Return to Transcripts main page
EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
"Help Me, I Am Amanda Berry!"; Three Missing Women Found Alive; Air Force Officer Facing Charges; No Final Rest For Tamerlan Tsarnaev
Aired May 7, 2013 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I've been kidnapped. A shocking 911 call from one of three women missing for a decade and presumed dead now found alive. The breaking details coming up.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: An Air Force officer in charge of the sexual assault prevention program arrested on sexual battery charges.
SAMBOLIN: And his body is ready for burial, but the marathon bombing suspect may be forced to return to Russia.
Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.
ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. John Berman has the day off today. It's Tuesday, May 7th. It's 6:00 a.m. on the nose in the East.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
ROMANS: Our breaking news this morning, three women found alive in a Cleveland home a decade after vanishing without a trace. The three brothers suspected of kidnapping them behind bars this morning. Amanda Berry was 16 when she became one of the victims who disappeared in three separate incidents between 2002 and 2004. It was her breathless 911 call that ended their long ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA BERRY, MISSING FOR 10 YEARS: Help me, I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for ten years, and I'm here. I'm free now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Martin Savidge live from Cleveland for us this morning. Martin, the last time anyone saw Amanda Berry, she was finishing her shift at a Burger King in 2003. This was one day before her 17th birthday and then she was gone -- Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And now, we stand, Christine, in front of the home where those three women were found yesterday. Amanda Berry was the one that managed to escape and it was the two other women that were rescued. To describe this neighborhood, it's a hard-working neighborhood, one that is unaccustomed to miracles, yet, they know that yesterday, they had three of them.
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 DISPATCHER: 911.
BERRY: Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.
911 DISPATCHER: Do you need police, fire or ambulance?
BERRY: I need police.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. And, what's going on there?
BERRY: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for ten years and I'm here, I'm free now.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. And what's your address?
BERRY: I can't hear you.
911 DISPATCHER: It looks like you are calling me (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
BERRY: I'm across the street. I'm using the phone.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. Stay there with those neighbors --
BERRY: Please help me.
911 DISPATCHER: Thank you. OK. Talk to the police when they get there.
BERRY: OK. Hello?
911 DISPATCHER: Yes, talk to the police when they get there.
911 DISPATCHER: We're going to send them as soon as we get a car open.
BERRY: No, I need them now before he gets back.
911 DISPATCHER: All right. We're sending them, OK?
911 DISPATCHER: Who's the guy who went out?
BERRY: His name (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
911 DISPATCHER: All right. How old is he?
BERRY: He's like 52.
911 DISPATCHER: All right.
BERRY: I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last ten years.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. I got that here. I already -- what was his name again?
BERRY: (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
911 DISPATCHER: And is he White, Black, or --
911 DISPATCHER: What's he wearing?
BERRY: I don't know because he's not here right now.
911 DISPATCHER: When he left, what was he wearing?
911 DISPATCHER: All right. The police are on the way. Talk to them when they get there. OK?
BERRY: I knew -- OK.
911 DISPATCHER: I told you they're on the way. Talk to them when they get there. OK.
BERRY: Thank you.
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.
SAVIDGE: And that is absolutely right, Christine. I mean, the spirit in this town right now you could say the people were happy, that wouldn't cut it. They are absolutely jubilant. They realize that events like this do not happen. I'm from Cleveland. My phone last night blew up, my Facebook account was just flooded. Everybody in Cleveland was saying you have to be here. We believe in miracles, and now they've come true.
SAVIDGE: Standing on the street here you realize that is exactly right. It's a wonderful day. But still we should point out, many questions. The happy ending is really only the beginning of what is going to be a long, difficult investigation. ROMANS: Yes. Focusing on the homecoming, but the horrors behind that door are something that those young women investigators will have to start going over. Let me ask you one question. The primary -- Ariel Castro, the two brothers, do police say they think all of these guys were together what is -- three suspects or one suspect? Can you explain that to me?
SAVIDGE: Yes, well, you know, one suspect is believed to be the owner of the home and that's the one that's been named Ariel Castro. The other two authorities have not named. It's the connection here. We're trying to work that through. We're anticipating there's going to be a news conference scheduled for 9:00 Eastern Time.
And we expect that the mayor, the chief of police, could be a lot of questions answered there. We also know that much of this neighborhood remains off limits and there's a reason for that because, one, a lot of federal help is coming. This investigation, as they say, just starting. And also they're bringing in search dogs. They won't say why -- Christine.
ROMANS: OK, thanks so much, Martin Savidge in his hometown of Cleveland. Martin, we're going to get new details, as you mentioned, from the Cleveland Department of Public Safety this morning. We're going to bring that news conference live 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
SAMBOLIN: Just an incredible story.
ROMANS: It sure is.
SAMBOLIN: It's 6 minutes past the hour. An Air Force commander who was supposed to be in charge of preventing sexual assaults has been accused of committing one. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reacting with outrage and disgust to the charges brought against Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski.
CNN's Barbara Starr is following this developing story for us. She is live at the Pentagon. Good morning to you, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zoraida. Well, a comment from the Pentagon, indeed, about a high profile case. But this often, sexual assault, often a silent sexual crime that happens every day in the U.S. military.
STARR (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, DVIDG: This is Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski from NATO training mission Afghanistan.
STARR: He was immediately removed from his Pentagon post after being arrested early Sunday morning 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 is due to an increase in incidents, or more victims becoming more comfortable in reporting what is often a crime kept silent.
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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sexual insult and rape, is not about 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 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.
STARR: Now, this lieutenant colonel, his case apparently, is being handled by a local police department because the allegation came outside of his Pentagon duties. However, Hagel is looking at overhauling the military justice system so when someone is convicted of a sexual assault crime, that conviction cannot be so readily overturned as some have in the past -- Zoraida.
SAMBOLIN: All right, Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon for us. Thank you.
ROMANS: New developments this morning on a number of fronts in the Boston marathon bombings. The funeral director where Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body was taken say Russia may be the only place willing to bury him.
Meantime, victims are starting to find out how the money raised for them will be spent. And a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev accused of lying to investigators is free on $100,000 bail. CNN's Paula Newton live for us this morning in Boston. Good morning, Paula.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. You know, as you were saying many developments in this case, but still no resolution about what to do with the remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He, still, this morning, is in a funeral home in a suburb of Boston, and nowhere for the body to go.
NEWTON (voice-over): Still sheltered by her parents and under constant watch by the FBI, Katherine Russell has kept her silence publicly, 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 Duval Patrick acknowledged the outrage that is building over this.
GOV. DUVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This isn't a state or a federal issue, it's a family issue. And 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 Tsarnaev's body back to Russia could be a solution. Still, it all raises more turmoil for victims and their families who, for the first time now, are learning how money will be distributed from the "One Fund Boston."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 nothing of the attacks.
SUSAN CHURCH, LAWYER FOR ROBEL PHILLIPOS: At no time did Robel have any prior knowledge of this marathon bombing nor did he participate in the -- any of the planning done by the defendant in this case.
NEWTON: Meantime, Christine, the two Kazakh students also charged remain in custody and the lingering questions from this investigation are still Katherine Russell, the three suspects who have now been charged, what did they know? Did they have any communication with the Tsarnaev brothers? And could they have stopped what really was an out-of-control manhunt, and one death of a police officer, the injury of another, so many questions here -- Christine.
ROMANS: All right, Paula Newton live for us this morning in Boston. Thank you, Paula.
SAMBOLIN: It's 12 minutes past the hour. 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 the tough talk is just talk.
A U.S. official says two ballistic missiles have been withdrawn from the launch site on the eastern side of the country. Meantime, South Korea's president is in Washington expected to meet with President Obama later today, on the agenda, North Korea strategies and economic cooperation.
ROMANS: Up next a survivor of that deadly limo fire speaks out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was so much smoke in the back of the car where one of our friends was sitting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Hear why she says the driver of the limo did not do enough to help the women get out of that burning car.
SAMBOLIN: And a woman jumps 76 feet into water just 12 feet deep and somehow she lived. You're looking at her there to tell us all about it. Hear from her coming up.
ROMANS: Welcome back.
It could be weeks before we know what caused a stretch limousine to catch fire, killing five women in a bachelorette party in California, including the bride-to-be. One of the four women who survived, Nelia Arellano, says the limo driver did nothing to help her and her friends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELIA ARELLANO, SURVIVOR: He didn't want to listen, I told you, there is smoke and the fire come out. There is already fire, "Stop the car, stop the car!" When he get from the car, he just opened the door, that's all he did. I even ask him, "Help me, help me!" Because bring out my head from the compartment, and say, "Help me," so I could squeeze myself over there and slide myself. I even ask the driver, "Open the door, open the door!" He didn't do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: We're also hearing from the limo driver himself. CNN's Dan Simon has his side of the story.
ORVILLE "RICKY" BROWN, LIMO DRIVER: In this situation, you always -- you always would feel that you could do more. You could have done more. I don't know. You know, it's just -- everything happened so fast.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Visibly tired and distraught, limo driver Orville Brown tries to explain the tragic circumstances behind the fire that killed five of his passengers Saturday night. He had a total of nine women in the vehicle, including 31-year-old Neriza Fojas. She was to travel to her native Philippines next month to be married. And the group, all nurses, had come together for a bachelorette party. BROWN: One of the ladies knocked on the partition and she said, smoke. I figured that she was asking if she could smoke a cigarette.
SIMON: Then, Brown begins to smell the smoke and hears a frantic call from the women. He stops his car in the middle of the San Mateo- Hayward Bridge.
BROWN: As soon as I pulled over, one of the ladies hops through the partition. I unlock the door, this guy open the door. The lady hops through the partition. And at that time, there's two cars, one in front of us, I believe, one in back of us. These guys are trying to help.
SIMON: Within seconds he says the entire car had burst into flames. Brown could only guess what had caused the fire.
BROWN: I'm really not sure. I know it wasn't gas-related. And the car didn't blow up. It just engulfed in flames. I smelled carpet. I smelled wiring. I smelled plastic. I mean, to me, in my opinion, it probably was electrical.
SIMON: Investigators say it will take several days to determine the cause. Meanwhile, the county coroner says this about the victims who were unable to get out.
ROBERT FOUCRAULT, SAN MATEO COUNTY CORONER: One could say they were getting away from the fire, that's why they were in the front, toward the partition. You could also probably say that they were trying to get out as well.
SIMON: Brown says he doesn't know what he could have done differently. He had this message to the victims' families.
BROWN: I'm sorry personally. And my heart goes out to you. I feel for you. I wish there was something that I could tell you because I know you guys are -- are grieving. As well as I am.
SIMON (on camera): Now, Brown had only been a limousine driver for two months. But prior to that, he says he drove commercial vehicles and airport shuttle buses. We should point out this particular limousine was authorized to carry eight or fewer passengers. Of course we know it had nine. But authorities haven't said whether or not it plays any significance into their investigation.
Dan Simon, CNN, San Mateo, California.
SAMBOLIN: Nineteen minutes past the hour.
The death toll is now up to 700 in last month's building collapse in Bangladesh. Workers continue their recovery efforts at the building which housed five garment factories just outside the capital city of Dhaka. They've given up hope of finding any more survivors there. They're using heavy machinery to try and locate bodies that are buried underneath all of that rubble. Grammy-winning singer rapper Lauryn Hill sentenced to three months in prison, a year of probation, and three more months of possible home confinement for failing to pay three years' worth of federal income taxes. She'll begin serving time in July unless her lawyer appeals.
ROMANS: A young mother in Miami is frankly lucky to be alive. She and some friends thought it would be fun to jump off a 76-foot high bridge Sunday. There it is. The water below was just 12 to 18 feet deep. Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Stavitz broke her tailbone, she chipped her spine, she broke five bones in her back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA STAVITZ, INJURED AFTER JUMPING OFF BRIDGE: I felt all my bones break, and I started drowning. But my friend that was already in the water, she saved me. I'm not paralyzed, I'm alive. I'm thankful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Wow. She's lucky.
Stavitz who has a 7-year-old daughter now admits this was a pretty bad idea. She's going to need a neck brace for the next six months.
SAMBOLIN: That's an understatement, right?
ROMANS: Just ahead on EARLY START, two of the biggest mortgage lenders in the U.S. under fire for allegedly not helping struggling homeowners lower their mortgage bill. Oh, yes, they agreed with the government that they were going to -- they were going to stop the shenanigans and the New York attorney general says huh-uh, it's still happening. What does this mean for Bank of America and Wells Fargo and for you when we come back?
ROMANS: Minding your business this morning.
What a run. The S&P 500 is up 13.41 percent so far this year. Look at that. That's already this year matches its gain for all of 2012.
ROMANS: Thirteen-point-four-one percent. A monster rally in Asian stocks overnight. U.S. futures are slightly higher this morning.
All right. Big banks promised, they promised they'd clean up their act and help struggling homeowners. But the state of New York says two big banks still aren't playing 100 percent by the rules.
New York's attorney general says Bank of America and Wells Fargo flagrantly violated legal obligations to protect homeowners, putting them at risk of foreclosure. The attorney general claims B of A and Wells Fargo didn't acknowledge applications to refinance in time. In other cases, New York says the banks didn't notify borrowers about problems in their applications, and then didn't give them time to fix those problems.
Plus, failing to make decisions about loan modifications within 30 days. New York's attorney general says it has 339 documented cases. Bank of America says, and I'm quoting here, it has provided relief for more than 10,000 New York homeowners through the national mortgage settlement, that totals more than $1 billion.
Now that settlement was reached in February of last year. Five of the largest mortgage servicers agreed to pay $5 billion each to adopt new reforms to -- to the mortgage practices. This was meant to end shenanigans in how these mortgages are refinanced or modified or the whole process. And these attorney generals are very -- I mean they're holding these banks to the fire. They want this cleaned up.
SAMBOLIN: And they should.
ROMANS: Bank of America says it's done a whole lot of, whole lot of good. New York says not enough.
SAMBOLIN: All right. One thing we need to know about our money?
ROMANS: How does 1,900 sound for the S&P 500?
ROMANS: That's the guidance reportedly from the legendary market forecasters Birinyi and Associates. S&P currently sits at a record high of 16.9. It would be another 17.5 percent from here if that guidance from Birinyi and Associates were to happen. It would be a lot higher.
All right. Twenty-six -- thank you -- 26 minute past the hour.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
SAMBOLIN: Up next, we're live in Cleveland for the very latest on the case of three girls missing for years. They are now found alive.
Plus, how a case like this stirs the emotions of other kidnapping victims, as well. That's coming up.