Return to Transcripts main page


Pistorius Seeks Bail Ahead of Murder Trial; Mindy McCready's Violent End; Country Star's Descent Into Darkness; Mindy McCready's Celebrity Rehab Attempt; Obama's Guys Weekend

Aired February 18, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, country superstar Mindy McCready found dead at age 37. Dr. Drew talked to her just 10 days ago. We asked him if anyone could have saved her.

Plus we're learning more about what happened on the night an Olympian's girlfriend was shot and killed. And we speak to one of the couple's closest friends about their relationship.

And the president has a guys' weekend. So why are some people all hot and bothered about it? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, suicide of a music star. Authorities believe country singer Mindy McCready shot herself late yesterday on the front porch of her home in Arkansas. The violent end came as a little surprise to some of her friends.

They were close to her turbulent life. Early success was followed by a lot of struggles. Her 37 years full of suicide attempts, custody battles, substance abuse even an appearance on a "Celebrity Rehab" TV show. We'll have more on that in a moment.

McCready's boyfriend died just a few weeks ago on the same porch where her body was found, also an apparent suicide. Yesterday, she shot his dog before she killed herself. With all the warning signs, comes a crucial question, could anyone have saved her?

A question so relevant for so many around this country who suffer from substance abuse. Ed Lavandera is in Heber Springs, Arkansas where police are trying to piece together her final days.

Now, Ed, obviously she had recently sought help, psychiatric help after the death of her boyfriend, but then she left that psychiatric facility. Have authorities pieced together what happened between then until yesterday?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, a lot of that is going on, but what is interesting is that she was sent to this mental institution for some brief time recently, but it was at the behest of her father who petitioned prosecutors here in this county in Arkansas after erratic behavior and her mood had changed quite dramatically after the death of her boyfriend back in mid-January.

It was actually her father who asked prosecutors here to have her commissioned and sent to that mental institution. Obviously, she didn't stay there very long. She had gotten out in recent days. So a lot of those details, the extent of all that is clear, but the behavior was erratic.

That is what spurred the judge to have her sent away to this mental institution, and the father of her first child had actually reignited custody -- tried to regain custody of their oldest son, saying that they believed the child was in danger because of her behavior, and they didn't trust her being around that child. Those children tonight are now in foster care.

BURNETT: Amazing when you say that. We have been talking so much about how little parents and loved ones can do when we're trying to have someone institutionalized to try to help them. It sounds like you're saying this family had gone through the same struggle. But her sons are in foster care? Not with anyone they know or with the family?

LAVANDERA: It doesn't appear that way. You know, the laws here in Arkansas are, keep a lot of this stuff private. So it's very hard to get any kind of public information. We know that the children are in what a representative of Mindy McCready says is in a loving situation with families that are taking care of the two boys who are 6 years old and 10 months old.

BURNETT: Now a lot of people today have been talking about the dog and the fact that she shot the dog before she killed herself. What do you know about that?

LAVANDERA: Well, there were, according to the sheriff here, it was a neighbor who fist called 911 and reported hearing two gunshots. Then right after that, they say they got another phone call from a friend of Mindy McCready's who said they got an urgent message from a family member who said there was something urgent in nature and they need to race out to the house.

When they got there, they found McCready's body, as you mentioned, on that same porch where David Wilson, her boyfriend was found dead back in mid-January, and next to her body was the dog.

And the sheriff says this was a dog that David Wilson and her had gotten just after they had moved here in November of 2011. But, Erin, what is also very interesting, we spoke to the sheriff about this, is that the case around David Wilson, her boyfriend, is still a, quote, "open investigation."

It has been reported that it was a suicide, but the sheriff here says that they're still looking into it. We talked to him about that earlier today.


MINDY MCCREADY: My God, no. My God, no. He was my life. We were each other's lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you 100 percent believe that David killed himself?

MCCREADY: I -- I don't know.

MARTY MOSS, CLEBURNE COUNTY SHERIFF: We're currently still gathering information in regards to Mr. Wilson's case and the Ms. McCready case. When we're able to lay all of that out there, we will do so at that time.


LAVANDERA: And Erin, that first interview you heard there with Mindy McCready was an interview that she had done with the NBC "Today" show just a few weeks ago. And point blank she was asked if she had anything to do with David Wilson's death, and that -- my God, no, was -- that was the reaction to that question -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, reporting from Arkansas tonight.

Mindy McCready's troubles were laid bear on national TV on Dr. Drew Pinsky's "Celebrity Rehab" reality show in 2010. Now the show followed troubled celebrities as they underwent treatment for addiction.

Dr. Drew is OUTFRONT tonight with insight into the troubles of this talented singer. Dr. Drew, I know it was no secret that Mindy McCready had some problems and she was on the edge, but what did you think when you heard that she had apparently killed herself?

DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW": I was -- I was sickened and I was sad. The reality is I had spoken to her about 10 days prior. I knew she was in trouble. Her friends had reached out to me to speak with her. She was doing well until the death of her boyfriend.

When he apparently killed himself, she unravelled, was really struggling. When I spoke to her, she agreed finally that she needed to go into the hospital, need to take care of herself, but she was absolutely preoccupied and mortified with how people would perceive her, judge her, would law enforcement consider her more of a suspect if she got hospitalized.

There are all of these spurious concerns she put ahead of her own health. She eventually did go and then left after just 24 hours. But if she had stayed in the hospital, she would be with us today.

BURNETT: Wow. Do you think is that -- I mean, I'm thinking, you know, on her web site last year, she wrote something I wanted to read, I don't know really that stood to me. She said I spent my fortune, tarnished my public view, made myself the brunt of punch line after punch line. I have been beaten, sued, robbed, arrested, jailed, and districted.

But I'm still here with a handful of people that I know and trust, a revived determination, and both middle fingers in the air. I'm ready. I've been here before. I'm a fighter, I'm down, but I'll never be out. Then her boyfriend died and she sought help and left. But do you think that this was avoidable? PINSKY: It was treatable, absolutely. There's no doubt -- she had suicidal thinking and gestures before. The problem here is it was really a one-two punch. She was shattered -- things had been going well, shattered by the death of her boyfriend.

Then she lost custody of her children. Released from a hospital prematurely, you add to that mix accessibility of firearms. Apparently, the boyfriend was a bit of a firearm enthusiast. They were easily accessible, and that was that.

BURNETT: You know, the "Celebrity Rehab" show itself, I know that you did it to try to make a difference and help these people. There has been some criticism. Today, James Hibbert from "Entertainment Weekly" wrote, I'll quote him, "The series seemingly wanted to give viewers insight into how serious addiction is, and emphasize the importance of seeking treatment.

Yet putting any subject into the VH1 reality machine makes it harder to take seriously. It's now entertainment and if viewers couldn't watch Dr. Drew's show with a straight face, you have to wonder whether the celebrities seeking treatment could take it seriously either." Did you ever had second thoughts?

PINSKY: We worry, of course. Nothing different in treatment that we do in our customary care, Bob and Shelly and the team we put together. This was a documentary. We worried that the cameras would adversely affect people. We always worry about that, but we were treating people with advanced addiction.

Their prognosis was the same as many cancer patients. They have a poor prognosis. I believe those that are not actively engaged in treatment now still are in harm's way. There are still potentially fatalities ahead. That's a warning to anybody with addiction.

It's not about conquering some disease. The way we even talk about the disease is wrong. That's an enrolment process to get people to sustain and maintain their treatment on a daily basis, those that don't have a fatal illness and are in harm's way.

BURNETT: And McCready is the fifth death of people who have been on "Celebrity Rehab" out of 43 people. Do you think -- did you just indicate you think there could be more?

PINSKY: If there are people -- we were treating severe addicts. Those who are not engage in treatment now, they are in danger. They are. This is the nature of this condition. Listen, if we were doing a show about cancer, we would not be a talking about whether or not there were fatalities.

You would anticipate them, and the prognosis is the same. By the same token, we would not stigmatize people for taking care of themselves, for being re-hospitalized. We have a tumor reoccurred after a couple of years, we would applaud them for going and getting treatment, fighting the good fight.

Having the courage to face their disease and yet in this disease, we look back and go they're weak, they didn't get it. They didn't conquer it. The reality is we need to begin treating diseases above the head the same as we treat those below.

Above the neck, rather, and below the neck, they're no different. Brain diseases are dangerous, and they need chronic ongoing care.

BURNETT: All right, Dr. Drew, thank you very much.

PINSKY: Appreciate it.

BURNETT: Dr. Drew will have more on McCready's death tonight on his show, "Dr. Drew On Call," that's at 9:00 Eastern on HLN.

Still OUTFRONT, new details in the death of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend of blade runner, Oscar Pistorius. A cricket bat, an overnight bag, and a bullet-ridden door. We talk to one of his closest friends.

Plus, CNN has exclusive video of President Obama's guys' weekend. Exclusive video that's all I'm going to tell you.

And the world's largest yacht docks in New York City. We're going to show you what $1.5 billion looks like up close.


BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, guys weekend. President Obama is catching a lot of flak for his off the record weekend with his buddies, which included a golf round with Tiger Woods. A round the press, by the way, was blocked from seeing.

Today though, CNN was able to get this grainy long distance footage of the president playing golf, sort of like the paparazzi trying to get Kate Middleton's baby bump. We got it.

The White House Press Corps expressed, quote, "extreme frustration" over the lack of access to the president throughout the rest of his holiday weekend. We understand if you cover the president and you can't see him, you have nothing to cover.

But I'm in the camp that even the leader of the free world deserves a break, especially from the constantly nagging press every once in a while. That is so long as the secret weekend events don't get out of control, you know, hang over style.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened last night?


BURNETT: Another kind of tiger. Reihan Salam is with me, CNN contributor, writer for the "National Review" along with Rosa Brooks, former deputy assistant secretary of defense from the Obama administration. Great to see both of you. Tiger Woods, part of the problem? REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, the White House was happy to release photographs of President Obama with President Clinton. They were very happy to release photographs of President Obama palling around with John Boehner. So, why not --

BURNETT: All on the golf course?

SALAM: All on the golf course. Why not a photograph of President Obama with notorious philanderer Tiger Woods? Now not to be unfair, but the guy has an inspiring story -

BURNETT: It doesn't really set the tone you want for your guys' weekend.

SALAM: Exactly. But again, why? Because it's an instant 30-second ad. The president is palling around with Tiger Woods while the country remains mired in an economic morass. It's very straightforward, and I think the public deserves the right to these photographs.

BURNETT: Rosa, let me ask you. The president of the White House Correspondents Association, Ed Henry, issued this statement. "A broad cross section of our members with print, radio, online, and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to having absolutely no access to the president this entire weekend. There's a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead, transparency." Does the press deserve more?

ROSA BROOKS, COLUMNIST, FOREIGN POLICY : Oh my goodness. Every American has a right to know President Obama's golf score. I think that's a principle worth dying for. I think this is ridiculous. I assume President Obama didn't want reporters there because maybe his golf score isn't that great.

BURNETT: Well, that shot we got today didn't look like his best shot. He's probably not happy we got that particular one. He's supposed to be actually a really good golfer.

What about Reihan's point, that there were pictures with Tiger Woods before the Tiger woods - you know, pre-Tiger Woods incident, but maybe he doesn't want to be seen with Tiger Woods on a guys weekend?

BROOKS: It's possible, but maybe he just wants people to mind their own business for two short days out of eight years. I don't think that's such a crime. Think about what it would be like to have cameras after you everywhere. President Obama does not actually take a lot of vacations relative to most presidents. So I don't think -- I think we should give the poor guy a break here.

BURNETT: I don't begrudge him a day off. I've got to say that, Reihan. And I -- don't at all. Part of it is you sign up to be president of the United States. That means you have a photographer with you everywhere you go. You really never are alone. You just aren't.

SALAM: I think that's a totally legitimate point. But there's another angle. If Tiger Woods was not a part of this, what would the weekend have been? It would be a weekend of President Obama with his friends. And lo and behold, a lot of those friends are millionaire Democratic donors.

Here's my thing. I'm disappointed that the press corps does not pay attention when a figure like Tiger Woods is not involved. Look at who the president is spending his time with. Again, I have no problem with his friends from Chicago, his friends from back in Hyde Park. That's totally legitimate. Everyone needs to be sane. They need a work-life balance.

But when you climb to the top of that greasy pole of politics, the people you wind up spending time with --

BURNETT: What an amazing image for a guy's weekend.

SALAM: -- they tend to be donors, and I think that's something the press corps ought to know about, I think we ought to report about. Even when a celebrity happens not to be present.

BURNETT: Rosa, is he embarrassed about his one percent world?

BROOKS: I think that's absolutely right. I think we should be reporting on the sickening influence of money in politics, but I also think that is unfortunately the world we live in. If you are a successful national-level politician, you can't afford to hang out with people who aren't going to give you money. And our Supreme Court has helped made that possible, has helped make that the situation we're in right now. So, I don't quite know what to do about that. I don't know -- it's certainly not unique to President Obama. That's a disease that afflicted politicians across the political spectrum.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to both of you.

SALAM: Thank you.

BURNETT: And all of your smart points aside, I say the guy can get a day off. He can have a guys weekend even though he's the president.

All right. Still to come, today, officials announced what caused the fire that crippled the Carnival Cruise Triumph and turned it into a floating nightmare. We have that reason that we've been waiting for.

And it's not pennies from heaven, but what the meteor left behind could mean big, big, big bucks.


BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, a galactic gold rush. The meteor that exploded over Russia last week left behind some destruction. Thousands of people were injured, there were piles of broken glass, windows were blown out, and the pictures were incredible. But it also left behind and unknown number of tiny meteorites which might be 40 times more valuable than gold.

Phil Black is in the Ural Mountains where professionals and amateurs prospectors alike for all looking for a piece of the pie. PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, scientists say this was the point of impact. They say this is where part of that meteor slammed through the ice of this frozen lake. They have been searching this area. And they say around here, they have found 53 separate small fragments of that meteorite.

They believe there could be bigger pieces beneath the ice, beneath the water on the bottom of this lake. The ice here is really thick. This lake is frozen for about six months of the year. But locals say that the impact created a huge explosion of ice and snow high up into the air and a big steam cloud as well. Up on the surface here, scientists have been combing this whole area, so although fragments have been found on the surface, a bigger mystery remains, what lies beneath the ice?

Scientists are pretty sure there are even bigger fragments now sitting beneath the ice, beneath ten meters of water on the bottom of this lake. Some divers have been in to see what they could find, but they said it was very silty, visibility was poor, they found nothing. But they're going to try again in the spring when the snow and ice melts, and scientists believe that will be the best time to find any fragments that made it to the surface. Not just here at the lake, but across the vast, snow-covered Siberian wilderness. Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you, Phil. OUTFRONT next, she's known Olympian Oscar Pistorius for more than six years. A friend of Pistorius talks about him and his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp next.

And Burger King is fond of saying have it your way. Well, some hackers have taken that to heart.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about where we focus on reporting from the front lines. And we begin with gas prices. They're going up. According to AAA, prizes have risen for 32 days running. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is now $3.73. The highest prices in California, where prices have gone as high as 15 -- $5.19 a gallon.

Greg Liskoski of tells us that one of the problems is refineries are in transition. They basically have a special blend of winter gasoline, and then they have to make summer blend. The refineries have to shut down to make that switch. They perform maintenance in that time. All that means less output.

Well, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has announced he's back home. He was being treated for cancer in Cuba for ten weeks. He has not been seen in public since June. Expert Javier Carrales of Amherst College tells us the return was a surprise and creates a problem for Chavez's opposition. Because he says, look, they have been pushing for more clarity on the president's health. But now that he's back, they have to be more careful about how they speak out against him because they don't want to be viewed as attacking a sick man.

A group of U.S. lawmakers have gone to Mali to meet with the interim president and military officials there. Among them, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who told reporters if the country could fully restore democracy, it's likely the United States would renew direct support for the Malian army. I spoke to Senator Coons last month about Mali, and he said he wants the United States to invest in building relationships in Africa that will increase stability so we don't have a repeat of what's happened in Mali. A man pushing for greater engagement there.

And Burger King's Twitter account was hacked today. The hackers took control of the account for just over an hour. They changed the name of the logo to McDonald's and sent out some very un-King-like tweets.

So, with its statement to OUTFRONT, Burger King acknowledged the hacks and apologized to its followers. But, in case you were wondering about the ham-burglars whereabouts, McDonald's did take to Twitter, of course, saying they empathize with their counterparts, but they had nothing to do with that hack.

But the bottom line is, I got to say, I give this win to Burger King. They picked up nearly 30,000 followers on their Twitter account. Hard to think what good press could possibly have caused that.

It's been 564 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, we're going to get some key housing data this week. Lately on that front, we have seen strong numbers, so economists are going to look to see if that trend continues.

And now our fourth story OUTFRONT, the "Blade Runner" murder case. In just a few hours, Olympian Oscar Pistorius will return to his South African courtroom for a bail hearing. We're likely to learn new details about the death of Pistorius' girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who will be buried tomorrow.

Already, a South African official familiar with the case tells CNN Steenkamp was shot four times through a bathroom door on Valentine's Day.

CNN's Robyn Curnow is OUTFRONT in Johannesburg with the latest.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A beautiful girl, a beach, and a reality TV show which showed contestant Reeva Steenkamp's romantic side.

REEVA STEENKAMP, MODEL: You fall in love with being in love with love.

CURNOW: She died just days before this aired and it will continue to run on South African television for the next nine weeks.

Meanwhile, her boyfriend, the double amputee and Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius spent the past few days in this jail, charged with her murder. A charge strongly denied by Pistorius and his family. This is his uncle, flanked by his sister who struggled to keep herself together as they make a brief statement to media.

ARNOLD PISTORIUS, PISTORIUS' UNCLE: As you can imagine, our entire family is devastated. We are in a state of total shock.

CURNOW: Investigators who have been combing through his home and his high security complex are starting to piece together what they think happened early on Valentine's Day. It was in this bedroom that Steenkamp may have expected to spend the night. According to an official close to the investigation, her overnight bag and an iPad were found in here.

Pistorius invited CNN to his room in 2008 when these pictures were taken, and CNN is also being told that Steenkamp was shot four times through a bathroom door, and authorities say afterwards, Pistorius carried her down these stairs while she was still alive.

Questions still remain over reports of a bloodied cricket bat found at the scene. Was it used to attack Steenkamp? Did she use it to defend herself? Or did Oscar use it to break down the bathroom door after the shooting?

And there are reports by the local media that police had found steroids at the house which authorities have not commented on to CNN.

As the legal process now begins against the man known as "Blade Runner", all of Oscar's future races have been canceled. He was scheduled to run in Australia, Brazil, the U.S., the U.K., and Russia.

And while Pistorius is in court on Tuesday for a bail hearing, Reeva's family says there'll be a memorial service for her as producers of her reality show released this farewell message from her, meant to be to the cast, but which now becomes her last words, her last goodbye.

STEENKAMP: I take home with me so many amazing memories and things that are in here and in here that I will treasure forever. I'm going to miss you all so much. And I love you very, very much.

CURNOW (on camera): Imagine how difficult that must have been for her family and friends to watch.

Erin, back to you.


BURNETT: This case has left those who were closest to Oscar Pistorius in a state of total shock.

And joining me now is a close friend of Oscar's, model Vanessa Haywood.

And, Vanessa, thank you for taking the time. I know you have known Oscar for a long time, 6 1/2 years. You have seen the same reports we have now, saying that he had a controlling temper, perhaps towards women that he dated. Is that at all the man that you knew? VANESSA HAYWOOD, FRIEND OF OSCAR PISTORIUS: No, not at all. I have known him for many years, as you said, and I have never seen him show an angry side. I have never seen him lose his temper. And it's just -- he's an incredibly kind and gentle human being. That's the way I know him.

BURNETT: One of his ex-girlfriends, Jenna Edkins, she tweeted something sort of along the lines you're saying. She said, here's her tweet, I'll read it, "I would just like to say I have dated Oscar on and off for five years. Not once has he ever lifted a finger to me or made me fear for my life."

But, of course, South African police say they had previously responded to calls from Pistorius' home for allegations of a, quote/unquote, "domestic nature."

Did you ever see a dark side of him?

HAYWOOD: I really didn't. And I'd like to clear up that domestic call that I think the police are referring to. It was a few years ago, actually, I wasn't there. He had a party at his home, and there was alcohol involved, and he had asked a girl to leave his home. And as she left, he slammed the door, and the door apparently hit her leg, and she called the police. And a case of abuse was led against him, and charges were never pressed.

BURNETT: Vanessa, can you talk a little about what you know about Oscar's relationship with guns? Back in 2011, he had tweeted a picture of himself at a shooting range, and there are also reports that he kept a gun by his bed. Some people said he had an arsenal of guns.

Is that true?

HAYWOOD: As far as I know, he only had the one handgun, which I know he kept only for protection. I think, being disabled, he sometimes felt unsafe and felt the need to keep a gun for safety. I mean, South Africa isn't the safest place in the world at times. A lot of people keep handguns for protection.

BURNETT: One motive out there is that Oscar had confused Reeva with an intruder, and that may have been why he shot her. Police are saying that did not -- that theory did not come from them. But back in November, Oscar tweeted, "Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking it's an intruder, to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry."

Was he concerned about his personal safety?

HAYWOOD: I don't think it was something he consciously felt every single day. He's got a funny side. I think the tweet has been taken really literally now because of the situation.

BURNETT: There are reports also, Vanessa, that Reeva was still also close to an ex-boyfriend, who was a South African rugby player, who was also friends with Oscar. And some people are saying that relationship could have played a part in why Oscar was perhaps jealous.

Obviously, it's incredibly difficult to know if any of this is true at this point, but do you know about this relationship?

HAYWOOD: Yes, the relationship that you're referring to is with Francois Hougaard. He's also a personal friend of mine. As far as I know, there was, you know, there were no altercations going on. They were still friends.

BURNETT: Now, Vanessa, the big question here, and of course, the tough one, obviously, you have a lot of good words to say about Oscar Pistorius, but do you think that he intentionally killed Reeva or not?

HAYWOOD: I really, really have no idea. I mean, that would be speculating. And I would like to think he didn't. I can't fathom how he did because I'm so far removed from -- it's so far removed from the incident that happened and the Oscar that I know who is just this really sweet guy.

BURNETT: Well, Vanessa, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

HAYWOOD: It's a pleasure.

BURNETT: And now, I want to bring in four-time Olympic medal winner Ato Boldon. He was a commentator at the Olympic Games and a key advocate for Oscar when he was fighting to become eligible for the Olympics in 2012 with that incredible feat that he performed.

Ato, you just heard Vanessa say she had never seen Oscar lose his temper. She has known him for six and a half years. You spent a lot of time with him in the close-knit community of runners.

Have you met anybody who is not surprised by the news we've had over the past few days?

ATO BOLDON, FOUR-TIME OLYMPIC MEDAL WINNER: I have not met a single person. Everybody who has ever had any sort of interaction with Oscar Pistorius over the past four or five years is in absolute amazement to see what's going on in Pretoria, South Africa, this week.

BURNETT: During the London Games, Oscar's roommate told a reporter he was forced to move out because, quote, "Oscar was constantly screaming in anger at people on the phone."

You were at the Olympic Games. Did you hear about that?

BOLDON: At both the Paralympic Games, after the Summer Olympic Games, as well as during the Summer Olympics, we were getting tidbits of, you know, Oscar has this side to him where he was a little bit of a temper. But, you know, my thinking with that is that the Olympics and the Paralympics, obviously, are a time in which an athlete, this is everything they have worked for, for four years. And as somebody who has been through that Olympic pressure cooker, I know what it's like to be in that situation where, you know, just about anything can set you off. So, I didn't see -- I didn't see that as anything noteworthy by Oscar.

BURNETT: All right. Not something that was unusual or allure (ph)?


BURNETT: Did he ever talk to you about his disability? You know, Vanessa and I talked a little bit further about it, and she said he never talked to her about it. That in her view, he did not perceive himself as even having a disability. And there's people try to understand what frustrations he may have had, or motivations he may have had, or jealousies he may have had. Did he ever talk to you about the disability?

BOLDON: Not once have I ever talked to Oscar and gotten the sense that he felt any what -- you know, any bit -- the least bit unlucky as to how his life had turned out. In fact, some of the last, you know, conversations back and forth on social media I had with him is that he was enjoying his new sports car. Him and his buddies had just come back off a fantastic vacation.

I think part of what has been so difficult for me to wrap my mind around what is going on is that this is a young man who was literally, you know, on his -- in terms of his 26 years on Earth, he literally was coming off the best year of his life. So, it's very, very difficult for me to see how he could have possibly been involved in this.

BURNETT: Do you ever have any conversation with him about relationships or girls at all?

BOLDON: No, never a conversation about it. You know, I have had to kind of decide that for me, and for a lot of people who interact with him at work, it's sort of a selfish shock if you're shocked about the events that he's alleged to have done because you feel like you know him, but the reality is you know him at work. And very few people are the same at work as they are at home, and even worse, in an intimate relationship.

So I have kind of resolved that, you know what, I knew Oscar pretty well at work, when I interviewed him and watched him do his thing at work. But it's not the same as somebody in an intimate relationship.

BURNETT: No, that's a really fair point.

Now, there are reports out of London that sources close to the investigation say police found steroids inside Pistorius' home. According to these reports, they're looking into whether Oscar may have killed his girlfriend Reeva in an episode of so-called "steroid rage" or called "roid rage".

Have you heard rumors that Oscar could have used steroids?

BOLDON: Not at all. That sound to me like a little bit of tabloids creating this. I would be very, very surprised. Regardless of what else ends up being the outcome of the case, I would be very surprised to hear that Oscar Pistorius had anything remotely resembling performance-enhancing drugs in his house, because I just feel like if you know the guy, especially on the track, that's something that I feel like he would have been -- he would have been loathe to jeopardize where he had --


BOLDON: -- what he had been able to arrive do by using that.

BURNETT: You know, Ato, the difficulty in this whole story, and there are so many details still to be worked out, but it's reported that he shot her four times and may have hit her with a baseball bat. They're trying to figure out whose blood it was on the bat.

But if it comes out he did this in a cold-blooded murder, you know, you're saying a lot of positive things about him, and that's your impression of him. But how will you come to terms with that and rationalize that if indeed it turns out he did this?

BOLDON: Well, I am a firm believer that athletes and guns are never a good mix. So that would be my first thing. The second thing is --

BURNETT: Why is that, because they're more focused?

BOLDON: As I said before -- I just feel like every time we see a situation where there's an athlete and a gun, there's more harm being done than good. And it seems like recently, we have been trying to shoot the messenger in terms of Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock who have echoed very similar sentiments.

I have been a pro-athlete and I can tell you, we are wired differently and we tend to fly off the handle. Not saying this is the case here, but I'm saying that, you know, I just feel like something such as a firearm, just has no place anywhere around a professional athlete. But I will rationalize this by the fact that, you know what, Oscar Pistorius is a guy who everybody thought they knew, and he had obviously a very bad night and he snapped if it comes out that what he is alleged to have done, he did do.

BURNETT: All right. Ato, thank you very much for taking the time. We'll talk to you soon.

And OUTFRONT next, what caused the fire that turned a pleasure cruise it to a trip from hell? Today, we got the answer.

And a big idea hidden in plain sight.

Plus, the biggest yacht in the world.


BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Fueling the fire of Triumph. Today, the Coast Guard said a fuel leak sparked a fire that stranded more than 4,200 people and crew at sea for five days last week aboard the Carnival cruise ship Triumph.

The ship was on the third day of a four-day cruise from Galveston to Mexico. The fire broke out Sunday morning, knocked out electricity. The Triumph was eventually towed into port in Mobile, Alabama, Thursday night.

Sandra Endo is in Washington.

And, Sandra, I mean -- so now we know what caused the fire, but it still did so much damage, taking out all bit one generator. And, you know, I've been told those generators were each the size of a bus. So, it's not really easy to do with a small fire, passengers said there was smoke in their halls and in the rooms.

Did authorities give any answers as to why the fire was able to cause such significant damage?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, investigators say, even a small fire could have huge consequences. In its preliminary findings today, the Coast Guard said the engine fire was actually contained to a fairly small area and the crew did a good job in putting it out. The Coast Guard commander said they're looking into why the ship was inoperable even though some backup systems were working.

And we have covered the story since it all broke last Sunday, and maritime experts we have to say sometimes it's actually unsafe to start up secondary systems because of possible damage caused by the fire, which could spark other problems down the road.

So, in many cases, as a precautionary measure, the systems have to be shut off. Again, it doesn't have to be a big fire to disable a ship that size, Erin.

BURNETT: And, of course, we're still waiting for answers as to whether an earlier issue with a propulsion system that had delayed the cruise prior to this one, was it in any way related? I know Carnival has said it isn't. But a lot of people are asking that question as well.

Sandra, do you have any indication as to when they're going to get more answers, particularly in whether there will be a who in terms of who bears responsibility for this disaster?

ENDO: Yes, that's a good question. And we're finding out more tonight. The Coast Guard actually ruled out as the leak as something that was caused intentionally. Now, this fuel hose that was leaking is something that is routinely inspected. So, they're going to go over inspection records, and Carnival said the last time it was inspected was November 15th of last year, and the condition of that hose is certainly something they're really going to look into.

And the Coast Guard says already, they've interviewed 22 passengers and crew members on board that ship, and investigators will wrap up their interview some time tomorrow, and they expect to finish all of their onsite work by the end of the week. But, Erin, these things take a lot of time. They say it won't be until months for everything to come together.

And, again, these are just preliminary findings of the cause of the fire right now. There's still a lot they have to piece together.

BURNETT: All right. And a lot of questions that those passengers and anyone who wants to take a cruise demands answers to.

Thanks very much to Sandra.


BURNETT: It took three decades before a duck-hunter-turned- entrepreneur asked himself why he was wearing camouflage designed for hunting deer. It turns out his idea was hidden in plain sight.


STEVE MALONEY, INVENTOR, MUDDY WATER CAMO: Hello, water. Don't you want water in your camouflage?

BURNETT (voice-over): Steve Maloney is an obsessed duck hunter. He spent more than 30 years wading through marshes, including his wedding day.

MALONEY: I actually went duck hunting on my wedding day, I sure did.

BURNETT: Maloney spent years searching for a camo pattern that resembled the marshes and the fields he waded through to hunt ducks, but it didn't exist. Everything was geared towards deer hunters.

So about six years ago, Maloney called up award winning wildlife photographer Stephen Kirkpatrick and asked him what he thought about creating a camo pattern of their own?

STEPHEN KIRKPATRICK, PARTNER, MUDDY WATER CAMO: I was like, duh. I mean, you know, how come I didn't think of that?

BURNETT: The two friends struck a deal, knowing they had an idea that was one of a kind, but a funny thing happened on the way to the duck hunt.

MALONEY: That looked terrible. Get back into the truck.

KIRKPATRICK: I almost cried right there. It was awful, past awful.

BURNETT: Licking their wounds, the guys went back to the drawing boards, and four years, 1,059 photographs, 103 pattern drafts and redrafts later, Muddy Water Camo was born.

MALONEY: Pretty much everything out there looks like cartoons, when you show somebody high definition television when they have been watching cartoons, 99.9 percent of them are going to agree it's a better image. And that's what we found.

BURNETT: But getting the idea to market was a whole other issue for the guys. No one would give them the time of day until Maloney came up with gimmick to get his foot in the door.

MALONEY: I would tell them, look, if it was around lunch time, I said, if I don't show you the best camouflage you have seen in your life, I'll buy everyone lunch.

And so they're like, come on. We're hungry.

So, they would take a look at it. This happened every single time. They would take a look at it and you would see this frown on their face, because they were like, you got me. You don't have to buy lunch.

BURNETT: Maloney never did have to buy anyone lunch. And today, Muddy Water Camo is the most detailed, realistic, that bird's a goner camo on the market, distributed to over 80 retailers in 21 states.

KIRKPATRICK: We've raised the standard, obviously. We raised the standard. We know we have been seen, and we're just -- we're just continuing to make a big splash.


BURNETT: Now, let's check in with Wolf Blitzer. He's in for Anderson Cooper, with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360." Hey, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, we've got some breaking news that we're following on "360." What pushed the shooter to pull the trigger at the Sandy Hook Elementary School? Shockingly, tonight, we're learning it may have been a sick competition with another mass murder. CBS News broke the news, the details ahead.

Also, a "360" exclusive. The explosive allegations against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. CNN's Drew Griffin is on the ground. He's reporting on the source of the damaging allegations by an anonymous source. We're keeping them honest.

Those stories and the tragic story behind President Obama's speech on gun control in Chicago, just hours later, someone in this photo lost a loved one in the shooting.

All that and a lot more coming up at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Wolf, see you in just a few moments.

And up next, an eclipse we just had to see up close. Look at that thing.


BURNETT: New York City is no stranger to big ships -- cruises, luxury yachts, and the USS Intrepid are all docked along Manhattan's west side. The site is a popular attraction for tourists visiting the city, or at least it was, because now they're all being ignored while everyone watches the Eclipse.

The Eclipse is a 557-foot luxury yacht that arrived in New York City last week. It is the biggest private yacht on planet earth. And it includes nine decks, 30 huge cabins, two helipads, swimming pools, a luxury spa, and its own submarine.

It also has a military grade missile defense system, armor plating, and bullet-proof windows.

It's the pride and joy of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who paid $1.5 billion for it.,

Which brings me to tonight's number: $14.6 billion. That is Roman Abramovich's estimated worth, which is actually only good for 59 on the list of richest people in the world. But, Roman, he loves boats. Sure, he owned London's Chelsea football club and a $250 million art collection and he has a beautiful and stylish girlfriend.

But in addition to the Eclipse, he also owned three other mega-yachts that are all over 150 feet long.

All told, he has shelled out $2 billion for really fancy modes of water transportation. And he's still paying. The annual cost for keeping the Eclipse afloat is reportedly $15 (ph) million a year. And a tank of fuel, well, looks like that's about $650,000 per tank. That's the estimate we saw.

Hey, Roman, if you're watching, how about a tour? I want to see this boat from the inside. I promise I won't wear shoes, I won't touch anything. I won't bring soda or chocolate on board. I won't dive in your pool and flew with my hairspray. I just want to see it.

And all of you who like us were flabbergasted by boat, if you had $1.5 billion, what would you do with it? Let me know on Twitter.

Thanks for watching.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.