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Whitney Houston Autopsy Report; Mercy Killing?
Aired April 4, 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: On a show tonight:
A woman is charged with helping a perfectly healthy elderly man kill himself. Does she do it out of compassion? Or is assisted suicide ever OK?
And later, they say they just wanted to kill someone. Police say that`s why a couple lured a young mom and teacher woman to a deserted road and strangled her in front of her 2-year-old. She suspected danger, she intuited it, but went anyway. My question is: why don`t women act on their intuitions and instincts?
But, first, Whitney Houston`s full toxicology report is finally out. We`re getting right to it.
Let`s get started.
PINSKY: Tonight, the death of Whitney Houston, the full autopsy report spread out here in front of me. I`ll tell you what, it`s a little bit startling, kind of confusing. We`re going to have to kind of break this down. What did really kill the pop icon?
We know she had cocaine and prescription pills in her system when she drowned in a hotel bathtub in February. But today`s full toxicology report gives us a fuller story of this untimely death.
Joining me -- untimely death, rather -- joining me Dylan Howard, editor-in-chief of Celebuzz.com. Shelly Sprague, resident technician on VH1 "Celebrity Rehab." She`s also a recovering person. CNN entertainment correspondent Kareen Wynter.
Kareen, what`s the latest?
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dr. Drew, I just got my hands on the toxicology report. And, boy, is the details, about 45 pages in length.
You`re really going to be the expert here to weigh on the contents. But I`ll give you the nuts and bolts here.
As you mentioned, Whitney Houston, the initial report that we received a couple weeks ago, it said that she died of accidental drowning. There were some contributing factors, such as heart disease, as well as cocaine.
Well, get this, we have more insight into the drugs that were found in her system. She had free cocaine, what`s called native cocaine, metabolized cocaine inside her system -- meaning she took the drug within the last four to six hours before her death. She also smoked marijuana about one to two hours before she expired.
What`s interesting here, Dr. Drew, Xanax -- the drug Xanax, the levels found in Whitney Houston`s system were quite low, you know, juxtaposed to the huge prescription bottles that were found around her room. So, again, just a synopsis here as to this report, very detailed in nature.
PINSKY: Thank you, Kareen. Must be a lot of action downtown right now. This is something that we`re going to try to break apart and really dig into right here, right now.
Dylan, OK, before I start to take apart what I`ve seen on this autopsy report with Shelly`s help, what about the circumstances of her death? What have we learned about that from this?
DYLAN HOWARD, CELEBUZZ.COM: Well, this provides an explicit data what was found inside the room, a drug spoon, white remnants of powder later determined to be cocaine, empty bags believed to be those associated with cocaine use -- in addition to a laundry list of prescription medications.
This report, though, is short on the consequence of why she drowned. She was found face down in the water.
PINSKY: Say that again. So, she`s in a bathtub. She`s not slipped into the bathtub, she`s flipped over and she`s faced down into the water.
Before we went on the air, you said the temperature of the water?
HOWARD: This is perplexing. This is the one thing that got me. When she was declared dead at 3:46 in the afternoon, the temperature of the water was not taken until later that night at 9:35 p.m. It was 96 degrees, six hours after she was declared dead.
PINSKY: How is that even possible? Can anybody -- can you -- it`s like a self-heating bathtub?
HOWARD: This according to the detective at the scene who actually took the temperature of the water. And while he says there were no signs of foul play. That is an unanswered question.
And I feel that this report really provides more questions than it does answers.
PINSKY: I completely agree with you.
And, Shelly, before we get into the autopsy report here, the spoon at the bedside, you think it`s like a little spoon that she`s using to spoon cocaine into her nose.
SHELLY SPRAGUE, RESIDENT TECHNICIAN, "CELEBRITY REHAB": Yes, I would say.
PINSKY: It`s not a spoon you heat up and do something else with it?
SPRAGUE: No, I don`t think so. I`m sure it had something to do with cocaine.
PINSKY: All right.
HOWARD: And a deviated septum as well.
PINSKY: Not deviated, a perforated septum. Perforated septum is what I want everyone at home to know exactly how I read this autopsy report. Perforated nasal septum, the line -- the thing that separates two nostrils in your nose dissolved. It gets dissolved by long standing chronic use of cocaine.
Number two, she had emphysema from cigarette smoking undoubtedly.
Number three, she had something called a fatty liver, which is something you get from drinking a lot and you have to drink fairly recently.
We found cannabis in her system. We find cocaine in her system. Everyone knows that.
Now, this theory she had some kind of heart problem, I take issue with that. She had mild -- let me say, not even mild, minimal heart disease on this autopsy report. Sixty percent coronary artery stenosis is something that no doctor would ever do anything with because it`s harmless. You would watch it over the next 10 to 20 years.
Now, the theory they`re trying to promulgate is that she must have had a rhythm disturbance in her heart or maybe a clot that formed in one of those arteries and then dissolved -- neither of which is any evidence of in this report. That`s a pure guess about what happened here.
But I say there`s some other clue, her being upside down in the bathtub and the fact -- Shelly, you tell me if this suggests the same thing to you -- low levels of Xanax in her blood despite of empty pill bottles at her bedside with lot -- what should have had large amount of Xanax in it.
How do you put that altogether?
SPRAGUE: I think that, you know, what we`re looking at is possibly some sort of seizure that created --
PINSKY: That`s what I think.
SPRAGUE: -- her to flip over.
SPRAGUE: And unconscious.
PINSKY: I think that`s exactly right.
SPRAGUE: And you`re face down in the water and you had a seizure. You`re unconscious. That could happen.
PINSKY: Here`s the way to induce the seizure. She induced by not taking Xanax after having been on it for a period of time. The blood levels go low. Seizure goes up. Cocaine induces a seizure as well. Cannabis is of no help here.
So, she`s on all these things that create a seizure. Everything looks like a seizure and they`re saying heart disease.
PINSKY: But she had no booze in her blood, which is another thing that can cause seizure is the booze coming out of your system. So, she may have been trying to get off some of these things and needed more medical supervision. It`s kind of crazy.
HOWARD: I have this question, though -- this provides, as I said earlier, more questions than answers.
HOWARD: Is this uncommon in instances by where the full report is released, they`re asking more questions?
PINSKY: You know, I got to tell you, in my --
HOWARD: Is there any way to determine if she did have a seizure?
PINSKY: No, not that I know of. I`m not a pathologist. Maybe they have -- you know what? There`s enzymes, there are muscle enzymes you can test for that would be up, might be up in her blood system if she broke down muscle from seizing so much.
HOWARD: Important thing to note, and we don`t want to feed into the conspiracy theories --
HOWARD: -- this is the report from the county of Los Angeles Department of Coroner. The Beverly Hills Police Department is still doing its own investigation, and said all along that they will close the case on receipt of this report. That hasn`t happened just yet.
PINSKY: I don`t think they should close it, because this still leaves open the possibility of foul play. This weird hot -- super hot water.
SPRAGUE: Very hot water, that`s very hard.
PINSKY: How hot was it six hours before? And staying hot all day, there must be an explanation, but I don`t know what that is.
But face down, lots of cocaine around her -- cocaine in her system and low levels of the other substances that she clearly had been using because she has empty bottles of large amounts of this.
HOWARD: Going into a bathtub that has hot water, would that be a contributing factor to bring on a seizure?
PINSKY: No. Not that I`m aware of anyway.
Shelly, have you had any different experience?
PINSKY: Do you interpret this different than I do?
SPRAGUE: No. I think that combination obviously between the low levels of Xanax and the high levels of cocaine can create what we`re talking about, because that`s the only thing that makes sense that you`d be upside down in a bathtub.
PINSKY: And let`s be fair. We`re talking -- Shelly and I are accustomed to talking about this as though we`re talking about some abstract person. You know, this is someone that everybody loved. This was a mother. It`s a very sad story.
And it`s part of the nefarious, treacherous course of addiction. Addiction kills people by so many different means. And that is what this is and other addiction --
HOWARD: Just a few weeks ago, Bobbi Kristina had not been interviewed as part of this investigation. And this report says that they were unable to speak to her before releasing these findings.
PINSKY: But they`d like to.
HOWARD: Well, they`ve released the findings. That closed the case. That`s the coroner. She hasn`t.
PINSKY: Thank you, Dylan. Thank you, Shelly.
Next up: if your mom or dad are best friend, or loved one was in pain and suffering from a terminal illness and wanted to die and asked you for help doing so -- could you help them? That`s next.
PINSKY: Welcome back.
Now, tonight, imagine your mom, you dad, or perhaps your best friend, brother, sister, in pain, in misery, suffering from a terminal illness, for sure going to die and wanted to die. Imagine they begged you to help them do it. Could you? Would you? What would that be like?
I`m not talking about someone -- taking someone off life support or stopping tube feeding. I`m talking about actively supporting them in killing themselves.
Today, a California woman stands charged with helping her 86-year-old friend commit suicide. Police say Elizabeth Barrett helped Jack Koency in just a fatal combination of prescription medication. He was not terminally ill but had reportedly suffered from PTSD and depression.
So, if you had to decide between watching your loved die or be miserable, what would you do?
Joining me tonight, former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some," Wendy Murphy. The lawyer for Elizabeth Barrett, David Borsari. Jennifer Popik, legislative counsel for the National Right to Life Committee. And John West, who actually assisted both his parents in suicide.
John, I want to start with you. Tell us that. I mean, again, I have four guests; I have to work through everybody`s stories here.
But yours to me is the most sort of dramatic. What made you decide to do this and what was that experience like?
JOHN WEST, ASSISTED BOTH PARENTS WITH SUICIDE: Well, my parents were terminally ill and were in pain and they asked me for my help and I provided it. It`s sort of common sense. The people you love and you care about, you do for your loved ones what you can.
PINSKY: Had you discussed this before it got to this point? Is this something you shared together and planned, or just when things got bad, they asked for help?
WEST: When they asked for help when the time came around. Prior to that, it was just kind of a philosophical issue that was discussed, a medical household. Both my parents were doctors. And so, it was just kind of a social thing of patient`s choice at the end of life. And individual choice is something we -- our family believe in.
PINSKY: Do you find that I find very frequently is that physicians, when faced with terminal illness choose suicide? Because we see what happens to people that don`t do that. It`s very common for doctors to do that.
WEST: Absolutely. And doctors know which side of the white coat they want to stay on and nobody wants to be a medical basket case at the end of their life, particularly medical people. And a lot of doctors have their own stashes and a lot of doctors help their patients. It happens all the time.
PINSKY: The district attorney says that Barrett chose to assist this man -- we`re switching back to the case -- in ending his life instead of seeking help for him. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EBRAHIM BAYTIEH, ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What`s seen is the opposite what we expect decent people to do. We expect decent people, when they see somebody like that, to pick up the phone and call 911 and say, hey, I know this individual. And he wants to harm himself, he wants to kill himself, he wants to end his life. He needs him.
She did the exact opposite. She helped him, and that`s a crime. He was part of the greatest generation. He fought in World War II. And unfortunately, he came back and suffered from depression. He suffered from a post traumatic stress disorder. He was paranoid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: John, one thing I have found, physicians, when they face with end of life terminal illness and they because we`ve seen it in our patients, the suffering that`s ahead, commonly choose suicide.
WEST: Oh, absolutely. Nobody wants to be a basket case at the end of their life, especially doctors.
PINSKY: Well, funny you say basket case. I want to go on out to Jennifer Popik, the National Right to Life.
Jennifer, I belief you have some data, or quoting some data on the reasons that people choose suicide and it`s not necessarily pain and misery.
JENNIFER POPIK, NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE: That`s right. In the two states in the nation where they have actually legalized physician- assisted deaths, physician-assisted suicide, what we see is that they`ve been survey data done and they talked to family members, close family members, and sometimes the patient themselves. And overwhelmingly, the patients selected as a reason that they feared becoming a burden.
And from our point of view, this doesn`t become a choice anymore. These are people in their fears and the fear is that they`re going to become a burden. It`s not an active choice.
And the idea that they`re in current pain, not even one person selected that. Sure, there was fear of pain and there was other things, but not one person in this survey selected being in current pain as a reason for choosing -- so called choosing assisted suicide.
PINSKY: But, John, I would say that misery is a number one reason and misery is not necessarily recorded as pain, isn`t it?
WEST: Exactly. Misery is how you feel about everything. And there`s a difference between being depressed and being appropriately sad that your life is going to end.
The other thing that I`d like to point out is there`s actually four states where insisted suicide is legal. Not two -- two legislatively and two judicially. But there`s four states.
And there`s lots of data which show that people who are in pain, especially in Oregon and Washington, where it`s been around longer, are choosing this. As far as being a burden and all that other sort of thing, that is a form of pain, what my mother called psychic pain.
WEST: Misery -- I like your term. Perfect.
PINSKY: David, I want to go to you now. You`re representing Elizabeth Jane Barrett, the woman that did this.
DAVID BORSARI, ATTORNEY FOR ELIZABETH JANE BARRETT: Yes.
PINSKY: To me, it looked like an accident. I don`t want to be the judge and jury here. But this woman goes in to help a friend who is on a lot of medicine. The guy dies. She gets blamed for this guy`s death.
Am I reading this right?
BORSARI: You`re reading this right.
The one thing everybody seems to agree on is that the victim committed suicide. The issue in the case is whether Elizabeth Barrett knowingly assisted him. I`m here to tell you that she did not.
PINSKY: What about the doctor who prescribed all the medicine? Where is that in this?
BORSARI: That may become an issue or he may have unilaterally decided to abuse his prescription. But what Elizabeth Barrett was told by the victim was that please help me take medication being prescribed by a doctor.
PINSKY: So, this story isn`t about assisted suicide.
PINSKY: This isn`t a man and a woman who colluded together to have a suicide. And she was actively assisting him.
BORSARI: She did not knowingly assist him.
PINSKY: You`re sure of that?
BORSARI: We`re certain.
PINSKY: There`s video of her I guess preparing stuff and that was -- why did he have a video on it?
BORSARI: He had surveillance video in his apartment for whatever security reasons he needed, and I`m led to believe that the crushing of the medication was captured on video. She trusted a friend and asked to help give medication that she was told was prescribed by doctor.
PINSKY: Wendy, I want to go out to you.
Does that defense withstand the sniff test for you?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, if that were the whole story. But she also took him to the funeral parlor before this happened to make arrangements for his burial. That will bear on what the jury thinks about her intentions.
PINSKY: Well, but he was an 86-year-old man. I mean, just making preparations, perhaps. I`m just playing devil`s advocate.
MURPHY: Look, I know, I know. But I`m just saying it`s not that weak of a case. There is some evidence that she was intentionally knowingly doing what she did. Let the jury figure it out.
You know, I worry that assisted suicide makes murder murky. And we don`t want murder t be murky. We want to preserve the value of life.
And, you know, there`s just so much about who makes the decision. That makes me nervous. I don`t want money driven decisions about who lives and dies. And that`s where we`re going.
I want to introduce a new segment to this show, I hope you don`t mind. I would like to know, what would Drew do? Because I`m hearing everybody say what they think. What would Drew do?
PINSKY: Jennifer, here`s what I would do, honestly. Really, I think what you`re asking is what would I do if I were in a position. And I no doubt would do the same thing that other families do, is sit there and be completely miserable while I watched my loved ones suffer day after day after day. And I would sit and shake and rock and feel helpless.
And as physicians, we`re helpless to help those family members because we can only go so far. We wouldn`t do this to our dogs, I say, and yet we do this to the people we love.
So, I have a real problem with this. We need to have -- as you say, your parents were physicians. They chose suicide because they knew what was coming.
Physicians, we deal with this every day. We know what the right thing to do here is, and it`s not a slippery slope. I say the kibosh in all the people that claim it`s some sort of slippery slope or Wendy says it`s going to get motivated by money.
People -- professionals do their damn job. Palliative care is something we need to really embrace these days, not everything can be cured, and we can get death if we really know what we`re doing.
Thank you, Wendy, Jennifer, Dave and John.
Up next, the brother of Terri Schiavo, who had to watch his sister die after a court order removal of her feeding tube. I`ll talk to him about that case when we get back.
PINSKY: Welcome back,
Joining me tonight is Bobby Schiavo, the brother of Terri Schiavo.
You remember this story. I think everyone thinks about Terri Schiavo when you talk about these issues of right to die. She lived for years in what was called a vegetative state after a severe injury. She died in 2005 after 13 days of court order what`s been called starvation. The feeding tube was removed.
Bobby and his family fought to keep her alive, but the court sided with Terri`s husband Michael Schiavo, who wanted her to die a natural death. He claimed she did not wanted, in fact, she was explicit in her desire to live in incapacitated state.
Bob, thanks for being here, Bobby. I appreciate it.
It`s been seven years since your sister passed. How is your family doing?
BOBBY SCHINDLER, BROTHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO: My family is fine. We established an organization now that we`re fighting for the rights of people, similar to my sister, and the condition she was in. And it helps us. But there`s not a day that doesn`t go by that we don`t think of Terri and really the inhumane death that she experienced during those almost two weeks of going without food and water.
PINSKY: Which brings us up the issue of the right to die. Do you have any opinion on assisted suicide?
SCHINDLER: Well, certainly, we`re concerned with assisted suicide. Anytime you look at killing as the acceptable answer to human suffering, I think we should all be concerned because none of us would be safe.
But our issue really and what we`re concerned about is how every day in our country, people that are being cared for by basic care, food and water, are having it denied like in the case of my sister. We don`t believe Terri was in a vegetative state. She was simply in a cognitive disability that needs our loving care. She was not brain dead. She was not in a coma.
And because the way the laws have changed, food and water through feeding tubes is being redefined as medical treatment. Because of this, there are literally millions of people in our country that are potentially in jeopardy of being killed by having their food and water removed because it has --
PINSKY: Let me -- let me just say, as a physician, having taken care of vegetative patents for years, I would want the feeding tube removed. I would not want to live like that. And I would come and haunt anybody that put in that -- sat me then with bed sores and feeding and not being able to have a productive life. I would be incensed by that.
SCHINDLER: That wasn`t -- that wasn`t the case for my sister, first of all. That wasn`t the case for my sister.
Look, nobody would choose, given the choice, to live with a disability. I think that`s a fair question. The fact of the matter is there are people living in this condition. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of people that are in similar conditions or worse than my sister. In fact, people coming -- there are soldiers coming back from war right now in similar conditions to my sister, only being sustained by food and water.
And all these people need is love and compassion. Now, we are basing life and death decisions on a person`s quality rather than their equal worth. And I think once you accept -- again, once you look at someone`s life as having no worth or looking at their quality of life as such where they`re not worthy of being cared for, then I think we`re going walking down a very dangerous path.
PINSKY: But, Bobby, people are free to make explicit -- live explicit directions to keep them sustained under any circumstances, we have to do that.
PINSKY: Somebody tells us to do.
So, I guess what we`re saying tonight is people better review their directives to their physicians very clearly and know who their durable powers of attorney are for health care to make sure that your wishes are followed through. If you`re like me, take the feeding tube out, if you`re like Bobby, just keep it in, right?
SCHINDLER: Well, I don`t disagree. People should be clear on what they want in certain circumstances. But we`re talking about simple basic care here, food and water. I mean, if you go to our Web site, lifeandhope.com, you can see some of the chilling stories.
PINSKY: I have to take a break, Bobby. I`m sorry to interrupt you.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Police say a married couple lured a young teacher to a deserted road just because they felt like killing someone. They pretended to have car trouble and strangled her when she showed up. The only witness, her two-year-old son who told police, mommy cried.
This young mother told her friend she was afraid to go meet the couple whom she knew. Why didn`t she trust her intuition?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): You folks are sounding off about all kinds of stuff tonight, so let`s get to something first here. This is a response from yesterday`s story about the boy whose father forced him to eat screws. Tiffany on Facebook writes, "I hope the child is doing OK and is in better care now. Poor kid. Someone should make that man eat screws so he`ll know how it feels. Dang!"
Yes, ma`am. John on Facebook seems to agree saying, "Unfortunately, anyone can be a parent. Can`t change that, but when you hear things like this, it really stinks."
And beyond that, my question is, we talk about this all the time, and I just wonder what it`s going to take for us really to keep this top of mind, because if you really want to diminish many of society`s ills, take proper care of our kids, guys. Let`s do that.
All right. Lillian, you`re on the line. What`s up, Lillian?
LILLIAN: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: How are you?
LILLIAN: I`m good. How are you?
PINSKY: I`m all right. What`s going on?
LILLIAN: Yes. I saw the segment yesterday with Loni, and how she was totally -- and I totally agree with her the fact that there`s no need to ever hit a kid in order to get them to do what you want them to do, even if it`s just like a spanking or anything like that.
LILLIAN: I remember as a kid, I actually -- I remember my first spanking and most kids, you know, don`t remember -- who remembers a spanking because you have so many.
PINSKY: Was it bad? Yours?
LILLIAN: It was my dad. It wasn`t abuse then, but it, later, turned into abuse.
PINSKY: Lillian, here`s what we know about striking kids, and this is the not arguable, and I didn`t have time to get into this last night, but let me just state it here. When you hit a kid, the behavior you want them to stop does stop, and then, you see a rise in those same behaviors above the baseline where they were when you tried to get them to stop.
This is what hitting does. Not only that, we know what it does to kids` brains. Experiences of terror actually disconnects part of the emotional system so children can`t regulate, can`t feel safe in a relationship with other people, which is where we build emotional regulation and meaning and a sense of ourselves. So, it has a dramatic, dramatic cost. So, Lillian, I thank you for bringing that up.
LILLIAN: I would agree with that, because --
PINSKY: The fact.
LILLIAN: I currently actually -- like, I have trouble forming relationships with men in my life.
PINSKY: And trouble trusting, right? That`s the big thing.
LILLIAN: Yes. Yes. It`s like, you know, I`m actually homeless because of it, because my dad even -- I`m only 22, and you know, most kids are going to college and still live at home. I`m actually -- I`ve been homeless for over a year now, because I left an abusive situation, but, you know --
PINSKY: And let me point out another thing. When kids leave home, when they run away and stay away, it`s because there`s abuse in the home. That`s how it works. This is not my opinion, this is the fact. So, thank you, Lillian.
Listen, please get services. They can you help with this. There are lot of people out there that can really help you work this through so you can trust again, can build relationships and be OK. Cathy in Florida, go right ahead.
CATHY, FLORIDA: This is Cathy Garvey (ph).
PINSKY: Hi, Cathy. What`s up?
CATHY: Hi. They asked me to talk to you about my response that I e- mailed yesterday about, is there racism still in America and how could affect things (ph)?
PINSKY: Cathy, you`re on the air. Get to the call. What do you got?
CATHY: OK. Yes. I`m somebody who lived west coast to east coast, yes, there is racism still in America, definitely in Florida --
PINSKY: The Trayvon case is telling us this. I mean, unfortunately, that`s the indisputable proof that some -- to deny that that`s in this story is, I think, a big mistake, but go ahead. So, what`s your point?
CATHY: My own homeowner`s association, I`ve had people openly state that a local African-American community is responsible for any problems we have. The racial slurs have been used. And these are not just people that were born and bred in Florida. These are people that are transplanted from New York and New Jersey.
PINSKY: What`s your point here tonight? What can we get (ph)?
PINSKY: What`s your question?
CATHY: There is racism, and there is a big brother network that`s still working here, and if somebody in my neighborhood had done something terrible, there`s a group of guys that would have gotten behind them and said, yes, we`re behind them 100 percent, they would never do any wrong.
PINSKY: Well, I`m not sure I quite understand your point, but I think the point is worth making that the Trayvon Martin case has raised our awareness on some stuff that`s deeper, perhaps, than we realized and now it`s up in front of us. We can`t deny it. We got to deal with it. I want to go to the next call, which is Natalie, I believe. Nathalie, are you there? Go ahead. You`re in New York.
NATHALIE, NEW YORK: Yes, sir. How are you?
PINSKY: Hey, Nathalie. What`s going on?
NATHALIE: Not much. Trying to cope with these symptoms and this anxiety that I`m having.
PINSKY: So, what do you mean? What`s happening.
NATHALIE: Well, I`m experiencing something called depersonalization and derealization.
PINSKY: You`re having panic attacks?
NATHALIE: Yes. Well, it all started with a panic attack. Actually, I don`t really know for a fact, because I had a really bad cold also. So, I don`t really know if the cold had anything to do with it.
PINSKY: Well, if you were taking cold medicine, than can help precipitate the panic attack, because there are stimulants in it.
NATHALIE: No, I haven`t started any other medicines. No.
PINSKY: Let me share something with you. Let me share something with you. I, too, when I was in college, which is the age when these things typically come on, had a depressive episode associated with panic attacks and depersonalization and derealization. I had lot of those same symptoms.
And for people at home don`t understand what that is. It`s a feeling of disassociation like you feel like you`re stop existing or you don`t know who you are, or you`re looking at the world from a tunnel. It`s a very unpleasant feeling, isn`t it, Nathalie? It`s extremely unpleasant.
NATHALIE: Yes. It`s horrible.
PINSKY: And I actually was mishandled. I actually was not treated properly at all. I think it`s what made interested in mental health. It made me interested in adolescent and adult health, particularly, to make sure that somebody who had some expertise particularly for that stage of life.
PINSKY: But these are exquisitely common problems. They can be treated. I don`t know if anything like that anymore. I wish people had given me the right medication back then because there are very good medications to settle it all down. And then, talk therapies are extremely effective for this kind of thing. Are you getting all that?
NATHALIE: I`m not really doing any medication. I am doing talk therapy.
NATHALIE: But I`m really afraid of, you know, anti-depressants and things like that.
PINSKY: Again, I told you. I can relate very strongly to what you`re dealing with. I went through it myself. I don`t know what to say. I can`t get any closer to it than that. And to tell you, it gets better, but you got to do the work and you have to follow people`s directions. If they say medicine is what you need, you take the medicine, because you have to break the cycle.
And again, I wish people give me a lot more. Now, a lot more is available to help people with that kind of thing. So, I would say just hang in there. I have to talk now about some of what you guys are writing in about "Celebrity Rehab." One of our graduates, he`s known as Shifty Shellshock, we also know him as Seth Binzer.
Carolyn asked me, "What are your feelings about former celebrity rehab Seth being in a coma?" Let me address this thing. I`ve got a lot to say about this, actually. Seth, we love him a lot. He has been sober and doing well, I`m told, and I`ve been checking in on him all long. He seemed to have been doing well.
This current incident probably is not related to addiction, but more of an impulsive act, and he, himself, will have to tell you about this, I really can`t talk about it, unless, I`m instructed by him. This coma, I`m told, is induced by the teen (ph) that`s taken care of him. It`s not a coma caused by brain injury, and he is expected to recover.
So, I would say, let`s all say our prayers for Seth, and he`ll be up and about telling us what happened and what`s going on and how he`s doing. Remember this, addiction is a deadly disease. It`s more likely to kill you than most cancers. For somebody like me, if I`m going to treat addiction, if people don`t do exactly what I tell them to do, they`re going to die.
It`s very simple. If you do what I say, you`re going to have a flourishing life, recover. There`s an amazing, inspiring recovery out there for every addict. But if you do it your way, deadly disease, death, and mortality, jail, institutionalization is where it goes. It`s where it goes.
All right. Coming up next, a husband and wife, get this, plan to carry out a murder. Now, this was a beloved school teacher in Vermont. The motives are very bizarre. I`m going to tell you about how they basically just wanted to kill someone.
And here`s my question. We hear stories often of women not wanting to, let`s say, in this case, the teacher had a funny feeling about this guy and she didn`t want to be around him. You know, he was sort of making strange overtures. She put him out of his life, the teacher that eventually was killed, and then he came back and complained about car trouble, and guess what, she didn`t follow her instincts.
So, one of the questions we`re asking here tonight, why don`t women hear their instincts and why don`t they respond to them? So, we`ll get to that after this.
PINSKY: Listen to this story, a Vermont couple was in jail, arrested for allegedly killing a mother, wife, and teacher. That`s the story I was telling you about in the last break. Thirty-three -year-old Melissa Jenkins was from St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police arrested Allen Prue (ph), age 30, and Patricia Prue, age 33, (INAUDIBLE) of Vermont for second-degree murder and improper (ph) disposal of a body.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was riding around with his with, Patricia, and got the idea to get a girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allen and Patricia Prue are married. They knew Ms. Jenkins.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He grabbed her and strangled her. She stopped moving and he put her in the back seat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: The stunning story. Police say Allen and Patricia Prue planned and carried out this crime because they wanted to -- get this -- know what it would feel like to kill someone.
Joining us to look beneath the headlines here are Char Margolis, author of the new best-selling book, "Love Karma" and Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor. But first, Pat Brown, criminal profiler. Pat, the family of these killers say they`re great people, great people. So, my question is, Pat, other than psychopathy, I`m going to go easy on you here, what makes someone become a thrill killer or is that what this is?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: That`s what they`re claiming it to be. The family is obviously putting their heads in the sand. These are not nice people, not possibly could be nice people. Nobody just wants to go out and find out what it`s like to kill someone. But this man, also of this couple, was also stalking a young teenage girl.
So, my guess is this was not just a thrill kill but a sexual homicide. And I`m really upset, because they should have been charged with murder one, because they said they wanted to kill a girl. So, they`ve already admitted that`s part of their motive. They went -- used a ruse to get this poor woman out of her house, which means that they`re not going to take her back.
She knows them. So, obviously, they`re not going to return her. It`s not like, you know, they grab a hitchhiker and they could just toss her on the back on the road and say goodbye. This woman knew them. They have to kill her. And they also are lying like dogs about killing her while they`re pulling her out of her vehicle. Garbage. They brought it back to their home.
My guess is, she was sexually assaulted and murdered there. So, this should have been a murder one case, and I do not understand why this -- it`s just -- I just don`t get it. I don`t see what this lowering of the charges are.
PINSKY: Wendy is a prosecutor. I see Wendy shaking her head vigorously. What do you say to that?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. I had the same reaction when I saw the charge, second degree? I mean, you look at the Vermont law, it`s very clear. Any number of theories directly related to what they say they did apply to first degree. It`s not like it`s a close case.
Premeditation, if you kidnap someone for the purpose of killing them or if you take someone for the purpose of sexually assaulting them and they die, all of those are first degree murder theories in Vermont. Where`s the second degree coming from?
I have to believe that either there`s more to the story, which may well be the case or there are just fruit loops. You know, these people are so whacked that the cops feel some sympathy for them and that`s playing into this. I don`t get it.
I do think that they`ve got to be, at least, intellectually inferior, and I use those words gingerly here, because I don`t want to be -- you know, I know what the right words are, but if you`re trying to kill someone for the thrill of it, let`s just say if you`re just above average IQ, you would know, let`s not pick the really popular teacher down the road with the kid in the car, because that`s going to be a national news story, and we`re screwed.
You want to get away with it. You know, I don`t mean to put this, you know, indelicately, but you pick sort of, you know, a runaway, homeless elderly person in the middle of nowhere. And I just think they`re either stupid or there`s more to the story or both.
PINSKY: So, Pat, I don`t want you to profile Wendy with her selection of the runaway homeless person, but I know where you go with this.
MURPHY: I don`t mean it that way.
PINSKY: Let me ask this question for Pat, though, which is that the scary part of this is -- and I want to get into Char about this particular issue is that what should the average person look out for? I mean, this teacher had a bad feeling about these people, but she, somehow, is lured to go help them. I mean, what do you think that was all about?
BROWN: I think she`s just probably an overly, overly nice person, because here`s people that she didn`t know very well asked her to come out in the night? Don`t they have any other friends? Can`t they call for a tow truck? Why would they call a single mother with a baby and ask her to go out to the cold night with her child?
She should have said, no, but I -- maybe, I can call someone for you and get them to come out. I think she was naive and very sweet and just way too helpful kind of person. But I do want to say, Wendy is correct. I mean, these people are stupid. That`s what I believe, but there are very stupid people out there who commit crimes.
And what they do is they picked a high risk victim, I mean, a very high risk victim because right back to them rather than the low risk victim, like she said, somebody that was out and about, wouldn`t have been able to identify them or if disappeared, nobody would be looking for. So, they were terribly stupid. So, they deserve murder one anyway. I don`t care if they`re stupid.
PINSKY: Is that a technical profiling term?
PINSKY: I want to get to something a little different here. It`s for people at home and that`s why I asked Char to be here, which is this idea of this women knowing better on some level. Why women in particular -- I hear this all the time, on "Loveline."
I see this all the time in my clinical practice. Women focus on other people and don`t listen to their instincts and then make terrible choices.
CHAR MARGOLIS, AUTHOR, "LOVE KARMA": Well, you know, animals have instinct. People have intuition. When the tsunami came, the people stood there and took pictures of the wave coming. The animals went to high ground and save themselves. It sounds to me like -- I always say (ph) when we use logic, common sense, and intuition, we get our best answers.
So, it sounds to me like this woman was a people pleaser. Everybody loved her. She was a favorite teacher, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then, she had a gut feeling that said be careful, warning signs, we all get those warnings signs.
PINSKY: And let`s spell this out for people at home. Gut feeling is an intuition.
PINSKY: -- body. The oldest part of your brain, your body telling you something, you should listen to it.
MARGOLIS: Right. Right. It`s instinctive. And she was a people pleaser. So, she had to be nice. So, she went along with it, but her gut was saying, warning, warning, warning. What I try to teach people in my intuition classes, which I teach all the time is that, we need to not only trust our gut and listen to it but act upon it.
PINSKY: Respond to it.
MARGOLIS: Act upon it.
MARGOLIS: It`s so important. It can mean a matter of life and death, just like this.
PINSKY: Is there a reason -- I`ve got about 10 seconds here left, but is there a reason that women tend not like more than men, it seems to -- well, men don`t hear their intuitions as much, but women hear it but then don`t act on it. Is there a reason?
MARGOLIS: Well, I just think it depends on the human being and the person and how confident they are in their own guidance. We all have guardian angels. We all have spirit guides. We all have intuition. And we all need to learn to listen to it, because -- and most important to act on it, because as I said, it can save your life.
PINSKY: OK. Now, I`ve got more with these guests as we explore this Vermont -- I guess, there -- I no longer want to call them thrill killers. I want to call them -- I don`t have a name for them yet, but this is an outrageous situation, and we`ll explore the case and we`ll explore why further what it is we all need to do to avoid this kind of thing and listen to our intuition more and act on it. Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just hope that these people are put away forever who committed this crime. They`re very nice people, and I just don`t understand why they would be accused of something so, you know, insane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And we are learning that this Vermont husband and wife who lured a mother, wife, and teacher into the car then strangled her to death not such nice people. Purportedly, they did this because they wanted to know what it would feel like to kill.
Tonight, they`re behind bars. Neighbors and family of these alleged killers say they were good people. You saw some footage right there. So, can good people suddenly become thrill killers? Pat says, no. Wendy, how often do you deal with situations where there are people -- I`m not really delved with this at all -- people who just kill for a thrill?
MURPHY: It`s extremely rare. Let me say, and you know, I was a prosecutor for five years. I handled some murder cases. There`s always an explanation that makes a lot more sense than I just felt like doing it.
That`s why I think there may be more to this story, maybe not. But my comfort level, my instinct, is that there`s something other than just, we felt like killing somebody that really motivated them. And maybe it`s just that, you know, he developed some sort of sick crush on her because he knew her and he felt rebuffed.
He liked her, she didn`t like him, whatever. I think if this case were to go in front of a jury, one of the reason there`s a risk the jury might actually vote to acquit, I know this sounds a little cookie is, a jury wants to make sense of why somebody does something.
And if you offer up -- we don`t why they just did it for the thrill, you can lose those kinds of cases because it doesn`t make enough sense to the jury that they can understand it and vote guilty. Weirdly enough --
PINSKY: Pat, do you agree with that?
BROWN: Well, our jury system -- it`s pretty questionable. But I think what they need to present is somebody like Phillip Garrido (ph) and his wife who seemed to think it was fine to kidnap people and take them back to their house and keep them for years or a Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka in Canada who kidnap teenage girls, brought them back to their house, sexually tortured them and murdered them.
There`s couples like that, quite a few of them, who find that amusing to have this little game together. So, this is what I would be presented, because I think there`s something -- there`s a sexual assault here that we`re not hearing about yet. It has to be in there. I just don`t think they just brought her back to kill her.
PINSKY: That is my instinct on this, too. Thank you Pat, thank you, Wendy. And Char, I have 15 seconds to wrap it up. What do people --
MARGOLIS: Well, you know what, I live in a world of energy. And, when this woman had an intuitive feeling, the people that she was telling it to should have said, you know what, you better listen to that. If we don`t understand it ourselves, so what if she`s going to hurt their feeling.
And there`s good and evil in the world. A battery doesn`t run unless there`s a positive and negative charge. So, people need to recognize, this is the world and act upon saving yourself when you get your gut feelings.
PINSKY: It can save your life and also reflect back to people, and they mention, it will help --
MARGOLIS: -- saying something, listen to them and follow through and tell them.
PINSKY: Thank you, guys. I appreciate you being here.
Now, I want to say something. Tonight is this show`s one year anniversary. And I`ve got a few people I want to thank. First of all, yes, to my cameramen, my stager manager, dancing and holding their hands up here. They, of course, make this possible and fun every night.
I want to thank Scott Saphon (ph), Catherine Gree (ph), Bill Galvin (ph), Tim Mallon (ph), Barbara Hammond (ph) who heads up our Atlanta production team, Director David Bill (ph) back there, my control I`m always asking for, and Allan Cain (ph) in Atlanta.
And a big thanks to you guys, the viewers, for watching, helping us craft this show, and hopefully, we`ll continue to develop it and build it into something you want. We`re doing this for you guys. Thank you for watching. Thank you for calling. Thank you for participating online. And of course, we`ll see you next time.