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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Missing Women Found Alive; Kidnapping Fallout; 5 Killed in Deadly Limo Fire; Election Day for Sanford Vs. Colbert-Bush; Controversial High School Contest

Aired May 7, 2013 - 06:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Three women missing for a decade found alive and three brothers behind bars in connection to the case.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hunt for a killer. Police stepping up the search in the death of an 8-year-old girl in California.

SAMBOLIN: And we're hearing for the first time from the limo driver in the crash that killed five women in California over the weekend, and why one survivor says he did not do enough to help.

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Tuesday, May 7th. Thirty minutes past the hour.

And we're following breaking news from Cleveland this morning. Three women missing for a decade and presumed dead found alive. And three brothers suspected of kidnapping them and holding them captive are behind bars this morning. The break in the case: victim Amanda Berry's frantic 911 call to police.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

AMANDA BERRY, KIDNAP VICTIM: 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.

911 OPERATOR: 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 OPERATOR: All right we're sending them, OK?

BERRY: OK, I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years. (END AUDIO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Just incredible. CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Cleveland for us this morning.

And, Martin, what's the latest on the investigation? And how did these girls finally escape?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, Zoraida. I mean, what an amazing story. We've had so much bad news in the news of late, and now this wonderful story of three women that have been missing, and in some cases, their families perhaps had wondered, now they are being reunited with them after a decade, in some cases, or more.

The investigation, where does it stand? Well, it is only just beginning. We've got three people that are now in custody.

One of them is the owner of the home, that's the white frame building that is behind me. And that's Ariel Castro, and his two brothers. They are ages 50, 52 and 54.

But what police are clearly wanting to find out, this is both on the federal and local level, is were those three girls the only victims? Is there more to this? Are there other missing persons that could be accounted for here? Where does it lead them?

The happy ending is really just the beginning.

Charles Ramsey is the man who played significantly in this, because when Amanda Berry was kicking her way, literally, out of the house behind us, he was the one that came to her aid. This is how he described it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES RAMSEY, NEIGHBOR: I heard her screaming, eating my 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.

We see this dude every day. I mean every day.

REPORTER: How long you lived here?

RAMSEY: I've been here a year. He used to come to my room. I barbecued with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot. And listen to salsa music.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: Charles Ramsey is a man who many are going to remember in many different ways.

This is still trying to figure out exactly how was it that these three men were able to hold these women for so long, in this neighborhood, without people becoming aware, and questions like that and many more, not to mention reunions with family members. That is all that lies ahead -- Zoraida and Christine.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes, that is the big question. We also want to know more about the Castro brothers.

What can you tell us about them?

SAVIDGE: Yes, and that is the real question here. Who were they? How were they able to operate?

Last night, on Piers Morgan, the uncle of these men spoke out and he described them somewhat. Here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIO CASTRO, UNCLE OF SUSPECTS (via telephone): I know that two of them used to drink a lot. I don't know whether they still do. But Ariel was never a big drinker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: He said that Ariel Castro, he's the man listed as the owner of the home, he kept a very low profile, didn't interact a lot, and often when he would show up at the house, he would drive behind the home and would enter through the back door. There were seldom any lights ever seen on. All of that gave many people the impression that it was actually an abandoned home that he would come and check on now and then. No one realizing, of course, that there were three women, at least, inside, two children, as well, living a nightmare.

SAMBOLIN: And martin, we're hearing this morning, too, about this crazy connection with Castro's son in an article that he wrote when one of the girls went missing. What can you tell us about that?

SAVIDGE: Yes. You know, when you think this story cannot even develop farther and stranger, (AUDIO GAP) Castro, he is the son of the man one of who's being held in custody, the owner of the home. He was a journalism student in 2004, was going to Bowling Green University.

He wrote an article about one of the missing girls, Gina DeJesus. Actually spoke to Gina's mother. And then let me just quote you the last line that was in the piece, "Almost everyone feels a connection with the family and Gina's disappearance has the whole area talking." He says he was totally unaware that it was his father that was allegedly involved in the disappearance.

It is just mind-boggling development.

SAMBOLIN: I'm sure that will be another interesting person to talk to. And one last question, how are the girls doing this morning? Do we know?

SAVIDGE: Well, we know that, you know, they're in stable condition. And we saw some photographs of them last night. They looked joyous. And so, I think that overall, their physical health is probably good. It is going to be determining, you know, where they stand mentally. How are they going to be reunited? We know that authorities want to talk to them, federal and local. That's probably going to happen today.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Martin Savidge live in your hometown of Cleveland, nice to have you this morning. Thank you.

And we're going to get new details from the Cleveland Department of Public Safety this morning. We're going to bring you that news conference. That is live at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

ROMANS: The Cleveland kidnapping case calls to mind other high profile abductions. Many of the victims in those cases helped themselves by helping others get through the trauma.

More now from CNN's Kyung Lah.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is the angelic face of abducted children who survived hell on earth, Elizabeth Smart. Unwavering, determined, after Brian Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison for abducting and raping her for nine months.

ELIZABETH SMART, KIDNAPPED AS A CHILD: I would once again just like to express my gratitude to everyone that ever prayed for me, that ever searched for me, that ever put in time thinking about me, that made an effort to help bring me home.

LAH: Coming home has happened before in the worst of child abduction cases.

SHAWN HORNBECK, KIDNAPPED AS A CHILD: When I was 11 years old, I was riding my bike near my home when I was kidnapped by a stranger.

LAH: Shawn Hornbeck lost his childhood. The kidnapper: Michael Devlin, in Missouri.

HORNBECK: I was held captive for 4 1/2 years.

LAH: When Devlin abducted another boy, Ben Ownby, there was a critical break as police tracked Devlin to his apartment and found both boys. Hornbeck has since launched his own missing children foundation.

HORNBECK: If you see something, say something. Reach out to someone.

JAYCEE DUGARD, KIDNAPPED AS A CHILD: Hi. This is Jaycee Dugard.

LAH: You know her by this picture. Jaycee Dugard kidnapped at age 11, held for 18 years by Philip Garrido and his wife, Nancy, in Northern California. Garrido fathered two children with his victim. Dugard lived as a prisoner in plain sight until a local police officer's suspicions tracked her to a secret backyard compound. DUGARD: If you see something that looks wrong or amiss, speak out. You might be wrong, but you might just save someone's life.

LAH: Dugard's mother told Piers Morgan that joy and heartache follow a kidnapped child's return.

TERRY PROBYN, MOTHER OF JAYCEE DUGARD: Nothing is normal after something like this happens to you and you have to accept that fact and you have to move forward.

LAH: These survivors are moving ahead after living lives once frozen in fear.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. Investigators say it could be several more weeks before we could find out what caused a stretch limo to burst into flames last weekend in California. It killed five women that were headed to a bachelorette party, including the bride-to-be.

And this morning, we're hearing from one of the four women who managed to get out alive. A distraught Nelia Arellano claiming the limo driver did nothing to help her or her dying 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)

SAMBOLIN: So, next hour, we will also hear from the limo driver Orville "Ricky" Brown. He escaped the fire unharmed and says watching the vehicle burn with the women inside was like a nightmare.

ROMANS: Investigators in northern California say they're making progress now in the search for 8-year-old Leila Fowler's killer. FBI blood sniffing dogs Monday searching the home in valley springs, California, where the little girl was found stabbed to death late last month. A local sheriff's department is also reaching out to the community for help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SGT. CHRIS HEWITT, CALVERAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: We started a re- canvassing effort. And that effort was to hopefully develop new witnesses or to refresh people's memories on what they may or may not have seen last Saturday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Police hope that new evidence analysis from the Department of Justice crime lab is going to help lead them to Leila's killer.

SAMBOLIN: Amanda Knox says she's scared to face a new trial for her roommate's murder in Italy, but will she face her fear and go back to Italy? She opens up about her sensational case in her memoir "Waiting to be Heard."

Our Chris Cuomo spoke to her one-on-one. Here's what she told him about her private pain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How many nightmares will you wake up in prison? How many nightmares will you get the phone call the United States has decided you have to be sent back, it's not double jeopardy?

AMANDA KNOX, FACING MURDER RETRIAL IN ITALY: I mean, I had a panic attack on Saturday. Two days ago, I had a panic attack.

CUOMO: When you say panic attack, you don't mean a moment of doubt, right?

KNOX: No. I -- I sit in my hotel room and cry so loud until the security calls the room, because the person next door has heard me crying.

CUOMO: Getting help for that?

KNOX: No. I don't know if -- it's really hard for me to talk to people about it. It's like as soon as I allow myself to cry, I can't stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: You can watch Chris Cuomo's special interview "Amanda Knox: The Unanswered Questions". That is tonight at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

ROMANS: All right, coming up on EARLY START, a crucial election day in South Carolina today. Will former disgraced Governor Mark Sanford, will he win political redemption? Details on a very tight race, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Redemption or rejection? Mark Sanford gets his answer today. The former South Carolina governor is in a congressional race that's too close to call just two years after leaving office in disgrace.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta caught up with the candidates in a race that is attracting now national attention.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mark Sanford has been to political hell and back after his extramarital affair became synonymous with the Appalachian trail, the former South Carolina governor knows redemption is in sight.

SANFORD: I don't know whether I win or I lose, but I'm at peace with sort of where I am of that larger notion of you go out, you try as best you can, and then, the final verdict is in the good Lord and the voters' hands.

ACOSTA: Locked in a tight race for an open Congressional seat, he argues voters are more interested in solutions than the salacious details of his Argentinean mistress-turned-fiancee who showed up at one campaign event or his legal battles with his ex-wife.

Do you think the voters are over it when it comes to your past?

SANFORD: I don't think the media will ever be over it. And to a degree goes with your job -- been about my personal failings are all well-chronicled. They're out there. People know about them.

ACOSTA: Sanford has tried to change the subject, warning his loss would be a victory for House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi.

Wasn't that kind of goofy to be out there debating a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi?

SANFORD: No.

(CROSSTALK)

SANFORD: People got it. People got it. It was totally serious.

ACOSTA: Because of Sanford's baggage, his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, has a shot at winning this conservative district. The sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, she insists she'll be an independent voice in Washington.

ELIZABETH COLBERT-BUSCH, (D) S.C. CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: No one tells me what to do except the people of South Carolina's first Congressional district.

ACOSTA: Colbert-Busch says that means she may vote against the president, even on Obamacare.

COLBERT-BUSCH: Well, it's problematic if we need to look at it. I mean, when we're looking at --

ACOSTA: Would you vote to repeal it?

COLBERT-BUSCH: We need to repair it.

ACOSTA: But when asked about a recent vote on gun control, she appeared to draw blank on the senators backing the measure.

Yes or no, would you have voted yes or no on Manchin-Toomey? On the background checks.

COLBERT-BUSCH: Oh, my goodness.

ACOSTA: -- the amendment that would have --

(CROSSTALK)

COLBERT-BUSCH: OK. I am a defender of the Second Amendment, but we should expand background checks.

ACOSTA (on-camera): The newspaper here in Charleston endorsed Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, calling her the tonic for, quote, "Sanford fatigue." Just how tired the voters are, the former South Carolina governor will play out later today when the voters head to the polls.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Charleston, South Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Jim. Forty-seven minutes past the hour. Next on EARLY START, controversy over a high school tradition where the boys vote on who they think is the sexiest girl. Why the school can't seem to shut this down?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: It's an online tournament called May Madness that pits female high school classmates against each other to determine who is sexiest. Girls are encouraged to, quote, "look their finest" while the voting is going on. This has been going on at Issaquah High School in Washington State for five years.

And police say there's not really much they can do about it. Last year, they threatened to arrest the website's organizers because of negative comments that were posted on this site. But this year, the organizers skirted around that. They're now limiting access about who can post and what they can write. But you can see why parents and --

SAMBOLIN: We have --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: It's crazy story. Fifty-one minutes past the hour. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, secretly had LAP band surgery to lose weight. He told "The New York Post" he was thinking of his four kids and how it was time to start improving his health as well. Christie told the paper, quote, "I have struggled with this issue for 20 years, and for me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them." He says losing weight had nothing to do with the possible presidential bid, but it's so much more important than that. Christie reportedly checked in to a surgery center on February 16th. The operation included placing a tube at the top of his stomach which restricts the amount of food he can eat making him feel fuller much faster. Sources told "The Post" he's already lost nearly 40 pounds.

ROMANS: And, you know, we just had Jets coach, Rex Ryan, on who lost 115 pounds and kept it off for a year with the same kind of surgery. "The Post" reporting that Rex Ryan had talked to the governor about this process.

SAMBOLIN: It's always nice to check in with other people who've had it to see, you know, what they went through and how they adjusted.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

SAMBOLIN: Good luck, right? Good luck.

ROMANS: Yes. No kidding. All right. Of course, it starts all kinds of political talking, too.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

ROMANS: That's EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" begins when we come back.

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