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Children Missing After House Fire
Aired November 15, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Live, Unionville, Tennessee. A residential home burns to the ground, leaving two grandparents and their two grandchildren dead. But tonight, we learn the bodies of 7-year-old Chloie and 9-year-old brother Gage never found. Tonight, where are Chloie and Gage?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened to Gage Daniels and Chloie Leverette?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An inferno swept through the home where they lived with their grandparents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators found the remains of the two grandparents and even the family dog.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigators searching inch by inch of what`s left of the McClaran farm with no sign of the family`s two grandchildren.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fire was so bad, they may actually never know what caused it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No sign the youngsters were there, and so far, no evidence they weren`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anthropologists sifting through ashes by hand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The tragic house fire now a mystery to many.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think something`s very fishy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more you find out, the more questions you have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would the children have run into the woods when the fire started?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: TBI agents issued endangered child alerts and scoured the woods armed (ph) with helicopters with infrared sensors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s not a single trace of the kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could be the fire was used to cover up something else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could someone kidnap them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s quite possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: And tonight, live, Greenville, Texas. A school girl caught on video stepping off her school bus just one block from home, never seen again. Bombshell tonight. Just four days later, the search for teen Alicia Moore comes to an end. She is found dead in a storage trunk on a remote country road 40 miles from home.
And tonight, I`m asking why. Why no Amber Alert? Why no large-scale searches? Between misinformation, crossed wires and ball-dropping, this girl never had a chance.
Tonight, also, is this case linked to another incident? Shortly before Alicia goes missing, another school girl abduction attempt off another school bus nearby. Tonight, I want to know why. And tonight, we want justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sixteen-year-old Alicia Moore got off the school bus less than a block from home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did not come back alive. Her body was discovered along a Bandette (ph) County road, inside a trunk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something happened between that bus and that house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Family members reported Alicia missing. The police report had been written as though she were a runaway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot say for certain that Alicia was abducted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For this police chief to say after they had found her body in a trunk that they still don`t know if it was an abduction makes no sense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) like they really kind of dropped the ball here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Law enforcement must have determined that there was an actual abduction that took place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was definitely kidnapped. Why would they put her in a storage box?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators say there was trauma to the body, but a cause of death hasn`t been determined.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know why.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was quiet, a homebody, didn`t bother no one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
Bombshell tonight. A residential home burns to the ground, leaving two grandparents and their two grandchildren dead. But tonight, we learn the bodies of 7-year-old Chloie and 9-year-old brother Gage never found. Tonight, where are Chloie and Gage?
We are taking your calls. Straight out to Ellie Jostad. Ellie, what do we know?
ELLIE JOSTAD, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Nancy, this was a devastating house fire at this farmhouse. It`s in a rural area of Tennessee just a little bit south of Nashville.
They assumed immediately, since this fire was so hot, so devastating, hardly anything left, that all four occupants of the house, the grandparents, Leon and Mollie McClaran, who are in their 70s, as well as the two children, 9-year-old Chloie and 7-year-old Gage -- they assumed they all died in that fire.
Nancy, a family member actually even had to draw a map of where the bedrooms had been so investigators knew where to look for remains. They did not find Chloie and Gage in the remains of that house fire.
GRACE: Straight out to Dan O`Donnell, anchor and reporter with WTMJ. Dan, thank you for being with us. Could you explain to me, were the bodies of the grandparents found?
DAN O`DONNELL, 620 WTMJ: Yes, the bodies of the grandparents were found in their bedroom, but only because relatives actually drew a diagram of the house. This was such a massive fire, it burned so destructively that there were very few traces of anybody found inside this house.
GRACE: But what I`m trying to determine, Dan O`Donnell, is if the children were in the home, and the bodies of the -- didn`t they even find the remains of the dog, the family dog?
O`DONNELL: Right. They did find the remains of the dog, and that`s why this is such a mystery because it would stand to reason, Nancy, that if the bodies of the dog and the grandparents were found, then also the bodies of the children should have been there.
But no trace of children`s bodies was found inside this house. There was no trace of anybody outside of the house indicating that maybe they had run off to a neighbor`s house or something like that. These children just quite simply vanished.
GRACE: Dan O`Donnell joining us tonight from WTMJ -- Dan, where were the parents at the time of the fire?
O`DONNELL: Well, the parents -- the children actually lived with the grandparents. And the parents are sort of in and out of the children`s lives. The father of the younger boy, Gage Daniel, has an extensive criminal record, of course (ph), some minor things, DUI, intoxification, theft, things like that. But they live with the grandparents because there were investigations into the parents by the Tennessee Department of Children`s Services for about four years between 2006...
O`DONNELL: ... and 2010.
GRACE: ... put Dan O`Donnell back up. So were the children taken away from the parents? You know, I appreciate that he has a record. I`m interested to hear everything I can about them. I didn`t hear you mention anything about the mother. And do we know whether -- whoa! Based on all those photos, he`s got quite a record.
Were the children taken away from the parents? Did they want the children? Were they -- how did they end up living with the grandparents?
O`DONNELL: Well, as far as I know -- and this is rather difficult because, as you know, Nancy, juvenile records are typically sealed and typically difficult to come by. They lived with the grandparents, I believe, voluntarily, based on the evidence that I`ve been able to get.
But this was a situation in which -- actually, the parents are very cooperative with authorities. They`re not considered suspects in the children`s disappearance or anything like that. But these children, I think it was determined, just were a better fit with living with the grandparents.
GRACE: So we know where the mother and father were at the time of the fire?
O`DONNELL: Yes. They have been contacted by authorities on a number of occasions, yes.
GRACE: OK. Do we know the cause of the fire, Dan?
O`DONNELL: No. That`s still under investigation. Almost two months later, it`s still unclear. However, it`s interesting to note that because there were 20-plus propane tanks in the basement of this home, that`s what caused this fire to literally be more destructive almost than anybody who was in the neighborhood had ever seen, or investigators saying this was one of the most destructive house fires that they had ever seen.
GRACE: OK, Robert Rowe, arson investigator, president of Pyrocop, Inc. -- Robert, thank you for being with us. You know, Robert, it takes a special mind to dissect an arson case. Anybody that`s prosecuted arsons knows that first, you`ve got to establish a crime even happened. It`s not like a murder, where you find somebody shot in the back. You`ve got to determine, was this an accidental fire or was this arson?
Let me ask you -- Robert Rowe, I was thinking along the lines of the propane ignited and started the fire, and it was such an intensely hot fire, it basically served as a crematorium. And as you know, in cremation, there`s only ashes left. You would not expect to find the children`s remains.
But we`ve got the grandparents and the dog`s remains, so why not the children?
ROBERT ROWE, ARSON INVESTIGATOR (via telephone): Well, you know, Nancy, that`s a very, very good point you made. I mean, propane does burn violently and quite aggressively. But you know, with fire scenes, you know, a lot of the times, people think that everything`s gone, but there is some trace of evidence that can be discovered and processed.
Now, I`m not saying that`s the case for this particular fire, but in most cases, evidence is there. It`s just burned.
And so therefore, you know, you have to take that extra measure of going through each and every square inch of that fire, if it takes you months. You have to go through every single square inch of that fire, process the debris. And if you find any sign of DNA evidence, then that needs to be sent off to...
GRACE: Well, what about bones? What about bones?
ROWE: Well, you know, that is usually the last thing to be consumed. Now, it is -- can it be consumed completely? Yes, it can. I`ve been on investigations where, many times, I`ve discovered nothing but the bones.
But again, you know, it`s the processing that`s going to take a long time. And I know they have a lot of investigators working on that case.
GRACE: Well, Robert Rowe, this is what I know. The grandparents` remains were found, not the children`s. So where tonight are Gage and Chloie?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gage Daniel and Chloie Leverette were presumed dead with their grandparents. Then their deaths were put in question when their remains turned up missing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t have anything. You don`t have a body. You don`t have ashes. You don`t have anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now everyone is baffled. Searching for 7-year- old Gage Daniels and 9-year-old Chloie Leverette, there still aren`t many clues to go on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, my folks died in a fire. And I really think the kids died in the fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both the kids died in the fire until they couldn`t find them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s unclear at this point where this strange case will go from here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened to our babies, Gage Daniels and Chloie Leverette?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: All right, yes, the easy answer is, yes, they died in the fire. But then why were the grandparents` and even the dog`s bodies found but not the grandchildren? Why? It doesn`t make sense.
I want to go out to you, Ann Bunch, forensic anthropologist joining me from College at Brockport SUNY. Ann if the grandparents were found, even the dog`s remains were found, and I`m assuming that means bones, why not the children?
And also, I had wrongly assumed when I first heard about this case, Ann, that this was a fire started by the propane stored in the basement. But if you listen carefully to what Dan O`Donnell said, that`s not what he said. He says that after the fire started, many believe the propane ignited into an explosion, not that the fire started because of the propane.
So why the grandparents` bones exist and not the children`s?
ANN BUNCH, FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGIST (via telephone): I think that`s a great question, Nancy, and I would have that same question myself, if I was there looking at it. There should be some sign of the children`s remains there. As your previous interviewee said, there`s usually something that`s left in even a very intense fire.
It just takes a lot of time to go through everything there and sift through it, like an archaeological dig, to find any, even tiny fragments of bone or even teeth.
GRACE: What would you find after a fire like this, Ann?
BUNCH: You could find bone, bone fragments or teeth. The thing is, everything is burned, as your previous speaker said. So you have -- they`re a very different color than you would expect normal bone. It could be black, gray, blue-gray or kind of whitish, very whitish, and it`ll be very fragmentary in some cases.
GRACE: To Ellie Jostad. Did the investigators initially believe the children died in the fire?
JOSTAD: Yes, Nancy, they did. And it was after about five days of searching that failed to turn up any remains of the two children that Tennessee investigators, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, issued a missing child alert for the kids because they weren`t able to find them.
They also weren`t able to find them in any surrounding area. They thought perhaps the children had managed to escape the fire but then later succumbed to injuries outside. But an extensive search of the surrounding farmland came up zero.
GRACE: Weigh in, Marc Klaas.
MARC KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, I think that -- the family has recently issued a $1,500 reward for information leading to the return of the children, and I think that that`s totally appropriate. It`s very difficult for law enforcement at this point in time to put too much resource into trying to locate children who may be dead. But I think a reward could help in other ways.
GRACE: I think you`re right, Marc Klaas. Marc is the president and founder of Klaas Kids.
Out to the lines. Amanda, Louisiana. Hi, Amanda. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Miss Nancy. How are you doing?
GRACE: I`m good, dear. And hello to all our Cajun friends.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was just calling to see, y`all don`t think the parents started the fire and got the kids out (INAUDIBLE) found any remains?
GRACE: Unleash the lawyers. Good question, Amanda. Eleanor Odom, Darryl Cohen, Evangeline Gomez.
Darryl Cohen, when I ask about where were the parents and the answer is, Well, the dad`s got a criminal history -- well, I want to know that, all right? I`m not saying the father did it. But you show me somebody connected to this case with a rap sheet as long as I-16 -- you know, who goes and sets a house on fire? The nuns? The priest and the virgins? No.
DARRYL COHEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, this tells me a lot of things, and it was brought up earlier. There are more questions. The more answers we get, the more questions there are.
Where are the parents? Where were they during the time the fire took place? Have the parents been investigated? Has there been a polygraph of the parents? Where are the people that should know where these kids are?
And certainly, it`s possible the kids were in the basement where the propane exploded and there may not be any bones. But it makes no sense that there are no bones. Frankly, why? Because they found the dog and the grandparents. So everything we`re looking at says to me it`s an arson, says this was a cover-up. And what in the world is going on?
GRACE: Well, Robert Rowe, arson investigator, president of Pyrocop -- Robert, if the children had been in the basement at the time of the fire, would there still be remains?
ROWE: Again, it`s very difficult to speculate. But you know, that`s something that must be considered by investigators. I find it highly suspicious that they`re missing and that there`s no evidence of any type of remains. I would be, basically, looking at every aspect of the origin or the cause...
GRACE: Well, Robert, let me ask you another question. Say this fire did start by propane explosion. Wouldn`t that be a relatively simple analysis to be made by arson investigators? Which leads me to the question, was the fire started in some other way? And if it was, then you would find those remains of those children.
ROWE: Well, you have to consider all the possible ignition sources, Nancy. You have to look at every aspect of the fire before you conclude that it was a propane explosion as being the causation. So you have to rule out every potential cause.
GRACE: To Eleanor Odom. Eleanor, to prosecute an arson case, it`s a different animal than every other prosecution I`ve ever handled. And when you look at causes of fire, you can look at, Hey, was somebody smoking in bed? Did a light switch fail, which has happened in extremely rare cases. Your light switch just catches on fire. Yes, I don`t think that happened.
The obvious choice is the propane being stored in the basement. But unless the children were right there at the propane, which I doubt, we would have found their bodies, Eleanor, which means they were not in the home.
ELEANOR ODOM, PROSECUTOR: Exactly, Nancy. And you can also rule out the fact that a fire started and they ran out of the home because at their ages, 9 and 7, they`re not savvy enough to take care of themselves.
So there are only two real conclusions. No, either they were in the home and everything was burned up beyond recognition, or somebody else has the children. So that whole arson investigation is going to be extremely important in this case to see what actually started that fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Search and rescue crews were busy walking farmland whenever their cadaver dog got a hit. Nearby, investigators are searching inch by inch of what`s left of the McClaran farm, with no sign of the family`s two grandchildren.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued endangered child alerts for Chloie and Gage because so far, investigators have only been able to recover the bodies of their grandparents, Leon Bubba (ph) McClaran, and his wife, Mollie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re looking -- you know, get the -- what bodies we have buried and just have a memorial get it all over with and get on with they`re lives. I`m sure they`re just looking for everything where they can have closure theirself. I believe if they found just one little anything of the kids being in the house that maybe we could possibly get on with this and everybody -- everybody`d be happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my opinion, my folks died in a fire. And I really think the kids died in the fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Their home burns to the ground with them in it, a grandmother and a grandfather. But where are the two grandchildren? Chloie and Gage`s bodies were never found.
Was it really a fire of accidental causes, or was it an arson? Tonight, where are Chloie and Gage? Was the fire so intense that there were no remains? Were the bodies basically cremated in the fire so there would be no bones, or were the bodies never there? Were the children taken from their grandparents and the home burned to the ground to cover up an abduction?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The children were last seen playing in the neighborhood about three hours before the fire started.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The story has changed so many times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think something is very fishy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their deaths were put in question when their remains turned up missing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to find out what`s really happened to these children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes you wonder. But you know, if you keep looking and looking and looking and nothing shows up...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After following up on several leads and interviewing all of the family members, the TBI says they still do not suspect arson or foul play.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They weren`t in the house. So if they aren`t in the house, they got to be somewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: They were not in the house. That means that if the children were not in the house and they were supposed to be, their bodies have never been found, then this was an arson intentionally set to get the children.
Is that the scenario we`re working under?
We`re taking your calls. Carol in Pennsylvania. Hi, Carol, what`s your question?
CAROL, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Hi, Nancy. It`s nice talking to you.
CAROL: So glad you`re little John David is feeling better also.
GRACE: Thank you.
CAROL: I actually have two questions. One is, was there any trace of DNA or any missing clues at all found in the remains of the fire? And does anyone know if there was any interest on either one of the parents` part to gain custody of the children? Like maybe were they in a custody battle?
GRACE: I know they were not in a custody battle and that the parents have been cooperative. And in no way are we pointing the finger at mommy or daddy.
GRACE: Dan O`Donnell -- hold on, don`t go anywhere, Carol.
Dan O`Donnell, WTMJ, can you answer a couple of those questions?
DAN O`DONNELL, ANCHOR/REPORTER, 620 WTMJ: As far as I know, the parents have been cooperating with the investigation, that they did not have any interest in gaining custody of the children back. The fundamental question that I have about this, as -- you know, we heard if they were not in the house, then where were they? What I want to know is why were there 20 propane tanks in the basement?
Now it`s certainly possible that there is a legitimate explanation for that but I haven`t heard it yet in the nearly two months of investigation into this case. I want to know why were there that many propane tanks in that basement.
GRACE: You know, Dr. Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst, we`re not pointing the finger at mom and dad, but in every investigation, you start with those closest to the victim. That would be mommy, daddy, grand mommy and granddaddy. Well, grand mommy and granddaddy were burned in a home fire. Their bodies found along with the family dog. But their grandchildren, Chloe and Gage, that lived with them were never found.
Weigh in, Bethany.
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST, AUTHOR OF "DEALBREAKERS": Well, that`s right. You always start with the noncustodial caretakers. The caretakers who feel that they know the child best and want to get the child away from the custodial caretakers. But, Nancy, do you remember Shasta and Dylan Groene?
MARSHALL: A sex offender had just gotten out of jail, was watching the family through night goggles. Broke into the home, tied up the mother and the boyfriend. Overkill. Bludgeoned them to death. Blood was all over the place.
GRACE: Yes, I remember.
MARSHALL: The children were abducted. Well, I think that this is an outlier but we certainly have to consider that the overkill may have been a very frenzy sex offender who wanted to gain control of the children or secondarily, as you suggested, a noncustodial caretaker like the parents who felt that they knew and bonded with the child best.
GRACE: To Evangeline Gomez -- weigh in, Evangeline.
EVANGELINE GOMEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, I don`t think enough attention is being paid to the child welfare history that these parents have. Was this a product of a voluntary identified surrender? Is that how the grandparents got custody? Did the state have something that they could hang on the parents? Did the parents indeed want the children back? And we just don`t have that information. I`m wondering why the authorities aren`t focusing on these issues.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Mary in Georgia. Hi, Mary. What`s your question?
MARY, CALLER FROM GEORGIA: This is Mary Margaret. How are you?
GRACE: Good, dear.
MARY: Good. I was wondering, OK, arson is the result of rage. And if this was arson, then the perpetrator obviously knew the family well enough to know that there was a huge amount of propane being stored in the basement. And secondly, where in the house were the remains of the dogs and the grandparents found? And was there any trauma to the bones?
GRACE: Good questions.
To Dan O`Donnell, she`s giving that cause of death.
O`DONNELL: We don`t have an exact cause of death yet. In fact the medical examiner in Tennessee has not made that cause. We know that the grandparents` bodies were found in the bedroom. As far as where the dog was, that I don`t believe was made clear. What I can tell you, though, is there was a tooth found inside the home that was initially believed to have possibly been from one of the children. It turned out to have been from the dog.
GRACE: A school girl caught on video stepping off her school bus. She`s just one block from home. Never seen again. Four days later. The search for teen Alicia Moore comes to an end. She is found dead in a storage trunk there on a remote country road 40 miles from home.
And tonight, why? Why was there never an Amber Alert? Why was there six, almost a seven-hour delay in the reporting of her missing? Why so much misinformation dropped balls, crossed wires? Between what I know right now, this little girl never had a chance.
I want justice tonight and I want answers. Why was there no large scale search for this girl? No media attention whatsoever regarding her disappearance.
We are taking your calls. I want to go straight out to David Lohr, reporter, Huffington Post.
What do we know? Let`s take it from the top. Give me the timeline. What happened, David?
DAVID LOHR, SENIOR CRIME REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, we know on November 2nd, Alicia got on the school bus. She went to school. She attended school that day. She was supposed to stay after but decided not to so so at 3:25, the bus shows her getting off at the bus stop like you said. It`s a block from her home. And what happened to her after that, we don`t know. She was supposed to -- after she didn`t, so her parents, they weren`t initially concerned but as the day went on, they check with her friends, they checked with the school. Nobody had seen her. So at 9:22 that night they filed a missing persons report with police.
GRACE: Out to John Phillips, joining me from KABC.
John, she was supposed to stay after school but she didn`t? What else do we know, John?
JOHN PHILLIPS, HOST, 790 KABC TALKRADIO: Well, Nancy, let`s not forget this is a Friday. This is every high school kid`s favorite day of the week. It`s the day that leads into the weekend. And my guess is she was ready for this weekend to begin. She gets on the bus and it`s videotaped as we learned from that bullying incident in Buffalo when everything was videotaped on the school bus. That`s the last time we ever saw her there.
We also know that she had a history, according to her mother -- this is what her mother told the police. She had a history of sometimes doing - - leaving her mother`s custody and doing her own thing without telling her parents, without telling sometimes her friends or anyone where she was going. So that was a ball that was up in the air. She also suffered from ADHD and was taking medication for that.
GRACE: OK. When you`re saying medication and that she had been away before and her parents didn`t know. There is no evidence in my mind that she had ever run away. There may have been an hour or two they didn`t know where she was exactly such as not staying after school that day. But it gets to be around 9:30 at night, I would think there`s a problem, John Phillips.
PHILLIPS: That`s true. And that`s when her mother contacted the police. Prior to going to the police, her mother, her family, they contacted her friends, they contacted the school, they contacted the local hospitals. They conducted their own search to just make sure that she wasn`t hanging out with her friends and forgot to text message her mother or call her mother and let her know where she was going.
GRACE: To Matt Zarrell, our producer on the story, what more can you tell me, Matt?
MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE STAFFER, COVERING STORY: OK. The key piece of evidence, the photos from the surveillance video that police just released, there is a dark colored vehicle behind the bus that Alicia gets off of. It is a dark colored Dodge or Chevrolet. They`re trying to figure out who the driver of that car was. Maybe they saw something. Because when Alicia got off the bus, it was roughly a block from where she was supposed to go, her home.
GRACE: A dark colored car. What more do we know, Matt?
ZARRELL: A dark color Chrysler or Dodge, possibly a mini van. You can see there it in the photo, it`s directly behind the bus. Now this person may have been involved or know something about Alicia`s disappearance. Or maybe the witness saw something, saw someone approach Alicia in a car or on foot and that could help police narrow down the list of possible suspects.
GRACE: With me is Carrie McGonigle, mother of murdered teen, Amber Dubois, and also with me, Jessica Byrd, the aunt of the murdered teen Alicia Moore.
Jessica, could you tell me why was there no Amber Alert?
JESSICA BYRD, AUNT OF MURDERED TEEN GIRL, ALICIA MOORE: We was told she did not qualify for the qualification. At the time they didn`t see, like, no evidence of being abducted. The only thing she qualified as under was 16, they didn`t think she was abducted. They were just throwing out there that she was a runaway. They misinterpreted what the mother and the grandmother has said at the time of the report.
And like I told -- because I spoke with the sergeant two nights after that Sunday night. That the officer must have took bits and pieces of words and put whatever he wanted to on the report. Because Alicia never ran away like this before. And what makes me so mad. He is supposed to be here to serve and protect us but you`re not out here doing your job.
GRACE: You know, to Marc Klaas, president and founder of Klaas Kids Foundation. I`m very stymied on the way that this has been handled so far. Why police did not do an Amber Alert? Why there have been no large scale searches? The case was never publicized. I never heard about her disappearance.
Also, there is another abduction attempt on another school child from the school bus not too far away. Haven`t heard about that either until we start digging.
MARC KLAAS, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, KLAASKIDS FOUNDATION: Well, I`ve heard the term drop the ball bandied about as this story is begun. And I think that that`s exactly what happened here.
This almost mirrors exactly the case of Amber Harris in Omaha, Nebraska, some years ago. The last images of her getting off the school bus near her home. Never seen alive again and then found in a trunk or in Amber`s case a shallow grave.
Law enforcement had a duty given the fact that this girl disappeared getting off a school bus, as so many children do, to take immediate action and let the community know at the very least that she was missing. Put out her picture. Notify the media. Do whatever it takes just so that people are aware.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Alicia Moore stepped off the school bus one block from home and did not come back alive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something happened between that bus and that house.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Investigators say there was trauma to the body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And no arrest made.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Residents are worried.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fear of the unknown. You don`t know what`s going to happen, what could happen and, you know, why. Why did this happen?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sixteen-year-old Alicia Moore got off the school bus less than a block from home but she never arrived. Her body was found beside a rural road in Van Zandt County about an hour`s drive south of Greenville. Investigators say there was trauma to the body but a cause of death hasn`t been determined. The teenager`s family is devastated.
Family members reported Alicia --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Out to the line. Ashley in Texas. Hi, Ashley, what`s your question, dear?
ASHLEY, CALLER FROM TEXAS: Hi, Nancy. I live about 30 minutes away from Greenville. And I just find it so disturbing that there was no Amber Alert. I just don`t understand why -- you know, they didn`t issue one.
GRACE: You know, I want to go back to you John Phillips. What is the explanation? If there had been an Amber alert, this may have been avoided. She may have been saved.
PHILLIPS: Right. Well, the police would contend that at that moment on Friday night, they did not believe that her life was at risk. They thought it was a potential runaway situation. Another thing that the mother told the police officers at the time was that over the summer she had befriended some adults and people over the age of 18 that she was hanging out with. And the cops just thought this was a case of a teenager that, you know, may not have told her mother where she was. And it wasn`t until Monday when they believed that there was funny business going on here.
GRACE: Oh, man. So they lost the whole weekend? I didn`t realize they lost ground the whole weekend. I thought it was a matter of seven or eight hours.
PHILLIPS: Well, the school district started looking for her on Saturday. They have an iPad that all the kids have. A school-issued iPad where they were trying to locate her through. And unfortunately they weren`t able to do it on Saturday.
GRACE: To Carrie McGonigle, mother of murdered teen Amber Dubois. Founder of Teen Amber Rescue.
Carrie, I`d like you to weigh in.
CARRIE MCGONIGLE, MOM OF ANOTHER TEEN GIRL WHO VANISHED, FOUND MURDERED: I think the -- I think the whole thing with the Amber alert is broken. And this reminds me of the Ali Lowitzer case, which is the same thing. She was 16, got off the school bus two years and nothing was done with her and law enforcement classified her as a runaway. And she`s also in Texas. It reminds me of that case.
GRACE: You know, why is it that there`s such a kneejerk reaction to think young teen girls are runaways? There`s no evidence in this case at all that this girl had ever run away from home. Nothing whatsoever to suggest that. Why is there that leap by police and law enforcement that when a teen girl goes missing she`s a runaway?
MCGONIGLE: I think they classify them as -- you know, if they`re under a certain age, you know, they classify them as a runaway. My daughter never showed any signs of running away and was a homebody and -- you know, they took for granted that they thought she was a runaway.
GRACE: To Matt Zarrell, we`ve got that last image of her on the school bus. You know, this should run a chill down the spine of every parent that sends their kid to a bus stop.
So, Matt Zarrell, take it from there. A regular day. She rides home on the school bus. Clearly not trying to trick her parents or sneak out. She`s on the school bus. Some boyfriend or a friend did not pick her up at the school and take her somewhere. She`s riding home. She`s one block from home.
ZARRELL: Yes, let me start it right there. So 3:25 p.m. November 2nd she gets off the school bus. I mentioned earlier you`ve got the dark colored mini van behind the bus. We don`t know what that driver saw. Now what happens is that sometimes Alicia comes home at that time. Sometimes she stays after school for afterschool programs. Now the family was not sure which time she would be come home. Based on when she was staying after school or not.
At about 7:15 when Alicia did not come home, the family became concerned and started looking for her, they searched, they talked to friends, they talked to neighbors, and when they couldn`t find her and find any evidence she was around, they immediately went to police and reported her missing. And then just a couple of days later her body was found in a storage trunk 40 miles away.
GRACE: We remember American hero, Army Private First Class Jason Kropat, 25, White Lake, New York. Bronze Star, Purple Heart. Army Service Ribbon. Loved four-wheeling, fishing, hunting. Parents Kathy and Glen. Sisters Kimberly, Christina, Courtney.
Jason Kropat, American hero.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sixteen-year-old Alicia Moore got off the school bus less than a block from home, but she never arrived. Investigators say there was trauma to the body but a cause of death hasn`t been determined. The teenager`s family is devastated.
BYRD: It is just very frustrating.
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GRACE: Matt, what type of searches were conducted for her? I mean, they lost the whole weekend, but what kind of searches were conducted?
ZARRELL: I haven`t seen any serious searches. I know that police were investigating it at the beginning, but as you`ve mentioned they have - - they had classified it initially as a runaway. And part of the criteria I want to point out, Nancy, is that the cops need evidence of an abduction in order to issue the Amber alert in the state of Texas.
GRACE: Well, I don`t know what else there could be besides her getting off the school bus and then she never makes it one block home. That`s pretty strong evidence of abduction to me. But another thing, Matt Zarrell, what do you know about a prior abduction attempt on another school child getting off the bus nearby?
GRACE: OK. This is just a few months ago, same exact town, same MO, a 14-year-old girl is getting off a school bus. She goes down, she is followed by a man who`s either -- as she says hiding in the bushes or sitting in his car. As she gets close to her house, the man tries to grab her. She`s able to fight him off.
But it fits a very similar description. The girl also believed that the man was there watching her for an extended period of time and knew her schedule.
GRACE: Dr. Bill Manion, medical examiner joining me out of Philly tonight.
Dr. Manion, they`re saying the body has trauma but they don`t know cause of death. What does that mean?
DR. BILL MANION, M.D., MEDICAL EXAMINER, BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ: Well, they`re going to have to X-ray the body, they`re going to have to do a very careful examination. There could be many causes of death here. Blunt force trauma to the head, to the chest or abdomen, strangulation, suffocation. So they`re going to have to just take their time and do careful --
GRACE: If there`s suffocation, I don`t know that there would be trauma to the body.
MANION: Well, if the person`s fighting and then they`ll probably treat this as a rape case also and attempt to check for any evidence of rape.
GRACE: Coming up next, "What Would You Do?" ABC`s hit hidden camera show. I`ll see you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.