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Five-Year-Old Awakens in Alabama Hospital; Unlocking A Criminal's Mind, Behavior; Kidnapping Survivor Recalls 1976 Ordeal; Immigration Hearing This Hour; Super Bowl Blackout Still A Mystery; Suspect in "Sniper" Killings Claims PTSD; NASA: Asteroid Won't Hit Earth; Racial Gap Closing For Some Cancer Deaths; Skier Lindsey Vonn Airlifted After Crash

Aired February 5, 2013 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Stories we're watching right now: a child plucked from a school bus at gun point, his ordeal now over. The new challenge dealing with the lingering trauma. We'll talk to someone who endured a chillingly similar kidnapping a generation ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It brings back all the memories.


COSTELLO: Searching for normalcy, when your life is turned upside down. A childhood victim of a similar siege describes decades of healing.

Reinventing the Republicans: today House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is expected to tell his party how to broaden its appeal but will it be enough to sway voters?

An asteroid half the size of a football field barreling toward earth, but NASA promises, hey, it won't hit us. But they are telling us we may get a glimpse of it. We'll tell you when.

And it's the most coveted trophy in the NFL, so how did the Super Bowl champion Ravens lose track of the Lombardi Trophy?

NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you for being with us. I'm Carol Costello. This morning, Ethan is waking up safe and sound. He's the Alabama boy being whisked into the hospital to be checked out. That's the picture you are looking at after a violent end to his six-day ordeal.

Today, Ethan is described as happy, laughing, and playing. Sources say the kidnapper's mental state seemed to be unravelling and when they believed Ethan was in imminent danger, an FBI team scrambled to launch the raid.


BRYON MARTIN, NEIGHBOR: I heard a big boom and then I heard -- I believe I heard rifle shots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And give us a sense, how loud of a boom? I mean, very loud?

MARTIN: Yes, literally made me jump off the ground. It scared me that much.


COSTELLO: The 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes was killed in the raid. Witnesses say Dykes killed Ethan's school bus driver when he tried to get in between the gunman and the kids.

SWAT teams blanket the air and ground in our next guest stakes out a different territory, the criminal's mind. Gregg McCrary is a criminologist and former behavioral scientist for the FBI. He joins us now live from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Good morning, Gregg.


COSTELLO: So were you watching this hostage drama unfold and if you were, what went through your mind as an expert in the field?

MCCRARY: Well, I think two things. One, I was a SWAT team member for about nine years and a team leader for a number of those years so I have an idea from that perspective as well as the behavioral science perspective.

What goes on in those situations, and this was an unusually dangerous one, because it was preceded by a murder. Most situations aren't preceded by a murder it's just a hostage thing. But that increased the level of risk with the murder having already occurred.

Then what happens, they took their time, which is the right thing to do, nor eight, try to calm him down, take his psychological temperature, feel what's going on. Obviously it has deteriorated.

He began to mentally decompensate in some way, where the risk to the hostage or the child rose to such a level that it was decided that a tactical resolution was called for.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about that for a second because police, sheriff's deputies, the FBI being secretive about how this all went down. Supposedly they had some sort of camera in the bunker. They could sort of witness what was going on inside there. How might they have accomplished that?

MCCRARY: Well, again, those techniques I think are things that the bureau wants to hold back, so that we don't inadvertently educate other would be hostage takers or terrorists or anything else. But I think it's fair to say that the camera did get in there.

That allowed them to gather the intelligence they needed and probably determine the exact moment when it would be safest to detonate that diversionary device, breech the door, make the entry and so forth. It wasn't just a guess.

I think it was well planned. There have been reports that the HRT, the Hostage Rescue Team had built a mock bunker based on how they knew about the layout to practice the rescue and so forth. So I think that's probably what occurred.

COSTELLO: Jimmy Lee Dykes, the suspect in this case, who is now dead, is a survivalist with anti-government sentiment. Anti-government sentiment in this country is at an all time high. Will we see more of this kind of thing?

MCCRARY: Well, it's hard to say. Unfortunately, situations like this sometimes result in copy cat events. People who are unstable, who are on the edge, look at a situation like this and think it's a good thing to do. Hopefully, they will look at this and see this didn't turn out well for Mr. Dikes.

And hopefully, we won't have a repeat of this or anything like this. It's always a concern when we have a high publicized event that is kind of sensational. Sometimes we have unstable people who try to copy that.

COSTELLO: That's sadly true. Gregg McCrary, thanks so much for enlightening us this morning. We appreciate it.

MCCRARY: You are welcome.

COSTELLO: This hostage situation in Alabama brought back memories of a similar story almost 40 years ago, 26 children and their school bus driver were kidnapped in Southern California. They were all forced into a van. That was then buried in dirt, but they managed to escape 16 hours later.

CNN's Miguel Marquez sat down with one of the survivors and he joins us now live from Le Grand, California. Good morning, Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning there, Carol. We are actually in the bus that these 26 kids and that bus driver were taken hostage in 36 years ago in 1976. This bus has become a historical artifact in the Le Grand Chinchilla area.

I want to show you where we are because this is absolutely an amazing place. It's sort of a museum. The bright nursery here is basically a collection of not only this bus, but the history of this area.


MARQUEZ: This is the bus you were in, in 1976, when you and your friends were kidnapped.

JODI HEFFINGTON-MEDRANO, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: Right. MARQUEZ: What is it like to be inside of here?

MEDRANO: Well, it brings back all the memories.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Memories taking years to get over. Memories brought back to life watching a similar drama play out in Alabama at its center a little boy named Ethan.

MEDRANO: He needs a lot of love. He will need a lot of love and a lot of understanding.

MARQUEZ: Jody Heffington-Medrano knows just what 5-year-old Ethan went through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One by one they were herded into a hole in the ground.

MARQUEZ: Thirty six years ago, Jody and 26 others were kidnapped while on a school bus in California. They were forced into a moving van that was buried. They were being held for ransom, but after 16 hours managed to escape. Ethan's story --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have been holed up in an underground bunker --

MARQUEZ: -- brought it all back but worse.

MEDRANO: They saw their bus driver be shot. That's a traumatic thing. I didn't see anybody shot. In my dream, I did. I had a recurring nightmare for years.

MARQUEZ: Her heart goes out to bus driver, Charles Poland, who was shot and killed as he helped all but Ethan escape.

MEDRANO: He did it for those kids, though. He is a true hero. He saved all of those kids.

MARQUEZ: The driver of her bus in 1976 Edward Ray, a hulking but gentleman man, kept the kids safe through their ordeal. He died last year at 91 years old. Hundreds attended his funeral.

MEDRANO: If it wasn't for him, I don't know what any of us would have done. He was my hero, I know that. I loved him.

MARQUEZ: Two ordeals years and thousands of miles apart, two people traveling a similar road.


MARQUEZ: Now, this bus is certainly a piece of the history here. She thinks that that situation in Alabama will be with that young boy, Ethan, for the rest of his life and with that city and with that state.

The one thing she says she wishes she had done is she had talked about it more. She urges Ethan, the parents and everybody to talk about this as much as possible. She feels she would have gotten through it better if they had been allowed to speak about it right after it happened -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Miguel Marquez reporting live from Le Grand, California this morning. Fascinating story.

Republicans, they have a new message with a focus on reconnecting with voters, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia is presenting that today to a conservative think tank.

Just a few minutes ago, actually an hour ago, two hours ago, CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash talked with Cantor.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: What I think is that there is a lot of lessons to be learned from the last election. And you know, frankly there are a lot of moms and dads out there hurting right now. A lot of working people are having a struggle to get through the month. And many millions of Americans are out of work. I think what we need to do is focus on how we make life work for those people again.


COSTELLO: This new Republican agenda moves away from focusing on budget talks and slashing spending. It's going to focus on issues like education, health care and innovation. It's an effort to put the election in the past and turn the page with voters.

A House hearing gets underway this hour on Capitol Hill on immigration reform. It's the first hearing on immigration for the current Chamber of Congress. Last hour, I talked with the man who is chairing today's hearing, Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. He says his constituents are most concerned about border security.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I represent a conservative district and I broached this issue with them last week. Would you be open to a path to legal status whether that be citizenship or something else? And I was shocked, meeting with the most conservative folks in my district. They said if you can secure the border, give us employment verification and guarantee we don't have to go through this conversation again we will be open to it.


COSTELLO: President Obama meeting with two groups today about how immigration reform fits into his broader economic agenda. Next hour, he meets with labor leaders, union leaders at about 3:20. And then a little later this afternoon he will meet with business leaders as well.

Baltimore Ravens will proudly show off their Super Bowl trophy at their parade this morning not long after the team thought they lost it. The "Washington Post" reports they actually lost track of the Lombardi Trophy somewhere between the presentation and the team owner's party on Sunday night.

But rest assured, the security person had the trophy all along, and it managed to get back on the team plane to Baltimore. So they will have it during the big parade in the city today.

A bigger Super Bowl mystery lingers, why did the lights go out in New Orleans for 34 minutes? The New Orleans City Council called an emergency meeting of the council's utility committee for Friday to try to get to the bottom of it. CNN's John Zarrella reports on what we know and what we don't.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The night the lights went out at the Super Bowl is a story about, well, a few things, what went right, everyone remaining calm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never met so many people so hospitable.

ZARRELLA: What happened? CBS video from inside the stadium control room shows the Super Dome's "uh-oh" moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost lights. All right, we're going to manual override.

ZARRELLA: And then there is that head-scratching still unanswered question, what went wrong. Here's what we know, kind of. SMG, the company that owns and operates the Super Dome says the problem originated outside the stadium.

DOUG THORNTON, SUPERDOME/SMG: Truth is the interruption of service did not occur from inside the building. We did not receive the power from the Entergy from the substation.

ZARRELLA: Entergy, the utility company tweeted Sunday night that service to the stadium had not been interrupted. A spokesman said later --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The system worked the way it was supposed to work.

ZARRELLA: But in a statement to CNN Monday, Entergy says that until investigation is complete, any statements on possible causes of the outage are just speculation. There was speculation that Beyonce's power packed halftime show pulled too much power.

SMG says, no. Quote, "The halftime show was running on 100 percent generated power, which means it was not on our power grid at all." While we are still in the dark over what happened, pardon the pun, we do know this.

The delay lasted 34 minutes. The lights came back on and the Baltimore Ravens won, and a record 164 million people had more to talk about than just the final score.


COSTELLO: John Zarrella is live in New Orleans now. So any idea of when they hope to have the final answer as to why this thing happened?

ZARRELLA: Well, you know, Carol, you mentioned at the top they are going to have this emergency meeting of the utilities commission of the city council. And at that meeting on Friday, they are hoping to hear from both representatives of the Superdome, SMG and Entergy, the utility company, and we talked to the chairwoman a little while ago of the city council. She was telling us she really hoped that they would have the answers to what happened by then -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, John Zarrella, I am a little distracted because we just got word in about a U.S. skier, perhaps the greatest female skier in the entire world, we understand she has been air lifted to a hospital after what is being described as a serious crash according to the U.S. Ski and Snow Board Association.

The crash happened during the opening day of the Super G event at the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria. That is all we know. But as you know, Lindsay Von is spectacular skier. She won four world championships and won the gold medal in the 2010 Olympics. So our hearts go out to her, hopefully her injuries are not serious. When we get more information, we will pass it along. We will be right back.


COSTELLO: It's 15 minutes past the hour, time to take a look at top stories. We have new information for you about the Marine veteran accused of killing two other veterans in Texas, one a former military sniper.

Police say Eddie Ray Routh, the man you are looking at told them back in September he was suffering post traumatic stress disorder and was hurting. His family didn't understand what he was going through. He was then placed in protective custody for mental evaluation. He is now in a Texas jail facing murder charges.

Five Baltimore firefighters recovering this morning, they narrowly escaped serious injury while battling a four-alarm fire at a lumber company. Officials say the firefighters had just been ordered to evacuate when two floors of the building collapsed. No word on what started this fire.

NASA says an asteroid is speeding toward earth at more than 17,000 miles per hour, but they say no need to worry. Asteroid 2012, DA 14, is not going to strike us on February 15th. It will actually skirt by the earth.

But it will tug at our planet's gravitational field that will cause it to speed up more stargazers in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Australia may catch a glimpse of the rocky mass when it goes by. But it's unlikely we will be able to see it in the United States.

We are getting some encouraging news this morning in the fight against cancer, new data shows the racial gap for certain instances of the disease might be closing. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now. We are talking cancer rates among African- Americans.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So among African-Americans and whites cancer rates are going down, which is good. They seem to be going down a little bit faster for African- Americans, especially African-American men.

This is great news because this has been such an issue. So take a look at these numbers, when you look at the time period 2000 to 2009. African-American cancer death rates went down 2.4 percent. For white men they went down 1.7 percent. A small difference but a significant difference, it means that we are headed in the right direction.

COSTELLO: So why are we seeing these declines?

COHEN: You know, I talked to the author of the study. He said that he thinks it's mostly about smoking that African-American smoking rates went down at a faster rate than white male smoking rates during this time. So again, smoking and cancer, there you go.

COSTELLO: But just to be clear, African-Americans still get cancer at a higher rate than whites?

COHEN: That's absolutely true. So that's important to remember that if you are African-American, you are more likely to die of cancer than if you are white. The numbers are actually really, really large.

So for men, African-American men have 33 percent higher cancer death rates than white men. African-American women have 16 percent higher cancer death rates than white women. Those are still huge differences. But since we are seeing the African-American rates go down so quickly, in the years to come, maybe those will even out.

COSTELLO: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. For more on this story, you can visit

We are working on this breaking news story about Lindsey Vonn, the great American female skier, apparently injured in a skiing accident in Austria. John Meyer is on the phone. He is a sports columnist from the "Denver Post." He writes a weekly blog about Lindsey Vonn. John, do you know what happened?

JOHN MEYER, "DENVER POST" (via telephone): Yes. Mind you, I'm reporting to you from Denver, all I know is what I've seen on the Internet. By the way, I don't write the blog. I collaborate with her. It's her words.

But in any event, the world championships are going on in Austria right now. They are almost as big as the Olympics for these racers, they only happen every two years. This was a major race for her. It was the first race of the world championships in Super G.

She crashed badly. Now, I'm just looking going off a YouTube video. I'm no doctor and I want to be careful here. But, it looked like one of her knees buckled after she landed a jump and she crashed. And she was air lifted from the mountain.

Various ex-ski racers and such, current and former racers tweeted it didn't look good. That they are hoping she was OK. One report was that the finish area was very silent because everybody could see it was a bad crash.

Now, I want to be clear, I'm not saying that she is mortally injured or anything, but it did look like at the very least she is going to have a bad knee injury.

COSTELLO: We were looking at a picture. That was her being air lifted to a hospital. That's the picture you are looking at right now. Just the fact that she's being air lifted off the ski slopes to a hospital, what does that say to you, John?

MEYER: That is standard procedure, a lot of times, because these racers are on a mountain. And it's difficult to get them to an ambulance. It's standard procedure. For example, she was air lifted from the Olympics course in 2006, after a bad downhill training accident.

That one was just bumps and bruises no mental injuries. She raced a few days later. That is standard procedure in a case like this. But it would certainly appear there's a good chance her world championships are over, her season is over, and obviously that's a big deal, because this is a pre-Olympic year. There will be Olympics next year in Russia.

COSTELLO: She is so unbelievably good.

MEYER: Sorry?

COSTELLO: She's so unbelievably talented.

MEYER: Yes. And the other point that needs made is this was a very, very difficult season for her. She won her fourth world cup overall title last year, just ran away with it, almost broke the world cup record for points in a season, was the most dominant racer on the women's world cup.

This year she expected to have a season like that, but she got food poisoning early in this season. She missed a couple weeks of training. She tried to come back, won a couple of races, but found that her strengths and her energy was totally depleted, because of this illness, they put her in the hospital for a couple days.

She took three weeks off from the world cup to go back into training and get her strength back. She basically wrote off the possibility of winning the world cup overall this year because of the way she was racing and because of the races she missed.

But was hoping to sort of save her season with a big performance at the world championships going on now, where she would have been figured as a favorite to win two or three medals, probably gold.

COSTELLO: John Meyer, thanks so much. John Meyer, who helps Lindsey Vonn write a blog about skiing. Thank you for sharing that information. We appreciate it. We will be right back.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, should the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gays?

The Boy Scout oath, on my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the scout law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Duty to God, morally straight, easy to understand, right? Well, maybe it was back in 1910, when the Boy Scouts were founded, but I'm willing to bet duty to God and morally straight are more complicated in 2013.

Gay adults, gay children didn't dare reveal themselves a century, even a generation ago. They feared ridicule or worse. Now the Boy Scouts of America is deciding whether to lift the ban on gay scout leaders and gay scouts.


GREG BOURKE, FORMER ASSISTANT SCOUTMASTER: Decades of being out of the closet, the Boy Scouts of America forced me back into the closet, with its "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. I pose no harm to anyone. I passed all of their background checks. I go to church every Sunday with my family. Lord knows we are philanthropic, I just don't know what else they want from us.


COSTELLO: That former assistant scout master and others delivered what they say are 1.4 million signatures to the Boy Scouts of America urging it to lift the ban. Despite the support it will be difficult. The Boy Scouts are backed by churches and other religious organizations, who fear gays, especially gay adults are not morally straight, but dangerous and parents should be worried.


PETER SPRIGG, SENIOR FELLOW, FAMILY RESEARCH CENTER: They have a right to protection their children from being exposed to the topic prematurely. And they have a right to protect their children from the potential risk of child sexual abuse at the hands of men who might be attracted to other males.


COSTELLO: It is important to note according to the American psychological association, gays are not any more likely to molest kids than straight men. And like it or not, children are exposed to gay people every day. Ever watch "Modern Family" or Ellen or hear NFL players speak out for same sex marriage? The world is changing.

The question now, will the Boy Scouts change with it? Talk Back question today: Should the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gays? or tweet me @CarolCNN.