Return to Transcripts main page


Family Asks Kidnapper to Release Cousins; Have a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

Aired November 16, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, new developments in the search for missing Iowa cousins Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins. As their desperate families beg the mystery kidnapper who took these beautiful young girls four months ago, when they disappeared on a bike ride.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, a heart-wrenching plea for mercy. The parents of missing Iowa cousins Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins write a passionate letter, begging whoever kidnapped the two little girls four months ago to please return them. The children last seen driving off on their bikes. Desperate relatives think the predator must have been hurt as a child and now could go from monster to hero. The missing girls` aunt joins me tonight.

And with the holidays right around the corner, a lot of Americans are saying, "Let`s do something different this year. "American Pie" star Shannon Elizabeth joins me with a fantastic idea that`s sweeping the country. Here`s a hint.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A frantic search continues for missing cousins from Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook were last seen leaving for a bike ride.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re worried. We are stressed out. We`re at lack of sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have two missing girls, and we have no idea why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s as though they disappeared into thin air in broad daylight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pink ribbons as a reminder of two little girls still missing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, the process has begun to drain Meyers Lake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The lake slowly recedes, draining into the Cedar River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The girls are just beautiful, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This corner down here is where the girls` bicycles were found and the purse of one of the girls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just baffling to try to figure out the pieces to the puzzle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is willing to do a polygraph test. You know? We just want our girls home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re just trying to hold on to whatever hope we have.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, digging to uncover secrets that still lurk in a quiet Iowa town four long months after two beautiful, innocent young cousins suddenly vanish into thin air. Their parents are desperate for answers and are now making a direct plea to whoever took their precious daughters.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell.

This nightmare began on July 13 when 10-year-old Lyric Cook and 8- year-old Elizabeth Collins asked their grandma if they could go for a bike ride. The girls headed out and never came back.

After only an hour, their grandmother said she knew something was very wrong. Police immediately started searching for the girls that very same afternoon. It didn`t take them very long to find their bikes at a lake about two miles away, along with Elizabeth`s purse and a cell phone. But no sign of the girls themselves.

Their aunt doesn`t understand it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very baffling to understand how someone got off with a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old at the same time, because it`s as though they disappeared into thin air in broad daylight.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In just a minute, I`m going to talk with that aunt, Tammy Brousseau, and find out what the family is doing to bring these girls home.

Cops have canvassed the neighborhoods. They`ve drained the lake with the lights turned up, all empty handed. And despite some serious scrutiny of the parents of Lyric, who do have criminal backgrounds involving drugs, cops have never announced any connection between them and the little girls` disappearance.

Here are Lyric`s parents back from July.


MISTY COOK, MOTHER OF LYRIC: My mom called and said -- she is about four blocks away. She said, "You know what? I can`t find the kids. They`ve been riding their bikes." That is how I found out that they, you know, were gone.

DANIEL MORRISSEY, FATHER OF LYRIC: It`s been a nightmare. It`s been a challenge to hold everything together and continue to just keep believing. And praying and trusting God that he`s got -- he`s got this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve been all over this investigation since the very start, and tonight, Lyric and Elizabeth`s aunt, Tammy Brousseau, is back with us.

Tammy, thanks so much for joining us. I know these last four months have been hell for you and for everyone in your family.

TAMMY BROUSSEAU, MISSING GIRLS` AUNT (via phone): It has been.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know how you have done it, frankly. I know that both families of the missing girls have written a very powerful letter. Can you read some of the letter, starting from the top, Tammy?

BROUSSEAU: Sure. Sure.

"To whom it may concern, we would use your name, but we don`t know who you are. Or maybe we do. Maybe you are someone who knows the girls. Maybe you are someone who just acted upon impulse. Maybe you planned to take them. We don`t know, because we don`t know who you are.

"But we can sort of imagine that you must have had the things -- have not had the things that you needed growing up, feeling safe and loved, because only someone who hurts inside would hurt another person and their families. We`ve all heard the saying, `Hurt people hurt people.` We believe that is true. We are so sorry for whatever happened."


BROUSSEAU: Hello? Yes?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I want to stop and pause for a second as you read this letter because to me, as you go through the letter and you tell them, "Be a hero not a monster," and you speak specifically, it almost feels to me like maybe somebody in the family has an idea of who`s out there, because I know that you believe the children are still alive?

Police have suggested the children might still be alive. Let me put it that way. Are you -- are you -- is there somebody you have in mind?

BROUSSEAU: No, Jane, there`s nobody that we have in mind. As this letter was being written by my sister, you know, she`s saying, you know, "Maybe we do know who you are," you know. But we don`t know who they are. We don`t have a name.

The only hope that we are going on is that we don`t have two little deceased bodies, so that`s the only thing that gives us the reason to believe that the girls are still alive. And we must keep searching for them and not give up hope.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I know this has been hellish for -- for everyone in the family. And I want to ask you specifically about this mystery boater that they`ve been looking for.

Let`s take a look at the distance between the house where the girls started their bike ride and the lake. It`s about two miles between their home and Meyers Lake. Police have asked to interview a man who was boating July 13, the day of the disappearance, on Myers Lake. They believe that man could have information about the girls.

They say this boater is not a suspect. They just want to talk to him to see what he saw that day, because the girls` bikes were found at the edge of the lake.

Mike Brooks, hounds were brought in. They traced the girls` scent about a mile from the lake edge where the path is...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... into the woods. The purse was found; the bikes were found. Over items were found, but no sign of the girls. Is this a dead-end case?

BROOKS: No, I would not say it`s a dead-end case, Jane, because you know, we don`t have much to go on.

But the mere fact that that scent evidence, the dogs followed it. And then all of a sudden it stopped. That says to me, as an investigator, knowing these forensic canine teams, they were probably put in a vehicle and taken away from that scene.

You know, they initially thought that maybe the girls had drowned. That`s why they went ahead and drained Myers Lake. But nothing came of that. So, you know, hopefully this plea, you never know. It can always help.

But as you know, Jane, the more time that passes, the less likely it is that we`ll find these girls, but you always hold out hope. You know, look at Elizabeth Smart, how many months she had been gone, and -- and we found her alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Selin Darkalstanian, you are an HLN producer who has been working the case, what are the police saying?

SELIN DARKALSTANIAN, HLN PRODUCER: The police actually released this press release I`m holding in my hand right here on the four-month anniversary of -- since the girls went missing.

Basically, the cops are saying if you have any piece of evidence, even if you think it`s small, even if you don`t think it`s anything, if you don`t think it won`t be beneficial to the cops, please call and give them your tips.

Basically, it looks -- it sounds like they`re desperate for any clue, any tip. So they`re asking anyone in the community, even if you think it`s not a big deal, it`s a big deal to us. Call and give us that tip.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to find out how the parents of these missing girls are faring from the aunt of the missing children, who is speaking to us after a letter was published, a public plea. Whoever has these girls, please be a hero not a monster.



COOK: I did a polygraph this morning. Dan has yet to do his. He`s going to do his later. Several of our other family members did theirs yesterday. We were kept away from the search. We were kept away from a lot of the family members. We were in individual rooms.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the mother of Lyric, talking about how they say they`ve done everything they can: submit to polygraph tests. They are not considered suspects or persons of interest whatsoever.

And I say this, what I`m about to say, not to embarrass anybody, because it`s part of the investigation. These are facts. We`ve got to just lay out the facts. We want to find these children.

Missing Lyric`s mom and dad both have criminal records. Lyrics mom, Misty Cook, was released from a halfway house just a few months ago. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine, as well as illegal drug use.

Her estranged husband, Dan Morrissey, father of missing Lyric, has been convicted of burglary and theft and was arrested last year on a conspiracy to manufacture meth and possession of meth with intent to deliver. He`s also facing a domestic assault charge.

Daniel`s mom said she doesn`t think the girl`s disappearance has anything to do with the local drug scene. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s just say there was vengeance out because he does have history with drugs. Let`s just say that there was a vengeance out. Somebody was out to get him. They`re going to come after him at where he`s living, which would be me and my grandson, Dylan, and they would do it openly, because they`re leaving a message. And there would be bodies and blood to find. Not an abduction where there`s nothing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor. We say this not to embarrass the family, but we have to lay all the facts out there. Methamphetamine, which is the commonality in both of the histories of the mother and the father of Lyric, very serious drug, and people are willing to do horrible things in and around that whole era -- area.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, that`s correct, Jane. And when this case first broke and the news of the prior criminal histories of the mom and dad came out, that`s the first main tip and lead that the police investigators are going to go on.

There`s pending cases. There`s meth labs involved. There`s selling of meth. And so they don`t know who`s involved.

And certainly, I believe they are probably still investigating that, but this needs to stay in the news all the time. That`s the only way that the leads and the people and the public can realize that this case is still open.

You need to keep it in the news. The mom needs to write letters. She needs to do whatever she needs to do. And people need to be aware that these two little girls are still missing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go back to Tammy Brousseau, the aunt of the two missing girls. Your sister Misty, who is Lyric`s mom, fell apart, understandably, my understanding is, after her daughter and her niece disappeared. And I understand that she ended up back at a halfway house. How is she doing? What`s going on with her?

BROUSSEAU: Misty is doing much better. You know, the disappearance of the girls, you know, as you guys can only imagine, and we are in a living nightmare.

You know, Misty did go downhill with the rest of us. I mean, we`re -- you know, there`s nothing good coming from this. We hold onto each other, you know. When one`s having a good day, you try to hold the other one up.

All that I want to say about Misty is she`s doing better. She has seeked [SIC] psychiatric help. And she will be released from the facility, the halfway house, as you guys call it. She`ll be released on January 30.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Dan briefly, he`s still going to trial?

BROUSSEAU: Yes, Dan is still going to trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, how do investigators try to eliminate the possibility that somebody from that meth world might have factored into this tragedy?

BROOKS: Well, they`re going to look at everyone -- all of his friends, associates, anyone who`s involved in that world -- to see, you know, where they were at that time.

You know, just like as part of the investigation, they were going to look at all sexual predators in that particular area. It`s all part of the investigation. But I guarantee you law enforcement has done that or is in the process of doing that.

But again, they need -- they need people`s help. They need any tips they can get, because it`s been four months, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And as a matter of fact, published reports suggest that cops say all sex offenders living in the area have been cleared. So it seems like they are eliminating one possibility after the other, but this is a complete mystery that remains.

And what`s so extraordinary is these girls went biking at about 12 noon, 12:15. They were spotted between 12:30 and 1, and then their bikes turned up missing at 4. They were found at 4. That`s a very small window of time for them to just disappear off the face of the earth.

More on the other side. We`ll take your calls.


MORRISSEY: I have run over everything in my mind a thousand times. And it`s -- it`s impossible. You just try to hold onto whatever hope you have.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is the devastated father of the younger missing girl, Elizabeth`s dad. They`re going through hell, as you can imagine. The entire family. You just heard it from the aunt.

As with any missing persons case, there are people who are emotionally immature and who end up doing stupid things in reaction to a case like this. Taunting, for example, or giving families false hope.

Take this guy, a suspect in jail in Iowa, Shawn Gant. He`s a convicted arsonist. Gant allegedly made several phone calls from jail, pretending that he had information about Lyric and Elizabeth`s disappearance saying, quote, "they would never be found," end quote.

That is sick, and Stacey Honowitz, it`s also a distraction from the investigation, because authorities do have to check it out, right?

HONOWITZ: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you can`t look at a lead and say, you know, this doesn`t look important, or this tip doesn`t really matter to me. Anything at this point is relevant.

So you`re right. It wastes the police officer`s time, all the investigators, all the manpower that goes into it just having to take that one guy that`s over in the jail, sending these horrible messages.

And so you`re right. People do come out of the woodwork when they see things like this, but investigators have to dot their "I`s" and cross their "T`s" and investigation anything that comes in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Lyric`s dad, Dan, the one who is going to face trial, says police made him feel like a suspect, even though nobody has ever named him as a suspect whatsoever in this case. Listen.


MORRISSEY: You`re telling the truth, and they say, you`re holding something back, and you`re not. What more do you have to talk about? You know, we can go over and over and over and over it. You know, so I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did it make you feel like a suspect?

MORRISSEY: It made me feel like, yes, they were looking at me like a suspect.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And cops say they`re still getting tips.

And remember this surveillance video that shows the two girls on their bikes. This is the last image we have of them. That location less than a block from the house that they left from. And police say they were riding away from the lake, which really raises the specter that those bikes were placed there by somebody, which is why it`s so important to talk to that boater.

All right. Mike Brooks, what do they do with the surveillance video that shows them going away from the lake?

BROOKS: What they`ll probably try to do is enhance it, Jane, and to find out exactly what time it was there. And then maybe get on a bike and ride that. You know, if I was investigating that, that`s one thing I`d do, just trying to put together some kind of timeline.

But if they`re going away from the lake, where are they going to? And you know, we haven`t heard of any evidence, any DNA, anything else that they may have found on those bikes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Got to leave it right there.

"NANCY GRACE MYSTERIES," tonight, 13-year-old cheerleader left her home one afternoon just after Christmas to go to a friend`s house for a sleep-over. She was never seen again. What happened? Nancy investigates. Eight Eastern here on HLN.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a great way to celebrate and get together with like-minded folks and show them that you can have a fabulous traditional meal without the meat and dairy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s interesting how the public responds when one individual animal, you know, makes a run for her life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve never even thought about it before, that something is actually being slaughtered, and it`s my ground beef and it`s my steak and stuff like that, and we`ve been eating it for years. I never pictured that face on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any animal, any creature has a strong will to live.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s an ambassador for all animals who are still suffering in slaughterhouses and on farms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s about pie, and it`s about veggies, and it`s about all kinds of other delicious food. And it`s about getting together with people you love. And when you do a cruelty free Thanksgiving, it`s so exciting, because you actually feel better.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, reinventing the holidays. It`s part of a huge national trend, Americans putting a new spin on traditional holiday meals. They`re spending less money, cutting calories and -- guess what? -- Saving animals in the process.

Did you know that every year, 9 billion animals are taken from birth to death through America`s factory farming system, often -- usually -- never seeing the light of day in the process.

This holiday season, a lot of people, a lot of Americans are tired of it, and they`re tired of the same old, same old. Take a look at this new ad. It points out that everybody in the family wants to do their own thing during the holidays, and that includes eating a vegan holiday, not eating turkey.

In fact, more and more people are celebrating with living turkeys by giving them treats during special holiday ceremonies like this one. Check it out.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that isn`t the only way turkeys are skipping the dinner plate. The Turkey Express from Farm Sanctuary is transporting turkeys that have been saved from terrible conditions to wonderful homes with human companions who love them.

Joining me now, I am so delighted, so excited, very, very special guest, actress Shannon Elizabeth.

We`re so happy to have you here.

You remember Shannon from her role in the amazing "American Pie" as the sexy exchange student. From Universal Pictures. Check it out for a second.


EUGENE LEVY, ACTOR: A young lady here to see you.


SHANNON ELIZABETH, ACTRESS: Hey, James. Ready to study?

LEVY: Oh, he`s always ready to study. He`s a real bookworm, this kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, you need to -- you need to change, right?

ELIZABETH: Do you mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all. Please, you know, just go ahead and get on -- get changed. I`ll -- I`ll go downstairs, and I`ll start studying up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: One of my favorite movies.

And Shannon Elizabeth, you`re one of my heroes. I know you`ve done so much for dogs like this little rescue guy here, Rico, but I know you`re also expanding your circle of compassion to include turkeys. Tell us why you`ve decided to go meat-free this holiday season.

ELIZABETH: Well, I`ve been vegetarian for over 12 years and pretty much vegan. And I feel like so many people think about dogs and cats, but they don`t think about all the other animals in the world.

And I grew up in Texas. We were meat eaters. And I think too many people, they`re just raised in a way where you don`t think about what meat is. You`re just so used to eating it.

And I think it`s really important, especially in this day and age, that people start thinking about what they`re eating, what they`re body, and how it`s going to affect them and how it affects the animal because they are hurting, killing a living creature with a soul and a heart and feelings. And I mean, once people learn that, it`s hard to really fathom doing that. And I just think more people should know really what happens to get that animal to your plate and consider doing something different.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you are living proof that it`s also good for you. Take one look at you and we also have you on "Dancing with the stars". Your moves were extraordinary.

Now, a lot of people always say, where do you get the protein? We`re going to show you in a second. "Dancing with the Stars" in which you wowed -- you wowed the audience. But in terms of the energy that you have, the ability to move, the physique, the shape, you don`t have an ounce of body fat on you, how do you dovetail that with your compassionate eating lifestyle?

ELIZABETH: You know, I feel like I just try to be very healthy. I think I`m more healthy now by far than ever when I ate meat. Meat made me feel really tired and sluggish all the time and very full and bloated. Now I`m eating. I take vitamins every day with a protein shake that I make.

And it`s a very simple process. I don`t put a bunch of stuff in a blender. I shake this one powder with water and it`s amazing. It`s like chocolate. And I take all my vitamins with it. And I`m eating more greens than ever. I actually have found like so many vegetables that I love that can be made so many different ways.

I was never a cook growing up. I didn`t even love vegetables growing up. I hardly was made to eat them. But now I`m discovering all these amazing things in the world that I was missing. And just knowing that I`m not contributing to the pain of an animal, like, I can`t even fathom, like, touching meat again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, and guess what? We`ve got to show a little bit of you "Dancing with the Stars". We`re going to stop the turkeys for a second. Let`s see this. There you go, honey. Look at that.

Now, that takes energy. I know. I saw Nancy Grace. I went to visit Nancy Grace when she was on "Dancing with the Stars". And I saw the energy and the workout that that is. If you say, "Oh, my gosh, I need my protein," there`s plenty of other ways to get protein, first of all. Legumes and all sorts of other sources of protein, but you did a great job on that.

And you`re a living example that it`s great for your health. It`s great for your shape. People spend billions, women spend billions on diets in this country and they could take a tip from you. Just eat your veggies.

Now, turkey, let`s get back to the personality of turkeys because we know these little guys have tons of personality. Well, guess what -- turkeys do, too. Turkeys have their own personalities. They make specific friends. Hildy was a famous well-loved turkey at this amazing organization, Farm Sanctuary. And she even had her own little fleet of friends. Listen to this, check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Birds just like mammals have friendships and bonds. And they spend most of their time with specific birds. So Hildy has really close friends. Feather is a really close friend of hers, Kemah is a close friend of hers and Rhonda is a close friend of hers.

When she can`t see them and when they can`t see her, they often vocalize back and forth.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Some people see farm animals as different or perhaps they don`t even really think of them very often, but certainly don`t put them in the same category as their companion animals. They`re pets.

I want to go to another one of my heroes, Gene Bauer, the founder -- one of the co-founders and the president of Farm Sanctuary, an amazing organization. You take these turkeys and cows and pigs and you rescue them from terrible, terrible conditions in factory farms where sometimes they`re left for dead. And you rehabilitate them. Tell us about the emotional life and the intelligence of turkeys.

GENE BAUER, PRESIDENT, FARM SANCTUARY: Well, turkeys, like all other animals, have feelings. They develop relationships. They get to know friends that they like to spend time with. We had this one turkey at our farm in California, for example, who we called Lydia the hugging turkey because when you would go to the barn yard and kneel down, she would come up to you and crane her neck around your neck. She wanted to be with you. It was like she was giving you a hug.

When these animals get to know you as friends, they love spending time with you just like cats or dogs or other animals. They`re very much social, intelligent, feeling creatures. And that`s the message. That these animals deserve better than they`re getting on these factory farms.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And you know what, this little guy here, Rico, who we rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico -- he is a very smart young man, aren`t you? Yes, you are, but guess what? Pigs are very smart, too, and many say they have a higher IQ than dogs.

As Americans expand their circle of compassion beyond dogs and cats they`re also feeling compassion toward pigs. And guess what? They`re coming to see the pigs are playful, happy, and highly intelligent animals. Watch this clip of pigs having a good old time eating pumpkins at Farm Sanctuary.

All right. Take a look at this.

Shannon Elizabeth, look at these happy pigs having a great time at Farm Sanctuary. This is how pigs should live. But unfortunately, factory farming forces pigs to live in -- well let`s show you how they live. In crates the size of their body in these horrible indoor factories, never able to turn around.

Many companies are banning gestation crates, but there`s a long road ahead. What would you say to Americans who are perhaps seeing these images for the first time and I know when -- these are Farm Sanctuary rescued pigs. And the other pigs are how the vast majority, the billions of pigs - - let`s go back to that other footage again now, the other way.

These are the lucky few. The other way is how the vast majority of pigs in this country live their lives in these gigantic warehouses, in these cages never able to turn around. These are female pigs. Your thoughts, Shannon?

ELIZABETH: I think that people turn a blind eye to what`s happening out there too much. And they don`t want to see this. They don`t want to know it`s going on. I think it`s very important to know what`s happening and how these animals are being treated.

And also, the way they`re being treated and the way they`re being raised, the fear, the hormones, the antibiotics they`re shot up with, all of this is prevalent throughout all of their meat, their entire bodies. When they`re killed, all of this stays in that meat.

When you`re eating it, you`re eating all of these hormones, all of the stuff that`s going to hurt you. And it`s going to affect your moods. It`s going to give you cancer, it gives you diabetes, it gives you all of these diseases that you don`t see out in the wild. And they need to consider, you know, they`re not only hurting a life, they`re hurting themselves. They need to just think about the entire process.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, and let me say this. My understanding, and Gene, correct me, is that the hormones are supposed to pass through the meat. In other words, there are laws in place to try to make sure that humans don`t absorb all the antibiotics and hormones and there`s a system to clear it from the animal before the animal is slaughtered but sometimes critics would say more than sometimes, things slip through the cracks. Yes or no, Gene?

BAUER: Well, theoretically, that`s supposed to happen, but these animals are so pumped up with antibiotics, half the antibiotics produced in the U.S. go into raising these animals plus they`ve been genetically bred to grow twice as big and twice as fast as normal in the case of turkeys. In fact they`re so genetically-altered that they cannot even reproduce naturally anymore. So, all these turkeys are a result of artificial insemination.

So these animals are sick. And in addition to the hormones that are given artificially, these animals are souped up to have lots of hormones in their bodies already.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to talk about a new undercover investigation. What you as American consumers need to know as you consider your holiday meals this season.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know about you, but I have a bad habit. It`s soda -- in my case, diet. But regular, diet, there is an alternative. One that is cheaper, that is healthier for you and also zero calories. It`s good, old fashion lemonade.

My recipe is Stevia lemonade. So I cut up some lemons. I put them right there in the water. Good old fashioned water. You can filter it if you want. And then I add my secret ingredient, Stevia. You can do it in powder form or in liquid form, 50 times sweeter than sugar. It doesn`t upset your glycemic index. It`s all good. And guess what, it`s kind of old-fashioned, too. Want some lemonade?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s your "Viral Video of the Week". We just can`t get enough of Tucker, the piano playing dog. He`s caught on tape doing Beethoven`s Ninth -- no, I don`t think it is.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, it dawned on me -- the sweet, innocent cow running away from being slaughtered. And I never even thought about it before. That something is actually being slaughtered and it`s my ground beef and it`s my (inaudible) steak and stuff like that and we have been eating it for years. I never pictured that face on that. And it hurts.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just in time for the holidays, and quite possibly one of the reasons people are making their meals meatless. Yet another undercover investigation from the animal protection group Mercy for Animals allegedly exposing horrific abuse to birds as a Butterball factory farm. Watch -- it`s disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Camera footage recorded at multiple Butterball turkey factory farms in North Carolina exposes an ongoing pattern of cruelty and severe neglect, including animals being kicked, thrown, and left to suffer from injury or disease without proper veterinary care.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mercy for Animals says this is the second time in approximately a year that they caught workers at a Butterball facility. Nathan, what do you say you caught on tape?

NATHAN RUNKLE, MERCY FOR ANIMALS: Our investigator documented birds crammed by the thousands inside a filthy, windowless shed, and workers kicking, throwing, and beating birds, as well as birds with bloody open wounds, infections, and broken bones being left to suffer without veterinary care.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Butterball responds by saying they immediately initiated an internal investigation and suspended the associates in question. Pending the completion of the investigation, Butterball will then make a determination on additional actions including immediate termination for those involved and they say remain committed to the ethical and responsible care of turkey flocks. Your response, Nathan?

RUNKLE: It`s too little too late. This is the second time in less than a year that our undercover cameras have documented a pattern of animal cruelty and neglect at Butterball facilities.

Our investigation last year led to five Butterball workers being criminally charged with cruelty to animals. This abuse runs rampant and it needs to end.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you have seen all aspects of this story. And we just ask you to take a moment to consider what you are going to do this holiday season.

We thank you for listening. It takes courage to bear witness and something that I think Americans as citizens need to see.

We`ll be right back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for "Pet o` the Day". Send us your pet pics to hlntv.come/Jane. Whiskey -- oh, my man. Chloe, what a cute little look you`ve got. Scully, you`re just like laying it out there. And Scooby is smiling, so happy. Yes, Scooby-doo.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United Nations fear extinction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The devastation below, what thousands of hectares of forest and peat soil are disappearing every month to make way for palm oil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With his forest gone and mother dead, starving and bewildered this young orangutan will die if not rescued.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a heartbreaker. Tonight, a secret war against orangutans -- mommas torn from their babies as their forest homes are decimated. Critics say fires are being set illegally wiping out orangutan forests in order to plant trees that produce palm oil, something you could be unknowingly buying. And the Indonesian government is allegedly allowing this destruction to go on and on to the point where orangutans could be on the brink of extinction.

Once rich ecosystems are being turned into vast wastelands -- these beautiful innocent creatures are suffering so much. It`s the shameful secret hidden in many products made with palm oil, a cheap ingredient used in roughly -- are you sitting down -- half the items in American supermarkets. And it goes by so many different names, it can be hard to identify.

Straight out to Rolf Skar, Green Peace USA, forest campaign director. Green Peace has been protesting against this. Rolf, this is a crisis. Tell us why you say it`s a race against time to save the orangutans.

ROLF SKAR, GREEN PEACE USA: It`s absolutely a race against time, Jane because Indonesia where most of the orangutans are left has broken the Guinness Book of World Record for the worst deforestation rate the world has ever seen. If you cut in half habitat, you cut in half orangutans populations. And we`ve seen their populations in places like Sumatra drop by 80 percent in the last 50 years. As Indonesians destroy the area rainforests bigger than the size of Texas, we can`t let that keep going if we want to keep this important animal, one of our closest relatives on the planet still with us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at these innocent faces. We`re going to tell you what you can do. So many products contain palm oil. Here`s a list of some of them. We were talking popcorn, ice cream, cookies, pizza, candy -- we can look at the labels and if palm oil is an ingredient, we can either not buy it or get in touch with the company to say are you getting this appropriately are you getting it from these people who burn down the forests. That can be very complicated.

I believe at the end of the day, this is the Indonesian government`s responsibility. We called the consulate. They did not get back to us. But you can reach out to the Indonesian government as well. Why are they being so blind about this?

SKAR: Well, like every government, governments are influenced by money and by corporations and that`s where we see a lot of opportunity actually. More and more companies that use palm oil are starting to put in standards like they do for everything else that they buy, saying they don`t want palm oil linked to rainforest destruction.

So what you mentioned second, Jane, which is contacting companies, we think that`s critical. The more that companies hear from people here in the U.S. and around the world, that they don`t want fast food, they don`t want shampoos and conditioners, those sorts of things with rainforest destruction, with orangutan`s fate in the balance, then they are going to change their ways. Money talks these days.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to tell you, as soon as I heard about this I started looking at ingredients and thank God being a vegan and being somebody who buys only cruelty free, a lot of my stuff had no palm oil but it comes under so many different names. I mean dozens of names, it`s hard to tell. So I can`t say for sure. So I`m in a quandary.

There`s the palm fruit that is the source of the problem. They could produce in land that`s already been cleared. It`s a crisis. What you can do on the other side.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know what palm oil is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know what palm oil is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what palm oil is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don`t know. No.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The protesters like Green Peace and other organizations would say palm oil is wiping out of the orangutan population on this planet know what palm oil is. And they say don`t buy it or contact the companies and demand, are you buying it, are you getting it responsibly because these forests where the orangutans live -- look at this little baby, they are being wiped out. And again, it`s the Indonesian government.

Listen go to my Facebook page, JaneVelezMitchell Facebook or and I`m going to tell you how to get in touch with Green Peace. You can visit Green Peace and we`re also going to show you how you can adopt an orangutan. No, you don`t have to take them home. You can virtually adopt an orangutan and save that animal`s life. There are so many efforts going on.

Rolf, what would you say to the American people?

SKAR: Definitely get involved and get on Web sites,, your Facebook page. Get involved, make your voice heard. It`s so easy to do these days with the click of a button and it actually matters. A lot of people feel like their voice doesn`t matter. That`s opposite of the case.

We`ve seen many companies change their ways because of consumers voicing their concerns. It works, folks. Don`t be jaded, get out there and get involved and get informed. We think we could have sustainable palm oil. We think we don`t have to destroy rainforests or orangutan habitat for soaps and for crackers and cookies.

We know that`s possible. It`s just a matter of making the marketplace speak up for that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Consumers, if you`re looking at these little faces and you see them and you say, "Oh my gosh, I don`t want to be a co- conspirator to their destruction." Then it`s up to you to look at the labels to make sure you buy cruelty free. To contact suppliers and producers that have products that have palm oil in them, to call the Indonesian government and get involved.

These poor creatures cannot speak for themselves. Time is running out. Green Peace.

And Nancy next.