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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Three Missing Women Found Alive; Air Force Officer Arrested; No Final Rest for Tamerlan Tsarnaev; New Threat from North Korea

Aired May 7, 2013 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: "I've been kidnapped." A shocking 911 call from one of three women missing for a decade, presumed dead, now found alive.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: His body is ready for burial but the marathon bombing suspect may be forced to return to Russia.

ROMANS: A new threat from North Korea against the U.S. and South Korea.

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

SAMBOLIN: A lot going on this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Tuesday, May 7th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SAMBOLIN: And we begin with breaking news this morning. Three women missing for years found alive in a Cleveland home. And the three brothers suspected of kidnapping them are behind bars right now.

Amanda Berry was one of the victims who vanished in three separate incidents between 2002 and 2004. It was her breathless 911 call that ended their long ordeal.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

AMANDA BERRY, MISSING FOR 10 YEARS: 911, help me, I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here, I'm free now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: And the last time anyone saw Amanda Berry, she was finishing her shift at a Burger King in 2003 on the eve of her 17th birthday.

Here's CNN's Martin Savidge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michele Knight disappeared when she was 19. That was 2002. Amanda Berry disappeared the day before her 17th birthday. That was 2003. Gina DeJesus disappeared when she was 14. That was 2004.

Then, Monday evening, a decade-long nightmare ended when Amanda Berry made an emotional 911 call to police.

911 OPERATOR: 911.

BERRY: 911. Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.

911 OPERATOR: Do you need police, fire or ambulance?

BERRY: I need police.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and what's going on there?

BERRY: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here, I'm free now.

SAVIDGE: She made that call after she was able to look out of the house where they were being held and flag down a neighbor.

CHARLES RAMSEY, NEIGHBOR: Heard screaming. Eating at McDonald's, I come outside. I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of the house. So, I go on the porch. I go on the porch and she says, "Help me get out, I've been here a long time."

So, you know, I figured it was a violence dispute. So, I open the door, we can't get in that day because how the door it is, it's so much that a body can't fit through, only your hands. So, we kick the bottom and she comes out with a little girl and she says, "Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry."

REPORTER: Did you know who that was when she said?

RAMSEY: When she told me it didn't register, until I got the calling 911. And I'm like, "I'm calling 911 for Amanda Berry?" I thought this girl was dead, know what I mean?

And she got on the phone and she said, yes, this is me. The girl Amanda told the police, I ain't just the only one, it's some more girls up in that house.

So, they go on up there, 30, 40 deep. When they came out, was just astonishing.

SAVIDGE: Police moved in, swarming the house, rescuing the women. They arrested a 52-year-old former school bus driver who lives there, Ariel Castro. They also arrested his two brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made some statements to the responding officers that gave us enough probable cause to affect an arrest.

SAVIDGE: The rescued women were taken to a nearby hospital and checked out. A photo of a beaming Amanda Berry and her sister appeared on Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Currently, they're safe. We're in the process of evaluating their medical needs. They appear to be in fair condition at the moment.

This is really good because this isn't the ending we usually hear to these stories. So we're very happy.

SAVIDGE: That sense of happiness and relief shared by police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a great -- it's a great day.

SAVIDGE: And the people of Cleveland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an unbelievable day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Remarkable story. That was Martin Savidge reporting for us. We'll get new details from the Cleveland Department of Public Safety. That's happening this morning. We'll bring you a press conference live at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

ROMANS: Outrage and disgust. Those are Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's words on the arrest of a colonel on sexual battery charges. That's bad enough. But the officer, Jeffrey Krusinski, was in charge of the Air Force sexual assault prevention and response program.

CNN's Barbara Starr with more from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski had been in charge of a section of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response program only since February. He made this video back in Afghanistan.

LT. COL. JEFFREY KRUSINSKI, DVIDS: This is Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski from NATO training mission in Afghanistan.

STARR: He was immediately removed from his Pentagon post after being arrested early Sunday morning after arrest for allegedly approaching a woman in a parking lot and fondling her. It's a huge embarrassment for the Pentagon which has been racked by the scandal of sexual assault.

The Pentagon is expected to announce an increase in reported sexual assaults in 2012. But as always, officials say it's not entirely clear if that's due to an increase in incidents or more victims becoming more comfortable in reporting what is often a crime kept silence.

In 2011, there were a total of 3,192 reports of sexual assault involving service members.

The issue is getting plenty of attention from Congress.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Sexual assault and rape is not about the weakness of the victim, it's about power and control and the assertion of that. And that obviously in a military context becomes an even greater problem.

STARR: The Pentagon has increased its efforts to hold perpetrators accountable. It's a establishing a special victims unit with specially trained investigators and prosecutors. It's trying to improve tracking of sexual assault reports. And now, service members who report a sexual assault can more quickly transfer from their unit and away from their alleged perpetrator.

(on camera): Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is also looking at overhauling portions of the military justice system so those convicted of sexual assault crimes can not so readily have those convictions overturned.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Barbara.

And new developments in the Boston marathon bombing. First, the funeral director who took in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body says Russia may be the only place willing to bury him. Meantime, victims of the bombing are starting to find out how the money raised to help them recover will be spent.

And a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev accused of lying to investigators has been released to care of his mother on $100,000 bail.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in Boston with all of these developments. Good morning.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zoraida. You know, many developments in this case, but still absolutely no resolution to what to do with the remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON (voice-over): Still sheltered by her parents and under constant watch by the FBI, Katherine Russell has kept her silence, letting one act speak for itself. As next of kin, she refused to deal with her husband's burial, instead releasing Tamerlan Tsarnaev's remains to his family and setting off an absurd chain of events.

First, his body remained unclaimed in a morgue. And now, for five days, Tsarnaev's body has been in limbo at this Worcester, Massachusetts, funeral home. No cemetery will accept him. No family member has offered a solution.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick acknowledged the outrage that is building over this.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This isn't a state or federal issue, it's a family issue. The family has some options. I assume they will make a decision soon.

NEWTON: Cremation is not an option. It's forbidden for Muslims. But the funeral home director says sending the body pack to Russia could be a solution.

Still, it all raises turmoil for victims and their families who for the first time now are learning how money will be distributed from the One Fund Boston.

KEN FEINBERG: I'll tell you right now, whatever we do with this fund is inadequate. And everybody, I suggest, lower your expectations about this fund.

NEWTON: At $28 million and counting, it will be a trying process to attach a dollar figure to pain, suffering, and years of recovery ahead.

With many asking why the Tsarnaevs weren't stopped sooner, on Monday, Robel Phillipos, a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was accused of lying to investigators, was released in the care of his mother on $100,000 bond. His lawyers claim he knew of the attack.

SUSAN CHURCH, LAWYER FOR ROBEL PHILLIPOS: At no time did Robel have any prior knowledge of these marathon bombings, nor did he participate in any of the planning done by the defendant in this case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: You know, whether it's Robel Phillipos, the two Kazakhs students on custody, or Katherine Russell, the widow herself, the questions in this investigation still remains, even if they had nothing to do with this attack, what did they know before that manhunt and before, you know, one officer was killed and one severely injured -- still a question investigators are looking to answer -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. They need the answers to that.

Let's focus on Boylston Street. I see that you're right in front of the memorial where the bombing happened. It's only been open I understand for over a week now.

So, where are they now? How is business in that area?

NEWTON: You know, as strong as ever as Boston likes to see. Zoraida, I was here last week. I have family in Boston. They made a point of taking me to that street, I had dinner steps from where the bombs went off.

You know, Zoraida, if the point of this was to terrorize a city, that has not happened. I think you see that resilience in people here. I saw it in my family that's here. And I think it's good to see.

They are really getting back on are in feet here. And the businesses there really seem basically like it had never happened. There is a memorial here, another memorial two blocks up the road where the bombs actually went off. And, of course, everyone being very respectful, very mindful of everything the victims are still going for -- going through, but still very, very happy to be back in business.

SAMBOLIN: That's really great. And as we're seeing, the victims are actually coming by now as well and meeting all the folks that are hanging out.

So, thank you for that. We appreciate it. Paula Newton live for us in Boston.

ROMANS: New this morning: threats from North Korea who says it will take military action if even a single shell from U.S. and South Korea naval exercises fall within its territorial waters.

But there are signs tough talk is just talk. A U.S. official says two ballistic missiles have been withdrawn from a lunch site on the eastern side of the country. Meantime, South Korea President Park Geun-hye is in Washington, expected to meet with President Obama later today. On the agency, North Korea strategy and economic cooperation.

SAMBOLIN: Eleven minutes past the hour.

Amanda Knox said she is scared to face a new trial for murder in Italy, but will she face her ear and go back? She opens up about her sensational case and her personal life in her memoir "Waiting to be Heard."

CNN's Chris Cuomo spoke to her one on one asking that very question about will she go back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Will you face the trial, will you go back?

AMANDA KNOX, FACING MURDER RETRIAL IN ITALY: I don't know yet. It's a really complicated question. I mean, I'm afraid to go back there. I don't want to go back into prison. I don't want them to all of a sudden do a court order when I'm there just respecting the court and going there and the prosecution ask that I'd be put in preventive detention again. I mean, I was there for four years.

CUOMO: Could you do more time?

KNOX: Could I do more time? If they --

CUOMO: Could you do it? Could you handle it? Could you handle it?

KNOX: I'm having to handle things. I've not really been given a choice. I think people have sort of underestimated what that means and what effect that has had on me in my life. I have no choice but to face this. And I constantly ask myself, why? Why me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: From her fight against a new trial to her new book, our Chris Cuomo asks really tough questions. Can Amanda Knox convince you that she isn't the killer? Watch a special interview, "Amanda Knox: The Unanswered Question", tonight at 10:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

ROMANS: All right. Just ahead on EARLY START, a distraught survivor of that tragic limo fire speaks out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NELIA ARRELANO, SURVIVOR: There was so much smoke at the back of the car where one of our friends was sitting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Hear why she says the limo driver did not do enough to help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back.

We're following breaking news this morning. Three women missing and presumed dead found alive. One of the three, Amanda Berry, telling a 911 dispatcher she was kidnapped and she's free now.

It's believed they were held against their will in a home in Cleveland, Ohio. All three said to be in fair condition. Three brothers have been arrested in connection to this case.

SAMBOLIN: It could be weeks before we know what caused a stretch limousine to catch fire over the weekend in California, killing five women in a bachelorette party, including the bride-to-be. This morning, we're hearing from one of the four women who survived. A distraught Nelia Arellano, who claims the limo driver did little to help her or her dying friends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARELLANO: He didn't want to listen. I told him, there is smoke and a fire came out. I said, there is already a fire, "Stop the car, stop the car."

Then he get out from the car. He just opened the door, that's all he did. I even ask him, "Help me, help me." I bring out my head from the compartment, help me. I did squeeze myself over there, slide myself. Please open the door, open the door. He didn't do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness.

So, coming up, we'll also hear from the limo driver who managed to escape unharmed.

ROMANS: We've now learned the death toll from last month's building collapse in Bangladesh has passed 700. Workers continue their recovery efforts of the building outside the capital city of Dhaka, which housed five garment factories. They've given up hope of finding any more survivors of the April 24th collapse, and they're using heavy machinery to try to locate the bodies buried underneath the rubble. Many of the victims are young women making apparel destined for U.S. stores.

SAMBOLIN: Seventeen minutes past the hour. Grammy-winning singer/rapper Lauryn Hill sentenced to three months in prison, a year of probation, and three months of possible home confinement for failing to pay three years of federal income taxes. She'll also have to pay a $60,000 fine and any outstanding penalties and taxes she still owes. In court, Hill compared her situation to slavery, given how much money she says her album sales made for other people. She'll begin serving time in July unless she appeals.

ROMANS: A young mother in Miami lucky to be alive. She and some friends thought it would be fun to jump off a 76-foot bridge Sunday, except the water below was 12 to 18 feet deep. Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Stavitz broke her tail bone, chipped her spine, and broke five bones in her back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA STAVITZ, INJURED AFTER JUMPING OFF BRIDGE: I felt all my bones break. I started drowning. But my friend also in the water, he saved me. I'm not paralyzed, I'm alive. I'm thankful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Miracle. Stavitz has a 7-year-old daughter. She now admits it was a bad idea. She'll be in a neck brace for the next six months.

SAMBOLIN: That is nothing short of a miracle, right?

All right. A hole in one on the golf course, rare. A hole in one on the golf course in front of the president of the United States, even more rare. Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss did just that on Monday. After the feat, Chambliss joked with President Obama that now, he should give the GOP everything they want on entitlement reform.

ROMANS: And the president joked back, no, you only got your hole in one, you're not going to get another one.

All right. Coming up, if you like to shop online because it's tax- free in some states, there could be a change.

You're going to have to pay more. Zoraida, I'm sorry.

SAMBOLIN: I hate this story.

ROMANS: I'll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Huge rally in Asian stock markets overnight. U.S. futures are mixed right now. We watched the S&P 500 hit another record high Monday. We'll see what the day holds for us.

How do you feel about paying more for online purchases that are now free of state retail taxes?

SAMBOLIN: Don't like it.

ROMANS: I thought so.

The Senate passed a bill that would allow states to charge sales tax for many online purchases. This still has to get through the House.

If it becomes law, here's what will not be taxed. Retailers in physical stores like Walmart or Target, they are already collecting sales tax online. So, that won't change.

Also, the new law won't apply to every purchase. You won't pay sales tax to retailers with less than $1 million in sales outside of the state. If you buy a necklace or pillow from Etsy, for example, it likely won't cost any more.

Also, the new law doesn't apply to digital goods, music, e-books, stuff like that. The biggest change comes to online retailers. Let's use Amazon as example. It's the largest online retailer. It supports this law.

Under the current law, if a company has a warehouse or distribution center in your state, you do have to pay sales tax. You're already paying that sales tax in online purchases. Right now, residents of Arizona, California, Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, you're already paying that state sales tax when you use Amazon. Under the new law, the rest of the country will pay as well.

Finally, the sales tax you pay depends what state you live in and what you're buying. Some taxes are exempt in certain states. And if you live in Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, Montana, Oregon, you don't have state sales tax anyway. So not much will change for you.

But I told you yesterday, our latest polling is consumers don't like this.

SAMBOLIN: Can I ask you how soon this will take effect do you think?

ROMANS: The president has signed on to sign it. The House has to pass it. I mean, if the president signs it, assuming the president signs it, it would be pretty immediate.

SAMBOLIN: So, there should be a big surge online, right, big-ticket items.

ROMANS: We'll be watching those if people are going to rush. If you're buying $2,000 of whatever, you want to do that now before there's 5 percent to 7 percent tax.

SAMBOLIN: I bought a big-screen TV through Amazon when I was in Chicago --

ROMANS: There you go.

SAMBOLIN: We're live in Cleveland for the latest on the case of three girls missing for years, now found alive.

ROMANS: Plus, one step closer to figuring out what caused that fertilizer plant in Texas to explode.

We're back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)