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Young Women in Fear of Serial Killer in New York; Missing Girl, Mystery Call

Aired January 25, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight a serial killer shocker. Police identify three more missing women whose bodies were found dumped on a desolate stretch of beach. Cops confirm all of them were prostitutes who advertised online. So who is the Craigslist serial killer roaming loose in New York?

Then, a teen vanishes without a trace. Kyla Porter called her sister to say she would be home in an hour. That was the last are time her family heard from her. I`ll talk to Kyla`s tormented mother and her twin sister about the mysterious disappearance live tonight.

And an incomprehensible crime. Cops say a mother coldly executed her three innocent children and shot the family dog before setting her home on fire and killing herself. Was it all to get revenge on her estranged husband? We`ll have the latest.

Plus, Oprah`s jaw-dropping confession. The talk show queen discovers she has a sister she never knew she had. So how did Oprah`s mom keep this family secret from her famous daughter for so long? And how does Oprah feel about being lied to by her own mom all these years?

ISSUES starts now.



ALLIE PERTEL, MEGAN WATERMAN`S SISTER: She loves her daughter so much. She didn`t deserve this. Nobody deserves this. It`s just the worst feeling. I feel like I`ve been stabbed in my stomach. I convinced myself it wasn`t, after a week when we didn`t hear back from the DNA. I just -- I said it`s not her. They would have called us if it was her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news. Terror strikes the young women of Long Island, New York, as cops frantically hunt to track down a depraved serial killer.

Cops made a horrific discovery last month: four bodies in various stages of decomposition, all dumped within a quarter mile of one another along that remote stretch of beach. You`re looking at it there.

Tonight, devastating news to the victims` families. All four of the bodies have now been identified. What they have in common is chilling. They were all young women in their 20s, all petite. Most under five feet tall. And cops say all four of these tragic victims were prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist and other Web sites.

Who is the mystery killer dubbed the Long Island Seaside Sicko? Investigators suspect it`s a local man, someone that knew how well hidden his chosen dumping ground was. It`s practically impossible to pull your car over on this secluded stretch of beach without getting a ticket.

One witness pointed to the possible killer as a shady guy in an SU, who was chasing down a female victim, who had knocked on the witness`s door pleading, "Help me, help me."

And there was also a menacing mystery creep who called one of the victim`s mother and sister using the missing woman`s phone days after she vanished. We`ll investigate all of that.

Meantime, what are cops doing to track down this murderer on the loose, using forensic data from Craigslist?

I am taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. What`s your theory on this serial killer?

Straight out to Jean Casarez, correspondent for "In Session" on TruTV.

Jean, you`ve been tracking the serial killer case. What is the very latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": Well, the latest is the district attorney of Suffolk County, New York, came out publicly to say that they do believe it is a serial killer, just as you say, Jane, because all of the similarities are there.

First of all, the bodies were in differing states of decomposition, but they were all dumped so close together on this baron land on Long Island, New York. They were all escorts. They did all advertise on Craigslist. They did frequent the New York area. Some were from New York. All were very short, about five feet or less, and about 100 pounds. And furthermore, we don`t know the cause of death. But authorities are saying that they all were killed in substantially the same way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, two key witnesses might help cops nab this killer. This is bizarre.

Days after 24-year-old Melissa Bartholomew (ph) went missing in July of 2009, cops say her mother and sister got phone calls from Melissa`s cell phone, from a male caller. This mystery caller said, quote, "Do you know what your sister does for a living? Your sister is a whore. Don`t be like your sister," end quote.

Meantime, this past spring, a guy who lives in the very town where the bodies were ultimately discovered says a frantic young woman who looked like she`d been partying all night came to his door screaming, "Help me, help me." She said she was being chased by a man. That witness said he called 911. She ran away.

Moments later, the witness says an Asian man in a dark-colored SUV pulled up to the house, looking for the girl. When this witness told the man he had called police, this man ominously said, quote, "You should not have done that."

So Mike Brooks, HLN law enforcement analyst, could this be the killer?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: There`s a good possibility, Jane. I mean, that`s what they`re going on right now. Is this witness possible -- witness identification?

Now will they be able to get some kind of composite? Possibly. Will they be able to find where this call was made using Melissa`s cell phone? That`s a good possibility also.

But the key is the cooperation with Craigslist, with law enforcement, on tracking down who was querying, possibly, women of small stature, depending on how these listings were made on Craigslist. And they`re also looking at other Web sites, possibly like, which is -- which is similar to Craigslist, that also has different personal ads.

I looked on that page today. I look on that Web site today, Jane. And there is one group that is -- what they call "under review" right now. And that is "Women Seeking Men, No Strings Attached" and "Missed Connections." So they`re taking a look at that particular Web site to make sure that it is safe.

But still, a lot of advertising on Craigslist still and on other Web sites similar to Craigslist.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Now what are cops doing to corner this serial killer on the loose? Listen to this very candid exchange from yesterday`s news conference.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt the killer is paying attention. Do you have a message for this person?

TOM SPOTA, SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The message that I would send out, I don`t think it`s going to be particularly productive, is that he or she, or they, you know, please come forward.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue: Craigslist clues. Cops say all four dead women advertised their prostitution services on Craigslist. Is the answer buried in the data that is somewhere on the Internet? Is there one e-mail or IP address that is a commonality that all four cases have in common? Because if this killer found these women on Craigslist, somehow his IP address, his e-mail, is going to be connected to all four.

How, Robin Sax, former sex crimes prosecutor, do they go on the Internet and find out what person contacted all four of these women via Craigslist?

ROBIN SAX, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: The data collection in this case is absolutely critical. And you hit the nail right on the head there. That`s exactly what law enforcement is going to be doing.

What they`re going to be doing is looking for the individual personal IP addresses that may be similar to each one of these victims in the return e-mail.

I would not be surprised right now if law enforcement actually has some decoys out there, some ads that they have put out there, hoping that the perpetrator responds to one of those ads, and they can do a reverse sting in that type of manner.

Also, being able, if this have the -- if for some reason or some way that tape recorder to those sister and the mother were tape recorded or there was -- the ping addresses or telephone, was actually the phone call made, they could check that with ping towers and cell phone towers.

So this is going to be a case of connecting a lot of data. It will take time, but what we know about the Internet is that the footprint there is there to stay.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What I found very chilling about that news conference, Mike Brooks, is that law enforcement acknowledged that this serial killer is out there and may very well be watching all this coverage. That serial killer could be watching right now.

BROOKS: Absolutely. I mean, there`s no question that serial killers, they go to the news to take a look at how they -- how they believe the case may be progressing, if law enforcement is getting closer to them.

And I can tell you, there`s a lot of things that law enforcement are doing that I don`t want to give away right now. A lot of technology that`s being used. They can -- they can also ask for some federal assets that have some increased technology, if you will, on finding out some of these IP addresses.

Also, a lot of cell-phone technology that`s out there, Jane. Because if you look on Craigslist and others, a lot of times, these -- these women will put their cell-phone numbers on so they can -- when they get close to meeting up with their perspective john, they will use the cell phone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this raises -- it raises the question, is the Internet really the culprit in these horrific deaths? Listen to the cops talk about that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them were self-employed in the escort business. They were prostitutes. They were soliciting their services on Craigslist and other Web sites found on the Internet.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you may have seen this story. Craigslist actually shut down its adult services section on September 3 of last year in the wake of a slew of horrific crimes, including -- this is the case you`re looking at here -- the murder of prostitute Julissa Brisman. She was murdered by this guy you`re looking at, Craigslist killer Philip Markoff. Markoff later committed suicide. He was this preppie med student. You`ve got to remember this case out of Boston.

Now, in this case all four of the murdered prostitutes we`re talking about tonight vanished before Craigslist shut down its adult services. In fact, one of them vanished the day before the adult services section was shut down.

But ultimately, Robin Sax, you`re the former sex crimes prosecutor. Craigslist is saying, "Hey, at least, you know, we were tracking it now. Prostitutes, pimps and johns are going to go even deeper into the Internet, and it`s going to be even harder to track their movements." What do you say to that?

SAX: Well, it`s always nice to blame technology, the curse of technology. There`s certainly enough stuff going on out there that is the cause of a lot of horrific crimes.

But what we can`t discount is how technology in this case may actually help solve crimes. But for the advertising on Craigslist, this guy may just be finding prostitutes on the street, which may make it much harder to actually track him down.

So while there is a detriment, and it does make it more complicated and people dig -- could dig deeper, it also could be a benefit. But so long as Craigslist is willing to cooperate and help out and to ensure that their site isn`t facilitating more crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brenda, Michigan, your question or thought.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. I`m going to be nervous, but I watch you all the time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m glad. What`s the question?

CALLER: I just watched last week, the Craigslist killer. And I just think it`s a copycat. Somebody wanting to get out there and be just like him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jean Casarez, you cover so many of these stories. And there is that factor of a possible copycat. Craigslist Killer got so much you attention. And remember, he ended up killing himself in his cell.

CASAREZ: That`s right. So actually, what we`re saying is, if this person is affiliated with Craigslist at all or was, really a stupid thing to do, because Philip Markoff didn`t get too far by doing it.

You know, Jane, also, there are some unsolved murders of escorts in the Atlantic City area that were all found within a block of each other. And I`m sure investigators are going to look to see if there are any significant similarities between these bodies now identified in Long Island and Atlantic City.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Remember, they`re both near the shore. Atlantic City is on the shore. This is near the shore on Long Island. And in fact, those cops have been trading information. I`ve learned that.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

A family`s desperate hunt for answers. Kyla Porter vanished in 2008 after calling her sister to say she`d be home in an hour. What happened to this teenager? I`m going to talk to her devastated mother and her frantic twin sister next.

Also, cops say a woman shot and killed her three young children and then turned the gun on herself after setting her home on fire. Why? Was she trying to get the ultimate revenge on her estranged husband?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From everything I`ve seen, she was a great mom. No indication that this would ever happen at all. Never in a million years would I guess that she would do this.




THERESA AHRENS, KYLA PORTER`S MOTHER: I know something bad has happened to my daughter. And I don`t know how to find out what has happened to her or how to find out where she is. I know somebody out there knows something about what happened to Kyla that night.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a mother`s desperate plea to find her missing daughter. Kyla Porter has been missing for almost three years now. Kyla made a mysterious phone call one night, and she was never heard from again. Her mother says the friend she was with has not helped them.

Kyla was just 19 when she disappeared. She`d be 22 today. Her mom says she`d never leave home without letting them know. The last time anybody heard from Kyla was February 15, 2008.

And we`re hearing some stories. One of them is that Kyla called her sister Lynn and said she`d be home in an hour but then Kyla never showed up. What could have happened during that time?

Kyla is adored by her family and especially her twin sister, Sheresa, and her mom. Now, here`s Kyla at her nephew`s fourth birthday party, just a couple of months before she vanished. Watch carefully.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Let`s go. Take the birthday cake over there, Sheresa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tyler, why don`t you take the cake over, because I`m holding the camera now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops told Kyla`s mom they could not search for Kyla for two weeks because she was an adult. Was precious time lost because of that?

Straight out to our very special guest, Kyla`s mother, Theresa Ahrens, and Kyla`s twin sister, Sheresa.

First of all, I know this has to be so hard on both of you. I know you`ve been through hell. We want to help here on ISSUES. We want to get this story out there, and hopefully somebody sees something that rings a bell, and we can bring your precious loved one home.

Let me start with Sheresa. Tell us about what you know about the last time anybody in your family heard from Kyla. What do you know?

SHERESA PORTER, SISTER: Well, see, that`s the hard thing. We really don`t know anything that -- Kyla just -- she was staying with my older sister, Bobbi Lynn. And she -- my older sister was at work, and she had called her and just let her know that she was going to go out. Because she was actually supposed to go to my mother`s house that night. But my mother had my sister`s kids. And she wasn`t able to pick them up at the time, and Kyla, I guess, decided she was going to go out.

And we weren`t exactly sure who really picked her up. And she -- we had just heard that she had went to some party with some friends and she had even called on her way home and said...

AHRENS: About 9:30.

PORTER: Yes, about 9:30. And said she was on her way home. And she -- she...

AHRENS: Would be home in an hour.


AHRENS: She`d be home in an hour. And she -- so her sister called me, because I was concerned about not being able to pick her up to come over to baby-sit at my house. And she called and said that -- told her older sister, she said, "I`m with my friend. And I`ll be home in an hour."

And then the next day, my daughter called me and she said, "You know, Kyla never did come home last night."

And I said, "She didn`t?" I said, "Well, I`ll call her friend." And her friend had...

PORTER: No name.

AHRENS: I know, I know. She said she wasn`t with her. So that became a big mystery. We never were able to figure out who she was with. All we know is she left sometime that day and went out that night. And we have never heard from her again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What has this been like for you, Theresa Ahrens?

AHRENS: This changed -- this changed my whole life. It`s just changed my whole life. There`s not a part of my life that hasn`t been affected by this. My family, I can`t even -- you just can`t go on in a normal life when you have a daughter that just disappeared off the face of the earth. Somebody knows where she`s at. Somebody knows what happened to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My heart goes out to you.

Hang on. We`re going to be back with both of you in a second. We want to help find your loved one. We`re going to do what we can. Hold on. We`ll be back in a second.



AHRENS: She went out with her friends. She called her sister that night and said she would be home at 11 p.m. Eleven p.m. came, and she never came home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A mother`s crusade to find her precious missing daughter.

Just a couple of months before Kyla disappeared, she came to her nephew`s birthday party. Now, take a look. Kyla is the one holding the birthday cake. This girl is now missing. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Happy birthday, dear Marcus, happy birthday to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blow out the candles.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Theresa, did your daughter have any problems that would lead her into perhaps a troubled relationship? I know she had a fiance who was in jail on drug charges. So he can`t have done anything, because he was in jail at the time she disappeared.

AHRENS: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But anybody else she was dating?

PORTER: No. We actually -- we`re still in contact with her fiance. He`s actually part of our family. I talk to him every day. And I -- I`ve actually lived with him very recently.

AHRENS: She wasn`t dating anybody that I know of. She was just hanging out with her friends when her -- her fiance, you know, got -- did what, you know, got a -- locked up. She was -- thought she was in love with him. And that really threw her for a loop.

So she kind of got a little depressed. And she was -- you know, was going out with her friends a lot, and doing a lot of partying. So, you know, that was -- that was concerning me, because she was really depressed. And I don`t know who -- I just don`t know who she hooked up with that -- that -- we just don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did she have her cell phone with her? And police told you that they picked up pings, if so?

AHRENS: No. There was no cell phone. That`s the thing.

PORTER: She had no phone. She had no way of us tracking her, of contacting her at all. And you know what? The hardest part...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait. Didn`t she call you at one point? So who did she -- where did she call you from?

AHRENS: Right. She...

PORTER: From a friend`s phone.

AHRENS: She called from a phone. We don`t know who it was.

PORTER: Right.

AHRENS: And her -- she called her sister. And all we know is it was from an 813 area code, which we live in a 727. Eight-one-three is Tampa. And 727 is where we live and the Newport Richey Holiday area where she went missing from.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, police have to tell you -- they can easily look at the phone records and find out what that phone was, who that phone belongs to.

PORTER: With Metro, I guess, because my sister had a Metro phone, I guess they don`t keep -- only but outbound calls with Metro. So there was only so far that they could go back.

AHRENS: Right. They don`t keep any outbound calls that come in. Because we drove to the main store to try to see if we could retrieve the phone calls. And the sheriff`s department did get a court order and looked at the phone records. And, you know, it was all her calls going out. There was nothing coming in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ATM card? Ever use -- did she ever use her ATM card after the last...


AHRENS: No, nothing.

PORTER: Nothing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a terrible mystery.

PORTER: You know, with -- the hardest part of all of this is -- is just not knowing, not knowing, if she`s out there hoping that somebody will find her, that we will find her. And she`s by herself and scared, and she is dead, and we just want to bring her home to us. The hardest part is just not being able to know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We want to do everything we can to find your loved one. We want to have you back. We are going to call the police; we`re going to work on this.

Thank you so much. God bless you. We`re with you here on ISSUES.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: An incomprehensible crime: cops say a mother coldly executed her three innocent children and shot the family dog before setting her home on fire and killing herself. Was it all to get revenge on her estranged husband? We will have the latest.

Plus, Oprah`s jaw-dropping confession: the talk show queen confesses she has a sister she never knew she had. So how did Oprah`s mom keep this family secret from her famous daughter for so long? And how does Oprah feel about being lied to by her own mom all these years?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a very loving mother. A very good person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her mom, she treated us all the same. Like, she helped us out if we needed help. And -- she was basically like my second mom.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a seemingly good mother does the totally unthinkable, executing her children and then killing herself. Police say Amanda Bennett shot and killed her three kids, ages 14, 9 and 4. She then shot the family dog, set the house on fire and committed suicide. Only the dog survived.

Could a messy divorce, money problem and rumors her husband was cheating have pushed her over the edge? Shortly before the shootings, Amanda posted this online message in reference to her estranged husband. "It is time to take the pain away so John Bennett this is for you. You got what you wanted. No wife and no kids." End quote.

This was Amanda`s final post in a nasty exchange she had, a public message board. It all started with the rumor that her husband was having an fair with a co-worker. One person even called Amanda a psycho and suggested what goes around comes around. Could these vicious online attacks have provoked Amanda -- proved her into killing her three kids? And did she murder her children in the ultimate act of revenge against her estranged husband? They were in the middle of a messy divorce.

Straight out to HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks. Mike I`m almost afraid to ask. Tell us what happened. How did these precious children, these innocents die?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It looks like a tragic case of murder/suicide. Some individuals who were concerned about her apparently called police and said hey, can you go over there and check on the welfare of Amanda Bennett and the children? Well, when police arrived, they found Amanda Bennett along with her three children, as you said, ages 4, 9, and 14, dead. Apparently, Jane, she killed all -- she shot three children and then -- and the family dog, set the house on fire, and then apparently killed herself.

But apparently she and one of the children died of gunshot wounds and smoke inhalation. But what was the motive for this? Was it these online posts? That remains to be seen. Now, some people close to the family say even though they were in the midst of a divorce, Jane, the family seemed fairly cohesive. They would see the father come over and play ball with the children outside and she would sit on the front steps and watch them. And it didn`t seem to be a nasty divorce.

But apparently she had been laid off from a factory. He was also a factory worker. Going through a lot of tough times. Was it the online posts that were the motive for this? That remains to be seen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, we`re going to go into that right now. Here is my big issue. Did Amanda`s public humiliation play a role in this unimaginable horror?

The wicked online exchange was on a local message board devoted to gossip apparently involving her husband`s job. It all started January 9 with this message from her husband`s, I think, one-time co-worker.

"John Bennett and Jan need to quit messing with each other. They are both married and she`s old."

Next day Amanda wrote, "Glad you all want in our business. So he been yelling that I cheated that`s a lie. We are still married and if he wants her old ass fine with me."

Then another user replied to Amanda, "Liar. You cheated and you know it."

And another user called Amanda, "Psycho" and suggested, "What goes around comes around."

She wrote this pathetic response. Quote, "He will regret everything he`s doing right now. Maybe not tomorrow but one day. He said he didn`t trust me and I didn`t stray at all. So how is he ever going to trust her? Oh, well. I hope that both catch something." End quote.

Then Friday, right before the shooting, she wrote this. "It is time to take the pain away. So John Bennett, this is for you. You got what you wanted. No wife and no kids. You put her before them. And you say it is because of the way I act? Well, that has nothing to do with your kids. So now you have your truck and your hoe and some family but even they don`t think you have been a good dad and they know I didn`t do anything to deserve this," End quote.

Dr. Dale Archer, psychiatrist, A, this dirty laundry is being aired for all the world to read and I find it fascinating that the woman who shot her three children in the head considered herself a victim.

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I think the one thing that I can say is not going on here is that she was not depressed. This is just plain pure unadulterated evil, Jane.

Basically this is a woman who decided she wanted to get revenge. And in order to do that, she not only killed herself, killed the kids, she killed the dog and set the house on fire --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now the dog survived. The dog survived.

ARCHER: The dog survived. Yes.


ARCHER: Tried to kill the dog. But she was telling the husband I am going to take everything I can from you and I am going to put you in as much pain as possible. And it was pure revenge.

But the thing that concerns me the most is that in today`s world, murder is now an option. Twenty years ago, take the house, take the money, ruin his reputation. Now it is about "I`m going kill the kids just to get back to you." It is just a sick, sick twisted mind of a mother that would overcome the maternal instinct in order to kill her own kids for this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I agree with you mostly. But let`s face it. We have seen killer moms before. Unlike Amanda, those women lived to stand trial for their crimes. Andrea Yates, we all remember, drowned her five kids. That was back in 2001. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a mental hospital where she is now.

Susan smith is serving life in prison for killing her two sons. You remember this case -- infamous case. She drove her car into the lake with the boys strapped into their car seats. And she claimed a black man had kidnapped them when in fact that was all made up. She did it herself.

What separates Amanda from these women who murdered their kids but didn`t commit suicide is that this appears Robin Sax to be a plain old straight-out -- no mental illness necessarily because she was apparently a good mom -- just straight revenge. I`m going to get back at you and I`m going kill these kids to get -- look at these precious kids. Look at these faces. These kids are dead. They were shot in the head by their own mother. Imagine.

They were supposedly asleep and it was a snow day and they were home from school. But please, you shoot one, the others are going to wake up. What did they experience, these kids?

ROBIN SAX, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you cannot imagine the selfishness and the narcissism that must have been going on and playing a role in this Amanda Bennett`s mind and head. Not only was acting out of revenge but she was acting out of her own selfishness and her own desire to end her own pain.

And that`s what is so despicable here is that there`s these three kids where a divorce would have been an option. You know, moving, doing anything but not only sticking it to him publicly but then going so far as to end her life and her kids` life and leaving everybody else with all of these questions as to what the exact motivation was.

This is just something that there`s no closure for anyone because there is no one to prosecute at the end of the day -- just the dog.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, there were additional stressors, Mike Brooks. Money problems. One of them -- and we`re getting conflicting reports -- was laid off. It could have been her because she was on unemployment. They filed for bankruptcy in 2009. In 2008 collection agencies were going after them and were able to garnish one of the two`s wages and they are in the middle of nasty divorce. So money problems, nasty divorce, and allegations of cheating on both sides -- that is a pressure cooker right there.

BROOKS: It really is. And as Dr. Dale will say those are three of your top ten stressors that anyone can go through.

But, Jane, why bring the kids into this? Why murder these precious little children? 4, 9 and 14 years old. You know, suicide, we always say -- it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But when you take your whole family out like that, Jane, it is just unthinkable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just can`t stop thinking about these kids; whoever got it first and then the other ones waking up and seeing what`s going on and saying no, mom, no, mom and then getting blown away. Their heads shot off. The sickness involved.

Amanda`s oldest child, 14-year-old Jasmine, was all too familiar with her parents` crumbling marriage and had told her friends about it. Listen to this.


KAREN BARRETT, FRIEND: Jasmine comes to school talking about that her mom and dad getting a divorce. She talked about her mom so much, how much she loved her mother.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Dale Archer, the odd thing about this is that relatives and neighbors had said it seemed good on the outside, almost perfect. Even though the kid was talking about the divorce, it wasn`t like the neighbors heard any yelling or screaming or anything like that. And the husband moved out.

ARCHER: Right. I think the important thing to remember here, depression is anger turned inward. And you kill yourself when you are depressed in order to end your own pain. This had nothing to do with that. And very often in a scenario like this, the outside world doesn`t know what`s going on between the husband and the wife.

So I think it was obviously much worse than anyone would have realized but I also think that the motive here was plain and simple, hurt the husband. Not about her; it was about hurting him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So evil. So unthinkable. May those children rest in peace.

Thank you, expert panel.

Oprah discovers a mind-blowing secret: she has a long lost sister. How was this secret kept for so long and then finally revealed? I want to hear your thoughts on this. Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877- 586-7297.


CARLOS DIAZ, SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It`s a bigger payday if you wait. Patricia`s smart because you can sell your story to the tabloids and then never get the big payday which is you`re Oprah`s half sister.



CONAN O`BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: Oprah Winfrey, did you hear this? She announced that she has found her half sister who was given up for adoption as a child. Is that crazy? Yes. And then so that no one felt left out, Oprah gave everyone in the audience their own half sister. That was exciting. Look under your seats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you look kind of like my dad.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very funny. Tonight Oprah`s secret sister: the talk show queen calls it the miracle of all miracles. Listen to this from "The Oprah Winfrey Show".


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Just before Thanksgiving, I was given some news that literally shook me to my core; a bombshell family secret that left me speechless.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: For more than 40 years, Oprah`s had a half sister she knew absolutely nothing about. Oprah was 9 and living with her dad when her mom secretly gave birth to sister, Patricia and sent her to live in a foster home. Patricia was adopted when she was 9 and now has two kids of her own.

Now these sisters had a tearful family reunion this Thanksgiving. Take a look at this from request "The Oprah Winfrey Show". Amazing.



WINFREY: Nice to see you. Nice to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. You look just like Pat.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you imagine not only are you meeting your long lost half sister but you are meeting superstar Oprah? Oprah says she was so touched that her sister who knew that she was related to Oprah Winfrey since 2007 never sold her story to the tabloids. Listen to this from OWN.


WINFREY: What`s so extraordinary about Patricia and Andre and Aquarius is that they have known this secret since 2007. She never once thought to go to the press. She never once thought to sell the story. She never once.

PATRICIA, OPRAH WINFREY`S HALF SISTER: It is family business. And family business needs to be handled by family.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oprah with tears in her eye the whole time. The show brought in Oprah`s highest ratings in almost six years.

Straight out to entertainment journalist Jawn Murray; Jawn, this is extraordinary. What are your thoughts on this sort of merger of a very, very -- well, deep family secret and the most public forum possible, Oprah Winfrey?

JAWN MURRAY, AOL BLACK VOICES: I mean, it was -- it was unbelievable. I got tipped off about this story over the weekend, Jane, and actually broke it on AOL Black Voices an hour before Oprah disclosed it at 9:00 a.m. Central time in Chicago.

You know, we have been -- jaded by these type of stories because people like Maury Povich make fun of them so much. But the fact that Oprah had a family secret, took control of it, and introduced her sister to the audience herself, it was mind-blowing. And a lot of people are saying she did it for ratings. I don`t believe it because if it was really about ratings she would have waited until February and done it for sweeps.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s funny. You are right. A lot of people are saying she did it for ratings -- she didn`t create this half sister. And she is a genius. She takes situations and she makes them work for her. Even if she did consider rating to the equation, I don`t blame her for it. She didn`t create the situation. Let her take -- let her make it work for her instead of against her.

Oprah and her mother had a very, very -- notoriously rocky relationship. But Oprah`s friend Gayle King tells ABC the talk show host now understands her mom and has forgiven her for doing this. She says Oprah encouraged her mom, let go of the shame you feel over giving up this baby.

I have to say Paul Hokemeyer, family therapist, could this toxic secret Oprah`s mother was keeping actually led Oprah to become the talk show host she is today? There`s a pop psychology, John Bradshaw of "Family Secrets". He says a child subconsciously knows if their parent is keeping a toxic secret and acts it out in some way.

Could Oprah have been drawn to this profession of getting everybody to open up and spill their guts because subconsciously she wanted to pull the truth out of people because she suspected her mother was hiding something?

PAUL HOKEMEYER, FAMILY THERAPIST: Absolutely. I think that we are talking about the right issue which is family secrets. We know in the business that families are as sick as their secrets.


HOKEMEYER: So I think that here what we have is a situation where families, you know, when we come into this world, we form our identity in relationship to our families and in particular, our mothers. Now there is a healthy way of being which is where families and relationships with our mothers are open and honest and then there unhealthy relationships where they are full of lies and shame and secrecy.

I think what we have here is a situation where Oprah has done a magnificent job over the years of getting past that shame and getting past that secrecy and finding a voice in the world and finding the capacity to heal and heal not just herself but millions and millions of other people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That sounds great. But here is my big issue tonight. Is Oprah going to have a delayed reaction? Right now Oprah is euphoric. She`s saying this is a miracle of all miracle? Listen to this from "The Oprah Winfrey Show".


WINFREY: My sister, Patricia is here. Come on out, Patricia.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Joy Bing Fleming, you found your birth mother after 35 years. I`m suspecting Oprah might get angry at mom after the shock wears off and the reality that her mom lied to her for her entire life sets in, Joy.

JOY BING FLEMING: Yes, I can relate to Oprah`s story, and definitely to her half sister. I did find my birth mother after 35 years, and I found her this past July, 2010. And she was over 2,000 miles away, and I showed up at her door not knowing if she was going to slam the door in my face or if she wanted to do anything with me. And it was one of the scariest things I did but it turned out to be an amazing event, and it did fill a void in my life and made me feel whole.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anger, we`re going to talk about anger, next. Stay with us.


VERNON WINFREY, OPRAH`S FATHER: Every family has some secret. Some will bill be aired and some will not. There`s nothing to be ashamed about. I`ve said to myself, she might have given that child a way where she could keep her. We don`t know. I don`t know.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is Oprah`s dad. Tonight, meet Oprah`s secret sister. The talk show phenomenon met her long host half sister Patricia this Thanksgiving. Patricia knew for several years she was related to the queen of daytime but Oprah`s mom denied it and denied it for years.

Finally Oprah confronts her mother and she admits it. I believe, Paul Hokemeyer, you`re the family therapist -- there`s going to be some anger welling up once the shock and the joy of all this wears off and the reality sets in. Oprah`s mom lied to her all her life.

HOKEMEYER: Absolutely. Right. I think once we receive a bit of shocking news, our psyche doesn`t really have the capacity to take it in. So initially there`s joy and jubilation, but after a while other emotions start to come in. And those emotions are anger. Those emotions are resentment.

And I think so. I think that there`s going to have to be some work that needs to be done between Oprah and her mother. But this is not new. I mean if we look at the history of their relationship it`s constantly been mired in this sort of thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, this is the big Kahuna. This is not, you didn`t take out garbage. This is you lying to me by omission my entire life and never told me I had a half sister. This is a big deal.

HOKEMEYER: This is a very big deal. Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now Oprah tells her best friend Gayle King, she`s invited her sister Patricia into her home. Oprah says, quote, "I had her to dinner at my house tonight before we tape the show. There were conversations about Patricia`s family and how I can be helpful."

Jawn Murray, "Forbes Magazine" says Oprah is worth $2.4 billion. So on Patricia`s side, could money and fame become an issue. Could Patricia feel, hey, I ended up going to foster care, I deserve some of Oprah`s cash. I was cheated. Look how successful my half sister is, I could have been like her if I`d only been given the chance?

MURRAY: Well, I think the thing Oprah really likes about Patricia, Jane, is that she`s not money hungry because if she was money hungry, she would have sold her story to the tabloids and went to the media a long time ago. We`ve seen it with stars like Whoopi Goldberg and Lebron James. People said they were related to them and they went to the media first.

So I believe that Oprah will probably take care of her so that Patricia and her children`s loyalty never wanes that they never get tempted by the carrots being dangled their way. But Patricia not talking to the media, it really speaks to her integrity and it`s very admirable particularly in this climate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dawn, Kansas, your question or thought, ma`am?

DAWN, KANSAS (via telephone): Hello.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi Dawn. Your question or thought.

DAWN: Ok. I just -- when I watched this yesterday on television, I just got an eerie feeling. First of all, my heart goes out to the whole family, and I keep -- you know, I understand, you know, it`s a shock for Oprah, as well. I`m sure there`s going to be some kind of delayed reaction because that secret was kept so long. But also my heart goes out to that young lady, as well because I myself personally was in a foster home. When you go through something like that --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Foster homes are hell. There will be fallout.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And thanks to my fabulous panel and you at home for joining me tonight here on ISSUES.

Are you an addict, by the way, and don`t even know it? Are you being manipulated? If so, by whom? Seven days until my new book, "Addict Nation" hits the stands. Got to read it.

Up next, Nancy Grace.