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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Women Missing for Ten Years Found Alive; Interview with John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted"; Interview with Buzz Aldrin

Aired May 7, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Again we just want to tell you that the investigation into this very early stages, Christine. Three brothers, though, as you point out, and their ages 50, 52, and 54. Cleveland police are going to hold a news conference. The chief of police, the mayor expected to be there. That's about an hour and a half from now. We expect to learn a great deal more as to the condition of the women. They were taken to a nearby hospital and they're said to be in fair condition. Physical is one thing, mentally you have to wonder, but that's going to all come in time. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Remind us how they got out of this - how she got out of this house with the help of Chuck Ramsey there, kicking through that door and getting out of that house.

SAVIDGE: Yeah I mean and here's another question, I mean they had been held all three of them for at least, well in one case nine years the other, 10, and one for 11, so what happened yesterday? What happened yesterday that allowed Amanda to essentially get free, get to that front door and crawl or claw her way out of that?

You know, that is another question here, and I think the serious aspect that investigators are starting to look at is you know what is the connection with these suspects? How are they all related? We know one of them was a former Cleveland bus driver for the Cleveland school district and that has to raise a lot of concern.

The uncle was speaking out on Piers Morgan last night about the brothers. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIO CASTRO, SUSPECTS' UNCLE: I know that two of the, Ariel and (INAUDIBLE) used to drink a lot. I don't know whether they still do, but Ariel was never a big drinker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: How were they able to keep those woman held for a decade? How was is that people in this neighborhood apparently were not suspicious or didn't know what was happening literally in their own backyards? And the, could there be more victims? That is the real question that authorities are facing this morning. Christine?

ROMANS: And Martin, one of the neighbors told us that he called police November 2011 because he heard screaming, his sister had heard screaming coming out of that house. So what other kinds of missed clues might there have been along the way. Just such a -- just such a crazy story. What do we expect on this case this morning?

SAVIDGE: Well, a couple of things. I mean, one of the things that should be pointed out, we were just talking about crazy twists. There is an article that has been resurrected. It came out in a west side newspaper in 2004 and it was written by an Ariel Anthony Castro. It turns out that was the son of the man who is in custody. He was a journalism student going to Bowling Green University. He wrote an article About Gina De Jesus, one of the girls that was missing. He spoke to her mother. And then now, years later, he finds out, he says, and he's shocked and horrified that it was his father who was directly involved allegedly in her disappearance. These are the kind of threads that are coming to light out of a story that's already remarkable.

ROMANS: Right.

SAVIDGE: But now is becoming almost amazing.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, the last thing I heard a little while ago from one of his neighbors Mr. Lugo was that one of the brothers there's the three brothers in custody hat one of the brothers he saw come and go very often. He called him Coco. He didn't have his official name but just really interesting details. Martin Savidge live for us. Thank you very much.

ROMANS: The neighbor also said he would park and idle his school bus for three hours a day something that other reporting has shown he had been disciplined for by the school district, because you're not supposed to bring the bus home. He would bring the bus on that street. At 9:00 a.m. we're going to bring you a live news conference from the Cleveland police updating us on the very latest in this -- in this truly amazing case.

SAMBOLIN: Let's keep on talking about this. We have John Walsh, he's the former host of "America's Most Wanted" and an advocate for missing children. His own son Adam was abducted and murdered back in 1981. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

We're taking a look at this incredible photo that we're seeing of Amanda Berry, her sister and that little girl looking overjoyed at the hospital. So here we are, 10 years, they've been missing. How shocked were you when you heard this outcome?

JOHN WALSH, FMR. HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": First of all, I've been up all night. I am so thrilled that these three women, and very rarely do you see three women, we've done cases where there have been two, Jaycee Dugard kept in a backyard for 18 years, a couple of boys in Illinois that were kept there by a pedophile for four years. But to see three women and a child, the child probably creation of the -- of rape or abuse of one of the perpetrators, to see them alive, I literally have been doing cartwheels.

It is just phenomenal and there are two real heroes here. Amanda is a hero for seeing that tiny window when one of those three perverts weren't there, taking that chance, risking her life, risking her daughter's life, and getting to that door, and the real hero of the day is Charles Ramsey.

I've been doing "America's Most Wanted" 25 years, and I ask the public to make a difference, to have the guts, don't turn your back. Charles Ramsay said look, I'm a black man, it was a white woman, I thought it might be a domestic abuse case. No, what did he do? He got up on that porch, he kicked that door in, he dragged her out of that door with that little girl and got her to a cell phone. A real hero. And it is -- it's a fantastic, fantastic ending for those families.

ROMANS: Yes.

WALSH: It's just -- it's the best ending.

ROMANS: It really is. John I want to listen to a little bit of what Chuck Ramsey, as one of his other neighbors called him, he's describing Ariel Castro as someone who interacted with his neighbors freely he was the Cleveland plain dealer (ph) said he worked as a Cleveland school bus driver, lived in the house since 1992. Listen to what Charles Ramsey that neighbor you're talking about said about this suspect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES RAMSEY, NEIGHBOR: We say this dude every day. I mean every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long he lived here?

RAMSEY: I been here a year. You see where I'm coming from? I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot. Listen to salsa music.

(END VIDOE CLIP)

ROMANS: And another neighbor told us that he was actually walking Sunday with that little girl in a park. What about this behavior? What about this ability to sort of be out and sort of bold boldly in the neighborhood?

WALSH: Bold, cunning, sociopath. No empathy. I've hunted these guys down for years. I don't know why people are so surprised. The pedophiles, the serial killer, the kidnappers, they're not the guy under the bridge with a trench coat that looks like a troll. They just look like everybody else. And these three brothers allegedly have kept these women for 10 years. They've terrified them. They've tied them up. They've never let them get to the windows. They've never done anything but keep them there as their play toys. And I don't know why people are surprised.

Jaycee Dugard's neighbors called the police, police came to the door, they never went in the backyard. Phillip Garrido violated his parole, went away for an entire month, cops didn't save Jaycee Dugard in the back. It's not unusual.

Everybody thinks well we should be able to pick these guys out by their bizarre behavior. These three brothers had these women in that house as their own personal toys, sex toys I'm sure, and nobody knew it for ten years.

SAMBOLIN: But it is that the plain sight really that kind of shocks us all. We heard Amanda Berry's gripping 911 call. She talks about how her captor had left, giving her that window of opportunity to make that phone call. So you have to wonder, did those windows of opportunity happen in the past? What was it about this particular moment in time?

WALSH: I'm sure that the three brothers weren't there and Amanda must have said to herself I have got one tiny window, it may cost me my life. I've talked to lots of people who've been held captive by serial killers, predators, serial pedophiles, they're terrified that it will cost them their life, that there will be punishment, but Amanda must have said neither one of the brothers is here, I see people walking by, I've got to do something, and she did it and she saved her daughter's life and the two other women's lives. But it might have not -- it might have been years before that opportunity came forward. But she used it and she got out of there, and it's just incredible, and I hope and pray that these three guys get everything that's coming to them.

ROMANS: And let's be here clear, we don't know what the charges will be for which of the brothers whether the police are looking at whether two of these brothers may have been accomplices, may have known something. We know that law enforcement on the ground said two of the brothers made statements that gave them probable cause to arrest them but they the owner of that house is Ariel Castro, the 52-year-old brother and that is the name of the man who Amanda mentioned in her call.

So we're waiting to hear from authorities who they're going to what the charges are going to be what the investigation is going to look like and that's going to be about an hour and a half. So let me let me ask you this question. We know that there were bags over the windows of the house. We know that there were neighbors who knew that the man went Ariel Castro went in and out the back door not the front door. At one point in a 10-year captivity does he get more bold and he knows that he's groomed these women maybe so they're not going to try to escape?

WALSH: Well, many, many perpetrators do that. I did a case in Coeur D'alene, Idaho with a little girl who was kidnapped by a serial predator who killed her mother, her stepfather and her brother, marched her around for eight weeks all over the United States, and brought her back to Coeur D'alene to flaunt the fact that she had become his sex slave--8-year-old girl, thank god a woman in Denny's had seen this case on "America's Most Wanted" and again did the right thing and called the police. They become very bold. They become very complacent. This is their sex toy. These are the children that they created out of these relationships. Phillip Garrido even took the two girls out at one point. It's disgusting, but they can hide in plain sight.

I've caught many of these guys that hide in plain sight and they're control freaks. And they're -- this is their game. This is their game. And they get away with it for years, until somebody observes something and tries to make a difference, and that difference is Charles Ramsey, because just think about it, If Charles Ramsey had kept walking down the street, those girls might be in there forever until those guys allegedly the abusers got sick of them and may have killed them.

SAMBOLIN: And John how do we stop things like this from happening? There are so many children who are abducted. There are so many stories that we covered here. How do we -- what do we need to do, what is the learning experience from this?

WALSH: There's a big learning experience from this. Not too many people are mentioning Michele Knight because she was 20 years old when she went missing. And Amanda was on the day before her 17th birthday. I love law enforcement. Cops did a good job in this case. They never gave up. But I've been involved in hundreds of requests from families who said nobody looked for my adult daughter. Everybody said my daughter was a runaway. Amanda Berry's mother told me before she passed away that for the first few hours they considered Amanda a runaway and her mother said, absolutely not.

There is a lesson to be learned here. Ted Bundy killed I don't know how many women, 27 women? Every one of them was listed as a runaway, not one of them ran away. It's always, well, she was on drugs, she left her boyfriend, she went to go here. You have to take these cases of older women and older teenage women deadly serious. Because the resources aren't there so they don't exploit -- they don't use the resource because, well, they have the right to run away. But I think a good lesson will be learned here because there was an adult woman in there for 10 years that people probably looked for maybe for a couple days and said oh, she probably ran away to a new life.

ROMANS: John you just mentioned something that just sort of broke my heart that you, you've talked to Amanda Berry's mother before she passed away. I mean that's a real sad twist in this story, too, that Amanda Berry is going to come home and be reunited with her family but her mother who was heartbroken at her abduction will not be able to enjoy her return. Tell me a little bit about her mother and her quest to find this woman.

WALSH: Well, Gina De Jesus' mother, and Amanda Berry's mother, tried to have vigils to keep it alive. You know, I always say and Ed Smart and I collaborated to keep Elizabeth Smart's case alive, because the Salt Lake City police and the FBI believed that the carpenter they had in the jail, who died of an aneurysm, had killed Elizabeth and that her body was in the desert. They were ready to close the case. But Ed Smart and I didn't believe for a second that Elizabeth was dead and I profiled her 17 times and wouldn't you know, we got the guy and got Elizabeth back alive.

So you can never give up hope. You have to keep showing these cases, and unfortunately, Amanda Berry's mother, who said -- and was angry, angry that her daughter was suspected to be a runaway, died before she could see her daughter brought back alive. So I think there's a lot to be learned from this case. But, of course, the best thing is that these women are alive, they'll get back with their families, and I say another thing to those families if they're listening. Do not do all the shows. Do not do the news shows. We told Elizabeth Smart that. We told Jaycee Dugard that.

Don't go on Oprah. Don't go on the "Today Show." They'll all want to get you. Get psychological counseling. Get your child counseling. Don't do it until you're ready. Don't do it until you think you can mentally handle it. That's the best way to recover from 10 years of confinement, and fear of being -- either being killed or kept there for the rest of your life.

SAMBOLIN: Certainly from someone who knows. John Walsh, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

WALSH: Glad to do it.

SAMBOLIN: and top of the hour, we'll hear from Amanda Berry's aunt, Gail Mitchell, and later, Julio Castro the suspect's uncle.

In other news this morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie secretly had lap band surgery to lose weight. CNN sources confirmed that he was thinking it was time to start improving his health. He says losing weight had nothing to do with a possible presidential bid and reportedly checked in to a surgery center in February, February 16th. Meantime, he had previously told CNN's Jake Tapper that he considered lap band surgery too risky for him.

And ahead on STARTING POINT redemption or rejection? Former South Carolina governor finds out today if voters have forgiven his affair. We're live with a look at the hotly contested congressional race. That's next.

ROMANS: And Buzz Aldrin, Buzz Aldrin, has been to the moon. He thinks it's time you know it's time to get to Mars. He joins us with his new book and what he thinks it will take to reach the red planet. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Today is the day Mark Sanford finds out if voters choose redemption or rejection. The former South Carolina governor is in a tightly contested race for a congressional seat in his home state two years after he left office in disgrace.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is live from Charleston, South Carolina, this morning. Good morning, Jim. We'll see how long the memory of South Carolinians have.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the key question in this race, Christine. Good morning that's right. Voting locations are open in the first congressional district of South Carolina. And if you believe the polls, Mark Sanford just might pull off what was widely considered an unthinkable political comeback for the former South Carolina governor. He hopes this trail leads to Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

I really appreciate it.

ACOSTA: 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.

MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I don't know if I win or lose, but I'm at peace with where I am, you go out, try the best you can and then the final verdict is in the good lord and the voter's 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. That to a degree goes with the job. It's been about my personal failings, 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 goofy to be out there debating a cardboard cut out of Nancy Pelosi?

SANFORD: No. 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), SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: No one tells me what to do except the people of south one tells me what to do except the people of South Carolina.

ACOSTA: She says that means she may vote against the president, even on Obama care.

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

ACOSTA (on camera): Would you vote to repeal it?

BUSCH: We need to repair it.

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

(on camera): Would you have voted yes or no, on the background checks? BUSCH: You're talking about the background checks. I am a defender of the second amendment, but we should expand background checks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now Elizabeth Colbert Busch faces some long political odds. Considering what happened in the presidential race here in this first congressional district last November, Mitt Romney won this district by 18 percent over President Obama.

So it is a solidly Republican district. Even though this is a very tight race and the polls indicate it could come right down to the wire, campaign sources we've talked to say they do expect the results to come had in later on tonight and we'll be watching.

ROMANS: We sure will be. All right, Jim Acosta. Thanks, Jim.

Ahead of STARTING POINT, he made it to the moon and now it's time for Mars. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin joins us live with his new book and his vision for getting us to the red planet. There he is. Look at that tie, what an awesome tie. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Awesome with those words, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collin stitched himself into the fabric of American history. Now almost 44 years after the U.S. won the race to the moon. Same astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, is making his case for a new focus, Mars.

SAMBOLIN: And his new book out today, "Mission To Mars, My Vision For Space Exploration." He makes the argument for continued space exploration both robotic and human. Author, veteran astronaut and space advocate, Buzz Aldrin joins us now. We're so happy to have you this morning. Thank you so much.

BUZZ ALDRIN, ASTRONAUT, SPACE ADVOCATE: Thank you. While you were kind of reading that, I thought -- my observation about Philip Vongardner, one giant leap for Red Bull.

SAMBOLIN: So listen, Mars is a NASA priority. We know that from the chief. That is very important. We also know it's a priority for you. So why is it such a priority? Why should we buy into having a human on Mars?

ALDRIN: Humans on Mars permanently is the objective of making humanity on earth a two-planet race, a sustaining of catastrophe here on earth and inspiration to our young people. After Apollo the United States was right up there in science, technology, engineering and math, OK. We need that kind of inspiration and that kind of commitment can be made again when on the 50th anniversary of the 6th and the 7th lunar landings during or before, maybe, the re-election of whoever succeeds President Obama. And he or she will need his help now.

ROMANS: I want to read something you wrote in the book. You say America should chart a course of being the national leader on this international activity to develop the moon, but not by spending money placing U.S. government people on its surface. There's no need to spend our money on landers and other things that we've done before. Where do you want to see the program going now? It's all about colonizing. It's about two planets for the world.

ALDRIN: Well, a lot more goes with that and has to lead up to that. For example, when I submitted my choices for the future in '09, I didn't stop flying as the board said and President Bush said about the shuttle at the end of 2010. I just said let's fly the shuttle once a year. We have a big gap and it's growing.

I'm not saying that that was the outstanding course to take. There were many arguments about retiring the Orbiter. I'm just saying that I had foresight to say that that gap is going to be bigger than we think it is and we're going to be financing the Russian space program to take our people up to $100 billion space station. That doesn't make sense for the nation that led the world so thoroughly 44 years ago.

and you explain that very well in "Mission To Mars." Buzz Aldrin, we want this signed for our children. We're delighted to have you here. Who would have thought humans permanently on Mars and on earth. Thank you for joining us.

ALDRIN: Thank you so much.

ROMANS: I told my dad last night that we were interviewing Buzz Aldrin. He said, honey, that's out of this world. Thanks, Dad.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, again, our top story this morning, I have been kidnapped. A 911 call leads to the discovery of three women who have missing for 10 years. We're live with the details at the top of the hour.

SAMBOLIN: Governor Chris Christie taking a big step, the life changing surgery the New Jersey governor just got and that is coming up. You are watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Our STARTING POINT today. Breaking news we're following, three women found alive after a decade of captivity, their incredible escape and the frantic 911 call that saved their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AMANDA BERRY: 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 VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: We're going to talk with family members and neighbors who are shocked, shocked over this discovery.

SAMBOLIN: New this morning, Chris Christie's secret weight loss surgery, is he getting in shape for a presidential bid?

ROMANS: Amanda Knox opening up about the prospects of facing a retrial in Italy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA KNOX: I'm afraid to go back there. I don't want to go back to prison.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Chris Cuomo joins us as we look at that gripping interview.

SAMBOLIN: And we told you about the teen surfer who survived a shark attack with a smile on his face. He's going joins us live to talk about those heart-pounding moments. It is Tuesday, May 7th, STARTING POINT begins right now.