored on GPS and on lifetime parole. And now, here`s the thing.

KAVINOKY: Hold on, Jane. There`s got to be some proportionality.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, hold on one second. We`re talking about they don`t have -- they don`t have the manpower to supervise this guy.

You know how much it`s going to cost to investigate this case? Do you know how much it costs to dig all these cars out of the pond? Do you know how much it`s going to cost to prosecute this case? Millions of dollars.

So we have a choice of spending the millions of dollars beforehand and saving lives or we can wait until the crime occurs and then reactively, throw caution to the wind and spend millions after the fact.

Denise, Ohio, your question or thought.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. I love your show. Thank you so much. I just have a quick comment. I`m from the area, and this isn`t -- this is not surprising that this happened, based on the fact that there`s been numerous calls to police for months about incidents with folks. I don`t even know if it`s the same person.

But when the police are called about odd things happening in the community, they don`t respond, and they say that they can`t do anything about it until he commits a crime. And it`s kind of odd, because things were kind of weird about three months ago, and then I saw this two days ago and I just couldn`t believe it. So they need to...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are always warning signs, and our society needs to do a much better job at listening to those warning signs.

Thank you, fantastic panel.



BETH TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY`S MOTHER: When I hear you, Ron, what I`m hearing, though, he doesn`t know, Larry, if Natalee was alive or not when he decided to dispose of her body. So yes, he is a murderer, Larry, to me. No way a 17-year-old can make a decision whether a young woman is alive or not. She could have been in a coma easily.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a shocking discovery in Aruba. Tourists stumble across a jawbone with teeth laying [SIC] in the sand. Officials say this jaw could belong to missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway. She vanished five long years ago while vacationing on that island. The bone was found along this stretch of beach. There you see it right there.

Now, apparently this jawbone has one molar still intact. Investigators are matching that up with Natalee`s dental records as we speak. This beach is close to a swamp which is where Joran Van Der Sloot, the young man who has long been suspected in being involved in Natalee`s disappearance, once confessed he dumped the body.

If this bone belongs to Natalee, it would be the first physical evidence of her death. Will her longsuffering parents finally get answers?

Straight out to Jean Casarez, correspondent with "In Session."

Jean, this could be big news. Spell out the potential significance for us.

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": Well, it has three names, Joran Van Der Sloot. Because Joran Van Der Sloot has confessed, placed himself in the midst of when she died, saying he was there. And then there`s been different factual scenarios. Then the prosecutors in Aruba have said, we`ve never brought charges because we don`t have any physical evidenced to corroborate his story.

Well, his last story, Jane, was in that very close proximity that they dumped her body in a swamp area. And now this partial human jaw with a tooth -- and CNN is confirming the prosecutors are saying that it very likely is a human female. If it`s found to be Natalee Holloway, then his story that`s on tape is corroborated, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. The thing is, though, he has told so many lies that any discovery of bones on that small island would undoubtedly dovetail with some story he`s told. I think it`s very significant that you`re saying that it does look like, at least at first glance, a human female. You`re saying that that is what it looks like?

CASAREZ: Yes. What CNN is reporting is that medical examiners, forensic specialists in Aruba looked at it, believed it was human, believed it was a small female, and has now physically taken it to the Hague where the DNA is being analyzed to see if it is that of Natalee Holloway.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Joran Van Der Sloot currently sitting behind bars in Peru. He`s charged with killing a 21-year-old Peruvian girl he met at a casino. Stephany Flores went back to Joran`s hotel room, where he allegedly murdered her with his bare hands.

Jean, do we have any idea what Joran`s reaction was while behind bars to the discovery of this bone that could belong to Natalee Holloway, because that could be very telling?

CASAREZ: Yes, it could be. His reaction inside the walls of Castro Castro (ph), I don`t think it`s known yet. The question is, has he been told? Has this gotten down to Peru? Possibly not. But it`s something that he may not like to hear.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Quickly, how long will we have to wait before we get the final answer?

CASAREZ: I think the Hague forensic unit is saying up to a week, but it will be in the hands of the prosecutors in Aruba, their discretion, to make it public.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Jean Casarez.

Nancy Grace at the top of the hour with the very latest on this case. Stay tuned for Nancy and the search for Natalee Holloway.

Next, a driver who killed a teenage boy now suing the victim`s devastated parents. You will not believe this story.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: A shocking discovery in the Natalee Holloway case, a jawbone washes up on an Aruba beach. Could it belong to the girl who disappeared more than five long years ago?

Plus, a perverse twist: a driver who mowed down a 14-year-old boy and is behind bars for manslaughter sues the dead boy`s devastated parents. What? This convict is blaming them for their son`s horrific death. You will not believe why.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve gone to see every one of his games, whether it was basketball, baseball or football. I`m going to miss him dearly.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a reckless, speeding driver who mowed down and killed a 14-year-old boy who was just riding his bike on a Connecticut street is now suing the devastated parents of that little boy.

What makes this slap in the face even more outrageous is that the killer, David Weaving, has a long history of drinking and driving. This guy should not have had a driver`s license in the first place. Worse yet, state officials admit after the fact that they goofed by not revoking this man`s license.

Five DUIs in his past -- five. The victim was a handsome, popular kid named Matthew Kenny. Matthew`s parents sued the killer/driver after he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years.

And now three years after this horrific tragedy, the convict with apparently plenty of time behind bars, has turned around and sued the dead boy`s parents. He has the nerve to claim that they`re to blame for their precious son`s death because -- are you ready -- the boy wasn`t wearing a helmet.

Excuse me. Prosecutors say that you, ok, you behind bars were going twice the speed limit, 84 miles an hour in a 45-mile-an-hour zone.

Tonight, these heartbroken parents are crying out, enough. Leave us alone and just serve your time already. I want to hear from you at home, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

First to a very special guest, Laura Dean Mooney; Laura`s husband was killed by a drunk driver in 1991. Laura is now the president of MADD, Mothers against Drunk Driving. Laura, how mad does this lawsuit against these grieving parents make you tonight?

LAURA DEAN MOONEY, PRESIDENT, MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING: It makes me extremely mad. It makes me more heartbroken and sad for this family. Matthew died. Now they`re being -- regurgitating their grief, having to go through it again by this convicted offender, who had as you mentioned four or five priors, reliving the grief again. It breaks my heart.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we reached out to the attorney for this guy behind bars, and he called us back and explained that he`s only representing this guy in the criminal appeal. This killer-driver basically is representing himself in this lawsuit.

Here`s my big issue. Was this a DMV disaster? Why on earth was this man on the road? He has five DUIs on his record. Why wasn`t his license yanked?

The Department of Motor Vehicles admits they made a mistake. But that`s after the fact. A child is dead. It`s too late, DMV.

Meantime, not only is the killer suing the victim`s parents, the parents are trying to sue the DMV. No one representing the DMV was available for comment, but Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney, DMV officials may be arguing that this devastated family doesn`t even have the right to sue them. Tell us about that.

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well. Yes. This is going to be an interesting issue. The parents obviously are trying to put forth the position that this guy never should have been on the road in the first place and the DMV has already admitted the error. I think the factual question is going to be, as it often is in the case of unlicensed drivers, whether having a license in the first place or not having a license is going to keep somebody off the road. Of course, the interesting thing -- and I understand why people are so outraged about this man who`s in prison now filing a lawsuit saying that the parents bear some responsibility. But there is an analogy between what the parents are doing dragging the DMV into the lawsuit saying that it was the DMV`s fault -- there is at least some --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. Because the parents did nothing wrong. Let me tell you, I think that there is an arrogance on the part of -- let me go to Mike Brooks on this because I know you drive a motorcycle, Mike, and I try to bike all the time. I`m afraid of biking because there is an attitude of arrogance among a lot of drivers that people who are biking do not belong on the road and are somehow getting in their way and it`s, like, out of my way mentality. And this is an extreme example of that.

I`m not equating all drivers with this man. But I am saying that it`s kind of an extreme example of this attitude of arrogance that anybody who is on something that isn`t a big car or an SUV doesn`t belong on the road, Mike.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. If you`re in a -- you know, motorcyclists call them big cages that they drive down the road in. No, you`re right, though. But I tell you what, Jane, the DMV screwed up. He should have been permanently -- permanently, had his license pulled in 1999. Because these DUIs, these five DUIs that he was convicted of, they all happened in the late `90s. There`s no way, no way, that this guy can ever bring lawsuit on this boy`s parents, period.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to say this. He wasn`t accused of driving drunk at the time that he hit this particular child. But he was going more than twice the speed limit and he has a history of DUI. Now, I have to ask --

KAVINOKY: The interesting legal issue is, though, Jane, if there is contributory negligence, that is, if the person that was injured had some responsibility in causing that injury there are some states that --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Give me a break. This kid was just on the road biking. Yes, people should wear helmets, but he is not responsible for his own death. His parents aren`t responsible. This guy was speeding.

MOONEY: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This guy is responsible, Laura Dean Mooney.

MOONEY: Absolutely you`re right, Jane. You know, it`s ironic and it`s a frivolous lawsuit that this guy is trying to bring. This boy, Matthew -- let`s not forget his name, he was a real person -- he did nothing wrong. This guy was a convicted drunk driver in the past. Who knows? He may have been drunk that night and not tested or charged for that.

Unfortunately, just like many people who are revoked permanently, they continue to drive. That`s why MADD is pushing for interlocks on all cars. If they`re convicted, they need to be able to drive legally and they need to have an interlock on their car. We might not be having this story here and Matthew might not have died --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s an interlock? What`s an interlock, tell us?

MOONEY: An alcohol ignition (ph) interlock; it`s an in-car breathalyzer for convicted drunk drivers only. They have to blow into it to start their car. If they`re not drunk, their car will start. They can go on their way. They just can`t drive drunk --


MOONEY: -- and risk killing a Matthew.

BROOKS: That is a great idea --


BROOKS: We`ve seen that happen too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes. But at least we could take some action against them.

BROOKS: Do something, you know?

MOONEY: Absolutely. VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Lori, Pennsylvania, your question or thought, ma`am.

LORI, PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): Yes. I was just wondering, is there an age limit that the child has to wear a helmet in that state? In Pennsylvania, any child over 12 is not required to wear one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s another good question, Laura Dean-Mooney. I do not know the age requirements on the helmets. I personally, being an actual bicyclist myself, always wore a helmet. I think it`s always a good idea. But we have no knowledge that even if he was wearing a helmet -- he might have died. When somebody is going 85 miles an hour and hits you, the chance of you dying, Mike Brooks, is unfortunately pretty good.

BROOKS: Oh, absolutely. Traumatic injuries on a bicycle -- even just falling off of a bicycle on to the road. Look at the conditions on the night of the accident, too, Jane. I mean, you could even be going the speed limit and that would have been too fast for the conditions at hand the night of the accident that Matthew was killed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have to ask this. Are we seeing a resurgence of drinking and driving? Certainly, who can forget the horrific story of the so-called wrong-way driver, Diane Schuler? Cops say she was drunk and high when she smashed into an oncoming car, killing herself and seven other people including four children.

And then -- take a look at this -- I was reading "The New York Post" yesterday. Every time I open the paper there`s another horrific story. There were with two in the "New York Post" yesterday.

So I have to ask you, Laura Dean-Mooney, are we starting to see a resurgence of drunk driving? I hope not.

MOONEY: We`re not. It`s never gone away. It`s actually gotten a little bit better, but it`s still horrific when you have over 10,800 Americans dying every year in a 100 percent preventable crime. It`s why we do the things that we do in MADD. It`s why we served 57,000 victim survivors last year. It`s why we`re pushing for the alcohol ignition interlock and it`s why we continue to do the things that we do to try to save lives and prevent injuries. It`s got to stop.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s got to stop. Please do not even have so much as one drink and drive. It`s really not worth the risk.

Thank you, fabulous panel.

A five-year-old tragically dies after by being attacked by a pack of dogs. Who`s to blame for this heartbreaking death and how can we prevent it from happening again? I want to hear from you about this very controversial story, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Plus, Oksana Grigorieva -- remember her -- she sits down for her first exclusive tell-all public interview about her bitter battle with Mel Gibson.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A 5-year-old dies after an attack by a pack of dogs. Who`s to blame? That`s in a minute.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Oh yes, Mel Gibson`s ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva is Larry King`s guest tomorrow night. And she speaks out for the first time publicly about her bitter dispute with the actor and the father of her daughter. Watch as she talks about forgiving Mel after she claims he beat her. He says, oh, I just slapped her. We reached out to Mel Gibson and his people for a response but did not get one.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Why, Oksana, did you tape him?

OKSANA GRIGORIEVA, MEL GIBSON`S EX-GIRLFIEND: There`s a few reasons. I started taping at around 11:00 because I thought, I`m actually I`m not going to live through the night. I`m actually not going to live through the night and nobody --

KING: He`s going to come over and kill you?

GRIGORIEVA: Yes. That`s what he said in those tapes. If you heard them without the interruption, without --


KING: You`ll get some more, yes. They were edited maybe.

GRIGORIEVA: Yes. I mean, I have non-edited and it`s pretty frightening and it`s completely unforgivable.

KING: So you we`re taping him and the thought that you`d be killed and you wanted the world to hear this.

GRIGORIEVA: I wanted my mother to be able to prove that if I`m dead that this is who did it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mel Gibson has not responded to CNN`s request for a response. See the full exclusive with Oksana Grigorieva Wednesday night on "Larry King Live".

That is tonight`s "Top of the Block".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever shown any kind of aggressiveness like they showed out there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never, never, never. All the kids in the neighborhood know the dogs. They come get the dogs, take the dogs for walks.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That man`s precious daughter was mauled by two neighborhood dogs. Tonight, another family living a similar nightmare but in this case their 5-year-old boy is dead. He was playing in his backyard when cops say 11 dogs from next door came under the fence and attacked. How is it that 11 dogs suddenly are able to go underneath a fence? It happened in Phoenix City, Alabama.

Cops say 5-year-old Cason Bryant was caught in the middle of a horrific battle involving as many as a dozen dogs. Now, we`ve got this photo of little Cason from WTVM. Look at that beautiful little boy. The sheriff told ISSUES that Cason was in the backyard with his own dog when 11 neighborhood dogs or dogs from the neighbor on the other side of the fence squeezed under the fence.

The Sheriff says it appears the dogs were attacking the boy`s dog and Cason got caught in the middle. And he could have been bitten by at least five dogs. All 11 dogs, all 12 dogs I think have been put down tonight; 11 dogs next door. That seems like a lot. And the sheriff says these 11 dogs have a history with the victim`s dog.

These are not the dogs in question. These are just file tape of dogs. We were -- were enough precautions taken to make sure that the dogs stayed in their own backyard? Who was watching the child in the yard while the 5- year-old was playing with his dog? What do you think about this story? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: we begin with Joe Panz, he`s part of National Geographic`s animal rescue group Rescue Ink; they`ve got a fabulous show. Joe, what is your take on this really horrific tragedy?

JOE PANZ, RESCUE INK: Well, it is a tragedy. And the thing we have to do here is we have to make sure that this -- this is averted and never happens again it`s -- it`s always tragic when -- when -- when a child -- when a child is killed and we have to make sure that the people that own these dogs are responsible dog owners. You know, these dogs, who have been said that they were roaming around the streets and stuff like that.

Everybody has to support your local animal care and control. They are the people actively go out and they pick these dogs up and they make sure that they are -- their owners are responsible for them so they don`t just roam around freely.

And these dogs have been known to be aggressive because there was a little bit of the story that said the dogs went after one of the neighbor`s peacocks. Now, you know that aggression right there shows that these dogs -- there`s a little bit of a problem there. And Animal Care and Control has to take these dogs in and -- and see what the problem is. They have to --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, all the dogs are dead tonight. They`ve been put you down. But here`s my big issue. This is a horrific tragedy. My heart goes out to the family, my condolences. Nevertheless, to prevent this from happening in the future, we have to ask, whose fault here, people or pets?

At the end of the day, when dogs get out of control, in my opinion, it`s always a case of human responsibility. As you said, Joe, these are domesticated animals. These are not wolves born in the wild.

If you have 11 dogs, you better make sure they can`t get out from under a fence. Ok? I -- I wonder how it is that they suddenly got out from under a fence or if there was a certain amount of neglect there and they were allowed to dig day after day and then -- well, of course eventually -- it`s going to have to be a pretty big hole Sheriff-Elect Heath Taylor, for 11 dogs to suddenly jump under a fence. What do you have to say about that, Sheriff? Hey, Sheriff, are you there?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, yes, what about this -- this -- these 11 dogs getting under the fence all of a sudden?

TAYLOR: I can hear you now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes what -- what about these 11 dogs getting under the fence all of a sudden from the neighbor?

TAYLOR: Well, there`s -- there`s no indication that 11 dogs came under the fence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Say that again sir.

TAYLOR: Can you hear me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Yes, tell me what you just said. All right, look.

TAYLOR: Can you hear me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Sheriff-elect, I can hear you. Can you hear me, sir?

TAYLOR: I can.


TAYLOR: Their -- the investigation reveals that there were -- there are 11 dogs at the neighbor`s house. However, it -- it appears that the victim`s dog and their dogs got into a fight with five of the neighbor`s dogs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. But, sir, my question to you is, how do 11 dogs suddenly get under a fence without some kind of neglect? Are you investigating whether or not you`re going to file criminal charges against the owner of the 11 dogs?

TAYLOR: We are. At present time, we searched the property line completely to make sure that there wasn`t any neglect along the fence line. We saw one place that was kind of a (INAUDIBLE) out area. It had to be where the dogs came under. It certainly was big enough. But it wasn`t a very old case, old spot, but the case is going to be presented to a grand jury and if a grand jury decides to bring criminal charges, then that`s the way it will fall.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me ask you, Sheriff-Elect, who was watching the child when the 5-year-old was playing in the yard with his dog?

TAYLOR: The grandparent of the child and an uncle of the child was inside the residence. They claimed that the child, you know, obviously came out for a short period of time.

These animals are not strange to this child. There were no previous reports, no previous --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was anybody physically with the child? Was anybody physically with the child at the time that this attack occurred? Physically observing the child?

TAYLOR: No, there wasn`t, and that`s part of the investigation that will be presented to the grand jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side. Thank you sir.



TOMMIE INGRAM, ERIN`S FATHER: I`m really outraged that it`s just a misdemeanor. My daughter could lose half a limb off her body and it`s just a misdemeanor. That just don`t sit well.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the father of an 8-year-old Georgia girl who lost part of her arm when two dogs roamed from a neighbor`s home and attacked her in March. He wants to know why owners of dogs who attack don`t face stiff charges.

Jeff Brown, what is the most a pet owner could face if their dog attacks?

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it`s all controlled by statutes and by states. Most states don`t have laws such as they did in California for the famous dog mauling case which allowed them to criminally prosecute the owners of the dog for the attack.

So it all depends upon the state. You may have civil damages where you`re entitled to be compensated if you know your dog is vicious, or you`re careless in allowing that dog out, but it`s all driven by states and a lot of states don`t have criminal charges for a dog attacking somebody. So really, it`s all driven by those states.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rich in Pennsylvania, your question or thought?

RICH, PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): Yes. I have a quick comment on this situation here. I think that these people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I mean, just like the case in San Francisco that he just mentioned, they were charged with murder. I see no difference here. I mean, the kid was defenseless. Eleven dogs -- what gives those people the right to have 11 dogs in their home? I don`t understand it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want -- let me go -- I think you`re raising a good point and it brings me to my call to action tonight, and for that, I want to turn to, for a moment, Bob Barker. Let`s listen to what he always says.


BOB BARKER, ANIMAL ACTIVIST: Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have your pet spayed and neutered. Eleven dogs is a lot. I certainly would like to know if these dogs were spayed or neutered because unneutered animals are generally more aggressive.

Joe Panz from Rescue Ink, isn`t the problem that we have so many dogs in this country, millions and millions are put down in shelters every year because people don`t spay and neuter their dogs and there`s a lot of dogs. If we had less dogs, we would all be able to have a few dogs or a couple of dogs or even one dog or two dogs, and be able to care for them responsibly?

PANZ: Correct. You`re 100 percent right. Everybody should spay and neuter their animals. The animal`s a lot healthier when it`s spayed and neutered and it lives a happier life. It`s less aggressive.

Another thing with these dogs running around when they`re in that pack, they have that pack mentality as we said before, that these dogs were roaming around from time to time. You know, neutered dogs are less aggressive and you got to watch out.

You also have to really support your local shelters and you have to go to your local shelters if you want a dog, go there and there are so many dogs out there because you have these people that are just letting their dogs roam around. They`re not spaying and neutering and they`re reproducing in epic proportions. That`s why all the local shelters are full. Don`t shop, adopt, you know. Wherever your local shelter is, you definitely have a dog there that wants to come home with you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Dr. Dale Archer, obviously this is a terrible tragedy. Again, my heart goes out to this family. The parents are at work, the grandparents are trying to help, the grandmother or grandparent and uncle in the house. But would you recommend that if a little boy`s 5 years old, they would definitely always be watched eyeball to eyeball if you`re with a dog and then there`s 11 dogs next door?

DR. DALE ARCHER, PSYCHIATRIST: Yes. There`s no doubt about it. I think that personal responsibility comes into play. If you have a child that`s 5 years of age, you don`t let them outside alone with the dog without keeping a total eye on them. Also, if you are a pet owner, you are responsible for your pets -- period, end of story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the bottom line.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Again, our hearts go out to this family.