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Castro Charged with Rape, Kidnapping; Arias Talks After Guilty Verdict; Nuclear Fail

Aired May 9, 2013 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Suspected kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro awaiting arraignment this morning as horrific new information emerges. How did Castro allegedly lure three young women into his home and keep them captive for over a decade? We have the disturbing details.

And home at last. Kidnap victim Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus reunite with the family that they were taken away from for so many years.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Finally, a verdict in the case that has captivated millions. Jodi Arias is guilty. And a shocking admission by Arias has prison officials on high alert.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. A lot's going on this morning. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: Indeed quite a news day. Nice to see you, John.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin. I'm live in Cleveland, Ohio. It's Thursday, May 9th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. So, let's get started here.

We are live in Cleveland with the horrifying new details about what went on inside the house that's right behind me on Seymour Avenue for the last 10 years. We're going to have more on that.

But first, this morning, we are getting a first look at the man many are calling a monster. Ariel Castro accused of holding three women inside of his home now facing three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping.

Listen to a reporter from WOIO in Cleveland firing questions at Castro inside prison last night.


WOIO REPORTER: Why are you covering your face? What do you have to say to those women? How can you do that? What kind of monster does this?


SAMBOLIN: You see no response there.

And there is breaking news this morning as well. Unimaginable sickening new details in a police incident report obtained by CNN. It is disturbing the torture, the abuse suffered by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight, including how the women say they were originally abducted, what officers found when they first arrived at Ariel Castro's home on Monday and how one of the female captives was allegedly starved and beaten during multiple pregnancies in order to induce miscarriages.

Pamela Brown is tracking that part of the story for us this morning.

Good morning to you, Pamela.

You know, they told us to prepare ourselves for some really horrific details, and they certainly are.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Zoraida. We are learning new details, the circumstances surrounding the alleged abductions around 10 years ago.

According to this police report -- the police report says that Amanda Berry was walking home from Burger King when Ariel Castro offered her a ride home, after he told her that his son worked at Burger King.

As far as Gina DeJesus, it says -- the report says Ariel approached Gina with his daughter, who Gina went to school with. Ariel came back without his daughter and told Gina he would give her a ride to his house to meet up with his daughter.

And the police report says that Ariel Castro also lured Michele Knight into his care.

All three women victims stated that Ariel chained them up in the basement, but eventually let them roam in the home free of the second floor of the home, free from the chains.

Also, Michele Knight stated in this report that at least five times she was pregnant with Ariel Castro's baby. When he found out she was pregnant, she stated that Ariel would make her abort the baby.

And Amanda stated that she had the baby -- Amanda Berry said she had her baby in the house. They put the baby plastic pool under her while she was delivering and Michele Knight was forced to deliver the baby. According to this report, Michele stated that Ariel told her if the baby died, that he would kill her.

We're also learning more details about the state of mind of these women after years in captivity.


BROWN (voice-over): A law enforcement source tells CNN that Amanda Berry had hit her breaking point, that she was desperate to get out of the house on Seymour Street. But why was she able to escape now after more than 10 years in captivity?

DEPUTY CHIEF ED TOMBA, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: Something must have clicked and she saw an opportunity. And she took that opportunity. I said it the other day and I'll say it today that, you know, she is the true hero.

BROWN: That same source says that the other two women, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight, could also have run but chose not to, even though they were not bound. And that decision reflected the women's state of mind. The sources go on to say the women relied on each other for survival and did interact, though they were mostly kept in separate rooms. They only left the house twice.

TOMBA: We were told they left the house and went into the garage in disguise. Those are the two times that were mentioned or that they can recall.

BROWN: The homeowner, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, is charged with kidnapping and raping the three women. He's also charged with kidnapping their 6-year-old daughter who was born in captivity.

VICTOR PEREZ, PROSECUTOR: I just signed criminal complaints charging Ariel Castro with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.

BROWN: In a surprise twist, no charges have been brought against his two brothers at this time. The three had been taken into custody.

PEREZ: There is no evidence that these two individuals had any involvement in the commissions of the crimes committed against Michele, Gina, Amanda and the minor child.

BROWN: Authorities have talked to Ariel Castro and another source close to the investigation tell CNN the young women were also debriefed by FBI and police, providing them with vivid details about what happened in that boarded up house.

One emerging detail, chains were found inside that home. That same source says the girls watched their parents on TV at vigils for years and knew their parents were still looking for them after they were abducted. Questions remain about a young woman named Ashley Summers who lived close by and went missing after the three women.

TOMBA: There is no new information that's come to light about her.


BROWN: And, again, Ariel Castro facing four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape. He will make his first appearance here at the justice center in Cleveland this morning at 8:30. And we will be carrying that live and, of course, bring you the very latest.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Really looking forward to that as he faces that arraignment. Thank you so much, Pamela Brown, reporting live for us.

So, for the first time in a decade, the kidnapping victims in Cleveland are surrounded by family and a lot of friends. And we're hearing over the course of 10 years, their alleged captor only let them out of his house twice. But now, finally, they're home.



SAMBOLIN (voice-over): After more than a decade in activity, home at last. An entire neighborhood seemingly turned out to show support for Gina DeJesus reunited with her family after nine long years. She was held captive in the same boarded up house as Amanda Berry and Michele Knight.

Shielded by a family member and rushed inside, Gina gave a thumbs up to the crowd. She was finally free.

Her father overjoyed, was greeted with high fives and lots of hugs. Her mother said she never gave up hope.

NANCY RUIZ, GINA DEJESUS' MOTHER: Even the ones that doubted I still want to thank them the most, because they're the ones that made me stronger, the one that made me feel the most that my daughter was out here.

SAMBOLIN: Blocks away neighbors, family and friends welcomed another kidnapping victim, Amanda Berry. She emerged from this van with her 6-year-old daughter born in captivity. Amanda's sister spoke to a swarm of reporters, still emotional and struggling to adjust.

BETH SERRANO, AMANDA BERRY'S SISTER: I just want to say we're so happy to have Amanda and her daughter home. At this time, we would request privacy. So my sister, niece and I have time to recover.

SAMBOLIN: The third victim, Michele Knight, remains hospitalized but said to be in good condition. Her family said she looks pale but they're hopeful she will be released soon.

BARBARA KNIGHT, MICHELE KNIGHT'S MOTHER: I'm hoping that my daughter lets me see her. I would love to see her.

SAMBOLIN: As these three victim begin to reclaim their lives, another prominent victim Shawn Hornbeck who vanished in Missouri in 2002 and was found alive four years later offered advice.

SHAWN HORNBECK, KIDNAP VICTIM: Your family's your strongest thing. That would be my advice to know that they're always there for you.

SAMBOLIN: I've got to tell you, there was not a dry eye around here as they were witnessing those two girls coming home yesterday.

So, the third girl, we don't know much about Michele Knight. At least right now we don't. She was the first of the three victims to be kidnapped. That was back in 2002. And according to police reports, she delivered Amanda Berry's six years ago and even revived the newborn with mouth to mouth resuscitation when she stopped breathing.

So, listen to police dispatch tapes of the moment officers arrived at Castro's home on Monday. They instantly knew who Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were. And then, Michele Knight, leaped into one of their arms.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) POLICE: This might be for real. There might be others in the house.

We found them. We found them.


POLICE: We also have a Michele Knight in the house. I don't know if you want to look that up in the system, 32 years old.


SAMBOLIN: Michele Knight's mother said that she searched for her daughter on her own for years because she believes police gave up on the case. Barbara Knight now living in Florida is hoping for a reunion.


KNIGHT: I'm thrilled. And all I want to do is hug her and say I love you, and I'm glad that you're fine. It really hurts because, you know, I haven't seen her for so long and I can't wait to see her because she was my daughter and my best friend.


SAMBOLIN: John, I've got to tell you, that's a really tough situation for that family because we spoke to her son Freddie who is Michele's brother. He says there's a lot of bad blood between the family and that Michele doesn't want to see mom. So, at the end of the day, we're not sure what's happening there.

But I do want to mention yesterday we were over at the DeJesus family. And the sister of Gina said that she spent time with Michele at the hospital. And she said, we're all talking about how pale she is and, you know, how she doesn't look well.

But she actually went to high school with this girl. She said she's always been a slight girl but that she's in great spirits. That she's talking to everybody and she's very grateful.

The big question now is, when she is released, where will she go?

BERMAN: Hopefully, everyone will continue with their recovery at an incredibly fast pace. We're excited to see people home.

Zoraida, thanks so much in Cleveland this morning.

The other major story we're following right now, the long blockbuster Jodi Arias murder trial. Arias will be back in court today, the day after the jury finally reached a verdict.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury duly impaneled and sworn in the above entitled action upon our oaths do find the defendant as to count one first degree murder guilty. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And then this stunning development -- just minutes after that verdict, Arias tells a Phoenix station she'd rather get the death penalty than life in prison, prompting authorities to put her on suicide watch.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Phoenix with more than that really shocking interview, Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, the fact that she did an interview just minutes after this guilty verdict is just the latest twist in this soap opera-like trial which continues. In that interview, she said she was shocked by the verdict. And as you mentioned, she said she would rather die than live the rest of her life in jail.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do find the defendant as to count one first degree murder, guilty.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Jodi Arias had very little reaction in the courtroom to the guilty verdict but minutes later, she did an interview with Phoenix television station KSAZ. Arias says she understands why the jury didn't believe her because of the lies she originally told investigators. But she maintains that she didn't plan the murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

JODI ARIAS, CONVICTED MURDERER: There was no premeditation on my part. I can see how things look that way. But I didn't expect the premeditation. I can see maybe the felony murder because of how the law is written, but I didn't -- the whole time I was fairly confident I wouldn't get premeditation because there wasn't premeditation.

ROWLANDS: She also said she hopes the family of Travis Alexander will be able to find peace. In the courtroom, when the verdict was read, Alexander's sisters broke down with emotion.

CHRIS HUGHES, FRIEND OF TRAVIS ALEXANDER: They're happy. We would rather have Travis back but we can't have Travis back. So with that said, this say good day.

ROWLANDS: Outside the courthouse, hundreds of spectators cheered the guilty verdict. Some people were even overcome with emotion.

(on camera): Why so emotional?

KATHY BROWN, SPECTATOR: Justice is served. And that's all we needed.

ROWLANDS: The guilty verdict means Jodi Arias is eligible for the death penalty and Arias says she hopes that's what her sentence will be.

ARIAS: The worst outcome for me would be natural life. I would much rather die sooner than later. Longevity runs in my family. I'm pretty healthy. I don't smoke. And I would probably live a long time. So that's not something I'm looking forward to.

I said years ago that I'd rather get death than life. And that still is true today. I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I'd rather have my freedom, just as soon as I can get it.


ROWLANDS: And Jodi Arias will be back in court later today, John, along with the jury as the trial now moves in to the penalty phase.

BERMAN: All right. Ted Rowlands for us in Phoenix today. Again, it's shocking she was allowed to do an interview at all. Thanks so much, Ted.

Fourteen minutes after the hour. This just into CNN: a new development in the disappearance of Michigan mother Jessica Heeringa. Police say they have found her blood outside the ExxonMobil station where she worked. Heeringa disappeared in April 26 during her shift there. Investigators say they only found a small amount of blood and that her family has been notified.

We're following a number of developments in the Boston marathon bombing investigation. Boston Police Chief Ed Davis expected to be the first in testify in Washington today, at the House Homeland Security Committee hearings on the bombing.

Meantime, the battle over what to do with the remains of suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev continues. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says it's still a family matter, as no cemetery in the state has been willing to accept Tsarnaev for burial.

But the police chief in the town where the body remains in kind of legal limbo is begging for help in resolving the matter.


GARY J. GEMME, WORCESTER POLICE CHIEF: Beyond this, there is a need to do the right thing. We are not barbarians. We bury the dead. So I'm publicly appealing to those with authority to provide a burial site, to do so and do so quickly.


BERMAN: One other development, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has hired a criminal lawyer with experience in handling terrorism cases. Katherine Russell has not been charged in the case. Her attorney says she is cooperation with investigators.

Still ahead, a black eye for the U.S. military. Seventeen Air Force officers with the ability to launch nuclear weapons suddenly relieved of duty. The latest from the Pentagon this morning coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. This will make you sit up and look at the TV. It is an unprecedented move by the U.S. military. Seventeen Air Force officers are being relieved of their duties controlling nuclear missiles at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. The officers were sent for more training on how to do their jobs. Remember, they handle nuclear missiles.

More now from CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is demanding answers from the Air Force, after it suspended 17 officers at a nuclear missile base in North Dakota. Their string of unpublicized failures came to light after an inspection in March tested the group's missile launch proficiency. They were rated as marginal, the equivalent of earning a "D" grade. Barely passing.

In the nuclear missile business, launch operators don't get D's.

COL. ROBERT VERCHER, CMDR. 91ST MISSILE WING: Am I comfortable with that? Nobody wants to be marginal in this business.

LAWRENCE: Colonel Robert Vercher supports the blistering email his deputy delivered which said, "We're discovering such rot in the crew force. We are, in fact, in a crisis right now.

VERCHER: Anytime you have crew members that do not perform to the standard you'd expect, then we will take action.

LAWRENCE: The Air Force updated safety protocols in 2007, after a B- 52 flew across the United States, carrying six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The pilot had no idea his bomber had been mistakenly loaded with warheads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On my mark. Locate launch key to set. Three, two, one, mark --

LAWRENCE: The movie "War Games" was pure fiction. But one Air Force officer is facing severe consequences. He violated rules that potentially could have compromised secret missile launch codes.

BRUCE BLAIR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: These are probe the most sensitive codes in existence.

LAWRENCE: Bruce Blair is say former nuclear missile launcher who says the safety breach increases the risk of an unauthorized launch.

BLAIR: Or it could lead to the arming of a missile that shouldn't be armed in peace time. So, these are really serious, serious issues.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Those missiles aren't called minutemen for nothing. They're all fueled and ready and can fire in 60 seconds. This morning, I'm told that two of the 17 airmen are in the process of being recertified. But officials say no one is climbing back in that bunker until commanders are sure that they're ready. Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.


BERMAN: Stunning.

Twenty-one minutes after the hour here.

Coming up, a record-setting day on Wall Street. The question is, is there more in store for today?


BERMAN: Minding your business this morning, another record-setting day for the Dow and S&P on Wednesday.

Zain Asher is here.

The question is, Zain, will anything stand in the way of this rally?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That is the million dollar question. We're getting jobless claims in today at 8:30. They are expected to increase slightly. I'm not entirely sure if that's going to have a huge impact on the market, although investors may take a break after the rally.

I want to show you interesting stats. According to Gallup, only 52 percent of Americans have any investment in the stock market right now. That's according to Gallup.

It's the lowest ever in the 15-year history that Gallup has been doing the survey. So, a lot of people are missing out on the rally right now.

Also, I want to mention, another market that is heating up right now, housing. You talk about it overtime, home prices are up. People are buying again.

But it turns out, a lot of home buyers don't really know as much as they should do when it comes to buying a house. So,, the real estate Web site, they sort of interviewed about a thousand prospective home buyers. And it turns out that 32 percent cannot explain APR. It is, of course, the annual percentage rate, the cost of the loan on the year basis. It includes fees and points and mortgage insurance, that kind of thing.

It also turns out that 31 percent don't realize that you can get away with putting down less than 5 percent when you buy a house. So, if you take -- an FHA loan, you can get away with putting down 3 1/2 percent. A V.A. loan, you don't have to put anything down whatsoever.

And also, people are confused about the pre-approval process as well. So, just because one lender pre-approves you can actually close with another lender. You just have to shop around. That's the important thing.

BERMAN: It's a very confusing process, I do have to say. Not surprising to me if you look confused, I'm confused.

All right. Thanks so much, Zain. Appreciate it.

Still ahead here, we're going back to Cleveland where suspect Ariel Castro is about to be charged with kidnap and rape. This is shocking new details of the ordeal faced by three women emerge.

And other major news , with the penalty phase in the murder trial set to begin, just convicted Jodi Arias is on suicide watch this morning after telling an interviewer she would prefer the death penalty.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: We are live in Cleveland, Ohio. We're also just hours away from accused kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro's arraignment.

Disturbing details emerging from the house of horrors as it's called is simply unimaginable.

BERMAN: Death is the ultimate freedom, a shocking admission from Jodi Arias after the jury convicts her of murder.