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Teen Accused of Murdering Parents

Aired July 20, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, is this a cold- blooded teen killer. Police say this 17-year-old boy bludgeoned his mother and father to death with a hammer, locked their bodies in the bedroom, then threw a party for dozens of friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a merciless killing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did he kill his parents for a night of fun? I`ll talk exclusively to a former neighbor who knows the boy.

Plus, more uproar over the alleged Casey Anthony sighting in Orlando. Is this a big joke? Who`s behind it? And the entire Anthony family gets advice from someone who`s been in the eye of a media storm. My exclusive interview with Owen Lafave, ex-husband of Debra Lafave. You remember her, the teacher convicted of sleeping with a 14-year-old student.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We think of ourselves as this sleepy little town, you know, like Pleasantville. So it`s quite a shock.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: New stunners in the death of a tycoon`s son and his girlfriend within two days of each other at his mansion. Now, his girlfriend`s sister says she doesn`t think it was suicide. This as reports surface that her millionaire boyfriend was about to propose. We`re taking your calls.

ISSUES starts now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Tyler Joseph Hadley.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 17-year-old may have murdered his parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t get this. It just doesn`t make any sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was evidence that there was a house party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, "Party at my place." And he posted it three or four times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bodies of the deceased were located on the bedroom floor. The bedroom floor, partially covered with all different sorts of household items.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re charged with two counts of second degree murder with a weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Found lying between the bodies of the Hadleys was the hammer that was used to commit blunt force trauma to both the Hadleys` head and torso.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any questions?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as a motive, there`s no idea what the motive was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? Why would -- why would this happen?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hello. Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from New York.

Tonight, what a disturbing story. Mind-blowing new details from the best friend of a 17-year-old murder suspect. That teenage suspect is accused of bludgeoning his mom and dad to death with a claw hammer, and then throwing a huge party at the family home as his parents lay dead in the bedroom with a hammer between them.

We`ve got some new information for you tonight. Cops say they`ve learned the suspect`s mom turned around to her son after the first blow to the back of her head and cried out one word, "Why?"

Police found Tyler`s parents, Mary Jo and Blake Hadley, dead in their bedroom face down. That after cops got a phone tip. The murder weapon, a huge claw hammer.

The suspect`s best friend was one of many partying at the Hadley home when he says Tyler confessed to him that he`d murdered his parents. He didn`t believe it until he went into the bedroom. Check this out.


MICHAEL MANDELL, TYLER HADLEY`S BEST FRIEND: I opened the door. I saw bloody sheets piled everywhere. I saw broken pictures with blood on them, and I looked down and I saw his dad`s leg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After you saw this scene, what did you do?

MANDELL: I just -- I was in shock. I was sitting down. I didn`t know what to do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: According to the arrest affidavit, the suspect, Tyler Hadley, told his friend twice on July 16 that he was going to kill his parents, and then later at the party Tyler allegedly told his friend the whole sickening story, that he stood behind his mom while she sat at her computer and thought about killing her for five long minutes. Then he finally smashed her on the back of the head with a hammer, causing her to turn around and scream, "Why?"

Then the arrest affidavit says the suspect, Tyler, locked eyes with his dad, who had come out of the room, hearing the commotion, and he attacks him with the hammer, too. Tyler`s friend claims Tyler took three Ecstasy pills before the killing. That`s the key here. The cops will not confirm that. The friend also says Tyler thought he was possessed by the devil.

Well, is this simply another example of our culture of violence? A ruthless teen who kills his patients just so he can throw a party? Is it that simple? Unbelievable, really. It`s mind-boggling. It makes you ask that old cliche, what is this world coming to?

Straight out to my very special, exclusive guest, Jason Maerki. I hope I`m pronouncing your name correctly, sir. Jason, are you there?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: First of all, I know this is difficult for you. I know you were hesitant to come on, and I want to thank you for coming on. Because if we can`t learn something from this horror story, then we`re all in deep trouble. So I know you`re going to give us some insight, because you used to live in the same neighborhood as Tyler Hadley, the teenager, and his parents. I understand Tyler played with your children.

So first of all, sir, what was your reaction when you heard this news?

MAERKI: I was -- I was actually shocked at first, and then I was able to put two and two together, and my suspicions of him kind of made sense, you know, since I had lived in the neighborhood.

When I first moved in, I was warned by all the neighbors on the street that he was a troubled -- troubled child, that he had vandalized the house that I was moving into. And that I should keep an eye out for him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was there ever some incident with fire where you had to interact with his family? Can you tell us about that?

MAERKI: Yes. I was actually at work when I got a call from my fiancee telling me that there was an empty lot, a wooded area next to our house that had caught on fire and that Tyler and my oldest son -- actually both of my sons and a couple of the neighbor children were there. But that it was actually my son that had -- that had lit the fire.

And after talking with Tyler and my son, and finding out that Tyler gave him the lighter and told him where to light it.

Tyler was a -- Tyler was a very flat-line person. Like, he never -- he never showed emotion, whether it was happy or sad. So once I had, you know, scolded him, as you would say, I could see that it hadn`t done anything. You know, and he looked at me in my eyes, and I could just tell that he didn`t care, that he enjoyed, you know, what had happened.

But he was more the type of -- where he wasn`t very aggressive to any of the other kids whatsoever. He was bigger than all of the kids that played in the neighborhood. He was the biggest one. And I was more worried about him doing something to the children, and instead, I had to be more worried about him keep -- you know, having them do things. He was more of the type that would want to sit back and watch things happen and really not have his hands in it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You said that you saw something in his eyes. Tell us about that.

MAERKI: He was -- he was very -- he was very hollow is the best expression I can put it. When you -- it went along with his emotion. He spent -- I have pictures of him and my children. And at no time would you ever see any emotion out of him, whether it be something he enjoyed or you talking to him about something he joined. I don`t think I`ve ever seen him smile.

And when he was in trouble, he wasn`t like most kids, you know, will put their heads down, will feel bad. There was never any -- any remorse or conscience when you looked into his eyes, just as there is on TV. I mean, I hope I`m -- I would hate to think it` only me that sees it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, it`s very obvious. In fact, we can show the picture of his eyes again. And here he is with his family in happier times. And from what I`ve read, these parents were good parents who did the best they could. Go ahead.

MAERKI: Yes. When I met his father, it was after the fire incident, and I had -- I was very upset, of course, especially after finding out that, you know, he was involved and that he had actually involved my child into it. So I said some things to him that I felt would be better if I walked to his house and let his father know I had said and what had happened, instead of letting him explain it and then maybe his father coming to my house. You know, I just felt it was better I walk down with him.

So that`s what I did. And when his father met me at the door, I explained what had happened and he apologized. He, you know, told Tyler to go inside and to go into his -- you know, into his room and reassured me that he would take care of it.

And you know, I also told him at that time that there was a lot of people, you know, on the street that -- that worried -- you know, worried about him when he would walk around the neighborhood all the time. You`d see him out on the street, and just his demeanor made you want to look out your window and see what he was doing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How old was he when this whole incident happened where he got your kids in trouble and then you walked to his house and talked to his dad? How long ago was this?

MAERKI: Three years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. So this was going on for that long. I know he dropped out of high school. Unbelievable.

Jason, thank you so much for giving us some insight.

Robi Ludwig, you`re hearing all of this. What do you make of it?

Oh, OK. Jamison Monroe, a founder and CEO of the Newport Academy, and you`re an addiction specialist. There are reports that, on top of that, he took three pills of Ecstasy. Now you hear all of that about he`s already troubled, and then plus three pills of Ecstasy?

JAMISON MONROE, FOUNDER/CEO, NEWPORT ACADEMY: Yes, Jane. I want to make two points about this. One is it hits very close to my home, because my own brother was sent into a drug-induced psychosis very similar to this due to the result of LSD. So what happens is anyone that`s predisposed to a mental health diagnosis -- bipolar, schizophrenia -- any time they ingest, ingest a foreign substance like a drug, it can dramatically accelerate that psychotic process. And typically, you do see a lot of cases around religious hallucinations. Same thing happened in my younger brother.

The problem -- the big problem at this point, because we see this, honestly. I come on here about once a month or so and see this. It`s a huge systematic problem. Ninety percent of the budget in our country around drugs and mental health is diverted to law enforcement and jails and things like that. And a very small sliver is spent on prevention, on education, on assessment and early intervention.

Now thankfully, in my case with my family, they had dealt with me and substance abuse issues a couple years prior. They had been educated, and so we took him straight to the hospital. Ten years later he`s got an MBA and a family and all that.

But so often than not -- more often than not, we see where families and communities are not educated around this topic. A kid who`s had a number of red flags, arson, dropped out of school. You know, the community knew there was a problem, and no one did anything about it. As far as -- I haven`t learned of Tyler seeing one psychiatrist yet around these issues.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. You are right. Something could, should have been done. Why wasn`t it?

The mystery, a mansion death of a tycoon`s son and girlfriend. That`s up later.

But first, we`ve got so much more on this cold-blooded alleged teen killer. What he did was unfathomable to his own mom and dad with a hammer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Book, files, towels, anything that he could find inside the home to cover the body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crime scene was certainly -- it was a merciless killing. It was brutal.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m wondering whether he was on drugs, because one thing I`ve seen throughout the years, people do things when they`re on drugs that they would never even contemplate doing when they`re sober or drunk. But particularly, certain kinds of drugs will bring out this kind of psychosis. And I would be curious to know whether they did a drug test on him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I said yesterday after first hearing about this story before we knew that a friend was saying he had taken three Ecstasy pills in order to get the gumption to kill his parents, because he said that he couldn`t do it sober.

It`s -- I say it because this has happened over and over and over again. Troubled kids, as you just heard from Jamison, who are very troubled to begin with. And then all it takes is a pill or two and that puts them over the edge, and they can become allegedly homicidal.

Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor, this is happening in Florida. He cannot get the death penalty, because he`s only 17. Tell us, first of all, your reaction to this horror.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, I mean, there`s nothing to say. It`s despicable; it`s horrible. You can`t believe it. And I think the only answer -- or the only thing you can say to yourself is was he on drugs? I mean, that has to be some kind of -- it`s not an explanation, it`s not an excuse, but you can`t believe that someone can actually commit this kind of crime.

Unfortunately, we do see a lot of juvenile behavior. We do see juveniles. He`s 17. He`s going to be waived right up to the adult system.

And there`s some conflicting stories, though. There are some conflicting stories saying that he took Ecstasy, he took three tablets of Ecstasy. And then somebody else is saying that`s not the type of behavior, though, that Ecstasy would bring on.

Also, did he at one time mention prior to this taking place that he wanted to kill his parents when he wasn`t in that kind of state? And then at another point he said the devil made him do it.

So certainly, you can best believe that the first thing they`re doing is evaluating him for some kind of mental defense, insanity defense or something like that. That`s the very first thing that the defense attorney, after pleading not guilty, is going to do in this case.


HONOWITZ: So you`re going to see bits and pieces come out now of his home life, what was going on, if there was abuse in the house, why he was troubled. I mean, now you`re going to start to hear about what was really going on, if anything, at the house or in his life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, listen, the reports are that this mom was -- she`s a 47-year-old elementary schoolteacher. Everybody loved her. The dad, 54, worked at the power company.

I want to go to Joel Malkin, a new reporter for News Radio 1290 WJNO. What do we know about his motive?

JOEL MALKIN, REPORTER, WJNO (via phone): We really don`t know a motive at this point. We`ve talked about this best friend, this Michael Mandell being labeled by police as "M.M.," but we do know that a Michael Mandell did speak to our TV news partners at Channel 5.

You know, one thing I would say is are we -- are we dealing with a sociopath? I mean, you`ve got a kid. One of the things in the police report today that was released today, was that the 17-year-old suspect, Tyler, made a statement that after he killed his parents, he told his friend he didn`t realize there would be so much blood. That`s his first thought after, you know...? That`s awful strange.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And apparently he planned it, Joel, because what I read was that he actually took his parents` cell phones and hid them in his room so that, once he allegedly started attacking them, they couldn`t get any help, because they didn`t have their cell phones. What do you know?

MALKIN: Yes, that`s right; that`s right. That`s what the friend. Once again, all this information is coming from the friend who we believe is the Mike Mandell who spoke with the TV station. He`s labeled "M.M.," initials "M.M." because he is a juvenile. But again, he has come out on his own to speak to the press.

And that he was told that -- Tyler told him everything. "I took my parents` cell phones." The only thing he didn`t tell them, or at least what we`re not hearing at this point is why did he do it? You know? And I think that obviously, there is some sort of a sociopathic tendency there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jamison quickly, people do say Ecstasy, I`ve heard a lot, brings out loving feeling, not homicidal feelings. Your thoughts, quickly?

MONROE: Right. Yes, thank you very much. The thing is that Ecstasy the kids take these days isn`t necessarily pure MDMA. A lot of times it`s mixed with other household chemicals: methamphetamine. And so we don`t know exactly what Tyler took until you -- unless you had a pill and you tested it in a lab. That`s the problem with the drugs. A lot of drugs kids take these days. Once he`s psychotic -- clearly he had psychotic tendencies, and the drugs only exacerbated those.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Casey Anthony fallout continues. But first, more on this brutal murder of a mom and dad, allegedly by their own teenage son.



MANDELL: I got a Facebook invite, and I got a call from his dad`s cell phone. After he told me I didn`t believe him, because he`s been my best friend forever. I would never suspect anything like this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, that`s Michael Mandell. He had nothing to do with this, according to authorities. He just happens to be the best friend of this Tyler Hadley, a 17-year-old high school dropout who is now accused of first-degree murder, the bludgeoning death of his parents with a hammer. And it may very well have been because he wanted to have a party. He posted, "Hey, a party tonight in my crib, in my house." And it was after that that he killed his parents. Maybe he asked his parents, "Can I have a party?" And they said no. Who knows? But there`s certainly some connection between the party and the killing of the parents.

We talked about the fact that a friend says he took three Ecstasy pills. What about the violence that these kids are exposed to? For the first time in human history, the average kid -- and we`re talking about American kids -- will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders -- and that`s just on TV -- by the time they`re this kid`s age. Stacey Honowitz, could that be a factor?

HONOWITZ: Well, absolutely. I mean, we say it a lot of times in the office, that we think a lot of the behavior that we see with juveniles coming through the system -- and it`s unbelievable how much there`s been an increase in juvenile violent behavior -- could be from what they see on TV, from the media, from movies. I mean, it`s a lot of things. And people have been saying that for years. They wanted to blame the media for the violence.

So I`m not saying that`s what brings it on, but I`m certainly thinking that it could be -- you know, you see copycat stuff, things they see on TV that they go ahead and they copycat because they think it`s cool.

But this in and of itself is going to be very interesting because, you know, we weren`t talking about Casey Anthony, but the interesting part, when you talk about sociopath, is the idea that he celebrated and partied afterwards with no affect, it`s so interesting because it really does say that he had some kind of sociopathic behavior, that he was able to conduct himself in that manner after killing two people and leaving them in a bedroom.

So yes, we do see an increase in this type of behavior, and I do think that the media and the movies and the Internet and all that stuff plays some kind of role in enhancing it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I have to say, Jamison Monroe -- because you deal with a lot of kids at your Newport Academy. You`re in rehab, you run a rehab -- that it`s a number of things. He`s troubled. Then he takes three Ecstasy pills after years of watching violence on television. And these kids are in a stage of their emotional and psychological development that glamorized, stylized violence on television, they can`t really distinguish sometimes between what`s real and what`s fictional.

MONROE: You`re exactly right, Jane. With -- with the availability of media these days, kids are copycatting what they see on TV. But also on YouTube. We see kids taking drugs and doing different types of drugs because they saw someone do it on YouTube, and quite frankly, it looked kind of fun. And so they get that high, they get that rush.

Back to the brain development. The adolescent brain isn`t developed fully, and it`s not fully developed until you`re 25 years old. So they don`t have that prefrontal cortex, that yes-no, that should I or shouldn`t I do it, that rational thinking that adults have. And that doesn`t even start developing until you`re 18 years old. So teens are just extremely more impressionable, especially when you take some kids who`s definitely got psychotic issues, and you tack on the drugs on top of that. It`s a recipe for disaster.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t let your kids do drugs. And if they have a problem, get help sooner rather than later.

Surviving a media circus. Owen Lafave up next, exclusive.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where`s Casey today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Caylee! Caylee! Caylee!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Caylee! Caylee! Caylee!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Caylee! Caylee! Caylee!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have heard about a slew of possible locations where Casey might be hiding. We`ve got Puerto Rico, we`ve got Ohio, we`ve got Houston, we`ve got the small town of Prescott, Arizona. We`ve got California, and who`s to say she`s not in the area of Orlando.

CHENEY MASON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: Hopefully she`ll have some stability in her life. Maybe a husband and they can be somewhere in Montana and start over.

JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: I will not say anything further as to her whereabouts. But I can 100 percent tell you that that is not her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Welcome back. Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from New York.

The big question tonight, one of the many, is Casey back in Orlando? Did she ever leave? Where the heck is she? Are her lawyers playing a very dangerous game with their client`s safety? Yesterday a woman was seen racing from a plane at the private Orlando Executive Airport. Why did everybody first say hey, that`s Casey, that`s Casey?

Well, because the plane is reportedly owned by this gentleman Todd Macaluso -- you`re about to see him. There he is. He`s a former member of Casey`s defense team. And it was his plane that took off from Orlando Executive Airport just three hours after Casey`s release from jail. That was 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. I know because I was wide awake. A flight that late only means one thing -- somebody desperately wanted to get out of town.

Now, compare Casey during her release to the woman seen sprinting from the airplane returning to Orlando. Could they be the same person? A number of people have commented that the woman seen sprinting back seems to have a larger backside. We don`t know.

Is this all a ruse? Jose Baez says the woman at the airport running with a towel over her head is not Casey Anthony.


BAEZ: That is not her, that I can confirm. I will not say anything further as to her whereabouts, but I can absolutely 100 percent tell you that that is not her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jose Baez can say that all he wants, but this wouldn`t be the first time that things did not turn out to be what they appear in the Casey Anthony case. So has Casey been hopping all around the country or perhaps the world in her former lawyer`s airplane?

Here is the flight plan for that plane over the past few days. This is bizarre. First it takes off from Orland Saturday night into Sunday morning and goes to Prescott, Arizona where there are a lot of rehabs, by the way. Then it jumps to San Carlos, California then hops over to Santa Ana, California. Then it goes back east to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and then finally yesterday, returned to Orlando.

And get this -- after that mystery woman, big foot, whatever you want to call, her sprints from the airplane, an SUV -- you see that there -- drives off from the very same terminal. It drove around the city for a little while then returned straight to the airport.

But here is the most interesting part of that SUV story. The SUV belongs to a man named William Slaybaugh. And wouldn`t you know it Slaybaugh was also a member of Casey`s defense team.

And another member of Casey`s team Cheney Mason has apparently been besieged with threatening phone calls at his home. It got to the point that his wife had to call 911. Listen to this.


SHIRLEY MASON, WIFE OF CHENEY MASON: I`m just getting a lot of threatening phone calls at my home, and I really am trying to get the telephone company to cooperate, to put a trace on my line and they don`t want to do that. I would just like an officer to respond so I can get something done tonight.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what`s going on? Has Casey returned to Orlando or not? Is she hiding out at Cheney Mason`s house? Jose Baez says the owner of the plane Todd Macaluso is quote, "having fun with us". Not.

But if they`re trying to get people to leave Casey alone, they`re doing a very bad job of it. These stunts seemed designed to attract attention. We`re talking about it after all.

Why would two of Casey`s defense team members be involved with this stunt? Why are they playing pranks with the media?

With me tonight is somebody who knows a whole lot about living in the media spotlight. I`m very delighted to have as my exclusive guest tonight, Owen Lafave. You remember him. Owen is the ex-husband of Deborah Lafave. And you remember her too. She`s the former schoolteacher -- the very, very beautiful schoolteacher -- convicted of sexual misconduct with a 14-year- old student. This case just riveted the nation.

And Owen is also author of the fantastic book "Gorgeous Disaster: the tragic story of Deborah Lafave".

Owen eventually your ex-wife apparently has gotten her life back. She`s pregnant with twin, but how hard has it been for you to get your life back?

OWEN LAFAVE, AUTHOR, "GORGEOUS DISASTER": You know, I`ll tell you initially, very difficult. I mean just the pressure of the media and general public which I think is fed by the media, it`s stifling, it`s suffocating, almost downright paralyzing.

The defense attorney`s wife, we heard a recording from her. And that`s absolutely true. I mean there are people still to this day that I receive messages on Facebook when old interviews run that will leave me threatening messages and it`s just something that will probably continue to persist.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I want to show some video that we`ve been seeing -- there`s Deborah Lafave. And again, one of the reasons why her case made such headlines because there are a lot of teachers who get into this same kind of trouble because she was so gorgeous. Even her mug shots looked like they belonged on the cover of Vogue.

Now, she`s apparently pregnant with twins and hey, I`m happy for her. She`s paid her debt to society, you might say. She`s living in Florida with her fiance. She`s registered as a sex offender under the name -- well, is it Deborah Lafave or Beasley. Well, she goes by her maiden name Deborah Beasley.

And she suffered from various problems that she says resulted in her poor judgment. She had manic episodes, bipolar, hyper-sexuality, a number of things due to some traumas in her life including a sexual assault when she was young and her sister dying in a car crash. We`re not here to beat up on her.

But Owen, I wonder if you have any advice for Cindy and George, Casey`s parents and her brother Lee. They have been through hell. I think we`ve all seen the video of them fighting off protesters on their front yard and everything that they have been through. Are these people ever going to get their life back?

LAFAVE: You know, they will at some point. It will get easier over time. It`s the old adage that, you know, time heals all wounds. I think people closer to, you know, the inner circle -- the parents, the brother -- I mean those are the people who will continue to be tormented for the longest period of time because of the face recognition. And people outside of that circle, it will be less and less over time.

But interesting enough, I`m sure some people will get a chuckle out of this. Some of the advice I got was from Dr. Phil who with said America has ADD and I`d like to say amnesia because over time, people will forget. It`s not going to be on television every day and things will be easier. You can`t give up.

But people should just be able to enjoy the quiet -- have the quiet enjoyment of your basic liberties, be able to go to Home Depot, be able to go to the grocery store and not be harassed and looked and people say disparaging comments. But what I can say is it does get easier over time

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I hope so. And you look like you`re doing well. Congratulations on your book and your life. We salute you and thank you for coming on. Come back soon.

LAFAVE: Thank you so much, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to turn to Leonard Padilla -- yes, great to see you.

Leonard Padilla, you`re the bounty hunter who also became a household name. I mean your hat and your bailing out of Casey. Now you`re stuck in the middle of this media storm. You`re being sued by Roy Kronk for probably stuff that you have said. Essentially you`ve said that you claim that he knew more than he said and he`s suing you for defamation of character.

First of all, your reaction to Roy Kronk`s filing of the lawsuit against you?

LEONARD PADILLA, BOUNTY HUNTER: Well, for me, it`s a great thing, and I`ll tell you why. It`s going to allow us to take deposition. Once I file an answer to the lawsuit, and the truth is defense to any defamation allegation, I will be allowed to take and depose under penalty of perjury Mr. Kronk, his girlfriend, Michelle Carpentier (ph), law enforcement officials in the jail that were around Casey at the time she was in custody, and come up with what I believe to be the truth as to how he got the information as to where the body was, why he was searching on the 11th, 12th, and 13th, when there was nobody ever mentioned by law enforcement until the 27th of August. And get to the bottom of some of these questions, as far as Baez himself in the opening statements saying --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Quick question. Hold on a second -- quick question. This is a yes or no. First of all, Roy Kronk, you`re invited on anytime. Those are his opinions, not ours. He has his theories about what you knew. As far as I know, you`re a Good Samaritan. I`m just saying that.

Yes or no, is Casey in Orlando, Leonard?

PADILLA: No, no. Absolutely not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where do you think she is? Where is she?

PADILLA: Palm springs, California.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really? Ok, tell the local affiliates to start checking the local hotels out there.

PADILLA: No, no, she`s in a residence that`s owned by --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t tell us. We don`t want to get sued. You can just tell us off the air. All right, hold on. We`re going to get that from you. We`ll find out.

No wait. , keep Leonard up while I talk about this because we could recognize his cowboy hat. Actually, he`s still there. This is really fantastic. CNN and HLN are the very first news networks in the United States to stream 24-hour news online and on mobile. And that means that if you`re not sitting in front of a TV, which few of us are anymore, you can watch me and all of your other favorite personalities here on HLN live right here.

You can walk around. You can get breaking news. See, there`s Leonard, hey, Leonard. You`re still there. All right.

PADILLA: How are you doing there? You bet I am, absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you can check out. All you have to do is check out and then click on the live button, which I won`t press so it doesn`t drop out of my hand. Or you can just download the CNN app for iPad or iPhone. I did it myself.

I`m not very tech savvy. It took me a long time to learn how to tweet. If I can do it, you can do it. So try it. It`s really fun.

Now I`m going to walk around and watch myself. No, I would never do that.

All right. Back to serious stuff. The mystery mansion deaths, why the dead woman`s sister says it wasn`t suicide. Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A cloud of mystery hangs over this historic mansion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The victim`s hands and feet were bound and she was completely nude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She told us that her child had been in a horrible accident and that she needed to get to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen cases where people have secured their hands behind their back or even in front when they committed suicide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest thing people are saying Jane is that no woman would ever hang herself nude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was very, very quiet. I would say very upset.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Welcome back. Tonight, a gruesome multimillionaire mystery deepens.

A mogul`s son and girlfriend die within two days of each other. Did Jonah Shacknai`s girlfriend hang herself at his very exclusive, very expensive estate? Or was it a murder staged to look like a suicide.

Investigators are totally baffled over this. They`re rushing the toxicology reports for both the 6-year-old boy who died, Max, the son of the mogul, and 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau, who is the girlfriend of the mogul.

Now, we`re going to show you footage of Rebecca`s naked shortly after it was found last week -- there it is; we blurred it. And there when you see in the relief is the cord, the electric cord that was hanging around her neck as she hung naked from a balcony in the open courtyard of this mogul`s historic San Diego mansion. Check this out.


SHERIFF`S CAPT. TIM CURRAN, SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPT: The hands were bound behind the back and the feet were bound. They did not appear to be bound together. I think you used the term hog tied; that did not appear to be the case.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: No doubt police are taking a very, very close look at Jonah`s brother Adam. Because Adam was the one who called 911 and said he found Rebecca`s body hanging and cut her down. Rebecca was caring for little Max on July 11 when the boy somehow suddenly in some way, shape or form, very mysterious right now, tumbled down the stairs and incurred a tremendous injury.

Max, the child, fell into a coma and then while he was in a coma and Jonah was reportedly at the hospital, Rebecca, his girlfriend, is found dead two days later. Rebecca`s sister said, quote, "She never would do this," meaning she would never commit suicide. "She was going to call mom and dad the next morning and text me throughout the day with updates on Max. She was very hopeful. She had to be strong and there for Jonah."

Ok, so the woman`s sister doesn`t believe she killed herself. She doesn`t believe it`s a suicide. Is it even possible that Rebecca could have tied her own hands behind her back and tied her own feet together before hanging herself from a balcony naked?

Criminologist Casey Jordan says it`s hypothetically possible but highly unlikely.


CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: The trick is to bind the feet first, then bind the hands in front of you then put your feet through the loop you`ve made with your bound hands, put them behind your back. But then the noose already has to be around your neck and then you have to hop over the balcony and throw yourself overboard.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to welcome my exclusive guest tonight. We are very honored and delighted to have the mayor of Coronado Casey Tanaka who worked with Jonah for years. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us tonight here on ISSUES.

This is a horrific story all the way around. From our understanding, Jonah Shacknai is devastated, which is understandable. He`s lost his son, his precious son, and his girlfriend. And he is in seclusion and distraught. Have you spoken to Jonah? What do you know, sir?

MAYOR CASEY TANAKA, CORONADO, CALIFORNIA: I have not spoken with him. His family did issue a press release asking people to respect their privacy while they`re grieving. And so I`ve certainly honored that request. So I have not spoken or communicated with them or their representatives at all.

My understanding is (AUDIO GAP) accident on Monday and then another gruesome discovery on Wednesday. So Like everyone in Coronado, I`ve been following this. And my main concerns again, I feel terrible for this family that they have two fatalities and all of the pain that that`s going to cause their family and their loved ones. And like any --



TANAKA: Go ahead, go ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell us about Jonah because people are wondering hey, it`s suspicious.

TANAKA: Well, you know, I`ve only known -- I`ve only met with Jonah a few times. But he owns an historic property on Coronado. It was designated historic in 2006 and between 2008 and 2011, there were five different alteration permits that he had filed with the city and I believe about three of them had reached the city council. But I`ve told other people and I`m happy to tell you this as well, when I worked with Jonah on these historic alteration permits, I found him to be very patient, very rational. I think he was --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side. Hang in there.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A child had fallen from the stairs, and was not breathing and did not have a pulse. We have no information that would lead us to believe that this is anything other than a tragic accident with the child.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what is suspicious, two deaths within two days, two days apart at the same mansion. And apparently Rebecca, the mogul`s girlfriend, was watching the child when he fell and two days later she`s found hanging from a noose.

I want to go to Dylan Howard, senior executive editor of "Star Magazine". What do you know about Rebecca?

DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, STAR MAGAZINE: Well, a portrait is emerging of someone who was in a very happy relationship with Jonah Shacknai. They had been together for two years and seemingly the relationship was going very well.

In fact, her sister spoke to RadarOnline, our sister publication, and said that there were no issues in the relationship. We`ve also learned she quit her job recently to look after young Max, the little boy that passed away. And also that she was also once married, but her and Jonah Shacknai were most certainly looking towards marriage. That`s according to our sources.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, now, we got excerpts from a 2008-2009 police report involving Jonah Shacknai and his ex-wife Dina in which she had claimed that he physically intimidated her, came nose to nose, and there were some photos that accompany some of the documents that are somewhat disturbing and they appear to show bruises that were incurred by Jonah`s dog allegedly.

But the couple now having lost their precious son have issued a statement saying that these incidents do not reflect the totality of their marriage and even though their marriage failed, it produced a wonderful child and they are very devastated by the loss of that child and pained by the release of this information. What are your thoughts on that, Dylan?

HOWARD: Well, no charges were ever laid. As you know, Jane, in these particular instances at the cessation of a relationship, often aggrieved parties do go to the police and file a number of reports. That`s not to say that these weren`t legitimate incidents but most certainly the fact that no charges were ever filed gives rise to the suggestion that this was nothing more than a bad breakup.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we want to say that there are no suspects in any of these deaths, that at least one is being considered an accident, the boy`s death. And they`re trying to determine if the hanging of Rebecca is an accident, a suicide or a homicide.

But, Mayor Tanaka, quickly, do you think Jonah is a good, decent man? We only have a couple of seconds.

TANAKA: Yes. My interactions with him were all very positive. I found him to be very patient and rational and the city approval process for him I think was a difficult and frustrating one. And he handled it, I think, the way any citizen ought to. He took the constructive criticism, acted on it. He didn`t threaten lawsuits. So ultimately --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s a nice guy, you think he`s a nice guy? Thank you, mayor.

Dylan, ten seconds. What about this Adam, the brother of the mogul, 47?

HOWARD: Has been -- has spoken to police, as has Jonah, my understanding is that Jonah left San Diego, returned to Arizona. He`s been cooperative with police. Inevitably, though, it will be forensics which tell the tale of this sordid story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, no suspects yet. We don`t know why he was in California, because he`s from Memphis, but he was there during one of the crucial moments. Thank you, gentlemen.

Back in a moment.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a lucky cat. I can`t tell you how many lives he`s used up but he`s still got some left.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: After so much tragedy, we want to take this last minute to tell you a heart-warming story after a tornado in Alabama destroyed that cat`s family home. Little Rascal was nowhere to be found. Days turned into months and then one day a miracle, rising from the ashes. Little Rascal found his way home, 75 days after the tornado struck. The 7- year-old cat was just skin and bones, about two pounds. He needed surgery.

But doctors say he`s making a full recovery and now that his family is whole again, his human companion says they are going to concentrate on putting their lives back together and Little Rascal, we love you, we`re happy you`re alive. And all I can say to all of you is "meow".

All right, thanks for joining us.

"NANCY GRACE" is up next.