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Fugitive Adam Mayes Dead; High School Incident Haunts Romney; JPMorgan Loses $2 Billion; Pow Parents Reveal Talks With Taliban; FBI Search For Stolen Art

Aired May 11, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're very happy you're with us. You are bringing you the news from A to Z.

It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. So, let's get right to it this morning.

Up first, the manhunt for one of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives is over. Authorities say Adam Mayes apparently shot himself as a SWAT team closed in last night in Union County, Mississippi.

Mayes later died at a local hospital. He'd been on the run since allegedly kidnapping two sisters two weeks ago. Mayes and his wife are accused of murdering the mother Jo Ann Bain and the oldest daughter, 14-year-old Adrienne.

The two girls, 12-year-old Alexandria Bain and her sister, 8- year-old Kyliyah were rescued. A relative says Adam Mayes believed that he was the father of those two little girls.

CNN's George Howell is following all of the developments for us. He is live in Atlanta. If you could go over exactly what happened last night, and everyone wants to know how those two little girls are doing.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, let's talk about those two girls, let's talk about Alexandria and Kyliyah. Again, both girls, from what we've read from these affidavits very likely knew their mother and older sister were killed. We know that they were found alive. We also know they were sent to a Memphis hospital where they are being treated.

In fact, we heard from a federal investigator who tells us, quote, "They are suffering from the experience of being out in the woods, from being kidnapped, they are suffering from dehydration and exhaustion but appear to be OK." That is first and foremost the condition of those girls.

Let's also talk about Adam Mayes. We know that he was found in a wooded area in Union County, Mississippi. This is in that Guntown area that investigators had focused in on. And this was a task force that was nearby. It was a task force of the Mississippi highway patrol, special operations team, and also officers from the state game and fish department.

Now, they got a call from someone who noticed a vehicle that this person believed belonged to Mayes. When these officers got to this wooded area and started closing in, they heard a gunshot. Then they got closer and discovered that Adam Mayes had shot himself, shot himself in the head. Mayes was rushed to the hospital and he either died en route to the hospital or at the hospital.

SAMBOLIN: So, George, we know the girls are physically safe, right? And they're in the hospital. What happens to them now?

HOWELL: Well, we believe that at some point, they will go back into the care of their father, Gary Bain. And again, we know that Bain has been in seclusion, obviously very distraught since all of this happened. But that is very likely what will happen next.

Obviously, they are in Memphis at this point being treated just to make sure that they are okay before being reunited with their father.

SAMBOLIN: I think it was a collective sigh of relief when they said that those two little girls were OK.

Thank you for all those details this morning.


BANFIELD: Also making news this morning, JPMorgan Chase is the stock to watch after the banking giant's CEO dropped a $2 billion bombshell yesterday.

Jamie Dimon making jaws drop all over Wall Street, admitting in a conference call that a trading portfolio that was designed to help JPMorgan Chase hedge its credit risk actually lost $2 billion and could actually lose $1 billion more.


JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JPMORGAN CHASE: The new strategy was flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed, and poorly monitored. The portfolio has proven to be riskier, more volatile, and less effective an economic hedge than we thought.


BANFIELD: JPMorgan Chase's stock took a 6 percent hit yesterday and it could be headed lower again today based on the morning futures.

SAMBOLIN: It's three minutes past the hour.

An apology to the boss from the vice president. Senior administration officials say Joe Biden has apologized to President Obama for putting him in a tough spot on the same-sex marriage issue. It's a story our own Jessica Yellin first broke here on CNN. Biden came out in support of same-sex marriage on a Sunday morning talk show and some believe that forced the president to make his own announcement ahead of schedule.

We're told the president responded by telling Biden he knew that he was speaking from the heart.

BANFIELD: The John Edwards corruption trial is coming to a crossroads today. The defense planning to ask the judge to dismiss all of the charges against the former senator, claiming that prosecutors haven't proven their case. Now, that's standard operating procedure. Prosecution rested yesterday without calling Edwards' former mistress Rielle Hunter to the stand.

SAMBOLIN: A tornado slamming a high school, injuring eight people. This is in south Texas. Take a look. The twister striking after school hours but the victims were in the parking lot for a fund- raiser. Several other students were still at softball practice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our coach realized what was going on and he grabbed us all and stuck us in the closet to keep us safe. The press box, the football field was just gone. So all of that was just blown away.


SAMBOLIN: Very smart coach. The tornado also hit a nearby elementary school but no one was injured there.

BANFIELD: And this just in. We like to do this, give you the national average gas price because it dropped again. Another half a cent just in the past 24 hours too. The new national average for a gallon of gas if you're filling up this morning, $3.73 a gallon.

The gas prices tend to peak around Independence Day, so wait because we're going to have to see if the worst is yet behind us as the summer months plug on.

SAMBOLIN: I hope it keeps on falling.


SAMBOLIN: Five minutes past the hour here.

Mitt Romney apologizing for something that he's accused of doing when he was just a teenager. Was it hate? Or a harmless high school prank? We're going to go live to Washington for more details. That's coming up next.


BANFIELD: Welcome back. It's eight minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast.

And Mitt Romney's high school days are really coming back to haunt him it seems and his campaign staff shifting into damage control this morning. The likely Republican nominee says he is sorry for what he calls a, quote, "high school prank" nearly 50 years ago. When witnesses say Romney and a group of friends held down a student who was thought to be gay and cut off chunks of his hair.

"The Washington Post" quoting several Romney classmates who witnessed the incident. They sure didn't think it was a prank, one of them calling it a vicious hack job. Another saying that he is still troubled by it to this day.

Here's Romney's reaction to the incident.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't recall the incident myself but I've seen the reports and not going to argue with that. There's no question but that I did some stupid things when I was in high school. And obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.


BANFIELD: CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser is live in Washington with us this morning.

And, Paul, listen, 50 years ago is a very long time. But there are others who allegedly witnessed these incidents, one of them saying he was so troubled by this that he called it an all-out assault.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, and this story's getting a lot of traction. It kind of exploded after that "Washington Post" article that came out yesterday morning. Here we are the next day talking about it. I have a feeling we'll be talking about it a few more days.

Our Jim Acosta spoke to Philip Maxwell who just got a quote from "The Washington Post." And this is what Maxwell from our Jim Acosta, "I'm a lawyer. I know what an assault is. This kid was scared. He was terrified. That's an assault."

Maxwell told Jim Acosta he still considered himself a friend of Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign put out some quotes from other classmates from the Cranbrook school that knew Mitt Romney 45 years ago, much kinder to Mitt Romney, and what kind of student he was back then.

Kevin Madden, one of the senior advisers to the Romney campaign, he was on CNN last night. It was interesting what he said, and this is I guess the take from the campaign. He said this was a long time ago, 50 years ago, as you just mentioned, Ashleigh. He said, "I think that this is not going to define him, what defines him is how he acts today."

That's what the Romney campaign is trying to say, that was a long time ago, now is now, judge this man, this candidate, on what he's doing today.

A lot of Republican pundits and analysts are saying the same thing, and kind of blaming the media for going off on this and saying, what about President Obama? Four years ago, remember the comments Senator Obama said in his book, that he used illegal drugs in high school, that was an issue on the campaign trail for a brief amount of time.

BANFIELD: And it always comes back. Once you're in the limelight, klieg lights get brighter.

So, he's still on the campaign trail, he's not going to be able to avoid this. But he is at Liberty University, and that's Jerry Falwell territory. So, is he likely to address this? Leave it behind him? How do you expect the campaign to move forward?

STEINHAUSER: I'm not sure if this comes up. But maybe his Mormon faith comes up. When he was running in the Republican primaries a lot of social conservative voters who were a big part of the base of the Republican Party were not so comfortable with him, a lot of their vote went to Rick Santorum and other candidates.

Maybe this speech at Liberty University, the evangelical school founded by the late Jerry Falwell, what may come up maybe -- and I don't know for sure, maybe the gay marriage news from earlier this week from the president may come up as well. Another attempt for Mitt Romney to get his house in order as he moves on and takes on President Obama in the general election, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All right. Paul Steinhauser live for us in D.C. -- thanks for getting up this morning, appreciate it as always.

SAMBOLIN: It is twelve minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date on other top stories.

Fugitive kidnapping and murder suspect Adam Mayes is dead. Two young girls with him were rescued unharmed. Mayes shot himself in the head as police closed on him last night in Mississippi. Mayes and his wife were charged with abducting a mother and her three daughters and killing two of them.

BANFIELD: Police in Portland, Oregon, have linked three decades old murders to the so-called I-5 killer. Investigators say DNA technology "definitely proves," end quote, that Randall Woodfield killed a total of seven people during a 1980s crime spree in Oregon and California.

SAMBOLIN: So imagine this. You or a flight and one of your fellow travelers tries to open a cabin door mid-air. That actually happened on a U.S. Airways flight from Maine to Philadelphia. The plane had to be diverted to Boston's Logan International airport.

A spokesman for the airlines says the passenger became disoriented and was subdued by a flight attendant.

BANFIELD: This won't affect the price of a fill up, but gas pumps will be getting a makeover. The EPA is planning to phase out rubber fittings that are on pump handles that are designed to capture all those gas vapors that you can usually still smell. More than 70 percent of the cars on the road are now equipped to do that themselves. Some 31,000 gas stations across the country will be affected by this move.

SAMBOLIN: And if you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop, maybe on your mobile phone,

A dangerous flood threat for a second day in a row for the Deep South. Rob Marciano is tracking the storms for us.

What's the story?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the story is, a year ago this place was bone dry, much of central and southern Texas yesterday and the past several days seeing a tremendous amount of water, upwards of two to four inches. And some of it record breaking.

Here's some of video coming out of Midland, which saw 2 1/2 inches yesterday, and all the drainage ditches and canals certainly filling up with water in a hurry. So flooding there and the flood threat as you mentioned is going to progress of east. Dilley, Texas, was the dinner with 4 inches, three-and-a-half in Harper, and Austin also saw 2.7 inches of rainfall. That was a record.

On top of that we saw tornadoes. You saw the video in the first block of the show of tornadoes near Austin doing some damage to a high school there. Fourteen reports of tornadoes across Texas yesterday, and a quite a bit of action across Corpus Christi.

The line itself is moving offshore and to the golden triangle of Texas through Houston to Beaumont, Port Arthur, and eventually moving towards Lake Charles. This obviously, this bow echo here heading into the open Gulf of Mexico, certainly has powerful winds with it. But the bulk is offshore.

But along I-10 or Lake Charles, this is where heavy rain is going to be falling throughout the morning today and through the afternoon, two to four inches of additional rainfall expected here. So, flood watches and even some warnings have been posted.

Meanwhile, a little bit further to the east, we're talking gorgeous stuff along the East Coast today. But eventually this storm will ride along the Gulf Coast, get to the Southeast over the weekend. Much of the Northeast will remain in decent daytime highs. D.C., 74, 69 degrees, gorgeous day for the most part in New York.

Guys, back up to you.

BANFIELD: Boy, I'll say. Take a look at the picture behind us, it's gorgeous. Sunrise over Manhattan and Central Park, there's nothing like it. Pretty, pretty.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

Fifteen minutes past the hour here. It is time for "Early Reads."

Catholic bishops are now investigating the girl scouts. "The Washington Post" says the Catholic Church is concerned the scouts are promoting abortion and contraception.


SAMBOLIN: Why? Critics claim some girl scouts materials link to organizations that promote family planning and discrepancy access. The Catholic Church could ban the girl scouts from holding any meetings in their churches. Catholic girls make up one-quarter of the nation's 3 million girl scouts.

I was one of these.


SAMBOLIN: This is a head-scratcher.

BANFIELD: Things don't seem to really equate. But let's pick up their claims.

So, a swimsuit model is getting -- we love the tan mom, don't we? We love the tan mom.

SAMBOLIN: We love the story, yes.

BANFIELD: It's just one of those head-scratchers too. The swimsuit model who's getting this tan mom treatment in H&M m ads. She is one tan girl. You can see the pictures there.

"The Daily Mail" is reporting these kinds of ads --

SAMBOLIN: This one in particular.

BANFIELD: Look at that. That is spray-on tan, isn't it?

They're angry because this is causing outrage from people, cancer groups saying this company is promoting dangerous beauty standards and H&M is already apologizing for this, saying it wasn't the intention, actually, to give off that image.

The ads are featuring a Brazilian model, very pretty, Isabel Fontana. Hello.

But we do have a picture what was she looks like without her dark tan. That is a very different looking girl and she is I would say, personal opinion, even more beautiful without the tan.

SAMBOLIN: She is gorgeous.

All right. We all know the 2012 predictions from the ancient Mayan calendar. Come December 21st, the world is going to end, like in this scene from the movie "2012."


BANFIELD: That's a bummer.

SAMBOLIN: Don't worry, we have good news. Another Mayan calendar has been discovered and it says we've got a lot of time left. Another 7,000 years, at least.

BANFIELD: Oh, good. Not for your 401(k). I mean, seriously, if you were watching those commercials on TV saying, the Mayans say we're done for at the end of this year, spend it all.

SAMBOLIN: No, we're not. According to "National Geographic," archaeologists discovered Mayan murals, hieroglyphics and astronomical calculations deep in the Guatemalan rain forest. Researchers say the calendar is 12,000 years old, making it the oldest Mayan calendar discovered.

BANFIELD: Take that, Mayans.

For an expanded look at all of our top stories, just head over to our blog, Easy to get there, lots of good stuff.

SAMBOLIN: Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Wall Street waking up with egg on its face once again. How bad bets cost banking giant $2 billion in just six weeks. More details on that right after the break.


SAMBOLIN: It is twenty-one minutes past the hour.

We are minding your business this morning. U.S. markets closing mixed yesterday. The Dow and S&P 500 making gains, and the NASDAQ closing --

BANFIELD: Slightly lower. The up and down arrows as we like to say. Some major gains in stocks being held back by continued uncertainties surrounding Europe. We seem like broken records when we say that.

Let's focus on one company in particular this morning with Alison Kosik, who's in for Christine Romans. And that's JPMorgan Chase -- $2 billion loss. You don't hear that every day.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is a classic example of why everybody loves to hate the banks and why everybody's talking about more and more regulation.

So, JPMorgan Chase had this surprise conference call yesterday with stock analysts essentially saying, the CEO Jamie Dimon saying, oops, we made risky bets and we lost, we made huge losses caused by errors, sloppiness, bad judgment. He called these errors stupid.

Keep in mind JPMorgan Chase is the biggest bank by assets and it made some massive bets geared toward the economic recovery. But those bets Jamie Dimon says went bad when the market began to turn the other way.

What happened was as we learned in the conference call yesterday, that caused the bank to lose $2 billion. Those losses could go even higher.

I want you to listen to some of that conference call right now.


DIMON: Speaking for the senior management team and myself, while we can't assure you we won't make mistakes, we can assure you we'll try not to. These were egregious mistakes, they were self- inflicted, we're accountable, and what happened violates our own standards and principles by how we want to operate the company. This is not how we want to run a business.


KOSIK: So, clearly, he's owning up to these mistakes. Ironically, these mistakes came from the part of the company of JPMorgan that's designed to hedge against risk. Obviously this is raising a whole bunch of questions. Number one, where was the oversight? Who was watching this group making these risky bets?

Keep in mind, though, Jamie Dimon says even with this $2 billion loss, which could go higher, at least $1 billion higher, the company's still coming out ahead for the latest quarter, $4 billion. So it's not hurting their balance sheet. But still, it's a huge hit. And a huge shock to this company that really weathered the financial crisis much better than its peers, especially after it took over Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual. It's really a pillar of strength.

And I think from Jamie Dimon, which you heard in this call yesterday, believe it or not even with the $2 billion, it was less about the money and more about his reputation and his ego.

BANFIELD: The mea culpa.

KOSIK: Of course.

SAMBOLIN: Accepting the responsibility, how rare was that? He seemed very fierce and aggressive in his acceptance of the responsibility.

KOSIK: Exactly. And it is shocking to hear him admit to making stupid mistakes. Oops, I lost $2 billion on a stupid mistake. You know, one analyst put it this way --

BANFIELD: One guy in England who sort of set this off.

KOSIK: Exactly. One guy, not a rogue trader but someone who worked in this area of the company that made these big bets that suddenly started to lose money when the tide turned in the company, a domino effect.

BANFIELD: Unbelievable. How many times do we hear this stupid story of one guy in England --

KOSIK: Isn't that amazing?


BANFIELD: Oh, lordy, lordy. Thank you, Alison.

KOSIK: You got it.

BANFIELD: Nice to have you this morning, too.

So, it is 25 minutes past 5:00 and we've got some new details this morning about top secret talks to swap Taliban prisoners. For an American POW, too, who is being held in Afghanistan. How do you feel about that?

Those details are not coming from the government either. They're coming from the POW's parents -- and why they're breaking their silence, after the break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

Here is what's happening at half past the hour.

Two missing Tennessee girls are found alive and physically unharmed. Adam Mayes, a fugitive, suspected of kidnapping them and murdering their mother and sister, is dead. The FBI says Mayes shot himself in the head.

A $2 billion bombshell from the CEO of JPMorgan Chase. Jamie Dimon admitting in a conference call that a trading portfolio designed to hedge off credit risk has lost $2 billion and that it could lose $1 billion more. JPMorgan Chase's stock took a 6 percent hit yesterday and this morning's futures suggest could be headed lower today.

And Mitt Romney apologizing for a high school incident nearly 50 years ago that he insists he doesn't remember. The likely Republican nominee allegedly held down a classmate who was thought to be gay and cut off chunks of his hair. Romney saying he is sorry for what he describes as a high school prank, although some students who witnessed it say it was more like an assault.

BANFIELD: Nine minutes now past 5:00. And we've got some new information this morning on the only known U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan. The parents of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl are talking for the first time in over a year, and they're revealing secret attempts to free him and details of the possible prisoner swap that's in the works. The Taliban captured Sergeant Bergdahl back in June of 2009.

He made a daring escape attempt last year, leaping out of a window. Sadly, though, he was recaptured, and he has now appeared in at least five different Taliban propaganda videos since disappearing.

Our Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us this morning. This is absolutely heart-wrenching to hear these parents speak out, but at the same time, I'm curious if what they're saying is putting the U.S. government and the military in an awkward and tight spot.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, probably a little bit, but not all that much, Ashleigh, because what's been going on behind the scenes now is out in public, that the Bergdahls are talking about their son and their frustration with the lack of progress that they see in trying to get him released.

They spoke to "The New York Times" and some other newspapers and what they have said is the basic elements of what has been known, that the U.S. has been talking to the Taliban behind the scenes about a trade. Basically, swapping five Taliban prisoners that the U.S. is holding in return for Bergdahl, that it would be some kind of phased turnover of these detainees.

It's all been taking place as part of the so-called confidence- building talks with the Taliban as part of the reconciliation effort in Afghanistan. But the parents are deeply frustrated and upset. And the question here at the Pentagon is, is the U.S. military doing everything it can to get Bergdahl back, and do they remember every day that he is out there? Listen to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: If you go to the CENTCOM Command Center where, you know, their conference room, there's about 4 x 6 foot poster of Bowe Bergdahl sitting in front of the podium to remind them, and therefore us, every day that he remains missing in action.


STARR: Saying that in a military command center, there is a photo of him that the troops have to look at every day to remind them that he is still out there, and just in a few short weeks, it will be three years that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been held, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Just awful. And you know, the reports are that he was captured in that tribal area which is sort of that the nebulous zone. It's very unpatrolled by one faction with the Haqqani network, I think, it is of the Taliban. How connected are these factions of the Taliban, which essentially is a question about how do you negotiate with groups like these?

STARR: Well, let me step back a minute. Actually, he, of course, was stationed in Afghanistan, in the border region with Pakistan, but by all accounts, was captured in Afghanistan and then believed to be transferred across the border into Pakistan, into the control of the Haqqani network. We asked that question.

How do you know who you're talking to? If you're negotiating his release, how do you know that you're really talking to the people that represent who is holding him? We're told that the U.S. is very sure that they are. But so far, those talks haven't gone anywhere, and in fact, several weeks ago, they basically collapsed.

BANFIELD: All right. Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon this morning, thanks so much, do appreciate it.

Thirty-three minutes now past 5:00 And coming up on "Starting Point," our Soledad O'Brien is going to speak with a man who certainly knows what this family is suffering through because Michael Berg's (ph) son, Nick, was captured by insurgents back in 2004, and the video of his killing was harrowing. That's coming up at seven o'clock eastern.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-three minutes past the hour.

A former marine with a gun tries to vote in the Indiana primary and is turned away. Clay Edinger says he carries his weapon with him everywhere that he can for protection. He is licensed to carry that weapon.

But when he walked into the polling center at the Warren Township fire department, election officials spotted his gun and alerted the assistant fire chief. Clay was asked to step outside and was told state law forbids him from bringing a firearm into the voting booth.


CLAY EDINGER, FORMER MARINE: I have no reason to take it off, unless, they can come up with a law that tells me that I can't carry a gun in here.


SAMBOLIN: Well, it turns out there is no law in Indiana that stops someone from carrying a gun into a polling place. Edinger never did vote. He says it is more important to show the world that all people who carry guns are not bad.

BANFIELD: Police use a Taser to subdue an autistic teenager, and of course, the family, none too pleased with this. It happened in Johnston, Iowa. Four officers say they were unable to control the 15- year-old. His name is John Pilmer (ph). He was supposedly fighting with another teenager in a movie theater lobby. The boy's mother says police did have other options.


JERI PILMER, MOTHER OF AUTISTIC TEENAGER: First, get on the phone to me and talk to me. So, I can explain what they needed to do to calm down the situation so the situation had not gotten as escalated as it did.

LT. LYNN ASWEGAN, JOHNSTON, IOWA POLICE: That individual, whether he was autistic or not, was still a threat to himself and was still a threat to the public. And we were needed to neutralize that threat.


BANFIELD: The autistic teenager is now in juvenile detention, and he's facing numerous charges, including assault.

SAMBOLIN: Two Colorado moms are accused of spraying teens with Lysol while chaperoning a high school prom. Police say the moms were upset over the teens' dirty dancing and wanted to clean up their act. Girls have accused both women of calling them whores and sluts.

They say the Lysol spray got in their eyes and their mouths and some had to leave the prom. Both women are now facing harassment charges. They deny these accusations.

BANFIELD: Sort of related here, but not really. Reporter by day, stripper by night. "Houston Chronicle" has decided to fire a woman named Sarah Tressler who was working as a reporter -- ready -- for the society section of the paper. They did so after they say they found out she also worked as an exotic dancer and didn't disclose that little bit of info when she applied for her job.

Again, a society reporter. Tressler also wrote a blog called "Diary of An Angry Stripper" where she gave readers a peek into her double life, but now, she is suing for gender bias.


SARAH TRESSLER, FMR. REPORTER FOR "THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE": I feel that women should not be denied other employment because they have worked as exotic dancers. Some young women will use dancing as a way to make ends meet while they study to prepare for the career that they hope to be able to have for the rest of their lives.


BANFIELD: Tressler holds a master's degree in journalism from New York University. She also happens to be an adjunct professor at the University of Houston.

SAMBOLIN: That is a heck of a diverse resume that woman has. Smart stripper.

SAMBOLIN: All right, folk, it is exactly 37 minutes past the hour here. New clues in a 22-year-old mystery. The biggest art heist ever. Some of the world's greatest masterpieces. Are they in a mobster's house? Bizarre story that we're going to delve into for you.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 40 minutes past the hour.

Dramatic search for stolen art and an accused gangster's house in a case that began 22 years ago. So, back in 1990, two thieves stole up to half a billion dollars in priceless art from the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Yesterday, authorities searched the home of Robert Gentile (ph). The accused Connecticut mobster has been under close watch by the FBI in connection with that theft.

So far, none of the 13 stolen pieces, including three Rembrandts and a one of a kind Vermeer have been recovered. The museum is offering a $5 million reward.

Stephen Kurkjian, a retired Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter who covered the case extensively during his time with the "Boston Globe," joins me now on the phone. Thanks for being with us this morning. We appreciate your time.


SAMBOLIN: I've got to tell you, this one is a bit of a head- scratcher because of the details here. This man is 75 years old. He's been in jail since February 10. He has spent time in solitary confinement. His wife says that the FBI is just applying pressure here, that he has no idea where the art is. How is he actually connected to the art heist?

KURKJIAN: Well, the account that we're getting from the federal authorities to this point is that Mr. Gentile is part of a network of mid-level organized crime members, was part of the attempt to get the stolen items fenced that sold to people who might be willing to, might be interested in buying it. Now, that's just the allegation.

But the federal authorities who are working this case, individuals who have broken up a major, major criminal enterprise here in Boston that dates back to the 1970s, they're not the type of people who have prone to grandstand via making wild accusations. They deal in hard evidence. And the evidence has resulted in the issuance of a search warrant that signed by a judge, a U.S. district court judge.

SAMBOLIN: But what evidence -- if I may interrupt you, what evidence is there?

KURKJIAN: The evidence on this search regards not specifically the paintings or the masterpieces that were taken from the Gardner Museum, but guns and silencers. And one gun, one silencer was found buried in his backyard.

That may be a ruse for what they're actually looking for, because we're told in federal court, back in March, February or March, that in fact they believe Mr. Gentile is part of this network that resulted in the fencing of the material.

But they would not -- the authorities here in Boston and New Haven and Hartford are not the kind of people who would make these accusations without some solid information. Now, that information will become known.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And I think that's the problem right now, that there is not a lot of information and his attorney is saying it's just a ruse, and they really have him on other charges. And so, he feels that the guy should not be in jail. But I want you to do this. Take us back to 1990 and explain to us exactly what happened.

KURKJIAN: Well, it was in the early morning hours after the St. Patrick's Day celebration here in Boston. And that's a time that everyone else in Boston is settling down for a good night sleep after a big celebration. And two men dressed as Boston police officers -- I don't think it was Boston police -- rang the doorbell inside the employee's entrance of the Gardner Museum.

And the guard, young, a little experienced but, you know, not terribly experienced -- not terribly trained, well-trained guard, to let them in, saying that there was a disturbance on-scene. And when the -- after he let them into the museum on that ruse, that they tied him up and got him away from the one alarm bell that was there inside the museum.

The museum's security system was not like most small museums at the time, was not 100 percent. And they were able to have the access to the entire museum from 1:30 -- excuse me, 12:30, to near 10 minutes to 2:00.

SAMBOLIN: That's absolutely incredible.

KURKJIAN: They could have spent the entire night in the museum and stolen (INAUDIBLE) Michelangelos. They did get extraordinary booty, extraordinary masterpieces. But, there were other things that were available to them that they didn't take and that's one of the clues that the authorities are working. Why did they take three Rembrandts and leave a Michelangelo (INAUDIBLE)?

SAMBOLIN: I've got to ask you, where do you hide that? Right? I mean, it hasn't come up on the market. Where are these paintings? Why haven't they been able to find them? And why do you steal something like that that it's got to be difficult to, you know, sell?

KURKJIAN: Well, that's absolutely the right question. But it raises this one implication, which is, these thieves could not have been very sophisticated to think that they would be able to gain money from the theft.

SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you --

KURKJIAN: When it was learned there was no insurance on the -- the museum was, you know, threadbare, and they didn't have insurance on their masterpieces. So, there was no way to, you know -- ransom of the material back.

SAMBOLIN: No, incredible. Stephen Kurkjian, we really appreciate your time this morning. It's fascinating. It's kind of like a mystery novel here. We'll talk to you again. Thank you.

BANFIELD: Forty-six minutes now past the hour. Time to get you up to date on the top stories. We'll begin here.


BANFIELD (voice-over): Two missing Tennessee girls safe this morning. The suspected kidnapper, fugitive, Adam Mayes, not so much. He's dead. FBI officials say he shot himself in the head last night and was later pronounce dead. The girls were found in a wooded area near Mayes' home in Union County, Mississippi.

Police say they did show signs of exposure and dehydration. They've been taken to the hospital for observation.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And Mitt Romney insists he is sorry for a high school incident nearly 50 years ago that he claims that he doesn't even remember. According to witnesses, the likely GOP nominee allegedly held down a classmate who was thought to be gay and cut off chunks of his hair.

Romney apologized for what he called a high school prank, although, some students who witnessed it are describing it as an assault.

BANFIELD: Florida A&M University's band director is out of a job this morning. Julian White (ph) steps down in the wake of the school's hazing scandal. He'd been with them for 40 years. He was placed on administrative leave back in November after the death of drum major, Robert Champion.

Police say that Champion died in a hazing incident, and 13 people have now been charged in connection with that death. The board of trustees is meeting next week to discuss the future of the band.

SAMBOLIN: Smoke on the water. Take a look at this. A 105-foot yacht completely in flames in Seattle's fisherman's terminal. After firefighters made sure no one was on board there, they backed off because the heat was just too intense. Pieces smoldered for hours after the fire. The losses in the millions of dollars.

BANFIELD: There's a song there somewhere, Zoraida. There's a song there.

Well, there's a new protoplanet, everybody, in our solar system, so break out the celestial champagne. It's called Vesta. New observations from NASA's dawn spacecraft that show us Vesta's actually left over from the solar system's early days. And the huge asteroid didn't quite develop into a full-fledged planet.

So, it's just sitting there like that, all dead. That's as roughly as wide as the United State, state of Arizona.

SAMBOLIN: So, can a guy just ride a unicycle naked any more?

BANFIELD: Yes. What's up?

SAMBOLIN: Yes. In the running for greatest traffic stop of all- time, my dear friends, police in Texas pulled over a naked guy on a unicycle, on a bridge right outside Houston.

BANFIELD: But he's wearing something on his back. He's not really naked, right? He's got a necklace. SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. He is being accused of indecent exposure after police say he was distracting drivers and creating a hazard. But at least, he had a good reason.

GREG RIHARD, KEMAH, TEXAS POLICE DEPT.: He said he liked the way it felt.


RIHARD: Really don't know what he meant by that, but that's what he said.

BANFIELD: Sure you know what he meant by that. Police say his clothes were found at the base of the bridge.

Look, I don't know what that would feel like, but I think it's gross. There's a sign field (ph) moment in here somewhere, I think.


BANFIELD (on-camera): It's 49 minutes now past 5:00, and it is time for your royal weather report. I kid you not. Look who that is. It's not an imposter, it is the prince.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Turning over, looking at your screen, and seeing this.

BANFIELD: It's Prince Charles. He's got the clicker. He's taking a tour through the Beeb, which is what we would in the commonwealth call the BBC. It's quite something, though, isn't it? We're going to give you a little bit more on that.

SAMBOLIN: I hear he did a great job.

BANFIELD: He did. He did.

SAMBOLIN: So, if you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or your mobile phone. Take a swift view, just go to


BANFIELD: Time to take a look at what's trending on the webs at 52 minutes now past 5:00.

And Obama -- President's Obama change of heart on same-sex marriage is really making history in more ways than just one. Just moments after he made the announcement on ABC News, his official Twitter account posted this. "Same-sex couples should be able to get married -- President Obama." So, short and sweet.

But that may already be the most re-tweeted message of all-time. Now, here's the deal. Twitter actually only officially tallies re- tweet up to 50, but there's been hacker who runs a website called who claims that he knows the exact number of times that the president's message has been re-tweeted and says that it has been shared more than 56,700 times and counting since yesterday.

Twitter also says President Obama's announcement generated more than 1.6 million tweets from people who were reacting to it. So, the 1.6 million tweets --

SAMBOLIN: Makes more sense to me. The other one seems a little low.

BANFIELD: Very low, 56,000 re-tweets, but the word on the tweet street is that it's actually very high, and not as many people re- tweet they comment.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-three minutes past the hour.

So, he sprinted up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, remember him, but who knew Rocky was actually in a classic painting. Check this out, folks. An American college student vacationing in Italy spotted a dead ringer for Sylvester Stallone in a Roman fresco. Take a look for yourself. What do you think? Rocky was the Italian stallion, you know. He even looks like he took a clever lang (ph) left hook in the painting. Hmm.

BANFIELD: Yes, I can see that.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. A little bit. If you look at it up close -- I looked at it really up close. The Rafael painting called "The Cardinal and Theological Virtues" was done in 1511 and shows Pope Gregory IX approving papal laws. And that's Rambo right there in the background.

BANFIELD: I guess -- I think all of 16th century art looks like Rocky.

SAMBOLIN: He has a little bit of a double chin, though.

BANFIELD: A little bit. I guess. I think they all look like Sylvester Stallone, not just that one. All of them.

OK. How's this for some serious pressure? An anchor tosses to the weather with the words, "your highness?" Kid you not, it was Prince Charles who was taking a tour through the studios in Glasgow in Scotland, delivering the lunchtime forecast during the tour. Got a crash course from the crew, learned about green wall, and talk about the nerves, right?

And then learned how to use the clicker. I guess, in Scotland, they use an orange wall, maybe not a green wall but an orange wall. And then, take a look at how it all played out.


PRINCE CHARLES, GREAT BRITAIN: Well, it's on several pictures. We head towards the end of the week. This afternoon, it will be cold, wet and windy across most of Scotland. We're under the influence of low pressure. And this weather front pushing northwards is bringing cloud and outbreaks of rain. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: They always sound smarter in a British accent don't they? He did a really good job. It's not easy to do.


BANFIELD: But boy, did he ever pick up the snarky anchor thing quickly? He ripped the writers on live TV. Take a look.


PRINCE CHARLES: There'll be snow with a higher ground of the highlands and Aberdeenshire, but potential for a few (INAUDIBLE) -- who the hell wrote this script?


PRINCE CHARLES: -- as the afternoon goes on.


SAMBOLIN: All right. That was the highlight.

BANFIELD: How do you like that he actually can say who the hell on TV and nothing would happen to him. Nobody would tweet that that was a problem, you know?

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-five minutes past the hour.

Ahead in our next hour, a $2 billion blunder at a bank that could hammer your 401(k) today. Happy Friday.