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Family of Michelle Le Pleads for Any Information on Her Disappearance; Drugs, Alcohol, Murder?; HLN`s Own Country Star

Aired July 28, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ VELEZ-MITCHELL, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight, a devastated family searches for a beautiful missing nursing student. Michelle Le vanishes into thin air during a break at the hospital where she works.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re like every other family. We just want to spend another holiday with her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say they think she was murdered. But tonight, in an "ISSUES" exclusive, I`ll talk to her desperate family, still hoping to find Michelle alive.

And as Casey Anthony lays low, her problems keep mounting. We`ll tell you why she was just slapped with another bill for 80 grand. You will keel over when you find out the winning bid for this Casey Anthony Halloween mask on EBay.

Also, jaw-dropping new details about the shaky Florida mom who allegedly gunned down her two teens for being mouthy. Cops say she reeked of booze and had 14 different prescription drug bottles in the house. Was she walked out on pills when she allegedly executed her kids?

I`m taking your calls.

Plus, one on one with HLN`s own Robin Meade and her new country music album. "ISSUES" starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The student nurse was enrolled in a mentoring program. She went to her parked car in the garage. He Honda was later found on this street half a mile away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re like every other family. We just want to spend another holiday with her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are fighters. We are -- we love our loved ones. We will fight for them. Until we are given the white flag, we`re not giving up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are always open with the hopes that Michelle was a missing person, that there was no foul play attached.

Again, keeping that hope alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would have never, ever thought anything like this would happen. She never thought one bad thing of anyone.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, living an absolute nightmare, a beautiful 26 years old nursing student vanishes. Her family desperate to find her alive. The cops say they have evidence this is not a missing persons case anymore, that it`s homicide.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from New York City. Cops say they have several persons of interest in Michelle Le`s disappearance. Several. One of them allegedly hated Michelle for stealing a boyfriend. Could that be the reason Michelle is missing?

Tonight, in an ISSUES exclusive, I will talk to Michelle`s brother and cousin. Despite what cops say, they are holding out hope that Michelle is still alive and that we can help find her.


MICHAEL LE, MICHELLE LE`S BROTHER: At first we were all just numb to it. You know, no one ever believes that this kind of thing could happen to someone. When I first heard it, I was like, no, there`s no way. There`s got to be another explanation. But then as all the reasonable explanations start to dry up, you start wonder oh God, what happened to her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle Le, a beautiful young nursing student, disappeared exactly two months ago in a San Francisco suburb. Cops say Michelle took a dinner break at the medical center where she worked and simply never returned.

Her car, a white Honda CRV, found a few blocks away. Cops say there was blood in the car. A vigil was held just last night. Take a look at the number of people there. Everybody devastated.

There is now a 100,000 dollar reward for information on where Michelle is. This entire community is in an uproar. People are really, really devastated. So take a look at this woman`s photo. Do you recognize Michelle Le? Somebody out there has to know something.

We want to help this tortured family get answers. Now we`re going to talk to Michelle`s brother Michael, her cousin Christine, in just moments.

But first, we`ve got some breaking news. We think we`re going to go to the private investigator that the Le family has hired, Michael Frame. We understand you have some breaking news in this case, sir?

MICHAEL FRAME, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: We do. We believe -- we`ve developed information in the last few days that there may have been a second or possibly a third party involved in this. And we want to reach out to those people today and let them know there`s a way to extricate themselves from the situations.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, without naming names, let me go over a Google map, and then you can try and fill in the blanks. We understand Michelle disappeared from the Kaiser Permanent Hayward Medical Center in a suburb of San Francisco.

FRAME: That`s correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Her last cell phone pings from her cell phone were 20 miles away in Niles Canyon. That would seem to be a very remote area. That`s near the San Francisco East Bay. That`s where cops have been searching.

What do you know in the context of that?

FRAME: Well, in the context of the cell phone records, the police are still examining this information. I think some of what has been reported has been erroneous. And I think there`s been other parts that may be truthful. I know the police are not going to comment fully, nor is anyone else with what`s going with the cell phone records.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Without naming names, who do you think was involved and why?

FRAME: I think there were probably a number of people involved. I think initially there was a thought there was one person was involved. We now believe there was a second and possibly a third person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But why? Why would they hurt this beautiful young woman who was doing nothing but doing hard work as a nursing student? What`s the motive?

FRAME: I think that remains to be seen. I think there`s a variety of things that have been reported in the press. And without compromising the investigation or purely speculating at this time, I think we can say this is obviously a premeditated event. Whoever took Michelle planned it out and was waiting for her in the garage.

She took a very short break to retrieve something from her car, not something that she had planned to do. She had her cell phone with her. She left her purse in her car and she never returned.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All rights, so, yes, she was at the hospital. She took a break. You can see she drove a white Honda CRV. There was blood found in the car. And apparently there was some surveillance video at some time that showed possibly a witness car and a suspect car. Ultimately her car left the area of the hospital, the parking garage of the hospital, where there was surveillance video.

But as per usual it`s grainy. And it`s not good enough to really be helpful, which is something that drives me completely insane and crazy. If we are going to spend all these hundreds of thousands investigating this case, why not spend the money to make these surveillance cameras worth their while?

Then her car is found a couple blocks away and has blood in it. I want to bring in Lieutenant Roger Keener, criminal investigations, Hayward Police Department.

Sir, I know you can`t say much, but why are you describing this as a homicide now, as opposed to a missing case, sir?

LT. ROGER KEENER, HAYWORD, CA, POLICE: Well, you`re right. It`s unfortunate that I can`t say a whole lot. But I can tell you that the evidence that we have, not only the evidence that is currently in the lab, but some evidence results that we have already received, that evidence points in that direction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That she`s dead?

KEENER: That this is a homicide, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second, lieutenant, because we want to get to the family.

Christine Dinh, you are the missing woman`s cousin, but you might as well be her sister. You grew up with her. She was extremely close to you. First of all, what has this family -- your family been going through these past two months since she vanished?

CHRISTINE DINH, COUSIN OF MICHELLE LE: Um, it`s been really hard. I`m here with Michael. And, you know, we have each other for support. And we help each other out. But it`s really tough knowing that there`s someone else out there who knows more about our loved one than we do, if not multiple people knowing where she is than we do.

I think that`s the most heartbreaking part, but we`re staying strong and really determined. We are determined to find her home and have her back with us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Without naming names, we understand that there`s this woman that police have interviewed. They`ve interviewed about 25 people. There`s this one woman who apparently didn`t like Michelle, because she ended up dating somebody that this woman wanted for herself, an ex- boyfriend of this woman`s. What do you know about that, Christine? I mean, wouldn`t you know if your missing loved one had a boyfriend? And wouldn`t you be able to trace it to this person?

DINH: I mean, as far as I know, I know that she had a lot of friends. I don`t believe that she was dating anyone at the time. It`s sad, because she`s such a sweet, beautiful person that she was wrapped up in this almost gossip circle. All I know is she doesn`t deserve to be harmed and didn`t deserve foul play around her. And that is heartbreaking to hear about.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go back to what the cops said previously about the people they`ve interviewed. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve interviewed 25 people specifically, approximately, and today even more. Every day the list grows. With that, there are people that are of interest to us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So I got to go back to Lieutenant Roger Keener. There is this woman that you talked to. And we understand that -- we`re not naming her, but the reports are that she did not like Michelle, because she felt, in some way, shape or form, that Michelle, who is a very beautiful young lady, obviously, had taken the man that she was interested in?

What can you tell us? Is this a person of interest, this unnamed woman.

KEENER: In fact, it is. She had been a person of interest from the beginning. We have been able to eliminate people of interest as we`ve gone on in our investigation. And of course, that`s part of our goal, to either confirm that they had anything to do with it or confirm they had nothing to do with it.

We have been able to eliminate people as the investigation has progressed. And this person of interest is not one that`s been eliminated yet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the boyfriend? If she was upset about a man, what about that man?

KEENER: What`s your question? Do we believe he has involvement in Michelle`s disappearance?


KEENER: No, we have spoken to him extensively. And based on, you know, not only his testimony, but testimony of other relatives to his character, we don`t believe he`s involved in Michelle`s disappearance.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So there`s this guy who is not involved, but there`s this woman who may be harboring a resentment against Michelle. So now I`m piecing it together, where the private eye is saying that there could have been more than one person involved. So what I`m hearing is maybe this unnamed person solicited helped from somebody else or paid somebody else to do something to this beautiful young woman.

So as we sit on that and think about that for a second, we`re going to be back and analyze this case and try to solve that mystery in a moment. More.

But first, Casey hit with an 80,000 bill, another one. Boy, the bills are piling up.

But first, this beautiful nursing student, she`s missing. We want to help this family that`s tortured right now. Where is Michelle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s my sister. The bottom line is she`s not home yet. So we just have to do everything we can, every day to bring her home.




LE: She`s always protected me, ever since our mom passed away, maybe like ten years ago when I was 11. She really became like a mother to me, almost over-protective, because I`m 23, but she still tries to take care of me as best she can.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What happened to 26-year-old nursing student Michelle Le? She went out for a break, went to the parking lot, and was never seen again. It`s been two months.

Tonight, we are trying to help. We have her brother Michael Le with us. Michael, I know this has just been a nightmare for you. I can see you`re hiding back your saddest emotions and trying to be brave. But what would you say to the person that took your sister?

LE: Um, I would say please give her back because they don`t know how hard it has been on the family. We barely eat. We barely sleep. All of our day and our thoughts are just to bring her home. So if the person or persons involved have any compassion in their heart, please lead us to Michelle.

I don`t wish any harm or ill will to anyone. Just lead us to her. That`s all I want.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well put. Well put. I want to bring in Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor. Connecting the dots here, what are you hearing?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, certainly you can never rule anything out. But if there is some kind of motive for this girl who harbored some bad feelings against her, certainly that`s a huge lead for the police to go down. And especially if you have somebody coming on right now saying that they believe there`s more than one person involved and they`re trying to connect to see if this one girl, you know, brought in other individuals to do something.

Certainly you have to believe that it is something sinister, because it`s out of the ordinary for her not to check in, not to call anybody. She just left for a break and there was blood in the car.

So you kind of have to put two and two together and figure she didn`t run away. There`s something nefarious that went on here. But you have to really speak to everybody. You can`t rule anybody out. You can`t rule anybody in at this point? You have to keep interviewing, following the leads and seeing if anymore tips come in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this, if somebody who is watching is involved in this, if they turn themselves in -- let`s say they were hired by this unnamed individual who was upset with her. If they were involved somehow or they helped her out because of whatever -- they decided to get involved, if they come forward, do they get a lesser penalty than if they stay out?

HONOWITZ: Listen, every case is different and every prosecutor handles that differently. You really have to see what evidence is brought forward, how much they bring in and then you make that decision. So it would be a very difficult thing for me to say right now they definitely would get a less penalty.

You would have to see where this information leads you and how involved that individual was.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m trying to encourage that.

HONOWITZ: Certainly, of course. The bottom like is if you have information, and you`ve been involved and you`re afraid to come forward, certainly that`s something a prosecutor and the police would look to that you are helping, that you are helping to solve this investigation.

So I just urge that if somebody does have information, don`t be afraid to come forward, because certainly, you know, your providing and cooperating certainly would probably benefit you in the long run.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: it`s better to go the cops than hear them knocking on your door in the middle of the night with flashlights and guns drawn.

Michael Frame, first of all, why did the Le family hire a private investigator, when police are working on this? You`re the private investigator.

FRAME: Just for the reason that Stacey was talking about. If someone for some reason does not want to talk to the police, they can call us. They can go to Michelle`s website,, and they`ll find our information.

If they are somehow criminally complicit, if they are somehow involved in this by a nature that they did not plan or premeditate, I think there`s a very good chance that a prosecutor or the police would have some type of compassion or ask for some degree of leniency if they come forward before they`re arrested.

So they can call me. They can go to a lawyer, have a lawyer call me. We will pay their legal fees. We will get them to a prosecutor anonymously, if they wish, and try to cut some type of a deal where they can come forward and help us find Michelle now, and again, not wait until the police come and knock on your door. When that happens, it`s way too late. You`ll spend the rest of your natural life in prison over a case like this. Don`t wait for it to happen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear your plea. Let me ask you this, my understanding is that she was -- that there is surveillance video of her car in the parker garage of this hospital where she worked, and that there were two other cars in the vicinity, and that they are described as a possible witness car and a suspect car.

So what I`m hearing is somebody was waiting for her, knew her schedule. She takes a break. She goes out to the car. They`re there. And then somehow they take her, maybe because her car was found a few blocks away and there`s this other vehicle, maybe one drives her car, one is in another car.

FRAME: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So tell me more.

FRAME: If you`re that second person -- maybe you showed up there not knowing what was going to happen. Maybe the suspect told you we`re just going to scare Michelle, and then something happened you didn`t anticipate. Don`t wait for Lieutenant Keener and his men to come and arrest you. Because the criminal justice system will have no sympathy for you at all at that time.

If you call us now, if you don`t have a degree of comfort calling the police, call us now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are Michelle Le`s cousin, but you might as well be her sister. You grew up with her. Tell us about Michelle.

DINH: Gosh, I don`t even know where to begin. She -- like you said, we grew up with her. She raised Michael and I. She is my best friend. She gave me my first razor. She was the first to pluck my eyebrows.

She was that older sister to me. She`s beautiful and sweet and caring and trusting and just kind. She`s a very, kind woman.

You know, I was talking to my friend the other day, and I said if I could trade my life for hers, I would do that. She is needed here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We want to help find her. We will stay on top of this case. Thank you.



HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: On the Casey Anthony front, we are told, as you just said, that the bidding exceeded 1.5 million dollars.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bad statement, wow, from TMZ`s Harvey Levin. He claims there`s this huge bidding war going on right now for Casey Anthony`s first interview.

Guess what? Casey might actually need that money to pay all the bills that are adding up. Let me give you some examples here. Florida Prosecutors say it cost them 82,584 dollar to search for little Caylee, after Casey, of course, claimed that she had been kidnapped by Zanny.

The government wants her to pay that. The prosecution wants CAsey to pay 141,362 dollars in court costs. That`s another amount on top of this. There we go. She also owes the IRS 70 grand for good measure.

Pop eater, Rob Shuter, she`s going to have to make some money to pay off all of this. Now what do you know about all the drama-rama surrounding will she or won`t she sell her first exclusive interview?

ROB SHUTER, COLUMNIST: She has been trying. Her lawyer has been in New York. He`s met with several networks to try to sell this first sit down interview. The backlash has been so strong that NBC said today that they will not pay a penny.

But this is where it gets interesting, Jane. Often news networks do not pay for interviews, but what they do pay for is to license footage, videotapes, photographs. And that`s how they get around it.

What NBC has said today is that they are not going to pay a penny for an interview or to license footage. So her world is getting smaller and smaller as far as how this lady will make some money. It`s going to be very difficult.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That brings me to my next point. TMZ reporting that a new video shows Casey on her the first night of freedom leaving her former attorney Todd Macalusa`s (ph) plane and holding a bottle of Corona.

Now, we`re going to actually talk to TMZ, claims they have seen the actual footage of this. And we`re going to talk to them tomorrow. But basically, they`re essentially saying that this video is being shopped around by Casey`s people -- I`m reading from TMZ website -- along with anything else that isn`t nailed down.

Your thoughts, Rob Shuter?

SHUTER: I`ve worked with celebrities a long time. And often celebrities will set up these photo ops where they`re with their children, they`re in the park. They`re drinking. They`re out. Sometimes Lindsay Lohan is seen with products that she`s carrying.

Quite often, they makes money from these photographs. But it`s a very small amount of money compared to the sort of money that she owes. These photographs might be worth between 2,000 and 5,000 dollars, a nice chunk of change, but nothing compared with this sort of debts that this young lady has.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What I`m hearing is if, in fact, the big three have said this is too dicey; we`re not doing this; we`re not going to pay for licensing fees, for videos, for photos; we`re just not going to pay her in any way, shape or form or her corporation or any of the other loopholes, then where does she go?

SHUTER: She doesn`t. She has very few options. She can do appearances here and there in a public ground here and there. But she needs a big deal. She has enormous debts. Maybe -- this is where she`s possibly got a chance -- she might be able to sell this interview abroad. That`s where she could make some money.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that brings us to Al Taylor who said he was going to do it. And the defense got so mad at me for the interview. Thank you, Rob. Love you.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officers frantically searched the home and found the bodies of her 16-year-old daughter, Calyx, in her bedroom upstairs and her 13-year-old son, Bo, in the family minivan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ll both be missed a lot. We loved them so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tampa police say their own mother, 50-years-old Julie Schenecker shot and killed them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unthinkability that something could do this to their own children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re obviously going to be held in jail without bond.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is sad (INAUDIBLE). He doesn`t deserve it. He was the sweetest kid ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don`t forget how they lived.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Incredible new developments in the case of that Florida mom accused of brutally murdering her two teenage children for being mouthy. Were prescription drugs and alcohol at the heart of it all? It is impossible to forget this image of the suspect Julie Schenecker shaking uncontrollably as she was led away by cops. Look at her. She`s shaking.

On the outside she had been the perfect soccer mom, but now we`re learning about her toxic secrets. Hundreds of pages of document just released show there were 14, 1-4, different prescription drug bottles in her house. Also police smelled alcohol on her breath. And there were open bottles of booze all around the home.

But were there warning signs even before that? Last year Julie slapped her daughter and children`s Services Were called in. Then last November she was in a car accident where she seemed drugged. Julie went to rehab for one week. Her family went into therapy. Then on January 19th of this year, Julie`s husband, an army colonel was deployed to Qatar. On January 27th, her two children were found executed, both of them shot in the head.

Florida cops say Julie confessed to the crime, admitting she methodically planned it. Got the gun and carried it out. Were drugs involved? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to Steve Summers, Newstalk 820 reporter, Steve, what have you learned about her drug and alcohol use?

STEVE SUMMERS, REPORTER NEWSTALK 820, WWBA, TAMPA: Well, it`s interesting you mention Jane, in these hundreds of pages of documents and photographs that were released just recently by Tampa police and prosecutors, we don`t really know what Julie Schenecker said to cops, because all that was blacked out. That will be part of the testimony that comes later.

But here`s the interesting part that I sort of found. You mentioned the 14 different types of medication that were found in her house also all the bottles of booze. But here`s the part that really gets me. Apparently Julie Schenecker has a condition called tardive dyskinisia. This is where you saw in the perpetrator walk that we all know so much about now, where she`s shaking and tremoring, apparently you get this condition, tardive dyskinisia when you are on antipsychotic drugs -- antipsychotic drugs for a long period of time.

Now, remember she just got out of rehab for a drug and alcohol problem, but if she was psychotic, that goes far beyond what something some place to dry out is going to be able to do for you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Especially in one week. Now, here`s the shocking part for me. Among the drugs found in her home: lithium, which can be a bipolar medication; oxycodone, which is also known as hillbilly heroin; hydrocodone; antidepressants; anti-anxiety pill; plus open bottles of booze and again she had alcohol on her breath.

Howard Samuels, obviously all these drugs are not supposed to be taken at the same time or combined. Correct?

HOWARD SAMUELS, CEO, THE HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: Absolutely correct, Jane. I mean, you know, she`s obviously an addict/alcoholic. I mean to have Oxycontin, to be able to have all these other drugs and the alcohol on her breath. I mean without question this attributed to this insane behavior. I mean it just pushed her over the edge. And of course she had to be psychotic to boot.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, her husband says that he found out 20 years ago after they got married that she was depressed, that she revealed that, that she suffered from depression, but that he did not know that she was bipolar as well.

After the car accident last November, he tried to get her medical records and the doctor said well, you can`t see them, because they`re confidential unless she signs a waiver. She refused to sign the waiver.

So I want to bring in Nikki, Nikki appears in silhouette, because she is a recovering addict who has used and sold prescription drugs illegally. And thank you for joining us Nikki and for sharing your experience so that others can learn. First of all, how do you think she got 14 different prescription pills that aren`t supposed to be taken together?

NIKKI, RECOVERING ADDICTION: You know, we have become educated consumers with pills. And doctor shopping is just part of our vocabulary today.

We know exactly what ailment can get what pill. And if you spread out the locations on your doctors and the pharmacies that you go to, you can get several different prescriptions for pretty much the same thing and have it all covered by insurance.

I`m guessing that the medications on an individual basis were not as uncommon and weren`t out of the ordinary to prescribe, but it`s how she self-medicated, and what combination she took them in that really damaged her state of mind and didn`t help her mental illness at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, again, the husband tried to get the medical reports, and she refused to sign a waiver. Nikki, why do you think she did that?

NIKKI: She couldn`t sign it because if she had signed the HIPAA form she would open up a whole Pandora`s Box of information for her husband. My feeling is that he would find that three of the scripts were from one doctor, two were from another, one from another and it wouldn`t add up for him. And if her insurance covered it, he didn`t get that information, either.

I had gone with my spouse to a doctor, and he begged for the doctor to take testing on me, he begged for the doctor to give him the information of what medication I was taking, and he wouldn`t give it. The doctor would not give it. I felt I was home safe.

Thank God I never killed anybody or harmed myself or anybody else, but that`s -- you know that`s the law. It`s there to protect us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable, because now we can see how addicts work the system and they work the system. That`s why we have a prescription drug overdose crisis in this country. That`s why we`re now learning that little infants are being born hooked on prescription drugs.

This is the untold story of our addict nation. We are abusing prescription drugs the way we used to in the `60s and `70s abused illegal drugs. The biggest problem in this country is prescription drug abuse, not illegal drug abuse. But it`s mostly a middle-class problem and people don`t get arrested on the street for doing it unless they do something horrific like execute their kids because they`re stoned out of their gourd and also have mental problems.

Cindy, Ohio, your question or thought, Cindy?

CINDY, OHIO (via telephone): Hi Jane. I was just wondering if there was any signs of child abuse that had been recorded prior to her murdering her children?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, there was. Steve Summers, last year she slapped her daughter, and the reports are that this family -- this relationship between her and her daughter was broken. The daughter`s a 16-year-old, yes, she`s going to be mouthy, all 16-year-olds are mouthy. But this reaction of this mother was bizarre, was it not, Steve?

SUMMERS: Yes, we had at least a couple of incidents that we know of where Julie Schenecker actually was physical with young Calyx, the one where the police actually came to the house. But there were no marks, there were no charges pressed at that time.

So you did have these couple of documented cases, if you will, where other people outside the family knew it, but in these hundreds of pages of documents that were released, police talked to friends, neighbors of the Scheneckers, and they do confirm that there was a very strained relationship, particularly between Julie Schenecker and Calyx, 16 years old where Calyx would not even speak to her mother.

When she came downstairs for dinner, she took her plate and went up to her home, and had essentially nothing to do with the mother. And she was planning on going to boarding school to get away from that setting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Howard Samuels, isn`t that true of alcoholics and addicts, they have rage toward their parents?

SAMUELS: Well, it`s very true, Jane. What is very sad here is the lack of education and knowledge that the husband had. You know this really -- I feel it could have been prevented if the husband had really more information on addiction and alcoholism and how it really works.

I mean for this woman to be in charge of these two kids while he was off, you know, fighting in one of our wars is beyond me. You know. And that`s what America has to learn here is that we have to teach our country these dangerous signs so we can protect our children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And just because you look like a soccer mom, Nikki 10 seconds, you were a soccer mom and you were a complete out-of-control drug addict.

NIKKI: Absolutely. And yes, there is something to be learned from because the things that are there to protect us are not really protecting us. And like I say thank God my children forgive me for my past, but thank God I didn`t hurt anyone in the process.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank God. Thank you for sharing and your honest.

Up next --





VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was my HLN buddy Robin Meade --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- singing with country superstar Kenny Chesney. Hey, how are you. I`m so happy you`re joining me tonight to talk about your fantastic new album, "Brand New Day". You know, we`ve been playing it in the office and we`re not getting any work done. We`re just running around and we`re also listening to your single "Dirty Laundry" which of course is a cover of Don Henley`s big hit.

Check this out and then we`ll talk.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Robin, you are a superstar. I just love this. You`re fantastic.

MEADE: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You have a great voice. You have a very dare I say sexy, fun look, and it`s all working for you. What did you do? I want to know your secret.

MEADE: You`re so sweet. Thank you. I`m glad you like that song especially, since it was a cover of a song that really made fun of the local news. And I just thought it would be kind ironic for me to do that song.

It`s not that I`m biting the hand that feeds me, but I kind of thought a little nudge, a little wink at what we do for a living.

How did I get to do this? You know, I sang long before I ever was a public speaker. I had to learn to be a public speaker, but singing was natural. And so, you know, I kept having assignments that had me interfacing with Nashville. And I made a bunch of friends and Kenny Chesney among them there. And here I am with Darius Rucker.

Sometimes I think it`s just that I have the guts to ask people if I can sing with them. And so I made some contacts and friends along the way. I think people are too afraid to say no. But seriously I met a great producer and we came up with this album.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am shocked that you at one point, and you wrote about this in your book, and we`re going to show your cover in a second. You talked about once being nervous, which I find so impossible to believe looking at you on stage. That just blows my mind.

MEADE: You know what; stage doesn`t make me nervous. That was always very natural to me, but being a public speaker, that was completely different for me because I felt like I could sing people`s songs and maybe not have my own message, but to have your own message and be up there communicating that, that was a heart-stopper for me.

That is what I went to college for. And it`s funny, because I coveted what I could not do. I couldn`t get up there and just give a book report in high school. But I could get up there and sing. So this is what`s natural for me.

But in terms of being a public speaker, I used to have panic attacks on the air doing the news, because I was so busy trying to be someone else`s prescription of the perfect news anchor that I lost my authentic self. So now that I laugh in the news if I want to or we do the types of stories that really interest our audience, now I feel like I`m really being myself and the person that you is the real me.

Same with this album, you know, I wrote 6 of the 12 songs and sang about what I wanted to sing about, which wasn`t like dancing up on a bar drinking or something like that. That`s just not me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on, Robin, you know that is.

MEADE: I just wanted to do songs that I thought really spoke to our audience. By the way, that is the first time I interviewed Kenny Chesney. And he said why don`t you come out here tonight and sing with me and do Uncle Cracker`s part. And I was like ok. And I thought surely he`ll forget. But that -- I learned the words to that song that afternoon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh my God. Well, let me tell you whatever kind of breakthrough you were looking for you have, because every time I watch your show in the morning, you are having a great time. In fact you guys had a "rise and shine" contest. You allowed viewers to send in their proposals for theme songs for your show. And we`ve got to check this out because it`s just so hilarious. Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go on and grab your copy and put it on the TV and watch the morning show with Robin Meade. She`s got the news and the weather, and she`ll bust out a song if you let her.

Put your hands together and sing along to the fresh new beat called the Robin Meade song. Robin Meade.


MEADE: I love it. I love it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why didn`t that take over? I mean come on. I don`t see that every morning. That was good.

MEADE: We didn`t -- we wanted to talk about the album, but we didn`t want me to blather on about myself on the air. So we said why don`t we make you a singing star, too? Come up with a theme for our show. And the best song will win.

We`ve had hundreds and hundreds of submissions and she said she`s wearing a towel and a robe because that`s what she and her friends would normally wear in the morning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a she?

MEADE: I think it is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, I have to tell you -- you were singing in New York City right near Times Square at a very fancy place and you said hey, come on down and just support me. I was like, of course. I go there within five minutes you had me on stage singing backup for you along with Joy Behar.

Hilarious, and I think you`ve got to check it out.




MEADE: You know, here`s the deal -- here`s the deal for Jane`s viewers.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is just wild.

MEADE: you are very good. Jane`s viewers, she loves music as much as I do. And so when I knew that she was there, I wanted to badly to pull you up because I know that you love your audience. They love you back. And I was like, if I can get Jane and Joy up there, I`m doing it. And the wonderful Victoria Shaw --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I grabbed the tambourine.

MEADE: Yes, you did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I grabbed the tambourine real fast. I was like, let me get a prop. I want a tambourine. I want a -- you are so good. Your voice really blew me away because I got there and I was like -- I never heard you -- and I was like, wow, I`m here to support you. I think you`re a great person but I didn`t really know that you had a good voice. And when I heard you sing --

MEADE: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- I was like, my jaw hit the floor. You could easily just go and do that. We don`t want to lose you. We need you.

MEADE: My intentions are not to leave.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you could be a professional singer.

MEADE: Thank you. My intentions are not to leave the anchor desk. I`m sorry. HLN is stuck with me.

But I do think in today`s world, we can do more than one thing. We can be defined in a different way. I feel like I can do both things without leaving the anchor desk. This album is not a one off. We already have a second one in the planning stages.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just love you and I love the fact that you are bringing your voice, your speaking voice to HLN.

MEADE: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because you have a lot of important things to say.

MEADE: Ask Jane to sing "Desperado". Ask Jane to sing "Desperado".

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Let`s do on the other side of the break, hang in.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at that country dress.

MEADE: Oh, wait, we`re on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was incredible. You were actually performing there with a band from the Air Force Reserves at the July 4th holiday weekend and you opened for, what? Who did you open for, somebody famous?

MEADE: Winona I don`t know if she had any place though in this but somehow I got to do that. And that played on the Armed Forces Network around the world for our troops.

And I was just honored to play with that group right there, the Air Force Reserve Band. They are amazing. But the main thing is just being able to perform for people who are deployed around the world, you know?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, absolutely. And I know what you do is just such a comfort for people who come home serving our country and often they have so many problems. They`ve got psychological problems, physical problems, emotional problems and having you out there knowing every day that they can turn on the TV and that you support them and that`s so, so totally important.


MEADE: You know I feel so strongly about those families. Thank you. I feel so strongly about those military families because we have been at war for like ten years now, and people have had multiple deployments. Can you imagine, when they come home, they have been deployed for like 14 months at a time; sometimes five, six, seven times.

And when you come back home, your spouse has been the new sheriff in town all those times and you`ve got to get back with your rhythm and what you do every day at home, it`s got to be so difficult. So my heart goes out for those families. Just a lot of gratitude is what I feel for our military.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, you can`t imagine leaving your entire life behind over and over again. What happens to your entire family the finances, the relationships with the kids, everything. There`s so much work that had to be done when you get back and they need so much support. That`s so important.

And I have got to talk to you about this wacky controversy. You have to check out these ads with Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, two of the most beautiful women in the world. But guess what; these ads have now been banned in England because they apparently involved excessive air brushing, which I found absolutely hilarious.

At first, I was like this is an outrage. And then I was like, oh, wait a second, my photos are also excessively air brushed.

MEADE: Well, we had this story this morning too and I was like come on. Don`t we have more important things to be legislating? So I think it was a female legislator in Britain and she was like, this is a travesty, I want these taken down.

And I got to tell you the truth, I think that Julia Roberts looks beautiful no matter what and if it were my ad, honey, I would want to be air brushed from head to toe. As a matter of fact if you put up my album, you`ll see the cover and why I like this cover and why I chose this cover is because it looks nothing like me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and you know what?

MEADE: Honey, that is so air brushed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A little air brushing never killed anybody.

Now, we have to show you -- speaking of air brushing, you have written a book, I have written a book, check this out. I don`t know about you, mine is heavily air brushed. I was like air brush this, air brush that.

MEADE: I think you look great. But mine is -- listen to this, I chose a picture that was three years old because I was three years younger and three years skinnier.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you look gorgeous. You look gorgeous now and you looked gorgeous then.

I have to tell, I`m just going to sing one line. Desperado --





VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re back. We`re with the one and only Robin Meade.

MEADE: Nobody ever said I was a dancer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re good.

MEADE: I never claimed to be a dancer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I did my karaoke one line. I want you to give us -- we have 20 seconds -- come on, give us something.

MEADE: You start now, I`ll finish, go ahead.


MEADE: Go ahead.


MEADE: Go, country girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is too much fun to be having on television. Thank you.