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NY Mother's Body Found in Turkey; Japanese Singer Shaves Head; Lights Go Out at Superdome; Famed American Sniper Killed; Richard III Remains Discovered in Parking Lot

Aired February 4, 2013 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And my thanks to you. Good to see you.

In New Orleans, it is making news as the game itself. We're talking about that blackout that happened at the Super Bowl. You remember, early in the game, third quarter, half the Superdome went dark. Well, who's to blame? We've got a live report coming up about a minute out from now.

Also, in Havana, Cuba, look who showed up to vote in the country's general election, Fidel Castro. The ailing revolutionary leader hasn't made an extended public appearance since 2010. And it is pretty significant he's getting out again since there has been so much speculation about his health, of course. No surprise here he shared a message about the revolution. We've got details on that coming up as well.

Also, in the Persian Gulf, an oil tanker goes down as the rig workers there franticly try to get to safety. Video you have to see. That's coming up here as well.

But first, if you were there or watching at home, you notice that the second half of the Super Bowl did not go entirely as planned. Want you to have a look at this. As the third quarter got underway, half of the historic Superdome went dark. The outage keeping the players and fans waiting more than half an hour for the power to be restored.

Despite that flap, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says all went well.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: The power outage was an unfortunate incident that we're looking in to try to get the facts. There were no safety issues at any point in time. The dome personnel did an outstanding job. I salute our fans and our personnel, our teams. I think everyone stayed calm and worked through the issues.


HOLMES: Roger Goodell there.

And now, in Istanbul, Turkey, police found the body of a New York mother of two. Sarai Sierra's remains found near the ancient stone walls in Istanbul's Sarayburnu district. Police say that she died from a blow to the head, also showed signs of stab wounds. Senior international correspondent Ivan Watson looks into the situation.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Turkish police made the grim discovery on Saturday. A woman's body hidden behind the old stone walls of this ancient city. Within hours, police identified her as Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, a native of Staten Island, New York. Sierra had been missing for more than a week after disappearing during what was supposed to be her first foreign vacation. Turkish police suspect she's been murdered.

HUSEYIN CAPKIN, ISTANBUL POLICE DIRECTOR (through translator): It has been determined she was killed with a blow to the head. For us to give concrete details of the case, we need more time to investigate. It's not right to say anything about the ongoing interrogation of the detained people. She was a tourist traveling alone.

WATSON: These are the last known images of Sierra. Security cameras caught her on the night of January 20th, walking alone inside an Istanbul shopping mall. Sierra flew from New York to Turkey on January 7th solo, because a friend cancelled coming along at the last minute. She was an amateur photographer who shared her photos of Istanbul's mosques and skyline with friends she met on Instagram. Sierra is believed to have met some of these Instagram acquaintances during her stay in Turkey and during a short side trip to Amsterdam.

Sierra's husband Steven sounded the alarm after she failed to board her flight back to New York on January 21st. Days later, Steven and Sarai's brother, David Jimenez, flew to Istanbul to help Turkish police with the investigation. In an interview with CNN last week, it was clear Steven, a New York City transit worker, was beginning to fear for the worst.

STEVEN SIERRA, SARAI SIERRA'S HUSBAND: Along with her missing -- you are hoping that she's OK wherever she's at. That she's not hurting. That she's not cold. That she's being fed. That she's not consumed with fear.

WATSON: The shocking news of Sierra's death devastated her family, who have tried to protect her two sons from news of their mother's disappearance.

WATSON (on camera): This murder also comes as a shock to some of the residents of Istanbul, a major tourist destination that bills itself as one of the safest cities in the world. For the time being, Turkish police are sifting through the ancient fortifications of this city trying to answer the question, who killed Sarai Sierra?


HOLMES: Ivan Watson reporting there from Istanbul.

Now, remember when Britney Spears shaved her head all those years ago. She did it as an act of rebellion, she said. But now a Japanese pop star has shaved all of her hair off. Why? As an apology. And many of her fans say she had nothing to be sorry for. CNN's Alex Zolbert explains.


ALEX ZOLBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A startling apology by a young woman who some say did nothing wrong. Twenty-year-old pop star Minami Minegishi tearfully apologizes to her fans, with her head shaved as an act of contrition.

"Everything I did is entirely my fault. I'm so sorry."

Her mistake, she says, spending the night with a singer from a popular boy band. Minegishi has been demoted within the Japanese super group AKB48. A group that started in this district of Tokyo.

"I know she wanted to say sorry, but shaving her head is too extreme," this girl says.

"Shaving her head, it's a bit crazy."

"She is a Japanese idol. I guess she does have to follow the rules of the group."

While the girls are not banned from dating, they are encouraged to maintain an image of innocence and purity for their fans. But critics say the group's videos are anything but conservative. Showing young girls in very skimpy outfits.

ZOLBERT (on camera): And just how popular is this band? Shows at this theater sell out almost every day and have done so for years. These days, there are nearly 90 members in the band, as well as off shoots in other countries.

ZOLBERT (voice-over): The fans choose who the superstars will be, voting for their favorites after buying a CD, of course. It's a music democracy that is minting money and, again, generating controversy.



HOLMES: Now, we were telling you earlier about that outage at the Superdome in New Orleans during the Super Bowl. Extraordinary scene, of course. You can see here, here it goes, half of the stadium goes out. They were in the dark or darkish for more than 30 minutes or so. Sort of put an interruption to the game. San Francisco benefited a bit by play anyway. CNN sports anchor Joe Carter is still in New Orleans.

Joe, what have you been learning about why the lights went out, whose responsible?

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, I can tell you, Michel, I've become a power expert of recent minutes. Basically there's two parties involved here. You've got Entergy, which is the power company that supplies the power to the Superdome. And then you've got SMG, which is the operator of the Superdome. And they're basically saying that the problem started where the power was fed into the Superdome. So that last night, anywhere around New Orleans was not affected. It was an isolated spot in the Superdome itself.

And you saw the lights go out for about 34 minutes. It's because the power system detected an abnormality in the system, which then basically had them shut down a part of the system, which kicked in the backup auxiliary power. The auxiliary power kept us in some light last night. Had all of the lights gone out, I sure think that a lot of the players and the fans would have panicked. But the auxiliary power did, as you see in the video, kept some of the lights on. The escalator stopped working. The credit card machines didn't work during that 34 minute delay for any sort of transactions through fans. The coaches were not able -- some of the coaches were not able to communicate with the coaches up in the press box because the radios went out.

But SMG and Entergy did release a joint statement to sort of shed some light, no pun intended, on what happened last night. And let me read you some of that statement. They said, "shortly after the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system.

Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue. Backup generators kicked in immediately as designed. Entergy and SMG subsequently coordinated startup procedures, ensuring that full power was safely restored to the Superdome. The fault sensing equipment activated where the Superdome equipment intersects with Entergy's feed into the facility. There were no additional issues detected. Entergy and SMG will continue to investigate the route of this abnormality."

Now, I can tell you that the mayor also released a statement saying that this was an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city. We spoke with many fans right after that 34 minute power outage inside the stadium and they sort of reiterated what the mayor was saying, that this does not make the week a bad week. It's not an embarrassing moment for New Orleans. That they felt like it was a great week and this was just an otherwise unfortunate incident that happened.

Roger Goodell also commented this morning in a press conference that he -- this does not affect New Orleans wanting to host another Super Bowl. They've said they'd like to have this game come back for 2018 to coincide with the 300 anniversary of the founding of New Orleans as a city. So, Michael Holmes, at this point, it doesn't look like we know much more than an abnormality is what they're calling it.

HOLMES: Yes, and, Joe, you know, a lot was made of the fact that the players had to wait as well. And I guess they cooled down and the like. Might have affected their game. What's being said about the difficulties that they faced? Because really the game did change after this happened.

CARTER: Without a doubt it changed. I mean all the momentum went to San Francisco's side. But at the end, a couple of players just said, you know, it just took longer for us to lose that game. But Baltimore, had they lost that game, I think that would have been really where the focus of the story may have been, at least on the football side of things, because it seemed to really affect the football game positively for San Francisco and negatively for Baltimore. But Baltimore avoided being the victim of the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history. San Francisco, on the other hand, just felt like, at the end, Michael, that it just took them longer to lose the Super Bowl.

HOLMES: Extraordinary wasn't it. Joe, good to see you. Joe Carter there in New Orleans.

All right, to England now. An infamous British king turns up again after half a millennium. Richard III, rumored to have been killed -- rumored to have killed his own nephews in order to claim the British thrown 500 years ago and now scientists think they found his body. There it is. Under where? A parking lot. We'll have it for you when we come back.


HOLMES: Pirates apparently have struck again. An oil tanker missing off the coast of west Africa. Seventeen crew members on board that ship. Now, it's last known location was about 70 miles -- nautical miles, south of Ivory Coast. International maritime authorities believe the French owned ship was hijacked. Pirates, of course, make millions of dollars selling stolen crude on the black market or getting ransom from the owners of such ships.

To Washington. It's his first formal day as secretary of state. But John Kerry has already been reaching out to world leaders and confronting some of the diplomatic challenges facing the country. Over the weekend, Kerry warned North Korea against any new provocative actions. He has also spoken with leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

To Southern California, authorities are calling it an horrific scene, a tour bus rear-ending a car and crashing on a mountain highway in San Bernardino County. That's east of Los Angeles. At least eight people were killed, but authorities say they expect the death toll to rise. A highway patrol spokesman says it is one of the worst crashes he has ever seen.


MARIO LOPEZ, PIO, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: It's a terrible scene, a horrific scene. There's multiple victims. There's personal belongings, personal property at the scene.


HOLMES: Paul Vercammen joins us now from the crash site.

Paul, give us an update on the efforts to remove the victims from that bus, also the number of people injured.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, first off, Michael, it's a very grizzly task right now and, because the bus rolled over, there are still victims trapped inside of the bus. Presumably, they are deceased. You also have victims outside the bus and you have many tarps in and around this area, some of these tarps covering two victims.

For that reason, when we were speaking to the California Highway Patrol, they said, yes, presumably, there are eight people dead. They expect the number to change and rise.

Now, another thing at play here is how many people were injured. We checked with at least five area hospitals and we came to a count of 27 injured. And that is just those rushed to the hospital. And of those 27, six were critically injured, including a man who was driving in a Ford pickup truck, and the bus, according to Caltrans rolled over the truck at one point.

We also know that there were certainly people on scene, who were treated and released, treated in a makeshift triage unit there, Michael. So, at least 27 injured, at least eight dead, we expect both of those numbers to climb.

HOLMES: With tragedies like this, we always ask this question. What do we know about the bus company and its safety record? Any word on that?

VERCAMMEN: Yes. First off, the bus company is out of -- it's Scapadas Magicas. It's out of National City. That's right on the border with Mexico in the San Diego-area.

In the last two years, it had not had any accidents. However, we do understand that there has been a problem with maintenance and that it scored very poorly in the maintenance category. Why that might be important, all signs seem to indicate that the brakes were involved here, some witnesses saying that they saw smoke coming out of the back of the bus. So, they will focus attention on the brakes here, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, Paul, thanks so much. Paul Vercammen there joining us from the crash site, a real tragedy.

Let's turn to Texas now. An Iraq war veteran facing murder charges today, accused of gunning down a former Navy SEAL who was claimed to be the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.

Police say that this man, Eddie Ray Routh, shot and killed Chris Kyle and his friend at a shooting range near Stephenville, Texas. Routh is now under suicide watch in jail, charged with two counts of murder.

Our Joe Johns is in Stephenville. Joe, some kind of disturbance involving the suspect overnight. Tell us what happened there.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It was a disturbance, Michael. The short version is that jailers went into Routh's cell, apparently to remove eating utensils, and the sheriff says he became aggressive with those jailers.

He had to be tased. They say he was put in a restraint chair, kept in that restraint chair overnight. However, we're told the jailers have been ordered to release him, if he agrees to work with them. He has been placed on a suicide watch. He's in a cell by himself and the sheriff says he'd also like to see some type of a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant, Michael.

HOLMES: So, what's next in the case against him? Does he got a lawyer, any plans in that regard?

JOHNS: Right. A couple of lawyers, in fact, both who are skilled in capital murder here in the state of Texas. That's what he is charged with, the most serious charge. That's because two individuals were shot and killed in that encounter that happened on Saturday.

So, the next thing that is expected to happen is a preliminary hearing. That would be a formal charging of the defendant, then we would get, in all likelihood, a plea, probably a not-guilty plea if he decided to go on to trial with the case.

HOLMES: Now, we know about Chris Kyle. He was a strong advocate for veterans. Any reaction from them about his shooting? It was something -- almost a mythical figure among many in the military.

JOHNS: That's true. And a group that he founded to help veterans put out a statement expressing sadness over his murder. We've also been told by the sheriff there have been some threats, apparently, who have been issued toward the defendant, Routh, and the sheriff believes at least some of those threats may have been made by veterans.

So, people appear to be quite upset in this small town in central Texas right now, Michael.

HOLMES: Joe, thanks so much. Joe Johns there, outside the jail where the suspect is being kept.

Well, Shakespeare tells us that Richard III killed his own nephews in order to take the thrown. But where did he end up? Well, underneath a parking lot in England, that's what it is today anyway. The discovery of the king's bones and the skull that once wore a crown when we come back.


HOLMES: Well, he is an infamous royal arch-villain. We're talking about Richard III. In Shakespeare's play about him, the king kills his nephews so he can seize the thrown. But after he died in battle, no one seemed to know for sure exactly where his remains were. Until now anyway.

Well, it turns out some old bones found under what is now a parking lot in the middle of England are the remains of the king and that they have been there for, oh, 500 years or so.


RICHARD BUCKLEY, LEAD ARCHAEOLOGIST: It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is, indeed, Richard III.


HOLMES: Big news for a lot of people.

Joining us now is our own Max Foster in London. They obviously had to use DNA. There were other things involved. This is a very detailed investigation, wasn't it? Because they really -- they weren't sure.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it's an absolutely incredible story.

And you talked about Shakespeare there and he did paint this awful picture of a villain, didn't he? And what's interesting is that there's a big group of enthusiasts who thought that Shakespeare got it all wrong and actually Richard III was a good guy. And they're really behind this whole process.

They sat out on this mission to find his grave as a part of the process to rebuild his reputation. And what's extraordinary is they did actually find these bones under a car park in Leicester, and the bones had this sort of withered back, sort of twisted spine.

And Richard III was famous for being a hunchback and having a withered arm. He didn't have a withered arm in this grave, but he did have this hunchback.

And that is where they got excited. They asked the local university to try to get some DNA from these bones, which they did manage to do, but that was only part of the puzzle.

They had to identify a modern-day descendant of Richard II and they managed to find one. It was a carpenter based in London, 17th -- 17 generations worth of descendancy there, and they managed to find him and they managed to match the bones' DNA to the DNA of this carpenter.

And, therefore, you have the story. And today it was revealed. It was extraordinary, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, of course, he is said to have died in battle. Why did they look there? Because, I mean, it used to be a historic site itself.

But what happened to his body after he died? And this is one of the clues, too, wasn't it? That he had a head wound and all that sort of stuff, marks on the skull.

FOSTER: Absolutely. He died in battle and he was buried at a local church, but no one knew where the church was because he quickly became a thing of the past because he was beaten by another king, of course, and that started the Tudor age.

We didn't know where he was, but that is part of the story here, that you see all of these wounds to the head of the skull. And it clearly was a nasty, nasty battle and he ended up being stripped completely and dumped in this grave over a horse. So, it's a proper tale of ancient history here in the U.K. And it's amazing to think that people thought this story was long buried, but 500 years later, here we are again and we're expecting a funeral now or a reburial at least at Leicester Cathedral. So, it's not over yet.

HOLMES: Yeah. Yeah, long buried indeed. And there's some saying that -- and you can see it in where he is lying, too -- some say that his hands might have been tied when he was thrown in, unceremoniously, as you say. What do we know about whether he was actually as nasty as Shakespeare made him out to be?

FOSTER: Well, the accusation that Shakespeare faces these days is that he was a propaganda machine for the Tudor kings and queens and they were out to give Richard III a bad name. And, so, the modern-day supporters of Richard III say actually he was a good guy. He did face a rebellion, but he was a good king, even if he was very short-lived. And that's what they're trying to change here.

You're going to see this story develop as they will try to build evidence to show that this was a good king, not a bad king. Although I have to say the Royal Shakespeare Society say there's no way that they're changing the character. They love playing the villain and Richard III is the ultimate villain, thanks to Shakespeare.

HOLMES: And now is, indeed, is the winter of his discontent.

Good to see you, Max. Max Foster there in London. "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse," I believe was also in that.

All right, you can read plenty more about this story and see more video at Do check it out.

In the Persian Gulf, an oil rig sinks. Workers are still on it. We have the latest when we come back.