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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
New Developments in Case of Woman Missing in Aruba; Who Is Caylee Anthony`s Real Father?
Aired August 17, 2011 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, mind blowing new developments in the case of a beautiful missing woman in Aruba. Did her travel companion Gary Giordano take out a $1.5 million accidental death insurance policy on Robyn Gardner just before they flew to paradise?
And what about blood stains allegedly found near their lunch stop? We`ll talk to her devastated boyfriend about these new allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody is letting me speak. Everyone wants me to talk. Give me three seconds to say something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is Casey Anthony finally going to reveal who little Caylee`s real father is? Claims that Casey inked the deal for a tell-all book.
Meanwhile, her parents Cindy and George are appearing on the season opener of Dr. Phil. What would you ask Cindy and George? Call us.
Plus, did an impending scandalous expose filled with sexual secrets spark the suicide of one of a real housewife of Beverly Hills husband. And we`ve got a photo of wife Taylor with an eye injury taken just days before his death. How did that happen? Tonight, I`ll talk Russell`s lawyer and his former step-mom. Did the show help drive Russell over the edge?
"Issues" starts now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to give you a time reference and show you the terrain here of the critical last hours. We`re approaching here the Rum Reef Bar and Grill. This is the last known place in public that Gary Giordano and Robyn Gardner were seen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re starting a new search either tomorrow or the day after. They`re organizing a new search, it`s going to be a land search.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aruban authorities are investigating $1.5 million insurance policy that Gary Giordano, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Robyn Gardner had purchased.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gary Giordano told them about the existence of the insurance. This is not something that they had to find. Once they heard it from Giordano, they went to the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE; I think he`s the only connection to the case. If he was the last one with her, I think that makes him a direct connection to the case. I think that he`s the key to it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the search for missing American tourist Robyn Gardner who vanished in Aruba.
Good evening, everyone. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from New York City.
Well, we`ve got such a shocking development tonight. Did Robyn Gardner`s travel companion take out a $1.5 million insurance policy on her life as part of travel insurance? And could that be a motive for murder?
And we`ve got another shocker tonight, local reports say a bloody hand print was found behind the restaurant where Gardner and Gary Giordano ate lunch the very day she vanished. Aruban officials are not confirming that that tonight.
Now this beautiful 35 year old Maryland woman has been missing for two weeks now. Giordano says they were snorkeling off an isolated beach when she simply vanished in the water. A lot of questions about that story.
Giordano`s lawyer pushing for his release saying he had no motive for murder, but that might change if this accidental death insurance policy claim is verified.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL LOPEZ, SUSPECT`S LAWYER: They suspect him for murder, but there`s no proof to my knowledge. I don`t see any proof. I don`t see any -- there`s no proof and there`s no motive. I don`t see any motive either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Restaurant workers who saw Gardner and Giordano the very day she vanished told ABC News Gardner seemed woozy. Giordano reportedly told cops the two of them were drinking vodka at the hotel and that she had taken sleeping pills. In the middle of the day when you`re planning on going snorkeling?
And he reportedly left the search for her early to get some sleep at the hotel. What on earth is going on? A lot of possibly incriminating evidence coming to light against that man, this man you`re looking at. Will any of it stick?
Straight out to CNN`s Martin Savidge on the ground in Aruba on Baby Beach where she is said to have vanished. What do you know about this alleged bloody hand print, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the hand print has been reported by a number of different sources that are close to the investigation. And when I talk directly to the prosecutor`s office, the word they used about that blood was interesting. And then said they could neither confirm nor deny because it was a critical part of their investigation.
However, it is said to have been found behind the restaurant area where the couple had been dining just hours before and shortly before Gary Giordano made that emergency call.
Just to point out to you, it is not identified as yet what type of blood. It could be animal blood, it could be human. That`s the first thing they`ll want to know.
Then is it blood that belongs to Robyn Gardner or is it blood that belongs to Gary Giordano? Very critical information if it belongs to either one of those two, because of course if you drown it isn`t usually bloody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And as you showed with that incredible ride into the area where they allegedly went snorkeling, why would tourists go to that remote area to go snorkeling? And how come she disappeared, quote, unquote, when the water was mirror calm is how it`s described.
Now, I want to bring in -- we`re very delighted to have with us tonight, Carrie Emerson. I`m going to show you her on NBC`s Today Show with her daughter. She has said that she had a very, very bizarre encounter with this Gary Giordano. In fact, feels very lucky that her daughter did not suffer the same fate that Robyn Gardner may well have suffered.
Now, Carrie, you say that Gary Giordano contacted you the week of July 20. So shortly before they actually went down there. And offered you and your daughter a chance to go to Aruba, if only she would model? Tell us exactly -- set the record straight. Tell us exactly what he said to you.
CARRIE EMERSON, DAUGHTER MET GARY GIODARNO: He had originally called thinking I was her when I answered the phone. So I went on with it. I pretended to be her. He started waving this great tale about a trip to Aruba, the money, the snorkeling, the just everything -- jet skiing, shopping, night clubbing. He made it sound like the perfect trip for any 18-year-old who wanted to get out there on their own and make some good money.
Of course, you know, I played along pretending I was her and then I asked him if he could speak with my mother. And he said sure, not a problem.
So I got on the phone with him. And he said hey -- he said, this is Gary. I`m a producer.
And I asked him Gary who?
And he said Gary Giordano. I`m a producer out of Maryland. And he proceeded to tell me the whole story that he had told her, but in a much more business-like manner.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the modeling? What about the request for a threesome?
EMERSON: The original request was because he needed a model who could go to Aruba and model for a swimwear catalog that he was working on and he had just lost his original model so he needed somebody who could go right away, had a passport, was cute and was blond. That was the modeling part of this.
And then he started proposing to me, long story short, if he could sleep with me, he would take care of me financially, and if he said I could fulfill his fantasy of having a mother-daughter threesome, he would take care of us financially for the rest of our lives.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, that is sick. And of course, we don`t have evidence that he was ever involved in any kind of production or any swimsuit catalog, but he does have a very big house. Listen to Rupa Mikkilineni`s description of Gary Giordano`s house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUPA MIKKILINENI, CNNHN CORRESPONDENT: If you pan over here a little bit over here, you can take a look at the house. And you see that it`s about 6,000 square feet, sits on 3 1/2 acres of land, and Gary Giordano bought the place about five, six years ago, 2005, for about $1.2 million.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, a $1.2 million house. He also has two ex-wives, three children, that`s a lot of financial responsibility.
And now we`re hearing this new report from ABC News that law enforcement is investigating that he may have taken a $1.5 million accidental death policy out on Robyn Gardner, naming him as the beneficiary. And this is being reported by ABC News. And according to a police source, is what they`re quoting, and that he purchased this policy as part of this trip down to Aruba.
So I`ve got to bring in Steve Moore. What do you know about -- I never even knew you could take out a policy on somebody else that wasn`t your spouse or somehow related to you going down there.
STEVE MOORE, CNNHN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can take out a policy, you just can`t make yourself the beneficiary. But you know, you`re not going to get any face time with any agents when you do that, so you can pretty much, you know, fraudulently obtain that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is it a motive if it`s true?
MOORE: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, it`s a motive. And then you`ve got to wonder -- you know, send in the accountants where did the money come from for that $1.2 million mouse and how is he making alimony payments? This guy could be just -- this could be the tip of the iceberg. You don`t know where this is going to lead.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And again his attorney was down in Aruba, or any of his attorneys are invited on our show any time to tell their side.
Richard Forester, you are Robyn Gardner`s boyfriend. You have been courageous about trying to find the truth. ABC News reporting that your girlfriend, Robyn Gardner seemed woozy when she was seen spotting dining at the restaurant shortly before she vanished and that, ABC is saying, that Gary Giordano told cops that she was drinking vodka and had taken sleeping pills at the hotel.
Your thoughts on that?
RICHARD FORESTER, ROBYN GARDNER`S BOYFRIEND: My thoughts on that, you know, much like I said last week about the snorkeling, I don`t think that that was the case. Just like now, I can`t see her taking, or anybody, taking sleeping pills in the middle of the day and then following it up with vodka and going snorkeling. It doesn`t make any sense whatsoever.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you have said that you felt her drinking was a problem.
FORESTER: No. I think she that, you know, she had a couple of drinks when she wanted to after work. I would meet her for a couple of drinks. And then we`d go grab something to eat and go home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I was sure I saw a clip of you on Dr. Drew talking about the fact that you had had a couple of altercations about her drinking issue.
FORESTER: We`ve had a couple of -- we had an altercation one time when she was a little bit intoxicated, but that was just that one incident that we talked about on Dr. Drew.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: well, the reason I`m asking is not to embarrass you or to embarrass her...
FORESTER: Of course.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s -- I`m a recovering alcoholic with 16 years of sobriety. If you`re drinking, you`re less able to defend yourself. And who knows if somebody could slip pills into your drink and -- she was a strong, healthy, beautiful woman. She can`t just disappear without something happening to her.
FORESTER: Well, I don`t think that -- you know, having a drink at the 4:00 in the afternoon whenever they were having lunch from what was reported. I don`t think anything wrong with that. I can say with all certainty that she did not voluntarily have any sleeping pills prior to that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you didn`t know her to be a person to take sleeping pills?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, look. We have so much to get to. We`re going to -- first of all, we`re going to talk about Cindy and George going on Dr. Phil. But back to this story first. What is going on down in Aruba? What about this $1.5 million accidental death policy that`s being reported. Is it true? What happened to Robyn Gardner? Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOPEZ: The body goes outside of the reef and goes deep immediately. It goes very deep. You can see there, it goes under the water, the current will take it away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: When you start to get back here, it`s certainly more secluded and this is not the pristine kind of beautiful beach area that most of the tourists are accustomed to. You also wonder how Gary Giordano would know exactly this was here.
Now you begin to see, all right, maybe there is sort of a beach here. It`s certainly secluded, but it`s not the beautiful pristine, and as I point out, it`s not the popular tourist spot that many people come to. But this is exact exactly the place where Gary Giordano says he and Robyn went snorkeling the very same place where she got into trouble. He got out of the water and she never did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gary Giordano being held behind bars for 16 days. And if they get more evidence, it could be longer. Where is Robyn Gardner? There are reports that he allegedly claims that he took out a $1.5 million accident call death policy on her for their trip down to Aruba. And I can tell you that this is a common theme, even though she is, quote, unquote, disappeared, tragically. The authorities down there fear she is dead. And other men accuse -- who have actually been accused of murdering their wives over insurance policies that made news.
We all know about this guy, former Survivor producer Bruce Beresford- Redman. He allegedly took out two insurance policies on his wife a week before she was killed. And they were on vacation at a Mexican resort.
And then there was also another alleged honeymoon killer. And that guy is Gabe Watson. And he served time in Australia for manslaughter. They had just been married 11 days. He was accused of shutting the valve on his wife`s -- his bride`s air tank. And he`s now up for capital murder in Alabama.
And again at issue, a $33,000 insurance policy.
So Richard Forester, what was your reaction when you heard this report that Gary Giordano might have taken a $1.5 million accidental death policy out on your girlfriend?
FORESTER: Until it`s confirmed -- I mean, I`ve been hearing the news just like everybody. Until it`s confirmed, I can`t react to it. If it`s the case, well then, you know, I certainly think it leads to a motive. But, you know, really again, until it`s confirmed, I can`t really have a reaction because I just hear what I hear in the press.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Carrie Emerson, what was your sense of this guy? I mean, obviously you must have thought he was creepy for what he wanted to do with you and your daughter. Did you feel as if he was dangerous?
EMERSON: In the beginning, I thought he was just a creep. I thought he was just another guy trying to hit on a young girl, you know, just anything he could do. I felt he wasn`t a producer. I felt he was just a creep.
And then when I -- he started talking to me about my daughter and I going, and doing the sex acts with him and how he would take care of us financially and things, when I turned him down, he got very violent with me on the phone telling me things that he could make me disappear, nobody would look for me, very violent things that -- why would you tell somebody that that you` never met, you`re talking to them on the phone, trying to get your teenage daughter to go with them on a trip.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, can I ask you this question? And I have to tell you, I want to give you an opportunity because some of the blog sites -- and this happens when you get involved with a case like this, that they`ve now started to question you and wonder whether you`ve exposed your daughter to posing at questionable sites, so I want to give you a chance to respond to that.
But did you call police? And if not, why not?
EMERSON: I did. I called police immediately -- well, not when this happened, but I called them when I saw the story. But in this business, I`ve been in the world for 20 years, in the modeling world. You`ve got guys who are creeps who will try this type of thing with young girls. And girls go. Girls actually will drop everything they`re doing to fly wherever to meet this so-called producer.
And then you`ve got legitimate producers, legitimate agents out there. And I do...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to jump in to say this, this guy has a very disturbing past. Women have said they -- well, two restraining orders, and domestic violence accusations, even shoplifting. Why would a guy who`s so rich need to shoplift?
Thank you so much, fantastic panel.
Housewives suicide next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Anthony through an anonymous source has signed a six-figure advance book deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASEY ANTHONY: I just want to let everyone know that I`m sorry for what I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would anyone buy this book? Do you find it in the fiction or the nonfiction section.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news. The defense has just filed this appeal to that order that Casey be forced to return to Orlando to serve a year`s probation. The clock is ticking. If Casey loses and is forced to do probation, well, you`ve got to ask, will the required job, she`s got to have a job, will that be a sweet book deal? One report claims she is in the process of writing a book. The L.A. Examiner claims Casey got a six figure advance to write a tell-all memoir.
Jose Baez says that is bull bleep. It is not happening. But I`ll tell you one thing, Alexis, reporter Radar Online, Alexis Tereszchuk.
Cindy and George are going on Dr Phil. Tell us all about that.
ALEXIS TERESZCHUK, RADAR ONLINE: They are. They`re going to give their very first interview to Dr. Phil. It`s going to be his season premier on September 12th. He said it was a no holds barred interview. He asked them everything, all the tough questions. He said I looked them in the eye. They were fully aware of everything. And they answered them all.
And he also -- in fact, he didn`t pay George and Cindy, But he made a donation to Caylee`s fund, which is their charity in her name. So he scored the first interview. It`s a pretty big get for him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yeah, and I think he`s a great choice. Because I`ve been on his show. He`s tough. He`s fair. And he`s psychologically aware and that rhymes.
OK. Levi Page hosts the Levi Page Show on Blog Talk Radio. Top five questions Dr. Phil needs to ask George and Cindy. What would you ask if you were Dr. Phil?
LEVI PAGE, LEVI PAGE SHOW: Well, first of all, I would ask Cindy Anthony why she committed perjury on the stand and how does she feel now that she got away with lying under oath without facing any charges saying that she searched for chloroform whenever she was at work. According to her co-workers, according to her boss and according to records.
And I would ask George Anthony, how do you feel that your daughter basically threw you under the bus and accused you of molestation when there was actually no proof of that.
And I would ask how do you -- do you expect to have any sort of relationship with Casey Anthony in the future? What do you think about Jose Baez? That would be a pretty good question, because things got heated between George Anthony and Jose Baez in the courtroom.
Tons of questions I would like to ask them. But they`re not coming on my show. I don`t have enough money to pay them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, wait a second. Now let`s point out, Alexis, they`re not getting paid. Money is going to what, tell us.
TERESZCHUK: Caylee`s Fund is the charity that George and Cindy started. And what they`re saying is it`s a charity to help grandparents who don`t have rights for their kids and missing or abused children. So, it`s a nonprofit. It`s a 501-c3.
The thing is, you know what, those records are public. You have to file tax returns for those. So I think eventually we`ll know how much Dr. Phil paid for the interview.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll say one thing, they have got to tell us something new. They can`t go on there and say the same old, same old. We want to hear some big old truth. I would like to know what they really thought after the 31 days when Casey said Zanny took the baby and kidnapped her. What do they really think happened?
Do they buy that story that nobody else in the world bought? I don`t think so. I would like them to come clean on that.
All right. The tragic Housewives suicide, an exclusive interview with the victim`s mom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E.D. HILL, HLN HOST: Shocking news coming out of the reality TV world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tragic cautionary tale about the dangers of reality show fame.
HILL: The estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Taylor Armstrong was found dead in an apparent suicide.
RONALD RICHARDS, ATTORNEY FOR RUSSELL ARMSTRONG: This show led to his depression.
MARK EIGLARSH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Reality shows do not kill people. People kill people.
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, CAST MEMBER, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": A lot of issues in my marriage are definitely addressed this year.
DYLAN HOWARD, RADARONLINE: There was an ex-wife and also a past girlfriend which accused him of being violent.
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: I feel like I have this life that I want to celebrate. I just wish he would celebrate with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a flurry of new shockers and a terrible, terrible tragedy. And here to address it all, an ISSUES Exclusive tonight, my very special guest, the mother of Russell Armstrong, the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" husband who committed suicide yesterday.
Did his mother see any warning signs that her son was being pushed over the edge? Reports are his Beverly Hills housewife Taylor who had recently announced her intention to divorce Russell was at her estranged husband`s L.A. home when his body was discovered. Adding to the torment of everyone involved, accusations that Taylor shares the blame of his breakdown.
I`m going to ask Russell`s mother what she thinks. Bravo has reportedly told the other Beverly Hills cast mates to keep quiet and not speak while the network decides to -- what are they going to do? How are they going to handle this upcoming season? We`ve got a statement we`re going to read to you in a second.
It`s scheduled to premiere in less than the three weeks and the Armstrongs failing marriage is reportedly one of the focus of this new season. Listen to what Taylor, herself, said earlier this month about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re so vocal when it comes to speaking out about domestic violence. And you know what, the allegations. Is that going to be addressed on the show?
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: You have to tune in and see but a lot of the issues of my marriage are definitely addressed this year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, now, her estranged husband is dead, speaking of suicide. There he is. If the new season includes Taylor and Russell fighting, should that be edited out? Should the entire season be canceled? Do we need to take another look? A new look at all of these reality shows?
Straight out to John Ann Hotchkiss, Russell`s grieving mother; first of all, thank you, ma`am, for joining us. I know this is an incredibly devastating time for you. And I know that no mother should have to bury a child. I also know that you want to speak out because your son cannot speak or defend himself.
First of all, John Ann what would you like to say? John Ann are you there?
JOHN ANN HOTCHKISS, RUSSELL ARMSTRONG`S MOTHER (via telephone): Hi.
I don`t wish to bash my daughter-in-law and their marriage. I truly believe, when they married and for years thereafter, their union was happy. It seemed blissful to me.
Normally when a couple are happy, there are obvious signs. Just as there are signs when there are problems.
I began to notice things starting to fray when the television thing came into being. And I was very concerned. And Russell would talk to me about it.
What bothered me the most was on the program itself, and this is on video, he would be bashed by some of the other cast members, especially Lisa, who is a beautiful lady, and I just couldn`t understand why she would be so unkind to him. Russell was not raised in this environment. I know it`s hurt him deeply because he would talk to me about it. Never criticizing Taylor, of course I would not want him to. But the program itself just really brought him down.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was he getting paid by this program at all? And did he want to be a part of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"?
HOTCHKISS: Just from what he said to me, it just kind of happened. I don`t know. I guess it seemed like a good business thing to do. I don`t know, but it turned into a terrible tragedy. He was so distraught towards the end of it. And before the new season even started, before he took his life, he said "Mom, they`re just going to crucify me this season." He said, "I don`t know what to do." He said, "I`ll never survive it."
And I thought he meant business-wise or something. Now, perhaps there was a double meaning there, I don`t know.
But it got -- the bashing got so bad last season I had to quit watching it. I just couldn`t bear it. I said to him on the phone, I said, "Russell, can`t you stop this?" He said no. He said it`s ratings. All they care about -- all the network cares about are ratings. They don`t care about how people feel or how they`re hurt or if it destroys their marriage.
And I slowly -- I watched it slowly destroy their marriage. As I said earlier, there was a time it was happy and blissful and it was obvious that they were happy. And then it just became star-crossed with this terrible show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bravo -- and I just want to explain a few things to our viewers, but very, compelling, John Ann -- Bravo is still trying to decide what to do with Season 2 of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".
I want to play a clip so that you can see the show if you haven`t seen it and then we`re going to discuss what Bravo is going to do. But there they are saying, "We`re still trying to process yesterday`s very sad news and looking at how to proceed with the series which has finished primary production and was set to premier on Labor Day."
Let`s watch a clip for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russell`s not here. .
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s in phoenix, right?
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: I was really disappointed. I wanted to spend time with him and he wasn`t there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, well, there`s a little criticism right there. And oh, he goes to Phoenix and she`s disappointed. So is that the kind of stuff -- the little dig, John Ann that disturbed your son?
HOTCHKISS: It was from the cast members.
And there were just different incidents, ones that it actually involved my oldest grandson, Russell`s oldest son. On one of the shows they were in Las Vegas, (INAUDIBLE) sometimes, couples thing. Russell went. They sat and had dinner or drinks early on. And Russell I have to go to Arizona for about three hours.
Well, I mean it just turned into a bashing session. It hurt Taylor`s feelings, although Taylor knew his son was there. My grandson is outstanding in baseball. They`re in tournaments; I think it was the last tournament. Russell wanted to be there as he should have been. But he didn`t say a word to the others, except that he had to take that little trip.
And I was just floored. That segment alone just floored me. Now, I know that no one wanted to talk about his other two children. It was just Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, which is fine. She`s a precious little girl.
But Russell had had three children. And he was leaving for Arizona solely for Aiden`s baseball game. And he came right back. He came right back to Las Vegas and they never got off his case the whole time.
And I don`t mean to villainize them and glorify Russell but it was just absurd to me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I just want to jump in for one second and say that there have been reports that your son had a lot of money problems as well. So I want to play another clip of the show and I just want to say also that my heart goes out to your three grandchildren, John Ann. This has got to be awful.
And we`re just trying to learn from this. We`re not trying to point fingers. I think we`re just trying to learn. But here`s a clip of Taylor showing off their home from Bravo. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: My daughter and I love to swim and spend time in the sun. So we`re out here every day that we possibly can be. My husband is a Texan and he loves barbecue. We`ll come out here as a family and barbecue ribs or steaks. Have some friends over. Maybe have a margarita and just enjoy this gorgeous weather.
One great thing about living up a little higher in Bel Air as opposed to the flats of Beverly Hills is we get amazing views. You can see from my home all the way downtown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring in now Gladys Jackson Armstrong, who is Russell Armstrong`s former stepmother. And I think your motives for speaking are very similar to John Ann Hotchkiss is that Russell cannot speak for himself tonight. He`s dead of an apparent suicide.
What are your thoughts about his financial problems? Did they have any connection to the show or not?
GLADYS JACKSON-ARMSTRONG, RUSSELL ARMSTRONG`S FORMER STEPMOTHER: Is she speaking to me?
JACKSON-ARMSTRONG: Yes. Ask the question again, please?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about Russell`s financial problems? Do you think the show had a connection to that? I mean long before the show started he had a bankruptcy. But he had money problems.
JACKSON-ARMSTRONG: Well, he had money problems but he had made it through several times during his career. I know back when he was 24, he was already a millionaire. And he lost a lot, but he came back.
He is -- was a fabulous businessman. He knew how to work. He loved his work. He loved his family. But he loved his work. He was a workaholic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gladys, more on the other side. More on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are things going with you now and the divorce? I know it`s still fresh but are you hanging in there?
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: I am. Thank you so much. I`m just really focused on Kennedy right now and making sure that she`s happy and her life stays consistent with the big changes that are going on in all of our lives.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re so vocal when it comes to speaking out about domestic violence and, you know, with the allegations. Is that going to be addressed on the show?
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: You`ll have to tune in and see but a lot of the issues in my marriage are definitely addressed this year. And thankfully, I have five strong women that are standing next to me now and they`ve got my back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you getting any advice at all from Camilla?
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. What is she telling you?
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG: To take care of your kids and focus on that and just take it one day at a time and not think about the big picture because it`s just too overwhelming right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is Taylor Armstrong talking about how her marital problems are going to be addressed in the coming issue -- series of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills". But unfortunately, her husband -- tragically, her husband has now committed suicide. And we`re trying to figure out what happened and why.
Taylor, you just heard from her, claimed Russell physically and verbally abused her during her marriage. And we, in fact, have a photo taken four days before Russell`s death that shows Taylor`s eye injured -- you see a cut over her left eye.
The reports are that her friends are saying Taylor got this cut playing football. And I have never heard of her playing football in the past. But I have no idea how she got that. We`re just pointing it out that she did get this cut over her eye.
She has also accused her now deceased husband of abuse. Russell himself addressed the abuse claims with "People" magazine last month saying, quote, "Maybe things happened in the heat of the moment, but it was during a time in our lives. It was not characteristic of who we were. This show has pushed us to the limit."
Rob Shuter, Popeater`s "Naughty but Nice", now we have unconfirmed reports that Russell was distraught because he feared an upcoming tell-all book. What do you know?
ROB SHUTER, COLUMNIST, POPEATER`S "NAUGHTY BUT NICE": There`s reports out. I don`t really -- I haven`t been able to confirm this. But there are reports out that a book was being put together claiming that Russell had many, many affairs, including some affairs with men. And this is a report that we haven`t been able to confirm yet.
But the sad thing here Jane, is if this gentleman died because we knew too much about his life, in death we`re about to find out a lot more.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And this is the sad, tragic part. He`s not here to tell his side of the story. These are unconfirmed reports. But part of the problem, Ronald Richards, you are the attorney for Russell Armstrong, who tragically was found dead yesterday, hanging, committed suicide, it`s believed.
Once you`re on a reality TV show, anything that comes out about you is going to be fodder for the tabloids and they will also dig into your past and start coming up with information about you. And of course, they found out that he had had a bankruptcy and he had money problems. What are your thoughts?
RICHARDS: Well, I will tell you that these reports about the book are absolutely false. There`s no corroboration. These are anonymous tips basically and that I would have known if there was some sort of book. And no one would buy a book about Russell Armstrong. I`ve now uncovered that there`s maybe a global book or a book about a lot of people, but I bet we won`t see a book.
He`s not Kelsey Grammer either, so he can`t finance the same sort of lifestyle that Taylor Armstrong would compare him to Kelsey Grammer`s ex- wife.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, did his money problems have anything to do with the show? It`s called "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills". They`re wearing glamorous homes. They`re living in glamorous homes. That doesn`t come cheap. Who pays for that and did that impact his financial situation? Ronald.
RICHARDS: Yes. It absolutely does, Jane because -- it absolutely does impact his financial situation because he takes a lot of time doing a lot of the events for the show and he starts supporting an increasingly more expensive lifestyle to where he ends up being in a very vulnerable position financially because he`s totally distracted now supporting the show.
And then these constant press reports about negative things about him start to hurt his capital business. And without him working at it full time, you know, it`s feast or famine in that business, he ended up spending much more than he made. And again, he`s not Kelsey Grammer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Ronald, you were quoted as saying at the end, he didn`t have even credit cards that worked, is that true?
RICHARDS: His credit cards were not working. The divorce, I believe, was going to be a "no asset" divorce in my opinion. We hadn`t filed my answer yet, but I will tell you that he was running at a big deficit. But the lawsuit you mentioned; the $1.5 million that was for breach of a settlement agreement. It wasn`t because he had recently borrowed it. It was just a simple --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very quickly Ronald, as his attorney, he is deceased. Do you think that this season should be canceled?
RICHARDS: I think he should be edited out with the other character Taylor and he should rest in peace.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely, he should rest in peace.
On the other side more from his mother.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, a very, very sad story. Why did Russell Armstrong commit suicide? He was married to one of the stars of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills", Taylor Armstrong. We`re going to hear exclusively from his mother in a moment. But let`s take another look at the show from Bravo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is all (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to me, ok?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like the dinner table was just a swirling tornado. You need to stand up and say stop. You need to stand up and say stop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don`t you stand up and say stop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t stop you because you`re off your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rocker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That`s what I think about you. Why don`t you blot your lips some more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And a lot of people feel these shows really emphasize the worst values, competitive consumption, superficiality, materialism, and really reward bad behavior.
And, by the way, we want to get both sides. We want to be fair here. If anybody from Bravo or any members of this cast or anybody from reality TV wants to come on and talk about it, we would like to have them on.
Again, back to John Ann Hotchkiss, Russell Armstrong`s mother, who is courageously appearing on the show because she wants to defend her son, who cannot speak for himself tonight. John Ann, what would you like to say about everything you`ve heard?
HOTCHKISS: First of all, I would like to say that I don`t mean to bash Taylor. Taylor has many fine qualities. But the marriage absolutely drove my son into poverty. Taylor and her next marriage should be sure it is a millionaire or billionaire because that`s all that could afford her. And that`s not all bad I`m sure for out there.
But when a person doesn`t have it and they strive and strive and strive to keep the woman happy, you know, it is not -- it is just not going to work. You know, for her birthday she wanted -- one year she wanted a $6,000 purse. Here in Texas, that`s pretty wild.
They had to have that home. He didn`t want to move. He wanted to stay where they were because they could comfortably afford it. And, you know, it -- they were going to have to have it or else. Her clothes -- review one of the segments where it was showing her stylist there and this rack of clothes, you know, $5,000 blouse, you know, $10,000 this, $5,000 that, I mean, who lives like that? I mean --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Doesn`t -- I don`t know. Doesn`t the show -- quickly I want to jump to Rob Shuter, don`t they pay for that? I would assume that they would pay for that.
SHUTER: Absolutely not. You cannot put an expense report into the show. If you throw a party on this show and it costs you $5,000, $20,000, you pay for that. You do not get an expense allowance on these shows.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, Gladys Jackson, your Russell Armstrong`s former stepmother. You would like to address the allegations of abuse which were leveled by Taylor against Russell in the divorce documents -- quickly.
JACKSON-ARMSTRONG: Yes. I really would. I`ve known Taylor -- I don`t know Taylor personally. But I did know Russell very well. I love Russell very much. I was married to his father for 15 years. Russell, I had never, ever heard of anything --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One more.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just wrapped up my conversation with Russell Armstrong`s mother, who just hung up the phone. And it is just so sad. It really is. And we are just trying to learn from it.
Gladys, you are Russell Armstrong`s former stepmother. We only have a couple of seconds. What would you like to say? Say it, if you could.
JACKSON-ARMSTRONG: I would like to say that I had spoken to Russell before that show started on Bravo, and asked him if he thought it was a good idea. He really did not want to be on that show. And I think Taylor kind of coerced him into being on it. And I think that Bravo should be held responsible for this situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you for joining us.
"NANCY GRACE" is up next.