Return to Transcripts main page


Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Body Rejected; Horror At Madrid Air Show; Limousine Fire Kills Five People; Woman Killed After Fall From Party Bus; California Manhunt; "Dead" Mother Resurfaces; Teen Survives Shark Attack; Massive Explosions Rock Damascus; Syrians Vow Retaliation Against Israel

Aired May 6, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Not in our town. The family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev looks for a burial plot, but the city where they want to bury him says, no, look someplace else.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: A bachelorette party turns into tragedy. Five women, including the bride-to-be, killed as their limo goes up in flames.

ROMANS: A shark takes a bite out of his leg, but this teenage surfer keeps his cool.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START this morning. I'm Christine Romans. John Berman has this Monday morning off.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, he does. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's just about 6:00 a.m. in the East.

So, dead or alive, it seems Tamerlan Tsarnaev can't find his place in this world. Two weeks after he was killed in a shoot-out with police, the suspected Boston marathon bomber still has not been buried. His relatives want him laid to rest in Cambridge, but town officials will not hear of it.

Susan Candiotti is live from Boston this morning. And Susan, while Tsarnaev's relatives are trying to figure out what to do with his corpse, investigators were back at the bombing suspect's apartment over the weekend, is that correct?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Zoraida. The FBI spent hours back at Tamerlan Tsarnaev's apartment. The place where he is suspected of building the bombs used in the terror attack. And so as the FBI searches for answers and evidence, there is still no answer about where Tsarnaev will be buried, because no cemetery wants to get involved.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send him back to Russia.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): For days, protesters outside a Worcester funeral home making it clear suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev is as hated as much dead as he would be alive. One sign reads, bury the garbage, but not in America, his remains in limbo at a funeral home, much to the chagrin of its director.

PETER STEFAN, FUNERAL DIRECTOR FOR TSARNAEV FAMILY: The thing is we have to bury this guy. Whatever it is, whoever he is, in this country, we bury people. I don't care who it is.

CANDIOTTI: So far not a single cemetery will take Tsarnaev's remains. His uncle from Maryland, who in the days after the bombing called his two nephews losers, spent Sunday at a funeral home to cleanse and shroud the body as required by Islamic faith.

RUSLAN TSARNI, UNCLE OF TAMERLAN TSARNAEV: I'm left alone to deal with this matter. I was so stressed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev has no other place to be buried.

CANDIOTTI: President Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is buried in the Dallas area. Home groan Oklahoma City terrorist bomber Timothy McVeigh's ashes were scattered after his execution. Where remains a mystery. As for Tsarnaev's widow, according to her in-law, she's steering clear of burial plans.

Her attorney says she's still cooperating with the FBI. On Sunday FBI investigators wearing protective suits spent hours back at Tsarnaev's home where a law enforcement source said bomb residue had earlier been found on the kitchen sink, table and bathtub. Surviving bombing suspect Dzhokhar told the FBI the bombs were built in that top-floor apartment.

And a few hours from now one of the younger brothers' three jailed friends, American student Robel Phillipos will ask a federal judge to set him free on bail pending trial. He's accused of lying to investigators about going to Dzhokhar's dorm room. Two other students from Kazakhstan are accused of ditching evidence.

Back to the funeral director, he said he plans on reaching out to the governor of this state sometime today asking for help. But what kind of help that would be remains unclear. We reached out to the governor's press secretary last night, but she had no comment.

And also the city of Cambridge issuing a statement on a Sunday night saying it wants no involvement and is calling on the federal government to somehow play a role. What that would be, Zoraida, is unclear, as well.

SAMBOLIN: We kind of understand how the people there feel. Let's end on a positive note here. Some of the victims of the bombing got a really special visit over the weekend. Can you tell us about that?

CANDIOTTI: Yes, they got a visit from Gabrielle Giffords. Gabby Giffords came to the rehab center and spent some time, she and her husband, with some of the victims who are recovering, recuperating. What a lift it gave them, you can imagine. In fact Giffords posted on her Facebook that all of these victims, and survivors, deserve a profile in courage award -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Sun shiny smiles speak volumes. Susan Candiotti live in Boston. Thank you very much. All right, it's 3 minutes past the hour. New this morning, some shocking images to show you, there's a vintage plane going down during an air show in Madrid. It's very graphic. Thousands of people were watching in horror. Take a look there. The plane crashed into a building.

Then it exploded. Look at that, into a huge fireball. The pilot was killed. Several people on the ground were also injured. The victim was an experienced pilot who worked as an assistant to Spain's defense minister. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

ROMANS: Investigators this morning trying to figure out how a limousine suddenly burst into flames killing five people headed to a bachelorette party, including the bride-to-be. You're looking at new video of the fire just released overnight. You can see flames shooting out the back, smoke going out the front.

The limo was driving nine women Saturday night in Northern California when it started burning. The driver and four other women managed to escape. CNN's Nick Valencia is following this story. Nick, do we know anything yet this morning about the cause of this fire?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, I spoke to the California Highway Patrol earlier this morning. They said the official cause of the fire will not be determined until the vehicle is fully inspected. That's expected to be completed later on today.

When I spoke to them earlier they said they believe the fire started outside of the limousine, perhaps either underneath the limo or maybe even in the trunk. Now new details have emerged this morning from local media outlets, the "San Francisco Chronicle" reporting some of the time line of the event.

They say the women in the back smell smoke and tapped on the limo driver's window to notify him, but he misunderstood them. He thought they were asking if they could smoke in the back. Those were crucial seconds that were missed and an opportunity for him to pull over earlier now he pulled over eventually and some of the women were able to get out.

But the fire spread very quickly, and engulfed the entire back end, as you see there in the aerial shots from our affiliate, the entire back end of the limousine. They were just 4 minutes away from their final destination, if you can believe it. San Francisco chronicle also reporting that the groom of the bride-to-be was waiting at the hotel room for the group of nurses.

They were a group of nurses traveling in this limousine, for them to arrive back at the hotel. Now we tried repeatedly to get in touch with the limousine company. They have not returned our phone calls. But they did release a statement to the media. I want to read part of that statement, Christine.

They say Limo Stop Inc will do everything possible to investigate and assist authorities in determining the cause of this fire in order to help bring forth answers and provide closure to the victims and their families. Just a terrible and very tragic situation, a bachelorette party and the unexpected happened there, fatal fire in a limousine.

ROMANS: Have we heard from any of the survivors? How are they recovering?

VALENCIA: Well, were transported to two different area hospitals. We tried to get in touch with them. They did not take our calls. But one of the affiliates in the area, KTVU caught up with the mother of one of the survivors.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We did not sleep, both of us. I'm crying and crying. No. Thanks God -- survived.


VALENCIA: I spoke to the Coroner's Office yesterday, Christine and they told me that those that were killed in the fire, their bodies were so severely charred that it could take several days before they're positively identified.

ROMANS: All right, Nick Valencia. Thank you, Nick.

SAMBOLIN: It's 7 minutes past the hour. An investigation under way this morning into a woman's fatal fall off of the party bus. The 26- year-old Jamie Frecks was on the bus for a bachelorette part Saturday night in Kansas City when she fell through the emergency door and onto Interstate 35. Police say three vehicles hit her. Frecks died at the scene. No one else was hurt here. Frecks leaves behind a 6-week-old baby and a fiancee.

ROMANS: Still no arrest more than a week after the murder of 8-year- old Leila Fowler who was stabbed to death in her home. Investigators knocking on doors in Calaveras County, California, looking for possible witnesses and now dive teams are searching two nearby reservoirs for evidence.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's black water diving and they're searching the bottom of the ponds with their hands because obviously in murky water conditions they cannot see where they're going, so the tenders on the shore holding the rope will guide them through the water.


ROMANS: If you have any information you're urged to call police.

SAMBOLIN: And new developments in the story of the Pennsylvania mother who was declared dead after disappearing eleven years ago. Brenda Heist is very much alive, and now investigators are starting to try to piece together how she ended up in the Gainesville, Florida, area. They say it appears that she hitchhiked with strangers to the Florida Keys that was back in 2002. Beyond that it gets murky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ART FORGEY, ALACHUA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: She hasn't given us any indication of how she got here from the Keys, and also, as her address on the booking sheet, she listed homeless. So, it's a mystery how she got from here to there or from there to here.


SAMBOLIN: I bet her family has a lot of questions. According to affiliate WCJB, Heist told police she slept under bridges and survived at times by scavenging food from restaurant trash and panhandling.

ROMANS: New this morning, a surfer sharing his story after escaping the jaws of a shark. The 16-year-old Michael Adler is now recovering from surgery, surgery that included 20 stitches to repair tendons in his foot. Here's what he said happened Saturday morning after the coast of Central Florida.


MICHAEL ADLER, BITTEN BY SHARK: Caught one of my last waves in, and I kicked off the wave and I was off my board. When I went to go back on the board, the shark bit me right in the foot and I immediately tried to yank it out.


ROMANS: Yank it out.

SAMBOLIN: No big deal.

ROMANS: Doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

SAMBOLIN: Wow, amazing. All right, 9 minutes past the hour. Coming up, massive airstrikes near Damascus and now Syria is pointing the finger at Israel and warning that new violence opens the door to all options. We're live in that region coming up next.


ROMANS: Good Monday morning. Welcome back. Syria is reeling from a series of devastating air strikes, vowing to exact revenge on Israel this morning. The Syrians say it's the Israelis who are targeting a military research facility just outside their capital and they claim Jerusalem has joined forces with al Qaeda. More from Fred Pleitgen in Damascus.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was absolute mayhem here in Damascus. We were woken up in the middle of the night by massive booms and the explosions really lit up the night. Now all of this went on for more than an hour and there were so many explosions.

So much gunfire, that people that live near that area actually thought there was a major battle going on in the outskirts until later they found out it was probably an Israeli attack on a military facility.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): It was at around 3:00 a.m. local time that gigantic explosions lit up the skies over Damascus. One deafening blast after another, it went on for more than an hour, rocking a large military area in the suburbs of Syria's capital and prompting terrified nearby residents to run for cover. The Deeb family lives a little over a mile away. Daughter Anna tells me what happened.

ANNA DEEB, WITNESS: After the first two bombs, we kept hearing explosions. There were like nine of them, because everything kept exploding over and over again. We can hear gunshots. We can hear people screaming. So, basically, we didn't know what to do.

PLEITGEN: In the second alleged Israeli air strike in three days, the Syrian government says the latest target was a military research facility. The opposition says it was an ammunition depot. In an exclusive interview with CNN, Syria's deputy foreign minister said Syria would retaliate at its own time and way.

FAISAL AL MEKDAD, SYRIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: This is an alliance, I mean, between al Qaeda and Israel attacking together Syria. It shows common interests and what Israel and its allies have tried to hide for a long time is this. When they attack, this is a declaration of war.

PLEITGEN: Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the attack, but as the violent uprising against the regime of Bashar Al Assad drags on, Israel has become increasingly worried about Syria's chemical weapons stock piles and believes the regime is trying to shift conventional weapons to Hezbollah, an extremist group that the United States and other countries have declared a terrorist organization.

AL MEKDAD: Until now, the information is not very clear on what happened. Did they fire a missiles or planes? It's not clear for me because me I'm not aware how it happened. But, of course, it's worrying but Israel will suffer the same.

PLEITGEN: The Syrian government vows that it will retaliate against Israel, but they're not saying at this point how they want to do that and when.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you to our Fred Pleitgen for that report.

SAMBOLIN: And the Syrians didn't take long to go public with their accusations and their threats. But the Israelis won't even confirm that they are actually behind the bombing.

Sara Sidner is live from Haifa, Israel, this morning. What are the Israelis hoping to accomplish here, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, again, as you mention, they have not confirmed or denied any of the accusations that Israel struck inside of Syria. If they did this would be the second time in three days and the third time this year that targets inside Syria would have been struck by Israeli warplanes.

What we can tell you is that the line from Israel officials has long been that they will not allow any weapons of mass destruction or very serious conventional weapons, very dangerous conventional weapons like surface-to-air missiles to move from Syria's regime into the hands of Hezbollah, a group that is in Lebanon, that is known to be backed by Iran, and that Iran -- Israel and the United States both believe is a terrorist organization. They've said that time and again.

So you can infer that if, indeed, Israel did strike inside of Syria that they were trying to stop that transfer of weapons or their belief that those weapons were going to be transferred to Hezbollah, which is in Lebanon, and shares a border here with Israel -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Sara, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with his security cabinet. That happened on Sunday. Can we infer anything from that? Do we think that more attacks are imminent?

SIDNER: It is very hard to say. No information was leaked out of that meeting. We do know that the prime minister has left to go to a planned trip into China. It would be very unusual, according to analysts who have looked at what has happened in the past history here, that the prime minister would leave the country if they did believe that an open war was imminent.

But, really, we cannot say the situation, obviously, is going to be one that is uncertain, because they're not sure whether or not there might be some kind of a response from Syria, which is saying they will respond, but won't say when or how. Or perhaps from Hezbollah, who has long supported Syria, and been supported by Syria, who is on the Lebanese border.

And that is where we are right now. The mayor of this town, Haifa, has said that they have also asked for Israel to look at what kind of plans this city needs to make if, indeed, there are strikes coming over the border -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Sara Sidner live in Haifa for us this morning -- thank you.

ROMANS: Eighteen minutes after the hour now. Let's get you up to date.

There is not a cemetery near Boston that seems willing to take the body of suspected marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. His uncle wants him buried in Cambridge but the town is refusing and several other cemeteries in the area have also rejected his body.

SAMBOLIN: A Baptist church near Dallas had a different kind of message this weekend. It offered a concealed handgun class in the sanctuary. The class was free for anyone who met state eligibility requirements.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: School shootings, and movie theater shootings. You just never know what's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to be able to protect myself and protect my friends and family.


SAMBOLIN: The Texas House passed a bunch of gun bills over the weekend. One of them could put armed marshals in public schools.

And Lindsay Lohan coming clean to CNN's Piers Morgan days before starting her court ordered rehab. So she's told us she smoked pot and taken ecstasy but only tried cocaine a few times.

Here are a few other quotes from her. "I've never been a huge drinker." "Constantly sending me to rehab is pointless." "I've never been a junkie, and never will be." "And everyone thinks I'm this crazy drug addict who shows up late to everything and behaves so badly. But I'm not. I'm bad with timing."

Lohan started her 90-day rehab last week at the Betty Ford Clinic.

ROMANS: Rehab instead of jail. But she already declared rehab doesn't work for her, it's pointless. So, I don't know if the judge can take a look at that interview.

All right. The Biebs attacked by a fan. A hard core Belieber overcome in Dubai, and attacked the pop star during his show. Looking for Bieber, his security guards quickly tackled the fan before he can disrupt the show too much. His rep had no comment. Bieber tweeted Dubai, nothing stops the show.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up all eyes on the Dow after a record high on Friday. If you're not in the market, is it too late to jump in? Should you make the move? We're going to answer those questions for you, I think, right, Christine?

We got that.

ROMANS: You got it.


ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. Minding your business this morning.

The Dow, the S&P 500 sitting at all-time highs. Futures are higher this morning so we could see another record set today. If you're in the market, you're probably pretty happy with your returns. Have you checked your 401(k)?

If you're not in you're missing out big time. On my show, "YOUR MONEY" this weekend, we talked to Matt McCall, who's the president of Penn Financial Group, he sends a very clear message to those who are hesitant to invest. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT MCCALL, PRESIDENT, PENN FINANCIAL GROUP: A lot of individual investors, Christine, are still on the sidelines. They've been waiting to get in. What are you waiting for? We're hitting all-time highs.

ROMANS: But they're afraid they've already seen a bull market that's more than four years old. They don't want to get in and be a sucker at the end.

MCCALL: They're afraid of the bottom, they're afraid at the top, they're never going to get it. You have to get it now if you want to own stock.


ROMANS: Record for the past year, I've been saying, is this too high? He's been saying get in, get in, get in, and advice is stay the same, get in the market and market is up 14 percent since we first started asking him that.

If you're following that advice here's what your investments might look like. Over the past 12 months the Dow up 14 percent, the NASDAQ up 11 percent, the S&P 500 up 17 percent. Stocks will eventually pull back, if history is any guide but it's nearly impossible to tell when that will happen. Usually the strongest gains happen at the end of a very long bull market. And we're, you know, four years into, five years into this bull market.

SAMBOLIN: And what is the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: Gas prices seem to be stabilizing quite frankly.

SAMBOLIN: In Chicago, they are the highest in the nation.

ROMANS: Chicago -- OK, so you gave me the one exception. Chicago is tough. But the national average is $3.52 and it hasn't changed much over the past two weeks. It's nine cents less than it was one month ago, 26 cents less than it was last year. Tom Kloza from says prices could stay around this level for the rest of the month because of lower demand for gas.

So, on the one hand, you have stocks, you know, only half the country is invested in stocks. Gas, that's something every single one of you as an economic indicator that you use and looks like they're staying the course here.

SAMBOLIN: Except in Chicago.

ROMANS: Except in Chicago.

SAMBOLIN: Ride your bike.

All right. Twenty-five minutes past the hour. Ahead on EARLY START, soccer games takes an incredibly violent turn. A referee, that man is dead now. What started it all, just ahead.