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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Suitcase Slayer on the Loose; Search Continues for Missing Dancer
Aired December 23, 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, the war on women caught on camera. A 28-year-old woman`s bloodied body stuffed into a suitcase and dumped just steps away from one of Manhattan`s most exclusive restaurants. Moments before it was discovered, an ominous surveillance video shows an eerily calm man lugging the bag. We`ll join the hunt for this cold-blooded killer.
And a stunning development in the baffling disappearance of a beautiful Las Vegas showgirl. Cops have now searched the home of her ex- boyfriend. Will this lead to a break in this case?
Plus, is a legal war about to erupt over the suicide of a Rutgers student? This is the young man who was allegedly taped making out with another man. Now the parents may sue the school. Did the school fail to protect the student from what critics call "anti-gay bullying?"
Then, the "America`s Got Talent" contestant who auditioned for the reality show even though his wife had just been found dead is now offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to her killer. But was she murdered? Or was her apparent plunge just a horrible accident?
ISSUES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s very strange for her to be in the suitcase. I mean, I guess maybe no one noticed it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a breaking news, the NYPD begs for the public`s help to track down a suitcase slayer, a violent murderer on the loose in New York City. Take a look at this spine-chilling surveillance video.
Police released this footage in hopes that somebody watching will recognize this man. He is calmly wheeling a large suitcase down the street. No problem there, but inside that suitcase is the battered body of a 28-year-old woman.
The "New York Post" has more of this unbelievable video on their site. You can see the man glancing around left and right, then pausing for about a minute, waiting for that group of people to pass by, and then, goes into action. Steps out of frame. There`s a body in that suitcase! A woman stuffed inside!
He puts it in the trash on this quiet tree-lined street just steps away from one of Manhattan`s hottest celebrity hangouts. A famous restaurant.
Now, a guy taking a walk in this quiet neighborhood said he noticed a pool of blood seeping out of this abandoned luggage and when he leaned in closer and opened the bag to investigate, a leg pops out. Imagine how freaked out that guy had to have been.
Police have identified the victim as a young woman named Betty, Betty Williams who lived in the Bronx. And cops say she was strangled to death. Her head was crushed.
Tonight are we uncovering brand-new, stunning details about this woman`s past. Yes, a rap sheet a mile long. Could these details lead to her killer?
Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. We begin with Florida prosecutor Stacey Honowitz. What does law enforcement do next in response to this hideous discovery?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, I`ll tell you something, Jane. It`s amazing that they have something like this on tape. You know, for prosecution purposes, for identity purposes, for to find the suspect.
But in this case they have to work both angles. They have to, you know, look at the tape, continue to show the tape to see if anybody recognizes this person, and then they have to work on the victim`s end. They have to see her background, her past. Who`s she associated with? So they`re working double-time. They`re showing the public; they`re asking for the public`s help.
And you know -- you`ve done many cases -- the more you show the more likely you are that someone is going to know who this person is and then someone from her background, hopefully, will be able to weigh in on who she was hanging around with at the time. And maybe that could lead to some leads in the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m just flabbergasted. The guy looks like he`s going to the airport to take a flight for the holidays. And he has got a body inside there. He`s so nonchalant, just walking down the street. It really blows my mind. Psychologically, Cooper Lawrence, what does it say about this guy, that he`s so nonchalant?
COOPER LAWRENCE, PSYCHIATRIST: You know, this is a good -- well, it`s not a good example. A horrific example of the pervasive attitude about women and that women are disposable. And the World Health Organization regards this not just as a violation against women but a violation against human rights.
That this pervasive attitude that you can do this to women, that it`s OK to treat women this way and stuff them into suitcases like they`re literally disposable and they`re completely dismissive, is a pervasive attitude that made the man who killed her feel like its OK to do that to a woman.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here on ISSUES we`re telling the world that attitude has got to go, and there`s a war on women in this country. And we are fighting back. And we women, taxpayers, people on television, experts, we`re saying no more of this!
Now, here`s the evidence cops are working with. A black garbage bag wrapped around Betty`s upper body and head. Her head had clear signs of trauma. An autopsy showed she died of neck compression, which is a fancy term for choking. She was fully clothed but wearing no shoes, just socks which kind of makes me think this was not a sexual assault.
Witnesses say the body smelled like it had been dead for a while, but there was flesh -- fresh blood spilling out of the suitcase and seeping onto the street.
And Pat Brown, we`ve got breaking news here. Detectives just found a store in the area that sells suitcases of the same brand and design. The name is RWA Bird. That`s the brand name of the suitcase. What do they do with all of this?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, I think the advantage they have is this guy is probably very local. Because there`s only so far you`re going to drag that suitcase. And they can look directionally where he came from and where he dumped that body.
Secondly, likely, this was somebody he knew or got a hold of, was in - - you know, somebody that he would be familiar with, because I agree with you. This is not like a serial killer picking a woman out premeditated to kill her. I believe that this woman came to his place, took off her shoes, hung around. Something went wrong. He got into a rage. He killed her. And then he`s like, "Wow, she`s in my apartment. She`s dead. How am I going to get her out of here?" Well, buy yourself a suitcase, bring it back, and tote her away.
Usually, you find a woman in a suitcase, it means that the guy lives in an apartment and has no other way to remove a body. And it usually happened at his place, because otherwise, he`d just leave her where she lay.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So maybe some neighbors will look down, "I know this guy. He`s out there on the street every day."
P. BROWN: Absolutely.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, there have been a string of brutal suitcase murders...
P. BROWN: Yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... unfortunately. A beautiful model, Jasmine Fiore, was suspected to have been murdered by her boyfriend, and cops believe he stuffed her in a suitcase. She was so mutilated they actually had to identify her by the serial numbers on her breast implants.
And then there was Melanie McGuire, a nurse and mother of two, who was found guilty of shooting and dismembering her husband. And yes, she stuffed his remains inside three suitcases and then dumped them in Chesapeake Bay. That was Melanie McGuire right there.
Jeff Brown, intimate partner violence is a huge problem in this country. Doesn`t it make sense that the person that did this is probably some kind of boyfriend?
JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I really can`t say. I don`t think we have any facts. We don`t even know if this is the murderer. I mean, all we know is that this man is wheeling a suitcase. We don`t have any evidence that he knew what was in it. Maybe he`s paid and someone said, "Here`s $100. Take this suitcase and drop it across the street." We really don`t know much about this yet.
But whoever did this murder, obviously, it was a brutal murder, and that person hopefully will be caught and punished. But let`s not rush to judgment. We don`t know what this man`s role in this was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I disagree with you as per usual, Jeff, because the "New York Post" video shows that he is sitting on a stoop and he is waiting for people to pass by. And then he`s getting up and walking down the street with the suitcase.
OK. So this is the video we see walking down the street looking like he`s about to hail a cab and go to JFK to head for a European vacation. You can drag a bag a long way because -- but, there, look. There he is, sitting on the stoop waiting for people to pass by. He`s looking both ways, very suspicious. They`re gone; now`s my chance. I`m going to get up and I`m going to wheel this thing to an area where I can dump it and get away.
Back me up, Pat Brown.
J. BROWN: Stacey would tell you in a -- Stacey would tell you in a court of law that would prove nothing.
HONOWITZ: Yes, well, I`m with Jane. I don`t know about that. I mean, seriously, if you want to tell a jury that this guy didn`t know anything I have to agree with you, Jane, on this one. This guy, if he didn`t know what was in the suitcase he would have walked up, dumped the suitcase and he wouldn`t have cared. Here it appears like he`s looking around.
J. BROWN: What if he got paid for it? And if I was his lawyer and I was able to say that he got paid to dump that suitcase, I think a judge would have to grant a judgment of acquittal. There`s no evidence that he actually knew.
P. BROWN: He has such a super heavy suitcase. This is -- I mean, we`re not talking 30 pounds. We`re talking about a super heavy suitcase. He`s got to drag and sweat to do that.
J. BROWN: We don`t know that.
P. BROWN: You`re telling me he has no clue?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We do. It`s a woman. She`s got to be at least be 115 pounds, probably, maybe a lot more than that. OK? So don`t tell me it`s not a heavy suitcase. A woman`s leg literally popped out.
BROWN: We don`t know that her whole body is in there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. From what I`ve read...
BROWN: We know parts of the woman are in there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: My understanding is that she was not chopped up. This was not body parts. They said a body was in there and that -- a passerby said, "Ooh, there`s blood coming out of that suitcase. Let me check it out." Zips -- unzips the suitcase and, boom, a leg goes flying out. And there was a body in there, not body parts.
Pat Brown, your thoughts on that?
P. BROWN: Yea, absolutely. I think it is her whole body and that`s why it`s a big, big suitcase. And you can see he`s straining to pull it behind him. I can`t believe that somebody who`s been paid a few bucks, is told to go that far away, to really walk that bag, isn`t even going to check to see what`s in that sucker. Especially if he needs the money. "Hey, what`s in here that`s so important I have to get rid of it?" I mean, he`s going to know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side we`re going to talk about why is this video always so fuzzy when we get these great, great shots of potential suspects? Why are the cameras so bland? We can`t see the details.
Everybody, stay right there. We`ve got so much more on this gruesome suitcase slaying in just a bit.
Also, the baffling investigation of a beautiful missing Las Vegas showgirl now has cops searching her ex-boyfriend`s home. Is this a break in the case?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CELESTE FLORES-NARVAEZ, SISTER OF MISSING WOMAN: I don`t want to start thinking other thoughts. I have to keep my -- my focus on that she is OK, and that`s starting to become a little more difficult as time passes by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This block is relatively quiet. Apart from Rao`s, the clientele from Rao`s over there, I can`t think of anything else to speak of that -- that will catch your attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a suitcase slayer on the loose. Chilling surveillance video shows a man dragging a suitcase down a Manhattan street. He dumps the luggage near some trash bins and leave. A witness spotted blood coming seeping out the suitcase, onto the street. Inside, a young woman beaten and strangled to death. We`ve been speculating perhaps this is a local guy because how far can you drag a suitcase?
But I would say, Stacey Honowitz, the last thing I would ever do, not that I would ever kill anybody, would be to drop it right outside my front door. I would get in a car and take it as far away as I could and then I would leave it three. So is it possible this guy isn`t from the area?
HONOWITZ: Yes, I mean, anything`s possible. We really are speculating. We don`t -- we don`t have enough facts. But the bottom line is we also know that criminals are very stupid. They`re not the smartest people on the planet.
And the bottom line is that we were talking about with Jeff before, he`s right about one thing. If the only evidence I had in a murder charge was that this guy rolled a suitcase and looked around, I`d be, you know, out of luck in the courtroom. But believe me, that`s just one factor. If they, of course, find any evidence linking him and then you couple it with him walking and dumping the body, then you have a good case. But right now it`s to early on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We don`t have any photos of the victim, but we are learning that she had a rap sheet a mile long. She`s been arrested at least 14 times since 2006. She spent time at Ryker`s Island for drug offenses.
Law enforcement says she was busted five times for trespassing and selling drug. She was arrested three times for drug possession and theft, and her most recent arrest was about a year ago.
So Pat Brown, what do we do with that information? Sounds like she could have come in contact with some very dangerous characters.
P. BROWN: Well, yes, that`s the whole thing. She`s likely very easy to get to come to your home for either prostitution or for drug use or, you know, maybe she needs a place to stay. There could be a million reasons.
But they`re going to look at her -- where she`s been traveling about, especially in the neighborhood where we`re finding this suitcase. I don`t think he dragged it that far, so -- and where the suitcase was bought, too, I think this guy just went down the street.
What he wanted was the suit -- the body not to be in his house, his apartment. The body not to be in his apartment and the body not to be found outside the apartment or right down the street. So somebody says, hey, maybe it`s in there? You know. So I think he wanted to get far enough away that they wouldn`t know which apartment building to look back at. That`s all.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I`ve got something else to debate, and this is crucial. Here`s my big issue tonight. Picture-perfect? Far from it. Why do we keep catching alleged criminals on these surveillance tapes, but the picture is so blurry and fuzzy we can`t even use the image to identify the person? What the heck`s the point?
Take a look at this video of another case we`ve been covering, video of a suspected serial killer, the Kensington Strangler out of Philly. You can barely make it out, let alone recognize the guy`s face.
Now, we all know the technology exists. Why don`t we spend the money to upgrade all the video surveillance cameras out there? Give people tax breaks for having the top-of-the-line. We spend millions of dollars on prosecutions and investigations. Why not be pre-emptive and at least have the video cameras that are out there more effective?
And I`ll throw it out to Jeff Brown, because you`re so argumentative.
J. BROWN: OK. Well, I don`t know what the reason is other than it`s finances. But keep in mind, you know, 20 years ago when I was a prosecutor, we didn`t have the luxury of having videos at all. So this is still a step forward. We`re still moving forward as far as the tools that law enforcement have.
But if you want better quality videos, I mean, it`s definitely out there. I know in Florida, and Stacey will tell you this, too, we have these cameras that can take the back of -- picture of the back of your license plate when you go past the toll at 60 miles an hour. And they can read them pretty well.
So I think the technology is there. But it always comes down to the same thing: where are we going to get the money and are people actually going to be willing to pay more taxes to be able to have this technology?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s where I disagree with you, because we`re paying through the nose for the prosecutions and the investigations. You`ve got cops all over New York City looking for this guy.
But if you had spent maybe $40 more on the camera, Cooper Lawrence, you would have had a clear-cut shot of this guy, and we wouldn`t be paying cops overtime to go look for the guy, because we`d see him and know exactly who he is. The problem with our criminal justice system is it`s reactive. We do not get proactive.
LAWRENCE: Jane, think about where the cameras are. Think about where the cameras are. You know, I`m sure Bloomingdales in that area has fantastic cameras. But these crimes take place in neighborhoods where people don`t spend money. They have -- the fact they have a camera at all is amazing. So you have to think about where crimes take place. The best cameras, you`re not going to have crimes in those areas.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, actually, this grisly scene played out just four doors down from Rao`s, which is a landmark Italian restaurant in Manhattan.
LAWRENCE: That neighborhood is not a very safe neighborhood. Rao`s is the only thing in that neighborhood people go there for. And Rao`s provides a car for you to take you away from the restaurant because they know you`re never going to get a cab in that neighborhood. That`s not a neighborhood; it`s just a nice restaurant.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Regis Philbin and Donald Trump think it`s good enough for them. It takes a year to get a reservation at this restaurant.
LAWRENCE: But they`re not walking around that neighborhood. They`re not walking around that neighborhood trying to hail a cab, trust me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, I grew up, born and raised in New York City. I know what you`re talking about, but it`s a very fashionable place, and it`s getting -- I read the real-estate section. I know what some of the condos and co-ops in Harlem go for these days: millions of dollars. So I would beg to differ with you.
But I would also say this: I don`t care what neighborhood it is. The worst neighborhood, put the best cameras. I mean, if we spend 50 or 60 bucks improving our cameras in high-crime areas, wouldn`t that save us millions in and millions of dollars in prosecutions, Stacey Honowitz?
HONOWITZ: Yes, of course it would, but nobody looks at it, and nobody analyzes it the way it should be analyzed like you did. Nobody looks at it that way. We are a reactive society. It`s like anything else. You know what? Enough crimes happen in that neighborhood in the next six months they`re going to upgrade the cameras. That`s just the reality of the situation. Nobody looks to say how can we prevent it? How can we prevent spending so much money later on?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: If the criminals knew that we had cameras with really high definition out there, they would be less likely to be walking down a street, pulling a suitcase with a dead woman inside, Jeff Brown.
J. BROWN: Yes, but I don`t want to live in a society where everything I do is filmed constantly 24/7.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s outside.
J. BROWN: I don`t want that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s outside.
LAWRENCE: That`s out on the street.
J. BROWN: I don`t want everything on film.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time. Pat Brown, the last word on this?
P. BROWN: This is outside on the street. This is not the privacy of your home. This is outside in the street, where your behavior is supposed to be public anyway. And it would prevent lots and lots of crimes. And we always say today, you need a video to prove anything in court. This will be a way to get a video to prove who done did it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it`s all to find out who killed this young woman. I don`t care what she did or what drug problems she may have had. Maybe she just got sober. We want to find out. Her death is unconscionable. Thank you, fantastic panel.
A legal war on the verge of exploding. The heartbroken parents of Tyler Clemente planning to sue the school. Are they? Their son killed himself after he was allegedly videotaped during an intimate encounter with another man. Is the college at fault?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, fast breaking developments in the search for missing Vegas showgirl Debbie Flores-Narvaez. Police have now searched the home of the last person known to have seen Debbie, her ex-boyfriend rapper Jason Griffith. The question: did they find anything that will help discover what happened to Debbie?
Debbie vanished 11 days ago after she failed to show up for a rehearsal for the adult stage show "Fantasy" at the Luxor. And it`s becoming clear that Debbie had a very complicated life with a trail of arrests and harassment allegations, including several protective orders against her.
Straight out to radio host Chet Buchanan with 98.5 KLUC.
Chet, thanks for joining us. When you take the protective orders into account and the fact that she kept popping up in her ex-boyfriend`s life, visiting his ex-girlfriend, showing up at his house the day she vanished, could that indicate that she was perhaps obsessing? And is that something that cops are looking into?
CHET BUCHANAN, KLUC: Well, and when you look at his side of the story on that domestic violence case that happened back in October. Her story was that he elbowed her, and she was kicked. We do know that she was kicked. We do know that her hair was pulled. We knew -- we do know that there were bruises on her legs.
But his side of the story is that he was trying to leave the situation. She and the ex-girlfriend both got in separate cars. The three of them went tearing down the road. At some point Debbie Flores-Narvaez ran into Blue Griffith`s car. We don`t know whether it`s because he stopped short and she just hit him or whether she ran into him.
Everybody got out of their cars, and then that`s where the altercation started. A situation that probably could have been diffused a little easier, had cooler heads prevailed.
So this whole story is getting very interesting the more the facts come out. And once again, Blue Griffith`s house was searched earlier this morning. A fact that was missed by many of the Las Vegas media. Your producers were on the spot and found it before many of the media here in town even knew.
The police are not saying anything, and I think that`s very important. Because as this case has gone along, the police have gotten more and more tight-lipped. Everybody just talking about how Jason Griffith is cooperating. The one thing I can tell you is that the car has finished being processed for fingerprints. The results are pending. And there should be more news coming up soon.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Back in October Debbie told cops investigating that domestic violence incident with her ex that she was pregnant. Last night Debbie`s sister told "Prime News" Debbie was not pregnant when she disappeared. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES-NARVAEZ; She wasn`t pregnant. That`s something that I`m just going to let the authorities deal with. And my main concern is for her to come home. I want her to come home. If somebody saw something, somebody knows something, just -- just let the authorities know and bring her home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you make of this whole baby issue?
BUCHANAN: Well, Debbie is not -- that could be the thing that`s at the center of this whole situation. Debbie, obviously, a dancer, would not want -- a pregnant dancer doesn`t play well here in Las Vegas. That could have been what they were arguing about to begin with.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In other words we don`t know what happened to this child. She was pregnant at one point and then apparently she`s not pregnant at the time of her disappearance. So we all know there`s only a finite number of possibilities.
We`ve got to leave it right there, but we`re going to stay on top of this story. Thank you so much, Chet, for bringing us the breaking news.
BUCHANAN: Thanks you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This case caused outrage and anguish across the country. The parents of the Rutgers University student who killed himself after he was allegedly bullied for being gay, are gearing up -- are they? - - for a major lawsuit. We`ll ask
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is a legal war about to erupt over the suicide of a Rutgers` student? This is the young man who was allegedly taped making out with another man. Now, the parents may sue the school. Did the school fail to protect this student from what critics call anti-gay bullying?
Then the "America`s Got Talent" contestant, who auditioned for the reality show even though his wife had just been found dead, is now offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to her killer. But was she murdered? Or was her apparent plunge just a horrible accident?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s wrong that they even put that online or video that at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To hear technology now and to see how far you can go with that and how easy it is to access that and stream it to a large amount of people is unbelievable. And it`s also pathetic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, is a legal war looming over the suicide of a Rutgers` college freshman who critics say was the victim of anti-gay bullying? Tyler Clementi killed himself days after he found a web cam in his room that allegedly caught him in a sexual act with another man.
Now there are rumblings that Tyler`s parents may sue the university, charging that the school did not protect their son. Should Rutgers be held responsible?
Clementi`s roommate, 18-year-old Dharun Ravi and another student, Molly Wei, are charged with invasion of privacy. Cops claim Ravi set up the webcam in Clementi`s dorm room and then allegedly watched the encounter from Molly`s room.
September 19th, Ravi allegedly tweeted, "Roommate asked for the room until midnight. I went into Molly`s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
A few days later Clementi wrote this on his Facebook page, "Jumping off the GW bridge, sorry." And he did kill himself.
Since then the two students allegedly involved have withdrawn from Rutgers. No one can deny that Clementi`s death is horrifying. But now the question is, how do we prevent it from happening to another young person.
Straight out Florida prosecutor, Stacey Honowitz. Stacey, do Tyler`s parents have a case against this university?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, Jane, this case is horrible and to have to talk about it in this manner is just awful but the bottom line is I think it`s a tough -- it`s an upward climb.
I think if the university was made aware of the fact that he was being bullied prior to this taking place there would be a shot at a lawsuit. But in this case what`s going on between roommates, the fact that there`s a webcam in there, I really don`t know how Rutgers could be held responsible for the actions of these two individuals and that`s why they were charged with invasion of privacy.
What has to happen now is, I mean, sure you`d like to set an example and say -- sue the university. It`s their fault. They need institute policies. But they need to do it anyway. Even if this lawsuit never comes to fruition, schools have to realize that this goes on and what the results could be if they have knowledge that bullying is taking place and they don`t do anything about it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this is a complicated case and a lot of different people offering different versions of the same event. So listen to this.
A big question is did this feed go live? Did anybody besides Molly and Ravi, the two students who withdrew, did anyone see the sex act between Tyler and another man? The first alleged webcam incident involved Tyler and it happened September 19th when this Tweet was sent out, allegedly, by Tyler`s roommate, Dharun Ravi. Quote, "Roommate asked for the room until midnight. I went into Molly`s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with another dude. Yay."
Then a few days later, this tweet was allegedly sent by Ravi. Anyone with i-chat I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12:00. Yes, it`s happening again."
Tyler killed himself the next day. I have to say, defense lawyers for the students Ravi and Wei say the feed never went live and was only viewed for a matter of seconds and what was viewed did not involve nudity or private parts. We tried to reach those attorneys but were unable to. But they and their clients are invited on the show any time to tell their side of the story.
But does it complicate it, Jeff Brown, if the defense attorneys are right and it actually wasn`t viewed by others, even though Tyler may have thought it was viewed?
JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, well, it all depends upon the wording of the New Jersey statute. It`s one thing to tape something but it`s another thing to actually show it. Some statutes however say that if it has the potential or the capability to be showed then it`s kind of like an attempt crime and therefore, that`s prosecutoriable (ph) as well. So it all depends upon the language of the statute.
But you know, the real problem here is that we have kids and college students that for some reason think that this is appropriate behavior. And I fault them and I fault their parents for not teaching them better.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, obviously, Cooper Lawrence, it`s a reflection of society in general and we have a lot of verbiage that is -- I would think, would be very, very taboo if you substituted, for example, racial discrimination or even gender discrimination.
I mean, there`s that phrase, for example, "that`s so gay" that is bandied about all the time that many people in the LGBT community are very upset about. There`s a whole debate whether language like that should even be included in movies. But unfortunately --
COOPER LAWRENCE, PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, you make a good point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Go ahead.
LAWRENCE: You make a good point. And if you think about MySpace, YouTube, everyone`s on twitter. Whatever anybody`s doing in the moment is just such an important material that it needs to be put out there.
But there`s something that you probably should know. Rutgers University changed their code of conduct in April to include a statute that says -- with privacy laws that you cannot tape anybody who has an expectation of privacy; that that is now -- that`s against school policy. And they also, the way they train their RAs is very specific in terms of crisis management.
As well as the LGBT community have all kinds of programs. So Rutgers University does have a code of conduct in place. They do have rules in place that these kids obviously violated and I think that is really where the parents may have -- I don`t know anything about the legal aspect. You lawyers can talk about that but there is a code of conduct in place and it`s been violated.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But here`s some of the other details. After the first alleged webcam incident, a person believed to be Tyler Clementi wrote on a gay message board, quote, "He went into somebody else`s room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy. I`m kind of pissed at him (rightfully so, I think, no?)" end quote.
A couple of days later he posted this, quote, "When I got back to the room instantly noticed he had turned the webcam toward my bed," end quote. That time, Tyler reportedly turned the camera around.
So I think the question is Stacey Honowitz, how do we control what`s going on in dorm rooms? Have you ever tried to control a teenager who is insisting on using their cell phone to text at dinner? It`s impossible. Yet we`re trying to control what`s going on with teenagers in their dorm rooms.
HONOWIT: Well, I think you have a very difficult time. That`s what I was saying earlier. I mean you cannot police each and every dorm room. There`s a code of conduct and maybe -- I hate to say it again -- this is a terrible case, but maybe the students will realize that this needs to be taken seriously. That if they violate codes of conduct, if they continue to tape illegal, to do these things to bully, then they`re going to be charged with a crime. I don`t think in this case anybody thought that these kids were going to be charged. They did it as a joke.
And that`s really what needs to happen. Someone has to be made an example of and in this case it`s these two kids for violating the code of conduct. But first --
HONOWITZ: Each -- allegedly. Policing the dorm rooms, you`re going to really have a difficult time with that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, this young lady here, I think she might have an argument that, hey, I was minding my own business when somebody came in and said, can I use your computer for a second. And next thing you know I`m swept up in this terrible thing and I didn`t even know what I was getting into, Jeff Brown.
BROWN: NO. That`s exactly what may happen in this case. And you know, that`s not uncommon to have these situations. But Stacey`s right. There`s no way to police all of these dorm rooms.
But let`s keep this in mind, too. The family, the parents for this kid are not saying that they are going to sue Rutgers. All they`ve done right now is preserve the right to think about it and sue them if they so choose. I think better heads will prevail and they`ll realize that there really is not a lawsuit against Rutgers. The action is against these kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One thing we have to do, we have to stop gay bullying. Tyler Clementi was -- he`s certainly the most prominent in a long list of young people who committed suicide this year either because they were gay or bullied or both.
Tyler`s death became a national touchstone in the war against gay bullying even getting the attention of celebrities like "Project Runway`s" Tim Gunn as seen here in a Facebook video. This is really powerful stuff. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM GUNN, Fashion Consultant, "PROJECT RUNWAY": You may be thinking, what does Tim Gunn understand about my anguish, about my despair or about how I`m feeling about my particular time and place in the world right now?
Well I`ll share with you. As a 17-year-old youth who was in quite a bit of despair, I attempted to kill myself. And I`m very happy today that that attempt was unsuccessful. But at the time, it`s all that I could contemplate.
You have a lot of -- I get very emotional -- people really care about you and I`m included in that group. So reach out, get help. You`re not alone. It will get better, I promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a brave statement. And as horrific as a tragedy this is, and whether or not Tyler Clementi`s parents sue, I certainly hope that his life was not in vein and that other people who think that it`s cool to be cruel will wake up and say -- I don`t need to do something like that. That is morally wrong.
Thank you so much expert panel.
Up next, was an "America`s Got Talent" contestant`s wife killed or was her strange -- and I mean, strange death is just an accident. Her husband who auditioned for the show just after cops told him, oh, here`s your wife and she might be dead. He is offering a reward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DYLAN HOWARD, RADARONLINE: He says that there will be DNA proof that will come back that proves that she scratched someone moments before her death in somewhat of a violent struggle and he says she was also brutally raped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The person is dead, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok, so they said rigor mortis has already set in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t sir -- sorry PD, I just need to verify that there is medical personnel on scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no medical personnel on the scene. That`s the reason why we called the paramedics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That chilling 911 call made after a gruesome discovery in a Los Angeles hotel stairway the half-naked body of 48-year- old Laura Finley. Laura`s husband, Joe was the "America`s Got Talent" contestant who auditioned for the show just hours after his wife, Laura, was found dead.
Tonight, exactly two months after Laura`s mysterious death, Joe has now come forward with new claims about what happened in the hours leading up to her tragic death. Did she meet her killer at the ice machine at 3:00 in the morning?
Joe is now offering $25,000 for information leading to what he is calling her murderer`s conviction. Laura`s body was found at the foot of an eight-flight stairwell at the Biltmore Hotel where Joe went through his tryout even after cops told him, hey, here`s a picture of Laura and she appears to be, well, likely dead.
We`re going to tell you why he says he went on with the audition anyway. Did Laura plunge to her death by accident? Was she pushed? Or was her body moved there as Laura`s family reportedly believes?
Cops say it could have been an accident. But Joe claims they have tried to get him to confess to killing her. He told CNN, quote, "I will never be arrested for my wife`s murder. There`s nothing that would link me to this crime".
ISSUES reached out to Joe`s lawyers but didn`t hear back before deadline.
Straight out to Alexis Tereszcuk, reporter with Radar Online; Alexis, what is the latest on this fast breaking story?
ALEXIS TEREZCUK, REPORTER, RADARONLINE.COM: Well, Joe Finley has come out, he`s offered a $25,000 reward for clues. He says that his wife was raped. She -- he says that the DNA evidence will prove this. That when the coroner completes the report he says that there are all the evidence under her fingernails that she scratched somebody.
She was actually found at the bottom of the staircase in just her underwear, she was missing jewelry. He said that somebody met up with her at the ice machine. It was about at 3:00 in the morning after they`d been in a bar, they`ve been doing drugs. But he then left in the next morning without finding out where she was and went and auditioned for "America`s Got Talent".
So he says he`s not a suspect and he wants people to help him find her -- find her killer because he`s offering $25,000 as a reward.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you imagine, Pat Brown, criminal profiler, what the cops thought after they approach him and they say, here is a photograph of your wife. She looks like she`s dead. And he goes, oops yes, hold on a second. I got to go audition for "America`s Got Talent."
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Yes, he`s not a suspect but only in his own mind, I can tell you that. I mean, you know, he might continue on with the show if you got a call from your wife and she said, I broke my ankle but you know, I`m ok or she`s got -- you`ve got in a fight and she went missing and you thought she was just skulking around some place.
But you just found out your wife is dead. Oh but more importantly than even worrying about that is getting, you know, doing your singing thing? And then he says, and then I broke down at the end. Well, that was convenient, he got his audition finished before he broke down for the sob - - sobbing or "pity-me" ploy.
You know, he is definitely a suspect in the police`s eyes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just want to --
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: How does he know so many facts? That`s what I want to know. This guy basically gave him the facts of the crime. How did he know any of that? How did he know that she was raped? How did he know the DNA is going to prove? How did he know that there`s stuff under her fingernails? That -- that`s what I`d be curious to figure out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me says this --
HONOWITZ: He pretty much solved the crime for them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t understand why the cops can`t say she was raped or she wasn`t raped. I mean, at this point the DNA evidence has got to be in and if there`s semen from another individual then he would have a very good case. And I just don`t understand why they don`t clarify that at this point or, perhaps, they`re waiting for more to be revealed.
One of the things the cops said is the more Joe talks the more interesting he gets. And I think that`s very interesting that they said that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, here`s another clip from the chilling 911 call made by a hotel staffer, the morning Laura Finley`s body was discovered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, sir so at this time you`re saying that -- the -- the body has rigor mortis? It has set in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to my supervisor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, can you ask that supervisor on scene if he thinks that person is beyond any medical help?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. The timeline leading up to Laura`s death is filling in. Thanks to new claims by Joe, who says after partying on wine and Ecstasy the night before the audition, Laura went to get ice. That was 3:00 a.m.
He says she came back and said, quote, "You wouldn`t believe what happened at the ice machine. He says she started a bath and he fell asleep."
Now, TMZ reports cops told Joe somebody requested a key to the couple`s room at 1:30 in the morning, an hour and a half before Joe says he last saw her.
So my question is Stacey Honowitz, do these facts point to another person? If Joe can find witnesses? I mean, if somebody was asking for a key to their room to me that`s a bombshell.
HONOWITZ: Well, I mean, of course that`s, I guess, a bombshell. I mean, it could be another person but I mean, all these things that we`re hearing now are such speculation. Like the police said let him continue to talk. Let him tell them the facts of this case about what happened, the more he talks the more interesting it seems to get.
But I guess if somebody is asking for a key to the room and your wife walked in and said -- you wouldn`t have -- believe what happened to me at the ice machine, then I guess there could be some, you know, not reliability to the statement but it could be some substance to what he`s -- what he`s talking about.
BROWN: Well, no, no, look at -- look at what he said. She comes back at 3:00 in the morning and said, you won`t believe what happened at ice machine. Some creepy dude is at the ice machine, he tried to do something to her.
So, what did she do? She takes a bath and then she goes out to the ice machine to see if she can find a rapist. Really? Are we going to buy that? So yes, the police will let this guy talk.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say a couple of things. One --
HONOWITZ: Well, that`s why he`s talking. That`s why --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One, they were doing ecstasy the night before that. First of all, sometimes that will make you do some very sexual things reportedly. I`ve never tried it. But others -- it will also mess with your memory.
The other thing is, Alexis Tereszcuk, he changed his story, according to published reports.
TERESZCUK: That`s exactly it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He originally said she went to get ice, and he fell asleep. Now he`s telling this whole story about she came back and took a bath. Do you notice this discrepancy?
TERESZCUK: Yes, absolutely. And the time change, the original story was, she went to get the ice at 1:30 in the morning, which was just right after they left the bar. They had been down in the bar drinking. The next story was that it was 3:00 a.m. she came in.
You know, the bath story is brand new. This is not something that we had heard from the very beginning when we were speaking with Joe or the police. Who could go into a bathroom and notice the full bath and not question your wife missing and that she never got in.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. We have to leave it right there. A hazing war and you won`t believe what it`s about, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their instincts point them in the direction of fresh green grass to ensure their next generation survival. Each year they wander outside the Yellowstone National Park boundaries into the west Yellowstone region. They are then subject to a taxpayer funded management program consisting of hazing them back into the park.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Remember that song? Home, home on the range -- forget about it. Millions of buffalo once roamed free but those populations have been decimated. And critics say the remaining bison are being forced from their natural range where they have roamed for tens of thousands of years.
And who`s doing it? They say our own government using our tax dollars. Critics say the hazing to drive the buffalo out of certain areas in and around Yellowstone National Park uses wranglers and terrifying helicopters causing these innocent animals to have accidents, break their legs and even starve. And many people are furious about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this was your property, would you like it? The buffalo are in my yard and they`re not bothering me. They can eat the grass, they can live. They`ve been here longer --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to Mike Mease, co-founder of the Buffalo Field Campaign. You`re part of the lawsuit aimed at fighting what you call the senseless harassment and slaughter of bison. What`s your objection to what the taxpayer funded choppers and wranglers are doing with these animals?
MIKE MEASE, CO-FOUNDER, BUFFALO FIELD CAMPAIGN: Well, the buffalo have absolutely no freedoms. As soon as they take a step outside of Yellowstone Park into the state of Montana, they`re either shot on site, shipped off to slaughterhouses or a war zone (INAUDIBLE) with helicopters, ATVs and they run these buffalo up to 15 miles a day.
I mean if this was on the Animal Channel, we`d have these people arrested for the way they treat and abuse these sacred beings.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And our tax dollars are paying for it. Critics say our government has declared war on these bison, even though the park service should really be preserving them for future generations.
Christian McKay, executive officer of Montana Department of Livestock, you represent the other side. Here`s my question to you. Why won`t the U.S. government let these buffalo roam, follow their natural migratory instincts? And why on earth use helicopter when it obviously terrifies these animals? In particular, the little baby -- the calves?
CHRISTIAN MCKAY, EXEC. OFFICER, MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF LIVESTOCK: Well, first off, thanks for having me. Jane, what I would like to say, it`s not nearly as sensationalistic as Mike and the other advocates would like you to believe. The bison that come into Montana are managed under the interagency Bison Management Plan which the state of Montana`s signatory to.
This is a plan that seeks to keep bison separate from cattle in an effort to reduce and eliminate the chance of transmission of (INAUDIBLE) from bison to cattle.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Mike Mease, your reaction to that?
MEASE: The elk have this disease. The elk roam free. The elk have transmitted the disease to the cattle and we don`t do anything to the elk. It`s a prejudice solely placed on one species by an agency that has the ultimate conflict of interest.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s that conflict of interest in your opinion, quickly?
MEASE: Well, the cattle industry. They want that grass for their cows and not for wildlife. And we see the prejudice exists with these buffalo since we came to this continent and conquered it. The cattle have brought this disease to the wildlife, they gave it to them, and now they`re complaining that the disease might be given back to them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it right there. If you want more information, go to buffalofieldcampaign.org. We want to present both sides of this issue. But it`s up to you the taxpayer to decide.
Check it out.
You`re watching ISSUES.