Return to Transcripts main page


Encore: Every Parent`s Nightmare

Aired December 28, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, an ISSUES special investigation, "Every Parent`s Nightmare." They have faced the worst trials of human existence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter took one breath and couldn`t take another one. Her fingers were sticking to the plastic bag when they dug her out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They have had their children stolen from them, tortured, some brutally murdered.

DIENA THOMPSON, MOTHER OF SOMER THOMPSON: He just snatched her off the road, and then we found her two days later in the Georgia landfill.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now they`re pedaling across the country, pushing their limits, turning their unimaginable grief into action. Five parents, five heroes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one more child! Not one more child!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not one more child! Not one more child!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one more child! Not one more child!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Their grief binds them together. They are on a mission to make a change. Tonight, we follow them on their heartbreaking journey.

THOMPSON: Somer wasn`t a child that was easy to wake up. And she had Monday-itis a lot. And it was so funny that day, because I got out of the shower, and she scared me because she wasn`t supposed to be awake yet. And I didn`t -- wasn`t usually afforded the opportunity to know what she was wearing.

And I got out of the shower and come around the corner. And there she is, fully dressed. I knew exactly, from head to toe, what she was wearing. And I think that`s because of God.

VELEZ-MITCHELL (on camera): Tonight, inside the hell of five parents living a nightmare. Five parents whose children`s faces we saw on our TV screens. Parents whose children were kidnapped, parents whose little girls never came home. Tonight we talk to these amazingly brave parents. What can we do to protect our children from predators who could be lurking just around the corner?

THOMPSON: About 4 p.m. I texted and said, "Just wanted to make sure all the kids made it home OK."

I got a text back that said, "Somer didn`t come home." And I personally knew right then that I was probably never going to see my daughter again. I don`t know why. I just knew that I had this overwhelming dread in my stomach, and I was right.

She`s about 3`5", probably 65 pounds, long brown hair, brown eyes.

GRAPHIC: Somer Thompson, Abducted October 19, 2009.

THOMPSON: If anybody can help me find her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You are my sunshine my only sunshine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You are my sunshine my only sunshine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You are my sunshine my only sunshine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I contacted Diena, Somer`s mother, and gave her the grim and sad news that we had made an identification of the body.

THOMPSON: I hope they get you, and I hope they make you pay.

GRAPHIC: Jarred Harrell Arrested, February 11, 2010.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harrell assaulted Somer and killed her and dumped her body in a Dumpster.

THOMPSON: You put my baby in the trash like she`s nothing. My baby didn`t die in vain.

I know that she was gone quickly. He didn`t waste any time. But he`s a monster, so why should he? And that I don`t know what she was in or how, you know, he got her to where he got her. All I know is that he put her in a Dumpster and went to McDonald`s and ate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You have been quoted as saying that sometimes you don`t believe it, like it hasn`t happened, that you can`t even process our accept the reality of the horror that befell your daughter.

THOMPSON: I don`t believe it. I still can`t believe it. I can`t wake up. It`s just a bad dream. I just keep thinking she`s just somewhere and she`s going to come home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s the first thought you have in the morning when you wake up?

THOMPSON: That I`m waking up from the bad dream and that when I come out of my room that Somer is going to be there with her twin brother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Seven-year-old Somer disappeared walking home from school in North Florida in October of 2009. She ran a few steps ahead of her siblings. She was never seen alive again.

THOMPSON: I love you, and I just want you to come home. I just want you to come home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Somer`s body was found buried in a Georgia landfill two days after she went missing. Four months later, police named a person of interest after connecting the dots on an earlier tip that a 24-year-old neighbor, Jarred Harrell, had child pornography on his computer. Cops say Harrell was also suspected of molesting a family member.

When Somer disappeared, Harrell was living with his mother on the very route that Somer took home from school. Police searched his house, where friends say Somer often stopped to pet a white dog.

Police say Jarred Harrell sexually assaulted and asphyxiated Somer. He was charged with her murder and now faces the death penalty.

(on camera) What was your reaction when -- because you had been -- you had gone on camera and said, who could do this? Who could do this? What was your reaction when they arrested the person they believed did this?

THOMPSON: I wanted to hear what pathetic, sorry excuse he could come up with, because I`m sorry, no matter what`s happened you in your life, you`re given free will, and you can decide to stop the abuse, stop the insanity, stop the madness. And you don`t -- I could never hurt anyone, so how could he hurt a 7-year-old, a defenseless 7-year-old? Taking away a twin from her brother? What right? What reason?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The police did a great job in tracking down your daughter`s body, but there has been criticism, because a computer belonging to the man accused of killing your daughter was handed to them two months before she disappeared. And it was filled with porn.

And it was handed to them by Jarred Harrell`s roommates, who said, "Look at this, police. This guy is scaring us. He`s got porn on his computer." By the time they finished analyzing that computer, your daughter was dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were asking me a minute ago about didn`t we know he was looking at child pornography? It`s scary to think how many people are actually doing that in our community right now, and I`m talking not in dozens. I`m talking hundreds, hundreds of cases that we`ve got out there. It`s a very scary thing. But not everyone who participates in that type of conduct actually ever becomes an offender that attacks someone.

THOMPSON: What can you say? I mean, I feel like there`s -- there`s a lot of people along the lines that could have possibly prevented this -- this tragedy from happening. But there`s only one person responsible.

People make mistakes all the time. They`re human. Of course I want to be angry. Of course I want to be upset. But the bottom line is, is that they got my daughter back, and they got my monster. And I`m going to stand up here and make a difference.

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Coming up on this ISSUES special investigation.

THOMPSON: I couldn`t stop the monster from killing my daughter. Why couldn`t he just do whatever sick thing he wanted to do and let her come home? Let me be lucky?

ERIN RUNNION, MOTHER OF SAMANTHA RUNNION: I just -- to have a missing poster with your child`s face on it is the worst feeling in the world.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (on camera): Tell us about Somer. Tell us about your daughter.

THOMPSON: She`s so beautiful. She was just like me. She had my middle name. She told jokes, stupid jokes, like me that didn`t make any sense. She couldn`t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. We called her "Grace." She loved everybody. She loved animals. And ultimately, animals were her demise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because of how he lured her. Tell us about that.

THOMPSON: Honestly, I don`t know exactly. I can only speculate, but I know that there was a dog there and that she had named it herself. It had its own name, but she called him Fifi. And my assumption is that he told her that the dog was inside.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you want to tell people out there about this hideous problem that`s plaguing our society?

THOMPSON: First of all, my monster wasn`t on a list. He wasn`t somebody you could just go by their list, their sexual predators, sexual offender list. He wasn`t on the list. He was just a flat-out monster.

People need to be vigilant. It takes a village to raise a child. We all have to stick together. We all have to band together, because if we don`t, they`re just going to keep plucking them off the streets. It is your business to tell.

People need to get the mentality that it`s not their business and to not say anything, it`s not my business. Yes, it`s your business, because it could be your child. It could be your baby. And you could be sitting right here where I`m sitting.

This club is not -- it`s got wonderful people in it and people who make me feel somewhat normal again. But my life will never be the same, all because of one person`s actions.

All that matters to me is that we can all come together and, hopefully, people who aren`t dealing with this are going to come together and join in with us and save our children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You are my sunshine my only sunshine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): You are my sunshine my only sunshine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You are my sunshine my only sunshine.

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Erin Runnion`s 5-year-old daughter Samantha was snatched off her front lawn. She was also raped and smothered.

RUNNION: Please let her go. She is such a sweet child. We don`t want vengeance. We just want our baby back.

GRAPHIC: Samantha Runnion, Abducted, July 15, 2002.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said, "Help, tell my grandma!" And I did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kicking and screaming, she disappeared. The next day Samantha`s body was found in a remote area 50 miles from home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, I found a dead body. Please hurry! It`s a baby, and I think it might even be the little girl that`s been on the news.

RUNNION: And she fought, and I know she fought you. I know she looked at you with those amazing brown eyes, and you still wanted to kill her.

GRAPHIC: Alejandro Avila, Sentenced to death, July 22, 2005.

RUNNION: I have written and rewritten what I would say to the man who killed Samantha, and you better pay attention. She wanted to be a dancer and a teacher and a mother. She loved so many things. She had so much passion for life. I`ll never know what she would have become.

I was at work when Samantha was taken. I got home, and our whole complex was taped off. And I ran through the tape and ran into the house, and I went into our photo cabinet and got her school pictures and just cut them up and started running around the neighborhood passing them out and screaming her name, looking in Dumpsters, just -- the world is really, really big when you`re looking for a tiny little girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL (on camera): I heard that at one point you felt like you almost heard her say, "Mommy, Mommy." Tell us about that.

RUNNION: That was later in the evening. Honestly, I think it`s when she died. I felt her go through me, and I heard her scream, "Mommy."

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Five-year-old Samantha Runnion was playing outside with a friend when a man lured her into his car, telling her he had lost his Chihuahua puppy. In that moment, he snatched Samantha.

Her little friend gave a detailed description to police. The man had slicked-back hair and a mustache, driving a green car.

Police found her naked body on the side of a rural highway one day later. Samantha had her attacker`s DNA under her fingernail. Alejandro Avila was arrested three days after Samantha went missing.

RUNNION: It`s like being underwater. For me I felt literally like I was underwater. It was totally surreal. I stopped this man who was driving right in front of her school, and I tried to get him to open his trunk. Yes. The police probably would have been upset if they had known that I was doing that.

Look, you are so helpless. The sense of helplessness is unbelievable. And I had to do something. He was not a registered sex offender, because he was acquitted on multiple counts of continuous sexual abuse of three little girls a year before he took my daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s look at the controversy surrounding that aspect of your daughter`s case. It`s extraordinarily horrific. He did go to trial for a previous molestation case and was acquitted. Let`s listen.

RUNNION: I blame every juror who let him go. Every juror who sat on that trial and believed this man over those little girls, I will never understand. And that is why he was out, and that is why his sickness was allowed to do this.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: You got the details of that trial, then? What are the...

RUNNION: I haven`t even read the details honestly.

KING: They didn`t buy the statement of the kids?

RUNNION: Apparently not. Apparently not. And in California, that`s all you have to do is believe the kid.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alejandro Avila was found guilty of your daughter`s murder. One of the girls who had originally said, "He molested me," but they didn`t believe her, was in court crying. Tell us about this previous case and the fact that he went to -- he went to court, and they believed this guy over two girls.

RUNNION: Yes. Yes. It was two girls who actually testified against him in the trial previously. It was three girls in Samantha`s murder trial, three girls came forward and testified as to the way that he molested them. And that`s why it was entered as evidence, because even though he was acquitted, they could testify as to the actual acts. And it was the same methods that he used on my daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was it like to come face-to-face with Alejandro Avila in court?

RUNNION: That was the hardest part. It`s really hard to sit in a room with somebody who killed your baby.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take us back to when you saw him.

RUNNION: I was just really determined to be strong. I was really determined to make him experience our grief and the reality of what he did. Because I think that people -- I can only assume that a monster has to dehumanize his victim before he can do something like that to them. And so I wanted him to feel the humanity of it, because I don`t think he gets a place in humanity anymore.

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Coming up, on this ISSUES special investigation.

AHMAD RIVAZFAR, DAUGHTERS SARA, 6, AND SAYEH, 8, ABDUCTED: First they wanted me to identify the -- remains of my 6-year-old. Seeing my daughter in the cold morgue, I wanted to crawl up there and die with her.


RIVAZFAR: I couldn`t even breathe. I had many thoughts. I wanted to get up and choke him. For a long time that was like the answer I was looking for. I wanted him dead, because he took my princess` little life.

If I could bring my daughter back, I would ride around the globe.

GRAPHIC: Two sisters abducted from home by their mom`s boyfriend, September 22, 1988

RIVAZFAR: He wasn`t caught just once. He was caught many times and released again.

GRAPHIC: He rapes them, slashes their throats and leaves them to die.

RIVAZFAR: I have a daughter who was raped and maimed and did not survive. My 6-year-old Sara would be 28 years old.

GRAPHIC: One girl survives.

RIVAZFAR: My 8-year-old walked out of the woods and survived that horrifying night.

GRAPHIC: That 8-year-old girl is now 30. She became a cop.

The man who raped her and murdered her sister died on Death Row. July 16, 2004.

RIVAZFAR: First they wanted me to identify the -- remains of my 6- year-old, and my 8-year-old had survived. To see her when I got to the hospital seeing my daughter in the cold morgue, I wanted to crawl up there and die with her.

But to help, my brother was there. With the help of my brother, I came out of the morgue, went upstairs. My 8-year-old was on the bed with bandages all over her neck. She told me, "Daddy, Sara`s dead. She had a hole in her throat."

You know, my kids are all huggy-touchy. We all kiss and hug constantly. And a very mushy family. But Sara, I think, topped it all. She was, like, always hugging her siblings or around my neck. The minute I would walk in the house, she was constantly all over me.

She was extremely smart. She was -- she had so many questions about nature. It was amazing. She loved geography.

One of the places that she always dreamed of seeing was the Statue of Liberty. And I remember a year prior that`s the only visitation I had with them, we went to New York City, and she saw the Statue of Liberty. I asked her, "Sara, what does the Statue of Liberty mean to you?"

She says, "All free people like to see the Statue of Liberty, and I`m a free person."

And I have a picture with all of my kids in front of the Statue of Liberty. Sara was so happy that day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up on this ISSUES special investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tied her with speaker wire and threw her in a trash bag, put another trash bag over top of her, told her that she was -- he was going to put her somewhere where her daddy could find her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ahmad Rivazfar`s two daughters attacked by their own mother`s boyfriend, their throats slashed and the sisters left to die in the woods. Only one of those little girls survived.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m so happy that you`re alive. I`ve read about you, and now I get to meet you. And you and your dad are my heroes for taking unimaginable grief and turning it into a force for good. Do you know how amazing that is?

SAYEH RIVAZFAR, SURVIVED 1988 ATTACK: It is an amazing feeling. And you know what? It`s a community like this that we`re surrounded by that keeps you really going. And we need to make it bigger and we need to fight harder.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is there anything you would say in your sister Sara`s memory right now considering she died 22 years ago to the day?

RIVAZFAR: Twenty-two years ago and Sara will know because she is my guardian angel, that her name will not be in vain and that we are going to fight and fight and fight for her and the many other children out there.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: I met your daughter, your surviving daughter, and she`s extraordinary. Her optimism, her hope, her strength and the fact that she`s become a cop, and she goes after child molesters. You must be so proud of her.

AHMAD RIVAZFAR, DAUGHTERS ATTACKED IN 1988: I am extremely proud of her. She is really my inspiration. And even though I lost Sara, I have Sayeh back as a gift. It`s an amazing gift.

I know some of my friends here cannot share that gift with me, but I want to share it with them. Because I think it`s up to all of us to really think hard what our kids mean to us and what we can do to help them. Just standing by and watching this happen over and over again is really not the answer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was her spirit with you when you biked across the country?

A. RIVAZFAR: As a father, she is part of me until the day I die. And she`s always with me. I do get a chance to be with her soul, and I think that this ride gave me this opportunity to be with me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: To be with her in spirit.

A. RIVAZFAR: In spirit, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark Lunsford`s daughter, Jessica`s photo touched our heart when she vanished in the dead of night from her own bedroom. She was found buried just steps away from her home.

MARK LUNSFORD, FOUNDER, JESSICA MARIE LUNSFORD FOUNDATION: She`s just like your child, America. She`s just like yours, the one that you would do anything for. All of them are.

She was very good-natured to other children. I don`t think that child had a mean bone in her body. She loved everyone. She would steal you, is what I like to say about a lot of kids that you meet. They just steal you, and you just want to just melt right there at their feet and just whatever they want.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All of these stories are horrific, but the murder of your daughter, your precious daughter, Jessica is almost beyond comprehension, evil. I can`t even process some of the details.

Let`s listen to your daughter`s story and then talk about your valiant fight.


LUNSFORD: I will never see Jessie go on her first date. I will never be a grandfather to her children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Couey admitted to abducting Jessica and subsequently taking her life.

LUNSFORD: I hope you hear her cries as you try to sleep at night. I hope you see the tears run down her face when she asked you to go home.

This was my last job with Jessie, to raise her, and you took that away from me, Couey. I hope you rot in hell and I hope you get the death penalty.

Jessie`s home now, and she`s right here with me and all the parents out there. I know everybody does, but do it more often. Make sure you get that hug and kiss every day before you leave that house. I did. I got mine. You just make sure you get yours.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, she became world famous as the girl in the pink hat. Tell us about Jessica.

LUNSFORD: I got -- it doesn`t get any easier to try to explain to someone who your child was. You never forget, but it gets harder to explain to someone because you`re explaining something that`s not in your life anymore.

She`s not here for me to hold. She`s not walking over to the couch and telling me she loves me. We`re not arguing over who loves each other the most. She was a huge help.

I don`t know what it was about that child, but she wouldn`t clean her room, but she would clean the bathroom. We had a clean bathroom.

She wouldn`t eat much, which was in my favor because I don`t eat much. She liked her buttered noodles on a daily basis and mashed potatoes. As she got older, she experimented with bacon, and it was all over with. We could go to -- we could pull up in front of our favorite restaurant and by the time we got inside they already had her food started. They knew exactly what she wanted, how she wanted it.

She just had something about her, man. You could walk into a store with this child and come out with a lot of things that you never intended to buy when you went in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hate to take you back to that terrible day, but take us back and tell us what happened, if you can.

LUNSFORD: Jessie had just been at my parents` house. I went out with my girlfriend and -- you know, I worked 80 hours a week as a truck driver, and I worked hard. You know, I just wanted a life of my own and someone in it. I never knew that that would always weigh on me as I felt what was so important that I need to be with my girlfriend? Why didn`t I just stay home with my mom and dad and my daughter?

I came home and her -- Jessie was always the first one up. She`s waking everybody else up. She was an early bird. I came home, and she wasn`t up and her alarm clock was going off. I didn`t think nothing about it. I just went ahead and got dressed for work, figured she`d be up in a minute. Her alarm clock -- by the time I got my clothes on, her alarm clock was still going off, and I didn`t want to open her bedroom door.

I didn`t know what was wrong. Her bed was pulled down as if she had pulled it down herself. Her clothes were in her chair that she would put out the night before for school. Her sandals were there at the door.

I started hollering for her, and it wasn`t funny anymore. It wasn`t a joke. She wasn`t trying to get one over on dad. But I sure wished it was. I left the house and went through the neighborhood, up and down the streets, calling her. And what really sucks is that she could hear me, and I couldn`t hear her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up on this ISSUES special investigation --


LUNSFORD: There are children out there that will suffer for days of being beat, being stabbed, left for dead. My daughter took one breath and couldn`t take another. Her fingers were sticking to the plastic bag when they dug her up.




LUNSFORD: They searched for Jessie for about three weeks. You know, they start inside the home and work their way out is what they said. They accused my father. They told me my father had my daughter`s blood on his clothes. And they wanted me to go into the room and ask him what he did with her body. These are tactics, trying to get the truth from someone who doesn`t know the truth.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jessica Lunsford was snatched from her bedroom by a known sex offender. John Couey held her captive in the closet for days, raping her and eventually burying her alive. The entire time she was missing she was just steps away from the house where she lived with her father.


LUNSFORD: You know they went to that house the first three days of her missing they went to that house three times. And in three different police reports they wrote that that house was suspicious, but they never searched that house. In one of the police reports they said that on one of the three days they said that that a person came to the door, openly nervous and shaky. But they never searched that house.

Then in another police report they said that they had seen a man -- the front door was open and they seen a man exit the back door of the house. They asked who it was. There was -- they were told it was someone else, but they never searched the house.

They started showing his picture as a person of interest. During the investigation, neighbors had, you know, gave them information. I guess people that lived there in the house and you know pressed their own suspicions that took them three weeks to figure out this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The horror of this case is that the man who raped and killed your daughter had her only about 150 yards away. He was a registered sex offender. They never knew that he was there because he was registered somewhere else, which is part of the problem.

Let`s look at the controversy surrounding this aspect of this horrific case.


LUNSFORD: He failed to register, lived across the street from my house. I mean, that they didn`t hold him -- if they had put him in prison the first time he done this for 25 years to life, then my daughter would still be there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The details of your daughter`s death and -- and specifically that police believe that she was buried alive by this monster after he repeatedly raped her.

LUNSFORD: He -- he tied her with speaker wire and put her in a trash bag, put in another trash bag over top of her, told her that he was going to put her somewhere where her daddy could find her. And then he buried her alive not just out in the woods or in his backyard but right next to his back door, the very steps that you walk down, you passed by her grave.

No one in that house, no other person in that house, was ever convicted of anything. It`s a 14 x 16 mobile home. You can hear anything and everything from one end to the other. These people knew that he was a convicted sex offender, and it was their uncle. He molested them.

But yet they let him live in that house with their children. He -- he may have buried Jessie alive. He may be the only person to blame for her death. But there are far more evil people than John Couey, far more evil. Anyone -- and I`m not saying John Couey did Jessie any favors but not physically hurting her, beating her, stabbing her. He raped her and he killed her.

There are children out there that will suffer for days for being beat, maybe stabbed, left for dead, to watch their selves bleed and die. My daughter took one breath and couldn`t take another one. Her fingers were sticking through the plastic bag when they dug her up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, John Couey tried to pretend that he was mentally incompetent by playing with crayons during the trial.

LUNSFORD: John Couey worked at her school. He was a -- a laborer for a contractor. And just down the street from us there`s a restaurant where he was writing love letters to a 14-year-old little girl who worked -- who worked in the -- that either came into the restaurant or worked in the restaurant.

He had been convicted two other times of molesting children, breaking into homes; at one point in time he would have gotten more time for stealing the silver ware than what he got for molesting a child. He had been arrested 23 times in 46 years. No, was given 18 years, 18 so in 40 years, 38 years he had been arrested 23 times. How many times does someone have to tell you they`re a bad person before you do something with them?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up on this ISSUES special investigation.


LUNSFORD: Jesse`s important, she`s very important. It`s easier for me to tell you what`s wrong with the system than to hurt you with the truth about what a wonderful daughter I had.

She was my life. I had plans. And those plans were taken away. But it`s easier for me to tell you the faults in the system than to sit here and tell America what a wonderful child she is because she`s just like your child, America. She`s just like yours; the one that you would do anything in this world for. All of them are.



LUNSFORD: She was definitely grandma`s girl. Grandma was grandma. And sometimes grandma was mom. But she was very close with her grandmother and she was -- she wasn`t afraid to tell her grandpa that it was his fault if the pie got burnt. And he would accept whatever she said.

Jesse`s important, she`s very important. It`s easier for me to tell you what`s wrong with the system than to hurt you with the truth about what a wonderful daughter I had. She was my life. I had plans and those plans were taken away.

But it`s easier for me to tell you the faults in the system than to sit here and tell America what a wonderful child she is because she`s just like your child, America. She`s just like yours; the one you would do anything for. All of them are.

But it -- I don`t want to miss the part about telling you about who`s failing, what we`re doing wrong, and what can we do to make it right? Versus telling you things that you`ll never really be able to grasp because you never met her.

My little girl didn`t have to die. She didn`t have to be murdered. He had no right to rape her. He had no right to be across the street from my home. Two weeks before my daughter`s death, they came to that house to arrest John Couey on a warrant. Two weeks later my daughter went missing and then murdered.

Do you know who the first cop was on the scene? Same one that was there two weeks ago, but nobody knew John Couey was there. Why wouldn`t you search that house? I know, I know. You live on a different planet than we do. But you don`t. You are not far from one of these animals. And you are not exempt from being a victim.

I don`t live in my -- we all live in our own pain every day. We all relive it five times a day if somebody won`t do something about it. So there`s the deal. I mean, we`ll live through the pain and tell everyone, if you`ll just do something about it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tomorrow night, we continue our ISSUES special investigation: "Every Parent`s Nightmare"; more stories of unimaginable evil, heartbreak and the valiant fight to protect our children.


ED SMART, DAUGHTER ELIZABETH WAS ABDUCTED IN 2002: Whether they get them back or they don`t, the not knowing is worse than anything else out there. I remember when Elizabeth came home. It was so wonderful, for two months I didn`t talk to any of my friends because I thought -- I really felt like, you know, what can I say? I was lucky I got mine back and you didn`t. And why was that? It was hard.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More never before heard personal stories from incredibly brave victims of these heinous crimes. ISSUES pushes for solutions; that`s coming up tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.