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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Missing Girl Mystery: Family Seeks Answers; Ex-Husband of Missing Woman Speaks Out

Aired February 23, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, jaw-dropping twists and turns in the disappearance of 12-year-old Priscilla Ristick, the little girl vanishes while out with her uncle in suburban Atlanta. An hour after she disappears, the child calls her mom from a private number saying a woman named Nancy has taken her.

As her relatives frantically hunt to find her, escalating outrage over why an Amber Alert wasn`t issued. Do cops think there`s more to this story than meets the eye? Who the hell is Nancy?

Then a missing mother mystery intensifies. Danielle Alvarado disappeared one long year ago. Yesterday here on ISSUES, her mom claimed Danielle was terrified of her husband. Well, now, that husband is fighting back. Tonight, he is here on ISSUES, telling me his side of the story. And you don`t believe what he`s saying.

Plus, Lindsay Lohan saunters back into court for her felony grand theft charge. This time, the stern judge warns: "You are going to jail, and you need a shrink," as yet another battle erupts between her parents. Will Lindsay roll the dice and go to trial? I`ll give you the LiLo low down with HLN`s Dr. Drew, and we`ll take your calls.

And CSI star, Georgia Fox plays a fierce investigator on her hit show. Now she`s facing a real-life crime against animal cruelty. She and "Price is Right" legend Bob Barker join me live here on ISSUES tonight to talk about their extraordinary rescue of dozens of circus lions.

ISSUES starts now!

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is a little sweetheart. We`re doing all we can, and we`re hoping and praying that, you know, she can get discovered, you know, pretty quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a stomach-churning nightmare. A mother going through hell as cops search for her missing 12-year-old daughter. But this story keeps on changing. The details are like shifting sands.

Tonight we`re learning that this little girl`s disappearance never -- never --qualified for an Amber Alert. Why not?

Priscilla Ristick vanished from a North Georgia shopping mall last Sunday. Cops say she had dinner at a pizza joint with her uncle, and then the little girl went outside, and then she disappeared. Where on earth did she go?

ISSUES has obtained brand-new surveillance photos that show little Priscilla -- there she is in the white top -- leaving the restaurant. She looks like she`s running, skipping somehow.

Now, the uncle told cops that a witness saw little Priscilla being pushed into a white van with an adult woman inside the van. But tonight, cops are telling us they cannot confirm that. Huh? What did happen to her, then?

Look at the white van, by the way, in the back there. See that white van? Is that the white van that the uncle who`s in the red cap is talking about? We can see the uncle right there as he leaves the pizza parlor. So again, look at that white van in the far background. It`s driving away. Could this be the mystery van, and is little Priscilla inside?

Cops investigating Priscilla`s disappearance say they requested Amber Alert status. And twice the state said, "No way, Jose." More on that in a moment.

As for Priscilla`s mom, she says she just wants her precious daughter home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIA RISTICK, MOTHER: Please bring her back, please. I want my baby back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now the mom says Priscilla actually called her after she vanished. That`s right, called her mom on the phone and said, "Hey, Mom, I`m with a mystery woman named Nancy." And then the line goes dead. Who is this Nancy? Does she really exist? Why did the state refuse to issue to an Amber Alert? Doesn`t every second count when a child goes missing? Or, is it possible, we ask tonight, they know something we don`t? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to investigative reporter Michelle Sigona.

Michelle, you`re tracking this case. What is the very latest?

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: I can confirm right now, Jane, that the child abduction response team -- this is under the Georgia Department of Corrections -- is now teamed up with the Gwinnett County police in that area to be able to locate Priscilla. And this case is being worked as an active abduction investigation. Although an Amber Alert, which is also known as a Levi`s Call in the Georgia area, was not issued.

It was not issued for a couple of reasons. And I really had to do a lot of phone calls today and digging to the bottom of it. Basically, what we were initially told was that the Georgia Crime Information Center was the ones that sort of were the -- the outlets to be able to issue this release.

Now that is not accurate. I was told today by John Bankhead with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations that the regional task force agent is the one to issue this alert. They did not have the proper information on Sunday and were asked to call back again. And the information, that is, is that there was no one to specifically say, 100 percent, that she was forced into that vehicle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I`ve got to stop you right there.

SIGONA: On the other side of the coin...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to stop you right there. OK. No one is specifically saying -- so let`s dive into that. Before they want to eve, Priscilla was selling flowers with her uncle, Joey Thompson -- you see him there in the red cap -- at the strip mall. Now here he is. Let`s listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEY THOMPSON, UNCLE: It was seconds. By the time I got there, she wasn`t there no more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, OK. Here he is outside the restaurant. We`re going to show him again. Looks like he`s lighting a cigarette. When we see that video. There`s the little girl. Then we `re going to go to him. The third photo. Yes. We`re going to see him in a second lighting a cigarette. Anyway. Here he is.

In the police report, he says, OK, he told cops that a woman working at a beauty salon next door saw little Priscilla being pushed into the white van. Tonight, cops say they cannot confirm that. OK, could it be that cops talked to workers in that salon next door, and nobody actually saw the girl pushed into the van? Can you say discrepancy?

My big issue tonight, Mike Brooks, changing stories. First, her uncle reportedly tells cops he goes into the pizza parlor to use the restroom, tells her to wait nearby. Now we`re hearing they were eating together, and the girl left first. Should these discrepancies make us question the whole story?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I`m not buying the uncle`s whole story. And why was there -- it says right in the police report, there was a 35- to 45-minute, you know, gap from the time that she allegedly disappeared to the time he called police. Police. What was he doing then? He was outside smoking a cigarette, it looks like to me, Jane. I`m not buying this guy`s whole story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let Archie Steve -- he`s a family friend of the missing girl.

Archie, thank you for joining us on the phone tonight. Well, wow, you`re right here. I`m very happy that you made it in.

ARCHIE STEVE, FRIEND OF THE FAMILY: Thank you for having me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is a 12-year-old girl selling flowers? That was my first question.

STEVE: From what we understand, she helped out her mom to make a little extra money and a little extra money for herself. And in this plaza is where she used to hang out at, and she would go there and sell little flowers. And you know, make a little extra money.

When they went to this pizza place, her and her uncle ordered a pizza. And they were waiting for the pizza to get made. And her uncle went in the restroom for a minute to wash up. Told her to wait, you know, wait inside. And when he went inside to the restroom, she walked out for some reason. Something caught her attention, and she walked out.

After she finished up in the restroom, it`s a small little restaurant. It`s not a dine-in restaurant. After he finished up and he noticed that she was missing, and then he started searching for her in the parking lot.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now this family, this little girl and her mom, reportedly only came from Nevada to visit the uncle about three weeks ago. What do you know about them and the relationship with the uncle? Are you friends mostly with the uncle or with -- how would you know them, if they just came from Nevada?

STEVE: No, we`ve known them. They used to -- they was Atlanta residents. They lived here in Georgia before they moved to Nevada. Originally -- they`re originally from Chicago. And they lived here, I think, about a year and a half.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can look up at the camera. At me. No, me right here. Eye level. There you go. Right there. There we go.

STEVE: Originally they was, they lived in Atlanta a few years ago, and then they moved to Nevada, Las Vegas, about two years ago. And then they just moved back to Atlanta, about three weeks ago.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The uncle. Why did he wait 35 to 40 minutes before calling cops?

STEVE: I don`t believe that he waited that long, as far as I knew. I think the way the detectives told me was he called -- he called the police, like within 10 or 15 minutes when he started not noticing her in the parking lot and not noticing her in the restaurant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s another discrepancy, because it says here that Mr. Thompson waited for 35 to 40 minutes before he called police. That`s in the police report.

All right. Hang in there, Archie.

STEVE: Sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The biggest clue cops have to work on right now is the phone call that Priscilla allegedly made about and hour after she disappeared. The mom says her missing daughter actually called her on the phone. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RISTICK: I told her, "Why did you get in the van," OK.

"Because she offered me money. She was going to cash a check. And you need (ph) money. To buy food."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now the police report says cops tried to call that number back. There was no answer. Officers asked dispatchers to blue book the number. The dispatcher says she was unable to blue book the number.

Got to go back to Mike Brooks on this. What can they do to find out if, A, the phone call actually happened, and who made the call from where?

BROOKS: Well, when I spoke to Corporal Jake Smith, Gwinnett County yesterday, he basically said that the phone call right now is inconclusive. It was one of these phones that you, you pay for it by the month, by the week, and, it`s -- you can`t trace it. It`s not like a normal cell phone with a normal carrier you can go back and try to find out if there are any cell pings. With this one he said they could not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Lisa in New Jersey, hang on. We`re going to get to you right on the other side of the break.

We`re just getting started here. We`re taking your calls on this: 1- 877-JVM-SAYS.

Danielle Alvarado disappeared. One long year ago yesterday on ISSUES, her mom claimed Danielle was terrified of her husband. Well, guess what? The husband called us, and he`s saying, "Nonsense. I`m going to tell you my side of the story." And he`s going to do that in a moment, live.

Plus, much more on the search for missing Priscilla Ristick in Georgia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RISTICK: Please bring her back, please. I want my baby back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RISTICK: She told me, "Mom, I can`t get away."

I told her, "Come home. Try off to find a way to get out of there."

She said, "I can`t. I don`t know where I am." She`s in -- in her house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That woman`s 12-year-old daughter missing for three long days. She is frantic and terrified.

Little Priscilla Ristick, age 12, vanished from a north Georgia shopping mall. The little girl reportedly made one phone call home about an hour after she vanished, saying she was with a woman named Nancy.

There she is, the last time we see her, running off. She seems happy, right? OK.

And then the phone goes dead. Where is this child?

Lisa, New Jersey, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi.

CALLER: I just -- I just want to call to let you know that God bless you for being such a good advocate for women and animals.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. Thank you.

CALLER: Really.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what is your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: OK, I have two comments. First of all, I`ve been a pediatric nurse for 20 years. And I take children to parks, to malls. If one of these kids went missing for me, and they didn`t issue an Amber Alert, I think I`d be devastated, because you`re relying on, you know, these appropriate systems coming into place.

And my second comment is -- the second thought I would have is did they ever find out where the cell phone pinged from, on the local towers?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We`re going to get to those cell-phone pings in a second. Apparently, that was one of those phone cards that was used to make that mystery call, and so they`re much harder to trace.

But what was it about Priscilla`s case that didn`t meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.

Here`s what needs to happen to get an Amber Alert. Law enforcement has confirmed, yes, there`s been an abduction, and is the child in imminent danger? Is there sufficient descriptive information, like a car, you know, a suspect, things like that, and is the child under 17?

So it seems like, Debra Opri, family law expert, on the face -- on the face of it, it fit. But then we hear the witness who saw her being pushed in the car, well, cops can`t find that witness, who supposedly is a woman who worked right next door.

DEBRA OPRI, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Yes, I want to jump in and give the child endangerment argument again.

When you look at a mother having a 12-year-old going to a strip mall, earning extra money selling flowers -- she`s been there regularly. They know her acts and patterns. They know when she`s going to be alone. They know the habits of eating meals, so this girl was obviously a target for someone. So that is the responsibility of the mother and the adults who are caring for her, not to put her in a dangerous situation. And this was a dangerous situation, because she was open to this potential abduction. I think there was an abduction.

I think also, with the Amber Alert you have to see with absolute firmness that any investigation with the lady in the hair salon, telling the uncle, "I saw her being pushed into a van," and then her telling cops, "Oh, I don`t know. I don`t know what happened. I don`t want to get involved." That`s what`s going on.

I think they should start asking for informal lie detector tests and start pushing those people in the hair salon to talk more, because...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Archie Steve, you`re a family friend of the missing girl. Do you think the uncle would be willing to take a lie detective test?

STEVE: I don`t think that he would object to that at all. I don`t believe that he had any type of play in this at all. But I don`t think he has -- I think he`ll be -- he`s been fully cooperative with the Gwinnett County Police Department.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What does he do for a living, this uncle?

STEVE: As far as I know he is retired. I don`t think that he works, to be honest with you. I think he`s retired.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hmm. OK. Surveillance cameras at the shopping mall, did -- did they catch the whole story? OK. They see Priscilla there the evening she disappeared. And we`ve got a photo of her. She looks quite happy as she`s running out. This is the last time we see the girl. And she almost looks like she`s looking at somebody.

Now we heard the story that somebody, this woman, when she called, the mom, she told her, "Hey, Mom, this woman Nancy offered me money for food. That`s why I ran toward her." But would a child run like that so quickly, so joyously if she didn`t know the person?

Let`s take another look at this girl, closer to the curb. And keep in mind that the white vehicle parked right next door, that`s not involved. It`s a white van in the background when you see the uncle.

OK. Now you see the uncle. We`re going to show you the final photo, Michelle Golland, the uncle smoking a cigarette. What do you make of the fact that he appears to be standing there lighting up a cigarette? I know if I was in charge of a child, 12-year-old, disappeared, I`d be frantic, running around searching immediately. I wouldn`t wait 35 minutes. And I wouldn`t be smoking a cigarette, not because I don`t smoke, but because I`d be too frantic.

MICHELLE GOLLAND, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Right. Absolutely. And I think, you know, it is very unclear at this point, Jane, if it was an abduction or if there is something else going on. But I think what sort of puts us in a position of questioning the abduction, and I want to point this out, is I think the question that there was a female involved.

And I think it`s really important. And you`ve done a lot of shows on this issue, too. That people, women abduct children, as well. Women can be sexual predators. Women can work in tandem with men to violate and hurt children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, look at Phillip Garrido and his wife.

GOLLAND: Exactly. Exactly. So I think there`s something that, when we, as a society, it`s like, oh, it was a woman. We start to question. But I think we have to -- again, it`s very unclear if the uncle may have been involved...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK.

GOLLAND: ... or if it was a stranger abduction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Latonia (ph), Alabama, quick question or thought?

CALLER: Hi, yes. I was wondering, since they didn`t put the Amber Alert out, could it be that they feel that the family is involved?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, obviously that -- that`s something that we`re thinking about.

But Archie Steve, you`re a family friend. And you`re going to vouch for the family and say you`ve talked to the mom. She`s devastated.

STEVE: She is, yes. I mean she was real ill yesterday. We had to call paramedics. She`s had numerous chest pains in her chest. Her doctor came out and, you know, prescribed her some medicine. She`s had anxiety. I mean, she can`t sleep at night. You know, just like any parent, she`s just real concerned about her little girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our hearts go out to her. We want to find this girl. We`re going to stay on top of the story. Lindsay Lohan next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BALYNNDA DILLARD, MISSING WOMAN`S MOM: Tell me that the night that she went home from church that night, that she and him had gotten into an argument; it got physical. He choked her. He didn`t mean to hurt her. But it got a little too far. And he didn`t mean to do it, but he did it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a husband responds to the chilling claim that he killed his wife.

On last night`s ISSUES, a mom desperately hunting for her missing daughter pointed the finger at the missing girl`s husband. Danielle Alvarado vanished a little over a year ago. Her mom told me she thinks Danielle`s husband is involved.

Well, guess what? That husband was seeing that. He called us. And he is here tonight with his side of the story.

Danielle`s mom says the last time she saw her daughter, Danielle was reluctantly walking home to her husband. Her mom claims that he was abusive and that Danielle was very fearful of him. But the husband says, nonsense; it`s all nonsense.

So Jonathan Alvarado joins me on the phone now.

Jonathan, what would you like to say in response to your mother-in-law pointing the finger at you?

JONATHAN ALVARADO, EX-HUSBAND OF DANIELLE (via phone): First of all, ma`am, I just want to thank you for giving me a chance to say my side of the story.

Second of all, all of the things that her mother has said about me and all of this, from -- from what I know is that she`s been talking to psychics, and that`s what she`s been getting all of her information from.

She said something about how my boss told her that I had killed my wife. Which I -- I did not kill my wife. And I want the whole country to know that. That I did -- did not kill my wife, and my boss never said that either.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And by the way, I`d like to point out you`re not being called a suspect. You are not considered a suspect in this.

And by the way, we tried to reach Wichita Falls Police repeatedly. They`re simply not responding to us.

Now Danielle`s mom told us last night here on ISSUES that police have taken a very laid back, to put it mildly, approach in this investigation. Let`s listen to what she said.

All right. We`re not. We don`t have that.

But I`ve got to ask you, Jonathan.

ALVARADO: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Basically, she`s saying that police are not doing their jobs and that she`s been forced to hire cadaver dogs, et cetera, et cetera. Have you heard from police? What do you know about your wife`s disappearance? Have you been trying to find her?

ALVARADO: Yes, ma`am. The Wichita Falls Police Department is -- is trying their best. They -- they are doing everything possible to -- to try and find Danielle, along with several other Wichitans.

Danielle, she -- the day that she left my house and we -- we basically split up, she told me that she was going to go back to her ex-fiance, which is also her stepbrother. And she -- I was sitting there with my mother, and she got her stuff and -- and she left.

I thought that, you know, she would, that she would probably come back, you know with, within the next few hours. However, she -- she didn`t come back.

Furthermore, Danielle`s mom, she -- she abandoned her when she was about 2 years old. Danielle`s mother...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen. We`ve got to leave it right there. We`re going to have you back. And the mom, you`re invited back again to tell your side again.

Up next, Lindsay Lohan in trouble again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lindsay Lohan saunters back into court for her felony grand theft charge. This time the stern judge warns, "You are going to jail. And you need a shrink," as yet another battle erupts between her parents. Will Lindsay roll the dice and go to trial? I will give you the Lilo lowdown with HLN`s Dr. Drew and we`ll take your calls.

And CSI star Jorja Fox plays a fierce investigator on her hit show. Now she is fighting a real life crime against animal cruelty. She and "Price is Right" legend Bob Barker join me live here on ISSUES tonight to talk about their extraordinary rescue of dozens of circus lions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE KEITH L. SCHWARTZ, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: I never met you before the last court appearance; you never met me to my knowledge. One of the thing about me is I treat everybody the same. I don`t care that you are Lindsay Lohan versus John Doe, Jane Doe, that doesn`t affect me. What I look to in sentencing if there is a resolution in my court is what are the charges, what is the prior record, things of that nature.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Lindsay Lohan in a plea deal pressure cooker. Lilo has two weeks to decide if she will accept a plea bargain or roll the dice and go to trial and take her chances.

Lindsay was back in court today, and I have to say she was looking darn good. She is accused of swiping a $2,500 gold necklace from an L.A. boutique.

The judge warned Lindsay stay off the drugs, stay off the booze, get your life on track.

Lindsay sauntered into the courtroom this time, she was wearing, well, a lot of makeup, high-waisted white jeans and a rather low-cut revealing top.

Her attorney hopes she can cop a plea without jail time. But the judge shot that down. Even if Lindsay accepts a plea deal she will go to jail. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE SCHWARTZ: This case does involve jail time period. If you plead in front of me, this case is resolved in front of me; you are going to jail -- period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But since the actress is still insisting she is innocent, it looks like she might take her chances and actually go to trial on this. However, that is a huge risk because if Lindsay is found guilty, at trial, on a felony, she could go to prison for up to three years. And we`re talking likely state prison.

All right.

The judge also said Lindsay needs to get a trustworthy sponsor who is not related to her, and recommended a psychological evaluation, in other words, "get a shrink, honey". He said he might make it part of Lilo`s probation to regularly see a therapist.

I think that is a fabulous idea.

Straight out to HLN`s Dr. Drew Pinsky; delighted to have you on, Dr. Drew. Your new show premieres nightly this spring on HLN.

You were looking at her today in court, I was looking at her, how is all of this, do you think, impacting her reported recovery?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST: Well, it`s funny you would say it that way, Jane. I kind of want to throw this back at you a little bit because other than myself, I feel like you are the only person on television who really deeply understands what this is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

PINSKY: And the fact is she is -- truly. And in fact I saw you commenting on the physician or doctor that, drove his car through the front plate glass of a liquor store to get a beer and your response was, "Yes, ok, that`s what alcoholics do."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly.

PINSKY: They do what they got to do to get a drink.

Lindsay is not in that condition any longer. So when she was like that it would have been very effective to send her to jail to sort to get her to sober up, get her attention, to let her start thinking normally.

We have moved way beyond that now and now, she has had some treatment. She is sort of copping to addiction. She is allegedly in recovery.

But again, the way you pose the question, the fact that she has a sponsor who is a family member, to you and I that is completely outrageous. That suggests her sobriety, her recovery is very, very weak, which is unfortunate because she is making progress.

The problem now is that she, as you said, facing jail. And I don`t know how you feel, Jane but I don`t think jail is really going to help her. It may get her attention. We all feel like she needs to pay the consequences of her behavior. But the fact is why not mandate some -- like he`s starting to mandate -- why not mandate lots of treatment, lots of contained treatment; something that is really going to keep her moving forward?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this question -- first of all, to answer your question about -- will jail help her? I don`t think jail will help her.

PINSKY: Yes. No.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think she should get treatment even though she has been to rehab, I think, something like five times. I think that there has to be another way.

The thing that I get upset about, Dr. Drew, is the two-tiered system of justice. You can go on "Families against Mandatory Minimums" so you can see all these people doing hard time for being found with a little bit of crack. And they`re all minorities, 99.9 percent.

I believe in compassion. But I believe in compassion across the board. I don`t believe in selective compassion.

PINSKY: That`s right, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If we are going to start being compassionate as a society, let`s be compassionate to everyone, not just this gorgeous starlet who goes into court with a low cut top.

And that`s where I draw the line. Again, I believe in compassion for her. What I get really upset about is when I -- I have been in these courtrooms and I have seen what happens to the unknown people who have public defenders, before the high profile client comes in. And they`re sent away, left, right, boom, boom, boom, boom, before they can even -- head spinning speed they`re sent to prison. That`s where I get upset.

And I would love you to comment on that because it just drives me crazy to see that two-tiered --

PINSKY: Yes. Well, I`m with you because listen, we have overcrowding in California jails. And we have three strikes laws here and we have people who are very anxious that people should pay for their behavior.

And you are right. You go to prisons and look at who is in there it`s mostly people who either have drug-related charges or who have behaviors that are the result of the addictive disease. If we would focus on the cause we would have A, less jails, less prisoners in jail, and B, the potential to rehabilitate these people.

We need -- I agree, Jane, it`s unfortunate. We would have to selectively find those people that are likely to respond to treatment, and then mandate that. Try to rehabilitate people and return them to society as opposed to the expense and the crowding and the housing of people that really have a disease that caused them to behave in a criminal manner.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly.

Yes, we`ve got to revamp our entire criminal justice system and emphasize treatment as opposed to incarceration.

But let`s get back to this Lohan family drama-rama. There was a news conference after the court hearing. And Lindsay`s dad, Michael spoke out, and basically lashed out at ex-wife Dina, who allegedly waved a restraining order in his face as he tried to ride the elevator with the family. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL LOHAN, LINDSAY LOHAN`S FATHER: The one thing that has led Lindsay to the place she is now and the reason why she is stuck, the broken crack in her hearts that`s a result of the divorce that Dina and I had. The fact that Dina and I still can`t seem to get on the same page.

Today when we were leaving the courtroom and we were getting on the elevator, when I said good-bye to Lindsay, Dina waved her order of protection around again, saying I shouldn`t get on the elevator. Not that I wanted to.

But that`s the same thing that`s been going on for years that Lindsay does not need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Listen, I think Michael is a great guy; we`ve had him on the show many times. But a lot of people tonight questioning whether he should have been airing that laundry at the hearing outside at a news conference?

PINSKY: Yes. Well, that is a -- people have questioned Michael`s judgment in terms of the kinds of things he has chosen to pursue in the media. The thing I know about Michael you, said, he`s a reasonably good guy. He is a recovering addict or I think recovering, he may be using himself. And he is a father. He understands this disease and he has genuine feelings as a father.

As a recovering person, or at least at times recovering person, he understands what`s necessary for the healing. And he should be listened to for that.

However, he is also the same guy that went to prison and spent three months in solitary confinement, he is that guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

PINSKY: So, we don`t really know what has gone on between Michael and Dina to this point to sort of lead them to this rupture. I agree with him. On behalf of all Lindsay they have to be civil and get along and show a unified front in the treatment of the identified addict.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, they shouldn`t be fighting with each other in court when this daughter is in such trouble.

PINSKY: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue tonight: Empty threats. I honestly don`t think that Lindsay takes these judges seriously because she was in court, sighing, rolling her eyes.

Got to bring in Richard Pintal, criminal defense attorney -- she`s heard it all before. They`ve all -- several judges have yelled at her. And she`s ended up doing 84 minutes behind bars and then less than two weeks. So why is this time different?

RICHARD PINTAL, ATTORNEY, REDMOND O`NEAL: Well, certainly when Judge Schwartz was talking to her on the record today they were not empty threats. This time is different because she was on probation and she allegedly committed a felony. That`s very serious. The stakes were raised significantly in her case.

She had been on misdemeanor probation, actually for two DUIs. So any violation of that probation could potentially put her in county jail for a year. The reason it`s very different now is because the prosecution has filed a new felony case. The stakes are much higher for her now. She is looking at potential state prison time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this question -- yes, you hit it. If she goes to trial -- if she doesn`t take this plea deal, she goes to trial and loses she could be convicted of a felony. That means you can`t go to that county jail where the sheriff always lets the celebrities out after a couple of hours citing overcrowding.

You`re going to go to a state prison. You can`t get out that fast. Ten seconds, Richard?

PINTAL: Possibly she would go to state prison. That`s not certain. If she went to trial and lost, she could still get probation. She could still get county jail. That would be up to the sentencing judge.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

Well, I got to thank Dr. Drew and our guest Richard Pintal, a very exciting debate and conversation. And I can`t wait to see your new show premiering here this spring on HLN, Dr. Drew.

All right, coming up, something very, very exciting: CSI star, Jorja Fox. You know her. She`s that big investigator. She`s also a good buddy of mine. And "Price is Right" legend: Bob Barker, who`s one of my heroes. They`re joining forces to fight atrocious animal cruelty. And they have done the largest, largest transfer of lions -- the largest air lift in the history of human kind, 25 lions coming from Bolivia to the United States.

We are going to talk to them live right after the break. All right. We are also going to take your calls on that, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

And I am going to tell you also about my new book "Addict Nation". You know you could see how addiction destroys lives. My new book, "Addict Nation" available at amazon.com or addictnation.org. We`re talking about Lindsay Lohan. Well, guess what --

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TIM PHILLIPS, ANIMAL DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL: These lions have lived their life in a tiny, rusting, disgusting cage on the back of a lorry. Tomorrow they`re going to feel the wind blow in their face. They`re going to feel grass beneath their feet. They`re going to roam into the bushes. They`re going to do whatever they want. They`re going to be as lions, possibly for the first real time in their lives.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, an unprecedented flight to freedom for 25 magnificent animals. Bravo. Abused lions rescued from hideous conditions in Bolivia are now living out their lives in an amazing Colorado sanctuary. Last week`s operation was the largest ever rescue of its kind. It could not have been done without the help of two amazing animal-loving celebrity who join me right here on ISSUES tonight. I`m talking about my dear friends and my heroes, Bob Barker and Jorja Fox.

Now, when Jorja is not busy solving murders on CSI -- come on, how many episodes have you seen her on, right? This time she is investigating real life crimes against animals.

And of course, Bob Barker is a legend from "The Price is Right" fame. You know, he is my hero because he helped pay for this massive rescue mission. I think he gave something like $200,000. He is an amazing, amazing hero for the animals and he`s long time vegetarian and just an activist all the way around for these animals.

Listen to this.

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BOB BARKER, ANIMAL ACTIVITIES: Help control the pet population, have your pet spayed or neutered.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Have your pet spayed and neutered. That`s his famous line.

Straight out to my dear friends: Jorja Fox and Bob Barker; Jorja, going to start with you. First of all, bravo to all of you, to both of you and the organizations involved for getting these animals out.

Tell us about the conditions that these poor, poor lions have endured for their entire lives. What did you get them out of, Jorja?

JORJA FOX, ANIMAL ACTIVIST: Jane, thank you so much for having us. Again it`s a pleasure to be with you.

To give you a few examples we had eight lions, a pride of lions, a whole family living together. This is adult lions, living on the back of a truck, the size of two double beds. That`s one example of the conditions of these animals.

Another lion had been in a very small zoo cage for 11 years; hadn`t seen another lion in all of that time. Two other lions had never seen another lion before; they were kept in small cages in circuses all by themselves.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some of these lions, literally as you just heard, never set foot outside a small, filthy cage. Now, take a look at these conditions. No surprise that many were malnourished, stressed and traumatized. But within days of being rescued they were healthier, they were less aggressive, they had shiny coats even. Listen to this.

Bob Barker, again, you gave $200,000 to help make this happen. You are my hero. What runs through you emotionally when you see these animals taken from this hellish situation and put in this fabulous sanctuary where they literally have a 15,000 square foot biosphere to live out their lives as if in nature? Bob.

All right. Jorja, went to take that one?

FOX: Yes, I just wanted you to know that the biosphere is actually temporary. It is 15,000 square it, it has heat, it`s got grass inside, it has toys. This is merely a space for the lions to acclimate to the Denver climate.

In a couple months they will have 80 full acres to share there. The animal sanctuary, a wild animal sanctuary north of Denver has two other lion prides. And it was a surprise to me to find out that lions actually are genetically wired for winter as they traversed Africa they spent a lot of time in the mountains in northern Africa, it gets very cold. So this will be a great place for them. But because they`re just out of Bolivia they`re going to stay a little warmer until the weather warms up a bit.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: well, I want to go to my big issue. I got to say, zoos are basically prisons. Ok. That is my opinion. It is easy to criticize other nations where zoos are terrible.

But let`s talk about the United States. We have countless animals, like Billy the elephant, he is the subject of a huge battle. He is stuck in concrete enclosure at the L.A. Zoo with no companion. See the way they`re rocking like that. That is a sign of distress.

These animals are not meant to live this way, Bob Barker. What would you say to anybody who goes to a zoo?

BARKER: Well, let me say first, that I have heard nothing that has been said thus far. So, I don`t know what you have asked me. I understand you`ve been talking.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:L Tell me about the zoos, Bob, come on. Tell us about the zoos and why you are against them?

BARKER: I am against zoos. I consider them prisons for animals. And the Los Angeles Zoo has kept that poor Billy out there for years, alone with --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More after the break. More Bob.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We certainly couldn`t have done it without your help, Mr. Barker.

BARKER: Line number one, come on down.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. This is an amazing story, the largest airlift of lions ever, thanks to Bob Barker, of "Price is Right" fame; a second chance at life for 25 beautiful lions. They spent their entire lives in filthy cages as part of really deplorable Bolivian circuses and we`re going to show you that video as we talk.

Bob Barker, the Bolivians aren`t really the bad guys here because they`re actually way ahead of us. They`ve actually passed a law that the United States needs to pass. Tell us about it.

BARKER: Well, the ADI people went undercover and they collected such horrendous tape on the treatment of animals in Bolivia that the government actually passed this legislation that banned circuses that used any animals, even domestic animals. They are banned in Bolivia.

And after that legislation was passed, with other wildlife organizations, ADI went out and gathered up lions and other animals of all kinds and the lions, they brought to the United States, 25 beautiful lions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jorja why don`t we do this in the United States? We just showed you video of Billy, the elephant at the L.A. Zoo. We could put him up again. You could tell he is in distress, he`s rocking back and forth. There`s been, I don`t know how many legal battles over this elephant. They want to keep that elephant.

There`s a sanctuary that`s dying to take him. There he is. Look, when they rock back and forth like that, that shows that they are not happy, they are in distress, this poor guy on concrete.

Now, Bolivia is ahead of the United States. Why the heck, when we have the video here, this animal is not happy, we cannot get this animal freed to go to a sanctuary?

JORJA: Well, Jane, I want to say, you know Billy is an amazing example of just how horrible zoos can be for animals. He is not the exception, you know. Billy`s story is a very, very common story. He happens to be one of the more famous elephants out there.

I think it is coming to the United States. I think that the more people find out what`s going on and also examples, it is a true testament to the Bolivian people what they were able to accomplish very quickly. And when you hear a success story like that and you see that it can actually be done, and you see these lions moving to a sanctuary, it brings it all into the realm of the possible.

I think in the United States, we are going to see a movement like this becoming more and more powerful over the next couple of years. It`s a long time coming. And I believe in the goodness of people. This lion expedition was really for the lions and about the lions.

But at the end of the day, it was a true testament to the human spirit and what people can accomplish when they work together to make something great happen; so many people stepped forward.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Yes. And I want to thank some of the organizations. You can help the lions as well by supporting the amazing groups that were involved and made this happen, check out Animal Defenders International, you can go to AD-International.org. You can also visit wildanimalsanctuary.org and make a donation and get involved.

Listen, Bob Barker, I am going to give you the last word. You are just a hero. What would you say to Americans about zoos?

BARKER: Well, I think that the progressive, well-informed zoos are already closing their elephant exhibits. I would like to see them close all of the big animal exhibits. I think that the sooner that there are --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are out of time. I love both of you. Thank you.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At approximately 11:45, the subject (INAUDIBLE) was taken into custody after a brief chase in a wooded area here (INAUDIBLE) of Princeton, Wal-Mart.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: This frantic manhunt now over, Sam Littleton the suspect of the murder of 26-year-old Tiffany Brown finally caught in West Virginia. Cops believe he was in the area for 72 hours before they were finally able to track him down. A nationwide alert was issued for this guy after this woman`s partially clothed body was found in her mom`s home a week ago under a wood pile.

Littleton reportedly dated Brown`s mom and lived in the basement where this woman`s body was discovered. He is also believed to be connected to the disappearance of these elderly people, Richard and Gladys Russell, this couple, the seniors. The nephew, well, he reportedly said cops told him there were signs of foul play discovered in their car.

But still we are hoping that these seniors are found safe and sound. We pray they`re found.

Nancy Grace is up next.

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