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Husband Kills Two Sons and Self in Blast; School Holds Meeting, Parents Still Upset
Aired February 6, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
Worst possible outcome. Josh Powell, long suspected in his wife`s disappearance kills himself and his two young sons in a huge home explosion. Was this his fiery confession? How does a parent kill their own children? We`re going to get into it.
And tense moments in the New York medical mystery. School officials and parents face off over the weekend. I am speaking to a mom who says she isn`t getting the answers she needs to protect her child.
Let`s get started.
Developing news as a massive explosion at the home of missing Utah mom Susan Powell claims the life of her husband, Josh, and amazingly - oh, this is such a bad story, and the two young children.
So Josh Powell evidently behind this huge home explosion. Could this be his admission of guilt? Watch this, then we`ll talk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A horrifying and tragic end to the case of Josh Powell. He`s the man suspected in the disappearance of his wife, Susan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Authorities in Washington State say Josh Powell blew up his home and killed himself and his two young sons yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see the devastation. This is what`s left of Josh Powell`s home. The home was completely gutted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police believe that Josh Powell set the house on fire deliberately yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inside, investigators found two young victims and also an adult male.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police in Washington State say that Josh Powell started the fire yesterday moments after a social worker dropped the children off for a supervised visit.
KIIRSI HELLEWELL, FRIEND OF SUSAN POWELL: And I can understand if he wanted to end his own life, but to murder his children?
PINSKY: Yes. That - that is the mystery in all this. Just minutes before the deadly explosion, Josh Powell`s attorney reportedly received an e-mail from Josh saying, "I`m sorry. Good-bye."
The attorney also claimed that his client was upset about being denied custody of his children last week. Oh, God. It`s hard to kind of create any sympathy for this guy.
Susan Powell`s brother-in-law talked to reporters after the tragedy that claimed the lives of his two young nephews. He had no doubt who was behind the explosion. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRK GRAVES, JOSH POWELL`S BROTHER-IN-LAW: We`re in shock. We are simply - it`s beyond belief, and we have had suspicions of various things Josh is capable of, but I for one didn`t think he was capable of this.
I think this proves it. I think this is his admission of guilt and he just couldn`t handle it anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And I want to say, we have spoken to several of Susan`s family members and they were convinced about this long before this tragedy.
Now, since Susan Powell`s 2009 disappearance, her husband was the only person of interest named by investigators in her disappearance.
Here with insight into this awful story, Anne Bremner, she`s the attorney representing Susan Powell`s parents; Lisa Boesky is a clinical psychologist and author of "When To Worry."
And Thelma Gutierrez, she is a CNN Correspondent. Thelma, can you give us the latest?
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. I can tell you that right behind me a few hours ago, arson investigators arrived here at the end of the cul-de-sac is where Josh Powell lived with his father at one time. You can see what is left of that home. It is just rubble. It has all been reduced to ashes and arson investigators are inside right now, they`re taking photographs, they`re taking measurements, and really what they want to know is how this started.
Now, there has been plenty said that the social worker smelled gas and then immediately went to call her supervisor, and that is when this house blew up. So they know that something was used, an accelerant was used to start the fire. That is not in dispute. But this is part of the investigation that they have to conduct.
PINSKY: Thelma, is Social Services taking any responsibility? Are they making any statements about this?
GUTIERREZ: You know, they had said that there was nothing suspicious. So many people can go back right now and say but there were plenty of red flags because of this man`s behavior in the past, but they say that he had temporary visitation. He was able to see his children twice a week, and the social worker was able to bring him in. Nothing had happened out of the ordinary.
And so they say in this particular case no red flags were raised. Of course, now we know that was completely wrong, but at the time, they`re saying that there was nothing that would have led them to believe that such a terrible thing could have happened.
PINSKY: Thanks, Thelma. Thanks for that report.
And Attorney Anne Bremner released this statement yesterday on behalf of Susan`s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox. "The Cox Family has asked for time, privacy and prayers after today`s horrific events in the Josh Powell- Susan Cox-Powell case."
And the Coxes were raising Susan`s children, and, again, I`ve spoken - I think I`ve spoken to both of them, and they`re lovely people, and their main concern was the kids as this whole thing was unfolding. But now they must just be - I just can`t even imagine what they`re feeling.
ANNE BREMNER, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MISSING UTAH MOM: Oh, it`s unthinkable, unimaginable, Dr. Drew. It`s just devastating, and they - they loved those boys. They were raising the boys. They had the boys in a safe, loving home.
And then we`ve heard, I heard just now about there weren`t, you know, red flags. They talked about red flags. They said that he killed their daughter. They knew about voyeurism charges against his dad in that house where the kids were. There were all kinds of indicators.
All someone had to do was just get on Google and take a look at Josh Powell to see the kind of concern you should have about someone like him, and that confession, which is he killed those boys as they ran to him. They loved him and he killed them. And that`s a confession of what he did to Susan as well.
Did anyone predict it would be that kind of inferno confession? The fact of the matter is, it was predictable that he could do something involving death and he did.
PINSKY: And Anne, I understand you said that yesterday was the saddest day of your life.
BREMNER: Yes. I - you know, I can`t shake any of this. I don`t think any of us ever will. This is something, you know, I practiced almost 30 years. I`ve been a D.A. I`ve had murder cases, you know, everything imaginable, but nothing as unimaginable as this ever, Dr. Drew. It is -
PINSKY: Yes. This is - yes - just awful.
Now, the children of Susan and Josh Powell were placed in the custody of Susan`s parents in 2001 after Josh`s father, Steve Powell, was arrested on charges of voyeurism and child pornography.
Now, following yesterday`s deadly explosion, a visibly distraught friend shared her feelings about Susan`s husband and his father Steve. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELLEWELL: I`m feeling so much anger towards Josh right now, so much anger towards him and towards his father because his father is who raised him to be the man that he was, and I can understand if he wanted to end his own life, but to murder his children?
They have been nothing but possessions to him ever since they were born. He did not love them. He does not care about them as children. He just wants what he owns. And once they were taken away, then it was all about getting them back, and if he couldn`t have them, nobody would.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Yes. Lisa, I am getting unfortunately very accustomed to talking about psychopath since the Casey Anthony case and van der Sloot`s situation. Is this another psychopath or is this a man that - if we`re going to say he snapped, I need a diagnosis to follow that. The snapping though he`s not in the DSM-IV.
LISA BOESKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, PH.D.: Yes. But when we see fathers kill their children, you know, and although it`s not common, it`s also not completely rare, it`s often when they`re depressed, humiliated, and hopeless. So he was the main, you know, suspect in this disappearance, and we still don`t know whether he did it or not, but all signs seemed to point that he did.
Then his father, remember Josh`s father got on national TV and said that he had a sexual relationship with Josh`s wife, which we found out later was basically his father was in love and lusted after the wife, the mother of his children, and then now he loses custody of his children.
The main thing that he either cares about or this woman said were his possessions, when we see this in a man, it often is they feel like they have nothing to live for. But rather than kill themselves and leave them in this loving home, he was probably or possibly thinking I`m not going to leave them with these in-laws, or depending on his belief system, maybe it was we`ll all be reunited in heaven. But that woman said it really well -
PINSKY: I don`t know.
BOESKY: -- and often times these dads feel like if I can`t have them, nobody will.
PINSKY: Lisa, you know, when moms kill their kids, sometimes they`re in a psychotic state, postpartum depression, they actually think they`re doing something to help the children.
When dads do it, I`m sorry. I can`t think of anything except malignant narcissism, psychopathy. Fine, he`s depressed and he`s thinking all of these things and we`re taking into account his belief system, but the behavior is so far from what a human being would otherwise choose to do, I got to call this guy what he is, at least a malignant narcissist.
BOESKY: But that doesn`t - that`s true and I agree, but that doesn`t necessarily mean he`s a sociopath. Narcissist is much, much better, and we look at some of the behaviors, but a sociopath, I just - I`m not convinced completely he is a sociopath. We would know more if we knew exactly what happened to his wife Susan and how he was involved in that. But clearly -
PINSKY: Well, yes, you`re right. And to remind ourselves - remind ourselves that the kids are now - we`re starting to talk about the fact that when they went to that camping weekend that was his alibi, that mommy was in the trunk, we have the dad was raised by a guy who is some sort of - he`s got issues, and so necessarily you`d expect to see the son with issues, maybe sociopathy as well.
Anne, my heart goes out to you. Lisa, thank you so much. Please, Anne, send the best to the parents. We`ve had a chance to talk to them and Susan`s sister, too.
BREMNER: Thank you so much.
PINSKY: These are lovely people and I know they have suffered all the way through this and this is just too much, too much.
OK. I want to remind people that we are coming to you from New York. And I finally had a chance to bring together some of the people involved in the New York medical mystery.
Now, we`ve got a lot to get to tonight so bear with me. I`m going to try to get it all in.
Now, at the - in Le Roy, tempers flared and emotions were high at this weekend`s town meeting. Parents want answers. And some of those parents who were upset are going to join me in the studio. We`re going to finally have our ad hoc little town hall meeting right here in the studio. So stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA CIANCI, PARENT: You are not doing your job. You are not doing your job. And not answering questions. We have to stand up as parents to fight for the rights of our children. You`re not!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And welcome back.
I want to remind people that we are coming to you from New York tonight. And I want to thank Anderson Cooper for lending us his studio. We really feel very privileged here. Thank you to the staff here helping us out, by the way.
And I want to remind people, this is the first time I`m going to have the chance to really sit down with some of the people from Le Roy, New York. We`ve got a lot to get here so bear with me as we kind of work our way through this.
But I`m excited about this. I`m meeting people for the first time. We`ve been talking about for awhile and got very involved with.
So in this medical mystery in Le Roy, New York, a town hall meeting was held over the weekend at the high school. Parents want to know what`s being done to protect their kids. Emotions were running high. Take a look at this.
CIANCI: I`m done listening to you. You guys need to do something. My child, my children, all of them, I run a business in this town. It is not safe. Why is it? You need to prove to us that it is safe to put our children in this school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Now, we know the conversion disorder can be linked to trauma, and the police records indicate one of the girls or the first - one of the first girls who had these tic-like symptoms was apparently involved in a traumatic experience where a close family member had committed suicide. But a few of - the other students said they never suffered any kind of traumatic experience and they don`t think it is conversion.
Could there be an environmental cause? That`s been the question. Are the school and community getting enough to inform parents about what is going on and what they have to worry about or don`t have to worry about?
So, with me tonight, a mother who we just saw was very vocal this past weekend at the town hall meeting, Melissa Cianci; another Le Roy mom whose daughter has mysterious tic symptoms, Beth Miller; and HLN correspondent Jim Spellman who`s up in Le Roy, New York.
I`m closer to you now tonight, Jim, than I`ve been in the past, but I couldn`t quite make it there. What is the latest?
JIM SPELLMAN, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Two points to that meeting over the weekend, Dr. Drew. The first was the school announcing that to try to ease everybody`s fears, they`ve hired an outside firm to come in and do a whole, fresh round of testing to be able to ensure everybody that the environment is safe. So they ran through the details of how that testing would go.
The second purpose of this meeting was for Superintendent Kim Cox and her staff to try to reset the relationship with the community here by letting people ask questions and having an open forum.
On the first account, I think they did a pretty good job laying out this new set of testing. On the second count, emotions ran really high. They only took about 35 minutes of questions, and I think it left a lot of people on both sides pretty dissatisfied with that element of the meeting, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Now here is the school superintendent talking about the connection or lack thereof between the medical mystery, so to speak, the tics and the environment. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM COX, LE ROY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: What I have to do as the superintendent is take the experts - what the experts are telling me, and the experts are telling me and the data is showing me that there is no environmental cause here linked to this condition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And Jim, she seems earnest, she seems like she`s taking professional advice, but parents aren`t buying this.
SPELLMAN: Well, you know, when you`re dealing with kids, Dr. Drew - I mean, as a parent, I think you treat your kids differently, you have a different standard of the information you need to assure that your kids are safe. And I`m not sure that for most - a lot of the parents in that auditorium, that they felt that that threshold has been met, and I`m not sure on an emotional level, perhaps, that the superintendent really met them where they needed to be met to get through this trying time here.
PINSKY: Thanks, Jim, for keeping us up to date.
Now ladies, this is the first chance I have to actually see you guys in person, eyeball to eyeball, certainly on camera.
Melissa, you were very upset. What was it you were looking for that you didn`t get?
CIANCI: In writing of the percentages of the testing, what the exact testing they did. Write it down. That will show the percentage of what is in the air, what is in the soil -
PINSKY: So you wanted to see the data yourself.
PINSKY: Why won`t they publish that? Did you get any response to that?
CIANCI: They told me that the information would be on the website, but I do not have Internet in my home.
PINSKY: Oh, so they - then they wouldn`t put it in a hard copy for you?
PINSKY: And, you know, Bob - well, Bob Bowcock, who we`re going to have later on in the program, has a lot of unanswered questions still. And you`re shaking your head, Beth. Are any of those questions worrying you?
BETH MILLER, DAUGHTER SUFFERS FROM MEDICAL MYSTERY: Yes. Absolutely. The gas wells -
PINSKY: Is there fracking?
PINSKY: They didn`t answer that question, did they?
MILLER: Yes. They didn`t answer that question -
PINSKY: (INAUDIBLE), I don`t think they knew the answer to that, did they?
MILLER: No, and my husband asked for the MSDR sheets -
MILLER: -- and she said that she would get them to him, and she didn`t.
PINSKY: She didn`t?
MILLER: No, she didn`t. And, you know, they`ve gone all around that subject about the gas wells, they won`t discuss them. And in fracking, if you know about gas wells, like this plume that we have in our area, is - it can be drawn to the -
PINSKY: It can be concentrated there.
PINSKY: That`s been my concern.
My little pet theory was that if there`s environmental exposure (ph), it would - it would be the gas, even the fracking, which is a separate issue, or the plume which - for those of you who are joining me for the first time, there was a trichloroethylene spill, TCE spill, the biggest in the country, within a couple miles of the school. It got into the bedrock.
And were you guys aware that it was there?
CIANCI: No. No.
PINSKY: You were just finding out about this in -
MILLER: Well, somebody dropped it off and left it underneath my mat, about the TCE spill.
PINSKY: Were you the ones involved with Erin Brockovich initially?
PINSKY: Oh, so you were the ones who got her there for the first look (ph).
PINSKY: So tell me about that. What made you - so before the tics started, you had actually contacted her? Is that right?
MILLER: Yes, and asked for help, because I just wasn`t satisfied what they were giving me. I just - I`m a nurse. I couldn`t wrap my brain around that it was conversion disorder because my daughter was happy and healthy.
So I had initially in December started e-mailing Erin, and then it was about five weeks later, she answered us and then I mysteriously got the spill underneath, you know -
PINSKY: Somebody actually - (INAUDIBLE) to fill this in for people, she - so you contacted Erin Brockovich. She thought something else must be going on. And, lo and behold, somebody slipped a - was it a newspaper article or something -
MILLER: Yes -
PINSKY: -- under their door about this massive spill that no one in the community would seem to have been aware of. And then, since then, Erin Brockovich have been up there and found some awful stuff, it seems like.
Melissa, you seem terribly upset about this. Where is all that emotion coming from?
CIANCI: Because I live a quarter mile from where the train derailment was. I do a daycare business there.
PINSKY: So you might be exposing young children to this?
PINSKY: I meant -
CIANCI: Yes, not only my own children, but yes.
PINSKY: But other people`s children.
CIANCI: Other people`s children, and I`m a very unhealthy person myself.
PINSKY: Do you think it`s from the spill?
CIANCI: I`m not sure. The doctors have not been able to explain it.
PINSKY: Hold that thought. Melissa and Beth will be back with us.
Coming up, parents are take - parents are taking your calls. They`re going to stay with us in that "On Call" section. You`ll like that? And so stay with us.
PINSKY: And welcome back. We are continuing our discussion on the latest in Le Roy, New York. Joining me now are Charlene Leubner and Beth Miller, whose daughters have been affected by tics and twitches.
Now, you`ve been writing to us over the weekend and tonight, so let`s begin with an e-mail question. This is from Jill, who asked, "Have you noticed people - if people in the community have changed anything about their daily lives, such as not going to certain places anymore, or not drinking the water, et cetera?" What do you guys say to that one?
MILLER: Yes, they have.
PINSKY: They have?
MILLER: Actually, people coming in to the community, there was an event at the school, and a couple of the schools backed out of the event and the people that did come to the event at the school were told not to drink or eat.
PINSKY: Now, let me just be clear, thus far the municipal water is clean.
PINSKY: That`s been tested. So you don`t have to worry about the water.
PINSKY: And it`s sad to me that people are - you know, the school`s being disrupted by this. That`s sad, yes?
LEUBNER: There`s also a lot of kids that aren`t going to school. Parents are pulling them out of the school.
PINSKY: I hope they`re - I hope it`s reasonably so. So we`ve got to get those questions answered.
Let`s go ahead and take a call now. We`ve got Shawn in Florida. Shawn, go ahead.
SHAWN, FLORIDA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hey, Shawn.
SHAWN: I just have a quick question. I was wondering if the students in the school have filled out some type of questionnaire for a study to see if there`s a hidden link somewhere.
PINSKY: Interesting question. So anything like that going on?
MILLER: Well, I did a timeline -
PINSKY: You did it yourself?
PINSKY: A flow diagram.
MILLER: Yes, to see what - what the students had in common, and the only thing they had in common was the field at the school and the school itself. Other than that, they`re really - they`re ages 13 through 17 and they don`t hang out together, most of them.
PINSKY: My understanding, though, is that the neurology group is trying to do that kind of study. They`re looking very carefully. Do you know something, Charlene, that I don`t?
PINSKY: No? OK. They`re really trying to look very, very carefully at the connection, you know, the relationships, the activities. So I know it`s being done. I don`t think it`s being done by the school or independently. As far as you guys know, it isn`t?
PINSKY: OK. All right, Marge writes, "A doctor made a comment that the media is making the situation worse for the girls. Do any of you two feel that is the case?" Ladies, what do you think? Your girls have been worse?
LEUBNER: I think the - it does - it is causing a little more stress for the girls, definitely. But, at the same time, we`re starting to get answers. And it helps -
PINSKY: So it`s pushing it forward.
LEUBNER: That helps coming forward. Yes.
PINSKY: And - and that was your original intention of bringing Erin around, trying to - just get - just to make sure?
MILLER: Get some answers. I mean, I just want an independent study done to find out what`s going on.
PINSKY: And, I`ve got to tell you, Melissa Sanchez - I don`t know if you guys were -
PINSKY: Yes. She was the one I first spoke to, and said I just - just couldn`t we really see if there`s anything else is going on here? Then we came upon the TCE spill.
LEUBNER: Right. Right.
PINSKY: I mean, who knows?
Finally, Gina on Facebook writes, "Why can`t the school just hold class in another building or church until the testing is complete?" That would - it`s a - it`s -
LEUBNER: That`s what I wish they would do.
PINSKY: Is that possible?
MILLER: It is possible.
LEUBNER: It is.
MILLER: We have a middle school that isn`t filled completely because of, you know, the -
LEUBNER: Yes, demographics. The population has gone down. So it is possible for them to move the students over, just until we find out what is really going on.
PINSKY: Is there anything you two want people out there to know about your community or about this process? Or do you - are you thankful that everyone`s interested in this?
MILLER: Yes, I`m very thankful for all the people that have come forward and have called me and given their opinion, what they thought that it might be. I mean, it`s been very helpful.
PINSKY: Good. Well, thank you guys for being here. It`s - I really appreciate it.
And then, again, it`s the first time I got to see you guys eyeball to eyeball, and I hope - I hope we can help. That`s really the desire here.
MILLER: I hope so, too.
LEUBNER: Me, too.
PINSKY: And I hope the kids get better, which we have every reason to believe they will.
Coming up, the EPA and the school say that the medical mystery has nothing to do with the environment. We`re going to talk to a member of Erin Brockovich`s team who has not ruled out the environment. Has a lot of questions.
Now if you want more information about this or other stories, go to HLNtv.com.
We will be back after this, so -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): New York`s medical mystery over the weekend, a tight knit community, now being divided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am done listening to you.
PINSKY: School officials defending their position.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My loyalty is to the students.
PINSKY: Parents demanding answers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you can`t rule out environmental.
PINSKY: Administrators say the disturbing symptoms of over a dozen students weren`t caused by the environment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This school is safe.
PINSKY: But parents aren`t convinced. Environmental activist, Erin Brockovich, is on the case. Tonight, her top lieutenant is responding to apparent lack of cooperation by the school. His response and the parents` frustration at the people who are supposed to be keeping their kids safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to make a statement. We know that lead affects different age groups differently. All right? Young children are affected differently by lead. So, environmental, you can`t rule out environmental, and that`s what I`m saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We acknowledge what you`re saying (ph).
PINSKY (on-camera): Welcome back. The town hall meeting in Le Roy, New York was a hot bed for debate this past weekend. Parents want to know if it is safe to send their kids back to school where over a dozen teenage girls developed tic-like symptoms. The New York State Health Department said it tested the water, and then, that is safe.
Some of the girls have been diagnosed with a psychogenic condition called conversion disorder, but activists say they can`t rule out environmental causes without seeing all of the reports and having all the questions answered. Many parents are not satisfied, and they want to know why the school isn`t being forthright and forthcoming with the information that they do have.
Back with me, HLN correspondent, Jim Spellman and Lana Clark joins me in the studio, as well. And Lana, you have a daughter with the condition, is that right?
LANA CLARK, DAUGHTER SUFFERING FROM "MEDICAL MYSTERY": Yes, I do.
PINSKY: OK. And also joining me is Bob Bowcock, Erin Brockovich`s associate who is conducting test in Le Roy. Bob, any updates on the testing?
VOICE OF BOB BOWCOCK, CONDUCTING ENVIRONMENTAL TESTS IN LE ROY, NY: No. We don`t have any results yet. We`ve connected three testing of three groundwater wells adjacent to the school, literally, area between the spill site and the school, and we should have those results later this week.
PINSKY: And Bob, that would give you information about what -- and that would give you information about what`s going on in the bedrock and whether or not the pumping of the gas is pulling TCE in that direction, is that what you`re looking for?
BOWCOCK: Yes. And I wouldn`t particularly call it, you know, the gas wells would cause the plume to go that way. What I stated before is when you turn off as many wells as the EPA has reported that they`ve turned off over in the east, southeast area, due to contamination, then the wells in the west and south will pull the water in that direction.
I don`t know that the gas wells would have a direct impact on the groundwater aquifer at this time. There`s just no evidence of that.
PINSKY: OK. And then, finally, the issue of fracking in those wells, Jim -- rather, Bob, do you have any information about that or opinion about that?
BOWCOCK: Well, absolutely. I find it extremely frustrating when they say the wells were fracked with just water. I don`t think that there is anybody that continues to believe that when they frack gas wells they only use water any more. We all know that the Halliburton exclusion has been removed by Congress. And, they`re actually saying or disclosing what those chemical mixtures are.
They are all not the same. The chemical mixtures that are used to frack wells are different for each application, and we specifically asked what chemicals were used to frack the four out of the six groundwater or excuse me, natural gas wells on the school property.
BOWCOCK: -- also like to know what`s in the just saltwater. There`s no such thing as just saltwater.
PINSKY: OK. It`s called the brine. Is it the brine?
PINSKY: And would they -- last question, real quick, would you getting soil sample answer some of these questions?
BOWCOCK: Well, actually, I could cut to the chase. A soil sample would definitely help, and that would be in the area that Jim Spellman identified. But I tell you what, we could just go up and get a sample out right of that brine tank. That would be, you know, probably quicker and easier to identify what`s in the brine.
PINSKY: Fair enough. Thanks, Bob. And here is Jim who got an exclusive -- speaking of Jim -- who got an exclusive interview with school superintendent, Kim Cox, speaking about the safety of the school. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SPELLMAN, HLN CORRESPONDENT: Do you have any doubt in your mind, at this point, that this school is safe?
KIM COX, LE ROY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: At this point, all the experts have told us that this school is safe, and that this cause is not an environmental cause, and if that it were, indeed, environmental cause, that we would see this widespread, you know, type of an outbreak. We`re not seeing that. So, if I was concerned the school wasn`t safe, we wouldn`t have kids in the school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And Jim, how did you find the superintendent? Did you feel she was reassuring?
SPELLMAN: Well, I do want to give her credit for ultimately doing that interview. It wasn`t easy, and honestly, she didn`t want to do it, and I don`t think she was really comfortable answering a lot of these direct, hard questions from journalists or from the family members. But I think they`re trying to turn over a new leaf.
But what I think they ultimately essentially don`t understand is that need for proof as we heard earlier on the show, for reassurance. So, like with this issue of the gas wells, parent after parent said, just test the soil today, go do it right no0w around it, put our minds at ease. And they said, well, we`re going to see what this next round of air testing, you know, provides for us.
I still think there`s an essential misunderstanding of what the parents are looking for here, but I really do credit them for at least trying, for the first time, to make themselves public to any kind of questions. Hopefully, that will continue for this community, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Now, Lana, your daughter has the ticking and twitching. How long she had it for?
CLARK: Since October 31st.
PINSKY: Has it been getting better, worse, changing?
CLARK: Kind of like a roller coaster ride.
PINSKY: It goes up and down. Yes
PINSKY: And has what the school offered you reassured her or you?
PINSKY: No. Still more questions.
CLARK: Just seems to be there is a big resistance by the school to do the outside testing.
PINSKY: They did hire an outside tester, though, right? They`ve hired an organization to come do testing.
CLARK: They said that they couldn`t do the outside testing until they got the air quality results back, and I just don`t understand. It`s like they`re delaying.
PINSKY: Why doing it? Is it a financial issue? They can`t get funding for it, do you think? Or what --
CLARK: The gas wells -- I don`t know. We don`t have those answers, and they won`t specify as to why there is such a delay. And the question, you know, came up during the school meeting over and over again about, you know, doing the testing. Why can`t we do it now? Why wasn`t it done way back when?
PINSKY: And what did they say to that? Why wasn`t it done?
CLARK: There`s really no answers. I mean, they really don`t give you the answers that, you know, you`re looking for.
PINSKY: That you`re looking for. So, it seems like it was reassuring, but not reassuring enough.
CLARK: They keep focusing on the air quality in the school, you know? But yes, there were some teachers that were near a vent that had, you know, vapors coming out that made the teachers almost pass out.
PINSKY: This was the gas well again?
CLARK: I don`t know. They said it was some type of an odor. It was coming out of a vent.
CLARK: And that the teachers almost passed out and needed to go to the nurse`s office, and they said they corrected the problem by opening the door.
PINSKY: Are you agreeing that the teachers -- I`ve been hearing from most parent that they`re really happy with how the teachers have been responding and the school nurse --
PINSKY: So, the community, at large, really has been very supportive and appropriate, but it`s the school administration that people have been most disturbed about.
CLARK: Yes. The superintendent, basically.
PINSKY: And your daughter, is she one of the group that`s up at the Mechler -- being treated by Dr. Mechler (ph)?
CLARK: We have never seen Dr. Mechler (ph). I was shocked when he originally had stated that he, himself, saw all of the girls. We saw Dr. McVege (ph).
PINSKY: OK. Well, he means his group is seeing her, I think, is what he means. I`m going to Bob here now. Now, Bob, you have actually written an open letter to Superintendent Kim Cox mainly because these communication issues. We`re going to have your full letter up on our website at hlntv.com. Bob, what was your intention in writing that letter?
BOWCOCK: Well, Dr. Drew, I think everybody recognizes that I`ve been reaching out to Miss Cox and her press agent, Bill Albert (ph), for, you know, virtually every day, you know, please, just, you know, most of the information I`m seeking this week you already have in your possession, and if you could provide that, it would help provide, you know, a sense of security to these parents.
I also got tired of the he said/she said back and forth. It just what`s counter productive to helping the kids out. So, you know, I wrote an open letter and I specifically list all of the things that I have said about what I feel about the drinking water supply. It is absolutely safe. Would I pull my kids out of that school right now? No.
You know, I think that the businesses there are suffering, the property damage issues. All those things are clearly outlined, so people can stop this nonsense of he said/she said. She has not responded. The last communication I had with the press agent, Bill Albert (ph), was last Thursday, and his last words to me were, sir, I understand, We`ll get back to you.
Well, they haven`t gotten back to me. So, I`ve taken this approach of continuing to take the high road, and I`m reaching out to them. I`m, in fact, begging her to just pick up the phone and call me. I do not think that the approach that they`re currently taking is correct. I think it`s superficial.
I think that we can rule these things out, and as I`ve stated before, I could do it in six days, six weeks, six months, or six years, but I`m not going anywhere until I get the answers that are necessary.
PINSKY: Thank you, Bob. Thank you for doing so. And hopefully, you will get those answers and we`ll have a way of disseminating to these parents. Lana, I hope that be reassuring to you and your daughter. Thank you to Bob and Jim and to Lana.
Next, we`ll talk more about this mystery and its possible causes, and what`s being done to help those who are showing the symptoms of this condition? So, stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone in this room, everyone in this community wants our children to be safe. They wouldn`t live here. But you cannot jump to the conclusion to assume that there`s something horrible going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COX: I want to make it very clear to you that the health, the safety, and the well-being of our students, those that are affected and those that are not, all of our students is mine and the district`s number one priority. My loyalty is to the students, the staff, and the community of Le Roy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back. At the town hall meeting this weekend, parents were visibly upset, and maybe have a right to be. It seems we have a lot of gray area, conflicting reports, and uncertainty from the schools and naturally emotions run high. But what these families need to know are solutions to the problem.
So, joining us, parents Beth Miller, Lana Clark, psychiatrist, Dr. John Sharp, is at the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He`s also the author of "The Emotional Calendar." Also joining me via phone, Dr. Rosario Trifiletti. Dr. Trifiletti, any update on the PANDAS research that you`ve been doing?
VOICE OF DR. ROSARIO TRIFILETTI, PEDIATRIC NEUROLOGY: Yes, we have some early results on some of the children. I can tell you that they are testing positive -- each one is testing for either streptococcus or microplasma which is -- are known triggers of the PANDAS syndrome.
PINSKY: Now, I assume you were testing for immunological activity of those having been exposed.
TRIFILETTI: That`s correct.
PINSKY: So, how do we distinguish between sort of routine environmental exposure and something that would cause PANDAS?
TRIFILETTI: Well, in fact, follow-up studies may be needed to determine whether there`s arise in titers. But these are tests that would normally be accepted as showing evidence of either streptococcus carriage or microplasma exposure.
PINSKY: OK. So, let me -- for people out there that are first coming to this program help you understand that what PANDAS is, is a post infectious autoimmune disturbance, meaning your immune system attacks parts of your brain. And, in the logical titers, meaning these antibodies be contest (ph) and the blood go up and they can change with time.
That`s what Dr. Trifiletti and I are discussing right now. And Dr. Trifiletti has believed this entire thing might be an infectious outbreak. And as I hearing you talk tonight, Dr. Trifiletti, that would be your provisional impression?
TRIFILETTI: That`s right. I think that`s one of the main factors, and probably, the most easily reversed factor here. And, we`re already talking to the families about starting treatment based on this.
PINSKY: Which should be an extended course of antibiotics, I presume?
TRIFILETTI: Course of antibiotics and possibly course of steroids as well.
PINSKY: OK. Very interesting. Are you working with Dr. Mechtler`s team?
PINSKY: Oh, boy. Are you having any communication with them?
TRIFILETTI: Not yet.
PINSKY: All right. I hope that becomes a collaborative effort, because boy, having two, could be tough for the patients when competing opinions by doctors don`t sort of collaborate on these things, but thank you, Dr. Trifiletti. I really do appreciate this input and sharing it with us, and I hope this does bear fruit.
I mean, my goodness, wouldn`t that be nice to know that this ends up being not an environmental phenomenon. And, I`m watching my stage manager, Dave, here and some of the camera men shake their head, what a relief that would be if we have an answer. But, it`s very difficult to nail down PANDAS. What do you, guys, think of that? You`re a nurse.
BETH MILLER, DAUGHTER SUFFERS FROM MEDICAL MYSTERY: I think that it makes more sense to me than the conversion disorder because I know my daughter. And I know that she doesn`t have the symptoms of conversion disorder. She`s never had anything traumatic in her life that broke the Camel`s back, as they say.
PINSKY: Well, you had a lot of operations. Do you mind me sharing this? Maybe that was somehow something that really got through to her in ways you weren`t aware of.
PINSKY: It`d be tough to have mom having operations. You`re fine, obviously, but --
MILLER: Well, I`m still sick.
PINSKY: But it might be scaring here and cause -- Lana, your daughter have any serious trauma, stresses in her life?
PINSKY: So, for you, that would be mysterious.
CLARK: Yes. She had a lot of strep throat issues.
PINSKY: So, she has had these infections.
CLARK: And, a year ago, November, this past November, she had her tonsils taken out.
PINSKY: So, clearly, she has had strep. The question will be, did the strep cause this. So, her titers will be up for sure. The question, is she be someone at risk for it. Again, to explain to people we`re talking here, this PANDAS syndrome is something that we used to see back in the days of rheumatic fever and scarlet fever all the time. It was called St. Vitus Dance or Sydenham`s Chorea. People would get these weird movements after strep infection because it would attack the brain after prolonged infection.
Dr. Sharp, I`m going to go back out to you. What do you think? So, we`ve got the PANDAS now. We`ve got conversion being diagnosed by Mechtler`s team. We`ve got two different doctor groups treating patients. It`s getting a little confusing for patients. What do we do for them?
DR. JOHN SHARP, PSYCHIATRIST, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: We get everyone talking. We definitely have a consolidated treatment group. I think you`re so right that Dr. Trifiletti ought to work with Dr. Mechtler and try to coordinate the care. And we want to focus on treatment. You know, psychiatry can offer support.
So, if this is emotional distress, that should be factored into treatment. If the emotion distress is primary in terms of causing it, then obviously, that should be factored into treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is included in PANDAS treatment as well as in tic treatment, as well as in the treatment of conversion disorder. I want to see these girls in frequent, constant treatment to get them better.
PINSKY: So again, supportive care takers, maybe specific kinds of psychiatric methodologies involved will help, and we`ve all been thinking sort of a mixed bag here, maybe environment, maybe PANDA, maybe conversion. So, any of those cases, what Dr. Sharp is talking about, would be helpful, would you guys willing to participate in those kinds of treatments?
PINSKY: Well, whatever Dr. Sharp is sort of talking about ways of managing being sick or specific therapy for conversion?
MILLER: No, my daughter is seeing a counselor to help her deal with her sickness.
PINSKY: OK. And Lana?
CLARK: Most definitely.
PINSKY: I mean, it`s a very stressful time in the community. It would be helpful, I would think, whether or not the conversion -- you seem very comfortable with that. I mean, you`re a nurse.
MILLER: Yes. I mean, I`m comfortable with going both ways, but I still feel that, you know, she had mono a year and a half ago --
PINSKY: We got to keep looking. Listen, you (ph) see we are. We`re going to stay with it until we come up with some harder (ph) answers. We appreciate it. So, ladies, Lana and Beth, thank you so much for joining us. Dr. Sharp, thank you for that input. And of course, Dr. Trifiletti, thanks for sharing your results.
Up next, more about what be causing the medical mystery, and we`re going to talk to young girls who`ve been suffering with this. Stay with us.
PINSKY: Well, we`ve been discussing this what it`s been called the mystery. It may be conversion disorder. We`ve heard. Dr. Trifiletti called that a few minutes ago and tells us that he has evidence that confirms the diagnosis of PANDAS which is a post-infectious auto-immune kind of attack on the brain that predisposes the things like tics.
Well, Lana Clark is back with me. Her daughter, Lauren, has the medical mystery. She is there sitting with me. I think you can see a little bit of those twitches and ticks that she has been suffering with. Lauren, let me go to you. Are you getting better? Are you feeling OK?
LAUREN SCALZO, SUFFERS FROM MEDICAL MYSTERY: I feel like I`m getting worse.
PINSKY: Getting worse.
PINSKY: Doing something nerve-racking like sitting on the television camera make it worse?
PINSKY: Yes. I`m sorry. I`m sorry about that.
SCALZO: It`s OK.
PINSKY: But you are -- I must tell you that I`m so glad you`re here. Thank you for joining us. And you`re in a way representing all the teams that we are concerned about there in New York -- and what else was kind of nervous about coming up and you had the courage to come on here. I do appreciate that.
And mom, thanks for allowing her to do so. I appreciate that. What do you think the kids want us to know about this whole process?
SCALZO: I don`t know.
PINSKY: Is there something you`d like us to know or do you like Erin or Bob to do or the community, or for that matter, my viewers to sort of just to say a parent keep interested or is that --
PINSKY: OK. How is it affected you?
SCALZO: It`s making my life like really hard like --
PINSKY: You got to school now?
SCALZO: Yes. Every once in a while.
PINSKY: So, not all the time.
PINSKY: Lana, that must be tough.
CLARK: It is. It is. We haven`t made a full week, and a lot of time I never know, you know, I`ll be getting a phone call, you know? She has good days and she has bad days. Do you actually have seizuring like --
SCALZO: I just get the migraines and everything.
PINSKY: Thera had seizuring (ph) sort of what call factitious seizures, but there are activities that keep her from -- so what brings you back from school, the migraines?
PINSKY: The migraines. And the twitching is pretty pronounced at your body and arm, right?
SCALZO: Yes. It hurts really bad.
PINSKY: It hurts when you get it.
PINSKY: Are there other kids supportive or they --
SCALZO: Some are, some make fun of us.
PINSKY: And that must be awful. It is. It makes us worse. So, here`s something -- here`s a few seconds left, but I hear something we can do for you which is, hey, the school bullies (ph) out there that are being tough in these girls, knock it off a little while so we figure this thing out. Thank you, Lana. Thank you, Lauren. I appreciate it.
SCALZO: Thank you.
PINSKY: Thank you to all my guests.
Later this week, I`m going to sit down with one of the cast members from "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." It is interesting. I actually went into her home. You`re going to see it there. This is my one-on-one interview with Taylor Armstrong, and she has a revealing look at her life after husband, Russell`s tragic suicide as well as she`s very open about the abuse she`s endured her entire life.
She`s written a book about this. Taylor says she was abuse by Russell for years. I asked her if she use the reality show as some sort of protection from Russell. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR ARMSTRONG, REALITY STAR, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS": I think a lot of us, subconsciously, I think I felt that it would help us get off this plateau we were on.
PINSKY: Did you think it might protect you from the abuse?
PINSKY: The cameras are there, he won`t do this to me.
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. I mean, you would never think that only take a risk like that, but the problem was hitting and pulse (ph) control problem and it didn`t matter how many cameras were around. When he was out of control, it`s nothing around him that (INAUDIBLE). So, unfortunately, we didn`t get to that piece of him early on.
PINSKY: The cameras kill him (ph)?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: You`re going to see the answer to that question and many more that you`ve never heard Taylor address. This Thursday, 9:00 p.m. eastern time. In the meantime, thank you all for watching. We`ll keep up in Le Roy, New York. See you next time.