Return to Transcripts main page


Man, 35, Charged for Punching Teen; Father Arrested for Throwing Son Overboard

Aired August 31, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, culture of violence out of control.

SHANNON KIRK, NEIGHBOR: That could kill them. I mean, that`s quite close to manslaughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shocking video of a fight-club-style beating. A 35- year-old man pummels a 16-year-old kid. Was this a twisted form of discipline or uncontrollable rage? And what`s up with this sick trend of so many parents brutalizing kids?

Plus troubled superstar Mel Gibson faces off in court against his ex- girlfriend Oksana he allegedly assaulted. We`ll tell you who came out the big winner.

Also, will the prime suspect in the disappearance of beautiful Robyn Gardner fly away from Aruba a free man today? As the judge decides, jaw- dropping new information that the pair met on an adult swinger Web site. I`m taking your calls.

And does Real Housewives star Taylor Armstrong suspect foul play in her husband`s suicide? Reports claim Taylor`s going to the FBI to investigate his death. I`ll talk exclusively with a longtime friend of Russell Armstrong about the days before his suicide.

ISSUES starts now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 16-year-old decided to challenge the 220-pound Johnson. He didn`t stand a chance.

KIRK: Punching a 15-year-old, that could kill him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Johnson gets on top of him, and takes his right hand and starts hammer-fisting him in the face multiple times. Then the juvenile starts to stand up. Mr. Johnson again kicks him in the face.

JESSICA BEAGLEY, FOUND GUILTY OF CHILD ABUSE: What happens when you lie to me?


J. BEAGLEY: You get hot sauce.

When Christoph lies, we put soap in his mouth.

Don`t spit it.

It had no effect. So we went to hot sauce.

You are to do what you are told.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suspect struck his son several times and threatened his child that if he would not stop crying, he would throw him overboard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was during this time as a form of punishment that the child was denied water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The peanut butter got stuck in his throat. They still wouldn`t let him have water.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. What is going on?

Tonight cops say they have yet another case of adult-on-child violence. Jaw-dropping new video emerging tonight as a 35-year-old man appears to pummel -- and I mean pummel -- a 16-year-old boy again and again and again and again.

Good evening, everyone. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, and I`m coming to you live from New York City. And I`ve got a warning for you. What you`re about to see and hear is graphic and disturbing.

Take a look at this guy, Gary Johnson, 6`5", 220 pounds. Arrested after he was caught on tape allegedly brutally beating up a teenage boy. The teen was originally fighting Gary Johnson`s son, but somehow when that ended, the father stepped in, and this was all caught on tape. Brace yourself. This footage is shocking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re not going to step on me, boy?

GARY JOHNSON, ALLEGED BEAT UP TEENAGER: Yes, I would like to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let it be, let it be.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God. That kick! That sick macho behavior. Gary Johnson is a head taller than the boy. The tape appears to show him punching and kicking the teen long after the child had fallen to the ground.

According to the boy`s mother, that teenager is still recovering tonight. He`s going to need extensive oral surgery, and he will lose his two front teeth. Our hearts go out to him. Boy.

This guy tonight charged with aggravated battery, child abuse, delinquency of a minor, lying to police. We reached out to this guy, Gary Johnson, repeatedly. We have not heard back. And our affiliate reporter even went to his door and got no response.

But I`ve got to tell you something: this is some kind of sick theme here. This is just one in a slew of recent cases involving adults in a parental role, accused of behaving violently towards children.

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. What is going on, do you think? Because I want to know. I don`t understand it.

And I want to go straight out to Captain John Resch from the Palm Bay Police.

Captain, thank you for joining us. You`re overseeing this case. We understand that before this happened, Gary Johnson was, quote, unquote, "refereeing" a fight between his own son and this teenage victim.

First of all, Captain, it seems odd for me for an adult to be refereeing any kind of fight between two boys. What happened and how did it escalate into this?

CAPTAIN JOHN RESCH, PALM BAY POLICE (VIA PHONE): Well, Jane, basically, what we have here is we have an ongoing dispute between the two juvenile boys that had been going on for several days over Facebook and some text messaging, calling each other names. And the one boy in this case, the victim wanted to fight the defendant`s son.

They made arrangements to come over to the defendant`s home when the defendant found out about this and then agreed, instead of calling the police like he should have, agreed to step in and referee the two boys and allow them to do this fight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then apparently his son maybe walks away from the fight, and at that point maybe he felt a loss of face, and the other teen kind of comes up to him and stares at him, and that`s when he decides what, Captain?

RESCH: You see from the video after the two boys fight, Mr. Johnson`s son gets up and walks away, at which time the victim in this case does get up into Mr. Johnson`s face and exchanges some words with him.

But Mr. Johnson, as you see from the video, loses his cool, punches him in the face. He falls to the ground, at which time he continues to beat him in the face. And as you saw in the video also, as the victim tried to get up, he kicked him in the face and then again knocked him back to the ground.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all, I`ve got to bring in Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist in on this. I do not understand why a dad, if there`s a dispute between his son and another teenage boy, is saying, "Hey, let`s -- let`s duke it out here. You can all come out to the front yard, and we`re going to fight. I`ll referee." That is completely immature to begin with.

And then, when his son backs off and the other kid kind of goes up like this, he slugs him, according to the tape.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What kind of immaturity, what level of emotional and psychological immaturity is he revealing, as a 35-year-old man, to make these kinds of decisions?

LUDWIG: Well, I mean, clearly this guy has an anger problem, which is very serious, and he`s primitively out of control. And he probably was feeling on some level very helpless when it came to his son being bullied maybe by this other person, and felt really upset that he couldn`t somehow help his son. And so he just got out of control.

And I think that there`s an assumption that, once somebody becomes a parent, they automatically become mature adults who know how to handle situations, and unfortunately, that`s not the case. While it might be understandable to have those feelings where you want to beat up somebody who`s hurting your kid, most people can step back and say, "I`m not going to act on that."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s 35 years old.

LUDWIG: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is ridiculous.

LUDWIG: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is criminal, and he has been charged. But it`s part of a theme.

Now, let me say this. Cops say this father did not know the camera was rolling and then allegedly lied to cops about what happened. The arrest report says according to the defendant, once the victim was on the ground, he did not strike him. So when cops take a look at this tape, they also charged him with lying to cops.

We live in a videotape culture. A lot of the abuse of children that we are seeing now is being caught on tape. Check this one out. We`ve seen it before, but it`s worth showing again, Dr. Phil.


J. BEAGLEY: Close your mouth. Did you swallow it? Do you lie to me? No. Don`t spit it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That woman, Jessica Beagley, found guilty of child abuse. And this is my big issue. We are in a caught-on-tape culture right now. Holly Hughes, Jessica Beagley is not the first woman to use hot sauce on a kid. We are now seeing this stuff. And you can`t remain in denial. You hear about hot sauce. You might think -- when you see it, and you hear the kid screaming, it`s another thing entirely.

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. And what we also see is not only does she put hot sauce on his tongue, you know. And when I was a kid, you know, your mother said, "You say a curse word, I`m going to wash your mouth out with soap," you know, and that might have happened once or twice.

But what we have here, Jane, is a mother who is out of control. She`s not just using it as disciplinary action. She turned it into criminal action because, when this little boy continues to cry and scream, she puts him in a cold shower, and then continues to abuse him. And she does all of this -- you know who`s holding the video camera, Jane?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The 10-year-old.

HUGHES: One of her other children. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to say this. OK. We saw the dad, right? Another 35-year-old dad tonight making national news for throwing his kid off of a moving boat?

This guy, 35-year-old Sloane Briles, apparently allegedly had too much to drink, and literally took his kid, a seven-year-old who was crying after he had a fight with his girlfriend, and chucked him over the side of a boat that was cruising around the harbor in California.

Listen to his response. You will not believe this. It`s beyond comprehension.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You threw your son off a boat. Were you trying to kill him?

SLOANE BRILES, THREW SON OVERBOARD: Yes, I was trying to kill my son. No, of course I was not trying to kill him. We were playing in the shallows.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you hadn`t been drinking, do you think you would have done it?

BRILES: Absolutely. It was water. In the water. Do you go to water just to look at it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In his clothes, though? You threw him in his clothes?

BRILES: We have more clothes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Now, this guy Sloane is going to be on "Dr. Drew" tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern. You do not want to miss that.

I think there`s a substance abuse factor there, because this guy was allegedly drinking, and he has -- he has a troubled history. Lost his job in the mortgage industry in 2007. He got another job, was hurt, was getting worker`s compensation. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to being in contempt for not paying child support.

I mean, look at this guy. And I`ve got to say on the other side of the break, we are going to debate, and we want you to call in. What is going on? These are two 35-year-old men who are abusing, allegedly, their kids in a vile, vile way. Their children or other children.

And we`re going to give you a "Housewives" exclusive, somebody who`s very, very close to the man who committed suicide, the husband of Taylor Armstrong. We`re going to talk to one of his very best friends.

We`re taking your calls on all this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I asked, "Russell, can`t you stop the bashing? Can`t you talk to the producer?"

And you know, he said, "Well, this is the way reality TV is."

I said, "Russell, this is brutal."




KIRK: Punching a 15-year-old could -- it could kill him. I mean, that`s like close to manslaughter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This sickening video of a father beating the living daylights out of a 16-year-old boy -- and this guy, by the way, is an ER, emergency room technician. Our culture of violence is out of control. Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let it be! Let it be, let it be.

That got bad.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Phyllis, Texas, your question or thought.

CALLER: Yes, hi. I cannot believe that he`s an emergency room technician, and I believe, or I honestly feel that he should be in danger of losing his job. I was just wondering if that`s a possibility. I just can`t believe what I`m seeing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we are being told that he has been suspended from his job.

Stacey Honowitz, if anybody should know about the horrors and the repercussions of violence it`s this guy. If you`re in an emergency room, all you see is people coming in with gunshot wounds, et cetera, et cetera.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: He doesn`t care. You can tell from the video he could care less. He`s arrogant. He`s a bully, and he`s a criminal. And he`s a show off. And, you know, for anybody to say it`s poor judgment or to call him a parent is ridiculous.

He is not a parent. He has no control. He can`t control himself. He needs jail, and he needs anger management.

The only positive that comes out of any of these cases is that they`re caught on tape, because it makes a prosecutor`s job that much easier when a jury gets to look at this. And then you get up and say, "Listen, you heard the witnesses. You can see for yourself, a picture speaks a thousand words. While we are appalled at these pieces of tape that we see, there are thousands of cases that go on every day with parents beating up their children, abusing their kids.

And so this is not unusual. He needs to go to jail, and there needs to be more parents going to jail as a deterrent so people don`t think well, you know, it was poor judgment, and they have other children at home. They shouldn`t be in that position, and that`s the bottom line.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think you say he`s not a parent, but he is a parent. And the problem is...

HONOWITZ: In name.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... there are parents who shouldn`t be parents, who are bad parents. We`ve had a slew in just the last couple of weeks of horrific cases of abuse.

Amy Deal, beautiful young girl, died after being locked in a trunk overnight in punishment for taking a popsicle from a freezer. This poor child. Cops say before that she was tortured by family members with hot sauce and feces.

And then there`s a little boy who watched his own twin die. His father and stepmother accused of punishing the child for days by depriving him of water. It ended up that the twin of this boy you`re looking at died from water deprivation, dehydration.

We have in my opinion, Robi Ludwig, parents that are not just immature, psychologically and emotionally incapable of taking care of kids like the fighter, the guy we`re showing you over and over again, this 35- year-old technician at an emergency room.

But we have people that have anger issues, and they are rage-a-holics. As you look at the video of him punching this kid, what I see is rage-a- holic behavior out of control.

And I will tell you something. As part of my program of sobriety years ago, I did an anger workshop where I took my anger out with a tennis racket on pillows. There are ways to deal with anger, and these people all need to be sentenced, not only to prison, but also within that, anger workshops, Robi Ludwig.

LUDWIG: Absolutely. And we live in a culture, certainly, that could get us to feel angry a lot, and I think also what happens is, just because this is going on within a family setting, it doesn`t mean that outsiders shouldn`t intervene, because that`s what needs to happen, where outsiders say, "Hey, do you need my help with something?"

If you see abuse going on to say something, make your voice known, make it known that it`s not OK, and that you`re observing it and you have a problem with it. And so that`s what happens when it`s domestic violence going on or parental violence. It`s going on behind closed door, and people feel a little bit uncomfortable saying something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This wasn`t behind closed doors.

LUDWIG: Well, this isn`t, right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They were there standing around. Now, there was a woman screaming, but none of the people lunged at this guy and tried to pull him off. Why not?

LUDWIG: Well, they could have been in shock or frightened. They could have been frightened. This guy could have come towards any one of them. It looked like he had a lot of energy to keep going.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is outrageous. Anger, immaturity. Power, ego.



MEL GIBSON, ACTOR: Thanks, your honor, for bringing this matter to a reasonable conclusion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Petitioner to pay the sum of $750,000 to respondent, and 50/50 shared custody.

OKSANA GRIGORIEVA, GIBSON`S EX: Resolve this matter in what`s best.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was superstar Mel Gibson and his baby mama, Oksana Grigorieva, facing off in court today in L.A.

Remember those tapes allegedly of Mel verbally abusing her, courtesy of Radar Online?


GRIGORIEVA: You`re going to answer one day, boy, you`re going to answer.

GIBSON: What? What? What are you saying?

GRIGORIEVA: Nothing, nothing. I`m not the one to threaten.

GIBSON: I`ll threaten. I`ll put you in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rose garden, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lovely. Today a judge revealed the custody settlement. The Oscar winner only will only have to fork over 750 grand and give Oksana and their 1-year-old daughter, Lucia, a house until the child turns 18.

Oksana reportedly turned down an earlier deal for $15 million. So people are saying, hey, this is a big win for Mel. The two have been battling over custody since Oksana accused Mel of hitting her over a year ago. And today, the judge said, hey, joint custody of the child, and no books, interviews, or disclosures of any kind about their relationship. So I guess that means no more new audiotapes being leaked to the public.

Joining me now is Don Schweitzer, a family law attorney. Don, people are saying this is a big victory for Mel. What do you think?

DON SCHWEITZER, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: I think it is, Jane. Mel is worth a lot of money. If you just Wikipedia him, you`ll find out some of the assets that he has. Paying $750,000, over just a -- I think it`s like a five-year period is a drop in the bucket.

And by the way, he probably would have had to pay that in the custody matter because he`s an extraordinary high earner, and there would have had to be a provision like this. so he made out like a bandit.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She really -- I guess she thought or according to some published reports, they said she thought and was advised she might be able to get more money if she held out, and she ended up with a lot less.

Now, in court, Oksana`s lawyers pulled a huge publicity stunt. You`ve got to check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Educated music in London and Moscow, has a CD, coming out, and has another CD coming out about a year from now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Our producer was there, and everybody started laughing, apparently, because the lawyer for Oksana is promoting her new CD. That to me struck me as one of the strangest things I`ve heard in court, and I`ve heard a lot of strange things, Don.

SCHWEITZER: Jane, I think he was trying to recoup his losses. You know, they had a $15 million deal. Now it`s down to 750,000 over a five- year period. He`s got to do something. You know, he might be on the streets now trying to sell her CDs or something. It`s horrible. The courtroom is obviously not a place for that, and I think it`s really stupid and pretty low.

But don`t feel too sorry for this woman. She gets to live in a mansion for about 16 years, rent free. She -- we don`t know what her child support order is, because that part was not disclosed to the public. It`s likely to be a very large sum.

And the big loser in this case, by the way, Jane, is Mel Gibson`s ex- wife or soon-to-be-ex-wife, because this child support order is likely to impact any alimony or spousal support that she gets.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Even though she stood up for Mel.

SCHWEITZER: Yes. Even so. Because -- because it`s deducted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I will say this. One thing I can say for both of them, Mel and Oksana, you look marvelous.

Aruba next.



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was on this very spot, August 2nd that Gary Giordano, who is the American that`s now in custody, says that he and Robyn Gardner were snorkeling late in the afternoon. And then at one point, they became separated, he came to shore and she apparently did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know each other for a couple of years already, as friends. They met each other I think on a dating site.

SAVIDGE: Authorities here are going through a number of things, first of all, the couple`s rental car to see if there`s any forensic evidence there to be gleaned. And they`re also going through a number of smart phones and maybe a laptop or computer as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently this guy would go online, get to know women in their late 40s, in good shape, attractive women. After he would meet them online, they would meet in person a couple of times, go back to his house and have consensual sex. But what they didn`t know is what that woman was just talking about, they were being videotaped and audiotaped having sex.

RICARD FORESTER, BOYFRIEND OF ROBYN GARDNER: I just don`t think that she was snorkeling. And I feel in my heart that something happened at this person`s hand.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: We`ve got some breaking news to bring you out of Aruba in the Robyn Gardner disappearance. An Aruban judge has now ordered the prime suspect in Robyn`s disappearance to stay in jail for another 60 days -- a victory for those who want to find out what happened to Robyn.

Prosecutors must have new evidence that points the finger at the suspect, Gary Giordano, to justify holding him. So what is that new evidence, that`s what we`re wondering tonight?

There`s somewhat disturbing new information on how Robyn Gardner may have met Gary Giordano. ABC News reporting tonight a friend of Robyn`s told Aruban police that Robyn and Gary met on an adult swingers Web site, which we cannot show you because it is x-rated. It is called We are going to play a clip from it in just a moment.

One month ago today, Robyn and Gary Giordano arrived in Aruba. Two days later, she tragically just vanished. These are some of the last images of Robyn and Gary -- there`s Robyn -- as they left a beach restaurant. Patrons say they were drinking and that Robyn was woozy.

Just hours after these photos were taken, Gary Giordano claims Robyn vanished while they were snorkeling. Many find that explanation suspicious. There is no record of them having -- or at least her having any snorkeling gear. What`s your theory about all this? Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Martin Savidge in Aruba; Martin thank you for joining us from the island. Given the judge`s decision today, what new evidence do you think these prosecutors have that is allowing them to hold Gary Giordano 60 more days?

SAVIDGE: Well, Jane, I mean that`s an excellent question and it`s a question that has everyone buzzing on the island here because the judge didn`t give any explanation. And the prosecution hasn`t come forward to say what new evidence there may be. But clearly there is something strong or some clear, good argument that the prosecution gave because 60 days was like the judge throwing the book at Gary Giordano, and this isn`t even a trial. It was the absolute maximum and it was the most that the prosecution was seeking.

One thing that was very interesting was that this hearing was held in the morning hours, roughly around 9:00 in the morning, yet the judge`s decision didn`t come until about 4:15 in the afternoon. Locals who follow the law here on this island say they have never known a judge to take that long to make a decision. What it was the judge was mulling over, we simply don`t know at this particular point, Jan. But as you say --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there were some new people --

SAVIDGE: -- it has a lot of people thinking they must have a stronger case than many people thought.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have been hearing the last couple days, scratches were found on his neck, there was blood on the beach. He had wet sneakers as he ran around claiming he was looking for her and they had gone scuba diving. But his shorts were dry. He was covered in sweat. He was eerily calm and allegedly uncooperative according to news reports with police. And he also took out a $1.5 million insurance policy on her in case she died accidentally during their trip.

So a lot of, I think, incriminating stuff there, and maybe those are some of the things that they decided to use to hold him more.

We have some new information tonight and you know, I have to say as we introduce this new information we are not in any way, shape or form looking to disparage this victim, this missing woman, Robyn Gardner. What we are trying to do is get to the truth. And wherever that takes us, we`re reporting on it, because it may trigger something, some piece of information that we need to solve this terrible disappearance.

But with that, I have to say that ABC News is reporting tonight that Gary Giordano, the suspect, and Robyn met on an x-rated Web site called Here is a clip from that Web site we pulled for you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met the most amazing guy on last week. We have been having hot sex every day since. I can`t believe finding him was so easy, but with over 30 million members worldwide, Adult Friend Finder has tons of sexy people looking for everything from relationships to a little casual fun.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, claims to be the world`s largest sex and swingers personal community. Now, prior to that, we had heard they had met on a much tamer Web site.

I want to bring in Christina Jones, you`re Robyn Gardner`s best friend and I, again, this is the new information that`s come out. We can`t censor it and say we are not going to cover it because there`s a missing woman here and we are trying to find her. But I know you feel that she has been portrayed in a way that doesn`t reflect who she really is.

What would you like to say about all of this?

CHRISTINA JONES, ROBYN GARDNER`S BEST FRIEND: Well, I think you said it best it`s that she`s a victim. You know, I know that Robyn -- I don`t know that Robyn was on and I really don`t even care at this point.

You know, the bottom line is that she`s missing and I`m trying to find my friend, and that only Gary Giordano knows the truth. And she -- you know, she`s a sister and a human being, a friend, a female. I mean, I think that this is just kind of major sensationalism. She is not here to defend herself. How can she even, you know, it`s going too far I almost feel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I agree that there are a lot of things here that are disturbing about this suspect. Gary Giordano had two restraining orders filed against him, although he was never charged with anything.

ABC News talked to a friend of Robyn`s -- another friend, not Christina, I believe -- who said that Gary Giordano had gotten really angry in the past when Robyn had earlier backed out of a cruise that he invited her on. And that he was texting her and these texts were, quote-unquote, "aggressive and harmful".

And then there`s another woman who experienced Gary Giordano`s aggressive behavior firsthand. Let`s listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was erratic, he was a little violent, like one time I happened to touch his hair by accident and he like literally like yanked my arm really hard. And that was like really scary. And he was, let`s say, quite physically aggressive, inappropriately.

Apparently he has cameras in his house where he videotapes people and has cameras all around his home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go to Richard Forester, who is Robyn Gardner`s boyfriend. This has been hellish for you, I understand, because you didn`t even know she was in Aruba until the nightmare unfolded. You thought she was vacationing, I understand, with her family.

Now we`re hearing these new reports about What are your thoughts, first of all, on the fact that this guy is being held for 60 more days? That`s got to be good news for you, Richard.

FORESTER: It is good news. It is kind of bittersweet. I am really, really glad that`s what we were hoping for. At the same time that doesn`t bring Robyn home yet, and hopefully that`s what the focus is going to be now, you know, while they`re building whatever case they have. Now, hopefully put some more time and effort into locating Robyn.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, I have to ask you this question. You didn`t know that she was going down there. And again, I am doing this to try to solve this, not to embarrass somebody who can`t speak out for herself. And obviously this has been difficult for her family as well. Do you think there was some kind of duality there with Robyn, that she didn`t tell you? She said this guy was her gay friend and that they were just acquaintances.

We know that photos were found on Gary Giordano`s camera, that were described as, quote-unquote, "beyond pornographic" of Robyn, and in fact the top cop in Aruba has spoken about this. Here he is from NBC. So let`s listen to him for a second.


TACO STEIN, SOLICITOR GENERAL IN ARUBA: What I`ve heard about it is that there is no indication that there`s talk of duress in the pictures, but I cannot dwell upon what`s in the camera, what kind of pictures they are.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And then Richard, there`s the Ambien sleeping pills that were prescribed to Robyn that were found in her hotel room.

Let me bring it back to Christina. Did you know her to take Ambien?

JONES: I have never seen her take pills before. I mean, I know a lot of people that take something to help them sleep at night, you know, but I have never -- I never even knew that she took pills. I wouldn`t even know how she would take time off to go to the doctor because she worked so much. This is all mind-boggling.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Richard, did you know her to take Ambien, because if you take an Ambien, somebody can knock you out and take photos of you and you wouldn`t even know it.

FORESTER: Yes, of course. What I`ve said before is I`ve never known her to take Ambien during the middle of the day. Again what I said before is -- let`s go on his word a second. She takes Ambien for the day -- or in the middle of the day, then he gives her vodka, then he is going to take her snorkeling. Who does that? I don`t get that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It`s really disturbing.

FORESTER: It is mind blowing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And again, Christina, I know you`re here, and Richard, to try to solve this. We want it, too. We want to find Robyn Gardner.

FORESTER: That`s the bottom line.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That`s the bottom line.

All right. Thank you, thank you all, fantastic panel. We`re going to stay on top of this.

All right, we`re going to talk exclusively to a very close friend of the man who committed suicide who was the estranged husband of Taylor Armstrong of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills", in just a moment. What`s the inside story? We`re going to find out.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reality TV likes nothing more than drama. And this is drama.

TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": Thankfully, I have five strong women that are standing next to me now and they`ve got my back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The friend went over through the back window and saw him hang there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chilling new revelations in the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" suicide shocker.

ARMSTRONG: A lot of the issues in my marriage are definitely addressed this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Physical abuse and debt, those are things that can be made up by producers.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Russell was terrified how he would be portrayed in the upcoming season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The show characterized him as someone that abused his spouse.

DUNCAN ROY, "SEX REHAB WITH DR. DREW": I think Bravo will end up showing him, because frankly reality TV has at its core no heart.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More breaking news for you tonight. You might say the show will go on. Bravo has decided to premier the new season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" on Monday as planned, despite Russell Armstrong`s suicide two weeks ago. And he, married to one of the housewives. They were going through some problems. There they are, having dinner. There she is, Taylor.

Cast mates opened up about Russell`s death, his suicide, during a special they taped this week. Taylor, who you`re looking at, was not there. She was grieving. Russell`s best friend joins me in just a moment for an ISSUES exclusive. I am going to ask him what does he think Bravo should do with all the footage of Russell?

When I posed that question to Russell`s devastated mother, she didn`t pull any punches. Here`s what she told me.


JOHN ANN HOTCHKISS, RUSSELL ARMSTRONG`S MOTHER: I better not see one frame. I better not hear one frame. And that goes for all the family. We are circling the wagons.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bravo says they are still re-editing the new season of "Real Housewives". So what`s the likelihood they will honor the family`s wishes and edit him out completely?

Russell was facing divorce, accusations of domestic abuse, escalating money problems when he hanged himself August 15th. Taylor -- you`re looking at there -- his estranged wife was with Russell`s friend when he called 911 after discovering the body.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hasn`t been responding to anybody for the last three days. And we just came up to the house and we finally went in there. And that`s it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there`s a new shocker. Are the deaths of Russell and this other man, his business associate connected? The other man, Alan Schram committed suicide just one day after Russell killed himself. RadarOnline reporting Taylor wants the FBI to investigate to see if there`s a possible link.

Straight out to Randy Edwards -- this is my exclusive interview -- Randy, you were Russell`s best friend since 14. And I want to thank you for coming on the show. I know this has got to be a nightmare for you, but I know you want to speak out for your friend who cannot speak for himself any more.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What is your reaction to Bravo`s decision to go through with Monday`s premier?

EDWARDS: Well, I mean they`re just taking advantage of all the free publicity. I mean most of the world likes to see a train wreck. And the media, I mean it`s been everywhere. They`re just taking advantage of a bad situation, and there`s no reason to go through with it on Monday.

I mean, it just happened. It`s fresh. I mean it`s showing no respect for Russ whatsoever. I mean Bravo doesn`t -- they don`t have the best intentions of -- they`re saying the Armstrong family, they`re keeping them in mind. I mean, they could care less about the Armstrong family right now. All they`re worried about is ratings. They see the ratings.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I do want to say that they are going to be running some public service announcements, vis-a-vis suicide prevention on these episodes. Does that in any way offer you any solace, Randy?

EDWARDS: I think that`s damage control -- damage control. I`ve heard that other cast members are going to talk about them as a group. They wanted Taylor to leave Russ earlier because it was a known secret that there was abuse.

Well, on a show like that, I mean, there`s paparazzi everywhere. I think TMZ is on their set. You`re telling me that would have been plastered all over the place. It`s just hard for me to believe.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all, we have an exclusive comment tonight from Russell`s mother who called us right before the show and said, quote, "When I was informed of this, I thought -- I hope Bravo will take the high road and keep it tasteful. Let`s not murder my son twice."

Do you agree, do you think there`s any way, any way at all that Bravo can do this first episode and the entire season and keep it tasteful? And if so, will they have to edit Russell out? Have they? On the other side.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s going through a divorce and he`s living at a friend`s house. And he locked his door, the friend went over through the back window and saw him hanging there and that`s it. And we don`t know how long it has been because last time we all saw him was Friday.

Oh, my God.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the 911 call from a friend who discovered Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" Taylor Armstrong hanging by the neck. Let`s take a look at Taylor and Russell on the last season of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".


T. ARMSTRONG: Russell has never, ever, ever stayed home with Kennedy on the weekend alone.

RUSSELL ARMSTRONG, COMMITTED SUICIDE: Look, I don`t know what to make if you don`t help me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And just one day after Russell took his own life, and his mom said he was upset about how he was being portrayed on the show, but also had business problems, money problems, and was getting a divorce, his friend and business associate Alan Schram -- you`re looking at him -- committed suicide as well.

So Dylan Howard, senior executive RadarOnline and "Star" magazine, it is hard to believe these two deaths are a coincidence. What do you know?

DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE, RADARONLINE: It is hard to believe, so much so that Taylor Armstrong as we understand it has decided to go through some of the Russell`s private papers relating to his financial dealings and his business dealings in a bid and a desperate search to find out possibly whether or not there is a connection between his suicide and Alan Schram. What we know is that both gentlemen were members of an exclusive and elite club called Tiger 21.

There is no allegation of impropriety on behalf of Tiger 21, it ought to be noted. But the two men were part of this fraternity, if you like, that analyzed each other`s financial portfolios.

In that desperate search for answers, Taylor is seeking to turn over some information to the FBI to see whether indeed, there is something more sinister behind these two men`s deaths.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dylan, what do you make of Bravo saying they`re going to proceed with the September 5th premiere of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"? The episodes were filmed months ago. The producers of the show taped a brief interview this week with several cast members to introduce the premiere, re-editing of the episodes under way. Do you think, Dylan, they`re editing Russell out entirely or not?

HOWARD: Well, I think they -- if they edit Russell out, they need to edit out Taylor in her entirety. I don`t think they will do that. They`re not going to do that.

But as I understand it, Russell doesn`t feature in the premiere episode, regardless, even before this tragic suicide. Interestingly enough, this is a no-win situation for the network. Even by airing those public service announcements as you heard from Russell`s friend, there was criticism that it is damage control. They`re never going to be able to please anyone in this instance.

The only good that can be done of this is that in some capacity it generates a level of after care about reality television and people get the necessary counseling services that they can get.

I can also tell you tonight, Jane, that we have released a story today from Cedric Martinez who was a co-star in season one of "The Beverly Hills". And he said that in one of Russell`s final conversations with him, Russell told him that producers got what they finally wanted, the breakdown of a marriage on national television and he called the co-stars of the show hideous. They were Russell`s final words according to Cedric Martinez.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. Thank you so much, Randy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: With the revolution in Libya, we have seen so many heart-breaking images of what happens to the people under the Gadhafi regime, but something that`s gotten a lot less attention, what is happening to the animals in Libya. The country`s zoo has been abandoned. These poor creatures starving to death, reports no one has fed them for seven days straight. The lions in the worst shape, even on the days they get fed, they apparently just get a morsel or two.

I do not believe in zoos in any way, shape or form. Animals do not belong in cages to be viewed by humans. But it is really torture to lock up these majestic creatures and not even given the basic care, food and water. Now,, International Fund for Animal Welfare, looking into this; as soon as we get any information on how you can help these poor animals we will immediately post that on Facebook. But go to to follow this situation.

"NANCY GRACE" is up next.