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Are Mystery Brunettes Key to Finding Missing Teen?

Aired November 20, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight we have just received new information in the case of missing 19-year-old Kara Nichols. Police have just released photographs of two women they want to speak to about the night this beautiful teenager disappeared. We have the very latest on this case, and we`re also talking in just a moment to the missing woman`s parents exclusively next. We want to help.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight the police have just released new details about this beautiful 19-year-old girl who vanished from Colorado. We are just now learning police want to question two mystery women about Kara Nichols` disappearance. Do they know what happened? Joining me live tonight, the missing aspiring model`s parents as we try to find their precious daughter. And we`re taking your calls.

And a 14-year-old Florida girl was keeping the secret of her life, and now she could spend the rest of her life in prison because of that secret she thought was too scary to share. We`re investigating what made a teen`s pregnancy turn deadly. And what we can learn from this young girl`s story.

Plus, a holiday family feud. This "Modern Family" star`s child abuse and custody case goes before a judge. But it was a very strange day in court. So whose house will Ariel Winter call home? We`ve got the latest.

Where is Kara? She`s been missing for more than a month now. There was the call from her mobile phone just before midnight. Then nothing. She has blond hair and green eyes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight brand-new clues in the desperate search for missing teen beauty Kara Nichols. Police have just released in a news conference that ended just minutes ago confidential details that they`ve uncovered about her disappearance. And they say they want to question two mystery women. Let`s listen to what they said just moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know she was last seen on October 9. She had spent the day with a brunette. We have not been able to identify that brunette. And later on that evening, she -- she left the residence and was never heard from again nor seen again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is one of the two brunettes police are looking for. Take a good look at this woman. If you know anything about her, if you can identify her, please contact authorities immediately. They say she`s not a suspect. She is wanted for questioning.

They believe that she saw something or was with Kara on Tuesday, October 9, the last day that Kara was seen.

Does this woman and her other female companion know the secret behind this awful mystery? The 19-year-old left her house without her purse and without any cash, but she did take her cell phone. Kara made her last phone call at 11:45 that night, October 9.

It`s been reported the aspiring model was on her way to Colorado to Denver from Colorado Springs -- that`s about 50 miles drive -- for a potential job. Did she really go there? Did the teen encounter something sinister on the way, or is there another explanation entirely? And who are these two mystery women? Are they the key to cracking this case?

We`re diving deep into this investigation in the hopes of helping these parents find their daughter.

Joining me now in an exclusive interview are Kara`s devoted parents, Paul and Julie. First of all, I must say, Paul and Julie, if I may call you by your first names, that my heart goes out to you. We want to help. We know you`re going through hell right now. And there are just no words. So we`re hoping, by putting your daughter`s face out there, we might trigger something. Somebody -- somebody knows something out there. Somebody may know this brunette whose name we do not have or her friend.

Authorities have said they believe this woman is in the community somewhere, which would mean in the general Colorado Spring area -- Springs area, possibly, a community of about 425,000 people. So we`re not talking about millions and millions of people.

But let me start with this, if I may. Paul, let me start with you. What do you know about your daughter`s movements the day she was last seen? Tell us everything you know.

PAUL NICHOLS, FATHER OF KARA: Yes, actually Sheriff Makita (ph) in the press conference earlier this afternoon stated it pretty clearly Kara was at her residence on Missions -- Mission Road in Colorado Springs most of the day, and she spent the day with one of these mystery brunettes.

And she -- she was in her room and just hanging out with a friend. And she left later on that evening. And she told her roommate -- one of her roommates that she was going up to Denver.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me take it from there. Kara was last seen, as you said -- you just said -- in her hometown of Colorado Springs in her apartment. She was with this mystery woman, this brunette. We`re going to keep showing you the brunette`s photo, as well. If you know this woman call authorities. She`s not a suspect, but she is wanted because she may have information.

Now, it`s believed your daughter was going to Denver, as you heard, for some work. Here`s what I don`t understand. Now, Denver is approximately 60 miles away from Colorado Springs, and it was late in the evening so we`ve been told -- and correct us if I`m wrong, we`re just trying to get to the fact here -- that she doesn`t have a car and she doesn`t have a driver`s license. How would she get from Colorado Springs to Denver?

And I`ll bring this to Julie. How would your daughter get anywhere and why would she leave without her purse if she was actually going somewhere as far away as Denver? Wouldn`t she take her purse with her?

JULIE NICHOLS, KARA`S MOTHER: Well, that`s the strange part about all of this. And that`s what causes us great concern, as well as the sheriff`s office. She typically would drive around with friends. She was very extraverted and had a huge network of people that she associated with. And she would go on different either social events or modeling gigs with these friends. So that`s all we know, basically.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So she did not have a car or a driver`s license. She would have had to have gotten a ride with somebody. Is that correct or not?

J. NICHOLS: That`s correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And is there any hint, any hint of who she might have gone with? Does she have a boyfriend, for example, or any close friend that you`ve been able to get in touch with to find out did you give her a ride or did you not?

J. NICHOLS: Well, I think they`re trying to determine that through the phone records to see who she was in contact with during that day and possibly the day before and to see what plans she might have been making.

As I said, she typically did go out a lot with friends or go on different modeling excursions or what have you. So there could have been any number of people that she drove off with, and we just don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, she`s 19 years old. And we`ve all been teenagers. So again, we are asking -- any question we ask is to be helpful and again, to put her face out there as the most important thing we can do.

But was there anybody she was associated with that you felt not a good influence? Somebody that you weren`t crazy about or anything that was happening in the weeks or months leading up that would have given you pause? Without names, please.

P. NICHOLS: Let me answer that. No, I don`t really think so. Kara was very upbeat. She was happy to be back in Colorado Springs. She came and visited us earlier in the summer. She got a job and she was making money.

So I didn`t get the feeling from talking to Kara that she was hanging out with bad people, but who knows? You know, she`s a teenager. And we all have been teenagers before, right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And as a teenager, I can say when I was 19 I did things that I look back now and I go, "What was I thinking at the time?" So again, yes, absolutely, sir, we`ve all been teenagers.

Here`s what I don`t understand. Authorities have released this photo of this woman, who is a brunette. But they don`t have a name attached. How did they get the photo? Is the photo something from Facebook? How did they know that this woman was with your daughter?

And, given that more than a month has passed and she`s not considered a suspect and her face is pretty darn clear, how is it possible that they haven`t been able to track her down to talk to her?

P. NICHOLS: Well, it`s likely that this individual hasn`t -- hasn`t been contacted yet or hasn`t noticed that her face is out there on the Internet. Hey, if you know about Kara Nichols, please come forward. We need to talk to you. There could be a million reasons why this woman hasn`t come forward.

And as to where the picture came from originally, I think that the police got it off of Facebook. I think it`s just somebody posted something and somebody else posted that, hey, this is a person that you might want to talk to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it is -- I guess we`re going to continue this on the other side. But I`m thinking, well, is it possible she`s the one who gave her a ride and so they should be looking for her and her car and whatever car she might drive?

More on the other side as we try to solve this very, very upsetting mystery and help these wonderful parents find their precious daughter.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had told a roommate that she was running out. It was later in the evening. And that she was headed to the Denver area. We have not been able to substantiate that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is 19-year-old Kara Nichols? Now police are saying there are two mystery women she was hanging out with just hours right up until the time she vanished. That`s one of them. And they want to know who this person is. They want to talk to her, not because she`s a suspect but she was supposedly hanging out with Kara right up until she disappeared October 9.

Now cops just held a news conference, and they addressed concerns about whether Kara, who was an aspiring model, may have come into contact with somebody pretending to be interested in her modeling career. Let`s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that she was aspiring to get into a modeling career, and we know that that is a very difficult business. I mean, you run into young ladies all the time that that`s their dream, is to become a successful model or to get into show business.

And associated with that is often people that have ill intent or are trying to exploit individuals, especially the youth, inexperienced. And sometimes these young ladies have a naive view of how the world is. So we are exploring all those avenues, as well.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigative reporter KRLD in Dallas, Joe Gomez, what do you know tonight?

JOE GOMEZ, REPORTER, KRLD: Well, Jane, you know, something that`s very worrisome here is that apparently she had a profile on this Model Mayhem Web site, a modeling advertising profile, saying that she was a lingerie model and that she was very open-minded. Now that`s very disconcerting after what we`ve just heard, Jane, that you know, it`s basically saying how young women like Kara are very -- I mean, they`re very susceptible to being, you know, victims of predators that would easily take advantage of them with promises of, you know, being in show biz.

Also, what`s concerning me here is that why aren`t these two women who were with her coming forward? I mean, if they were really her friends and if they really cared about her, why aren`t they coming forward and telling the police what they know?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here is my question, Tom Shamshak, private investigator. And by the way, we can`t independently confirm anything. This is on -- all over the Internet. But my concern is this beautiful young woman with these two wonderful parents disappeared on October 9.

We`re just getting a news conference now November 20, and we`re getting crucial information. I don`t understand why we didn`t know a lot more October 10, because some of these facts haven`t changed since the very night that she disappeared.

TOM SHAMSHAK, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Jane, good evening. It`s not uncommon for law enforcement to not pay initially a lot of attention to adult missing persons cases. I commend the parents for their persistence in trying to get the -- this case resolved, keeping it in the public eye.

What law enforcement ought to be doing is searching through the social networking sites, as well as looking at her telephone records, just as her parents have said, and try to do a timeline and identify people who she may have come in contact with. Young people today don`t go out without at least leaving some electronic footprint. And I think that will be the key to tracking her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We know she made -- she made a phone call that night. So Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor, they have to have tracked down the pings at that point.

I`m still confused as to why we are just hearing about all of this now. I understand they may have just found out about this through that woman, but it`s been more than a month. Obviously, it`s always a race against time.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Of course it is. But you know what, Jane? I appreciate what your previous guests had to say. But we don`t know what went on behind the scenes. I mean, they could be tracking. I`m sure they did track the phone. I`m sure they are doing everything electronically. They knew that she was on this Model Mayhem Web site. So I`m sure they`re backtracking there.

You know, sometimes law enforcement will keep things very close to the vest, and until they have something of importance to tell us, that`s when they`re going to come out with it. So I`m sure that, based on the fact that she didn`t take a purse, but someone had to pick her up, that she -- a roommate said she was going somewhere, they have all these initial leads. They are just kind of at a dry spell right now with nothing else to go on so they`re coming forward and asking for more help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. I would say in a case where you already have the evidence of the crime. But when you`re searching for a missing woman, I say throw all the information out there immediately and tell the world this is who we`re looking for, because that happened well over a month ago.

More on the other side.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody knows what happened to this young girl. Somebody saw something after October 9. And people who think that the information they have isn`t vital to the case. It is.

Police want to know anything. You saw her in the store. You knew of her. Any back story. Every little bit let the police put the puzzle together. But please, come forward with what you know.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is Kara Nichols? The 19-year-old is 5`8", 120 pounds, with green eyes, blond hair. She has large round ear piercings, a piercing on her upper lip and belly button. And these are some of her tattoos. We`re going to show them to you. Please look at them closely.

Anyone with information about Kara or one of two mystery women that she was purportedly with -- and we`re going to show you a picture of the mystery woman, as well -- should call detectives in the El Paso County Sheriff`s Office immediately, and we`re going to put up the number, 719- 520-7227.

Dina Wood, you are Kara Nichols`s teacher from high school. Thank you for your patience. What is the sense -- you are in Colorado Springs -- what is the sense in the community about what may have happened? Is there any buzz? Does anybody have an inkling of who these two mystery women are?

DINA WOOD, KARA NICHOLS` TEACHER (via phone): This really just came out today. I didn`t know about them until the press conference today.

I think the main thing that people who know Kara is concerned, because she is very intelligent, not just beautiful but a very intelligent young woman and not stupid.

You know, she is 19. We were all 19 at some point in our lives. I think people are very concerned. And they -- you know, they don`t want to get sidetracked by, you know, different things and just keep focus on finding her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is it possible that she wasn`t going to Denver for a job but she was going somewhere else? For example, she`s extremely social. Is she the kind of woman who`s into the music scene, might possibly have gone to a concert? Anything like that?

WOOD: Well, she -- she -- you know, when I knew her she was very social. And yes, I mean, she could have been doing all kinds of things. That`s -- that`s the problem. Once a certain point passed, nobody seems to know, and that`s why it is so important, you know.

This is not that huge of a community. I mean, people who see these -- the pictures of these two young women, if they could at least somehow contact the police about it, because, you know, somebody in this community has to have seen them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle Bart, president and cofounder of National Woman`s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation, you`re working with the family. It doesn`t make sense that she would leave her purse and her cash behind and somehow head off to Denver without a car or without a driver`s license. It doesn`t add up.

MICHELLE BART, PRESIDENT/COFOUNDER, NATIONAL WOMEN`S COALITION AGAINST VIOLENCE AND EXPLOITATION: None of it adds up. And hopefully, with you know, this interview and the press conference that the police did today, hopefully, some folks will call the police department.

We have received tips through her Facebook account, and we`ve sent those over to law enforcement. We encourage folks that, instead of e- mailing us those tips, to send them to Detective Cliff Porter over at the El Paso County Sheriff`s Office, because they need to investigate these tips. They`re very valid.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to stay on top of this story. We want to find this young woman. We want to help these parents, Paul and Julie Nichols, who are going through a hellish experience. There`s no words to describe what they`re enduring right now. So we`re going to stay on top of this story and bring you the very latest.

Nancy Grace has the true story of the former oral surgeon accused of making millions by illegally harvesting and selling human body parts. How did the doctor hide the scene from his own wife? Nancy has the answers tonight at 8 on HLN.

And on the other side of the break, a story that raises so many questions. We`re going to dive deep into this tragic, tragic story out of Florida.



CASSIDY GOODSON, TEEN MOM CHARGED WITH MURDER: I picked the baby up and turned it around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a stunning step by step re-enactment soft- spoken Cassidy Goodson left no detail out for investigators while demonstrating on a Santa Clause doll the painful September morning she secretly gave birth.

GOODSON: I felt to see if it was breathing or not and it did so I put my hands around its throat to make it stop breathing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a secret baby, a secret birth and now a teen mom charged with murder. We are talking about a 14-year-old girl Cassidy Goodson accused of killing her newborn son just moments after it was born.

And now prosecutors are charging her as an adult -- that means a potential life sentence. Cassidy said she never told anyone she was pregnant and gave birth in the bathroom of her Lakeland, Florida home.

Watch as Cassidy tells police what she did to her son using a Santa Claus doll as a prop.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How hard did you squeeze?

GOODSON: Enough for it to stop breathing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigators told WTSP that Cassidy killed the child because she, quote, "didn`t know what to do with it", end quote. Police say her mother found the infant while the mom was doing the laundry three days after the birth. The baby boy had been placed inside a shoe box.


JERRY HILL, STATE ATTORNEY 10TH CIRCUIT: What we got here is a young girl who wrapped her hands around a newborn live baby`s neck and choked that child to death.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cassidy`s mom says she didn`t know her daughter was pregnant even though two aunts suspected she was and the town sheriff says Cassidy`s mom was in complete denial. That is his words.

So how did this 14-year-old girl manage to carry this child to full term and not have anyone in her family confront her to find out. It`s a mystery. Did this young girl think this was her only option?

I want to go straight out to Sheriff Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff. This is where it is all happening. You are the sheriff of this community, sir -- thank you for joining us.

First of all, to get a sense of how much this girl, this 14-year old, is aware of the enormity of this incident. What was her reaction when she was arrested, sir?

SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: Her reaction was about what you saw on that video clip. She was very stoic; she was not emotional and she never showed any emotional at all. In fact, we first came in contact with her on September 17th -- I`m sorry -- the 19th, when she first went to the hospital after finally telling her mother she had a miscarriage. And she still didn`t tell anyone that there was a live birth.

And then once again, three days later her mother discovers this horrible event whenever she is picking up laundry to wash it and stumbles upon this box when she smells an odor.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to ask you another question. But let me first say, Cassidy`s mom told police she didn`t know her daughter was pregnant although two aunts had told the mother looks like she is.

Here is the mother. Let`s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought she was just getting fat and gaining weight. Honestly if I would have known this would have never happened. She just kept on saying "Don`t hate me. Don`t hate me."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say Cassidy weighed 100 pounds she`s like something like 5`3" before her pregnancy. She gave birth to a 9.5 pound boy. So Sheriff Grady, how did no adult know this girl was pregnant? The mother was suspicious enough to make her daughter take two pregnancy tests but for some reason decided to allow her to go off to the bathroom and take them in private and Cassidy faked the test as negative. Why didn`t an adult take this girl to the doctor and should the adults be held responsible or accountable?

JUDD: You know, if there is any way to hold them criminally liable you can be sure that we would. What is scary about this entire event is that mom was in total denial. All summer long she admitted she wore coats, she wore large sweaters, she did everything she could to hide her pregnancy.

Come on. This is Florida. It is 95 degrees, 100 degrees. It is unbelievably hot. The aunts are telling her mother "Your daughter is pregnant. Something is wrong. Your daughter is gaining weight." The step father is telling his wife who is obviously Cassidy`s mother "Your daughter is gaining weight." Still they chose to just absolutely stay in total denial and no one is able to explain that to us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, denial. Denial is what it is. I mean people remain in denial about the darnedest things. And they could see the evidence right in front of them and they will not see it because it`s what you would call a really inconvenient truth that they don`t want to accept.

Very last question, sir -- I know you have to run, Sheriff, but who is the father?

JUDD: We know that the father is a juvenile. We are in the process of doing the final testing now. And certainly criminal charges are appropriate and we have filed affidavits so far. It is against the law even for two consenting juveniles under the age of 16 to have sex.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you Sheriff and thank you for your time, sir.

Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; there is something that feels wrong about this. This is a 14-year-old girl. She is taking the entire weight of this responsibility on herself. No adults are charged at this point. They don`t even have the child who is the father identified. And from what I understand Polk County, where she attended high school, doesn`t teach about condoms or contraception. It teaches community-based abstinence only until marriage.

What is she supposed to do? I mean, how -- I understand she did a horrible thing. She did a horrible thing, I`m not condoning it. But she is a 14-year-old girl. Should that be taken into consideration?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Look, when they decided to charge her as an adult they felt as though the crime was heinous enough and she knew what she was doing when she certainly showed that the baby was viable, they baby was alive and then she went and killed it. So they charged her as an adult.

But listen, Jane, you know that education is the key for anything. Education, you know, is empowering. And if these girls are having sex and then they don`t know what to do when they get pregnant and they`re so fearful that they are going to get in trouble, this inevitably is what happens. We see these cases all over the country where these young girls are delivering babies in the bathroom and then killing them because they were too afraid to go to their parents.

Parents have to really wake up and realize that this is going on. If your child is having sex, whether you want to believe it or not, and you better be able to talk to them about the consequences of not having safe sex. And this is what happens. A life -- two lives are -- families are destroyed. The child`s life is destroyed, the baby is dead and the parents now have a daughter that`s going to end up in prison. So you must educate. You cannot be in denial. You have to educate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your "Viral Vid of the Day". Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. It`s so small.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a tiny kitten being pulled out of a Lincoln statue in Florida. The three-week-old kitten got trapped inside for three days. Firefighters had to cut a hole at the top. The kitten is now doing fine. The curator at the museum says he wants to adopt him and name him -- want to take a guess -- Abe. Hi Abe.



GOODSON: I picked the baby up and turned it around. I felt to see if it was breathing or not. And it did so I put my hands around its throat to make it stop breathing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: 14-year-old Cassidy Goodson, who is now charged with murder, told police she was scared what her family would do when they found out she was pregnant.

Listen to this from affiliate, WFTS.


GOODSON: I was scared of what was going to happen. I thought I was going to get in trouble.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the (ph), Cassidy`s mother said she talked to her daughter about sex but did not believe her daughter was sexually active.

Dr. Cheryl Arutt, forensic psychologist, should this girl be charged as an adult or should the adults in her midst who were clueless and in denial face some responsibility?

DR. CHERYL ARUTT, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Jane, all states make a distinction because children have limited capacity. We say that you need to be a certain age to drive a car. You need to be a certain age to even consent to be old enough to have sex. This girl at 14 was not old enough to make her own medical decisions.

And we need to look at the role of the state of Florida in this situation because the state made a decision to turn away over $4.5 million in federal funding for comprehensive sex education so that they can teach abstinence only. And what that teaches is shame for being sexually active. It teaches kids like Cassidy to look at this baby as evidence of her having done something shameful and wrong.

And I just need to say that if children like this go to school and the school teaches them that abortion and murdering a baby are essentially the same thing, is it really any wonder that some kids are going to miss the distinction between --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. I don`t want to get into that debate but I think it is fair to ask whether she could have been taught something that would have given her an option in her mind other than I did not know what to do with it. She did a horrific thing.

ARUTT: She did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am not in any way undermining what she did.

But Tom Shamshak, former police chief and private investigator, her mother was told by her two aunts this child is pregnant. She decided to allow the child to do her own pregnancy test which came back fake negative twice. Should the mother have taken the child to the doctor? And by the way, the mother is invited on our show anytime at all. Anybody associated with this case is. Tom Shamshak.

TOM SHAMSHAK, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: You`re right -- parental responsibility. But more importantly, this is a child that was in a school setting. Did none of the teachers make any observation of her affect and her weight gain? I`m astonished by that, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I mean denial. Dr. Cheryl Arutt, denial is a mechanism when somebody does not want to know something and it is put in your face and you still say no that`s not happening even though a child who is 100 pounds and 5`3 gains enough to have a 9.5 pound baby -- what do you say about the denial mechanism?

ARUTT: The denial mechanism I think is connected to this feeling of shame and shamefulness that was surrounding the idea of even the possibility of this 14-year-old girl being sexually active. And I really think that this girl didn`t have anywhere to go to be able to say "Hey, I have a crisis. I am pregnant."

And to ask her to navigate an unwanted pregnancy all alone and to go through the horror of giving birth alone in a bathroom with her mom in the next room and not even call to her is just tragic.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And by the way, 71 percent of our viewers disagree and think she should be charged as an adult. I will say this. I think it is absolutely essential for children to get real information about sex and the parental units often do not want to contemplate the idea of their children being sexual beings and they do become sexual beings. They are human beings and that happens -- it is biology.

More on the other side.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for "Pet o` the Day"; send us your pet pics to

Rudy -- I love it, love it. And Bucc -- is that a little tennis ball? I know you love that. Yes it is. And Taz -- Taz has got his teeth on something. Look at him chewing away. And then Annie -- Annie says I like to be in a tree. That is just me.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s really just such a disturbing story because, of course, we all love watching 14-year-old Ariel Winter play "Alex Dunphy" on "Modern Family".



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the actresses who stars in ABC`s hit sitcom "Modern Family" -- well, she is taken away from her mom now because of abuse allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Winter`s mother being accused of abusing the actress physically and emotionally to the point where a judge had to step in.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news: new developments out of Hollywood and the real life secret family drama of the starlet of the hit show "Modern Family". 14-year-old Ariel Winter accused her mom, Crystal Workman of years of verbal and physical abuse. Just hours ago a judge ruled Ariel should remain with her sister for now. According to Child Services, there were signs of emotional abuse, but the physical abuse could not be confirmed. Ariel plays the brainiac middle child, Alex Dunphy, on the very popular ABC hit show "Modern Family".


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve got goosebumps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, right. All I have to do is get 50 signatures, show up, make my case. It`s on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m so proud of you.


We love when mom gets on a project. Because usually the minute any of us walks through the door she gives us something to do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ariel`s mom, dad and brother -- the real ones -- were all in court to fight for custody. Mom, Crystal Workman says Ariel is just upset because she told her to break up with her 18-year-old boyfriend. She caught them -- let`s see -- somewhere.

Our producer caught up with Ariel`s brother outside court. Listen to this.


JIMMY WORKMAN, ARIEL WINTER`S BROTHER: Do I think my father should have custody of her? Yes. You know, I don`t think she should be with my sister. I would love to have custody of her, but here`s the thing, she needs to be with my family -- mother or father or both together. That`s what should happen.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to our own HLN producer, Selin Darkalstanian; you`re standing outside the court right now. What`s the latest?

SELIN DARKALSTANIAN, HLN PRODUCER: We just got out of the courtroom and I was talking to Ariel`s mom, who is pretty devastated about not having custody, at least until December 12th, when they`re back in court. But for now Ariel is going to stay with her sister. And this was basically the deal.

It`s a full blown family drama in court. The judge himself even said this is a really sad situation, Jane, because basically the mom is saying, "Listen, I know we don`t get along. I`ll move out. Let your dad move in and take care of you." And Ariel doesn`t want that because apparently Ariel doesn`t have a really good relationship with her dad. According to her, her dad has never really been present in her life. So Ariel says I want to stay with my sister. So the mom says let`s go to counseling. And Ariel doesn`t want that. Ariel just wants to stay with her sister.

So the mom and the dad came together, united in court to try to get Ariel to come back to them today. But that didn`t work because Department of Child Services stepped in and said they did find emotional abuse. So the judge kept Ariel with her sister for now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re hearing more and more about potentially dangerous ingredients in the beauty products we slather on our bodies. You know 100 ingredients on the back of the bottle. We don`t know what those ingredients are. My alternative is I make my own -- makeup remover, perfume, body lotion. And essentially what I do is almond oil, very simple. I pour that in. And then I use essential oils like tea tree oil and rosemary and lavender. And I mix it all up, and put it in various bottles so that I can go on trips. I can go exercise.

People always ask me, what are you wearing, and I say, I made it myself.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jen Heger, RadarOnline, tell us what your analysis is of this tug of war over "Modern Family`s Ariel Winter.

JEN HEGER, RADARONLINE: You know, I think it`s extremely important to emphasize that, you know, judges in Los Angeles, are very, very hesitant to take away custody from a parent, especially one, you know, where there has really been no incident.

The Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services have done a preliminary investigation. And they have found that Ariel Winter was indeed in their terms emotionally abused by her mother. That is why they are recommending that she stay in the care of her older sister, Chanel Gray (ph), for the time being.

Unfortunately this is going to be a very public case, and it should be a very private family matter. Clearly this family is in distress. They need some help. Clearly mother and both daughters -- the grown older sister Chanel Gray and her younger sister Ariel -- have issues with their mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s so sad because it really just puts such a sad shadow over this young girl`s success and shows once again that these young starlets, these child stars, don`t have it so easy.