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Mansion Death Accident or Murder?
Aired August 7, 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 (voice-over): Last summer, 6-year-old Max Shacknai fell over a staircase balcony at his father`s mansion and fell into a coma. Two days later, tragedy struck again. His father`s 32-year- old girlfriend, Rebecca, was found dead at the same home, hanging naked from a second story balcony, her hands and feet bound.
Three days later, tragically, Max died from his injuries, a double tragedy at the same estate in less than a week. Police ruled Max`s death accidental and Rebecca`s a suicide. But many were skeptical, voicing their doubts right here on this show.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She didn`t speak like that she wasn`t -- I don`t know. It just doesn`t sound like something she would say.
PINSKY: A year later, there are serious questions as to whether Rebecca could have bound her own hands and feet and hung herself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a very curious thing to be able to tie yourself in knots.
PINSKY: And now, Max`s mother wants the investigation reopened to get justice for her little boy.
PINSKY: And those of you that have been with us through following this mystery are familiar with some of those details. Those of you for whom this is new, we`ll try to recap and please hang with us.
At this point, we are going to welcome Dina Shacknai to the show.
Now, Dina, the police ruled your son`s death an accident. You would like them to reinvestigate. Tell me why.
DINA SHACKNAI, SON MAX SUFFERED FATAL FALL: Yes. Well, based on the findings that were presented to me by independent experts with impeccable credentials, one of whom, Doctors Bove and Melinek, one of Dr. Bove from Exponent, and Dr. Melinek from the San Francisco medical examiner`s office, presented information and -- to me that definitively stated that Max suffered an assault scenario and consequently, he died of a -- he was the victim of a homicide.
PINSKY: Now, we actually called the Coronado Police Department and we got this statement on the case from public information officer Leah Corbin (ph). Quote, "We did meet with Dina and her team on July 26th. We will review the information that they have provided."
Now, Dina, here`s the thing for me. This case came to light for me today because I saw some pictures of your son sick in the ICU bed. And I got to tell you, I was -- it was heartbreaking. It was just absolutely heartbreaking.
And I don`t know -- I don`t know how you get over something like that. And I -- is this -- is this what that`s about, part of the search for justice, helping you grieve?
SHACKNAI: I think as any parent would, I want to find the truth about what happened to my son and I agree with you that those pictures were shocking and horrific. Seeing him in person was even worse.
Having gone through all of the medical examiner photos myself, it was a horrible experience. I wouldn`t wish on anybody and certainly not a parent. The resolution for me in this -- in his death is to find the truth for him so that he has justice and then going forward, maybe other kids moms and dads and families can be helped and that is the resolution -- truth and help.
PINSKY: Dina, I`m looking -- yes, Dina, I`m looking at a picture of him.
A couple things -- first, I want you to tell me what kind of kid he was. And I`m going to ask your permission, can we show some pictures of maybe just his back and his hands so people get a sense of who we are talking about here?
SHACKNAI: Yes. Yes, you can. Yes.
PINSKY: And tell me about him. Max.
SHACKNAI: So, Maxi was -- Maxi was -- he and I were the best fit. I told him every day I was the luckiest mommy in all the universes to have him. And when I saw him in the morning, he had an enormous smile. He would look up at me and I really felt like I won the lottery every day.
I know you have seen pictures of him smiling. It`s not just that we caught him at a moment. He was like that every single day. He was the most loving, smart, funny, generous boy. I mean, I`m -- obviously, it`s subjective, I`m his mom. But I couldn`t imagine a better son.
So this loss of Max is devastating -- devastating for me.
PINSKY: I`m so sorry. Just, you know, again when you bring it to life like that, it`s just like getting kicked in the stomach. There you are together.
Let`s show some of the viewers where he ended up in the ICU. Let`s at least show the hands and the back. I guess what is at issue here is whether somebody assaulted him before he fell over the railing and whether -- there`s his back, I think some of the injuries that he suffered.
Let`s see his hands, if you could show us. Again, something about seeing human hands brings somebody to life. I will not show the pictures of his face. That is just too much.
But -- do we have the picture with the back, the railing, the matchup that Dina has sort of put together? There is his little hand. Gosh, it is just so -- this whole thing is devastating you.
So, let me take it to the -- why we are here again and why are we talking about this. You think wrongdoing -- you think somebody did something sinister with him. How could that happen?
I mean, I would think the only people -- here`s what was alleged to have happened, looking at the pictures, Dina, of the fall down the stairway. He fell onto the railing, the chandelier went with him.
Let me go to Angela, your attorney, and look back at what they -- what the police allege happened and what your investigators think, in fact happened.
Can you tell me about that, Angela?
ANGELA HALLIER, ATTORNEY FOR DINA SHACKNAI: Yes. The investigators for the Coronado Police Department in conjunction with the sheriff`s department, announced at a press conference a number of weeks after Maxi`s death that it was an accident. They provided a diagram that they allege depicted what had happened.
PINSKY: I`m going to show it again so understand what I`m talking about.
If you guys could throw that over there.
They say he fell over the railing the very top of this three-story staircase.
Come on, guys, show that for me.
And then he -- that is actually the staircase. There we go. Somehow fell over the railing here, tumbled, hit the rail on his back, we showed the injuries on his back they claim came from this particular rail and then down and hit his head and that was the terminal event.
But your investigators say something different. First of all, how does a kid fall over a rail like that? It just doesn`t happen. They have to jump over it. Maybe he`s trying to swing on a chandelier or something, I mean, if they want to allege, I don`t think he was that kind of kid. What -- how do they come up with that stuff?
HALLIER: Well, we weren`t part of the investigation from the Coronado Police Department what we did see was the diagram, which didn`t make sense to Dina to begin with. Three weeks after the press conference when the accidental scenario was announced, we got a copy of the -- Dr. Gomez`s report, who actually was hired by the Coronado Police Department to do this re-enactment.
Again, it didn`t make sense that is when Dina decided she really need to find out if that was true. And when we hired these individuals who didn`t know each other, we didn`t know them, we looked for people with great credentials and they told us, we are going to find the truth based on science. Whether you like it or not, we`re going to tell you what they find.
Not only did they -- oh, sorry.
PINSKY: No, I was going to say. Now you want the police to reopen this case.
I know your ex-husband`s girlfriend`s family has been asking for this as well because of the mysterious circumstance of her death. I`ve had rope experts in here who have said it`s just impossible for her to tied her own hands behind her back the way she was found. And again, there`s lots of sort of questionable aspects of her death.
So this whole thing is not tying together.
Now, again, Maxi`s death is one of the first at the same house in the same week.
We are going to talk more to Dina and we`re also going to talk to the attorney representing your ex-husband`s girlfriend.
And we are taking your calls, 1-855-DRDREW5. Please call in. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF BILL GORE, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: Were these deaths the result of criminal conduct? Was Max`s death a homicide? The answer is no. It was a tragic accident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Well, it`s quite an accident if that`s the case. It sounds like a soap opera, a millionaire`s 6-year-old son dead after falling over a banister at a California, San Diego mansion. A few days later, his father`s girlfriend found hanging naked. Again, women don`t hang themselves naked, with her hands and feet bound. The police closed both cases quickly.
But tonight, after a year-long silence, this young boy, Max`s mom, claims she has proof, scientific proof, that there was foul play.
So, Dina, I want to cut right to the chase. I want to get to some -- by the way, I`ve got Dina Shacknai and her attorney, Angela Hallier.
I want to cut right to the chase before I go to calls. That is what do you think happened? I mean, we had -- basically Maxi under the care of your ex-husband`s girlfriend who is now herself deceased and there was a teenager in the house as I understand, too. What do you think happened?
And by the way, before you answer that before you answer, I want to say if there was really sort of overt wrongdoing -- I would expect the person doing the wrongdoing would have had a history. So I`m going to ask you, if you give me a little theory -- is there some history there that spores those ideas or we just don`t know?
SHACKNAI: I would say that the reason that I`ve come forward now is - - and it`s been very hard to be silent for all this time, is due to the expert findings that we have been given. So I think that the Coronado Police Department, they are the experts. Chief Lou Scanlon and Commander Lawton are the ones who can reopen this case and amend the disposition and do the investigative work to determine what happened to max and they are the ones, you know, it is their responsibility and their area of expertise to do that.
PINSKY: And, Dina, have you at least made an appeal, as a grieving mom, like would you guys, please, I need this to be OK? Have you made an emotional appeal to these guys or would you like to now?
SHACKNAI: Well, I think that I have been -- I have tried to do that. I`m doing that now for Max. And I think going forward, it`s important that he have justice, just like it would be important for you or for me or for anybody, and that means knowing the truth about what happened to him.
And through this, maybe going forward, other kids and moms and dads and families wouldn`t have to go through the things that we have gone through as a family.
And I know that having lost him was a soul-searing loss. It is the worst thing that has ever happened. And having to go through this every day since he has died and try to do my own investigation -- I`m a mom. I had no previous experience at any of this. So, having to do that has been an additional horrific, in and of itself --
PINSKY: Can I ask you something?
SHACKNAI: Horrific, period. Sure.
PINSKY: How do you hold it together? It is such a horrible story.
SHACKNAI: Well, I think that Max`s memory is always with me. I always have him in my thoughts. And he, I know, when he was alive, would tell me, even when he wasn`t with me, he would say to me, I always have you, mommy, I have you in my thinking thought, my mommy thoughts.
So I would say the same thing, that I have him in my thoughts. And so, I think that has given me strength and also obviously the very strong and supportive people around me who have helped try to find the truth, wherever that will lead, wherever that has led.
PINSKY: That`s, again, so important, getting through something like this, having people that genuinely care about you. Dina, you were robbed. I`m so sorry.
Let`s go to calls. Kathy in Ohio. Kathy, what do you got?
KATHY, CALLER FROM OHIO: Yes. Dr. Drew, my question is this -- I was wondering if there was any DNA found possibly that would connect the lady who had also died, Rebecca, with the son`s death?
PINSKY: Well, as you know, the San Diego investigators did not feel there was any wrongdoing. I know there was all kinds of consternation over the DNA on the rope that they found Rebecca tied to, but, Angela, maybe you can sort of clear that up real quick.
HALLIER: Yes. It`s our understanding from the records we have been given access to that DNA was taken from underneath Max`s fingernails but we have no indication that it was ever tested.
PINSKY: Interesting. Blair in Texas - Blair.
BLAIR, CALLER FROM TEXAS: Hi, Dr. Drew. Thank you so much for taking my call.
BLAIR: Ms. Shacknai, where was your husband during this time of your son`s fall? And my condolences go to you. I`m so sorry for your loss.
SHACKNAI: Thank you. Thank you.
As reported by the police, the only two people home at the time that this happened were Rebecca and Xena, so, that`s what I`ve been told.
SHACKNAI: I wasn`t there, but that`s what was reported to me in police reports.
I would also like to add to that. This -- the idea of what happened to Max was such a shock, it wasn`t until Thursday afternoon that I was even informed by a doctor at Rady Children`s Hospital that they suspected something and CPS was called. Really, I feel during the week, it was such a traumatic shock, I was really, you know, not apprised of all the other information going on with I guess the Coronado Police Department`s investigation.
PINSKY: What did you think had happened at that point?
SHACKNAI: It was so shocking to walk in and see those photographs of Max. The first thing that I was told was that he had a heart attack. I didn`t understand how that had happened and that somehow the chandelier had came down. I didn`t understand that had happened.
I thought and as the week progress, I thought the most important thing to do was focus on Max and so I brought his favorite stuffed animals. I even brought my favorite -- his favorite perfume that he knew that I wore, thinking maybe it would stir some memory for him so I never thought Max was not going to walk out of that hospital. I thought that I would maybe need a tutor and he would be able to play on his Blackhawks team and maybe he would sit out a few games.
So then my focus that week was on being with him, speaking to him, reading to him, singing to him, hoping to, you know, elicit and stir some, to let him know that I was there.
PINSKY: And then you -- when he died, you didn`t have any expectation that was going to happen?
SHACKNAI: I didn`t. I -- it happened on Friday, the first. He suffered from brain death and on Friday morning, approximately 6:30 in the morning, the EEG went flat and I thought something was wrong with the machine.
And it was soon clear that the doctors came in and said, you know, that he was brain dead. So, it was a shock to me and, you know, going through the next 24 hours and sitting with him was just as hard.
And I have to say the thing that Maxi did, even in his death, was he saved three people. He donated his liver and two kidneys. So he saved an 11-month-old and two adults.
So, in death, he was as generous and beautiful and amazing as he was in life.
PINSKY: Oh, Dina, the story -- I`m going to ask my control room, can I keep my guests here through this next segment? Is that OK? OK.
We are going to keep you guys. Let me just read this. Two days after 6-year-old Max fell off a staircase, his father`s girlfriend was found hung. I think those of you that follow the story know. Her hands and feet were bound.
A rope expert questions whether or not it`s even possible to have done this. So, check it out. Don`t go away. I`m not going anywhere.
Stay with us.
PINSKY: All right. Dina Shacknai and her attorney, Angela Hallier.
Angela, I want to thank you for bringing Dina in here with us tonight, Angela.
And, Dina, I don`t understand -- first of all, thank you for being so courageous and sharing this story. I don`t understand how the appeal of a mom on the level you`re appealing can`t be met by some sort of satisfaction by the San Diego Police.
Don`t you think, Angela?
HALLIER: Oh, yes, and it is not just the appeal, it`s the science. I mean, that`s really what we relied on. I hope that`s what they rely on is the science we gave them.
PINSKY: And, Dina, you just let out a big sigh. Did you want to say something?
SHACKNAI: I absolutely agree. And I agree with your sentiment and I hope and I really think that they will do the right thing. I believe that they will and I believe that Max deserves justice.
PINSKY: OK. This block is rather short.
I want to get some calls.
Pete in Pennsylvania -- Pete.
PETE, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Yes, Dr. Drew. I got two questions. Number one, did he find out what happened to Max, how he died?
PINSKY: He had a head injury and the head injury was massive and he eventually died of brain death.
PETE: Do they know how he fell from this --
PINSKY: Well, if you guys want to -- my control room wants to please show the cartoon again. This is the part that`s in sort of contention.
And, Dina, I will let you sort of address -- no, not the staircase, here it is, this thing. This is the police rendition of what happened. What do you think happened?
SHACKNAI: Well, according to doctors, Bove and Melinek, Max was assaulted, there was an assault scenario at the top of the --
PINSKY: So, somebody assaulted him. Somebody assaulted him and threw him over the rail? Is that what we are saying?
SHACKNAI: And given the planes of injury on his body, the face you can the back, the neck, the eye, the top of the head as well as the front over the front eye, so that along with the skull fracture and the cerebral contusion, which is eventually what led to his death.
So, yes, so somebody -- there was some force or movement that moved him over the railing on the top of his head.
PINSKY: OK. Well, ladies, thank you for joining us. We will keep appraised of your progress.
I have Ann Bremner up next to talk on behalf of the family of your ex- husband`s girlfriend who died as a part of this whole mystery.
But, Dina, I`m not going to soon forget this conversation. It`s just gut-wrenching, this entire experience. So many of our -- I guarantee you tonight, many people`s thoughts are with you.
SHACKNAI: Thank you for your care and attention to max and to listening to his story.
PINSKY: OK. Listen, we will be following this -- what we are calling this Coronado mansion mystery as it develops. More calls, Anne Bremner, after the break.
PINSKY: Now, the Coronado mansion mystery continues. 6-year-old max was laying in a coma in an ICU. His father`s girlfriend, a couple days later, found hanging naked, her feet and hands bound in a way that was inconceivable for her to have done -- two deaths in two days in the same house.
Joining me now is Rebecca Zahau`s, that is Dina`s ex-husband`s girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau`s attorney, and she`s also the house family attorney, Anne Bremner.
Anne, you and I talked about this over the last year. I`m very concerned something untoward happened to Rebecca. Now, Max`s demise was thrown into question.
Do you feel both these cases should be reopened and why?
ANNE BREMNER: Yes. And I wanted to thank you again, Dr. Drew, on behalf of the family for how much attention you have devoted to this case. And yes, I think they both need to be reopened.
You know what? We have asked for both to be reopened. We have been to the San Diego Sheriff`s Department. We have been to the D.A. And now, we are in front of the A.G. asking to have Max`s case reopened and Rebecca`s. And I think both, there`s serious question on both of these cases.
We`re not saying that Max`s case is a homicide. But we are saying that Rebecca`s a not a suicide. If you look at one, you look at both. And I think -- you know, all the things been through when we talked about before that women don`t kill themselves this way, the rope expert that you had.
Of course, she would have been like a Cirque de Soleil artist, you know, to kill herself in this manner. Dr. Cyril Wecht did an independent autopsy and found lividity, remember?
BREMNER: It`s on your show actually.
PINSKY: And, Anne, I`m going to interrupt. Right, she had the signs of pooling of body fluids in the back even though she`d been hanging from her neck allegedly. And I don`t know if we have the footage of that rope expert I brought in, but he literally -- not only did he say it`d be impossible for her to have tied herself behind her back that she would have to have been a sailor in the 16th century -- this is the police -- this is the police version of it.
She literally would have had to have been a sailor in the 16th century on a schooner to know how to do that kind of rope work, as I understand, had never handled a rope, is that correct?
BREMNER: Exactly. Exactly. Such a wonderful job, Dr. Drew, on all of these things. Exactly. Just outrageous, you know, that all of these discrepancies were there and the case has yet to be reopened. It was closed after only seven weeks. And I know you paid a lot of attention to it and you still have with this case.
I do want to say one thing today to Dina and her family. There`s so much grief in this case to go around.
BREMNER: But Becky`s family lost a daughter and a sister and it`s just heartbreaking. And I think when there`s questions like we have on both cases, let`s just see blue sky law, so to speak. Let`s look at these cases anew.
PINSKY: Well, yes. It just -- it would help this family complete their grieving. I know the Zahau family feel incomplete. They can`t close the chapter, at least, not to their own satisfaction.
Let me go to some calls. Let`s go to Cindy in California -- Cindy.
CINDY, CALIFORNIA: Yes, I`m here. Thank you, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Go ahead, Cindy.
CINDY: I just want to give my condolences to both Dina and also Rebecca`s family. My heart goes out to them. I had beloved sister who was my whole world, who was murdered when she was 34 years old. The shock, heartache, and loss never goes away for me. And it`s just very tragic. So, my heart goes out to everyone.
PINSKY: And Cindy, can you understand them from -- having been through an experience like that, of course, really hard for any of us to put ourselves in those shoes.
CINDY: It is.
PINSKY: But the need to have some sort of closure and questions answered. Can you appreciate that feeling?
CINDY: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. For both Max and Rebecca, I wanted to say with Max, the diagram of that child trying to get over a wall and grab a chandelier and fall like that just seems like an impossibility. And I did want to ask was the chandelier fingerprinted or DNA taken off of it to prove the child had grabbed it?
PINSKY: I don`t know if -- Ann is shaking her head no and the -- Dina`s attorney said they had tested under the fingernails but did not test -- they did not have any DNA result. Thank you for that call. Cassidy in Alabama -- Cassidy.
CASSIDY, ALABAMA: I have a couple of questions. My first question is, I heard nothing about the father. Is he a suspect in either homicide, supposedly homicide?
PINSKY: Well, yes. To call these homicides at this point is jumping the gun a little bit. And Anne, I`ll rephrase the question for you. I know you`re having trouble hearing Cassidy, which was --
PINSKY: Where does the dad fit into this -- the story? Was he a suspect at one time?
BREMNER: Apparently, he was not. His name is Jonah Shacknai. He was cooperative through all of this. He had an alibi, and it was on video. They didn`t call anybody suspects in this case, Dr. Drew. They simply closed it out as a suicide, at least, with Rebecca, and then with Max, an accident. So, they never got to the point of using that type of terminology with anybody.
PINSKY: Because it was an accident and a suicide. Judy in Washington -- Judy.
JUDY, WASHINGTON: Yes. I was wondering about the teenage sister of the girlfriend that was also in the house at the time of Max`s fall, if she`s ever said anything or she was questioned or about what happened.
PINSKY: Yes. Judy, it`s a great question, because Anne, I got to be honest, I didn`t -- I didn`t pay attention. I didn`t know the teenaged sister was in the house at the time. What do we know about her?
BREMNER: You know, it was a little known fact, Dr. Drew, but she was there. She was in a bathroom taking a shower at the time of the fall and came out and helped to collect the glass and helped with Max. She`s the one that called 911. And you can hear Rebecca hysterically, you know, screaming and trying to perform CPR on Max at that time.
And she did give a statement to the police, and they even went to see her back east and spent time with the child specialist to make sure they got it right in terms of the interview.
PINSKY: And one of the things I think people may, Anne, find curious, something I said at the opening of this segment was that women do not hang themselves naked. Do you want to clarify why that`s the case?
BREMNER: Right. Well, it`s not only that, yes, they don`t -- part of it is just modesty. Women don`t do it. There`s never been a case ever in reported history of a woman hanging herself naked this way, bound, and gagged over the side of the railing, leaving no DNA, of course, on the railing either.
And part of this was cultural, too, in terms of what the experts have said. But, they agreed with me in Coronado and San Diego, the authorities, that they`ve never heard of any such a case as suicide ever before.
PINSKY: Yes. We`ve had lots of questions. I don`t understand the resistance to reopening. And you said, it`s in front of the attorney general now. And are you getting any traction there?
PINSKY: OK, well --
BREMNER: We are getting traction. And I`m happy to say. And it`s been since the beginning of July that they`ve had it. They`ve had questions, have inquiries. And, I believe we`ll have a meeting with them as early as next week.
PINSKY: Great. We will keep in touch with you, Anne, to see how that goes. And next up -- and by the way, thank you for joining us -- the shooter in Sunday`s temple massacre is said to be a White supremacist. When we come back, I`m going to speak to a former skinhead who reveals his secret life inside that world of hate. Don`t go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulance up, subject down. Officer`s down! I need ambulance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one officer shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Franklin Dispatch all squad 7512 South Howell Avenue. Subject with a gun, balding, white T-shirt, officer down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Since that temple shooting in Wisconsin on Sunday, there is growing evidence that the shooter was a staunch racist who posted his pro- White views on social websites. Now, while we think that racism is on the way, we like to tell ourselves that stories like these reminds us that hate lives on in America.
Bryon and Julie Widner know firsthand. They say they were hard core - - I believe you were -- I said skinheads, that was a -- I misspoke, right? You were more White supremacists. Is that right, guys?
BRYON WIDNER, SAYS HE`S A REFORMED WHITE SUPREMACIST: No, Dr. Drew. I was very much a skinhead.
JULIE WIDNER, SAYS SHE`S A REFORMED WHITE SUPREMACIST: Fifteen years.
BRYON WIDNER: Yes, for 15 years. Jewel lives more on the White nationalist, political side. I was a street thug.
PINSKY: Got it. And at your angriest, I guess, my question would be, would you -- can you relate -- I mean, given how you were back then, could you relate to what this guy did and would you be willing to take a bullet for the cause?
BRYON WIDNER: From back then, I was an absolute animal. I was a creature. And yes, very much, I would have taken a bullet for the cause, for my brothers, for my crew. I would have taken a bullet. And I would have dished one out, too. And that was at my angriest, at my worst. So, yes, I would have taken a bullet.
PINSKY: And Julie, you, too, were sort of, at least, philosophically aligned with all this.
JULIE WIDNER: Yes, absolutely. I was involved in -- I was more White nationalist, more of the suits kind of group. And, -- but most of my friends were skinheads. So, I was the same way. I wasn`t -- I had no fear. I would have taken a bullet. I would have done what was necessary.
PINSKY: We were showing some pictures of Bryon, you, before you had your tattoos removed. Let`s put those back up there again. You had tattoos, very aggressive tattoos, which, you know -- there they are. And I guess you eventually had them all removed. I mean, look at that. Wow! Different guy.
So, here`s my question to both of you, and you guys can decide who answers first. I suspect you`ll both have an answer. How did you change, number one and what do you tell people who doubt the sincerity of your change?
BRYON WIDNER: Well, how I changed, I was in the skinhead movement for about 15 years. After about ten years in the movement, I -- politically, I was done. I was no longer convinced the White race was the master race. I was no longer convinced there was going to be this glorious race war that we were all going to go out in the field of battle and fight.
I had -- I had diminished those thoughts. The only reason I remained in the crews and in the skins is because I didn`t know any other way to be. I was a violent, violent guy. I was a drunk. I was -- I was a degenerate. I mean, I was just -- I was a dredge on society. And like I said, after about ten years, I lost all that and consumed myself in alcoholism.
And when I met Julie, she had been in for a number of years also, and she was real -- she was starting to question a lot of the -- just a lot of everything within the movement and actually seeing a lot of hypocrisy that actually does go on. So, when we met, we were actually able to get on the same page as far as that goes.
And it was just a matter of, you know, just transporting out at that point. I mean, we`re both -- mentally, we were both out of it anyway, we just weren`t physically out of it.
PINSKY: Let me take a quick call. Scott? Scott in Tennessee -- Scott.
SCOTT, TENNESSEE: Yes, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Go ahead, Scott.
SCOTT: My thoughts to the families who lost relatives in this tragedy. I pretty much fall in the same category Julie and Bryon got caught up in this situation when I was a young child. This is not an isolated incident. People get people in the backrooms right now, plotting, elements, White supremacy elements, plotting, pulled (INAUDIBLE) issue that has to be addressed.
And I think people like Bryon and Julie are doing a great job. We just got to do more of it, and we have to listen to the people that are out on the frontlines fighting.
PINSKY: Yes, thank you, Scott. It`s just -- it`s almost mind-bending to try to realize that what you`re saying is probably true. Bryon, let me ask you this, this character who did this shooting, also severe alcohol problem, I wonder if there was a speed issue, too, because that really escalates people`s tendency towards violence.
But, can you make for me the connection between the military and the racist movements? I understand that his step-mom had some allegations about that. Tell me about that.
BRYON WIDNER: Well, the military and the racist movement is the military trains you to be a soldier. They train you how to shoot. They train you how to kill. Once you -- if you mix that with the racialist movement, you have a pod just waiting to pop. I mean, that`s a bad, bad element, and there are a lot of skinheads that are in the army right now. A lot.
JULIE WIDNER: They encourage it.
PINSKY: They encourage it Julie, you say? I heard that certain leaders, perhaps, look the other way, but they don`t encourage it. Do you think they actually encourage it?
JULIE WIDNER: They encourage people to join the military to learn some of these tactical, you know, stuff they do in there, just for this supposed race war that`s supposed to happen. I mean, there`s many skinheads out there. They don`t get caught doing this stuff. Most of them don`t get caught.
I mean, I knew skinheads that would go on, they call them hunting. They`d go hunting and they`d go to a gay park or a homeless park and they would off somebody, you know? I mean, I never, you know, I never witnessed it, just what they talk about, but this is going on. This is pretty real.
PINSKY: Wow! You guys are disturbing me. Lisa in Texas. Lisa, real quick.
LISA, TEXAS: Yes. I have a question, Dr. Drew. Thank you for letting me come on.
LISA: I was just wondering, do you think or do your guests think that -- do they know anybody that was maybe -- had a mental illness along with the racism that maybe would increase in wanting for that person to go out and kill a group of people instead of just a single person? Do you think mental illness was a part of that or you just think it was just because of the -- being racist?
PINSKY: That`s a great question, Lisa. I`m going to take a quick break and Bryon and Julie, I want you to think about that across the break. I certainly both -- your story, Bryon and the shooter in Wisconsin, you know, we`re hearing about substances involved here, but the question is, were there other mental illnesses involved as well?
I don`t know about that guy in Wisconsin, but let`s talk about what you encountered in the movement.
Next up, the shooter`s, as I said, former step-mom spoke out after the bloody rampage. We`ll hear what she had to say when we come back. Again, you can call us, 855-DrDrew5. Be right back.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The subject is not moving. We`re approaching (ph). He`s not moving.
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PINSKY: The shooter who killed six people in Wisconsin was a member of two skinhead racist bands, this according to the Southern Poverty Law center. Take a look at him here at a photo in front. This is from his Facebook page, standing in front of a swastika. He had military training, but during his six years in the army, he had alcohol problem, was demoted.
Julie and Bryon were involved with all this nonsense and now have changed. So, let`s answer Lisa`s question before the break. She asked, did you come across people with mental illness and were there mental illnesses being encouraged to be acted out rather than be dealt with?
BRYON WIDNER: Well, the mental illness thing and the whole scant (ph) philosophy basically went hand-in-hand. You`re not going to find a skinhead without something wrong upstairs. I mean, that`s a general rule of thumb. I mean, one of my best friends was a paranoid schizophrenic and he`d quit taking his medicine for weeks on end and go out and actually, one time I actually had to take him out of town because he bit somebody`s face.
So, you know, it was a bad situation when he got off his meds, but the whole mental illness thing is definitely, definitely there. I was diagnosed with a number of mental illnesses when I got out. So, they go hand in hand, they really do.
PINSKY: All right. Now, I mentioned the shooter`s ex-stepmother. She made a reference on "Good Morning, America." I think we have that tape. Take a look at this.
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LAURA PAGE, WADE MICHAEL PAGE`S STEPMOTHER: I don`t know if the military was good for him. I don`t know. My heart`s broken for the people that are -- that were killed and their families. I can`t imagine what would have gone through his mind for him to do something like this.
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PINSKY: So, the stepmom is blaming the military. Do you think maybe this guy had mental illness also, Bryon or Julie?
BRYON WIDNER: I`m pretty sure he did have some kind of mental illness going on, but the biggest thing, even on the White power forums and blogs and everything, everybody is saying that this is a -- that the shooting had something to do with the government. You know, he was a government informant and the FBI had a hand in it, now his military training, no. What happened was the guy`s girlfriend broke up with him and he snapped.
BRYON WIDNER: And that was the catalyst.
PINSKY: It`s paranoid to say that he was acting on behalf of the government. So, the whole culture must be paranoid in that movement.
JULIE WIDNER: Absolutely. Everybody`s paranoid. They`re paranoid. Their phones are tapped. They`re afraid to give their real names out. I mean, it`s -- a lot of pressure when your in there trying to stay anonymous, yet, get to know other people so you can form some kind of group, you know?
PINSKY: Well, Bryon, Julie, thank you. I suspect I`ll come back to you to help me understand what this is all about as we follow this story, and I`m going to take a quick break. On the other side of the break, calls on any topics, 855-373-7395.
PINSKY: Back to your calls. Tina, what do you got in Ohio? Tina.
TINA, OHIO: OK. Dr. Drew, my question is, I cheated on my husband, he cheated on me. We worked things out. Nine months later, I caught the girl in the store. We had a confrontation. One day -- one week and one day later, he went and apologized for what I had done to her and that`s the only thing I can`t get past.
PINSKY: Tina, did you guys ever get any couples counseling after all this cheating, these cheating wars?
PINSKY: You know, when a -- how old are you?
PINSKY: And how old is he?
PINSKY: And do you have kids?
PINSKY: OK. And you guys want to stay together?
TINA: Yes, we do, but our biggest -- my biggest thing is I can`t move past the fact that he cared more about her feelings than mine.
PINSKY: I hear that, but that`s a bigger story than just that one incident. I mean, you guys really acted out aggressively against one another in ways that suggest there`s something wrong in this relationship. The one thing I will say about cheating, if you`re thinking seriously about cheating or if you have cheated, that`s a symptom. That`s symptom of a relationship that`s not going well.
Now, Tina, you`ve hung your resentment on the fact that he went and apologized to this woman. I understand that. I get it. But I`m telling you something, there`s more going on here.
I don`t know what exactly, but I`ll tell you what, I would strongly urge to you sit down with a good marital counselor and dig through this and find out what is going wrong here that neither of you feel safe and you harbor such deep resentments for one another.
Darcy in Texas -- Darcy.
DARCY, TEXAS: Hi, Dr. Drew.
DARCY: If you already know that you had a bad picker and you`re making a real effort to date men that are healthier choice, how do you become sexually attracted --
PINSKY: This is a great question, Darcy. And, let me sort of frame it for everybody. I`m running out of time here. When people said I have a bad picker, as Darcy said, it`s like you`re attracted to people that are bad for you. And it`s only those really turn you on.
Those are the ones that are so exciting, and you`ve learned not to respond to that excitement. You`re now trying to go for guys a little more boring that look better on paper, right, Darcy?
DARCY: That`s correct.
PINSKY: The problem is it doesn`t turn you on, and that is the really difficult part, the nefarious part about the human mind, which is if you can`t find a way to bring yourself into an intimacy with somebody who`s really available and also have all the lovely passion that goes along with that, that is a time for therapy. That`s what that`s telling you.
You really, Darcy, owe that to yourself. Go, see with a therapist, do emotional focus therapy, so you really -- what you`ll do in therapy is form a new relationship, a real intimacy with somebody who`s there and caring and open and attuned to you. And that will feel very uncomfortable.
But as you sort of enter that frame, you will soon gain the capacity to not just tolerate those kinds of relationships but to be fully, your whole body, attracted to those things. So, go do that OK?
DARCY: I got you.
PINSKY: All right, my dear. Christina, I have just like 30 seconds. That`s not enough time, is it?
CHRISTINA, KANSAS: It could be, I don`t know.
PINSKY: Real quick.
CHRISTINA: How common is it for consensual intercourse between siblings?
PINSKY: Oh, my goodness, my dear. That is -- hold on the line. It`s not consensual. It is a problem. There`s something terribly wrong in that family. I`ll talk to you off the air about that.
This has been quite a show. That`s quite a way to end it. I`m having lots of emotions myself. I thank you all for joining us and staying with us. Of course, thank you for the callers as well. I don`t know about you, guys, but I have a lot of intense feelings after tonight. So, we`ll see you again tomorrow. Thank you for watching, as I said. Nancy Grace begins now.