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CBS Reporter Attacked in Egypt; Predator Stalking Girls in Florida

Aired February 15, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a predator on the loose near a Florida high school, attacking teenage girls. We`ll show you the astounding video in this war on women as one of the attempted assaults is caught on surveillance tape. Are there other victims out there? And what`s being done to protect our school girls?

And shocking new developments in the case of the woman who died after being released by Malibu cops in the dead of night. Now, more bones turn up near the spot where Mitrice Richardson`s remains were found. Her already outraged mom is reeling. I`ll talk to her mother tonight about her newest battle with the cops.

Then a startling discovery. Cops stop a man and his son on the side of a major highway and find a body stuffed in a bag inside their truck. You won`t believe what else they found. We`re diving into this bizarre mystery and taking your calls.

Plus, Miss San Antonio fights to keep her crown. Dominique Ramirez was dethroned when pageant officials told her lose weight and lay off the tacos. Was she unfairly stripped of her title? I will talk to her here on ISSUES tonight.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But first, CNN has just learned about a horrific attack on one of our colleagues from CBS.

CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was brutally attacked in Egypt on Friday while she was recovering the mass celebrations over the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

CBS says Lara became separated from her crew and security team after they were surrounded by a frenzied mob of about 200 people. CBS says Lara then suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating. Thank goodness for a group of women and about 20 Egyptian soldiers who rescued Lara. CBS says she is now back in the United States but still recovering in a hospital.

This is just so terribly frightening and horrific. I want to turn to Beth Karas, correspondent for "In Session" on TruTV.

Beth, there was a revolution in Egypt, where people prevailed over tyranny. And yet this travesty -- travesty in the midst of it. You traveled to so many places as a journalist, reporting on crime and criminal cases. What was your reaction when you heard this terrible news?

BETH KARAS, TRUTV: Oh, absolutely shocked, as I`m sure everyone is, Jane. You know, women are so vulnerable, not just in other countries but in our own country. Rape is such a violent, vicious crime.

What we know right now about what happened to Lara Logan sounds like it was particularly violent with physical injuries attached. But let me tell you, even when a woman is not beaten up, rape is violent. And it leads lasting injuries.

The bruises will heal, Jane, but the trauma, the psychic event, the emotional effect of it can be lasting a lifetime. It is -- it`s a war crime, also. It is a brutal, vicious thing.

And professional women, all women, we have to be aware, all women. We`re all vulnerable. We`re prey to men. We are vulnerable because of our size, and -- and we have to be careful wherever we are, always watching our back. I`m always watching my back when I`m in hotels, when I`m in airports, all the time. And certainly when I`m in a dark area and in parking lots, for example.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We talked about the war on women here on ISSUES. And this brings it home that this is a global problem. We are targets as women, no matter where we are and no matter what we are doing. That is just the horror of it, Beth.

KARAS: Yes. Actually, rape is also -- rape and sodomy are underreported crimes, too. Because of the stigma that still is attached to it. Far more women, women -- women you know have been raped and don`t report it, because it`s just not worth what is going to happen as a result of a prosecution. I know this has happened to many people, many people I know in my universe. It`s an underreported crime. It`s a violent crime. And it`s not understood by a lot of people.


KARAS: They deserve -- it`s OK to rape a prostitute. It`s OK to rape your wife. Not so.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just want to say, Lara Logan, we are so pleased that she is now recovering from a sexual assault and a brutal beating here in the States in a hospital. We wish her -- everyone at HLN wishes Lara Logan a very speedy recovery. Thank you, Beth, for weighing in. Our thoughts are with Lara Logan tonight.


SHERIFF BRAD STEUBE, MANATEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We`re very concerned about the safety for everybody out there. We need everybody looking. We need more eyes out there for us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a sicko child predator caught on tape, stalking girls. Cameras rolling as a 12-year-old narrowly escapes a rapist`s clutches. Watch carefully.

You`re going to see the girl walking home from school Thursday afternoon in Bradenton, Florida. She cuts through the back of a church parking lot and heads down a path. Moments later, the suspect appears. There he is, on the left of your screen. You see him hop a fence and chase after the girl.

What you don`t see is the man grabbing the girl from behind, dragging her over to a tree, and attempting to sexually assault her. Incredibly, this girl managed to scare him off by telling him she had friends nearby who might see them. He ran off.

Police think this very same man raped a 15-year-old girl last month and tried to rape another 15-year-old in November, all in the very same area.

Another surveillance camera caught these images of the suspect stalking girls on school property. Parents are understandably terrified tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re very concerned. There`s been an increase in crime in this neighborhood in the last couple of years. And this is just taking it to a whole new level. It gives you that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What should be done to protect these school girls? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. I want to hear your theories, your thoughts, your suggestions: 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to one of my heroes, Diena Thompson, the mother of Somer Thompson and the founder of the Somer Thompson Foundation. Diena`s precious daughter, Somer, was abducted and murdered as she walked home from school.

Diena, thank you so much for joining us for this really horrific story here on ISSUES. Your reaction to the fact that this predator has now has attacked three girls and sexually assaulted one of them. Thank God two of the others have been able to get away.

DIENA THOMPSON, FOUNDER, SOMER THOMPSON FOUNDATION (via phone): Like I said, like I`ve said many times, Jane, first of all, thank you for having me on your show and letting me speak my piece on this. We have to come together. It takes a village to raise a child, and that is not a joke. You know, we have to start being vigilant. It can happen in your neighborhood, obviously. This guy has done it -- or tried to do it three times. What is it going to take? Does it take another dead body?

We, as parents, should be, if we don`t have a job, we should be standing out there, watching our children to and from school. I don`t care what age they are. I mean, you were just talking about Ms. Logan. You know, even girls in middle school, you know, are at risk. And high school, obviously. I`m appalled at our system.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And tragically, not to remind you of the horrible thing that happened in your life that has defined your life, but it was specifically walking home from school...

THOMPSON: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... that your daughter, Somer, was kidnapped by this -- this sicko neighbor, Jared Harold, assaulted and murdered. But she had been with a group, because one of the things they`re saying here, Diena, is, oh, let the kids walk in groups. But she had been with a group with her siblings that she just ran ahead for a few feet.

THOMPSON: Yes. Yes, ma`am. That -- that`s what happened. And generally, there are -- there is safety in numbers. But you know what? We live in different times now, obviously. I mean, Somer has proven to all of us that it`s not safe to walk to school, even if you -- I mean, she disappeared on the road with the crossing guards. You know? I don`t know how -- how much safer it`s supposed to be than that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police are urging parents to drive their kids to school and for kids to walk in groups and not take short cuts where there aren`t any people around.

Now, police think this suspect has struck at least three times. Back in late November, a girl was walking home from school when a man grabbed her. She managed to escape. Police say a 15-year-old was then attacked and raped just two weeks ago, just a few blocks away. And then, again, last Thursday, the suspect caught on video stalking yet another girl, victim No. 3, who thank God got away.

So I want to go to Margi Nanney, PIO for the Manatee County School District. That`s a public information officer.

After the first attack in late November, what if anything, did the school system and cops do to amp up the security at that time, because frankly, Margie, it`s shocking to me that this man is able to come back time and time again and attack girls two more times?

MARGI NANNEY, PIO, MANATEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Well, it absolutely is. We share everyone`s concern. This has been very difficult for all of us. And unfortunately, we live in a very open society.

What happens with these cases is they`re not always linked immediately. This one appeared as a battery. It did not appear as a sexual piece. When the second one came along, it was in a different part of town. And the description of the gentleman was a little bit different. But it was on the...


NANNEY: ... one on Thursday that we actually got the video -- well, yes, I use that term very lightly. This predator, when we linked everything together, and I think that the investigation uncovered all of those links. There were two different law enforcement jurisdictions who were interviewing these victims.

So when it all came together, we put it on high alert. We did notify our schools and our administrators in all of the cases that you`re describing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Robin Sax, former sex crimes prosecutor. Do you buy it? Do you think enough was done after the first attack in late November? Given that there was an attack last Thursday and then an attack two weeks ago in which a girl was actually raped.

ROBIN SAX, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: Well, what I like and who`s doing the most on this issue is you, Jane Velez-Mitchell, because honestly, it`s about talking about these crimes and making our kids aware. You can alert parents. But it`s up to the parents and schools to not just hide from the scary subject and think that we`re scaring our kids, but arm them with intelligence so they can be crafty, as victim No. 3 was, and come up with a ploy to get out of there.

So no matter how many times school officials say what they`re going to say, parents need to follow up with it at home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s what the 12-year-old girl did. She said, "Hey, my friends might be nearby watching," and he ran off. Quick thinking. We`re going to get to that. Everybody, hang tight.

We`re taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Plus, Miss San Antonio fights for her crown. She says she was unfairly stripped of her title, because she`s fat. Take a look at her. Does she look fat to you? They told her to lay off the tacos. Hmm. We`re going to talk to the beauty queen herself.

And more on this predator on the loose near a Florida school. What can we, as a culture, do to stop these obscenities?


STEUBE: We`re very concerned about the safety for everyone out there. And we need everybody looking. We need more eyes out there for us.




VICTOR TAYLOR, CAUGHT ATTACK ON CAMERA: You`re in shock. You just don`t think that`s going to happen.

GARY COHEN, NEIGHBOR: Everybody`s letting everybody know what`s going on, that there`s somebody out here, trying to grab some kids.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Schoolgirls stalked by a rapist in a Florida community. The suspect in at least three attacks now caught on surveillance video. This guy, no fear, attacking in broad daylight.

Now here`s my big issue. Bravo to the latest girl who escaped, 12 years old, quick thinking. She may have been physically overmatched, but she outsmarted by the guy by saying, "Hey, my friends are right over there, and they`re going to see anything that happens." And he took off.

Now, she also -- take a look at this video. She also was brave enough to take investigators through the scene and literally walked them through what happened, retracing her steps.

Now, John Lucich, former criminal investigator, there she is, retracing the steps. She`s going to make a great witness, if and when investigators get this guy and put him in a lineup, right?

JOHN LUCICH, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATORS: Absolutely, she will. This is a girl that`s been through a traumatic stress. And for her to go through this and relive this, is going to be even more damage on this young lady. But she`s going to make an excellent witness, has very -- elated to find out how this community acted, also.

Immediately, they contacted the police, and they want to bring in a neighborhood watch. They want to be proactive. The school blasted out a message to everybody. I think this community is trying to do the best they can. Could things have done a little better? Perhaps. Twenty-twenty is hindsight. But you know, I think they did a pretty good job so far. But they do have to bring this piece of garbage to justice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The man who owns the surveillance video has nine cameras on his property. He said it captured a burglary suspect, trespassing suspects, but he never expected anything this serious. Listen.

All right. Well, we don`t have it right there. But the fact is, that this video -- let`s show the video, OK -- the video that we`ve been watching here, that this surveillance camera caught of this guy literally stalking this young girl and -- not that one. The other one where it`s actually the stalking surveillance video. There we go. Thank you so much, crew. Back on the other side there.

There he is. He`s stalking, stalking, stalking, stalking this girl. There he is. Now, here`s the problem, Robin Sax, former sex crimes prosecutor, you can`t -- you can`t identify this guy. I mean, is this video helpful?

SAX: This video is absolutely helpful. It`s not only going to be helpful to hopefully get at least an idea of height, and weight and body shape, and so forth and being able to identify someone, but it will be corroborative evidence once they do find someone. By having that, you can`t say "Not me. That wasn`t me" as easily as you could without it. So -- and jurors love, love, love images, pictures, and this is going to be something that speaks volumes and will be very critical to the prosecution of this case, hopefully.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s why I want too reiterate my call to action. Said it several times: there should be surveillance cameras on every freeway, every street corner in America. There`s no expectation of privacy in public, and they help prevent crime and catch criminals. How many more examples do we need?

I raised this question just last night during a story on a serial rapist in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Listen to this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why can`t we put high-resolution cameras on every street corner? Had we done so, let`s say after the first attack, this guy would have been caught going into the house for the second time.

OFFICER PAUL STARKS, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: Well that is an issue that brings in finances and, as you say, some people feel that is an invasion of privacy and Big Brother looking at them. I think it`s a decision that every community, every jurisdiction has to make based on the circumstances that they`re in.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, guess what, we already have Big Brother looking at us, except they`re looking at us to give us speeding tickets.

As far as the money excuse goes, that`s nonsense, because police throw so much more money and resources at catching criminals after they commit the crime. Don`t you think it`s costing a lot of money here to try to track down this guy? Of course? They`re pulling out all the stops now. But what about doing prevention?

Margi Nanney, your thoughts on the idea of cameras everywhere outside.

NANNEY: I`m all for it. We have a couple hundred on each one of our high schools. As well, I want to remind everyone there is a $10,000 reward, so we`re going to utilize this video to find this guy. And that`s our primary thing. It takes all eyes on us to help. And we appreciate the media`s attention.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you have a couple of hundred cameras on the schools, and yet this guy manages to get them as soon as they leave the school property, when they`re cutting through a church backyard. Well, I guess we need still more cameras.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Authorities find a 53-year-old man and his 10-year-old adopted son dazed on the side of a major highway. Inside their truck, a body. You won`t believe it.



LATICE SUTTON, MOTHER OF MITRICE RICHARDSON: And most unfortunate that today, I`ve had to learn through the media that there are preliminary findings that those bones in Malibu are of a female.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, what does a grieving mom have to do to get closure in the wake of her daughter`s death? That was Latice Sutton in August, days before learning that female remains found in a rugged ravine in Malibu Canyon were those of her beautiful 24-year-old daughter, Mitrice. Mitrice vanished in September of `09 when she was let out of a police station in the dead of night with no phone, no money, and no ride. She was never seen again.

Now, six months after the horrific discovery of bones, investigators have found eight more bones in the very same area. Cops say those bones are small and appear to be from fingers, a wrist, the neck and ribs. Are they Mitrice`s?

Don`t forget, last fall, Latice, the mom, found one of her daughter`s finger bones at that very same site. A very courageous and tenacious Latice Sutton joins me now here on ISSUES.

Latice, you`re fighting for answers about how your precious daughter died. You said, I quote, "Someone out there is a murderer." You`ve always been critical of law enforcement for how they`ve collected your daughter`s remains. Now, they`re finding more bones. What does it tell you?

SUTTON: Well, it tells me that I was correct: there were more remains to be found. However, the main bone that I needed to be found they did not recover, so -- but I am hoping that, going forward, there`s going to be testing and analysis that will take place that will help move us closer to finding out who a suspect could potentially be in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I guess what I`m saying is, you have been at odds with the sheriff`s department. You said they collected it incorrectly, that they did the retrieval. They didn`t wait for the coroner`s office to get there.

Now, you`re kind of -- this is substantiating your position, because they are finding more bones down there that could very well belong to your daughter. Does this strengthen your case that they mishandled the case?

SUTTON: Well, I feel that it has, because after I was able to locate a bone when I went back and I had a meeting with the coroner`s office, as well as the sheriff`s department, they really began to see why they need to go back and do further searching, in addition to further testing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Latice, ISSUES got a statement from the sheriff that said, in part, quote, "We understand that the FBI declined to participate. We respect their decision. However, we`re moving forward to try to add pieces to this puzzle on behalf of the family."

The sheriff also told ISSUES that the coroner`s handling the case now. In fact, he`s the one who requested a chopper go up this past Sunday. Is there some kind -- are we healing the rift between you and the sheriff`s department? Because I know that there`s lawsuits here over, what, the fact that they released your daughter in the dead of night with no phone, no ride and no way to get home.

SUTTON: Correct. That is absolutely correct. Yes, the FBI did decline to assist in doing any type of forensic examinations. After carefully reading their -- their rejection letter, I learned that some of the reasons why they rejected were not the types of testing that I was requesting to be done. So, I am, and I have asked Sheriff Baca to have the FBI to reconsider their rejection.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I hope you get justice. Latice, we`re going to stay on your story as long as it takes to find out what happened to your precious daughter. Thank you.

SUTTON: Thank you so much, Jane. I appreciate it.


A man and his son found dazed on the side of the road. A body in the car.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A startling discovery, cops stop a man and his son on the side of a major highway and find a body stuffed in a bag inside their truck. You won`t believe what else they found. We`re diving into this bizarre mystery and taking your calls.

Plus, Miss San Antonio fights to keep her crown. Teen beauty queen Domonique Ramirez was dethroned after she says pageant officials told her to lose weight and lay off the tacos. Was she unfairly stripped of her title? I will talk to her tonight here on ISSUES tonight.


VANESSA MEDINA, WSVN REPORTER: So many unanswered questions out here in West Palm Beach. We know this family, a father and son from Miami, somehow ending all of the way up here in West Palm Beach. You see the car is still over there, it`s tented.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a shocking bizarre chain of events unfolds on the side of a Florida highway. Firefighters helping a father and son overcome by acid fumes inside their truck make a horrifying discovery. An acid burned body stuffed inside a bag in the back of the father`s pest control truck.

The father and son were covered in acid as well. This situation is so toxic that the truck is still in the same spot along the West Palm Beach freeway and the body in the bag hasn`t even been removed yet. It`s been hours.

70 miles away in Miami, cops descend on the home of the driver, 53- year old George Barahona and his wife. It turns out this couple is already under investigation for allegedly mistreating their four adopted children including the injured boy in the truck 10-year-old Victor. The children range in age from 7 to 11. They are now staying with relatives.

As for George Barahona and 10-year-old Victor, the two who were in truck, they`re still in the hospital with severe acid burns and little Victor is in bad shape. The dad is in intensive care with a 24-hour police guard. No criminal charges have been filed for now.

But I have to wonder. Was this an accident or some toxic murder plot?

I want to hear from you. Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Al Pefley, reporter for WPEC in West Palm Beach; Al, is this truck still sitting there with the body inside. What`s the very latest on this?

AL PEFLEY, REPORTER, WPEC: The very latest is as you just put it. The truck is still sitting there; it`s down the road from where we`re at, maybe a quarter mile from here. The body is still in the back of the truck as far as we know.

And the reason apparently that it`s taking so long to do, to get the body out of this truck is because of the fumes that have encircled the truck and the surrounding crime scene made it very difficult for the authorities to get in there and remove the body from the truck.

Also they`ve spent most of the day testing this acid to try to figure out exactly what kind of chemical they`re dealing with so they`ll know how to respond in a correct way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Al, didn`t the little boy, when the cops arrived, say, kept saying, the can`s in the car, the can`s in the car. Didn`t they find some kind of jug with acid solution in it that was so strong that four firefighters who arrived had to be taken to the hospital?

PEFLEY: That`s right. That`s right. They did find acid in the back of the truck. The body was not found for hours after the truck was first discovered.

road ranger, that is to say a mechanic that goes up and down I-95 looking for disabled vehicles to stop and help, he first spotted this pick- up truck sitting here on the side of I-95 Monday morning about 7:00 and noticed that there were a couple of people inside and he then called the paramedics and they came and took the little boy and his dad at the hospital.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you say Monday morning?

PEFLEY: Monday morning. Yesterday.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait. And now it`s Tuesday night and are you still telling me that this body is still in the car?

PEFLEY: That`s what I`m telling you. They have been waiting throughout the day to get a search warrant and they also as I pointed out wanted to make sure they knew exactly what kind of acid they were dealing with.


PEFLEY: So they have been in no real hurry to try to get the body out of there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. All right. Neighbors cannot recall ever seeing the four children at the Barahona house, only the older boy, Victor who was the one who suffered acid burns. Listen to this.


JIM SHEPPARD, NEIGHBOR: I believe there`s one son. I believe they have a son there, an adopted son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how old, do you know the son is? is he young?

SHEPPARD: I don`t know. He looks to be probably 9 or 10, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s just one kid who lives there. No one else?

SHEPPARD: That`s all I have seen because I know I have seen him and George out hanging Christmas lights and things like that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. There is definitely something wrong if kids between the ages of 7 and 11 are never outside playing, waiting for the school bus. So, I got to wonder, Dr. Dale Archer, could the body in the truck be a child? I mean isn`t it -- isn`t it very scary, that there are four kids and they have never seen them except one outside playing?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes. That`s the first thing that I was concerned about Jane. And clearly there are scams in these adoption couples where they bring the kids in, strictly to get the money and they just keep them locked up. And they get a paycheck every month in order to take care of these kids. But yes, this is a really scary development.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, my big issue tonight, family services fiasco -- fiasco. This agency has a long history with this family. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have had a prior history with the family, yes. I can`t characterize the nature of those investigations. But we have had prior involvement with the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many callouts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several times we have been out to the home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the course of their foster relationship and since adoption.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you kidding me? Prior involvement. Let`s get real. We`re talking seven years. That`s the span of these investigations into the Barahona`s treatment of these kids and they don`t launch an investigation unless there are allegations of abuse, abandonment and neglect.

Janell Weinstein, attorney, why on earth do the couple still have custody of these kids? Why were they allowed to take them in as fosters and then adopt them?

JANELL WEINSTEIN, ATTORNEY: That what baffles me, Jane because they`re supposed to be such an in-home investigation and a thorough investigation of these parents psychologically and physically. And over seven years, what has been going on in this house? And more importantly what has been going on with family services? It seems like they`ve missed the boat.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want to jump in for one second. What we`re seeing, I think, is the kids being taken out of the house and taken to go live with a grandma, a maternal grandma, an adopted maternal grandma. So continue on what you`re saying about did Family Services drop the ball here?

WEINSTEIN: Right. Did they drop the ball? I mean at this point, now they`re being taken out of the house because they find a dead body and a child who has been burnt with acid. But what is -- I would love to see those records to see what has been going on with Family Services?

Look, we know a lot of these state agencies are deficient in their funding. No excuse, but that`s what happened. And I`m really concerned about what happened here. And I think, of course now, they`re going to look much closer. But I think it`s too late.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Now. Again, again, now after the fact. This is the whole point on my book, "Addict Nation", we`re reactive. We wait until this. Look at this insanity. We wait until we have to bring in the hazmat teams.

Yes. Oh, they don`t have enough funding for the Department of Children and Family Services. You know how much it costs to have all of these guys standing around here? Watching a truck for two days? You know how much overtime that involves? Ok.

So, if they had just given a little bit more to Family Services we wouldn`t be sitting here. First of all, there wouldn`t be a precious individual dead and we wouldn`t be sitting here paying overtime to all of these firefighters, hazmat team and cops?

Jenny, Missouri, your question or thought, ma`am. Jenny.

JENNY, MISSOURI (via telephone): Hello. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi there Jenny. What`s your question or thought, ma`am?

JENNY: I would like to know, once again, with Family Services being involved, why didn`t somebody do something before now? Family always -- Family Services always steps in when it`s too late. They have to put a stop with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Al Pefley, you`re the reporter down there. What the heck happened? Now, they`re taking these kids out. Why seven years of investigation and allowing them to go from foster kids to adopted kids?

PEFLEY: I wish I could offer you answer on that. To clarify, I`m up in West Palm. The family lives in Miami. And I think a lot of the stuff that you`re referring to is being dealt with by officials down in Miami.

I can tell you basically what`s happening here at the crime scene which frankly, we`re kind of on hold right now waiting for the update from the police and waiting to find out who, in fact, is in the bag in the back of that pickup truck.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Neighbors don`t know what to make of the news that the father was driving around with a dead body in the back of his truck. Listen to this.


SHEPPARD: George and his wife had been living there -- I have been here for 15 years. They`re great neighbors. If I had ever needed help, he gave me a hand doing something. They really stayed to themselves.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the dad, John Lucich ran a pest control business out of his house. That accounts for the chemicals. But what do you make - - where do you think they were driving with this vehicle? Were they driving to dispose of the body, you think? And what about the acid covering the 10-year-old?

JOHN LUCICH, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: It`s all guess work. You know, when you read about the fact that there`s a body in the bag that makes it suspicious right there. It`s not that there was a body in the back. And inside the bag, was a body covered with chemicals. And then they`re covered with chemicals. Could this be a murder-suicide? This could go any different way.

But let me just tell you something. This has nothing to do with a lack of funding. If it had to do with a lack of funding there wouldn`t be a case filed that`s seven years thick. This has everything to do -- and Jane you and I have talked about this over the years -- failure of government on all levels to do their job and protect these kids. These kids should have been pulled out of the house. And it`s always when someone dies do they start caring.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. You talk about language, John. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Tonight Nancy Grace, the search for Trinity Gilbert. The 10-year-old vanished from her home in broad daylight. Watch Nancy Grace top of the hour 8:00 Eastern here on HLN.

Now, a teen beauty queen fights to keep her crown. Miss San Antonio says that pageant officials told her to lose weight after she packed on some pounds. They said can the tacos. Is that the way to talk to this young lady? Does she look fat to you? We`re going to talk to her live next.


DOMONIQUE RAMIREZ, MISS SAN ANTONIO: I`m 17 years old. I shouldn`t have to be slandered like this. And my future shouldn`t have to be ruined over this.



RAMIREZ: I`m very grateful to have my crown back and hopefully, I can keep it. I told her that I would tone up and slim down. But I would not lose 13 pounds (ph).


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the battle of the bulge meets teen beauty queen and it is war. Miss San Antonio fights to keep her title and she is suing mad and she`s taking it to court. Was Domonique Rodriguez (SIC) told drop the pounds or lose your crown?

17-year-old Domonique, who is a slim size 2, claims she was told lay off the tacos and drop 13 pounds. What? That`s a terrible example to set for America`s young women when she is that svelte.

Now, pageant organizers are firing back saying Domonique`s fluctuating weight wasn`t the only issue. That she was also insubordinate and late to events. And they also claimed she had a dirty sash and a broken crown, say what?

Pageant organizers said that the final straw came when Domonique modeled for a bridal show without permission. Walking the runway in a wedding gown got the teenager an e-mail notifying her that they were officially yanking the crown and handing it off to her runner up.

But, wait. She got a tiara in her favor. She goes to court tomorrow. A judge will decide tomorrow whether Domonique gets to keep her crown.

Let`s hear her side of the story. We`re delighted to have Miss San Antonio, Domonique Rodriguez (SIC) here with us tonight. Welcome Domonique.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi there. First of all, you seem to be a very beautiful young lady and a very slim young lady, you don`t seem to me to need to lose weight. So, what did they tell you about the tacos? Tell us that story.

RAMIREZ: Well, basically I was at photo shoot and she was telling me about my weight. And I mean I weigh 129 pounds. And there`s not an issue with my weight. She told me to lose 13 pounds.

I was a little shocked. I kind of looked at her in disbelief. She told me that I need to lay off the tacos. And I kind of found that a little overboard.


RAMIREZ: Yes. Offensive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let me ask you a question. I just want to get my pen out here, how much were you weight-wise when you won the crown?

RAMIREZ: About 129 pounds.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: 129 or 121?

RAMIREZ: If anything I weigh more because muscles --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: 129. How tall are you?

RAMIREZ: I`m 5`8 and a half.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re 5`8. So that`s normal weight.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You didn`t gain any weight after winning the crown?

RAMIREZ: No, I didn`t. In fact, I mean, I went down in weight. Because I wasn`t lifting as much weights and then I kind of went back up once I started working out again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think is really behind this, Domonique?

RAMIREZ: Well, my mother and Caroline Flores, the executive director of the board got into an argument. She called my mother, accusing me of being married because I wanted model in a bridal extravaganza.

So they got into an argument and the next day I received an e-mail saying my reign was revoked.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you weren`t supposed to do that bridal runway thing so why did you do it?

RAMIREZ: I can. I have done it three years in a row. I have been a model for four years. I have done it three years in a row. I have never had a problem as long as I didn`t promote Miss San Antonio I`m able to do it, which I did not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, do you realize one thing, quite often, in fact, almost always the best thing for a beauty queen is to lose her crown?

I mean, let`s take a look at superstar Vanessa Williams. Vanessa lost her Miss America crown after naked photos surfaced of her that were later printed in Penthouse. Now, Vanessa is a huge star.

If you ask anybody to name any other Miss America winner, who`s the first to come to mind? Vanessa Williams. You sound like a very smart, young lady. Are you seeing that perhaps there`s an upside to losing your crown?

RAMIREZ: Actually yes, I mean, I have gotten so much publicity and it`s actually helped me in ways, you know. People are approaching me about other talents that I may have. I feel that, you know, something is coming out of this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes, I can see you as a great newscaster for example. You`re very articulate. You tell a good story.

Let me ask you about this transportation issue. They say you failed to show up or showed up late to certain events. Now, your response to that.

RAMIREZ: I showed up to every single event during my reign. I haven`t missed one. And any time that I was last was because they canceled out my chaperone at the last second. So here I am scrambling to find somebody to take me -- my father, my mother, my grandmother, anybody -- because I`m not allowed to be myself and the crown.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So do you think they were out to get you for some reason?

RAMIREZ: I believe so. I think after that confrontation with my mother and Caroline, she just wanted me out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`re going to hear another side of the story. Good luck to you, Domonique Ramirez. We`ll follow your court battle tomorrow and we`ll have you back after we find out what happens.

More on the other side of the break. Very interesting stuff.



RAMIREZ: I`m not doing this just for myself. I`m doing it for every queen that is to come after me. And I don`t want anybody to be treated like this. Nobody should have to go through this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, beauty queen blowout, a teen queen fights for her title. She claims she was told to lay off the tacos and drop 13 pounds or lose her crown.

We`ve had her on and she looks quite svelte to us; 129 at 5`8; that`s certainly within normal range.

Now, I want to go -- by the way, we reached to reach Miss San Antonio pageant organizers and their -- we couldn`t reach them because their e-mail box is full. But they`re invited on any time to tell their side of the story.

Kristen Bradford, you are the founder and executive director of Miss Malibu. What -- you heard this -- what are your thoughts on this battle between Domonique and the San Antonio pageant over the crown?

KRISTEN BRADFORD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MISS MALIBU: Well, it`s certainly an important issue. You know, I can`t say because I don`t know the terms of their contract or whether or not those terms were violated or not. But I do know one thing, I feel it was very unprofessional the way they approached her about this weight loss.

You know, fitness and physical fitness is one-third of the competition when girls are competing for the title. And there are expectations. I expect them to make appearances. I expect them to help raise money for charities. And I expect them to stay in great physical shape because that shows a healthy lifestyle.

So, what I do with my title holders is work with them. I hire them a nutritionist, a physical trainer, a therapist to work on self-confidence and body issue image and image issue. You know, I think maybe the way that the director handled this issue is inappropriate. But I do hold it important to my title holders that they do maintain a healthy lifestyle after they win the title.

VELEZ-MITCHELLL: Ok. Well said. My big issue tonight, are we seeing the ugly side of beauty?

I mean I personally -- no offense to either one of you ladies -- think beauty pageants are demeaning to women. I believe they objectify women and reduces that to appearances.

Men don`t have beauty pageants. We have to go back to the `80s to find one. Check this one out on YouTube.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, Jonathan. What are your hobbies?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I enjoy swimming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bit of athletics. Which activity do you like most?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you run away from most?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women, I`m not surprised. Thank you very much, Jonathan.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now we know why there are no male beauty pageants. You know what; Domonique Ramirez, maybe the lesson here is go to college and get a journalism degree and become a news anchor because I think you`d do well at it. You seem like one right here. I mean why do you care about this crown?

RAMIREZ: I mean, honestly, I don`t care for it for me. I care because of the other girls who have been kicked out before me, the other girls in other states being kicked out for no reason at all. I mean I just -- I`m doing this for the girls who have been mistreated and abused and who didn`t -- they`re so traumatized that they didn`t have the voice to speak for themselves.

And I just want this to be an example and let their county know -- let the world know that, you know, don`t let anybody tell you you`re ugly or fat when you`re not. Love the skin you`re in and don`t let anyone mistreat you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well said. You`re not fat. I can tell you, we have an obesity crisis in this country and that`s a real problem. And you are not part of that crisis. So I think that it`s nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

And I tell you, I commend you for speaking up. And you`re very articulate and poised. And good luck tomorrow with the judge. Keep us updated. We`re going to have you back.

Stay with us.



MADELEINE PICKENS, ANIMAL ACTIVIST: I said, why am buying this land to create an eco sanctuary if you`re going to gather the horses?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and here is my issue. As we speak the U.S. government is rounding up as many 40,000 of America`s majestic wild horses and we`re housing them in holding facilities. It`s a cruel outrage.

Our friend animal welfare activist, Madeleine Pickens offered the government a solution to this inhumane and unnecessary roundup. She financed and created a wild horse eco sanctuary at tremendous cost. But the bureaucrats in D.C. said no thanks.

24 days ago, they started removing these wild animals from their natural rightful habitat. Madeleine and the horses need your help. Show your support by becoming a fan of the mustang monument page on Facebook. We`re 20,000 strong. We need you.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and that`s issue.

Nancy Grace, next.