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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

What was George Zimmerman`s Relationship with Sanford Police?

Aired May 24, 2012 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from Los Angeles.

And tonight we hear directly from George Zimmerman in his own words about his surprising relationship with the Sanford police.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, another stunning twist in the Trayvon Martin story. Just-released audio tapes of shooter George Zimmerman complaining about cops, calling their behavior disgusting. So why is he praising authorities just a few months later? What could this mean for the trial? We`re taking your calls.

Plus, new developments in the case of beautiful Michelle Parker, who disappeared after appearing on "People`s Court." Police say they`re now connecting the dots in this young mother`s disappearance. This as her mother issues an emotional plea. The missing mom dropped her young twins off with her ex-fiance, who cops call the sole suspect. Have police finally cracked the case?

And emotions run high as the search for a missing Louisiana college co-ed enters day five. Do police have any new clues? Volunteers retracing the four-mile route this 22-year-old is believed to have taken. But should the search be expanded far outside the city?

Mickey Shunick`s family joins me exclusively with the latest.

And one of our favorite guests on this show tells us he`s now half the man he used to be. We`ll reveal the secrets of "Inside Edition`s" Jim Moret`s weight loss.

Plus, Jacques Cousteau`s grandson tells us why he hopes L.A.`s new plastic bag ban sweeps the whole country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In less than one year, George Zimmerman went from slamming the Sanford Police Department to singing its praises.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, CHARGED WITH KILLING TRAYVON MARTIN: I`ve also had the opportunity to take ride-alongs with the city of Sanford Police Department, and what I saw was disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says, "I have high hopes for and restored faith in your administration and the Sanford Police Department in its entirety."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So why is this important in the case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re seeing inside his head, his opinion of the Sanford Police Department.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New surveillance video that shows Zimmerman in the police station only three days after he shot Trayvon Martin. You see George Zimmerman there walking up the stairs. No police escort there.

Remember, at this point he had not been charged, but Trayvon Martin`s parents say Zimmerman was known in the police department as a wannabe cop, and they claim he was receiving preferential treatment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a stunning turn of events in the Trayvon Martin shooting. New audio has just surfaced of shooter George Zimmerman that takes us right inside his mind.

Zimmerman ignited a national controversy when he shot Trayvon Martin dead three months ago. But there was an earlier controversy in Sanford, Florida, and you`re looking at it.

A year and a half ago, a homeless African-American man was beaten by the white son of a Sanford police lieutenant. This video went viral. The officer`s son eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery, but George Zimmerman, a local resident, was outraged over how police handled the case.

At a public meeting just over a year ago, Zimmerman accused the then- police chief of a, quote, "illegal cover-up and corruption." George Zimmerman then gave a scathing review of the entire police department. Listen to him speaking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: I`d also had the opportunity to take ride-alongs with the city of Sanford Police Department, and what I saw was disgusting. The officer showed me his favorite hiding spots for taking naps, explained to me that he doesn`t carry a long gun in his vehicle, because in his words, "Anything that requires a long gun requires a lot of paperwork, and you`re going to find me as far away from it."

He took two lunch breaks and attended a going-away party for one of his fellow officers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, a public outcry after that beating led the police chief at the time to step down.

Fast forward to last September. There`s a new chief in town, Bill Lee, and George Zimmerman loves how this new chief is doing his job, e- mailing the chief, quote, "I have high hopes for and restored faith in your administration and the Sanford Police Department."

This has some asking tonight, did cops give George Zimmerman special, favorable treatment after he shot Trayvon Martin because he praised the police chief? That`s the police chief who initially said they simply could not arrest George Zimmerman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL LEE, FORMER CHIEF, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: In this case Mr. Zimmerman has made the statement of self-defense. Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don`t have the grounds to arrest him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that comment sparked an uproar, and Chief Lee later stepped aside. Zimmerman has since been charged in Trayvon`s death.

Tonight, Chief Lee says he`d never met George Zimmerman and does not know him. But does that e-mail by Zimmerman reveal a relationship between the police department and this man at the center of the storm?

Straight out to investigative reporter Jon Lieberman.

What have you learned tonight?

JON LIEBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, look, we all know that George Zimmerman wanted to be a cop. That`s very clear here. He was going on ride-alongs. They had an exchange.

You know, and you can spin this a few different ways, which all decides will. I mean, one, you had him at a council meeting, clearly outraged over the beating of a homeless black man. That`s one way you can sort of -- you know, you can sort of spin this.

The other way is that he then forged this, you know, comfortable relationship with police, a relationship that police to this day deny. Now I don`t think this is going to have a huge impact on the case here, but of course, it`s just another storyline of George Zimmerman.

And as you said, we get inside of his head, and we see a guy who wanted to be close to the police department in any way that he could.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, get this. Zimmerman talked about how police weren`t doing enough which sounds a lot like what we heard on the 911 tape that tragic night when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. Listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: These (EXPLETIVE DELETED), they always get away. This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, now that was Zimmerman talking about the 17-year-old boy he shot dead minutes later.

But in truth, Trayvon Martin was, as we all know now, coming home from buying Skittles and iced tea at a local market, a 7-Eleven. So he was not up to no good.

Now let`s get back to the September e-mail that George Zimmerman sent to the police chief. He praises the police department`s community volunteer coordinator for responding quickly to his e-mails and calls. Zimmerman says he is, quote, "working closely with the police department staffer."

So, Lisa Bloom, attorney Bloom Firm, author "Swagger." Speaking of swagger, to me this paints Zimmerman as somebody who first of all, the police knew very well.

Come on, you and I, anybody in any kind of profile business knows you have these gadflies, these people who are always calling, who are always getting involved. He is clearly one of those people.

LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Well, I have a different perspective, Jane. I think high-profile people get a lot of e-mails from a lot of people. They don`t necessarily respond to them. And just a simple e-mail from Zimmerman to the police chief doesn`t mean a whole heck of lot to me.

The conclusion I take from all of this is that Zimmerman is not a two- dimensional figure. You know, we all try to characterize him based on the latest media report, but he`s a human being. He`s a complex human being.

And yes, on the one hand, he`s standing up for a homeless black man. On the other hand, he`s clearly a vigilante in the Trayvon Martin case. I think there`s a lot more to him than meets the eye. I think we`re going to continue to learn about him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I would say -- respectfully, I love some of your points, but I feel that, given this new information of his e-mail, saying he worked closely with this volunteer coordinator from the police department, they knew this guy. They knew him well. And that, I think, is just something that we have to kind of pause and try to absorb what are the implications of that.

Back to this outrageous video of this lieutenant`s son beating the homeless man back in 2010. Now, at the time Zimmerman expressed outrage over this beating and spoke out, saying he wanted justice for the victim, who was African-American and felt the cops tried to cover it up, because the attacker was the son of a cop.

So Joey Jackson, defense attorney, does this undercut the contention of George Zimmerman`s critics that he is a racist and that he racially profiled Trayvon Martin?

JOEY JACKSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know what, Jane? It depends upon who you support here. If you`re a supporter of him, what you`re going to say is, listen, he was railing against the police department, Jane, didn`t like them, didn`t like the cover-up, didn`t like the corruption. He was speaking out against it.

If ever there was a time that the police department would get back at him it would be this case. But the reason there was no arrest, because there was nothing to arrest him about.

So you could argue that. Or you could say this latest e-mail, it shows the coziness of the relationship, the comfort of the relationship, the reason they would cover up for him. And so whoever is on either side of the equation, Jane, is going to circle it and spin it in whatever way helps their cause.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, we all got brand-new video today from the Sanford Police Department that shows George Zimmerman, just three days after he shot Trayvon Martin.

And in this video, which we`re going to try to show you right now, it clearly shows that he`s got a bandage on the back of his head. So it also -- there it is. OK. There he is three days after shooting Trayvon Martin. There you see the bandage on the back of his head.

But it also shows him walking around the police department, Jim Moret, chief correspondent "Inside Edition," like he kind of owns the place. He`s not being escorted by any police. This looks like a guy they knew well and who worked closely with the volunteer coordinator.

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": I`ve got to agree with Lisa on one point. Nothing in this case, on any of these cases, is in black and white. They`re all shades of gray.

You can look at George Zimmerman and say, in one case he`s sticking up for the little guy, for the guy he feels is being wrongly treated by the police. He`s the one, Zimmerman says in the e-mail, "We have a cozy relationship." The police aren`t saying that. He wants to be a cop. He wants to be close to them. We all get e-mails from people who want to be close to us.

BLOOM: And he says the Sanford police are incompetent, essentially, and wasn`t that proved right on the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting, when they clearly made many, many mistakes, including not testing him, not gathering evidence? Everyone agrees on that point now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I will say all of this added to the mix of an already complex case. They often say in confusion there`s reasonable doubt.

Quickly, Sarah, Missouri. Your question or thought, Sarah.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. Thanks for taking my call. I appreciate it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sure.

CALLER: My thing is it took so long for them to make an arrest or to press charges. And, you know, my question is why, but then it raises two red flags. Either, A, maybe the cops are covering up something and that`s what, you know, extended the delay.

But also, maybe George Zimmerman is taking his time to come up with an idea to make him look better, like they were covering up just like they did before.

Your point is well taken, Sarah, and the reason why this whole case became a controversy is that there wasn`t an initial arrest, because the cops essentially said, "Nothing to see here. Move along."

And it took a special prosecutor to come in and at least say, "Let`s put this before a jury and let the jurors decide what happened that night."

So we are going to be all over this tomorrow on this show. Complete coverage, because there are so many new developments that we want to bring them all to you with a team of experts from all sides.

And now, coming up on the other side, we`re going to try to find a missing young woman, and we need your help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YVONNE STEWART, MOTHER OF MICHELLE PARKER: If there`s anybody out there who has any idea where Michelle might be...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn`t deserve this. Let her go. I am begging you to let her go. We want her home, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An Orlando mom disappeared on the same day as a "People`s Court" episode of her and her ex-boyfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still, no sign of 33-year-old Michelle Parker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mother of three, including a set of twins, didn`t show up at her work at 7:30 last night at The Barn in Sanford, where she`s a bartender. Michelle Parker didn`t show up at her house to meet her son, when he got out of school.

STEWART: This isn`t a wallet. This isn`t just a purse. This is my baby girl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, new developments in the search for missing "People`s Court" mom Michelle Parker. Cops announced just hours ago that they are pulling out Michelle`s case file and assigning a brand-new team to conduct the dots -- and connect the dots in her puzzling disappearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have a person of interest. We`ve had a person of interest from day one, and all we need to do is fit that missing piece of the puzzle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle vanished more than six months ago after dropping her 3-year-old twins at her ex-fiance`s condo on the same day a "People`s Court" episode aired showing the former lovebirds fighting. Her mom made a gut-wrenching, tearful plea just hours ago. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: If there`s anybody out there who has any idea where Michelle might be -- please call crime line. Do something redeeming, something honorable so that our family can have our girl back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joining me now, my very special guests, Michelle`s mother and her sister.

Mrs. Stewart, our hearts go out to you. We know you are going through something that we cannot imagine. Take us through what the last six months have been for you and your family emotionally.

STEWART: it is hell. I would guess that this is what hell is like for any mother, any family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Not knowing.

And I know that the cops are trying to do what they can. Do you have confidence that they`re doing enough? Let me -- let me give a little back story on our viewers.

Cops have had their eye on your daughter`s ex-fiance and the father of her twins, Dale Smith Jr. since she was reported missing, and he has not been exactly a model citizen. Check this out from ABC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Smith, do you have anything to say about this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the way into Wednesday`s emergency custody hearing, Smith shoved our photographer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dale Smith, who police say is their only suspect in the disappearance of his ex-fiance, Michelle Parker, lunged at a news photographer, knocking him to the ground. People who arrived with Smith can be heard jeering the fallen photographer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, this former hot body contest winner has full custody of the twins. I want to know why. Take a look at his rap sheet. It`s a mile long, starting with breaking and entering over 20 years ago, several battery charges. I mean, the list goes on. Domestic violence.

Mrs. Stewart, do you feel that these kids should not be with this man now?

STEWART: I absolutely wish that they weren`t with him full time. I think that Florida needs to take a good look at the laws here. And we`ve been raising those babies since they were 13 days old, and I`m a much better parent. Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`re going to talk more on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE PARKER, MISSING MOTHER: I was talking to a friend and said maybe I should just move out, and I kept doing it. It was clearly not going to work.

This was want for the sake of the kids. This is because you`re like drugs to each other because it`s not good for children to grow up with this. It is so much better for them for you to move on and have a mature, adult relationship with another human being than it is for you two to continue to do this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That, "the People`s Court," of course, ) and Michelle vanished shortly after that episode aired. She had just dropped her twins off at her ex-fiance Dale Smith, Jr.`s, condo. Her SUV found five miles away.

Lauren Ericson, you are Michelle Parker, the missing woman`s sister. Again, my heart goes out to you. What was her relationship with this ex- fiance? We`ve already established he has a rap sheet, he has a temper. We caught that on tape. What was their relationship?

LAUREN ERICSON, SISTER: Over the past -- it would be now seven years, but they were off and on for six years. It was a pretty tumultuous relationship.

And currently, like right before she went missing, they -- they only spoke whenever they had to deal with the children. They would drop the children off and whatnot. And they were, you know, pretty civil with each other whenever they would speak. I mean, he would have his days of, you know, call last minute. And "Oh, yes, by the way, I`m somewhere else, so you`re going to have to keep the kids tonight." And she`d have to go to work and then find a babysitter last minute.

And it was just never -- it was never good. It was always just like borderline walking on ice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we have tried to reach out to Dale Smith Jr.`s attorneys and invited on any time. We haven`t been able to get a response from them.

Matt Morgan, you are the attorney for Michelle Parker`s family. What do you want to see cops do? Because they say they`re trying to fit the pieces together. They`ve already named this ex-fiance as a suspect.

MATT MORGAN, ATTORNEY: Well, you`ve got to remember, they`ve had the same set of eyes on this case since November. And so what they`re doing at this point is bring a new, fresh set of eyes into the equation.

And what I hope comes out of that is, ultimately, I hope that these members from the Seminole County Sheriff`s Office and the state attorney`s office and the crime labs unit, I hope that they all come together and they look at it with a fresh eye.

And maybe one of the guys in the room says, "You know what? We haven`t done this yet. We should do this." And it leads something that would be admissible evidence which could lead to a prosecution in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go back and take a look at the timeline from this day, this tragic day when she vanished.

3:15, Michelle drops off her twins at her ex-fiance, Dale`s, house. Fifteen minutes later, her eldest son gets home, doesn`t see his mom. He calls his grandma. That`s when Michelle`s mother sent Michelle a text.

He gets a text from, purportedly, Michelle -- her cell phone, anyway - - that said, quote, "Waterford," a popular shopping area. Hours go by. The family can`t contact her. She doesn`t show up for work. Her cell phone stops transmitting.

And then they get a signal near Bell Isle (ph), which is not anywhere near Waterford. The next day, her car is found.

Your thoughts, Jim Moret.

MORET: Look, I don`t think it`s a coincidence she went missing the same day this "People`s Court" episode aired. It was taped months before.

My heart breaks for this family, though. They`re grieving the loss of their daughter and also their grandchildren.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

BLOOM: I would say to the family members, God bless you for being courageous enough to go on the air. I know how hard and stressful this is. And you`re doing this to keep the heat on, to keep her picture out there so that hopefully she can be found. And, you know, I`m just so impressed by your approach.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mrs. Stewart, Lauren, our hearts go out to you. We want to keep this story alive. We want to find Michelle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New details about missing college student Mickey Shunick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s been four day since Mickey Shunick vanished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police have gone ahead and per protocol searched my home, searched my car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve exhausted every possible place she could be or any reasonable explanation for her missing and there isn`t one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s stunning to see college student leaves her friend`s house in the dead of night and disappears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just want her back. We want her safe. We want our friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She left here at this house around 2:00 in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s just perfect and I just love her so much, and I miss her so much, and I want her home now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reward for her safe return has now made it to $20,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that I`ll never look a missing person`s case the same ever again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The search expands tonight for beautiful missing college co-ed Mickey Shunick; volunteers and police in both cars, on foot and horseback looking for any sign of this gorgeous young college student. Mickey vanished Saturday night. She was at her friend`s house when she left on her bicycle, but she never made it home.

Now this is the latest map of what they believe was her four-mile trip home. Look at that route. You`ll notice that she may have traveled right here, the Cajundome, a large traveling carnival that`s in town. The carnival opened today but it was already setting up on Friday night.

Now, Mickey`s desperate family and friends searching every nearby location including Lake Martin which is about 10 miles from where Mickey disappeared. They`re joined by hundreds of concerned citizens from several states in the area including teams from Texas EquiSearch.

However search parties are now meeting at Our Lady of Wisdom Center on the University of Louisiana campus and that means the headquarters for the search location has been moved. It`s moved from the house of Brettly Wilson, Mickey`s friend -- and he was the last person to see her. Now he told me last night his house has been searched. This is where she was last seen by him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETTLY WILSON, MICKEY SHUNICK`S FRIEND: The police have gone ahead and per protocol searched my home, searched my car. I allowed them access to my laptop, any of my personal information, Facebook, e-mail. I allowed them access to my phone. Pretty much anything they could have used that would have helped find Mickey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where could Mickey have gone? Give me a call 1-877- JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Joining me tonight, Mickey`s father and sister, Tom and Charlie Shunick; thank you for being here. And I know this is an extraordinarily difficult time for you. We want to be helpful. We want to keep Mickey`s face out there hoping to jog somebody`s memory. Somebody out there had to have seen something.

I want to start with Mr. Shunick. Why do you think the search headquarters was moved from the home of Mickey`s friend, the last person to see her, Brettly Wilson, and that was one of the last places she was at before she disappeared?

TOM SHUNICK, FATHER OF MICKEY SHUNICK: I really think it got organized a little bit more. We had more people come in, and it`s really set up pretty well though. There`s a lot of police over and other searchers.

The house itself is pretty small. I think it was really a little bit for security, and just so, you know, we`d have more meeting rooms. We could have volunteers in some and my family in others, the police and all of the people with their computers and all in another room. I think it was mainly for security.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`ve told me that the police were checking surveillance videos in the area along that route. She was on this type of bicycle, biking at 2:00 in the morning and she is a very petite young woman. Have the surveillance videos turned up anything? What are the cops telling you tonight, sir?

T. SHUNICK: They haven`t turned up anything that I know of. They haven`t told me anything --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really.

T. SHUNICK: -- any positive identification.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the friend, Brettly said they went to Taco Bell. Have the police said they were able to find the video of them pulling up in a car at Taco Bell something around 1:00 in the morning and getting some food?

T. SHUNICK: Yes. I think it was about 1:30.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did police find that surveillance video, sir?

T. SHUNICK: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They do see your daughter and Brettly, her good friend, picking up Taco Bell at 1:00 in the morning and Brettly says they later returned to his house to eat the food and then she got on her bike and left. Cops have confirmed that. That`s interesting and that`s important.

You know, I was looking at the map of Mickey`s friend`s house and the last place where Mickey was seen. Something jumped out to me. Namely, look at how close the house is to Interstate 10. Check it out. It is only two and a half miles from that house to the onramp.

Now you have to remember, Interstate 10 is enormous. It goes from coast to coast along the entire south of the country. In fact, I was on the 10 today in Los Angeles coming to work.

So here`s my question, and I will take this out to Mickey`s mom, Nancy Roe -- ok, well, we have the sister as well, Charlie. Charlie, have police or any of the searchers, we know Texas EquiSearch is out there -- have they told you anything about searching where the 10 goes? I mean it goes through one state after another. We could take a look at neighboring states and see if anybody saw anything of her there.

CHARLIE SHUNICK, SISTER OF MICKEY SHUNICK: Yes. They haven`t mentioned anything about it, but I live in Dallas, actually, so as soon as I heard about it happening I reached out. I have a lot of people in Texas doing a lot of things for us. I know we have some billboards and electronic billboards going up on Interstate 10 in a couple of different cities and right outside Lafayette.

So they`re trying and they`re trying to get the word out and make sure people know that she`s missing and it`s a definite possibility that they`re taking her west somewhere along the border.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a hellish experience what you`re going through and again there are no words. Now, there are some eerie parallels going on with some other missing women that our viewers have been tweeting and Facebooking us about.

Take a look at this map. It shows three women who vanished in the past year all in the same, the southern Midwest. At the bottom is Mickey from Lafayette, Louisiana; at the center, Holly Bobo, that was in Tennessee; at the top, Lauren Spierer, that`s Bloomington Indiana.

Now, investigative reporter, Jon Leiberman, what have you been able to find about the similarities. And first what hits me is look at the similarities and the appearance of these young women.

JON LEIBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, absolutely. I need to point out this is why the feds are involved just for this reason. The feds are looking at any unsolved case that is out there right now to try and connect the dots. The feds are also, to your point, looking at this I-10 corridor and trying to find any other unsolved, attempted abductions that might be out there as well. This is the very reason that the FBI is involved right now to see if any case is linked to this and to help find Mickey.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jon, you also dug up some very frightening statistics about Lafayette`s crime rates. The FBI gave Lafayette a crime index of 3; the safest being ten. So bottom line, it has one of the highest crime rates in America for a city of its size. It is essentially one of the most dangerous places in the United States. And we have a slew of stats that back that up.

I have to go out to Lisa Bloom, attorney for the Bloom Firm, author of "Swagger", you and I talked about this war on women. That we live in a country now where a beautiful woman or any woman, a petite young woman, let`s say, cannot get on her bike at night without taking her life in her own hands.

LISA BLOOM, AUTHOR, "SWAGGER": Well, we can`t. And I`m sorry to say that because we should be able to. Remember the "Take Back the Night" marches. We should still be having those. But the bottom line is, for our own safety we can`t be out on our own at 2:00 a.m. on foot or on a bike. We should be with other people. We should all take self-defense classes. We should all have barking dogs at home -- that`s our best protection because they can`t be turned on us.

I mean we have to take reasonable safety precautions. There`s no way to blame the victim here or any other victim. But to protect ourselves and our daughters, it`s what we have to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well take a look at the Google Street View of West Congress Street, which is, well everybody`s saying it`s the most likely rout that Mickey took home. It was a direct route from her friend`s house to her home. But remember, she was riding a bicycle. So it`s a pretty large, busy street.

Now, I`m a cyclist, when I ride my bike I often try to avoid big streets like this because I`m afraid of getting hit by a car especially at night. You think somebody might be drunk. So she could have taken some other street, some darker, more residential streets and it seems like Jim Moret, there`s no safe alternative.

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, she was on a bicycle, and it was 2:00 in the morning. I`m a dad of a girl, 22, just turned 23 yesterday -- same age as this young woman. And I would say don`t do this, don`t go out alone specifically for what you and Lisa were talking about. You want to take precautions. You have to be reasonable. And I don`t blame her at all but this is a situation where you have to be careful.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Charlie, a word, just ten seconds. What would you like to say?

C. SHUNICK: You know, just -- with the whole bike thing, I mean, it is dangerous and everything, but we grew up here. Nobody knew that was going to happen. I know, you know, we`ve told her a million times not to do it and she`s very strong-willed and she`s going to do whatever she wants. And hopefully just someone will come up and let us know if they saw something or saw her. We`re just really hoping for a break in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. And again, our hearts go out to you.

Nancy Grace has more on the story coming up at the top of the hour -- Nancy.

NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Jane, at this hour, a 21-year-old co-ed heads to Taco Bell drive-through on a Friday night. She`s never seen again. 21- year-old Mickey Shunick, anthropology major, and her gold and black Schwinn seemingly vanished into thin air. We`ve tried it all, Jane -- her school, the University of Louisiana, her job, horse farm, even her pet store, nothing.

Where is Mickey Shunick?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our show is doing a nightly adventure to slimness. And I`ve been doing it myself now for two weeks, eight glasses of water a day, an apple a day and then doing exercises with anything that you have right at the office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In today`s edition of our adventure to slim, we are bringing a huge -- maybe the word huge isn`t the word to use -- success story. You know him as the host of "Inside Edition". Look at that handsome fellow.

What you may not know is Jim Moret lost more than 32 pounds just over the last few months, dropping from a 36 pants to a size 31.

BLOOM: Yes, baby.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Way to go. Look at that.

BLOOM: Jim.

MORET: My wife took that photo.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, he`s putting some 20-year-old to the shame. Tell us, how did you do it?

MORET: You know, I`m in between two vegetarians and it`s rubbing off on me. I was on the red carpet -- true story, at the Golden Globes and Lawrence Zarian is a fashion expert.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I know. He`s a friend of mine, too.

MORET: Standing next to me and he goes like this to me. You have to lose this, right under here.

BLOOM: Wow.

MORET: And you know what? I listened to him. For some reason you`ve been telling me, eat well. You`ve been telling me for years, eat well. I didn`t listen, but I listened to Lawrence. And it bothered me and it bothered me. So I decided, I called up and I went on a program. You know, one of these programs --

BLOOM: Is that picture doctored?

MORET: No, no, no, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you doing differently?

MORET: I`ll tell you what I`m doing differently. I have fruits and vegetables every day.

BLOOM: Hooray.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hooray.

MORET: I cook dinner. My wife says -- she never walks in the kitchen anymore. I`m always making food. And I make fish and I make vegetables and I do so many things with kale. I`ve never heard of kale.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What have you eliminated?

MORET: I`ve eliminated pasta. I`ve eliminated bread. I`ve eliminated sugar. I`ve eliminated carbonated drinks. It sounds like I`ve eliminated everything fun, basically. However --

BLOOM: How about meat?

MORET: I`ve eliminated meat, too. I knew you`d like this. I did this just so that you`d like me. Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to give you an award. We have a very special award here that I`d like to give you, so if you come back to us for a second, we`ll do that. I would like to give you the Golden Pineapple Award.

MORET: Thank you. I haven`t had a pineapple in a long time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There you go. You can slice that up and have that tonight.

MORET: I`m very excited. I`m going to grill it --

BLOOM: You know, there`s a lot of varieties to fruits and vegetables. People don`t realize that.

MORET: You know, I have to tell you honestly, 32 pounds and 33 pounds, it`s a tremendous difference. I went through my closet. These are old pants that I have. I`m so embarrassed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No.

MORET: These are actually, I bought these near the end. These are almost 38s.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, boy.

MORET: But my new ones, 31.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, wow.

BLOOM: What about your energy level?

MORET: Energy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Let`s show. Let`s show, put that in the front and then put this one in the back. Look at that.

Hold that up. Hold that up. Oh, my gosh.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: Very impressive. Very impressive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your half the man you used to be, but more of a man than ever. I would like an acceptance speech, please.

MORET: I want to thank --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The academy.

MORET: I really -- well, you and I had dinner not long ago and you were eating only vegetables, steamed vegetables and I had some -- I don`t know -- probably had fried chicken or some silly thing. And you`re going, you shouldn`t eat like this. Be careful and you got very upset and I had a straw in my carbonated drink. I remember this. And you kept saying don`t do this. How many times?

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: Many times. We`re vegan.

MORET: You`re all vegan.

BLOOM: 100 percent.

MORET: And you hide the fact that it`s vegetarian. You make it taste great.

BLOOM: That`s the idea.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: So you`re saying that vegetarians should proselytize.

MORET: It`s ok.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Actually say, let`s forget about the words because some people are turned off by the words.

I think the most important thing --

MORET: It`s not the words. If I can do it anybody can do it, end of story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Eat your veggies.

BLOOM: Yes. And get healthy. Getting healthy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Congrats again, Jim. And I think we all deserve a laugh break now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGH BREAK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our nation`s military families sacrifice so much to protect our freedom and our way of life. Tonight we want to introduce you to an organization called "DiveHeart" that uses therapy diving to connect injured veterans with families who have lost a loved one to war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diving has a very calming effect, so when I`m down there diving, I don`t think about anything else.

APRIL DURHAM, DIVEHEART MOM: Whenever you`re handed a gold star and a folded flag, you think you`re all alone. You think that there`s nobody around that understands you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our first boat dive. We`re getting everybody together, getting squared away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to take gold star families; we`re going to have them dive with veterans with disabilities. They both have new normals. The gold star families have new normals as do the veterans with disabilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys keep coming, walk right through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Step down. Step down.

DURHAM: When you learn to do something as difficult as scuba diving, you learn that you can overcome anything.

JIM ELLIOTT, DIVEHEART FOUNDER: And just like somebody with a physical disability or an injury that`s traumatic, you have to go through rehabilitation, you have to go through therapy. And hopefully it will be kind of like a rehabilitation for their spirit, for their emotions, you know. And hopefully it will heal.

DURHAM: He wanted them to grow. He wanted them to build strength. Build character, to deal with stresses in their life, and that`s something that has been stressed this weekend.

ELIOTT: It`s not about scuba diving. We`re going deep inside the person and then touching their heart and touching their spirit and having them reach inside themselves. This is about helping people imagine the possibilities in their life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just go for it. You can do anything you can put your mind to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: For more stories of courage check out hlntv.com/salute.

Eureka. Hallelujah, I`m celebrating because the Los Angeles City council has just voted to phase out the use of these plastic bags at supermarkets. Los Angeles has joined so many other California cities like San Francisco and San Jose and the entire state of Hawaii is banning these plastic bags.

I mean we`ve been talking about the horrifying garbage island in the Pacific. I want to bring in Philippe Cousteau Jr., noted environmentalist -- your reaction. Do you want to see it spread coast to coast?

PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, JR., ENVIRONMENTALIST: I certainly do, Jane. I think it`s great news. People forget that plastic bags create a lot of trash. They clog up our sewer systems. They cost municipalities millions of dollars that for that simple convenience we get with a plastic bag, it could otherwise be invested in health care and education and things like that that we need.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. I hope every other city in the country bans them, now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Los Angeles City Council has voted to phase out, ban plastic bags. I am thrilled. You know these things last a thousand years. Somebody said to me I use it to pick up my dog poop. First of all, let me say -- just anything else. Renew, reuse, recycle.

There are so many things -- let`s say this is a stuffing from dry cleaning that you can use, a wrapper, you can use that and put that aside and reuse it, if you`re not going to recycle it, to pick up the dog poop.

Philippe, your thoughts.

COUSTEAU: Well, you pointed it out, Jane -- reduce, reuse, recycle. There`s a reason recycle is third on the list. We`ve got to reduce first. Getting rid of plastic bags is one of the easiest and best things that we can do and save all that money we spend on cleaning them up and declogging sewage on health care and education.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you can use one of these, a sling bag. Ok. I use this. I walk around. It`s a lot of fun.

Nancy`s next.

END