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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Seaside Serial Killer Sought; Misty Changes Story about Haleigh Cummings; Shooting Rampage; Sex Change Threats from DMV?
Aired December 15, 2010 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, escalating fear as the FBI is called in to investigate what`s now being called the Long Island Craigslist serial killer. Cops announce all the bodies found on a New York beach are women, a theory now emerging that a serial killer targeted prostitutes he met online and then brutally murdered them. Could he be a john or possibly a pimp? And is a prostitute`s terrifying 911 call the key to this case?
Plus, a stunning twist in the Haleigh Cummings case. Misty Croslin sings a different tune, again, telling yet another story about what happened to Haleigh. Is this little girl alive?
And a jaw-dropping shootout at a school-board meeting. This guy points a gun and fires a slew of shots at stunned school-board members. You`ll see the unbelievable video of a courageous woman who risked her own life to save her colleagues. And I`ll talk live to people who were in the room when it all went down.
Then, a transgender woman is suing now. She claims she went to the DMV to change the name on her license, but you won`t believe what happened next. I`ll talk to her tonight in a live, primetime exclusive.
ISSUES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMISSIONER RICHARD DORMER, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK: I don`t think it`s a coincidence that four bodies ended up in this area. You know, that`s a good -- you know, that`s a good direction to go, that they were all dumped here by the same person. We`re looking at that, that we could have a serial killer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the FBI is brought in on day five of a massive manhunt for a seashore serial killer. Cops fear a modern-day Jack the Ripper is on the loose in Long Island, hunting his victims on Craigslist, prowling exclusive Manhattan suburbs and using pristine sandy beaches as his own personal graveyard.
Four bodies have been found dumped along a quarter-mile stretch of deserted highway. Two skeletons were dumped in the sand at the edge of the marshy shoreline. And two more bodies were found stuffed into burlap bags. Imagine that.
Tonight, cops have confirmed all four bodies are women. And now they`re furiously working to identify those women through dental records and DNA testing.
Now here is the theory cops are working on tonight, that some sicko out there is targeting women who worked as prostitutes or escorts. Certainly wouldn`t be the first time a killer went for vulnerable women who might not be immediately missed or might fear going to the cops.
Police stumbled upon the bodies while searching for a missing 24-year- old prostitute named Shannon Gilbert, who often met johns through Craigslist. She disappeared back in May right in that area, same area, after making a terrified 911 call, telling the operator she feared the man she was with was going to kill her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARI GILBERT, VICTIM`S MOTHER: Her last phone call was 23 minutes to 911 when she was grabbed and pulled into this truck. The police missed her by five minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was basically running away, trying to leave. And he -- it was her saying, "Get away from me. Get away from me." And she was running and knocking on neighbors` doors and...
GILBERT: Screaming, "He`s trying to kill me."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All this happened back in May. Why are we just learning about it tonight in December?
Tonight, frightening new details are emerging about this young woman`s dangerous life as a working girl. Could the man Shannon was screaming about be her john or her pimp? Could this mystery man be the serial killer?
Give me a call. What`s your theory? 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877- 586-7297.
Straight out to my expert panel. We begin with Mona Rivera, reporter with 1010 wins. You were at the scene. What is the very latest, Mona?
MONA RIVERA, REPORTER, 1010 WINS (via phone): And Jane, I can tell you that I was out at that scene all day yesterday. Very, very cold. It`s a very, very desolate stretch of beachfront. It`s east of Jones Beach, for our listeners, about 45 miles east of New York City.
And in between all the sand that I was looking at alongside this highway, a very remote highway, there`s plenty of scrub, a lot of brush, very easy to hide bodies there. And in fact, that is where these bodies were found.
And today, very little searching was done. No new remains were found. But as you said, more information was revealed about the four bodies that have turned up.
We learned from Suffolk County police that all the bodies are female. There`s still no word yet on who these women are, who dumped them here.
Police, as you mentioned, are operating under the assumption that a serial killer did this, that a killer may have met these women through Craigslist, set up meetings with them, murdered them, and then dumped the bodies out a car at this remote seaside location. And they were all found spread within a quarter-mile area.
I spoke with someone from the FBI today who said that they have officially gotten involved in the case. They actually came out to Suffolk County to meet with police here to go over exactly what needs to be done to identify these four women and find whoever killed them. The FBI is offering Suffolk County Police forensic help, use of their crime lab, their expertise in behavioral sciences related to serial killers.
And I also spoke with a relative of a prostitute who went missing on Long Island. We know of at least two prostitutes who disappeared here last spring. And let me tell you, Jane, their families, as you said, are full of anxiety, fearing the worst, having nightmares that this could be another Jack the Ripper.
Yes, this is -- is heart-wrenching for those families. Police believe one of the bodies could belong to a missing Maine mom, 22-year-old Megan Waterman, who police describe as an escort, vanished in June after she went to Long Island for a rendezvous with a client that she reportedly met on Craigslist.
Now we are very pleased to have Megan`s mom with us tonight, Lorraine Ela.
Lorraine, first of all, thank you for joining us. I cannot imagine what you`re going through right now. First of all, what have cops told you about these remains, and their possible connection to your daughter?
LORRAINE ELA, MOTHER OF MEGAN WATERMAN (via phone): The only thing that they said was they do -- that they do think Megan is one of the -- one victim, one of the victims. We don`t know. Nobody knows. And nobody will know until DNA or dental records are done.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was your -- what is your family going through tonight as you sit on pins and needles and wait for this DNA testing, which could take at least a couple of weeks?
ELA: We`re all holding on pretty good for the most part. We`re not giving up hope. We are hoping that it`s not Megan.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You have said your daughter -- and I`m going to quote you now -- wasn`t a, quote, "$20 corner girl." And you say she told you she had rich clients, like doctors, police officers, and famous people. Can you explain what you meant by that?
ELA: OK. I had said what?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You were quoted as saying that your daughter was not a $20 corner girl, that she was an escort who had rich clients like doctors, police officers and famous people. Can you explain what you meant by that? That`s what your quote is.
ELA: That was never quoted from me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Are you concerned that the person that she allegedly hooked up with on Craigslist could be the person responsible for her death and the others?
ELA: I`m not really sure. I don`t know if -- when Megan went missing, if it was a john that she went out to meet. Or if it was somebody totally different.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what did she tell you? What was the last thing you heard from your daughter?
ELA: The last time I had talked to my daughter was like five days before she went to New York, Memorial Day weekend.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy -- if you hold on, Ms. Ela, thank you so much. And again, our hearts go out to you.
Wendy Murphy, this is such a disturbing case, because in the case of Shannon Gilbert, we`re going to talk about in a moment, she disappeared back in May. Why were authorities going through this area near where she disappeared in December? Why weren`t they doing that in May with a bunch of dogs?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. You know the answer, Jane. It`s that these are throw-away women society doesn`t care about. Law enforcement doesn`t prioritize when prostituted women go missing. And shame on us for living in a society where, you know, there`s a pecking order of people`s value.
It`s not the first time. Juarez, you know, in southwest United States, huge amounts of prostituted women went missing. Massachusetts has had its share of serial killers of prostituted women. It`s embarrassing.
And I`ll tell you this, the other reason, is that this is a fancy- pants part of the country. You know, the last thing in the world anyone there would tolerate was the inspection, or suspicion levied against any of the people who live on fancy parts like Fire Island. God forbid that should get out.
And, you know, people in that area, I think, have a lot of authority and control over the media. The media and the law enforcement officials are not going to do anything to smear the reputation of that area. And so four women are dead now. Shame on everybody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and Pat Brown, criminal profiler, the "New York Post" is claiming that Shannon`s relatives say cops have I.D.`d Shannon Gilbert`s last customer, the john, that he lives in the area near where these bodies were found, that they talked to him, that he allegedly admits that this woman was there, but left when she became agitated, and that one of his neighbors said that there was a woman in a panic, who ran around saying, "Help me."
And then some guy comes up and says, "You better not have called the cops," or words to that effect. What do you make of that?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, they`ve got -- they`ve got a lot of stories to sort out there. But this is one of the things these guys can get away with. We are talking about girls that get grabbed off the streets. That`s the most dangerous place, because somebody can just pull up, take her away, and nobody knows where she went to.
When you`re on an escort service like Craigslist, obviously, you have to have a location or a hotel room or somebody`s house that you`re going to. Theoretically, they can do a phone call. You could have the address in your BlackBerry or written down. Hopefully, you leave it someplace for somebody else. But if you go and you don`t leave that information, you can just vanish and nobody knows. Or the guy can simply say, "Yes, I did hire her, but she left." You`ve got to prove she didn`t.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and why would anyone -- she supposedly met somebody on Fire Island. You have to take a ferry to get to Fire Island. You can`t drive there. Why on earth would you meet anybody on Fire Island, which is near this area? That`s a mystery.
We`re going to be back in just a moment. We`re just getting started. We`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.
Plus, she was babysitting 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, when that little girl disappeared. Now police say Haleigh is dead. But tonight Misty Croslin is telling another story. She insists now that Haleigh is alive. That`s coming up.
And more on the seashore serial killer. Is there a Jack the Ripper copycat attacking women of the night on Long Island?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DORMER: I don`t think it`s a coincidence that four bodies ended up in this area. You know, that`s a good -- you know, that`s a good direction to go, that they were all dumped here by the same person. We`re looking at that, that we could have a serial killer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven`t slept in two nights. I could have saved that girl if I`d have known something was going to happen. I could have kept her from getting out of here. That weighs heavily on your mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is there a serial killer on the loose in Long Island?
In the bizarre last moments before she vanished, missing prostitute Shannon Gilbert may have left clues as to who this serial killer is. Shannon arranged to meet up with a john from Craigslist on Fire Island, of all places, a small beach town on the southern tip of Long Island you can only get to by ferry or boat.
Later that night, she frantically called 911, screaming the man she was with was trying to kill her. Then she banged on a neighbor`s door, saying a man in an SUV was chasing her before darting into the night. I believe you just heard from one of her neighbors there.
Police have reportedly questioned the john Shannon was meeting that night, and he told them, allegedly, that she was with him for hours and then suddenly got agitated and left. Her driver has also allegedly been questioned. But what about her pimp? Could that be the man she was afraid of? We don`t know.
Cindy, Indiana, your question or thought?
CALLER: Yes, Jane, I believe last night you stated that the area there was heavy -- heavily patrolled by officers to make sure that no one parked along there, because of the beach area. And I was just wondering, all of a sudden Sunday, after this last gal has been missing since, I believe May, officers find her. I`m just putting this out there. I can go to a farm feed store and buy bags, the feed bags. I`m just saying if a cop comes after May and all of a sudden turns up the body, I think I wouldn`t quite turn away from the cop either. Because (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bodies.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s an interesting conspiracy theory. Listen, I might -- Robi Ludwig, say that cops should be searching in that area sooner given that -- the frantic 911 call back in May. But to go and say that the cops planted these bodies, that`s something else again. I think that`s far fetched, frankly, with all due respect.
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Yes, kind of like a novel-esque interpretation. But I think what Mary said is absolutely true. We live in a very puritanical society, where women who are prostitutes are not really taken seriously, perhaps even judged. We also know it`s a dangerous profession for a whole host of reasons.
And so that`s why these women somehow end up at the bottom of the list. It also sounds like it wasn`t exactly clear what was going on until recently.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you bring me to my big issue: vulnerable victims. Prostitutes have long been targets.
A look at this 20th century movie about Jack the Ripper called "From Hell" that starred Johnny Depp. But it was based on a real-life story of a real person called Jack the Ripper who targeted prostitutes on the streets of London in the -- I think it was back in the 1880s, because they were harder to trace and were less likely to be missed.
Now, this crime certainly fits the pattern. In fact, this killer was so unconcerned about being caught, cops say he didn`t even try to conceal the bodies out in Long Island. Some had been there up to two years.
When they found out this was the last place Shannon Gilbert was seen back in May, again, it just strikes me as unbelievable. And I`ll throw it to Pat Brown. Why not immediately use search dogs to go into this area? Could it be because she was a prostitute?
BROWN: Well, I think the biggest problem is, it`s not so much that the police don`t care about the women. It`s that the women have had -- the women may have had histories of disappearing, going different places. And what happens is when you hear about that history, you think, "I cannot chase every woman down who goes missing, especially when she travels around a lot and she does go with johns and maybe gets into drugs. Who knows?"
It`s kind of like with the miss -- you know, teenagers, you know, people say, "My teenager didn`t come home last night." Not very police officer can run after every single teenager, because 95 percent of them show up because they`re down the street. And...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you buy it, Wendy? Do you buy it?
MURPHY: She was calling 911 saying, "He`s going to kill me. Help me, I`m going to get killed."
You know, I don`t disagree that there are sometimes circumstances that make cops go, "Well, I`m not that worried. It doesn`t sound like the M.O. that we`re worried about."
She was screaming on 911 that she was going to be killed. That`s when you do everything, because human life is at stake, whether you`re a prostitute or the queen of England.
And the thing is, I really believe this is about where she disappeared. A smart serial killer, whether he`s wealthy or not, knows that there`s nothing better, if you`re looking to dump a body in a place no one is going to suspect a dead prostitute`s body will show up, it`s on a fancy island like, you know, Fire Island. That`s what I think is so in disbelief.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This wasn`t on Fire Island. This is near Fire Island, but it`s not on Fire Island.
BROWN: It`s just convenient. It`s just convenient, that`s all.
MURPHY: I don`t necessarily agree that...
BROWN: ... it was on the side of the road in a body bag.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time, ladies. I get in trouble when two people talk. Not you, me.
Pat Brown, this is what I don`t understand, why would anybody agree to meet somebody on Fire Island where you can`t even access it by car, you have to take a ferry or a boat? That strikes me as a setup right there.
BROWN: We`re talking about escort services. You know, you get a lot more money than you do on the streets. You may be getting $100, $200, may be getting a $500, $1,000 for the night. So if it`s a big enough amount of money...
BROWN: ... you go there.
LUDWIG: But also the prostitutes, there -- there is a self- destructive component to prostitutes. That doesn`t mean that they should be killed. It doesn`t mean that these things shouldn`t be pursued. But I think a lot of these women live on the edge, and they are putting their lives at risk.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Shannon Gilbert`s neighbors...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... complained about her crazy lifestyle and said there was screaming and people coming and going at all hours of the night.
Now, I have to bring in one other angle briefly. Prosecutors in Atlantic City, New Jersey, say they`ve been in contact with the cops on Long Island because there might be a connection to four bodies, unsolved murders in Atlantic City. Guess who the victims were? Prostitutes. Four prostitutes. The case never solved.
So there is a possibility that there`s a connection between these four prostitutes here in Atlantic City, where they gamble, and the prostitutes and the women on Long Island.
We`re going to continue to stay on top of this story. Thank you, fantastic panel.
And coming up, a twisted paranoid bitter man goes on a shooting spree inside a school-board meeting. We`ve got the latest breaking details just coming in about his motive.
Up next, Misty Croslin`s new story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLORA HOLLERS, MISTY CROSLIN`S GRANDMOTHER: She told me, she says, "Nanny, Joe came in -- well, Tommy was there, too, at the time." And she said Joe came in looking for the machine gun that Ron had, because he was going to steal it. And it wasn`t there. And he started swinging his knife and telling everybody that he would kill them if they said anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s just one version Misty Cummings offered up to her grandma of what happened to little Haleigh Cummings. When the child vanished in February 2009 on her watch, Misty reportedly told a slew of other stories, too. But guess what? Tonight, Misty is reverting back, reportedly, to her original story that she was asleep.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MISTY CROSLIN, RON CUMMINGS`S EX-WIFE: I got up because I had to use the bathroom, but I didn`t make it to the bathroom. I seen the kitchen light on and I walked in the kitchen and the back door was open. I mean, I didn`t notice about Haleigh then until I seen the back door open. And I go in the room and she`s gone. And that`s all I know. Is when I woke up. When I went to sleep, she was there. And then when I woke up, she was gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigative journalist Art Harris, Misty is also now claiming that little Haleigh is alive? What?
ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: That was my reaction, Jane, when I obtained these letters from prison she`s written, from the women`s prison in Florida to her grandmother, five-page letter saying she believes in her heart that Haleigh is alive. It`s pretty amazing.
I just had to sit on it and report and find out what law enforcement thought of it, who -- folks who know her writing, what they think of it. It is definitely not written by her, at least most of the letter. It is not really in her voice, according to her lawyer.
But it talks about in her heart she knows Haleigh is alive. And she says in this letter, on ArtHarris.com, "Everyone wants to know what happened. I was asleep. How can I say anything when there is nothing to say? How can I be quiet when I want to scream? Listen to me. Haleigh is not dead. Find her. Does anyone care?"
Anyway, it goes on very, very self-serving. Misty as victim.
We have seen, Jane, you know, Misty the party girl, Misty the babysitter, Misty the drug dealer. Now we`ve got Misty, you know, Misty the poet. She actually has a poem she`s written called "Misty`s Song." So it`s a -- it`s a very confusing hodgepodge of correspondence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, you`re in jail. You`ve got to do something. And writing poetry is obviously an option.
Now, is this all to get leniency? She was just sentenced to 25 years, but that was in one county. Now another sentencing is coming up on the drug case, right, in another county.
HARRIS: January 10 she`s back in Putnam County, facing nine counts. She`s already gotten 25 years on one count. And I talked to Major Gary Bowling, the Putnam County Sheriff`s Department. He is very happy to talk to her if she has anything to say that would help them learn what happened that night.
Now, her lawyer tells me, Jane, that she`s not doing herself any favors by allowing people to influence her and hurting her credibility even more with law enforcement by writing letters like this and not talking to him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Basically what you`re saying is you think some cell mate or something is telling -- dictating to her what to say?
HARRIS: Well, Nancy -- I mean, Jane, she is talking about what she thinks happened now, that does not involve a murder. So folks who might have felt that what she was saying before, Tommy took -- Tommy helped Cousin Joe. Who else was involved. They may be fearing she`s getting too close, and now...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. Art, interesting as always. Thank you for that report.
Coming up, chilling new details in the Florida shooting. Unbelievable.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Jaw-dropping shootout at a school board meeting. This guy points a gun and fires a slew of shots at stunned school board members. You`ll see the unbelievable video of a courageous woman who risked her own life to save her colleagues.
And I`ll talk live to people who were in the room when it all went down.
Then, a transgender woman is suing, claiming she went to the DMV to change the name on her license, but you won`t believe what happened next. I`ll talk to her tonight in a live primetime exclusive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY REGISTER, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: I get emotional about it. But hey, I`ve got a great wife. I`ve been married 40 years. And I`ve got two great kids. And I`m not ready to die.
RYAN NEVES, CHAIRMAN, BAY DISTRICT FLORIDA SCHOOLS: Everybody that saw the live stream or anybody that was in the building, that was in that room, this is something that changes you for life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news. Cops seize a slew of bone- chilling evidence from the home of this monster, who went on this gun rampage at a school board meeting in Panama City, Florida yesterday.
We have to warn you before we show you the footage, it`s something else. It`s pretty shocking video. Thankfully the gunman, Clay Duke, an ex-con doesn`t hit anyone, but does fire repeatedly.
First, a courageous woman tries to stop him with her purse. Look at this lady -- boom -- she is a hero. We`re going to show you another angle in a second.
The horrific shooting spree ended when a veteran city cop working as a security guard shot Duke to the floor, then Duke shot himself in the head and died.
The shootout and the aftermath were terrible, but check this out. What happened before was beyond bizarre. Ok? Clay Duke spray paints a red circle with the letter V on a board room wall. Hours ago, cops revealed they went to clay`s home and took a calendar that had that very same V symbol scrawled on the date of December 14th -- happens to be yesterday`s date. And they found a DVD of the movie -- want to guess -- "V for Vendetta".
And just in, new details about this guy`s possible motive, was he avenging the firing of his wife who was dismissed from her job as a teacher?
Straight out to Daniel Carson, reporter for "The News Herald", who was in the room when the shooting broke out; Daniel, as we show the shooting, please describe to us what it was like to be in that room.
DANIEL CARSON, REPORTER, "NEWS HERALD": It was confusing at first. We don`t normally see people come up to the podium and pull out cans of spray paint, first of all. And then obviously he pulled out a gun, and it was hard to hear what he was saying. But it became clear he wanted everyone to leave the room. And we weren`t sure what was going to happen next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was there terror? Because I just want -- let`s stop for a second and let`s show the actual shooting with the natural sound. Because I was astounded when I saw this, how calm and courageous these men were. He told all the women and children to leave. And that`s when the lady tried to hit him with her purse.
Now, let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL HUSFELT, SUPERINTENDENT, FLORIDA SCHOOL: Please don`t. Please don`t. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn`t worth it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, we`ve seen it. We`ve seen it. Thank you.
Daniel Carson, I am so, so impressed at how calm -- I mean, we`re going to talk to Bill Husfelt, the superintendent, but he`s actually talking to this guy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: If it were me, I would have dove under that desk a long time ago, as soon as I saw that gun come out. I thought they were incredibly calm and courageous and dignified in the midst of this madness.
CARSON: And honestly, if their reactions would have been different, I don`t know that anyone could really hold that against them. So like you said, to have that kind of composure, is really extraordinary. And I feel like that, frankly, Mr. Husfelt bought some time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, let me go to Bill Husfelt, superintendent schools for --
CARSON: And so did Ginger -- so did Ginger Littleton.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, for Bay County. Sir, you are a magnificent, magnificent -- I saw you in action there, cool as a cucumber even though a guy is pointing a gun at you. How are you doing tonight? Bill?
All right. You know what? We`re going to get back to Bill. I guess he`s celebrating with a glass of champagne somewhere, as he deserves to.
This brings me this V here to my big issue -- for vendetta. We`re learning tonight that this character`s wife had been fired as a teacher, and she had questioned her termination. He was complaining about it. So was he out for revenge against his wife`s firing by shooting the school board? It certainly would seem that way.
They were discussing head lice at the time all this went down, which head lice is annoying, but it`s not a life-and-death matter. Firing on the other hand is one of the most common motives for gun rampages. And Duke had been complaining about the firing. The school board didn`t know what to make of it.
On his Facebook page he sounds like a paranoid, writing, "My Testament: Some people, the government-sponsored media will say I was evil, a monster, V. No, I was just born poor in a country where the wealthy manipulate, use, abuse and economically enslave 95 percent of the population."
Now, we have on our phone HLN affiliate reporter Chad Mira from WJHG. Chad, you just spoke to Clay Duke`s widow. What did she tell you?
CHAD MIRA, REPORTER, WJHG (via telephone): Basically a lot of what she was saying was just her remorse and regret that this is what had led to the shooting. You know, obviously the family`s really frustrated with financial issues. She had lost her job; her unemployment ran out this month. And then on top of that, Clay Duke had a criminal record. And he had trouble finding a job.
But, you know, a lot of what she says, she`s really sorry that it led to this. She even spoke her regrets, and apologized to Mike Jones, the security guard, who had to shoot Duke.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, did she say that she was in a relationship with him, or was she estranged? Because obviously if he`s got this V painted all over the place in his house, and walking around with the movie "V for Vendetta", she probably would have known something about it.
MIRA: You know, she said that they had a very loving, healthy relationship. They were still together. And she was clearly distraught to have just lost her husband.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So no clue that he was going to do this?
MIRA: No clue. We did find out he had bipolar disorder, but she said as far as she knew, her husband had been taking his medication regularly. But the family just wasn`t aware of how deep -- how big of effect his disorder had on him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he has a lot of problems, or he had, I should say. He`s dead now. This guy was an ex-con with a rap sheet. However, there`s no indication that he was on supervised parole. To me, that`s a big problem. If he was, it certainly wasn`t effective.
A decade ago, this guy was charged with aggravated stalking, obstructing justice for stalking an ex-girlfriend. Cops say he wore a mask and vest while wielding two guns. He threatened to kill her. He threatened to kill several others and he threatened to kill himself. When the woman drove away, he shot out her rear tire. He got five years for all that. And he got out six years ago.
Wendy Murphy, I am so sick and tired of asking whether the system dropped the ball again, you think? Where were parole officers?
WENDY MURPHY, PROFESSOR, NEW ENGLAND LAW SCHOOL: You think.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Aren`t ex-cons supposed to stay away from guns?
MURPHY: Well, that`s a real important part of the story, too. What is this guy doing with a gun, if he has mental illness, which I don`t even know how you debate that? Of course he does. Who draws a V like that before -- I mean no matter what else you think, the drawing of the V, red flag, the guy`s cookie.
How does he have a gun? It`s a really important question and I think we need to hear the answer to that one. Why do people get really low sentences when they hurt women? I don`t know, perhaps it`s because crimes against women keep getting discounted and then the bad guys keep doing increasingly worse things. That`s the nature of our country.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Oh, he stalked her, well, she got away. Oh, he shot her tire. Well, she got away. Let`s wait until he -- unfortunately our justice system, and our criminal justice system -- and I`m not holding the individual officers responsible here, they`re my heroes, the cops. But our system is so reactive, that it really has to get to this before we do something. Ok?
It has to get to this insanity of people being forced to the ground when some wing nut comes in with a gun -- there`s the cops now. But why didn`t they do something more drastic when he stalked and threatened and shot at an ex-girlfriend, Pat Brown?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: The biggest problem is they don`t recognize psychopathy. This guy -- that`s what he was, he`s a psychopath. He didn`t what he wanted from the woman, he was furious with her, was going to take it out on her. That was attempted murder and they should have looked at it that seriously.
Now he`s in midlife crisis, he`s falling apart, he`s a loser type and he`s worried about, you know, I`m nobody anymore. Or maybe I never got to be anybody -- a typical --
BROWN: Mass murderer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to get to this woman, this amazing woman with her purse. Let`s show the woman with her purse, ok? And she was basically shushed out of the room, get out of here, lady, I`m going to deal with the men folk. And she is heroic.
Let`s see her video. Come on, where is it. I don`t see it. Where`s her video?
Let`s see the next -- there`s another angle of her. This is an amazingly courageous woman. Amazingly. She`s not taking this lying down. Look at her -- wow.
She took her life into her own hands, Wendy Murphy.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. You know, I love this. It`s a little Ruth Buzzy. But you know, the funny part here, is it`s metaphoric. It`s metaphoric, here`s a woman with a purse and a guy with a gun. It`s just symbolic of the power structure in this country. Very violent men have all the danger, all the tools, all the weapons, and women have a purse and no power.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well and I think the woman --
BROWN: Hey I want to say something --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.
BROWN: This woman -- this -- I want to say something -- this woman -- this woman was already safely out of the room. She wasn`t protecting her own life. She came back to save other people`s lives. And I kind of frankly was a little shocked that once that guy turned on her, that there weren`t a bunch of men jumping on him. So --
MURPHY: There you go.
MURPHY: There you go.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There you go. She`s our hero. Fantastic panel, thank you.
Up next, a transgender woman comes face-to-face with bigotry at the DMV. All she needed was a new driver`s license she ended up getting hate mail threats and condemnation. She`s going to share her story in an ISSUES primetime exclusive. You need to hear it, because something like this could happen to others.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Turning now to an outrageous case of hate and prejudice that frantically turns my stomach. Tonight, a primetime ISSUES exclusive with a transgender female who fears for her safety tonight. Twenty-three-year-old Amber Yust needed a new driver`s license to reflect her sex change. Little did she know that the DMV employee who, quote- unquote, "helped her at the counter" would later allegedly send her some very hateful and threatening mail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER YUST, TRANSGENDER WOMAN SUING DMV: What I am doing is evil and that I`m going to burn in hell and that I should die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, four days after going to the DMV, she got a shocking letter. Here are some of the highlights, or lowlights. Quote, "Jesus clearly prohibits gender change operations." Her choice to have one was, quote, "a very evil decision." This guy also informed her that homosexuality was, quote, "an abomination that leads to hell and cries for vengeance". Cries for vengeance, he said.
Now that sounds like a threat to me. I have the letter right here in my hand. And I`ve read it. It sounds like it`s very threatening.
And it gets worse. That same day a DVD arrived from a fundamentalist church warning that homosexuals should be put to death. Here is a clip from the DVD, entitled "Death and the Journey to Hell."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CLIP FROM "DEATH AND THE JOURNEY TO HELL")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. This sounds like a case of DMV hell. All right? That`s what this sounds like. It turns out this DMV employee is a repeat offender. That`s right he targeted another transgender woman just last year and kept his job. We tried to get a statement from him. But he`s a hard guy to track down these days. I wonder why he`s so quiet now.
I`m very happy to welcome Amber Yust and her attorney, Chris Dolan. Amber, you`re -- you`re very courageous to share your stories with us.
And you -- I understand this is breaking news. You just filed a restraining order against this man. Tell us what went through your mind when you read this hateful and, I would say threatening letter, and why you filed for a restraining order.
YUST: Well, I mean, initially we didn`t (INAUDIBLE), I was just completely shocked that someone would send me you know that hateful of a message and to my house, you know. After all I had done was go to the DMV. And then you know as I keep reading it, I was really scared, because this guy is telling me that I`m an abomination, and that`s going to go to hell and that I should die.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, that`s the key part here. Cries for vengeance, and let them be put to death. Ok?
I want to show you another clip from the disturbing DVD that Amber got in the mail. It`s called, once again, "Death and the Journey to Hell." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire hell is created by God expressly for the tormented. So that heavy wretch will be surrounded by fire like wood in a furnace. You will find an abyss of fire below, an abyss above, an abyss on every side. If he touches, sees, breathes, he breathes only fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, we asked the head of California`s DMV what he thought about his employee sending these nasty messages to Amber and he told us, quote, "This was an individual act by one employee whose actions were outside the course and scope of his duties and are expressly prohibited by the department policies. The department regrets that allege event occurred and is pursuing any and all appropriated disciplinary action."
But guess what, this guy is on paid administrative leave. They are still paying this guy. Chris Dolan, and when I say they are still paying, the taxpayers. This is the DMV we`re talking about. That, to me, is really outrageous, Chris.
CHRIS DOLAN, ATTORNEY FOR AMBER YUST: Well, what else is outrageous is the fact that this employee did this before. And the DMV allowed him to continue. It -- it -- it`s just unbelievable that this type of private information could be released into the public. Your prior story shows the danger of people who are disturbed, having private information, who could then go to Amber`s home and hurt her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s why you filed a restraining order, isn`t it, Chris?
DOLAN: The restraining order is designed to -- to prevent this individual from coming anywhere near Amber. And to prevent him from continuing to send threatening, hateful mail to her, that is suggesting that she be put to death.
But a restraining order is only a piece of paper. We hope that the police will be there to back it up if necessary.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, here`s my big issue. Why wasn`t this employee fired back in 2009? The DMV admits this guy refused to process a transgender woman`s name-change application. Two weeks later the DMV sent the woman an apology note and promised to use the incident as a learning experience for all employees. They had everybody attend training sessions.
Guess what, not all the employees are bigots. Ok, this brings me to my call to action: when a government agency discovers overt discrimination, the offender should be fired, period. Racism, and various forms of prejudice, homophobia, they don`t evaporate with a lecture or two in a PowerPoint presentation.
And I`ve got to say, that if you think this doesn`t concern you, I tell you you`re wrong. Because if the DMV can do this to Amber, then what`s to stop the next person from coming up and maybe he doesn`t like something about me.
Maybe he doesn`t like my background or your background at home; your race, ethnicity, gender. Or maybe he likes you, and wants to go to your house and ask you or your child for a date. So I think it affects every human being. This opens a Pandora`s Box.
What do you say to that, Amber?
YUST: Yes, I mean like -- it seems like how could anyone trust a DMV worker who`s willing to do that. I mean, willing to take your information that you`re submitting as required, you know, process, and do things that he isn`t authorized to.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What would you say, Amber, to the DMV tonight? Speak to them.
YUST: I mean, really, it`s just a matter of, you know people should be able to trust the government. And government workers have a lot of trust invested in them. If people violate that trust, they shouldn`t be working for the government.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you scared? Think about that question. I`m going to ask you on the other side of the break.
Stay with us. More on this outrageous story after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOLAN: It was reported to his superiors. The Human Rights Commission filed a complaint. The DMV apologized but then they allowed him to continue working there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is a government worker still getting paid after not one, but two blatant acts of discrimination? . Alleged.
Transgender female Amber Yust is sharing her painful, scary brush with a DMV employee who sent threats right to her home.
Wendy Murphy, you`re a former prosecutor. I understand that there`s a lawsuit on the horizon from Amber. Do you think she`s got a shot?
MURPHY: At least. I would investigate him as a prosecutor for committing a hate crime. And, you know, Jane I got in trouble on your program for swearing about a similar story a couple of weeks ago. I have that same urge.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Restrain yourself.
MURPHY: I don`t want to debate whether he should lose his job, I want us to name him and then all write him letters.
Here`s mine -- I won`t swear, I promise.
Dear DMV guys, I just talked to God. You know the first commandment, thou shall not kill? You`re screwed. Sincerely, Wendy Murphy.
That`s what I want to do to the guy. I don`t want to debate anything. That`s it. He should be prosecuted, fired and we should all write him letters. We should name him on the show. I don`t know why we`re protecting him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Let`s go talk about this aspect, the big picture. Cher`s son, Chaz bono, arguably the most famous person to have a sex-change operation and he talked to CNN`s Anderson Cooper about his transition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAZ BONO, TRANSGENDER: The thing that`s frustrating is that the people who judge this issue are people that don`t have -- have it. You know, these are people who feel comfortable in the body they were born in. Their brain matches their body, matches their genitalia, matches their chromosomes. You know, that isn`t my experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amber, I think one of the misconceptions is that sex change is about sex. Isn`t it really more about identity? Can you explain that to us?
YUST: Right. Really, you know who you are in your minds. Your personality isn`t necessarily tied to what your body is. And for a transgender person, you know, your personality and your mind doesn`t match the body you were born in.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you feel now, as a person who has had the transition?
YUST: Basically, you know, it`s a lot less stressful. You know, it feels right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But yet now you have to deal with bigotry. Does that kind of take the joy out of what -- this very, very difficult thing that you`ve gone through?
YUST: Right. I mean, you know, it`s definitely a hard shift that we have to deal with. It`s kind of sad that we do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, I want to emphasize that this could happen to anybody, because anybody at the DMV behind the counter could take objection to something about you.
What is the big picture, Chris Dolan? You`re the attorney representing Amber.
DOLAN: Well, the big picture is about privacy and the legal rights to have your privacy protected. This isn`t just about the DMV. Imagine somebody from the IRS, somebody who has your Social Security number, someone who can steal your identity, or in a case like this, somebody can show up at your door, full of hate, who could harm you.
It`s when you see this escalating from one incident where they did not take steps to get rid of this employee right away, to where he`s now gone to this level that leads you to fear what`s the next step that this person full of hate will take?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Exactly. They say in the movies, we know where you live. Because it`s a threat. Guess what, the DMV knows where you live, that`s why this is an important story for everyone.
Thank you so much, Amber.
You`re watching ISSUES.