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Continuing Coverage of Boston Bombings; Discussing How the Investigation Proceeds; An Arrest is Reported in Texas Prosecutor Shootings Case
Aired April 17, 2013 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, "STARTING POINT": Welcome back to Boston. We are live here with continuing coverage of the attacks at the Boston marathon.
I'm Chris Cuomo joined by Juliette Kayyem, and we have a host of correspondents that are helping us out with the reporting.
The big news of the day is that authorities say they've made substantial progress in the investigation.
Now, remember, just 24 hours ago, it seemed as though they were dealing with the obvious obstacles of trying to find something in such a huge area and so random, and then piece by piece, they started to fill in this puzzle.
The huge part that came where photos of what they believe to be the explosive devices. It's where we found out about the theory of a pressure cooker. The lid was found on top of one of the buildings across the street from one of the explosions showing how powerful that power cooker bomb could have been.
They've been finding various pieces. Anyone who has been here can tell you, literally 24 hours a day, the two sites have had men in white jump suits, measuring, taking pictures and taking pieces of things and cataloging all of it, sending it down to Quantico, Virginia, where they're putting the investigative book together on this.
And then another big word comes out of the investigation, which is that, by looking at videotape -- remember, we have been telling you that authorities have been asking for any photos or videotape that you may have or may know so that they can analyze it.
So they're looking at a videotape from a store across the street from the explosion of the second bomb. Lord & Taylor is the store. It was one of their cameras. And they believe on it they identify a male who is putting down a nylon bag.
Now that's relevant because they believe they found remnants of nylon bags that had parts of the pressure cooker and different parts of the device, timers, wires, batteries, that they feel are consistent with the bomb, near where there was a mailbox where there was a second explosion.
So that bag, they see before the explosion. They see a man there that they have a description of that they say they have identified, and the way he acts in putting down the bag and exiting before the explosion tells the authorities they believe this is the man they need to find.
That is the reportable information at this time, that they see this as substantial progress, that now they've put a body to the location of where the bomb was.
Now at the same time, we're also following another developing story. An envelope, a letter that had ricin in it, which is obviously a very toxic material, was sent to a senator, and it's being investigated right now by -- a similar letter may have been sent to the White House. All of that mail is prescreened, of course. There is an active investigation going down there.
Important to note, there is no reason to believe there is any connection between what is going on with those letters and the investigation in Washington, D.C., and what happened here in Boston. They just happened to be going on at the same time.
Speculation is meaningless at this time. The government is saying they don't see any connection.
So now, with that, we know there are 30 agencies involved in the investigation up here in Boston. They say it is going at a frantic pace. So the question is, how is it being coordinated? What's being done?
Juliette, this is your area of expertise. When it comes to the pressure cooker, I was told by a source involved with the investigation that, literally, people are identified with the smallest tasks. Who made this pressure cooker?
We happen to have one here that is the exact make and model. The reason we know what it is is because we got word from the investigators.
Somebody would literally have the task of going to the Fagor company that made this pressure cooker, seeing where they were distributed, who bought them.
How minuscule does the detail get in terms of what you act on?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN ANALYST: Pretty detailed. That's just going to depend on how relevant is that piece of investigation to the one thing we want to do now which is capture this person.
So the -- where it was purchased is key right now. So that the manufacturer, how it was delivered and then where it was purchased, at whatever store, are going to be very, very relevant.
And so there would be a lot of people focused on that one issue because, if you can get the buyer, then you might have some clue about who the person was or whether they were an affiliate of the person who did the bombing.
CUOMO: And knowing what they found, is the pressure cooker the best bet in terms of what to track?
Wires could -- you know, very accessible, batteries, even the specific make, what is the easiest thing to track most specifically?
KAYYEN: It is going to be the device itself, but I actually, as I've been saying all along, I really do think it is the pictures.
Once you get the person, a lot will come out of that, even if they lawyer up. You're going to have just a lot more information because then you're going to have access to their homes, to their computer, to all sorts of information that is going to link you to it.
This is relevant for evidence, for determining who they might have known, and in the case, but right now, if you had to put all of your effort at any piece of this, right now it is on that individual person.
Motive doesn't matter. Tactics don't matter. What is going to get you the piece of information that gets you that person.
I've been saying this is -- this needs to be done right and that is, I promise you, animating everyone in government. There hasn't been a case like this in a long time, and so if -- that may mean slower.
CUOMO: So, Mike Brooks, are you with us right now?
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I am, Chris. I'm here, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, good. Mike brooks has experience working with the joint terrorism task force, understands the legal analysis involved here.
When we're looking at what you would focus on -- Juliette is making the point -- while you want to stick with the picture, you want to find the person, but help give us some context.
How difficult a task is it to go from looking at an individual -- we're getting varying accounts from law enforcement. It's someone who is brown-skinned in complexion. We've heard white-skinned in complexion.
But let's say they know at least what race person they're looking for. How difficult is it to go from an image on a random piece of video to finding an actual individual?
BROOKS: Well, you know, it's -- very simple. You know, just take it all the way back, does anyone recognize this individual? Does someone know this person?
But when you have an investigation like this, Chris, and Juliette can tell you, you have a number of parallel investigations going on.
You have people looking at the intel side. You have people dealing with the evidence. You have people running down leads.
Just like you said, you know, where was this pressure cooker made? Where was it sold? What make, what model, you know, what is the SKU number. There is all these things that they're looking at. Has this been used ever in another incident?
But when you get down to individuals, and you look at people and at pictures like this, you know, are they able to say, OK, could this possibly -- could this person possibly have been involved with law enforcement before?
Because, you know, also with these -- with this evidence you're finding, is there any kind of DNA evidence? Is there kind of fingerprints, hairs, fibers?
We look at the Unabomber. They were able to get hairs inside one of the bombs that helped to make the case along with this manifest. There is everything like this that they're looking at and the number of parallel investigations that are going on as we speak right now into this case.
CUOMO: All right. Mike.
And, as we know at this point, we don't know about anything except the possible image on the video and that's what the authorities believe is substantial progress at this time.
We're going to leave you with that as we go to break.
When we come back, the first lady has been talking about Boston, and the intended trip here with the president tomorrow. We'll give you the latest on that.
And also, we are waiting for much anticipated presser from authorities with the latest on the investigation here on the attacks at the Boston marathon. Stay with us.
CUOMO: Welcome back. We're live here in Boston with CNN's continuing coverage of the attacks at the Boston marathon, Erin Burnett, Chris Cuomo, Juliette Kayyem.
We're going to go to a different developing story right now, an arrest in the killings of a Texas district attorney and his wife.
The wife of a former justice of the peace is in custody now, charged with capital murder.
Police shared details of the arrest a short time ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Lene Williams, 46, of Kaufman has been arrested and charged with the offense of capital murder for her part in the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. McLelland and Mr. Hasse. She's been held in the Kaufman County jail on a $10 million bond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right, so a big bond in this case shows how serious it is.
I want to bring in CNN's Martin Savidge in Kaufman, Texas. Martin, what led to this arrest?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, there were a number of things that led to this arrest. Primarily it was events that happened over the weekend, search warrants that focused on this woman's husband, Eric Williams.
He's a former justice of the peace in this county here. He was pushed out of office, actually forced out, as a result of the fact that he was convicted of theft from office.
And here is the key element to know in that. The man who prosecuted that case, the chief lead prosecutor in the courtroom, Mark Hasse, the assistant D.A. who was later murdered.
Who oversaw the entire investigation? That was Mike McLelland, the district attorney who was also murdered along with his wife Cynthia in their home.
So now apparently, it is Kim Williams who has come forward and said, yes, she was part of that. She implicates her husband. The authorities classify it as a confession. In fact, they say that she confessed to involvement in the scheme and in the course of the conduct of the shooting deaths of Hasse, McLelland, and Cynthia McLelland, and Kim Williams described in detail her role with that of her husband.
Her husband is currently in jail here, but on a charge unrelated to the specific murder. So it really is all beginning to unwind.
There were many scenarios that were thought that investigators were looking at. Now it appears more and more it may have been a family that had a grudge.
CUOMO: Right, Martin. That's a very important point. Let me follow up on that.
This is a major twist in the case. You said the husband of the woman who was just charged with capital murder already in jail, but on unrelated charges.
What are you hearing about what could come next?
SAVIDGE: Well, we anticipate that there are going to be capital murder charges that will be brought against her husband, Eric Williams. As we say, the wife has now implicated him. There is other evidence that has been gathered. Those search warrants over the weekend turned up a vehicle that some witnesses say they saw in the areas where the murders were carried out.
And also there were a number of weapons -- some people say as many as 20 -- that were recovered. You can guarantee ballistic tests are being done against those weapons and the bullets that were removed from the bodies of the victims, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Martin, thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting. We'll be back to you later on.
We're going to turn back now to the developing story here. It has been a busy afternoon, Erin. There's a been a lot of different word coming out of the investigation about that is going on.
The big headline that's reportable and has the benefit of being true at this time is that, by analyzing videotape and photos, authorities now believe that they have identified somebody on videotape near where the second blast went off who seemed to place down a nylon bag that matches their description of what was containing the pressure cooker device, that turned out being an explosive, and then exits, and they believe they have identification of him.
We have Tom Fuentes with us right now. Tom, we have been puzzling today at how you can go so quickly from finding an image like that of a vague description, putting a name to it, and then ultimately capturing that person.
How belabored is that process?
TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, extremely. That's why they haven't gotten that far yet. And I think that's why the authorities are saying hold horses and wait a minute here.
They have a very good picture of a suspect from the videos, as we know. That we were aware of, but putting a name with a face is another matter.
And then, once they have that name, then trying to locate that person and get him into custody and then at that point probably execute search warrants at the residence, maybe find other paraphernalia of bomb-making equipment, or wire cutters that could be traced to the cut wires that went to make the device.
But these are all incremental steps that are beyond where the authorities have been as of this morning and this afternoon.
What we would hope is that at the 5:00 press conference they'll put a description out, put the face out there, and say, OK, does anybody know this person? Help us locate.
That may happen. I don't know at this point. But what I do know is that, through the morning, they did not have the identification by name of a specific person and at no time had anybody in custody or under arrest. I would also like to clarify. A person wounded that's in the hospital can be under arrest. We have that happen in many cases where there's a shootout or something and people are arrested, but they're in the hospital being treated.
They can be in custody with police officers or agents at the door preventing them from being taken out, and escaping, let's say, until their finished with their treatment.
So the mere fact of whether somebody is in the hospital, whether they're in an office, whether they're in a jail, the arrest means they're not free to go. The authorities have determined that they have this individual, they're talking to this individual, and if the person says, OK, I'm not going to talk to you anymore, I'm done, if they can walk out the door, then they weren't in custody.
If they don't walk out the door, then they have been under arrest and they are in custody and they go forward from there.
ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": Well, Tom, at this point, our understanding is, of course, there isn't anyone under arrest and not in custody.
But they have someone who they think could be a suspect, right, so we're in that gray area.
And my question to you is, where do we go from here? If they have someone that they think is a suspect, they want to talk to this person, why haven't they yet?
Is it possible they don't know where the person is, that they're still waiting for tips or is there some sort of other issue that could be causing this sort of a delay in us seeing, yes, this person is in custody and I'm asking them questions?
FUENTES: Erin, there are several possibilities in a case like this.
If they think there are more individuals involved, they may have that person under surveillance and, basically, they will refer to that as being "in pocket." In other words, they've got the person surrounded, so to speak, and they're following them, but they're not going to grab him because they don't want to alert other subjects to turn into fugitives.
So they might be waiting until they can locate other people that were involved before moving on the first person or the first two people if they've been identified.
So their investigative purposes vary depending on what they have, how many people they think are involved in this, and where they want to go from there.
They would not want the person to be alerted and escape. And it is my understanding, again, that the leaks were not intentional this morning. This was not something that the top investigators were happy with. They didn't want the subjects alerted that there even was good photos of them or even good leads that are going to be followed up on during the day. That was not something the investigators wanted to become public.
BURNETT: All right, well, Tom, thank you very much.
And, of course, we are awaiting, as all of you know, and Chris has been saying, we've been waiting for the FBI press conference where we hope to get some more information on some of this confusion, who this person is, what they know at this time, and whether they are looking for multiple people.
But now we want to get to Washington where Michelle Obama is also talking about the tragedy here in Boston and listen to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Before we get started, I want to take a moment to say that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Boston.
My husband continues to monitor the situation, and he has directed the full resources of the federal government to assist state and local authorities as they investigate this horrific act.
And what happened on Monday was a reminder that, in times of crisis here in America, we respond with courage and grit and selflessness.
That is exactly what we saw from the people of Boston and from all those who rushed to the aid, police officers, firefighters, first responders, and our men and women in uniform.
That is the spirit of Boston, but it is also the spirit of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And, you know, the first lady is speaking something that is felt so deeply here.
We have word today, more good news, a hundred of the 180 people injured here have been released from the hospital.
That is a direct testament to the phenomenal efforts by volunteers and medical professionals on the scene and triage follow-up that was beautiful at the hospitals ...
CUOMO: ... now allowing people to go home and try to put their lives back together.
And equally in terms of the investigation here, the videotape you're looking at now is not one of their cameras. It came from a shopping store ... BURNETT: Right.
CUOMO: ... from Lord & Taylor.
So, again, there's been a spirit here of dealing with the situation that is helping this city get back on its feet, and that is a big part of the story that we're going to continue to follow.
BURNETT: That is true.
And, of course, there are people right now who are -- and some young children, still fighting to not have another amputation, who are fighting for their lives.
So every day that goes by is a better chance that they are going to make it. And that is what we hope will be the bittersweet joys, that they will be all right on that.
But we're going take a break, and we're going to come back on the other side of it with our live team coverage from Boston.
CUOMO: Welcome back to Boston, our continuing live coverage of the attacks of the Boston marathon.
Erin Burnett, Chris Cuomo, we've been following different paths of this story. We are waiting. There's a big FBI presser that's going to come out.
They say they've made substantial progress in their investigation. We're waiting for that, expecting it around 5:00. It may be pushed. We'll see and monitor it for you.
The president of the United States and first lady are coming here tomorrow for an interfaith chapel service. That's going to be at 11:00 in the morning. That's going to mean a lot to the people here as they try to recover.
BURNETT: Yeah, it's going to be -- and this FBI press conference that we're waiting for is obviously going to be significant. The information has been dribbling and drabbling.
There's obviously been a lot of confusion. but we think we might be able to get some real answers for them. That is going to be important.
Tonight we're also going to be joined on "OutFront" by the chairman of the homeland security committee, Chairman McCall. And, obviously, a lot of information he's been getting. He's known when they've had people of interest, asking questions, so we're going to talk about that.
And, of course, the story in Washington with the ricin which has been getting bigger throughout the day. CUOMO: That is being investigated as well. No reason to believe any connection between the ricin and what's going here, but we are following both stories.
BURNETT: All right, well, thanks so much from both of us.
Jake Tapper and "The Lead" are up after this.