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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Missing Teen Girl Found Alive; Man Shoots Former Co-Worker in Midtown Manhattan

Aired August 24, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL starts right now.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: A teenage girl missing for three years is found alive, but the details of her nightmare are too horrific to even imagine. Police say she escaped her captor, who allegedly held her as a sex slave inside his filthy home. Cops police the suspect fathered a son with his victim. How did she manage to escape finally? And how did cops later go in and save her young son?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, an amazing escape. A 15-year- old girl runs for her life, saying she was held captive for two years by a man and raped almost every day. She tells cops she got pregnant by her captor and that the child was still being held by the suspect, sparking a massive SWAT team raid. We`ll tell you what happened next. Is this another horrific Jaycee Dugard type scenario?

Then, it`s happened again, another gun massacre. This time outside the iconic Empire State Building in New York City. We`ll tell you what went down, what`s the very latest, and why it`s sparking outrage around the nation.

Plus, were giant red flags, warnings signs ignored in the case of movie theater massacre suspect James Holmes? Prosecutors are now saying that before the shootings, the 24-year-old made threats, threats so serious campus police had to step in. Were warning signs ignored, and if so why?

And it`s Richard! The one and only Richard Simmons is here with me to spill his no-nonsense slim-down secrets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty nice people. Like, regular neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an incredible show of force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they always seemed very nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than two dozen officers, a man who was accused of holding the teenager captive sat handcuffed on the ground. He`s known around the neighborhood by his street name, Psycho.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn`t think anything strange activity was going on. They was -- you know, he was holding somebody hostage next door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beaten and sexually assaulted nearly every day while she was in captivity. Police led the suspect`s mother away in handcuffs, as well, who forced the teenage victim to lie about her name to cover up her real identity when she gave birth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s kind of scary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Tonight a teenager missing for three long years escapes a house of horrors. A 19-year-old woman raced away from her alleged captors this week. After escaping she went to police and said she`d been held captive, beaten and raped repeatedly, regularly for years.

Police say the young woman told them the 24-year-old suspect got her pregnant and that she`d had a child with him while in captivity. She told cops her 2-year-old son was still inside the house with the suspect, so a massive -- and I mean massive -- SWAT team stormed his house yesterday. They arrested this man and his mother.

They also carried out the victim`s 2-year-old son under a cover. The boy appears to be OK. We`re thankful for that.

The whole saga began in April 2009. The then-5-year-old girl was listed as missing or a runaway from her St. Louis, Missouri, home. She was allegedly held just across the state line in Washington Park, Illinois. We`re talking a short drive from her family home.

Police say the teen victim met this suspect socially and ended up at his house voluntarily but was not allowed to leave when she wanted to. Neighbors who knew the suspect and his family are absolutely stunned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just seemed like pretty nice people. Like, regular neighbors. You know, I didn`t think any strange activity was going on. They was, you know, holding somebody hostage next door. Right next door to my house. I have a son, a 3-year-old son. That`s kind of scary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The victim told police she was raped and beaten almost daily. She says the suspect caught her during previous escape attempts and dragged her back to the house at gunpoint. This time, though, she was able to flee with the help of a relative. So we want to learn more about that. What relative?

Straight out to KSDK reporter Grant Bissell. Grant, what can you tell us? A lot of breaking news in this case. What`s the very latest?

GRANT BISSELL, KSDK REPORTER (via phone): Well, I can tell you, I spoke with prosecutors a little earlier today. They are expecting to file charges in this case against the man and his mother who were arrested in that raid.

However, it`s not clear yet exactly what kind of charges those suspects could be facing. You`ve heard the stories of this horrific situation that this young girl was kept in. We can only imagine how she survived what she says that she was put through.

But something that we`ve noticed as we`ve been out in the neighborhood today, talking with neighbors and people that knew this family, there`s a lot of question marks in the neighborhood about what exactly happened; whether this girl is actually even telling the truth.

Some people suspect that maybe she was brought there, as you said willingly, and then perhaps she and the man who was arrested got into an argument and that she made this whole story up. Now police and investigators say that they are...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Grant, Grant, hold on. Hold on a second, Grant. What do you say there about made this story up?

BISSELL: Well, the neighbors say that they had seen young women going in and out of that house repeatedly and that they`re not sure who this girl was, whether she was one of these girls that came and went as she pleased. Police and investigators have not yet released a picture or her name. So they are wondering whether this girl is telling the truth about this at all or whether this is all some hoax that she`s making up to -- to drag this guy that she alleges abused her, drag him down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is breaking news. And you`re hearing it the same way I`m hearing it. We are trying to parse out this story. It is unfolding as we speak. Can you stand by? Don`t go anywhere, Grant, because we want to get back to you.

I want to go, however, to go to T.J. Ward, private investigator, former police officer. Are there cases where people have Stockholm Syndrome? Like I know the neighbors say, "Well, we saw this girl out in the yard. We didn`t think she was being held captive."

But there have been cases where girls are kept. And then there are a variety of psychological intimidation techniques that are used to keep them somewhere even when -- for example, she gave birth and she gave somebody -- I don`t know if it was a doctor or a nurse -- false information about her identity so they couldn`t trace it back to the disappearance that occurred -- T.J.

T.J. WARD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: There are -- there are people that intimidate people so bad and they`re so scared that they do what they want. And even coming and going, if they allow them to do that. And they hold something over their head so they have to return. And they`ll either terrorize them or terrorize another family member, that they`ll take them or kill them or kill the baby to force her to return, even if she had an opportunity to leave and come and go as she wanted. She knew she had to come back and do what they said they had to do or there would have been consequences.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. There are threats. There are intimidation. And again these are allegations being made by this young woman. So we don`t know the whole story. If this man or his mother, who we`re seeing right there, have attorneys, they are invited on the show any time. We`ve been trying to reach out. But we don`t know who these people are. They haven`t even given us their identity at this point.

So I want to go to Dr. Seth Myer, a clinical psychologist. What do you make of it? Could the truth be somewhere in the middle? Could she be absolutely accurate in her statements or could there be sort of a gray area where it really is going to have to be argued in the courts?

DR. SETH MYER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, my sense is that we really do need to hear more. My sense is that there`s more to this story than we`re first hearing. You know, we don`t want to rush to judgment and blame the victim, and I think a lot of times it`s easy to do so, though, in these cases.

What -- if what she`s saying is true, to me this is a really powerful reminder of how strong the survival instinct is. You know, she could put up with basically almost anything if she feels like she wants to live, and that`s how powerful the survival instinct is. When you consider the fact that she also...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Myer, I want to jump in here. Because the reporter, Grant Bissell, is now talking about allegations that this might be something that she concocted. I`m not saying she did. I don`t know. I`m not there. But I`m saying I want you to weigh in on that specifically.

MYER: Sure. Well, I have to agree with him a bit. You know, it sounds a little bit like there`s a little bit more of a relationship than these allegations are suggesting.

One of the main questions I wanted to know the answer to in the beginning when I heard about this is did she know this man at all before? Was she just thrown into a van and...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Seth -- Seth, she did know him. We`ve already established she met him socially when she was 15 years old. Went to his house voluntarily. That`s where the stories diverge. She says that she was held captive for three years, beaten or raped repeatedly.

But on the other side -- and hopefully, you can stay with us, Grant -- we`re going to discuss the changing story. It`s breaking news. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I used to see her from time to time, like, come in and out of the house. I didn`t know any strange activities was going on like that. You would never think that that would be right next door to your house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They seemed like a pleasant family to me. And they always seemed very nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They was like a normal family. When we first moved here, I`d speak to them. They`ll speak to us. We didn`t know anything that was going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was Monday when this 19-year-old woman escaped, she says, and ran to police and said, "Oh, my gosh. I`ve been held captive, reportedly beaten and raped for three years. My son that I had in captivity is still in this house."

Now, here`s what`s interesting. Kelly Saindon, criminal defense attorney but former prosecutor, apparently police spent three days trying to verify her story, but then with this toddler child at stake, they said, "Well, we`ve got to take action." And they did, this SWAT Team. How are prosecutors going to parse all this out, Kelly, as a former prosecutor?

KELLY Saindon, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think as a former prosecutor, the first thing THAT you want to do is start witness evaluation. You want to look at who`s involved. You want to talk to them. You`re going to look for criminal background, and you`re going to assess the facts.

Was she really there against her will? Because if the neighbors say her coming and going, her story is not credible. She wasn`t coming back because of the baby. She was really a runaway. Was there a crime because they were harboring a minor?

So there is definitely more to the story, because even if she was a runaway at 15 when she went to his house voluntarily, then they were committing a crime by keeping her there. So there`s definitely going to be some charges. Whether it`s her for lying, whether it`s the son and mom for keeping her. Whether it`s the falsification of records for the birth of the child.

But as a former prosecutor, you look at all of the facts. You assess credibility. You gather evidence. You wait for the police to give a report, and you make a determination who you can charge and for what.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. But Danny Savalas, criminal defense attorney, look at Jaycee Dugard. There were neighbors. She was, of course, the courageous young woman who was kidnapped when she was 11 and held for 18 years. And Phillip Dugard -- Phillip Garrido, rather, kept her prisoner and raped her repeatedly, and she had two daughters.

And neighbors in that case said that they had seen Jaycee around. In fact, one of the neighbors called 911 and said that there`s people living in tents and nothing was done initially. So neighbors don`t necessarily have the information to weigh in and decide a case, Danny.

DANNY SAVALAS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, sometimes. And Jaycee Dugard was a different case. But I think in this case, this may end up being a defensible case. And the reason for that is, as a defense attorney, what I`m looking at is all these neighborhood people.

How would they be as witnesses? What can they tell us about the relationship and what they`ve actually seen, interacting with these people? What do they know about the relationship? And what statements has this complainant made over the last couple of years?

Now, there`s certainly -- I have to agree, there are going to be charges brought. They certainly have falsified records, it appears at this point, allegedly.

But going forward, there are elements of this case that appear more defensible and maybe not -- maybe not morally or ethically. But certainly from a legal perspective, there are elements, I think, that will go to the credibility of this complainant.

I think the level of time it took to verify the story. And I think we may see, at least as a defense attorney, witnesses from around the community that actually can testify to actual communications. I don`t know whether that`s the same as other cases we`ve seen in the past. I think in this situation there may be interactions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Grant, last ten seconds, is there significance so the fact the police haven`t named these individuals? What feeling are you getting from cops?

BISSELL: That`s another thing that we`ve got some questions about. We`re trying to figure out, is who is the mother and who are all these players in this case? And we`re hoping to learn more about that when these charges, hopefully, are pressed later today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I thank you so much for weighing in. This is a fascinating story, and it keeps changing, and we will keep updating it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ten people have been shot in front of the Empire State Building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A man ran after another man and pulled a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no secret that the Empire State Building from time to time has been identified to our intelligence community as a potential target.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see how congested this area is right in midtown Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People began to scream. The crowds dispersed. And an elevator man from inside the Empire State Building came rushing out and actually pursued the guy with the gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A young woman, an innocent bystander, shot and killed, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police do tell us the shooter is dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A gun battle erupts in the dead center of New York City.

We have to warn you: what you`re about to see are graphic and frightening images of this crime as it happened, as it went down.

Look at this stunning new amateur video. This is chaos as violence broke out after a man opens fire on a former co-worker in the heart of Manhattan. That may have been the gunman right there on the ground.

A heroic construction worker chased down the suspect while calling 911. As the gunman flees, police converged on the scene. A firefight breaks out between the officers and the shooter. Terrified witnesses could not believe what they were seeing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden there was just cops running down, and people are taping off scenes. It was just kind of like a scene out of "CSI," honestly, and -- but it was real. And it wasn`t that long ago that 9/11 happened so I`m just kind of like, is this really happening?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The deadly pursuit came to its bloody conclusion when two officers cornered the gunman right outside the famous Empire State Building. They shot him three times just 20 feet from where tourists were lining up to visit the skyscraper`s famous observatory.

Straight out to CNN correspondent Maggie Lake on the ground, on the scene in midtown Manhattan.

Maggie, tell us what you`re learning. Was this a targeted attack against a specific individual that kind of exploded into random violence?

MAGGIE LAKE, REPORTER: It does seem like it was very specific, Jane.

What police have been telling us all throughout the day is 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson went to his place of former employment. He had been working at Hazan. It was a ladies` accessory maker. A designer there. He worked there for six years. He was laid off about a year ago.

Today he turned up armed with a .45 caliber weapon and shot a co- worker that he had had problems with. The two of them had exchanged allegations of harassment before, so he seemed to come with the intent of shooting that person.

Witnesses we spoke to said after that, he very strangely sort of turned calmly and proceeded to walk down the street with his briefcase and tried to blend in with the crowd. Of course, that`s not possible, as you mentioned. Bystanders saw him. They alerted police, who took him down. But this is a man dressed in a suit who looked like anyone else who would have been commuting on that day, which is why those bystanders were so shocked.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and we are seeing this video that, again, everybody is a potential journalist with a camera these days. And so we`re -- we`ve been getting some of this extraordinary footage of, actually as it went down, these poor -- that`s a police officer pointing a gun at someone. I will hesitate to say what exactly is happening here, except complete and utter chaos, terror.

And it`s so -- it`s so saddening. As a native New Yorker, it breaks my heart. Thank you so much, Maggie Lake.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were reportedly warning signs Colorado massacre suspect James Holmes might turn violent. This happened before he allegedly went on a deadly rampage at the movie theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We got rifles, gas masks near the theater. Now we`ve got an open door going into the theater.

Hold that position. Hold your suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got seven down in theater nine. Seven down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The psychiatrist treating James Holmes, the accused Colorado gunman, told her colleagues that Holmes could be a danger to others.

Something that he said to his psychiatrist caused her to contact the University of Colorado threat assessment team.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was no reaction at all as the judge announced that he had -- 42 criminal counts had been filed against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred and forty-two counts, including first- degree murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s happening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody is shooting in the auditorium.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is every child`s worst nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need rescue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being in the dark and you have the bad guy come out to get you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight in just-released court documents, prosecutors say the theater shooting defendant, James Holmes, talked to a classmate about wanting to kill people. This is breaking news, just in.

We`ve also learned that Holmes made threats against the University of Colorado, Denver, a month before he allegedly opened fire inside that movie theater, killing 12 people, injuring so many more.

This is old video of James Holmes in court. But we can tell you in court yesterday, he looked quite similar. He still had that shock of red hair.

Prosecutors say Holmes wasn`t crazy, just angry that he was failing out of school when he allegedly committed the mass shooting.

Now defense attorneys and prosecutors are fighting over who should get access to Holmes` school records and documents.

Holmes accused of opening fire July 20 during a midnight premiere of the latest "Batman" movie. Twelve people killed, 58 injured, like this woman and her child.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was the moment where the shooting stopped, and I saw people running. And at that moment, I grabbed the baby, and I just drug -- I just grabbed my daughter and just got her out as fast as I could and just ran out. I didn`t turn around. I didn`t look behind me. I just got out.

And then there was a moment when my daughter tripped. And I just pulled her up, and I was just dragging her. And I was just thinking we just got to get out. I just got to get out the door, and even if I just full dead just get my kids out of here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So many lives devastated, shattered, lost.

"The Denver Post" reporting the very same day James Holmes failed a crucial oral exam, he bought an assault-style rifle. And during the very same month, Holmes was told that he perhaps wasn`t cut out for a career in neuroscience. He was allegedly at the time stockpiling explosives.

Straight out to CNN correspondent Kyung Lah.

Kyung, so many new court documents. Tell us what -- put it in perspective. Because we`re getting a slew of new, what I would call red flags.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Red flags certainly what we`re starting to see as this information begins to trickle out. Here`s another little trickle of it, Jane.

This is a document that we ourselves just got a hold of a couple hours ago. And what the prosecution is writing in this particular court document is the defendant had conversations with a classmate about wanting to kill people, not just before the shooting but back in March. And the document goes on to say that he would do so when his life was over. And this also says that he was denied access to the school after June 12th, after he made threats to a professor at the school.

So what we`re starting to see through this trickle of information that we`re getting out of the courts now is that there is more of a direct line -- at least that`s what the prosecution is trying to do -- a direct line between what happened at the university, his academic failings and the shooting that happened at that movie theater, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so many red flags. I mean June 7th he fails an oral exam and then just over a month later this shooting. But in between that time, my gosh, so much happening that we`re now learning through court documents that should have been a red flag to somebody.

LAH: That`s the point --

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, prosecutors say James Holmes was banned, as you just said, from the University of Colorado Denver six weeks before the shooting. Here`s what the school has said about all this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARRY SHUR, DEAN AT UC-DENVER: My understanding is his prelim examinations were around June 7th or so and he withdrew June 10th. He initiated the paperwork on June 10th. And I may be speaking out of line but it`s my understanding that he has not been back on campus or in the program since that time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors say Holmes was banned after making threats and that his key card granting him access to the medical campus was deactivated. But the school denies that they banned Holmes from the campus entirely. They do admit doing a criminal background check on him before this massacre.

You know, there`s so many things that practically shout from the rooftop. And I`ll put this out to Seth Meyer, Dr. Seth Meyer, clinical psychologist, that there was a problem here. And in fact, the threat assessment team -- he had been seeking professional help from three mental health professionals. And the psychiatrist who was treating him, you know, she contacted members of the threat assessment team and said, "Hey, we got to do something."

But nothing seemed to get off the ground in terms of an actual intervention.

DR. SETH MEYER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Right. Well, the problem is we really need to know more about what happened. We really need to see the documents around what happened when the threat assessment team evaluated him. Because the truth is, he could have said to his psychiatrist "I`m going to go blow up the university", but then when the threat assessment team shows up, all of a sudden he says, "You know what, actually, I don`t mean that. I don`t want to do that. It`s ok. I`ve calmed down. Now I don`t mean that. I didn`t mean what I said."

And so the threat assessment team would have to say, "Ok, let`s let him go. He`s clear." So you know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Seth, Seth, Seth. I got to jump in here because I want to go back to Kyung Lah. My understanding is the threat assessment team never got that far. That the threat assessment team, to my knowledge, wasn`t sitting around doing long interviews with him. They didn`t even -- correct me if I`m wrong here -- but they didn`t actually meet, right?

LAH: The information that we have so far that we`ve been able to learn out of the information, out of court or through press publications in that area is that, yes, they did not. But it could change as more information comes out.

Remember, we`re operating under a cloak of secrecy here because of this very wide gag order. So the information that we have gleaned is, yes, they did not get to that point yet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. T.J. Ward, private investigator, it`s easy for us to play Monday morning quarterback. But when you are in these kind of situations real-time, there`s also so many push backs in terms of privacy, in terms of thresholds that have to be reached before people can actually, you know, call 911.

Do you think maybe we need to lower those thresholds that if a psychiatrist has a gut feeling and there`s been threats and that it appears he`s been talking about killing people that you can actually call the cops and say get this guy locked up?

T.J. WARD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Jane, you need -- the companies, corporations, schools, all need to take these threats seriously. I can tell you now with the workplace violence and they just need to take it more seriously. They have teams now when there`s employees that are problems and people at school too. This is not the first incident from a school that there`s been a terrorist that went loose when somebody has psychological issues.

They need to communicate with law enforcement and these teams in order and take this very serious. These people are for real. This is not the first time this has happened at a school from somebody that went to a school. We had this in Virginia where a guy had gone off a deep end and they knew about -- that there was evidence and realistic things there that they really need to take serious and take a good look at these things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. You know, somebody might say, yes, "I could kill him" as a figure of speech. Clearly that`s not what was happening in this case. So it`s a cautionary tale. It really is.

Thank you, panel.

Now, a look at our "Shocking Video of the Day" -- this was a wild, crazy and extremely dangerous high-speed chase in Miami. Police took off after this van following reports of a home burglary on the south side of the city. At one point, the driver appears to be boxed in. Ok. Then he hits -- I don`t know what happened here. But this thing went on and on and on and on. It kept going.

He was boxed in. He got away and then the chase continues. And it just goes on and on until ultimately they get him right there. But it gets even more dramatic. Because cops draw their weapons and look what happens. Why do they run? 100 percent of these people are caught in high-speed chases virtually 100 percent. Nevertheless, time and time again, we go through this insanity where so many other lives are put at risk. If a cop wants to stop you, stop.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now to our "Viral Vid of the Day". This is unbelievable. Look at that. A mom holding her son walks right off the subway platform and falls onto the tracks below. Thank God two brave Good Samaritans jumped in to rescue them. Unbelievable. Courage. Courage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD SIMMONS, FITNESS EXPERT: Hi, everybody.

I was obese my whole life. I kept my weight off. I understand what they`re going through.

The frustrating part is we`re sitting here standing here in this studio today and so many children, teenagers, young adults, seniors, have stopped their life because of their food. It`s a commitment.

Exercise this year. Watch your portions. But most of all, know your self-worth. Because if you really love you, you won`t hurt yourself with food and with inactivity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Richard Simmons, the king of making working out fun. Here he is in one of his famous YouTube videos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMMONS: It`s sweating time. Get that body going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here with me now, the fabulous fitness guru, Richard Simmons, let`s do it together. Come on. Let`s do it together. I like that.

SIMMONS: Ok. Let`s stretch up. Let all of your viewers stretch up. All nice and get you feeling good about yourself. You know, exercise does that, Jane. It really does make you feel so good and it really rises your self-esteem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, I don`t think people will let me exercise during the show, but your point is well-taken. I`m trying to make exercise fun.

You know that`s why I go dancing. I have always gone dancing. And sometimes I`m not the youngest person on the dance floor -- let`s put it that way. I can`t stop because it`s a fun way -- it`s a really fun way to get exercise.

We`ve got an obesity crisis. Next month --

SIMMONS: I`ve always --

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know next month -- you told me it`s national obesity -- childhood obesity --

SIMMONS: Awareness month.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell me what you`re doing.

SIMMONS: Well, September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. As you know, there are more obese kids now than ever. Six years ago I went to Congress to work on a bill called the Fit Kids Bill and it is still in Washington but nothing is going to happen until after the election.

What I want people to know is that obese kids can change. They can change with the influence and guidance of their family. Many times I call overweight teenagers and kids and 80 percent of the time one or both parents are overweight. I want the parents to know that if they set a good example for their kids, they can lose weight and not go from an overweight teen to an overweight adult from an overweight kid to an overweight teen.

And it all has to happen in the home. We can`t wait for Washington to say let`s put PE back in the school system. It`s expensive and the budget for school systems is not really great.

So it has to start at home. You have to make your meals for your kids. You know, not eating out so much. You have to take them for walks. Get them doing something physically active.

As a child, I felt defeated and actually, Jane, I hated myself. At 200 pounds in the eighth grade, it was pretty rotten. But I had to learn how to eat and I had to create some kind of a workout for myself. And I used to watch "Shindig" and "Solid Gold" and all these great shows so when I got to do sweat to the oldies and pick out real music. I have done 65 DVDs now. And I`m just ready to do ten news DVDs of cardio and toning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this. You say you were overweight as a kid. You say that usually if the child is overweight, one of the parents is overweight. So were one of your parents overweight?

SIMMONS: No, my parents weren`t. But they were both physically active. It`s just that I didn`t buy it at the time. I`m from New Orleans, Louisiana. We fry everything there. Even when you die in New Orleans, they deep fry you before you go in the coffin. So all I ate was fried oysters, fried shrimp, fried potatoes, fried vegetables.

I had to get to my turning point and go I can`t go on like this. I don`t like myself. I don`t like to leave the house. How many kids, how many teenagers and how many adults don`t even like to go out because of the stares and because they think that people are judging them? When you`re judged, it`s a very difficult world to live in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, I think you`re one of my heroes. I love your energy. I love how fabulous you look. I love how you`re inspiring kids to eat healthy -- fruits, veggies, nuts, grains. It can be fun. Because when you`re eating right you can go out and you can dance and you can have a great time, right? You want to go out dancing after the show?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hope one day -- Jane, I hope one day you come to my studio, Slimmin`. It`s still in Beverly Hills. I`ll be there almost 40 years, Jane. Come dance with me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I will do that. We`ll put it on the air, how about that?

SIMMONS: That would be perfect.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: "Pets of the Day". This is the Antonio Banderas of dogs -- MacKenzie. Bear -- relaxing, chilling and kind of blending in. And we`ve got Quincy and Gracey who just love to snuggle and cuddle. Aren`t they loves? And Payton is very, very regal. Send us your pets.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: These chimps desperately need your help. Tell your congress member and senator we don`t want our tax dollars used to torture these highly sensitive, highly intelligent cousins of mankind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything we know about chimpanzees now, you know, it`s a lot like looking in the mirror. Chimpanzees are sensitive, intelligent individuals. And it`s morally wrong to inflict pain and suffering on a sentient being.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a terrifying yet vital peek into what really happens inside chimpanzee testing labs. A few weeks ago, animal welfare supporters had a major victory when the Great Ape Protection Act passed through a key senate committee. This has to go now before the full house and the senate, we have got to pass this, because it would end invasive testing on chimps. The battle isn`t over.

You know, there are about 1,000 government-owned chimps across the United States in these labs, experimented on -- many languishing in cages for decades. This bill would retire chimps, basically get them to sanctuaries.

What`s going on behind those closed doors? We know that labs don`t like to let us in. To my very special guest, Elizabeth Kucinich, director of government affairs for Physicians` Committee for Responsible Medicine, PCRM; Elizabeth, you`ve been inside these labs, tell us from the heart, how did it impact you to see these animals in cages?

ELIZABETH KUCINICH, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS, PHYSICIANS` COMMITTEE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE: It made me feel quite sick to be honest. I was not prepared to see how young these chimpanzees were going to be. You know, we can be very sensitive to children and think about adults in a different way. Well, I`m sensitive to obviously all animals of all ages, but when you see baby chimpanzees and I`m 2 years, 4 years. You know, they are still children; they need to be with their family.

And yet these chimpanzees had just gone through an invasive research protocol. They`ve been injected with different things and had been taught to acquiesce which is when they put their arms out. And we were told about how they would cry when they were injected with things and they would be calmed down.

It was sick -- it was almost -- well, I was sick. I have to say that. And I`m very pleased to have been working on this issue for so many years now and to see the movement that is happening in the House and the Senate. Particularly after the Institutes of Medicine released their report at the end of last year saying we don`t need to be using chimpanzees in any areas of medical research. We have got better models. We don`t need them.

You know it costs the taxpayers a lot of money as well to just be warehousing many of these chimpanzees in obviously facilities which are awful for them, which are very expensive for taxpayers. And they`re actually no use to us scientifically or medically. So the Great Ape Protection Act is -- it`s great that it`s moving, but we need it to move quickly before the end of session.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely Elizabeth. Look at these animals doing these repetitive motions that show that they are suffering. They`re suffering because they`re going mad. We can stop it. We can pass the Great Ape Protection Act. How you can help on the other side.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: These chimps are individuals. They`re highly social, they`re highly intelligent. They feel pain, they feel loneliness, they feel sorrow. And now, there is an 8-year-old male chimp named Chaos (ph) who reportedly died last year while being transferred from one facility to another. Tell us in general terms, what happened to this poor creature?

KUCINICH: With Chaos -- well, he was transported from a facility in Maryland and been taken back to Louisiana, to a facility called New Iberia which has a lot of chimpanzees in awful conditions and he died in transit. There`s an investigation to see what happened. There`s a question as to whether he was actually fed on the way and given adequate water and may have just died of starvation on there.

But you know, these things happen and they shouldn`t. Like I said before, we don`t need to be using chimpanzees.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And New Iberia -- we`ve reached out to them many times in the past. You just mentioned them. They`re invited on our show any time. We want to hear their side. I have questions I would love to ask them.

Listen, we have got to get this Great Ape Protection Act passed. Medical science has already done an in-depth study that says these chimps are not necessary. In fact the money we use on those chimps could be used at the molecular and sub-molecular level. Just like we don`t take boats to Europe anymore, we don`t need to put animals into torturous situations when we really uncover things at the submolecular level.

You have started a change.org petition. Go to hlntv.com/Jane, you can find out all about this.

What do you want people to do? Should they call their Senators and members of Congress and say pass the Great Ape Protection Act?

KUCINICH: Basically they should. They can visit pcrm.org. They will find all the information there, all the talking points. You can send an e- mail, write a letter. Make a phone call. Just take action so that your Senator and your representative in the House understand why this is so important for the chimpanzees, yes, but also for medical research, for our own human health. We are wasting so much money on warehousing chimpanzees that are not yielding information that we need.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Elizabeth, you are fabulous.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nancy is next.

END