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Police: Ex-Boxer May Be Serial Killer; Kidnapped Boys May Be on Boat in Gulf; Remembering Roger Ebert

Aired April 8, 2013 - 14:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. I don't know if we have the sound, but we do have Sunny Hostin. Sunny Hostin, let me actually just bring you in because, you know, Casey was mentioning a case from the late '70s.

When you look at the rap sheet, there was a case in the mid'80s where he was acquitted of killing a disabled woman in Florida. I mean, you're a former federal prosecutor, you know the law pretty well, Sunny Hostin. Have you ever heard of something like this, this extreme?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I haven't heard of something this extreme, but I certainly have heard of these kinds of cold cases and these kinds of folks, sort of not being apprehended sooner. I think Casey pointed to what has been the issue in this particular case, one, the advances in forensics science.

We're talking about a whole new world when it comes to the advances in DNA evidence that we just didn't have back then. So it was almost impossible to sort of tie him to a lot of these crimes.

But I think the other thing, which is just saddened me so much, because I have prosecuted rape cases involving victims that were prostitutes because, of course, we all know that a prostitute can be sexually assaulted, just like any other woman can be, or man, quite frankly.

But in these cases, it appears that for various reasons, because he targeted prostitutes and others that were sort of on the fringe of society, juries didn't believe some of them, juries found them not to be credible witnesses.

And some of the victims didn't even come forward and sort of moved on because they were leading these transient lives. You do unfortunately see that in these kinds of cases.

BALDWIN: Well, now at age 72, he may be getting some justice that sounds like perhaps in Los Angeles. Casey Wian on the case, we thank you and Sunny Hostin, I appreciate you as well.

Coming up, they're running from the police. Joshua Hakken and his wife allegedly kidnapping their children, putting them on a boat like this one and taking them out to sea. Authorities are hoping the public can help.


BALDWIN: An amber alert for two kidnapped brothers has spread now from the roads to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Boaters are now on the lookout for these two little boys, 4-year-old Cole Hakken and his brother 2-year-old Chase. Take a good long look.

Florida deputies, they think these kids are on this sailboat. You can see why. These pictures, the Hillsborough County Sheriff released shows this alleged kidnapper stepping into the boat, the boy's father, Joshua Hakken and his wife, Sharyn, on the boat.

Detectives think Sharyn is helping her husband. What we do know is this, that Wednesday, these two little boys were in the custody of their grandmother, in Florida, when Joshua, the father, according to investigators, tied her up and took his kids in their pajamas away to this boat. The grandmother, Sharyn's mother, freed herself after two hours and called 911.


UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: 911, what is your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't think. My son-in-law just kidnapped my two children -- my two grandchildren, they have been in my state custody.


BALDWIN: CNN's Sara Ganim is live in Miami with the story. Sara, any word on the boys?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Brooke. It seems that this whole search right now is really focused on finding this boat, this boat called "Salty." The last eyewitness of this family, the last people who saw them, saw them getting on the boat and leaving from this Madeira Beach, which is in Northern Florida, around the Tampa area, through -- under the bridge and out to the Gulf of Mexico.

So really what the Coast Guard and federal and state authorities are doing right now is trying to canvass the offshore areas of the state of Florida, but also the state of Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, all of those states have amber alerts out right now. And the Coast Guard is asking people who are sailing off the shore of all of those states to really help them keep an eye out for this ship called "Salty."

BALDWIN: And I know a lot of people, Sara, thinking what is the big deal, this is a father and mother with their two children, but he didn't have custody. He was busted for drugs.

GANIM: Right. This all kind of started last June, 2012, the family was taking a road trip, in a motel in Louisiana, when the cops were called for some kind of disturbance. Police assessed the situation and really just found it to be strange. The parents were acting strange and they felt that the children were not safe.

They took them into foster care. At one point, the father at gunpoint tried to get the kids back, the sons back from the foster care home but was unsuccessful. And then now we know that on Wednesday he went and he was successful in getting them back while they were in the custody of their grandmother.

BALDWIN: Sara Ganim, thank you, Sarah. We're going to follow up on this story next hour, talking to a retired member of the Coast Guard, who has been through this type of search, how do you search this massive body of water and find this sailboat and two little boys. We'll have that conversation next hour. Don't miss it.

Meantime, film critic Roger Ebert is being remembered today. You will hear his wife's emotional comments at his funeral next.


BALDWIN: A moving farewell today for a legendary film critic, Roger Ebert, was laid to rest this morning and hundreds of fans, they lined up in the pouring rain for the funeral in Chicago. The Pulitzer Prize winning died Thursday following a long battle with cancer.

And Ebert's widow, Chaz, called him a soldier for social justice who had a heart big enough to accept everyone.


CHAZ EBERT, WIDOW OF ROGER EBERT: My heart is so full. I didn't know -- this morning, I didn't want to get out of bed to tell you the truth, I wanted to pretend that this wasn't the day of his funeral. And then it actually didn't feel -- it felt like he was there, with me, and I think he is here with us.



BALDWIN: OK, "Hot Topics" time. Jay-Z and Beyonce, two names you don't normally associate with the touchy subject of U.S. relations with Cuba. But the power couple took a trip to Havana last week to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.

Legally, you can't just take a vacation to Cuba, at least you and I can't. You have to get permission. Let me be crystal clear here, though. We don't know yet if this couple actually went through the proper channels or not.

That said, you know you have to get permission to go down there. The U.S. slapped those travel restrictions and economic sanctions on Cuba after Fidel Castro took power way back in the 1950s.

Well, now two members of Congress from South Florida, home, of course, to a lot of Cuban refugees want the State Department to explain why these two were allowed to make the trip. So we're waiting for that.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, though, was asked about this trip just about an hour ago and he referred all questions to the Treasury Department, which handles travel requests to Cuba. So let me bring in today's panel. We have comedian Dean Obeidallah, also Francesca Chambers, editor and publisher of "Red Alert Politics," Alyona Minkovski, host of "Huffpost Live," and actor Windell Middlebrooks. So welcome to all of you.

Dean Obeidallah, let me begin with you. OK, do you think this is a big deal here the fact that they're out and about in Cuba?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COMEDIAN: Not at all. This is so much better than Dennis Rodman go to North Korea. The truth is recent poll shows 70 percent of Americans think we should lift the travel restrictions to Cuba. They're from the cold war.

The cold war is over. Hello. We won it. Let's move on and get rid of these ridiculous restrictions. I know there is a law in place, but you know, a lot of people got an exception to go down, who better to send than the royal family of music down to Cuba.

BALDWIN: I know a lot of artists who go down there, you know, they say we're down there for cultural reasons, so this may be, you know, totally fine, green light for them to go down there. Alyona, do you think we should ease restrictions? This 51-year embargo should go?

ALYONA MINKOVSKI, PRODUCER AND HOST, "HUFFPOST LIVE": Yes, I mean, I couldn't agree more this is a completely outdated, outmoded part of our foreign policy, something back to the cold war. I know that people like Congresswoman Eliana Ross need to please their constituents, but you know, for somebody who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I think she has bigger problems to worry about than Jay-Z and Beyonce going to Cuba.

Maybe she should worry about what is going on in the Middle East, going on in Asia, some of our shadow wars, what is happening in Yemen and Pakistan, civil liberties, you know, violations we're seeing from this administration, this really should not be a hot topic for them.

BALDWIN: Let me read something that a lot of people are making the point, whether they were down there legally or not, they had -- they're an impressive pr machine, these two, this couple here.

So I read this in the "Washington Post," thought this was kind of fun. This is from "Reliable Source" blog. Best of luck in your investigation, Congress folk, but whether it is weathering a lip-synch scandal or trade marking her baby's name, Beyonce always seems to win.

Wendell, not to mention they are friends with the potus and flotus. You think they'll win this one?

WINDELL MIDDLEBROOKS, ACTOR: I do think they're going to win this one. What I think is funny is I know we get into the embargo, of course. We're still dealing with human rights and stuff. I understand why people are so upset, I guess, why do they get to go and do they have a connection to the white house and stuff. But and I think it is the pictures that it looks like they're having such a great time --

BALDWIN: A great time.

MIDDLEBROOKS: I get that. But the cameras are going to follow there is going to be paparazzi, that kind of crowd, if they go to Wal-Mart to get a Caesars salad and a cupcake, that same crowd would be there, so capturing those pictures, I can't make a decision until I hear their side.

BALDWIN: Francesca, I want to bring back Dean's point about North Korea and Dennis Rodman going there. I mean, he was going with the Harlem Globetrotters seemed to be an invited thing. So it's not -- it's sort of apples and oranges.

At the same time, though, he seemed to have a good time taken was portrayed as a positive trip, albeit laughed at by a lot of people. Why is there such a difference between North Korea and his trip and Cuba and their trip?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "RED ALERT POLITICS": Well, I completely agree that the restrictions should be lifted. It is not fair to tell people that they can't, you know, travel to Cuba, but it is OK to travel to North Korea. It is okay to travel to China, other countries in which the regimes are seen as oppressive to the people.

So I would agree that the restrictions should be lifted. That said, it is not fair that Beyonce and Jay-z can just buck the rules and do things that other Americans can't do. They may have gotten permission to do it, but what real reason do they have to be down there when tourism is restricted?

BALDWIN: I don't know. Can I say I'm kind of jealous? I myself would love to go to Cuba. I would love to go to Cuba. So we'll see and we'll also find out maybe from, you know, the government whether or not they did, in fact, go through the proper channels to go.

I want to move on. We have to talk about Snoop -- I want to say Snoop Dogg. Forgive me, Snoop Lion because he said -- he's making news, he said there will never be a gay rapper because to use his word, rap is too masculine. We're going to marinate on that next.


BALDWIN: Rap music, not exactly known as a haven for gay artists, in fact, gangster rap lyrics and culture are notably homophobic. Snoop Lion formerly known as Snoop Dog says it is not about the change either.

He's quoted in the "Guardian" newspaper saying that he has gay, quoting him, gay homies, doesn't have a problem with gay people, but hard core rap culture is not ready for gay rapper.

Want to bring all of you guys back in. Windell, let me begin with you because again to use Snoop's word, he says the rap industry as a whole is too masculine. Makes me think of the discussions we've had recently even when we talk about NFL, wondering if there is an out player or I should say a player who would come out publicly. Whether we think it is right or wrong, do you think he has a point? MIDDLEBROOKS: I thought he had a point with -- when I thought he was saying it would be hard for them to be accepted in the rap world. And then when he went to the masculine thing, that's when he lost me because I think it is very funny that we're saying a gay rapper wouldn't be masculine enough when we have, you know, rappers jumping around on stage like 3-year-olds who just finished a lollipop.

So to say that's masculine, which means the quality of manhood, that's when he lost me. At first, I was like, OK, the acceptance, I get your point of view. You know the rap world better than me. But then when you see Lil Wayne losing his mind in his pants to his knees then, I'm like, we got to question on masculinity.

BALDWIN: Dean, what do you think? Do you agree?

OBEIDALLAH: My new name is Dean Tiger. I want a new name, Brooke. I want a rap name. Some kind of cool --

BALDWIN: Not allowed.

OBEIDALLAH: I'm going to keep the last name. Here's the thing. Snoop Dog talking about masculinity, he used to braid his hair, drink out of a gold cup and wear more jewelry than my mother. You've got to be kidding.

Guys wearing capes, wearing gold goblets, look at the Queen of England, that's ridiculous. It is truly homophobic when you get down to it. The idea of stigmatizing it and saying gay people are not accepted in the rap community.

Hello, Snoop, there are gay rappers like there are NFL players and basketball players who are gay. We get beyond this and treat this all equally as Americans, we'll be better for it.

BALDWIN: Ladies, I want to get to you. I'm a Frank Ocean fan. We all know that Frank Ocean back story before he came out with his album last summer, he talked about how I think it was on "Tumbler," he broke the news, his first love was a man, a huge deal within hip-hop circles.

So this is what -- when Snoop Lion was asked about this, this is what Snoop said, quote, on Frank Ocean, "Frank Ocean isn't no rapper. He is a singer. It is acceptable in the singing world, but in the rap world, I don't know if it will be acceptable because rap is so masculine, like a football team. You can't be in a locker room full of -- and then all of a sudden say, man, I like you. That's going to be tough."

OBEIDALLAH: Put down the joint, snoop. Put down the joint.

BALDWIN: Listen, I read the back story, Frank Ocean talked to "GQ" magazine. It was a fantastic interview from last year and he said -- he sort of makes the point, maybe it is more of a race thing than a rap thing. Ladies, anyone?

CHAMBERS: I think that's an interesting point about the race thing, but I don't know that that has anything to do with it. Listen, I don't really take anything that Snoop Dog says very seriously or Snoop Lion or whatever he wants to be called these days. He's pretty outdated. When was the last time he put out a track that anybody heard about.

BALDWIN: I hear you on that. But to the facts, is there a hard core rapper out there, who is openly gay? Do you know of one?

MINKOVSKI: That's a good question. I don't know of one. That's why Frank Ocean made such waves. Even if Snoop Dog says he's a pop singer and not a rapper, it is an entirely different world, once you have somebody that breaks that new ground, people can start an open and honest conversation about it.

I think that Snoop Lion and his new reincarnated face, why doesn't he take the lead and be a leader in this situation rather than making ridiculous statements where the masculinity line is going to be lost.

BALDWIN: Let me end with a quote from Frank Ocean who was asked by "GQ," did you worry it would derail your career coming out with this male love? I had those fears in black music. We have so many leaps and bounds to make with acceptance and tolerance and regard to that issue as something engrained.

He talks about, you know, couldn't even go to one of his family members because of the homophobia. So that's the point from Frank Ocean. It is something to talk about, whether, you know, whether you trust what Snoop Lion said or not, it is interesting. Dean, Francesca, Alyona and Windell, thank you, all, very much. Hot topics panel.

MIDDLEBROOKS: Thank you, Brooke.