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Hero Neighbor Speaks Out; New Evidence Of Benghazi Cover-Up?

Aired May 8, 2013 - 05:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to a special edition of early start, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to see you, John. I'm Zoraida Sambolin live in Cleveland, Ohio. It is Wednesday, May 8th. So, let's get started here.

So many unanswered questions this morning about the three women who made that dramatic escape from captivity after a decade trapped inside a Cleveland home. FBI agents have been going through every corner of that house since Amanda Berry Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight managed to break out on Monday. They're keeping very quiet about what they're actually finding inside.

So later today, kidnapping suspects Pedro, Onil, and Ariel Castro will be interrogated by federal agents for the very first time since their arrest. The brothers could be formally charged by day's end. And as we wait to find out what kind of horror these three women endured, neighbors are still shocked that the ordeal went on for so long and right under their noses.


TITO DEJESUS, KNOWN ARIEL CASTRO FOR 20 YEARS: When they finally said it was the school bus driver and I know who lived there and they panned the camera to his house, it was like I turned white. My wife told me what's wrong? Are you OK? I was like -- I was dumfounded. I was -- I was in shock. I couldn't talk. My heart started beating really, really fast. I just couldn't believe it.


SAMBOLIN: The Castro brothers are being held right now at the County Justice Center in Cleveland. And Martin Savidge is there right now. And so, Martin, we want to know where the investigation stands at this hour. The police department had said that it would take about 48 hours in order for them to file charges. So, what's the status on that now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, going by that clock, going by that gauge, we would anticipate that it's possible we would see charges, say, by the end of the day today. Authorities have been really very closed-mouthed on what kind of charges they would be. But it's anticipated, of course, that those charges would be against all three brothers. It might be interesting to know, you know, will the charges be exactly the same or will those charges kind of indicate that each of these brothers may have played a different role in this whole ordeal as it went on for the decade or more. So, we'll be watching for that. It's believed they're being held here at the justice center.

We do know that they are going to be interrogated further today. It will be done by both local and by federal officials, including members of the Cleveland sex crimes unit. So, that gives you an indication of the direction, perhaps, in which this investigation is going. We're not just merely talking about women who were held hostage, but it goes much deeper, and unfortunately, much worse than that -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And now that the family and friends are beginning to speak out, Martin, what more are we learning about the Castro Brothers?

SAVIDGE: Yes. You know, i had a chance to talk yesterday with the uncle. And he describes that these brothers, you know, were troubled in a lot of ways. And that is actually something you get from talking with neighbors as well, that they claim that two of the brothers had a real drinking problem or had difficulties with alcohol.

And that one of the other brothers was accused of spousal abuse, and that he apparently had been involved in a domestic fight with his wife. So, the image that appears to come out from these men is troubling to say the least. And in fact, neighbors have also talked about what they were like and what was going on and they spoke to Piers Morgan last night. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we look across the street and it's Ariel, and he has a woman, she's naked, and she's just in the backyard, and my sister said something or he heard us, and like he like told her get down, get down, get in the house. And she was naked. He had, like, a mattress up. He was, like, trying to disguise.

But he didn't know that we could still see over it. He made her crawl on her hands and knees to get into the back, and he took her to the back, like, of the door. And that's the last time we seen her.


SAVIDGE: OK. So, that's not just unusual. That is definitely (ph) a red warning flag that something terrible is going on. Neighbors say they actually reported stuff like that, but that the police didn't take it seriously. Police records, they say, so far, don't indicate they were called for those.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Martin Savidge reporting live for us. We're going to check back in with you. And I just want to mention that last night, I had an opportunity to speak to Michele's family, and it was really interesting because they said -- you know -- question, what is it about the girls? Why didn't they try to escape? And maybe they were targeted, perhaps, because we do understand that when they filed the police report about Michele missing, that they actually told the police that she had some developmental disabilities, and they expressed their anger and their frustration at the lack of involvement from the police at the time having that knowledge. We're going to bring you more about that interview a little bit later.

So, we've been telling about Charles Ramsey, right? He is, you know, being hailed as the hero. He's one of the Cleveland neighbors who noticed Amanda Berry screaming for help. His actions have people calling him a hero everywhere, but he was surprised to find out what was allegedly going on right at his neighbor's house.


CHARLES RAMSEY, HELPED FREE MISSING WOMEN: I've been here a year. You know? I barbecued with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot and listen to salsa music. You see where I'm coming from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you had no indication that there's anything going on?

RAMSEY: Not a clue that that girl was in that house or anybody else against their will.


SAMBOLIN: Last night, CNNs Anderson Cooper spoke exclusively with Charles Ramsey.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, you moved in about a year ago.


COOPER: You'd seen Ariel Castro around, right?

RAMSEY: When I moved here. he was my neighbor.

COOPER: Right.

RAMSEY: You know what I mean?

COOPER: What was he like?

RAMSEY: Cool. He wasn't no freak of nature. He was like me and you. He talked about the same thing you talk about. He'd talk about you, you know what I mean? You know, regular stuff, bro.

COOPER: So, yesterday, what happened?

RAMSEY: You're going to love this. I'm going to tell it all. Around three o'clock, I was on my porch. And the mailman put his mail in my mail. I looked at it and said I've got to give Ariel his mail when he comes home. Couple minutes later, he pulled up. He checked the mailbox, before he went in the house, I said Ariel, here go your mail. We had the same conversation when I handed him the mail.

He said they can't get it right. I said no, damn postal service. That's it. He left. I jumped on my bike, went to McDonald's, came back home. I'm in my house. But I'm in the living room and I'm right by the front door because I'm looking out the front door. And, man, this girl screamed like a car had hit a kid, which made me, you know, stop eating, what the hell was that?

So, when I got up, I saw my neighbor across the street. He run across the street. I'm thinking where are you going? Ain't nobody next door, because I just saw Ariel leave. And I know there ain't nobody over there. I heard that girl scream and saw him running across the street. And I went outside and wondered what he was doing. Amanda say I'm stuck in here, help get me out.

So he -- he either don't know English that well or panicked. Well, he just looked at me, and was like, it's a girl. And that's all he did. So, here I come with my, you know half-eaten big mac. And I look and I say what's up? And she's like, I've been trapped in here. He won't let me out. It's me and my baby. I said you ain't got to talk no (ph) more, come on.

And I'm trying to get the door open and I can't. He torture chambered it some kind of way, locked it up, right? So, I did what I had to do and kicked the bottom of the door and she crawled out of it. She grabbed her baby, threw me off. All right. Fine. I got some girl and her kid.

COOPER: What did she hook like? I mean, what was she wearing?

RAMSEY: A jump suit. She had a white tank top on, rings on, mascara. You know, she was well-groomed. She didn't look like she was kidnapped. That's what I'm saying. That's what threw me off. She was like I'm in here trapped. I'm like, well, you don't look kidnapped. Maybe you got a boyfriend problem.

But I'm thinking, I know who lives here. And he's 50 something. You can't be the boyfriend problem. You know? Can't be him. Maybe you're dating his son.

COOPER: And you'd never seen her before?

RAMSEY: Bro --

COOPER: In the year that you've been there?

RAMSEY: Bro, that man, listen. Never. That woman didn't come out the house. The only kids that came out the house were two little girls. They played in the backyard. He had two dogs. And where I live, naturally, is next door. My bedroom was upstairs. So, I hear kids playing, I know it's them. They did the same thing, play in the backyard for a couple hours, go back in the house.

Same thing every day. The neighborhood knows them as his grandchildren. So, it's no big deal. He has his grandkids over all he time. I thought. COOPER: Amanda Berry then, what, asked to call 911?

RAMSEY: Um-hmm. And I took her into my house. You know,, I'm nervous as hell. So, I'm fumbling with my phone. So, I finally did it right. She can't wait. I don't blame her. So, what I do was tell her go across the street and use their phone. Now, we're both calling 911. Now, she gets through and I get through. She dealt with a moron, me, too.

COOPER: What do you mean about a moron? I heard the 911 call from her. And the woman --


COOPER: The woman was like hang up and wait for the police.

RAMSEY: Really. How about stay on and I'll talk to you until they get there.

COOPER: Right.


SAMBOLIN: Oh, we're going to hear much more of Anderson Cooper's exclusive interview with Charles Ramsey. It's coming up in our next hour on EARLY START. I got have to tell you, John, that is one incredible storyteller. Incredibly animated. And, it's hard to believe that he does not consider himself a hero.

BERMAN: He sure has one heck of a story to tell, and he's telling it in quite a colorful way. All right. Thanks, Zoraida.

Other news here, friends and family saying goodbye to eight-year-old Leila Fowler (ph). An overflow crowd turned out for Laila's funeral yesterday. She was laid to rest following a private service. This as the search for her killer continues. Yesterday, police dive teams went searching for clues in a pair of ponds near the girl's home in Valley Springs, California.

The California couple who called police after being held hostage by rogue cop, Christopher Dorner, will get most of the $1 million reward. Dorner died in a standoff with police hours after Karen and Jim Reynolds reported their car had been stolen by him. Dorner was on the run after killing four people and wounding three others in a vendetta against the LAPD.

The Reynolds will get $800,000. Daniel McGowan (ph) who called in to report Dorner's burning truck in the resort town of Big Bear, California, he will get $150,000. Fifty thousand will go to the man who spotted Dorner on February 7th and informed police. That man's name is Mr. McDaniel (ph)

Former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, calling on North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, to release U.S. citizen, Kenneth Bae. Bae has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor for what the north calls hostile acts. Rodman who visited North Korea in February and calls Kim a friend for life tweeted, "I'm calling on the supreme leader of North Korea or as I call him, Kim, to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose." That, again from Dennis Rodman.

All right. So, you won't have those loops on your money after all, thanks to a new look for treasury secretary, Jack Lew's signature. Recent documents show Lew's handwriting has changed from the loopy set of unrecognizable scribbling, I think, it's on the right, actually, to the more legible signature on the left.

It is not clear whether the change comes because Lew's signature is about to be printed on the U.S. currency. I think it probably is a good bet he changed it just because of that reason also because President Obama made fun of him for it. Former treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, had a similar change in his signature before currency went out with his name on it.

New this morning, the man who may be arguably the most well-known coach in the world is retiring. Sir Alex Ferguson is the manager of the soccer club, Manchester United in England, he is stepping down after more than a quarter century. Again, he is definitely the most famous coach of any sport in all the world.

He is 71 years old. He's coached Man U since 1986, and during that time, he's won more than 30 trophies, including 13 league championships. This is giant news in the sports world overnight.

Meanwhile, ahead on EARLY START, some Republicans say they have new evidence of a cover-up in the Benghazi attacks. Did the Obama administration mishandle what happened? We'll have the details after this.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. House Republicans say they have new evidence of a cover-up in the attack on Benghazi which they will reveal in a hearing later this morning. But Democrats say the revelation will be one-sided. Democrats say they have not been allowed to talk to one of the GOP's witnesses. Here's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Republican sources insist their state department witnesses will reveal new information about mistakes before, during, and after September's deadly Benghazi attacks and bolster GOP claims of an Obama administration cover-up.

REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R) OVERSIGHT & GOVERNMENT REFORM CMTE. CHMN.: Whistleblowers are courageous to come forward and they're essential on the case like this.

BASH: A star GOP witness is Gregory Hicks, the second ranking U.S. diplomat in Libya at the time of the attack. Hicks will say administration officials new from the start the attack was not what they publicly suggested, a spontaneous demonstration. "I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attacked from the beginning," Hicks told investigators.

That goes to the heart of a central Republican question about those infamous administration talking points about the attack. Who stripped out references to al Qaeda and why? Republicans call it a political decision, a fear of stepping on the president's campaign message that he crippled al Qaeda.

ISSA: We want to find out who made this decision, who made the decision, the change talking points in a way that caused the American people to be lied to.

BASH: Then, there is the military response. Hicks will say military personnel were ready to board a Libyan plane to Benghazi to help Americans under fire there but were ordered by superiors not to go.

ISSA: They may not have arrived in time to save lives, but at the time the decision was made, the decision was wrong.

BASH: Who made that decision?

ISSA: We want to find out who made this decision.

BASH: Democrats warn it will be a partisan show.


BASH: The committee's top Democrat complains Republicans won't let them talk to one of the whistleblower witnesses, a counterterrorism official. Elijah Cummings calls that unprecedented.

CUMMINGS: Everything that I've seen so far with regard to this investigation shows me that it's a one-sided investigation, and it leaves me sad, really. I just know that we're better than that.

BASH (on-camera): The committee's top Democrat insists he, too, is interested in getting answers to what happened and why in Bengahzi, but the partisan way Republicans are handling it, quote, "makes the work product of the committee questionable." A GOP source countered that if Democrats were so hungry for the facts, they would have joined Republicans in pressing the state department to hand over key documents and information that Congress is having trouble getting.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: An ominous sign from Syria overnight. The internet is apparently down throughout that war-torn country and it is not clear why. The Syrian government has shut down the internet in the past and has used it extensively to track the opposition as well.

New this morning, singer Tim Lambesis, of the heavy metal band As I Lay Dying, is under arrest charged with trying to hire a hit man to murder his wife. Lambesis' wife, Megan, filed papers to dissolve their marriage last September. So, he is the $96 million man in the NFL, but Buffalo Bills star, Mario Williams, is very concerned about $785,000 in particular. That is how much he paid for a 10 karat diamond engagement ring. That's a big ring. He's suing his ex-fiancee to get it back. Williams claims that she never wanted to get married and only used him for his money.

Coming up, a stunning line drive to the head. This picture is simply awful. It sends a major league pitcher to the hospital. We will give you an update on his condition when we come back.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. I'm Zoraida Sambolin live in Cleveland. Charles Ramsey is being called a hero after helping to rescue the three women and a little girl who had been held captive for years. Ramsey tells CNN's Anderson Cooper what happened when he heard Amanda Berry's cries for help.


RAMSEY: I'm trying to get the door open and can't, because it's -- he done torture chambered in some kind of way, locked it up, right? So, I did what I had to do, kicked the bottom of the door. She crawled out of it. She grabbed her baby, threw me off. All right. Fine. I got some girl and her kid.


SAMBOLIN: We're going to hear much more of what Charles Ramsey had to say to Anderson Cooper, it's coming up in our next hour.

John, I'm going to back to you, but I also am going to talk a little bit later, and I think we're going to have a little bit of the interview that I did with Michele Knight's family and her brother in particular, Freddy, who talks about seeing her for the first time in the hospital, how he was overcome with emotion, and how different she looks from when he last saw her.

He said she used to be a pudgy girl, and you know, she's gone -- lost a lot of weight and that she is traumatized after all this ordeal. He says she is still in the hospital and will remain there for a while -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Zoraida. The emotion of these families must be feeling simply overwhelming.

Fifty-four minutes after the hour right now. Your other top stories this morning --


BERMAN (voice-over): Still no solution this morning to the problem of what to do with the remains of Boston bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. No cemetery in Massachusetts has offered to accept his body for burial. Tsarnaev's uncle is asking the government to intervene to help him find a final resting place. Delaware, now the 11th state to approve same-sex marriage. Democratic governor, Jack Markell, signed the measure into law shortly after the Senate approved it in a 12-9 vote. Gay rights activists hailed the law's passage saying it represents momentum for supporters of marriage equality laws across the nation.

A simply awful seen last night at Tropicana Field. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, J.A. Happ, struck in the head by a line drive in the second inning of the last night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Just check that out. Happ was taken off the field in a stretcher. He was conscious and transported to a local hospital. He is said to be in stable condition this morning.


BERMAN: And coming up, as if Tom Brady doesn't make enough money, he's just won some more. Life getting even more perfect for the world's most perfect man. It's trending coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Trending online this morning, America's love affair with bacon is well-documented and justified, but who knew it could be the key to long life. A 105-year- old woman in Texas says bacon is the reason she has lived so long. Pearl Cantrell (ph) says she eats bacon every day and believes that bacon is the reason why she feels like she's 95.

The folks at Oscar Mayer found out about Pearl's obsession and sent a big box to her home, plus, get this, they gave the 105-year-old woman a ride in the Wienermobile. Now, tha tis living.

More definitive proof this morning that Tom Brady is, in fact, perfect. The New England Patriots quarterback won $25,000 this past weekend betting on the Kentucky Derby. Don't think you really need that money. Brady reportedly put down $4,700 on Orb to win. The return was $25,000. So, just for the record here, Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings, a supermodel wife, and now, he is a skilled handicapper, too. Man.

All right. To check out other top CNN Trends, go to

EARLY START continues live from Cleveland, Ohio right now.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Three suspects behind bars as police continue their investigation into a Cleveland house of horrors that kept three women captive for a decade. And the victim's families are speaking out.

And Charles Ramsey says he's no hero, the neighbor who helped save the three kidnapped women. We'll tell you how all of it went down and there is still something haunting him right now.

BERMAN (voice-over): And protestors demonstrate outside the funeral home where the body of one of the suspected Boston marathon bombers has been taken. But with no one willing to accept the body for burial, the uncle of Tsarnaev is asking the government to help find a solution.


BERMAN (on-camera): Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman in New York.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. I'm live in Cleveland, Ohio. A lot going on here so let's get started.

It is 6:00 a.m. in the east now. And we have shocking new information that's coming to light after three women were found alive in a Cleveland home a decade after vanishing without a trace. We still don't know what kind of living hell three women endured during a decade in captivity inside the home right behind me on Seymour Avenue.