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Did Ex-Boyfriend Murder Missing Teen?

Aired September 8, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, stunning new revelations in the horrifying disappearance of a teen, almost five years ago. Now that missing girl`s ex-boyfriend pleads guilty in an attack on his current pregnant girlfriend. Did he also confess to killing his missing ex? I`ll talk exclusively to the missing girl`s devastated parents.

Then, Cindy and George reportedly drop a bombshell new theory about how little Caylee died. Is this the new explanation Dr. Phil was hinting at? And you won`t believe what Caylee`s former fiance is up to now.

And would you dress your 3-year-old daughter like a prostitute? A pageant princess`s mom allegedly did just that on "Toddlers & Tiaras." What was she thinking? We want to hear from you.

And it`s day one of the Michael Jackson death trial. Will the King of Pop`s fans try to do whatever it takes to sneak on the jury and avenge their idol`s death? We`re taking your calls.

ISSUES starts now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, we know nothing. I mean, like she has vanished. All the tips that have come in have led to nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kara went to Belton High School on May 4, her parents say with every intention of returning home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve been investigating this case almost four years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kara did not have a history of running away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re looking into the possibility of a connection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody has to know where my daughter is. Somebody has to know what happened to her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the war on women tonight. The ex- boyfriend of a missing Missouri teenager pleads guilty to beating his new girlfriend. But did he also confess to murder?

Good evening, everyone. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from New York City.

I`ve got very disturbing news tonight. But it`s also possible we`ve got a break in a very cold case.

Seventeen-year-old Kara Kopetsky went missing almost five years ago, but a week before she vanished, she took out a restraining order against her boyfriend, this guy. There he is. Look at that. Look at the tattoos. Look at the hair. Look at him. Study this guy. This boyfriend, Kylr Yust just got arrested again. Cops said he brutally beat up his new girlfriend, an 18-year-old girl who was pregnant, reportedly, with his twins, choking the victim until she was unconscious. He pleaded guilty to domestic abuse.

And guess what? This makes me sick to my stomach. He got probation. Probation! Not a night in jail, as punishment. This is junk justice.

Kansas City reporter Russ Ptacek caught up with this guy outside court. Listen to this.




PTACEK: Can you tell us what happened to the Kara Kopetsky case?

YUST: I didn`t know there was a case.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he feigned innocence. But according to police, in a police report, he told his girlfriend, quote, "I`ve killed people before, even ex-girlfriends, out of sheer jealousy," end quote. Might he have been referring to the missing Kara Kopetsky?

Joining me tonight in an ISSUES exclusive, Kara`s frantic parents, Rhonda and James Beckford.

Thank you both for being here tonight. I know the last four and a half years have been living hell for you both. And I know you`re here because you want your daughter to see justice. You want to find out what happened to her. What is your reaction? And I`ll start with James Beckford, if I may call you James, sir. What is your reaction, James, to Kylr Yust allegedly saying that he has killed girlfriends before?

JAMES BECKFORD, FATHER OF KARA: With everything that happened this week and with the statement we saw in the police report, it`s definitely raised the bar on the suspicions that we have had about him. The -- you know, and the things that have transpired this week, I mean, they`re all his actions. And it`s shocking, disturbing, and, you know -- but we hope it will lead to the answer that we`re looking for, and that`s Kara.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, do you want authorities to reopen the case? Apparently, there is some kind of -- maybe we`ll go to the reporter on this. Russ Ptacek, reporter, KHSB, there is some kind of alibi this guy has in relation to the disappearance of Kara Kopetsky? What do you know?

PTACEK: Well, I know that 4 1/2 years ago, police in Belton told us that he not only had an alibi, but he passed a lie detector test, and at that time, they said that he was cooperating in the investigation. A lot of things have changed since then over the past 4 1/2 years. He has been harder and harder to find until this big case blew up where we find him again involved in allegations of abuse. This time he was found guilty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What does this guy do? I mean, how does he make a living?

PTACEK: Well, when he was a kid, at the time that he was seeing Kara, he was -- you know, he dreamed of being a rock star and he was in a band. Right now, he spends his time putting tattoos on people and he`s -- his full upper torso and arms and neck are all tattoos now, too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, according to the police report, Yust allegedly told his girlfriend, quote, "If you scream again, I will kill you faster than you can let out another scream out of your throat." And then he pleaded guilty.

But this judge gave him no jail time, just two years probation. The judge said he was giving Yust, quote, "a gift from the justice system."

I`ve got to go to Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor. Why the hell did the judge give this creep, if I may say so, a gift? We haven`t even gotten to his killing the kittens yet. That`s coming up in a second.

The judge lectures this guy, like a lecture is going to have any impact on him whatsoever, saying things like, "OH, next time you come down here, you`re going to get a broken arm. You`re going to jail, son. As far as you`re concerned, she doesn`t exist anymore. Leave her alone."

Do you really think any those words have an impact on this guy, Stacey Honowitz?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Do you see my face, a blank stare? And basically, I have nothing to say, which is very hard to imagine. But I am speechless, because I cannot believe that anybody would get this type of plea deal.

Now, there are times when witnesses won`t come forward and prosecutors` hands are absolutely tied, because the victim of domestic violence says, "I`m not coming into court. You have to do what you have to do."

In this case, what words, they lay on deaf ears for a person like this. So I don`t know why this deal was made the way it was, I don`t know what the victim had to say, what her input was, if she had anything to say about this, but certainly, it is a miscarriage of justice when you see this type of plea struck for a defendant of this kind of charge.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He choked her, according to the police report, until she passed out. Rhonda Beckford, you`re the mother of a missing teenager who used to date this creep. Kara Kopetsky has been missing, your precious daughter, for more than four years. Do you think that he should have been charged with something more serious? Let`s say making terrorist threats, attempted murder? I`m just listing possibilities off the top of my head.

RHONDA BECKFORD, KARA`S MOTHER: Well, you know, according to the court documents, you know, they listed everything that he did. And I don`t know why the court didn`t give him a harder sentence than they did. Because two years probation is supervised, and he also has to attend an anger management class. I mean, definitely, I wish he could have possibly served some jail time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can look at me, ma`am, right toward me. I think you`re looking at -- you can`t? All right. Now, let me ask you this. What have these 4 1/2 years been like for you, Rhonda?

R. BECKFORD: Well, when you don`t know where your daughter is, you know, every day seems like an eternity, and the 4 1/2 years that I`ve spent not knowing where Kara is has been a living hell.

And it`s like you`re stuck in limbo. You can`t move forward. You don`t have a grave to visit. It`s -- it`s perpetual limbo, and it`s just a horrible existence, not anything I would wish on anyone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen to this. It`s this guy, Yust, in 2007, after that woman`s daughter, Kara`s, disappearance.


YUST: They said that I wasn`t -- that I was a suspect because of prior -- because of prior happenings, not because of anything that would point to me having anything to do with her disappearing now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: By the way, we`ve been unable to reach any kind of attorney he may have. We don`t know that he even has an attorney. But his attorney or he is invited on any time to tell their side of the story. We`d love to have him on. I have a few questions for him.

James Beckford, police say he passed a lie detector test in connection with your daughter`s disappearance and that he also had an alibi. What is your understanding of this guy`s alibi, and do you buy it?

J. BECKFORD: Well, I mean, as far -- as far as the alibi, like I said, you know, supposedly, he was some place with his grandfather. And they had, like, a bill or a receipt to document it.

But when you look back at the time frame that Kara left school, from the time frame that he was supposedly with his grandfather, you know, there`s a window of opportunity in there, in my opinion.

And you know, and as far as the lie detector test, I mean, I was subjected to one. I took the FBI lie detector test. And it was hell. I mean, but I did what I had to do. You know, if -- and I`ll do what I have to do, but, you know, the thing I don`t understand is if he didn`t have anything to do with Kara`s disappearance, why is he unwilling -- why does he say, "Talk to my attorney or, you know, talk to my lawyer, you know." And Kara`s missing for more than four years.

He`s -- you know, he hasn`t been there for her. I`ve talked to him four times, and the last two times, they weren`t pleasant, you know. I mean, it just didn`t go well. I mean, you know, if you didn`t have anything to do with anything, I mean, why aren`t you trying to clear your name and man up and be a man?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Didn`t your daughter get a restraining order or attempt to get a restraining order against this guy? Tell us about that. Why?

J. BECKFORD: Yes. She had an ex-parte because, you know, the case -- I mean, from what we saw in that police report, to what was in Kara`s ex- parte, you know, in Kara`s own words, you know, "He choked me. He wouldn`t let me out of my house. He..."

R. BECKFORD: Abducted me from work.

J. BECKFORD: Took her. And...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He also, according to cops, choked this girl. So if you`re saying your daughter said he choked her, she disappears, and now he`s accused of choking this girl, I don`t understand, Stacey Honowitz, why cops didn`t use this arrest as an opportunity to revisit this. What the heck is going on here?

HONOWITZ: Again, notice the blank stare. I don`t know! I can`t understand. You know, so many times cases are cold and then five, six, seven, ten years later, something surfaces to make them reopen, reinvestigate, and they find their answers. And that`s what they should be doing.

You have a pattern here. You had a restraining order which fit the bill of what happened in this case. And they should reopen. They should re-look, and they should be talking to witnesses and investigating again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to tell you how he killed, allegedly, kittens. OK? And what does that mean about his capacity for alleged violence?

On top of that, later in our show, we`re going to talk about "Toddlers & Tiaras." Outrage over this TLC show. You won`t believe the way these girls are dressing up. One mom has admitted to dressing up her daughter in the costume of a famous prostitute. The child is 3 years old. I am taking your calls on this. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, what do you think? 1- 877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe I did not give it as much thought as I should have, but it was meant to be and actually was hilarious. It was the funniest thing I`ve ever seen.




YUST: They said I was suspect because of prior happenings, not because of anything that would point me having to do with her disappearing now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is that guy walking around tonight? Why did he get probation after pleading guilty to domestic violence, choking his girlfriend? His other girlfriend has been missing since shortly after getting a restraining order against him.

I am speaking with her, the missing girl`s parents tonight. I want to get your reaction, James Beckford, the father of the missing teen, to the fact that this guy also allegedly killed or actually pleaded guilty, I think, to killing several kittens. We`re going to show you some kittens, not the kittens involved, obviously, but it gives you an idea that he smashed one either against either the floor or a wall, put two others in a bag and tossed them into a creek.

According to the girlfriend, the current one in the police report, he said the kittens didn`t deserve to live. Your reaction, sir, to that?

J. BECKFORD: I was shocked. I mean, I was sickened. But it describes who he is and what his personality is and the type of mentality he has. You know, Kylr is, in my opinion, you know, that`s controlling and manipulative. I mean, that`s what we saw and experienced. And you know, Kara told us. You know, and like I say, everything that`s happened, I mean, it just raises flags.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sir, we are going to stay on top of this case. We`re calling the cops. We want to find out what`s going on with your daughter`s disappearance. It will not become a cold case. You can count on that. We`re staying on top of it. Thank you -- thank you very much, Mr. and Mrs. Beckford.

J. BECKFORD: Thank you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson.


MICHAEL JACKSON, KING OF POP: This is it. This is the final -- this is the final curtain call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a gentleman here that needs help, and he`s not breathing.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Michael Jackson, the King of Pop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was taken to the hospital. And there were rumors...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He`s not breathing, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And he`s not conscious either?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not conscious, sir.


JERMAINE JACKSON, MICHAEL`S BROTHER: Legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson passed away on Thursday, June 25.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anybody witness what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just the doctor, sir.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s already getting crazy, people. Today, first day of jury selection in the Michael Jackson manslaughter trial. The judge has instructed jurors not to talk to anyone, not even by telepathic communication. That`s what the judge said. What? It`s already getting a little kooky. Always happens. The Jackson fans have been known to be a tad eccentric themselves. We all remember them jamming outside the MJ child molestation trial.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is innocent!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is innocent!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is innocent!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t think anybody had their Ouija boards out in court today. but I think this judge was just being facetious to make a point. If you area a juror, do not communicate about this case with anyone, not even telepathically, or you`re in serious trouble.

I want to go straight out to Jean Casarez, correspondent "In Session," TruTV. You were in court today, Jean. Give us the good news. What happened, basically?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION: I think one of the headlines was in the jury assembly room, which I got to sit in and I won one of the five public seats to sit in there and look at this maze of 160 prospective jurors.

And when the judge entered, along with the parties, he first of all asked anybody in that room, "Have you not heard of the case of "The State of California versus Conrad Murray, prosecutors alleging he caused the death of Michael Jackson?" Not one person raised their hand. Everybody in the room had heard the case.

So that`s where the judge started this morning, and that`s where he went into that admonition order, talking just as you said, that if anyone spoke about this case, researched this case, looked it up in the dictionary, looked it up in the Bible, he said, that they could suffer contempt of court and jail time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jean, there`s no Propofol in the Bible. More next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t personally believe there`s any way that Michael could have died from swallowing the Propofol. He would need a much larger dose and likely is that the majority of the Propofol would have been inactivated if he took it by mouth. I don`t think that this theory makes any sense.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. The defense is claiming Michael Jackson may have OD`d on Propofol by injecting it himself, but the search warrant and affidavit says that Dr. Conrad Murray, the defendant, said that Jackson kept demanding repeatedly that he give him Propofol. So Brian Oxman, attorney for Joe Jackson, the late King of Pop`s father, do you buy the idea that he, Michael Jackson, could have had extra Propofol in an orange juice container and chug-a-lugged it himself?

BRIAN OXMAN, ATTORNEY FOR JOE JACKSON: No, not at all, Jane. This is all based on the fact that there were traces of Propofol found in Michael Jackson`s stomach when the coroner did the autopsy, and we had consulted doctors to find out where is that from?

And they point out there are three lacerations in Michael`s stomach. And those lacerations were postmortem, in other words, after he died. They came from pumping his chest and stomach, and the vigorous massage caused the stomach lining to tear. They believe that the Propofol leaked in through those lacerations in his stomach, and that`s what the prosecution is going to argue. To suggest that Michael Jackson drank Propofol, which burns, I`m sorry, Jane, it just doesn`t fly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Amy Singer, trial consultant who worked on the Casey Anthony case, do you think jurors will like Dr. Conrad Murray?

AMY SINGER, TRIAL CONSULTANT: I`m not sure whether they`re going to like him or not. But I will tell you this, that the most important variable so far is whether or not people like Michael Jackson. It seems as though those individuals who are Michael Jackson fans think he`s guilty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Think Dr. Conrad Murray is guilty?

SINGER: That`s correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. So you did a lot of social media investigation, 40,000 blogs and tweets, during the Casey Anthony case. You came up with this idea that, oh, people don`t like George so much. Turns out the defense focused on George. How will social media impact how this trial goes?

SINGER: I`m not sure that they`re going to be doing a social media analytics. I hope that they are. It will drive the demonstrative evidence in the case. It will drive the theories in the case. It will drive the cross-examination in the case.

You know, people, when they blog and when they tweet, they`re very good. You know, you can`t get something past 40,000 people. So we got a tweet today, for example, because I`ve been monitoring the trial. Somebody said there`s an inconsistency that I don`t think anybody`s picked up on, which is he supposedly gave him the dose of the milk of amnesia, left the room. OK? Now, he gave him the dose; the guy`s unconscious. How did he get up and drink it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I said. That`s what I said. He only gave him 25 milligrams, and that only keeps him asleep for three to five minutes. I said, well, why, if somebody`s begging to go to sleep, so they can sleep for hours, is somebody going to give them a dose of 25 milligrams that will only keep him asleep for three to five minutes.

Additionally, he gave him the same dose a couple nights before, and he slept well, meaning more than four to five minutes. So something doesn`t add up here. And gosh, I think, Brian Oxman, is this going to rival -- 10 seconds -- the child molestation trial?

OXMAN: It seems -- it`s not going to rival the child molestation trial, but this has got Michael Jackson`s fans up in arms. And that`s what the big worry is, Jane, about people who are...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. Thank you!




JOSE BAEZ, CASEY ANTHONY`S ATTORNEY: Have you ever sexually molested your daughter, Casey Anthony?


CINDY ANTHONY, MOTHER OF CASEY ANTHONY: We`re going to look in every nook and cranny until I find her.

DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL SHOW": She was out partying. She was laughing. She was joking with people when allegedly her child`s body was in the trunk of her car.

GEORGE ANTHONY: Shut-up. Shut-up. Shut-up.

Casey was the last one I saw with Caylee. One and one adds up to two, sir, in my mind.

CINDY ANTHONY: You call for a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) one more time.


CINDY ANTHONY: I started looking at chlorophyll and that prompted me to look up chloroform.

CASEY ANTHONY: I just want to let everyone know I`m sorry for what I did.

Sorry, sorry.

CROWD: Justice for Caylee. Justice for Caylee. Justice for Caylee.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL: A new day and, well, could be a new excuse for the parents of Casey Anthony. It seems like Cindy and George are once again doing what they`ve done before, making excuses for their daughter.

Rumors now flying about the bombshell Dr. Phil interview that is going to air this coming Monday --


MCGRAW: I want you to answer my questions, tell the truth once and for all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Casey Anthony`s parents.

MCGRAW: America`s never heard this explanation before. Why have you sat on this information?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s that new explanation?

Tonight, new reports claim Cindy and George are saying that Casey may have been having a seizure while little Caylee was drowning in the family pool. They say Casey had a history of seizures. But didn`t even Casey Anthony ridicule the whole drowning -- pool drowning theory back when she was still in jail awaiting trial? Remember this?


CINDY ANTHONY: Well, someone just said Caylee was dead this morning; that she drowned in the pool. That`s the newest story out there.

CASEY ANTHONY: Surprise, surprise.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Surprise, surprise. Are you as confused as I am?

During the trial, George said there was no accidental drowning. He never found little Caylee drowning in the swimming pool as the defense claimed. Now, reports claim Cindy and George are going to say that it was a pool accident after all.

Taking your calls on this; do you really think this is what happened to Caylee? 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Levi Page, crime blogger Internet radio host, you`ve been following this all along. Do you buy it?

LEVI PAGE, INTERNET RADIO HOST: Well, Jane, I think that it`s very hard to believe that this is what happened because what would be the normal reaction of someone after a child drowns in the swimming pool? You duct tape their mouth and nose and you put them in three trash bags and then dump them out in a swamp to rot? Why not just call 911, if it was a seizure and say, look, I was having a seizure and my 2-year-old drowned.

So I think what we`re seeing again is George and Cindy Anthony covering up for Casey once again. The question is, are they in denial? They don`t want to accept their daughter did something sinister to their granddaughter or are they covering up to make Casey Anthony look good to defend her, knowing the truth and they`re purposely lying. I think that that`s what the big question is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But let me just say this. There are published reports that Casey does have a history of seizures. That she suffered at least two additional seizures: one while home on bond back in 2008 and another while incarcerated between 2008 and 2011.

So Cindy Anthony is reportedly pointing to this as evidence that she had a mental health condition that may have incapacitated her while little Caylee was drowning in the swimming pool incident. And that it also may make it difficult for Casey to sort out fact from fiction. Whoa.

Dr. Dale Archer, since when do seizures make it difficult for someone to sort out fact from fiction?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, Jane, a simple answer is they don`t. And if she was having a seizure, when little Caylee was drowning, then she would have been unconscious, ok? But when you wake up from a seizure, it`s not like you`re in an alternate universe. You`re a little fatigued, slightly confused. But if you`re a mom and see your child in the pool, you`re going to be calling 911, getting them out of the pool and doing CPR if you know how do it.

She didn`t do any of those things. So I would say the seizure is irrelevant. It`s what she did if she had one, after the seizure and anyway you look at it that was grossly inappropriate if this is really what happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this isn`t the first time we see George and Cindy protect their daughter Casey. Recap and review.


BAEZ: You love your daughter more than anything in the world?


BAEZ: And you would do anything to protect her?


LINDA DRANE-BURDICK, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Were you on that Web site 84 times?

CINDY ANTHONY: I was on it several times.

DRANE-BURDICK: Were you on that Web site 84 times?

CINDY ANTHONY: I don`t know. I don`t know. They need to look up how many times I was on the chlorophyll Web site and compare it to the chloroform Web site.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Even though there were problems with that 84 times, there were many who believed that Cindy perjured herself on the stand to try to protect her daughter and take ownership of incriminating Internet searches that prosecutors believe Casey actually made.

There`s a great book, "Is it Love or is it Co-Dependency?"

Stacey Honowitz, are these co-dependent parents who continue to enable their daughter by trying justify and rationalize and justify her behavior?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Absolutely Jane. You`re not going to have parents go on the air with Dr. Phil and admit to the public that they raised a sociopath because basically, that`s what they have on their hand.

And so they have to band together at this juncture and try to hang their hat, try to find justification for her behavior and it also sets up something for them that later on if they reunify with her, that the public might think well, she had a seizures and she had a problem and so its normal for these parents to take her back into the home.

And this is all a setup. Like I said, it`s not the type of thing where somebody is going to come out and say her sociopathic behavior caused her to kill our grandchild. What you see is protection and enabling all over again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Donita, Indiana, your question or thought, Donita?

DONITA, INDIANA (via telephone): Hi.


DONITA: My name is Donita. And I like -- I love your show.


DONITA: But she didn`t have no seizure and the baby didn`t drown in the pool. Casey Anthony was a party animal. And I believe that she killed her baby. There`s no excuse for why she was in the woods. There is no excuse for what George and Cindy are trying to do to make themselves look good. I don`t believe they had nothing to do with it but they have an issue with embarrassment. So therefore -- excuse me?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re so right, in the sense that most people agree with you, they don`t buy any of it. Even though she was acquitted, we have to point out, found not guilty of murder and all the other serious counts that involve the death of her daughter.

So Dr. Dale Archer, why are the parents doing this, do you think, if in fact this is their theory which is what published reports claim they are going to say. We don`t know. We have to watch Dr. Phil. We`re all going to watch Dr. Phil on Monday and we`ll tell you what exactly they do say. But assuming this report is correct.

ARCHER: I agree with Stacey. And I think that quite frankly, if they were trying to help out their daughter, they would say nothing. They wouldn`t be doing these interviews. They would be lying low. They would be letting the dust settle and letting everyone get on with their life.

Instead, they keep dragging it up over and over and over and so therefore you have to postulate, it`s their pathology. They`re doing this for themselves to make themselves feel better to try to give an explanation to the world when in reality they`re trying to give an explanation to themselves.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I have to say, it`s just another little chapter in a saga, a soap opera that never ends. But at the heart of it is a huge, horrible tragedy, the death of a little child. So my heart does go out to Cindy and George because they lost their granddaughter and who knows how any of us would behave in the same circumstances.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

We`ve got some breaking news to bring you on a story we covered just yesterday. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had no history of depression, no psychological problems, no suicidal ideation, she was fine.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the death of a mogul`s girlfriend at his multimillion dollar mansion. Pharmaceutical tycoon Jonah Shacknai is reportedly now threatening to sue his dead girlfriend`s family if their lawyer doesn`t stop talking.

Apparently he is not pleased with her publicly raising questions, which she has done on this show and many others about how Rebecca Zahau -- the woman you`re looking at there, along with Jonah Shacknai, the mogul -- how that woman`s death could be ruled a suicide.

And he is also unhappy with the suggestion that he may have improperly influenced the investigation which he says is absolutely false and untrue. Cops say Rebecca was found naked, bound, gagged, hanging from a balcony just two days after Shacknai`s son suffered fatal head injuries from a fall at the mansion while Rebecca was watching the child.

So was she guilty? Did she commit suicide because she felt responsible for the child`s ultimately fatal injuries? The autopsy report says there were hemorrhages under her scalp and tape residue on her legs not to mention a sinister message painted in black on a bedroom door near her body that said, "She saved him, can you save her?"

We`re going to stay on top of this bizarre story. And, of course, anyone from the Shacknai family who wants to come on or representatives or lawyers, they`re invited on our show to tell their side of the story. We want to be fair.

All right. A 3-year-old dressed as a prostitute. What? What`s this pageant mom trying to prove? And is she damaging her daughter emotionally and psychologically? 1-877-JVM-SAYS. What do you think about this toddler`s hooker costume? 1-877-586-7297.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at those little angels. You know, it`s one thing for an adult woman to compete in a pageant. They can make that choice themselves. But tonight, a firestorm over young girls being sent by their mothers to take part in beauty contests and one of them is dressed as a prostitute.

Watch this: your jaw will hit the floor. In an episode of TLC`s "Toddlers and Tiaras", one mom dresses up her 3-year-old daughter as a hooker. Not kidding.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes "Pretty Woman", Paisley.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They dressed Paisley like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman", as a prostitute. And I would never ever do that to my little girl, ever.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Ok. Don`t take our word for it. Let`s take a look at Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" from Touchstone pictures. And this was the basis for this little girl`s costume. Her mother doesn`t think there`s anything wrong with dressing up her 3-year-old daughter in a hooker outfit made famous by the world`s best known fictional hooker.

Ok. There she is, right there. There she is. And you just saw the little girl. What do you think? Way too sexy, way too soon? Call me. 1- 877-JVM-SAYS.

Melissa Henson, Parents Television council, what do you say?

MELISSA HENSON, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL: Well, I think, clearly this was a poor choice and it`s I think symptomatic of this problem that we`re seeing of the sexualization of really very young girls. You know, it used to be a decade ago parents had to worry about their teenagers going to the mall and picking up hip-hugger jeans. Now, you have to worry about marketers selling push-up padded bikini tops to 8-year-olds and butt-toning sneakers to second graders.

The lower edge of sexuality keeps getting pushed back and back and back. I think it`s very tragic and it`s going to have a tragic outcome for a generation of girls.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes because they`re getting very, very confused. Check this out from "Toddlers and Tiara". Look at how one girl is dressed up like Dolly Parton, including fake breasts. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our next contestant we`d like to welcome Mattie to the stage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As judges, we all thought it was cute that Mattie came in dressed as Dolly Parton. Put a little stuffing in and she looked the part.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Put a little stuffing in? Put a little stuffing in your mouth. All right. These pageants feature kids with fake teeth, fake breasts, fake buttocks, fake eyelashes, fake tans, fake -- I mean Roger Neil, you`re my good buddy from a long time ago, it`s good to see you, by the way.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`ve been involved in pageants since 1987. But something has changed here. I think I remember Jose Baez saying during the Casey Anthony trial, something`s wrong here. Something`s not right.

NEIL: It`s true. It`s true, Jane. You know, I think some parents will do anything to make their kids famous. But I think -- And I`ve been in Hollywood for 30 years. And nothing really surprises me.

But when I saw this, I was just appalled. This mother went too far to try to get her daughter attention. This is sending the wrong message. This is just sending the wrong message. This girl should not have been dressed like this. If she wanted to emulate Julia Roberts, she could have done it with the beautiful tiara, "Toddlers and Tiaras" the show -- she could have put a tiara on her head like Julia Roberts did in a movie with the beautiful dress. She didn`t have go for the hooker look. I think that was really horrible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. How about "Eat, Pray, Love"? How about just have her munch on some Italian vegetables. "Eat, Pray, Love". I mean why does it have to be the hooker outfit from "Pretty Woman"?

NEAL: These young girls have enough -- young kids today have enough to deal with. When you`re putting them in front of television cameras, they`re on a television show, they already have a lot to deal with. When you`re portraying them as a hooker, you`re setting them up I think in their minds to think something negative about themselves, which they shouldn`t be. It should be a very positive experience.

And I think what this young girl is going to have to deal with now and her mom is all the negativity that`s going to come their way from what she did. And the girl is an innocent kid but the mom should have known better.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The mother should have known better because the kid doesn`t know what a hooker is, I hope. I hope she doesn`t know the facts of life.

And on "The View" this morning, Sherri Shepherd said it best. Listen to what she had to say. This is true, I think.


SHERRI SHEPHERD, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": 18-year-old girls are not watching 3-year-old girls trying to dress like an 18-year-old girl, but pedophiles do. If you think a pedophile is not watching this show, I have a bridge I want to sell you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kim Serafin, senior editor of "In Touch", agree?

KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH": Yes. I mean obviously, if you`re upset about the hooker costume or the Dolly Parton costume, you should also be upset about the other costumes that these girls go on stage wearing. I mean to me there doesn`t seem to be a huge difference, you know, them wearing bikinis or some of the other --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s the hooker angle.

More in a second.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Julia Roberts happens to be my favorite actress of all time. So I decided to go with Julia Roberts. And of course, my favorite Julia Roberts movie is "Pretty Woman". So I tried to figure out what kind of character I could do "Pretty Woman" to be nonsexual, just funny, hilarious, comical and this is the routine that I came up with.

But at the end of the routine that was shown, Paisley went behind the prop and we did a really, really quick change of outfit, and she put on the reformed Julia Roberts in the brown and white polka dots and came back out and did the rest of her pageant and it was very, very comical.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Comical, nonsexual? I mean, look. I don`t think this mother is evil. She`s trying to do her best. But I think the bottom line is kids aren`t toys. They`re not property. You can`t just dress them up because it`s comical. This has an impact on them psychologically. It will have an impact on them when they become adults and they become sexual beings.

Bobbie in Florida, your question or thought, Bobbie.

BOBBIE, FLORIDA (via telephone): My thought is, I find nothing amusing about that. I find it disgusting. I have two beautiful granddaughters, and when they walk out my door they`re dressed proper and tasteful and not for every pervert in the world to see what they have or don`t have.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Exactly. And we`re sending mixed signals. Remember all the controversy over this Rihanna music video? Check this out.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody was up in arms about that -- S&M, oh, my gosh. But we`re sending mixed signals, Melissa, very quickly.

HENSON: Yes. It`s -- I think symptomatic of where we are as a culture, and we are seeing girls being sexualized as I said earlier, at younger and younger ages. And I think it`s got to stop.

At what point do parents say, you know, I may think this is cute, but it`s not necessarily going to be perceived that way by the wider world. What messages am I sending to my daughter about what`s important in life, and what she should value and what she should aspire to?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, Roger Neal, you`ve been in Hollywood, I`ve known you for years before you were a daddy, before you got married, when you were a bachelor. Doesn`t Hollywood have to grow up a little bit?

NEAL: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean we`re in a new -- I think the power of television, it`s so intense. You can`t just take an uncritical look at this, if you are getting to look at it, I think it`s incumbent upon you to take a critical look and question it.

NEAL: I agree. Listen, parents have got to be extremely careful what they get their kids involved in. My daughter was Miss California Teen USA a couple of years ago and went to be second runner up in Miss Teen USA. It launched her modeling career, and that`s now what she -- that`s what she does for a living now. You would have never caught me putting my daughter when she was a little kid like that in a hooker outfit on a stage. That`s crazy.

And the parents have got to become more accountable for what they put their kids. It`s not the parent out there in the hooker outfit; it`s the kid in the hooker outfit. They have to be more accountable for what they do with their children on television.

I think Hollywood has to sort of become accountable too because you can`t just throw these kids out there. You have to -- they`re going to have a life after they finish this show. They don`t want to look back one day and say oh, my gosh, I can`t believe my parent did that to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and start saving for the therapy bills now.

I`m back in a minute.

NEAL: Yes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m not a psychiatrist, but I do remember a psychiatrist telling me once that what children seek from their parents is uncomplicated, unconditional love. Not with a lot of spin on the ball, not with a lot of yucky stuff.

Sexuality is something that children need to discover when they`re in puberty on their own without their parents getting over-involved in anything, involving sexuality with their children. That is enmeshment and that is really a violation of some very important boundaries.

So what a parent should do is be providing three square meals, protection, compassion, education, support, not using their child as a piece of property or a toy for their own amusement. It`s a bad idea and it will come back to haunt them.

"NANCY GRACE" is next.