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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
Inside A House Of Horrors; Police Report Details Torture And Abuse; A Decade In Captivity; Finally Free; Arias Talks After Guilty Verdict; Missing Mom's Blood Discovered; Body Battle; Seventeen Air Force Officers Relieved of Duty
Aired May 9, 2013 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Wait until we tell you about that. Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone. Quite a morning here. I'm John Berman in New York.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is indeed. Nice to see you, John. I'm Zoraida Sambolin live in Cleveland, Ohio. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. Let's get started here.
We're following brand new developments this morning of unmanageable abuse suffered by three women who were kidnapped and held hostage for a decade, inside this house behind me on Seymour Avenue. We're going to get to that in a moment.
This morning we're getting our first look at the man many are calling a monster. Ariel Castro accused of holding the three women captive inside his home. He is 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you covering your face? What do you have to say to those women? How could you do that? What kind of monster does this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: And there is breaking news this morning, as well. Shocking, sickening new details in a police incident report obtained by CNN describing 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 that horrific part of the story this morning. Good morning to you, Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Zoraida. That's right, some disturbing new details we're learning from that initial police report from Cleveland. According to this report, when Amanda Berry was abducted, she was walking home from her shift to Burger King when Ariel Castro offered her a ride home after he told her that his son worked at Burger King.
Michele Knight and Gina DeJesus were also lured into Castro's car, according to this report. And Ariel Castro allegedly chained them up in the basement inside his home, but eventually let them roam free from the chains in the second floor of his home. Michele Knight told police she was pregnant at least five times. When Castro found out he would starve her and hit her in the stomach to cause a miscarriage.
According to this report, Michele was forced to deliver Amanda Berry's baby in a small plastic pool inside the home. And Castro allegedly told Michele that if the baby died he would kill her. We're also learning in this report that Amanda's daughter was never treated by a doctor while in captivity. These are just some of the disturbing details we're learning about these victims' time in captivity.
BROWN (voice-over): 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 Avenue. 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. And I said it the other day and I'll say it today that 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 source went 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 so they -- those are the two times that were mentioned or that they can recall.
BROWN: The homeowner, 52-year-old Ariel Castro, was charged with kidnapping and raping the three young women. He's also charged with kidnapping Berry's 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 were 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 commission 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 the FBI and police, providing them with vivid details about what happened in that boarded up house. One emerging detail, chains were found inside the home.
That same source says the girls watched their parents on TV at vigils for years and knew their families were still looking for them after they were abducted. Questions remain about a young woman named Ashleigh 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 according to the initial report, we're learning that the victims were only allowed outside of the home a couple times into the backyard where the garage was in full disguise wearing wigs and sunglasses. Also we're learning about those dramatic moments following the 911 call with Amanda Berry.
According to the report, both Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight were inside the home when police arrived on the scene and when a cop came inside the home, they threw themselves into the arms of that police officer.
Ariel Castro will be appearing here at 8:30 this morning at the Justice Center. Again, he faces four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
SAMBOLIN: Just horrific details. Pam Brown reporting live, thank you very much.
So let's switch gears and talk about the joyous time here in Cleveland. A reunion that family and friends of the kidnapped victims thought would never be possible.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): After more than a decade in captivity, home at last. An entire neighborhood seemingly turned out to show support for Gina Dejesus, reunite 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 ones that made me feel the most that my daughter was out there.
SAMBOLIN: Blocks away, neighbors, family, and friends welcomed another kidnapping victim, Amanda Berry. She emerged from this police 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 are so happy to have Amanda and her daughter home at this time. Our family would request privacy, so my sister and niece and I can have time to recover.
SAMBOLIN: The third victim, Michele Knight, remains hospitalized, but is said to be in good condition. Her family has said that she looks pale, but they're hopeful she will be released soon.
BARBARA KNIGHT, MICHELE KNIGHT'S MOTHER: I'm just hoping that my daughter because I would love to see her.
SAMBOLIN: As these three women begin to reclaim their lives, another prominent kidnapping victim, Shawn Hornbeck, who vanished in Missouri 2002 and was found alive more than four years later, offered some advice to these three brave women.
SHAWN HORNBECK, KIDNAPPING VICTIM: Your family is your strongest thing. That would be my advice, to know that they are always there for you.
SAMBOLIN: The disappearance of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were both well publicized cases in the Cleveland area, but not much is known at Michele Knight. She was the first of the three victims to be kidnapped. That was back in 2002. According to police reports, we just told you about, she actually delivered Amanda Berry's daughter six years ago.
Listen to police dispatch tapes of the moment officers arrived at Castro's home on Monday. They instantly knew who Berry and DeJesus were and then Michele Knight literally leaped into one of their arms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thrilled. There might be others in the house. We found them. We found them. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Michele Knight's mother says she searched for her daughter on her own for years because she believes police gave up on that case. Barbara Knight now living in Florida says she's hoping for a reunion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KNIGHT: I'm thrilled. And all I want to do is hug her and say I love you and I'm glad it wasn't you that died. And it really hurts because, you know, I haven't seen her in so long and I can't wait to see her because she was my daughter and my best friend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: John, you know, I spent a lot of time with Freddie, her son, Michele's brother. And that whole family dynamic is a very tough situation. They allege a lot of abuse over the years and a lot of neglect. And so, you know, the question is that now when Michele does get released from the hospital, where is she going to go.
But, you know, a side note which is very positive is that the family of the DeJesus has spent a lot of time with her at the hospital, with Michele, and they say she's also in very good spirits and looking forward to her release.
BERMAN: We are all looking forward to that release. Zoraida in Cleveland, thank you so much.
Another major story we're following this morning, the long blockbuster Jodi Arias murder trial. Arias will be back in court today for the penalty phase of the trial in is the day after the jury finally reached a verdict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury duly empanelled and sworn upon in the above entitled action upon our oath do find the defendant as to count one first degree murder guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And then a truly stunning development just minutes after this verdict, Jodi Arias telling a Phoenix television station she would rather get the death penalty than life in prison. This has prompted authorities to put her on suicide watch this morning.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Phoenix with more on that really shocking interview. Ted, I almost can't believe it happened.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is hard to believe that the Sheriff's Department allowed it to happen and that her lawyers allowed it to happen when she still has the death penalty phase ahead of her in this trial. But this has been a bizarre trial from the beginning and that is just the lightest twist. She says that she was surprised by this verdict. As you mentioned, she said she would rather be executed 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 the felony murder because of how the law is written, but the whole time I was fairly competent I wouldn't get premeditation because there was no 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: They're happy. You know, we would rather have Travis back, but we can't have Travis back. So with that said, this is a good day.
ROWLANDS: Outside the courthouse hundreds of spectators cheered the guilty verdict. Some people were even overcome with emotion.
(on camera): Why are you so emotional?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, justice was served and that's all we need.
ROWLANDS: The guilty verdict means Jodi Arias is eligible for the death penalty and Arias says she hopes that's exactly what her sentence will be.
ARIAS: The worse outcome for me would be natural life. I would much rather die sooner than later. Longevity runs in my family. I'm healthy, I don't smoke. I would probably live a long time. So that's not something I'm looking forward to. I said years ago that I would rather get death than life, and that still is true today. I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I would rather just have my freedom as soon as I can get it.
ROWLANDS: And, John, Jodi Arias will be back in court along with this jury as court reconvenes at 1:00 local here this afternoon to begin the penalty phase.
BERMAN: What will go on with that penalty phase? What can we expect to see, Ted?
ROWLANDS: There are two segments basically. Today, we'll start to hear the state argue that she's eligible for it. The jury has to answer that question first. That process should only last a day, day and a half. If they say yes to that then it will be the mitigation phase where Jodi Arias defense team will fight for her life. That will take about a week. Then the jury will deliberate and decide one way or the other whether she should live or die.
BERMAN: All right, Ted Rowlands covering every twist and turn of this case from Phoenix. Thanks so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.
Now to a new development in the disappearance of Michigan mother, Jessica Horringa. Police say her blood was found outside the ExxonMobil Station where she worked. She disappeared you will remember on April 26th during her shift there. Investigators say they only found a small amount of blood her family has been notified. We're following a number of new developments this morning in the Boston marathon bombing investigation. Police chief in Boston Ed Davis is expected to be the first to testify in Washington today at the House Homeland Security Committee hearings on the bombing.
Meantime, the battle of what to do with the remains of suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev continues. Governor Duval 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 the kind of legal limbo is begging for help in resolving the matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyond this, there is a need to do the right thing. We are not barbarians. We bury the dead. So I am publicly appealing to those with authority to provide a burial site, do so, and do so quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: One other development to tell you about. 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 attorneys say she is cooperating right now with investigators.
Still ahead, this is disturbing. Why 17 Air Force officers suddenly been relieved of their duties. We're going to have the latest from the Pentagon this morning, coming up next.
BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.
This is really going to surprise you. There's an unprecedented move by the U.S. military. Seventeen officers who operate a nuclear launch site at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, they have been relieved of their duties. The officers are being sent for more training on how to do their jobs. Again, their jobs, handling nuclear weapons.
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 probably 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: Yes, but Blair says that there's a bit of apathy that is set in. They used to climb down in that bunker knowing that you were ready to push the most important button in the world. But the Cold War is over and these silos are really only designed to fire missiles at Russia -- John.
BERMAN: Still apathy with nuclear missiles at stake here. That is disturbing.
Chris, what's the status of the 17 people who are suspended?
LAWRENCE: John, this morning, I'm told that two of those 17 are already in the process of getting recertified. They will be the first to come back online. But the Air Force says nobody is going back down in those bunkers until commanders feel they're absolutely ready.
BERMAN: Quite a story. Chris Lawrence in Washington for us this morning -- thanks so much, Chris.
BERMAN: So 20 minutes after the hour. The procedures are the same but the costs are significantly different. The staggering new information about hospital sticker prices, coming up next.
BERMAN: Minding your business this morning.
Stocks pushing to fresh record highs again.
Zain Asher is here.
And, Zain, the question is, more today or maybe a pullback?
ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Possibly a pullback.
ASHER: I know. Futures are pointing to a lower open. We are also going to be getting initial jobless claims expected to rise ever so slightly. So, we'll be watching very closely.
New this morning, for the first time the governor is going public with just how much hospital bills can vary depending on where you live in the country and also which hospital you go to.
The Department of Health and Human Services basically took a look at 3,000 hospitals across the country. They examined the top 100 procedures.
Here's what they found. Unbelievable shocking. Treating a heart attack with no complications at a hospital in Danville, Arkansas, that will cost you $3,000. Wait for it. In Modesto, California, it will actually cost you $92,000 for the exact same procedure, John. Unbelievable.
BERMAN: That's like $90,000 difference.
ASHER: Exactly. People might say the cost of living in California is higher. It is higher, that is true. But these differences are so exorbitant they can't be explained away by the cost of living alone.
Also in the same city, in Washington, D.C. -- check this out -- treating a patient on a ventilator, Providence Hospital, it will cost you $53,000. At George Washington University Hospital, $115,000.
Now, the good news though if you can call it that is that just because hospitals submit those bills, that's not necessarily what they get reimbursed. You know, Medicare have their own fee schedule, insurance companies negotiate.
But the real problem is with the uninsured. The uninsured might end up having to pay the entire bill themselves and that is where the problem is.
BERMAN: Discrepancies are enormous, as you said.
All right. What's the one thing we need to know about our money today?
ASHER: OK. The one thing you need to know is foreclosures have been the black eye in the housing market for years. But new signs this morning show that it's healing. RealtyTrac says foreclosure activity plunged 23 percent in April compared with last year. Foreclosures now stand at the lowest level since February 2007. That was 74 months ago.
BERMAN: All right. Zain Asher, appreciate it. Thanks.
All right. Still ahead here, we're going to go back to Cleveland where suspect Ariel Castro is about to be charge with kidnapping and rape. And this all happening as shocking new details of the ordeal faced by these three women -- they are emerging this morning.
Stay with us.
SAMBOLIN: We are live in Cleveland, Ohio.
In just a short time from now, Ariel Castro will make his first court appearance to face kidnapping and rape charges. The details surfacing today are beyond comprehension. We're going to have the very latest for you.
BERMAN: Death is the ultimate freedom.