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Teen Girls Die in Double Suicide; Woman Says Date Sexually Assaulted Her

Aired April 21, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a slumber party double suicide. Two eighth-grade best friends hang themselves at a sleepover, leaving behind a suicide note for their families, even detailing plans for their own funerals. Now the families claim these girls may have been bullied to death. I`ll talk to one of the girl`s devastated uncles live.

And right here on ISSUES, we talked to the woman suing, claiming she was sexually assaulted by her date, a man with a criminal record. Now, his attorney joins me to tell his side.

Plus, a funeral feud erupts over the woman who drove her car into the Hudson River, killing her three young children. The father of those young victims says he has nothing to do with the murder/suicide. And we`ll talk live to the courageous woman who helped rescue the sole survivor, a 10- year-old boy.

Then, a shocking new undercover investigation reveals gut-wrenching animal cruelty on a Texas farm, the footage sparking new anger over efforts to criminalize undercover photography of animal cruelty on farms. We`ll talk to an undercover investigator who has risked his life to expose the shocking truth.

ISSUES starts now.



SUPERINTENDENT KLINT WILLERT, MARSHALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS: We have had two unexpected deaths of Marshall Middle School students over the weekend. Fourteen-year-old students Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz died by suicide.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news tonight, unthinkable horror as a Minnesota mom finds her teenaged daughter and her best friend dead in a double suicide. One of the girl`s heartbroken uncles joins me in just a moment. Could bullying have driven the 14-year-olds to end their lives side by side?

Paige Moravetz and her best friend, Haylee Fentress, sleeping at Haylee`s house last Friday. Haylee`s mom found their bodies at about 6 a.m. the next morning. They had hung themselves.

Haylee`s cousin says the families should have paid closer attention to the ominous postings on Haylee`s Facebook Paige. Listen to this from NBC.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She put a status update that said, "I`m so nervous, and I just want to get it over with. And I love you, Paige."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She says Haylee posted that chilling message back on April 6, just ten days before she died. We have got to ask here on ISSUES tonight, could these tragic, tragic deaths have been prevented somehow?

Straight out to investigative reporter Ed Miller from "Extra." You`ve been tracking this case. What do you know, Ed?

ED MILLER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, Jane, first of all, as a parent, this is something that angers me to no end. You have no idea.

First of all, we need to redefine the word "bullying." Bullying is not just one kid beating up another kid on the playground. It`s this constant teasing, tormenting, making a child feel isolated, that she`s absolutely alone.

In every single school shooting in this country, those kids -- I mean, those shootings have been linked to kids who felt that they were isolated, felt that they didn`t fit in, felt that they had nowhere else to go, so they had to turn to violence. So, that`s why -- that`s why this is so important.

And also, you want to know how this could have been prevented? Where were school officials during all of this? They`re supposed to be the professionals. They are the ones that are supposed to see what`s going on in the classroom, see what`s going on in the hallways, see what`s going on in the teasing.


MILLER: Let me tell you a very quick story, Jane. Remember when you and I were reporters in New York, and I moved out here to Los Angeles? I enrolled my daughter in a very la-di-da, expensive private school. Later, I found out during lunch hour she hid in the bathroom stall because -- for the entire lunch hour, because no one else would sit down with her and eat lunch.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you know what?

MILLER: That`s how isolated kids can feel. And I didn`t know about it. Parents don`t know about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course they don`t, because their kids are ashamed of it, and they`re embarrassed.

MILLER: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they don`t tell their parents. And one of the girls in this case had recently moved to this rural community in Minnesota.

MILLER: Absolutely. Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The girls left letters telling their families they loved them. Here`s Haylee`s cousin on NBC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t believe or know that we`ll ever have a definite answer. She really kept the note focused on wanting everybody to feel -- you know, pray for her and Paige, and she really wasn`t looking for any sympathy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go out now to Brett Behnke, who is joining us via Skype. He is the uncle of one of the girls who committed suicide, Paige.

First of all, Brett, thank you so much for joining us, sir. And you can look directly at me. Our hearts go out to you and your family.

Nobody, nobody should ever have to bury a child. We want to talk about this, because we want to stop. This is happening all over America, these kids getting bullied. You just heard it from Ed Miller, whose own daughter was bullied. In 20/20 hindsight, which is always perfect, did you see any warning signs, now that you think about it?

BRETT BEHNKE, UNCLE OF PAIGE: Of course, you know, after the fact. This is devastating to the family, and -- and we`re trying to -- to put all the pieces to the -- together and grieve at the same time.

But what we have seen is that I do think that the school acted appropriately. I mean, they have generally been good to us, Minnesota nice, and -- and the community -- the community has just been an outpouring of support has been wonderful. And when you`re 14 or 13...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can I ask you a question? Can I ask you this question? I just want to get into the specifics here.

Haylee`s aunt says -- and I know that`s not your niece, but Haylee`s aunt, the other girl, she says that she had recently moved to this rural town and complained to the family that she felt ostracized and bullied for being overweight and having red hair. And her parent also gone through a divorce, which was another issue.

And Haylee was allegedly kicked out of school, which we can`t confirm, but something happened, because she defended Paige during a school fight. And Haylee hyphenated her last name on Facebook to include Paige`s last name, so they were very close.

So I can understand Haylee being bullied. It`s -- it`s inexcusable, but at least there are some reasons. As far as your niece, Paige, she seemed to be a hockey star. She was a skater. She was very integrated into the community. Did you get any signs that your niece was also being bullied, even though she was a hockey star?

BEHNKE: That`s the thing. When they`re that age and all teenagers are seeking for acceptance. And that`s the one thing that they thrive on and all they do well. And that`s what they were struggling with.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They were very close. Did you get any sense that something like this might have been down the road? Did Paige complain to you, "Hey, even though I`m involved with hockey, I`m still being ostracized"? Did she ever say that she was on the outs? Or did she keep it quiet?

BEHNKE: You know, that`s the hard part for us. I spent last weekend with her and -- and we had a family get-together at my home. And she looked like a happy young little girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what`s so scary. That is what`s so scary. The adults don`t know, because the kids don`t share it with them. And again, our hearts go out to you.

If I could ask to you stand by for a second, Brett, I want to bring in one of my heroes, Tina Meier, she has become a crusader against bullying across the nation. Her daughter, Megan, committed suicide in 2006 three weeks before her 14th birthday, so we`re talking about the same age range here.

Megan had been viciously bullied on MySpace, supposedly by a 16-year- old boy. It turned out that it was a classmate`s mom who had set up the phony profile to torment Megan.

Tina, again, you are my hero. You started the Megan Meier Foundation to stop bullying. What do you make of this particular case of these two girls committing suicide in an apparent suicide pact?

TINA MEIER, FOUNDER, MEGAN MEIER FOUNDATION: Well, first of all, my heart absolutely breaks for their family and their friends. It`s just -- it`s the most shocking, horrific feeling that a family can ever go through.

So, you know, I don`t know all of the -- the whole situation around it. I just do know that, in society, we don`t talk about these issues. We don`t talk about the suicidal issues and the hurting that teens are going through.

And again, you talked about it. Kids don`t go home and tell their parents when they`re getting made fun of and laughed. It`s embarrassing.

So I think we have to be out there. I mean, there`s no way that these parents could have seen every single thing happening, because kids hide it from them. But I think that`s why we are trying to make this awareness to out there and getting kids to know that there is help out there, that taking this permanent solution, that there -- it`s for a temporary problem.

And so that`s why we`re wanting to get our kids to start talking to us, get schools to start talking about these issues and so parents can help them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My big issue tonight is does conformity kill? At 14 years of age, being accepted -- we all know it -- it means everything. But it also means conforming, and these girls were a little different. Something that ought to be celebrated.

Haylee and Paige didn`t have your average friendship. Haylee had actually hyphenated her last name on Facebook to include Paige`s last name. Haylee was, according to some reports, kicked out of school for defending Paige during a fight. They were incredibly close.

And Haylee`s uncle thinks they had been planning these suicides for some time.

Here`s another clip from NBC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to believe myself that they -- they had thought this out, you know, pretty thoroughly, because I just noticed little changes in the way they were -- I should actually say Haylee was -- was talking or posting things on the Internet. It seems to me now that they were going out of their way to keep this to themselves.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brett, you said you recently spent a lot of time with your niece, Paige. Did you get a sense of this very close connection with Haylee, this other girl, that they were that that close?

BEHNKE: They were really good friends. I mean, they were the best of friends and -- and almost like sisters. So, we, you know, we knew that they were really, really close and their bond was -- was tight. And -- and you look at the two girls together as they -- they would play together and you -- it would be hard to imagine that this was something that was on the horizon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the suicide came three days after Paige`s mom and step-dad apparently left for a Hawaiian vacation. Brett, I can`t imagine what they are going through. It boggles my mind to end up in Hawaii and find out this horror happened to your own daughter. Can you tell us how they`re faring?

BEHNKE: They`re going through the stages of grief. It was so difficult. They had a hard time getting back. And then, obviously, to get the news and then to have to sit on a plane and await what they had to -- had to come home to. And it was a relief to us when we finally did get them home.

And they`re struggling. And it`s one day, one minute at a time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my gosh.

Ed Miller, we`ve covered so many of these stories, and the thing is the parents don`t know because the kids don`t share. I really feel that we have to evolve, on the Facebook of the kids and even -- I hate to say it -- looking at their text messages and going into their e-mails.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: If they`re not 18. Parents should have the right to do that.

MILLER: Yes. You`re absolutely right about that. You know, again, I`m speaking not really as a reporter or a producer; I`m speaking as a parent. You`ve got to snoop, and you`ve got to ask questions. You know, otherwise, you won`t know anything. They`re certainly not going to share.

I do want to tell you, though, and you probably already know this, that certain school systems around the country have adopted very strong anti-bullying policies. Convent of the Sacred Heart Schools, for example, have adopted this policy where everyone is included. You never, ever let somebody eat alone or the girl who`s wearing too much makeup...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I love that. I love that.

MILLER: ... a little overweight. You include her. And everybody gets assigned a big sister. And they -- I mean, it`s the school`s responsibility to take this and do this. Because it`s our children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We, as a nation, have to take a stand on bullying and say zero tolerance.

MILLER: You`re right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Ed and especially Brett. Again, my heart goes to out to your family.

I`ve got to tell you: coming up, another wild story. A woman sues, claiming her date, a reported sex offender, assaulted her. And now we`re doing going hear from that man`s lawyer.

And also breaking news in the Michael Jackson case. A trial shocker. It involves Michael Jackson`s autopsy photo. You won`t believe it, next.


MICHAEL JACKSON, POP STAR: I`ll be performing the songs my fans want to hear. This is it. I mean this is really it. This is the final -- this is the final curtain call.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news in the death of Michael Jackson and the trial of his personal doctor, Conrad Murray.

Here`s Michael Jackson, who seems to be in peak performance mode, rehearsing for his comeback tour shortly before his shocking and untimely death. And now, a jury is going to get to see his autopsy photos. Exactly how he looked after he died. This could shake up the case, if, indeed, as so many suspect, Michael looks completely different from what we`re all used to seeing.

There have been allegations Michael often tried to conceal his features by wearing a fake tip at the top of his nose and using skin lightning cream. What will Michael look like without makeup? We`re going to see a photo for the very first time. Most critically, what will it show about how he died?

Straight out to attorney Lisa Bloom, who`s been all over this case. Did Dr. Conrad Murray have something to worry about now that the autopsy photos are being included of Michael Jackson`s naked body?

LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Well, I would assume so, since his defense team vigorously objected. They feel that it`s more prejudicial than probative. That`s the legal standard, meaning that it`s going to inflame the jury so much that they won`t be able to think rationally.

But the judge said no, these are going to come in. And I think that`s the right ruling, because the jury needs to see the before and after of Michael Jackson, that he was healthy, that he was dancing, in the videos that you just showed just days before his death, and that after his death, what he looked like.

Apparently, these photos are not bloody or gory, so they`re not going to inflame the jury, and they`re entitled to see it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa, I think it`s going to be very significant, because the defense is going to claim, reportedly, that Michael Jackson injected himself with that fatal dose of Propofol, that surgical knockout drug.

Now, according to prosecution doctors, they say, well, the IV catheter was on his left leg. And so it would have been very hard for him to reach it and inject himself without either sitting straight up or bending his knee. And so the prosecution says it`s not likely that Michael Jackson injected himself.

But by seeing that naked photo, we are going to see possibly exactly where all that equipment was, where the puncture marks, were correct?

BLOOM: Well, those are some great points, Jane, and the jury is going to have to mull over all of that. Could he have reached around? Could he have injected himself? Could he have squeezed the bag and gotten more Propofol into his body when Dr. Murray went out of the room to make phone calls?

You know, the defense only has to get reasonable doubt here. They don`t have to prove that Michael Jackson injected himself. And that`s important.

The prosecution has to show that Conrad Murray did it, that he`s the one that put all of this medication into Jackson`s body, and he did it negligently. If the defense can get a couple of jurors to have some doubt, they can win this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I`ve got to say his big mistake was using Propofol to begin. The doctors who testified for the prosecution say you should never use Propofol as a sleep aid, period.

Thank you so much, Lisa.

And I`m going to be in Los Angeles for complete coverage of the Conrad Murray trial. Opening statements set to start May 9.



CAROLE MARKIN, SUING MATCH.COM: I sat down on the couch, and then when he came out of the bathroom, I was about to say, "You can`t really stay very long because your car is going to be towed." And then he jumped me and forced me into sexual acts. He definitely overpowered me. He`s a very big man. He`s about a foot taller than me and about 100 pounds heavier.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shocking allegations in an online dating story. Earlier this week here on ISSUES I spoke to a woman who says she had a traumatic sexual assault. Carole Markin says she met this guy, right here, Alan Wurtzel on the popular Internet dating Web site,

She claims on their second date, they went out for sushi, but when he took her home, things turned violent. Carole says Mr. Wurtzel sexually assaulted her. Soon after the alleged attack, she Googled Wurtzel and found that he apparently has a criminal record, and now she is suing She wants the Internet dating giant to check members` names against the public sex offender Web site. They say they`re going to start doing that.

Joining me now is the attorney for Alan Wurtzel, Sharon Morris. We do get both sides of the story here on ISSUES.

So Sharon, what`s your client`s side of the story?

SHARON MORRIS, ATTORNEY FOR ALAN WURTZEL: Well, Mr. Wurtzel absolutely did nothing wrong. They went back to their apartment. And she went back up to her apartment, and they had a consensual make-out session.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying that -- the sexual assault that she`s claiming did not occur?

MORRIS: There was absolutely no sexual assault whatsoever. This was consensual sexual activity between two consenting adults.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s what your client has told you?

MORRIS: That is what the defense of the case is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Carole believes this man has attacked before and told me earlier this week that he`s lying about the sexual encounter being consensual. Let`s listen to this.


MARKIN: It`s just not true. It wasn`t consensual, and that`s just the bottom line. And he has a record, and I don`t, of doing this kind of thing to other women.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we contacted the LAPD, and they said that he was, in fact, on probation for a misdemeanor of sexual battery. Sharon, what do you know about that?

MORRIS: That is correct. There is no question about that. However, Ms. Markin is absolutely incorrect when she says that what occurred is not consensual.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What is that sexual battery case that he`s convicted of?

MORRIS: I apologize. The sexual battery case was in the past. It was in 2009. It`s over. It`s done. He served what he was supposed to do on probation beautifully, without problems, without question. And this just absolutely did not occur the way Ms. Markin is describing it now.

There are two counts against Mr. Wurtzle. The first time that we heard the word "rape" was about two weeks ago. The first time...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I thought it was a sexual assault, which can be different than rape, but proceed.

MORRIS: Correct. He is currently being charged with oral copulation and with sexual battery. The first time that we heard the word "rape" from Ms. Markin was two weeks ago. That`s the first time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we want to be fair. You say that it was consensual. She says it wasn`t. And we`re going to see what happens in the criminal case.

Thank you, Sharon, for coming on. We appreciate it.

MORRIS: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The latest on the Hudson River tragedy up next. Unbelievable.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A funeral feud erupts over the mother who drove her car into the Hudson River, killing her three young children. The father of those young victims says he had nothing to do with the murder/suicide. And we will talk live to the courageous woman who helped rescue the sole survivor, a 10-year-old boy.

Then, a shocking new undercover investigation reveals gut-wrenching animal cruelty on a Texas farm; the footage sparking new anger over efforts to criminalize undercover photography of animal cruelty on farms. We will talk to an undercover investigator who has risked his life to expose the shocking truth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She felt like it was a cruel world. That`s what she felt like. She felt like why leave them behind? But we know that that wasn`t a good -- that wasn`t a good thing to do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, controversy erupting in the wake of tragedy over burial plans for the desperate mother who died along with the three children she drowned when she plunged the family minivan into the Hudson River last week. The drama erupted went father of the three dead children blocked 25-year-old Lashanda Armstrong`s family from burying her alongside her children.

Lashanda`s funeral took place just hours ago but services for her kids will not be until Monday. There is a separation of these two funerals because of what she did.

This is the first we are hearing from Jean Pierre, the ex-boyfriend and the dead kids` dad, who some say was controlling and they claim even abusive to Lashanda. Neighbors tell the "New York Daily News" was told he was in a rage, banging on her door just a half hour before she killed herself and her children by driving into the Hudson.

Lashanda`s most recent boyfriend told the "New York Post" that Jean Pierre terrorized Lashanda, but he says he is not to blame for this tragedy. There is his statement.

Meantime, another man in the picture tonight, the biological father of 10-year-old Lashaun; now, he is the incredibly brave little boy who crawled out of the car and survived and there is talk about why he thinks Lashanda did what she did.


TODD JOHNSON, FATHER OF LASHAUN ARMSTRONG: I felt like she was in a situation where she couldn`t find a rational way to get out.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That man, Todd Johnson, is currently in a medium- security prison serving out a robbery conviction sentence it. And he read from a letter he says he got from Lashanda.


JOHNSON: "How are you doing? He`s walking around here acting like he doesn`t care anyway."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The only bright spot in this really awful story is the incredible survival of 10-year-old Lashaun, who was so ingenious, who acted so quickly and so courageously. How is that 10-year-old boy doing? We are going to find out in just a moment from the woman who found him right after he escaped from the river, escaped from the drowning minivan and showed up drenched asking her for help.

But first, straight out to Jon Lieberman, host of "True Facts" on; Jon, what do you make of this dad, of the 10-year-old, speaking out from behind bars, weighing in on the mother, why she may have done this?

JON LIEBERMAN, HOST, "TRUE FACTS": Yes. You know, everybody`s weighing in at this point. And really it is just such a tragedy all the way around.

I mean you have that boyfriend weighing in saying what he thinks. We have Jean Pierre, the father coming out now and saying he wasn`t directly responsible, and we should add, Jane, he is not going to face any charges in connection with this whole incident. No charges from going to the house prior to the woman driving the car into the Hudson. So really, it`s just a tragedy all the way around here in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It sure is. Now, Lashaun, the 10-year-old`s biological father spoke out from prison, as we just told you about this tragedy. He said he was so proud of his 10-year-old son and he made a push for early release so he could be with his son.

Listen to this.


JOHNSON: This is what I need, this is what he needs. We`re both grieving from a distance.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But this guy is behind bars on a robbery conviction. He said, well, he`s different man than he was seven years ago, presumably when he was convicted for robbery.

I got to go to Lisa Bloom, because I have to say that I -- I am in such awe of this 10-year-old boy who was quick-thinking, opened the car door window, crawled out, in an attempt to save his siblings, swam to the river surface, swam to shore, ran up to a woman we are about to talk to, asked her for help, this incredible young man. But wouldn`t it be nice if he had his father in his life and instead, his dad is behind bars, serving time for robbery -- Lisa?

LISA BLOOM, BLOOMFIRM.COM: Yes. It sure would. I mean, that depends on how dad has done behind bars, whether he`s actually been a model prisoner, whether he deserves an early release, because the community has to be taken into account as well. But if all of that is true, I would think this is the kind of extraordinary circumstance that might warrant it, if he is going to be good dad to this little boy because this little boy has a lot to deal with. Yes, he is healthy now, but he has to deal with the loss of his siblings and his mother, the survivor`s guilt that naturally comes along with surviving when other people didn`t. He shouldn`t have any reason obviously to feel guilty but he`s got a lot to deal with. So, yes, if possible, let`s bring dad back into his life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, if dad has actually had this change of heart that he says he has had because when people commit crime, maybe they should consider the children they leave behind and who`s going to take care of them? He is convicted of robbery.

So I think it is a cautionary tale that when you commit a crime and you go to prison, you are not just hurting yourself, you`re hurting your children who are left outside to fend for themselves. Luckily, he has a very sharp 10-year-old son.

Everybody is so worried about this adorable 10-year-old, Lashaun, the lone survivor, especially considering his harrowing experience.

Listen to this.


MAEVE RYAN, RESCUED LASHAUN ARMSTRONG: He was just screaming, "I`m going to go get help. I`m going to go get help." And what he told me is that he was regretful that he couldn`t teach his two younger brothers to swim because he had just learned to swim last year.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The poor 10-year-old guilty that he couldn`t teach his siblings to swim because he managed to get out and they couldn`t. It`s unbelievable, this kid. He is so -- he has got such incredible qualities.

But there`s another hero in this story, a woman named Maeve Ryan and she joins me by phone. You just heard from her on the videotape.

Maeve, you were the one who was there when little Lashaun ran up, dripping wet and said help me, my mommy and my three little brothers and sisters are drowning and ultimately drowned in the Hudson River. You took him to the fire station. You did everything you could, a total stranger, to try to help this youngster and I understand that you went to his mother`s funeral.

Did you see the 10-year-old boy that you became so bonded with, this youngster here and what happened today?

RYAN: Well I saw him during towards the end of the service and they brought me downstairs when he was with --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? All right. We -- I guess we lost Maeve but we will try to get her back.

Here is my big issue. This 25-year-old woman, the mother of four kids, three of them now dead; the fourth, you see that amazing 10-year-old who managed to get out of a sinking car, a sinking minivan and swim for help. She was reportedly going to school and working. Did she have too much to handle?

The "New York Post" reports her current boyfriend says that she would call had him crying about what the father of her three young children would do to her; this current boyfriend claims that the father of the three kids, Jean Pierre, would show up at her home ostensibly to see the kids but then proceed to badger her. The "New York Daily News" reports neighbors say he showed up at her home in a rage and was pounding on her door just a half an hour before she took off with the kids and drove -- drove her minivan into the Hudson River. There were allegations of cheating flying in both directions.

Again, Jean Pierre says he is not responsible and he is invited on any time.

But my gosh, Jon Lieberman, you have got to wonder whether this woman, like so many other women, simply took on too much. Four kids, she is 25. That means she had her first child when she was 15, because he is 10-year- old. That means she was possibly pregnant at the age of 14. And we`ve got a current boyfriend, we`ve got the father of the three kids, and we`ve got the father of the 10-year-old, who is behind bars.

LIEBERMAN: Look, I mean clearly, she was overwhelmed with everything that was going on and add to it this, that Jean Pierre was actually arrested in February for allowing his 2-year-old to be unsupervised. The 2-year-old was found with snow up to his knees, half-clothed, at 1:30 in the morning. So Jean Pierre was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

So when you put it all together, you put the domestic disturbances, the yelling, the allegations of womanizing one way and cheating the other way and then all the little kids into the mix, clearly she was overwhelmed and clearly Jean Pierre, he said today in his statement that he does regret some of his past actions.

BLOOM: But Jane --



BLOOM: Can I jump in, because I have very strong feelings about suicide. Suicide is a violent act and the only person who`s responsible for the suicide is the one that did it. Add to the fact here that she also took the lives of her children.

So I don`t believe -- look, a lot of people have a lot on their plate and I feel for this woman because she clearly did and she was overwhelmed by life. But she chose to do this act. She chose to take her children with her. And I don`t think it is appropriate to point the finger at anybody else for somebody`s suicide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you and I`m just trying to use this as an example so we can stop other children from being dragged into the waters of death by their mother.

BLOOM: Sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that we have to look at the societal problems that are underlying this case and this was a woman, I believe with way too much to handle.


BLOOM: And people need to reach out for help before it gets to this point.



BLOOM: And people need to reach out for help before it gets to this point because --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. Reach out for help because there are many organizations out there that will help you. Thank you, wonderful panel.

A shocking new undercover investigation reveals gut-wrenching animal cruelty on a Texas farm; this -- as five states begin pushing legislation to criminalize undercover photography of animal cruelty. Yes. They don`t want you to see it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, stomach-churning, horrific animal abuse captured on undercover video at a Texas cattle ranch. The animal welfare group Mercy for Animals just posted it on their Web site. Write it down,

What`s been happening at this ranch is so bad, we can`t even show very much of it to you. Now, there was a whole internal debate here about how much we could show you and how much you would be willing to watch before you would turn the channel.

I have confidence in my viewers, we are not showing you very much because it`s way too graphic, but I have confidence that you want to know the truth and that you`re going to continue watching as we tell you about this very disturbing story.

Tonight on ISSUES, we are going to talk to an undercover investigate who has seen the abuse firsthand and documented it. Some states are now trying to pass laws that would outlaw what he does and make it -- him, a criminal and make it a felony to even shoot video of what`s happening to these poor animals.

Are these politicians afraid that we will see the truth? That the American people will see what`s really going on? Calves kept in deplorable conditions, fighting for their lives, being hit on the head -- boom -- and left for dead?

Mercy for Animals says an undercover investigator spent two weeks at the E6 Calf Ranch in west Texas documenting inhumane treatment and vicious killing of these poor, innocent calves. The ranch owner claims the situation has been corrected and will not happen again. I would love to see proof of that.

Are you as outraged as I am? Call me 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Nathan Runkle (ph) with Mercy for Animals. Again if you want to see the whole video, you can go to and you can watch it. You can watch the video yourself. But in the meantime, Nathan, I got to say this is some of the worst video I have ever seen. What do you claim that you have caught on tape with your investigator`s undercover camera at this Text as ranch?

NATHAN RUNKLE, MERCY FOR ANIMALS: Our undercover video captures horrific animal cruelty, workers taking hammers and pickaxes and bashing in the skulls of calves. It shows workers dragging calves by their ears, standing on their necks, dropping them, burning their horns out without any painkillers. Calves being kept in tiny crates in their own urine and feces and sick and injured calves left to suffer to death.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s listen to that worker caught on video at the Texas calf ranch once again. He is talking about sick and dying calves on the ranch. Listen carefully. It`s short.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t treat those calves. No medicine, no nothing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Contradicting that statement, the ranch owner, Kurt Espenson called ISSUES and said the actions in the video are unacceptable and do not reflect the practices and standard operating procedure on his farm. He said they have strict policies for calf care which include proper euthanization of an injured animal; that all employees in the video have been terminated and that blunt-force trauma is strictly prohibited.

Kurt then told one of our producers that we are not seeing the whole thing; that whoever was shooting the video was egging the workers on.

Nathan Runkle, what is your reaction to the statement by the owner of this farm?

RUNKLE: Well it is false and misleading. The reality is that this facility had no animal welfare policies or training and there was a complete lack of oversight. Kurt has claimed responsibility for this, as he rightfully should. And he should be criminally prosecuted for the abuse that took place at his facilities under his watch.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, several states are trying to outlaw photography or videotaping on farms -- this kind of undercover videotape that uncovers abuses. People however, should see what`s happening to these animals. I think the American people deserve to know what`s really happening. Nevertheless in Florida, one state senator wants to make it a felony to take photos or video on any farm without the owner`s consent.

Now, big agricultural states likes Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, are trying to do the same thing. So my personal opinion, if you live in any of these states call your legislator. Tell the legislators that these farms have to be held accountable and Lisa Bloom, your reaction on this attempt to criminalize these undercover videos?

BLOOM: Absolutely shocking, Jane. Talk about blaming the messenger. And for those who don`t even care about animal welfare, you should at least be concerned about your food. I mean imagine an industry that is so secretive it has to operate behind closed doors that they don`t want a camera in there so that you can see the conditions under which your food is raised.

I mean think about that. Most businesses would be thrilled to have photographers and videographers come. This is the reason why I`m vegan, Jane, because every time you get a camera in --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side, the man in silhouette.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t treat those calves. No medicine or nothing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Indescribable, horrific animal abuse uncovered in a Mercy for Animals undercover investigation at a cattle company in Texas. We can`t show you the video because it`s that gruesome. We can just show you the before picture. But you can imagine what happens next.

I`m going to go to Roy -- we call him Roy -- he`s an undercover investigator. He was the one who went undercover and shot this video. Roy, what exactly did you see and you photograph. Spell it out for us.

ROY, INVESTIGATOR: Well, very briefly, when I first visited the facility, I had no intention of getting hired. But I saw calves, these cross breed calves that aren`t worth as much to the owner, starving to death and a manager told me that they have a policy to not treat them because they`re not worth much.

So I got hired to determine if that was true and in fact, I found out that these calves are dying every day. There`s a policy. I have a confession from the owner on tape that he does not treat them because they`re not worth much to him and that the only means of euthanasia that any employee has so that the calves don`t starve to death if they are neglected is blunt trauma or a.22 rifle that is not the correct caliber. And so it`s dangerous actually for the employees to even use it.

You know, the other policies that exist there are cutting off calves horns and burning them off without any anesthetic. So neglect and abuse is a routine way of working at the E6 Cattle Company.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And once again, we`ve got a statement from the E6 Cattle Company and they say the workers there were fired and that this -- they are saying essentially this is not how they do business and implied that you were egging some of the workers on. I want to give you a chance to respond to that.

ROY: Right. Well, that is untrue. I have the evidence to prove my case and to prove that Kurt was aware of what was happening. I complained about the things that were happening. I videotaped everything that occurred, everything that I had to do, everything that the other workers did. It`s all on tape. And it`s going to show very clearly that routine violations of the law were what occurred every day at the E6 Cattle Company and that Kurt was aware of it. So I`m hoping that the sheriff`s department will hold him accountable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet (ph), Michigan, your question or thought, ma`am.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m a fellow animal lover, and I have one comment and one question. I -- my comment is, I guarantee you, any politicians that are going along with this, find it acceptable and they are trying to protect these people are definitely getting paid off by these absolutely horrible people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me stop you right there because that`s such a good point. First of all, Nathan, where was the USDA that`s supposed to be in these facilities monitoring this stuff?

RUNKLE: Well, shockingly, there`s not a single federal law that provides protection to animals on factory farms. So there`s a lack of protection and there`s a complete lack of oversight which is what allows this horrific abuse to continue. And usually the only watchdogs are these undercover investigations. And that`s why they are trying to stop them. They would like this abuse to happen in secret, without public scrutiny.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go back to Roy for a second. Why were they killing these animals?

ROY: Well, you know, many calves there would -- you would just find them in conditions where they can`t move. They are barely breathing. And so it was either, you know, leave them there to starve to death or euthanize them. And the only means of euthanasia that was there at first were, you know, these hammers. And I complained about it and so a rifle was offered by the owner. He had me get it from a manager and the rifle would not immediately --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang on. More in a second; we`re not done.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you want to see the whole video that we cannot show you because it`s too graphic, you can go to Mercy for

I want to go back to Roy, the undercover investigator who shot this video. Why do you think that politicians around the country now are trying to turn you into a criminal for risking your life going under cover to expose abuse, horrific abuse of farm animals?

ROY: Very simple. Every time we go under cover into farms, whether they are family-owned, whether they`re corporate or slaughterhouses of any kind, we find constant abuse. And it`s cutting into the profits of these companies. The only way they can protect their pocketbooks is to try and outlaw undercover investigations.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, because, let`s face it, it`s all dollars-and- cents. One of the reasons why they fought the industry, a proposition to give them the room, animals room to turn around, lie down and stretch their limbs is because it would cost a little bit more.

Roy, I thank you for being on. And you are watching issues.

Nancy Grace up next.