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THE SITUATION ROOM
Authorities Investigate Alleged Cleveland Kidnappings; Republicans Make Demand of President Obama
Aired May 9, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Ariel Castro appears in court. He's sullen, he's silent, as monstrous new details emerge about his alleged crimes, described by prosecutors as torture and depravity.
Also, you're going to hear this hour from a woman who met with one of the victims, Gina DeJesus today. And you are going to find out more on the impact of her ordeal.
And House Speaker John Boehner adds his voice to Republican outrage over the Benghazi terror attack and makes a direct demand of President Obama.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Rapes, beating, starvation and forced miscarriages, new details emerging right now of horrifying crimes allegedly committed by Ariel Castro against three young women prosecutors say he held captive for a decade. Castro appeared in a Cleveland courtroom today for the first time and now we're learning prosecutors may seek the death penalty.
CNN's Brian Todd is in Cleveland for us.
So, Brian, what's the very latest on Ariel Castro?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Ariel Castro's defense attorney says he's been on suicide watch in the city jail, and she expects that to continue in the county jail in the future.
Now, as you mentioned, the county prosecutor has just said that he's going to evaluate whether to seek charges that could lead to the death penalty. Now, as we learned new and more horrifying details of the captivity of these three women, Ariel Castro appeared at his arraignment hearing, and didn't seem to be handling his own captivity very well.
TODD (voice-over): Looking down and despondent, Ariel Castro hears the words from a judge indicating he won't get out of jail anytime soon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bond will be set at $2 million on each case. TODD: With four cases against him, that means his bond is $8 million. His defense attorney says he doesn't have any money. Castro doesn't respond as she speaks to him. The prosecutor has plenty to say about how Castro allegedly treated Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight while they were held in his house.
BRIAN MURPHY, PROSECUTOR: While in captivity, they were (INAUDIBLE) repeated beatings. They were bound and restrained and sexually assaulted, basically never free to leave this residence.
TODD: The details get more horrifying in a police incident report obtained by CNN. One of the women held captive, Michelle Knight, said in the report that she was pregnant at least five times, but was starved and punched until she eventually miscarried.
According to the police report, Amanda Berry stated the 6-year- old she gave birth to inside the house is Ariel Castro's child. A source familiar with the investigation tells CNN when Berry went into labor, Castro ordered Michelle Knight to deliver the child. The baby was delivered in a plastic tub, or pool, to contain the mess.
And, the source says, once the child was born, there were moments of horror and panic. The child stopped breathing, according to the source. Everyone screamed. And Ariel Castro allegedly threatened to kill Michelle Knight if the baby didn't survive. According to the report, Michelle Knight said she breathed into the child's mouth to keep her alive.
The revelation that the women were bound, that chains and ropes were in the home is consistent with the accounts of Fernando Colon. He was engaged to Grimilda Figueroa, Ariel Castro's ex-wife, until her death last year. Colon told me Castro would beat Figueroa mercilessly, sometimes with barbells, and:
FERNANDO COLON, FORMER FIANCE OF CASTRO'S EX-WIFE: She told me she was locked in that house. He had tinted the windows. She had padlocked the doors. The only time that she was able to come out was for her appointments. That was it.
TODD: But Fernando Colon could have motivation for accusing Ariel Castro. Colon was convicted of molesting two of Castro's children several years ago. He has long said he's innocent, claims Ariel Castro orchestrated the charges against him to deflect attention from Castro's own alleged crimes. Colon is now planning to appeal his conviction.
The three kidnap victims say they never left Ariel Castro's property, but there are accounts that Castro did take the little girl out. Moses Cintron says he occasionally saw Castro with the 6-year- old in a neighborhood park. The girl, he says, wouldn't play with other children, but would pet his small dogs.
MOSES CINTRON, NEIGHBOR: She was well-dressed Sunday, and well- cared, slightly slender. But other than that, you know, but she was also kind of quiet.
TODD: Cintron now says that he would like to take one of his dogs to the little girl to play with it, so that she won't have to go back to that park and relive some of the memories -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We're learning a whole lot more about what's going on every single day, what horrors occurred in that house over a decade. Brian, thanks very much.
We're also learning that DNA samples were taken from Castro today, and officials are asking the state crime lab to rush the results so they can run his DNA through a national database and see if it matches any samples from other crimes.
Let's get some more right now with our legal analysts Sunny Hostin and Paul Callan.
Paul, first to you. Ariel Castro being held on $8 million bond, but when I heard that this morning, I said to myself, why is he even eligible for bail? I don't care how much.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is kind of shocking. But in the United States, you're pretty much always eligible for bail of some kind.
And what a judge does in a situation like this, where you have such a serious case, and the high likelihood that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, you set a bail that's just unreachable. And obviously that $8 million figure is not a bail that he's likely to ever be able to make.
BLITZER: I hate the principle, but, Sunny, $8 million bail, bond, as they say, you don't really need $8 million. Realistically, how much would he or some crazy person out there need to get him out of prison?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Usually about 10 percent of the $8 million, Wolf.
But I don't think there's any question that he's not going to be able to meet the bond.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask you this, Sunny. If somebody came up with $800,000, some nut, some -- let's say somebody just for the hell of it, some really rich person, would the judge really release him on bond for $800,000?
HOSTIN: You know, I suppose it's possible.
But, oftentimes, judges will revisit a bond situation. So, again, I just suspect, facing the charges that he is facing, I just can't imagine that he's getting out on bond. And, remember, this county prosecutor, the first county prosecutor, a new one in about 14 years, he's a former prosecutor. He's a former county judge. He has vowed to change the local justice system.
He's now even talking about seeking the death penalty against this defendant because of the murder of Michelle Knight's unborn children. A case like this is not a case I think where you can anticipate a defendant being released.
CALLAN: And, you know, Wolf, just following up on that subject, it's not just posting $800,000. You would need $800,000 in cash, and then you would have to have collateral to cover the $8 million in value.
So who's going to come forward and do that? I can't imagine that it would be possible. Also, there will be follow-up indictments in this case. A new judge will review the evidence, and, undoubtedly, if anybody thought for a moment that he was going to get out, the bail would be increased once again. So I don't think it's a realistic possibility, although, of course, anything's theoretically possible.
BLITZER: Yes, theoretically. Well, at least let's hope he stays behind bars.
This notion of being charged and getting the death sentence, Sunny, how realistic is that, convicted of murder?
HOSTIN: You know, after the county process -- prosecutor's, rather, press conference, I looked it up.
And under Ohio law, there certainly is a statute that said that no person shall purposely cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another's pregnancy. So the law is there. I think the question is, these crimes took place over a 10-year period. How do you prove, as a prosecutor, that she was in fact pregnant, that Michelle Knight was pregnant?
But it's possible that it can be proven. And so you have got a county prosecutor, again, very aggressive, a former prosecutor, former judge. I actually think that this is possible.
BLITZER: Here's what I fear. And tell me if this is at all realistic. Paul, you're a former prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney. He gets some good lawyers and pleads insanity. How realistic is that, that he could succeed if he pleads insanity?
CALLAN: Well, clearly, there's mental illness here. And he's probably suffering from some or many severe forms of mental illness.
But the one thing about an insanity defense that is very hard for defense attorneys, they have to prove essentially that the person who's claimed to be insane didn't understand what he was doing was wrong, and wasn't able essentially to plan the crime.
Now, here, over a 10-year period of time, he's using ropes, he's using chains, he's using various sorts of nefarious methods to hide the fact that he's got these victims in the house. I think -- and he's driving a school bus 20 -- you know, for many, many years, he's driving a school bus. So I don't think he will meet the legal standard of insanity. And I think he has no chance of prevailing with that defense.
BLITZER: Since last November, the judge said he's been receiving unemployment benefits, taxpayer money as well, since losing his job as that school bus driver.
Were you surprised, one final note -- and I will ask both of you -- Sunny, first to you -- that his two brothers were freed today, no charges filed at all?
HOSTIN: I was surprised, because criminal investigations often have a lot of twists and turns, Wolf. And this investigation really is at the very, very beginning.
And so I was surprised that that decision was made. And I'm also a bit surprised that they said there's no evidence against them, because we know, as this case is unfolding, more and more bags of evidence being taken out of this home. And so I am surprised by it.
BLITZER: What about you, Paul?
CALLAN: We're only in the first chapter in this horror story. And I'm convinced that, with a new prosecutor on board, with a continuing investigation, he's looking into murder charges. I suspect there are going to be links maybe to the brothers that would be sufficient to bring criminal charges.
Now, bear in mind, if they were at the house, and they were aiding and abetting by supplying food or other things to keep these women captive, you could make out a conspiracy or an aiding and abetting theory. So, that's what prosecutors will be looking at. And I don't think this story is anywhere close to the end yet. We're going to hear a lot more about it.
BLITZER: I totally agree. All right, guys, thanks very much, Paul Callan, Sunny Hostin, two of the best in the business.
We're hearing for the first time from Ariel Castro's mother. She cries, she apologizes, and she reveals she met the little girl Castro apparently fathered by one of his victims. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I will tell you, I have a sick son who has committed something very grave. I'm suffering very much. I ask forgiveness to these mothers. May those young -- I suffer because they suffered. I'm suffering over my son's pain. My son is sick and I have nothing to do with what my son did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you OK? Are you OK? She said she's Castro's wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Can you imagine being the mother of Ariel Castro? Wow. We're also getting more information right now on the victims. Up next, you're going to hear from a woman who met with one of the victims, Gina DeJesus, just today. You are going to hear how she's doing. It's a fascinating story. We're going back to Cleveland. That's coming up.
Plus, the life-or-death decision for the convicted killer Jodi Arias now postponed. We have details of a surprise twist today in the trial.
BLITZER: Everyone wants to know how the three young women held captive for a decade in a Cleveland house are doing. We're about to hear from a journalist who's covered this story for years from the very beginning, actually became a friend of the family of Gina DeJesus, and just a few hours ago met with Gina face to face.
They hugged. They spoke. And this reporter saw a telling example of the toll the ordeal has taken. She spoke with our Brooke Baldwin, who is on the ground in Cleveland.
And Brooke is joining us now.
Brooke, I watched your interview with her. It was emotional. It was so riveting. Share with our viewers some of that material, because it is so compelling.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's incredible.
I spoke with Lydia Esparra. And, as you said, she's a family member of the Gina DeJesus family. And, you know, when you cover a story, Wolf, as Lydia has here in Cleveland for nine years -- keep in mind Gina DeJesus went missing back in 2004, and so she got to know Gina through missing person fliers and through her family. She was basically taken in by the DeJesus family.
And when she was live on air, when we saw the happy homecoming with Gina DeJesus just yesterday, she actually got a phone call from the family saying, hey, get off TV, we want you at this house, because you're part of this family. And so Lydia talked to me just a little while ago about the experience of laying eyes on this woman she covered for nine years, and her conversation with her and some of the things she revealed about the change in her, being held prisoner, in this home, for just about a decade. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYDIA ESPARRA, WOIO ANCHOR: It was -- it was unbelievable. My hands were sweating, because there's someone I never imagined would come back to us.
My hands were sweating because here's someone I never imagined would come back to us. And so when I went inside, I embraced her and she embraced me reluctantly, because she's, obviously, been locked in a basement for nine years, and we talked. And the first thing I said is, you look nothing like your composite. She's a tiny little thing. She's very small, short hair. She had longer hair when she disappeared. And her skin's a little pale from the lack of vitamin D from being outside. But she was just so kind and so happy.
And a relative came up to her and said -- was talking in Spanish and she looks at her mom and says, mom, I don't remember my Spanish anymore.
BALDWIN: She can't speak Spanish anymore?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So isn't communicating, Wolf, with her mother in their native tongue. They're Puerto Rican. She can't speak Spanish. She lost that ability. She just forgot.
A couple of other items that I thought were interesting that she said. She said Gina said when she was held in the basement of Ariel Castro's home here on Seymour Avenue, that she had with her somehow this missing person's flier of herself dating back to 2004. Also, we have learned from police that these three young women had a television. Ultimately, they were able to watch the news coverage of their own disappearances.
And so when Gina actually met Lydia, she recognized her from television here in Cleveland. So, that was a special moment for her. And then, you know, I asked, were you able to ask Gina about the time spent in this house of horrors, about what was done to her? And she said, no, no, I just didn't want to get into that just yet.
This was the first of likely several visits. But she did tell me, Wolf, that she brought a couple of "People" magazines to Gina at her home, just to get her sort of caught up to speed as to where we are here in 2013 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: She was abducted when she was only 14 years old. She's now 23 years old. And correct me if I'm wrong, she now says she forgot how to speak Spanish over the past decade?
BALDWIN: Right. That's what Lydia just said, that she -- think about it. You're 14 years of age. And even if you're brought up speaking a language in the home, when you're removed from that environment -- and who knows even how much she was able to speak, period.
We learned from police that these three women were held in separate rooms. And they were aware of one another's presence until ultimately they were trusted and could stay upstairs. But they weren't speaking Spanish. And so she lost it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Amazing situation. I know you have been walking around the neighborhood over there. I know the house is right behind you.
BLITZER: Give us a little flavor, a little sense of what's going on now.
BALDWIN: What was interesting today, Wolf, we have been here. We have had crews here really ever since Monday/Tuesday, when these girls were freed.
And so we haven't been able to move. What you can't see is police barricades two feet behind me. We can't get any closer to this home. What I was able to do, just a couple of hours ago, just walking around as journalists do around a neighborhood, and I went kind of behind this home on Seymour Avenue.
Julian Cummings is my producer and he and I said, let's just go wander around back, because we know the FBI's been here. We have seen them in their protective suits walking in the front of this home. We have seen them carrying shovels. We have seen the canine units. We have seen the cameras. Right?
So, we go around the back. We're able to talk to, and to persuade, if you will, this neighbor, who basically shares a backyard with Ariel Castro, shared -- it's separated by a chain-link fence. And so for years there was so much junk, if you will, that he couldn't see into the backyard. But now that the FBI has come, let's begin showing these pictures, because he shared these pictures only with us at CNN.
So the first picture you will see is this daytime picture. It's a wider shot. And you kind of have to squint your eyes to see, but there is a white cross. Let's get to -- we will get to another picture which is a tighter shot. And this struck this neighbor, Verdi Adams, as just -- as odd.
He had never seen this before, this tiny little white cross in the back of Ariel Castro's neighborhood. You flip forward a couple of pictures, and you can see -- I was talking about some of the junk in the backyard. You can see some of that. We weren't sure if we saw a shed, an inflatable pool, couldn't quite make out what was in the picture.
But the final picture is the nighttime picture with the hole that the FBI had dug. You can see it's deep enough to where some of the agents were able to sit in it. It's a tarp, so you can't entirely see what they're doing. But obviously they're back there for evidentiary purposes. And so this is the first time, Wolf, we have really seen what's been going on these last couple of days here in Cleveland.
BLITZER: It's horrible, horrible indeed. Brooke, thanks very much, Brooke Baldwin reporting for us from Cleveland. We're also learning right now some new information about Ariel Castro's mysterious writings. We're going to share that with you. That's coming up.
Plus, the fight is over. The Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is now buried. We have details.
BLITZER: Torture and depravity, that's how prosecutors in Cleveland describe the alleged crimes of Ariel Castro, charged with kidnapping three young women and holding them captive in a house for a decade. He appeared in court today for the first time. Bail was set at $8 million.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in Cleveland watching all of this unfold. And he has more.
Martin, what's the very latest?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, now that the charges have been filed, it sort of goes now from municipal court, and gets handed over to Cuyahoga County, where the prosecution is going to take place.
And that's where Tim McGinty steps in. He's the county prosecutor, new to the post. Actually, he was elected in November, and January he started the job. And, well, look at the case that has fallen into his lap. He was out speaking this afternoon about the charges, and it appears he's going to add new ones, and they are extremely serious. Listen to how he put it all together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY MCGINTY, CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OHIO, PROSECUTOR: Because I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, all his attempted murders, and each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetuated against the hostages during this decade-long ordeal.
My office of the county prosecutor will also engage in a formal process in which we evaluate whether to seek charges eligible for the death penalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: The death penalty, you heard it right there. So, I think there originally had been some concern, especially hearing the charges yesterday of rape and kidnapping, talking to people out here that were feeling, boy, that doesn't seem quite serious enough.
Well, today, you hear now what the county prosecutor, the man who is going to really pursue this case, that he will look to see if the death penalty applies -- Wolf. BLITZER: And, Martin, I know you're learning more about this supposed journal or letters that Ariel Castro has written over the past decades. Share with our viewers what you're picking up.
SAVIDGE: Well, you know, evidence teams went through that home almost immediately after authorities were able to evacuate and get the girls out.
And the FBI had been combing through it for a number of days And clearly what they're looking for is any evidence. They found a lot. One of the most significant, though, that they have keyed on is this kind of letter. Initially, it might have been referred to as a suicide note. But it goes on longer than that, I'm told by law enforcement.
And, in fact, there are mentions of suicide. And it is believed to have been written by Ariel Castro. But he also talks about a number of other things, among which he alludes to what he says is abuse that he suffered at the hands of a family member, apparently offering that as some sort of justification for his twisted actions, again, this coming from law enforcement. They don't put any real context into that.
They don't buy it. But that's the kind of evidence they're finding, Wolf.
BLITZER: It looks like this is intensifying in terms of the prosecution. They're going forward with much more serious charges.
And it doesn't look like there's any possibility that he could be released on bail, even if somebody were to come up with those $8 million, or even 10 percent, which would be needed in the short term.
SAVIDGE: Right. Yes, he said, you know, that basically he's broke. And I'm talking about Ariel Castro. So, he will have to have a public defender that will stand up for him. There's no way anybody believes he's going to make the $8 million bond.
And I'm sure that was the whole idea when that bond was set in that particular way. So, this case is going to become extremely serious. It already is. And in the minds of the public, it is one that they want to see full justice pursued. There are still many who believe that there could be others involved.
Authorities say, of course, the two brothers have been cleared. That's as a result of talking to the women themselves. But could there still be other threads to be followed? That's being worked on. In fact, DNA has been collected from Ariel Castro. It's going to be tested overnight very quickly.
And what they want to see once they enter it into a database if in any way he might have been involved in any other kind of crime -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. This investigation is only just beginning. Martin Savidge, thanks very much for that report. People who have known the kidnapping suspect, Ariel Castro, over the years are remembering incidents that, in retrospect, has taken on an ominous significance. Mary Snow spoke with two such women who now live in New York.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daisy Cortes and her daughter, Bianca, are haunted by just how close they came to Ariel Castro, who's accused of kidnapping and holding captive three women in this Cleveland home.
This is the Castro they remember. He played bass in a band with Cortes's late fiance, Roberto. The video is dated 2003, the same year the second of three victims disappeared.
Cortes and her daughter met Castro through the band in 2002, and say he even came to their home on a number of occasions. They described him as someone with a poker face, quiet, but nice. Now they're disturbed recalling how he paid attention to Bianca, who's now 19.
BIANCA CRUZ, KNEW SUSPECT IN CLEVELAND KIDNAPPINGS: I remember he used to play with my hair, stroke my shoulder. What appeared to be nice.
SNOW (on camera): You didn't think anything unusual at the time?
DAISY CORTES, KNEW SUSPECT IN CLEVELAND KIDNAPPINGS: Nothing.
SNOW: Now looking back?
CRUZ: Now looking back, it's -- it's disgusting. Because you really -- I didn't know. Back then, there was no intention of it. Now looking back, I can only imagine what was going through his head. You can't. There's no words for that, really.
CORTES: It's -- yes. It's so scary. Oh, my God. I can't believe it.
SNOW (voice-over): Cortes back then was a reporter in Cleveland and covered the stories about the girls who went missing. She says everyone was talking about it, and remembers bringing up the topic with Castro.
(on camera): You talked with him about the missing women?
SNOW: And what did he say to you?
CORTES: He said, "Oh, wow. Oh, wow." No emotion.
SNOW (voice-over): Mother and daughter do remember Cortes's fiance, Roberto, getting increasingly frustrated with Castro for canceling performances at the last minute. CORTES: His reaction, "Weird." He said, "That guy is weird."
SNOW: Cortes said the last time she spoke to Castro was in 2004, after her fiance was killed in a car accident and Castro called to offer his condolences. Nearly a decade later, now in New York, they feel they escaped a close call with a man they now consider a monster.
CRUZ: Now you go to sleep with one eye open, because you don't know who your neighbor is. This man was so close to us. For all I know, my neighbor could be -- you know, you just don't know anymore.
SNOW: And Wolf, even though Daisy Cortes and her daughter, Bianca, moved to New York in 2005, they visit Cleveland often. They have family and friends there, and they've kept close tabs on the case of the women -- missing women over the years. Now they say they just want justice -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Everybody does, indeed. All right. Thanks very much, Mary Snow.
Coming up, a Cleveland city councilman who spoke with one of those women, Gina DeJesus. He's standing by to join us. It's coming up.
Also, the House speaker John Boehner, he adds his voice to Republican outrage over the Benghazi terror attack.
BLITZER: The victim -- the victims have only been free for days, after ten years as captives. Michelle Knight remains hospitalized. She's described as being in, quote, "good condition." Amanda Berry is home, as well as Gina DeJesus. And Gina has been meeting with some of the people who never gave up hope on her case. Among them, the Cleveland city councilman Matt Zone, who's joining us now.
Councilman, thanks very much for coming in. I know you met with the DeJesus family today, with Gina herself. How is she doing?
MATT ZONE, CITY COUNCILMAN, CLEVELAND: She's doing incredibly well. I'm surprised at how amazing this young woman is doing, and she's got a smile from ear to ear. She's just thrilled to be home in her house. Was able to sleep in her own bed last night. It's pretty remarkable that we're here really celebrating this moment.
BLITZER: We certainly are. What has she been doing? Can you share with us what she's been doing with her friends, her family since she got home?
ZONE: Not many friends. Mostly family. She's catching up with her family. I mean, she -- you know, hugging her cousins, and her brother and her sister. And just reengaging with the community. And wanting to learn about current affairs and what's happening. And I think it's really a special moment in the DeJesus household. BLITZER: She's 23 years old right now. She was only 14 years old when she was taken captive. Do you know what the first thing she wanted to do, or eat, or say when she -- she got home?
ZONE: Yes. I mean, when I had the opportunity to speak with her today, she was looking forward to maybe going to see a dentist. She wanted to get her teeth whitened. She looked great. She wanted to get some makeup. She wants to fix herself up. Things that we take for granted, you know. These little simple things in life. And it just makes you appreciate how precious these things are. And I hope she gets to do everything that she wants to.
BLITZER: How emotional has it been, not just for her, but for her family?
ZONE: Extremely emotional. You know, I was a freshman councilman. I received a phone call from the mother just the day after she went missing, wanting to organize a vigil and a rally just to call attention to this. And that's how I met her parents.
Through a series of encounters, and meetings over the course of nearly a decade, I never saw once this family ever waiver, and think for a moment that she wasn't still alive and that they weren't going to be reunited. And I think it's a real testament to the faith of the DeJesus family and their support network. And they really do have a solid support network.
BLITZER: We're told she, what, she forgot how to speak Spanish over this past decade? Is that right?
ZONE: She did. You know, she was fluent in Spanish before she was held captive. And it was interesting, when I was there, even talking with her mother and father, before Gina and I started to speak with one another, the mother told me, you know, I said something casually in Spanish, and she was like, "Mommy, what did you say?" And it was just a cute little moment.
BLITZER: Tell us about the Cleveland Courage Fund, because I think some of our viewers might be interested in helping out. What is that all about?
ZONES: Sure. So we partnered with the Cleveland Foundation. We established the Cleveland Courage Fund. It's a fund that's going to assist the three families. My office has fielded hundreds of phone calls over the past several days about "what can we do?" So we established the fund yesterday, with this foundation. It's going to be an open and transparent fund where all the proceeds are going to go to the three families. And if people want to do a generous kind act, I would encourage them to direct their resources there.
The family needs a lot. These are three humble working class families. And they really need the support of the community, and the world, quite frankly. And I just hope people will be able to generously donate to that fund.
BLITZER: And the link to the Web site, the Cleveland Courage Fund? Is it ClevelandCourageFund.org? Is that what it is?
ZONE: Well, no. You can go to the ClevelandFoundation.org. ClevelandFoundation.org. If people want to mail in a contribution, just make it out to the "Cleveland Courage Fund," because these are three courageous women. Care of the Cleveland Foundation, 1422 Euclid Avenue, Suite 1300, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.
There's a Facebook page for those who are on social media. You can go to the Cleveland Courage Fund. We're tweeting about it. And the Cleveland Foundation's Web site has a link directly to the Courage Fund.
BLITZER: Matt Zone is the Cleveland city council member.
We really appreciate what you're doing. Thanks very much for joining us. And please give our best, best wishes to the DeJesus family and all the others, as well. Thanks very much.
ZONE: Thank you, Wolf. I sure will.
BLITZER: Coming up, we're also getting some new information into THE SITUATION ROOM right now, from the mother of one of the kidnapped victims. Stand by. We'll share that with you.
We're also watching an important political story. There's more fallout from the terrorist attack in Benghazi last September 11 that killed four Americans.
BLITZER: CNN's Pamela Brown is getting some new information on Ariel Castro, the suspect in this horrible case in Cleveland. Pam's joining us now.
What are you learning, Pam?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, Wolf, we've known that Ariel Castro has been talking with Cleveland police, federal authorities, the prosecutor since his arrest on Monday, and that he's been cooperating with authorities.
And now we're learning from a law-enforcement source with direct knowledge of the Cleveland kidnapping investigation, that Ariel Castro has confessed to his actions. The confessions came in detailed statements given to authorities during his interrogation, according to the source. The source says it's accurate to say that he has confessed. However, the source was reluctant to describe precisely what Castro had confessed to.
As we heard today, Wolf, during Castro's initial (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about the three women, held captive allegedly inside his home, were sexually assaulted, bonded, abused. And of course, he is facing four counts of kidnapping, three counts of rape.
But again, we don't know exactly the details surrounding what he has confessed to. We're learning that Castro has confessed to at least some of his actions that we've been hearing about.
BLITZER: We do know that he was read his Miranda rights, but he is apparently talking to investigators, talking to police. Pam Brown, doing some excellent reporting for us in Cleveland.
Pam, thanks very much. We're going to have much more on this story coming up later.
Also, other important news we're following, including the House speaker, John Boehner, he's adding his voice to Republican outrage over the Benghazi terror attacks. Stand by.
BLITZER: Today the top Republican on Capitol Hill made it clear his party intends to keep up the heat on the Obama administration when it comes to what happened in Benghazi last September 11. Here's our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Boehner tried to put Benghazi directly at the president's door step.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: The White House has done everything possible to block access to the information that would outline the truth. And the question you have to ask is why?
BASH: He's calling on the president to order officials to give Congress emails that will show who deleted references to al Qaeda from administration talking points about the attack.
(on camera): What, in all candor, is your goal here?
BOEHNER: The goal here is to get to the truth. Four Americans, four Americans lost their lives.
BASH (voice-over): Even after Wednesday's six-hour hearing, there are still several unanswered questions.
One, whether it was a political decision to remove any mention of al Qaeda from those talking points. A fear of stepping on the president's campaign message that he crippled al Qaeda. Republicans say yes, Obama aides intentionally misled Americans. The White House insists the answer is no.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The only edits made by anyone here at the White House were stylistic and non-substantive.
BASH: But Greg Hicks, second in command at Libya at the time, raised doubts about the administration's claim changing the talking points wasn't political. He repeatedly testified it was clearly a terror attack, not what was in the talking points, a protest.
GREG HICKS, FORMER SECOND IN COMMAND AT THE LIBYAN EMBASSY: Ambassador would have reported a protest immediately if one appeared on his door.
BASH: Another unanswered question: whether in the aftermath of the attack Obama officials tried to cover up mistakes they made, like failing to properly secure the consulate and the ambassador. Hicks says he was told not to talk to GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz without a State Department lawyer present when Chaffetz came to Libya to investigate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people at State told you, "Don't talk to the guy who's investigating?"
HICKS: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So don't talk to the congressman?
BASH: Hicks did talk to Chaffetz without the lawyer and said that resulted in an angry call from Cheryl Mills, top adviser to Hillary Clinton.
HICKS: She was very upset.
BASH: The suggestion? At the highest levels Obama officials were trying to hide something.
A Clinton aide denies the call was angry. In fact, CNN was told Republican Darrell Issa, leading the host investigation, will not make pursuing Mills a top priority.
Another mystery is why the military was not in a position to help Americans in need? Here's what Thomas Pickering, who led the internal State Department review, told CNN's Jake Tapper.
THOMAS PICKERING, LED INTERNAL STATE DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Despite the fact that we have the world's best military, they were neither postured nor placed in a way that could have made a significant difference.
BASH: The House Armed Services chairman was denied access to a classified timeline of events and orders given that day. That would also help answer another open question: Who gave the order to stop four Special Ops personnel from boarding a plane from Tripoli to Benghazi to help. Knowing these questions are not going away, the current secretary of state plans to get a full briefing soon on Benghazi.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'll tell you this: the State Department will leave no stone unturned.
BASH: Republican sources tell me they will have another hearing in the near future with Thomas Pickering and Michael Mullen, the two men who led that internal State Department review.
One Republican calls that -- at least most Republicans call that incomplete at best. And, you know, we should expect other hearings, Wolf, because remember, there are five separate committees in the House looking into this, and there's no end in sight.
BLITZER: In the House. The Senate potentially could be looking into it, as well.
BASH: That's right. There are five being actively told to do so by the House speaker.
Of course, the Senate is run by Democrats. They are not as actively looking into it. But there are very prominent senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others who are not letting this go.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. I know the story is not going away.
Up next our own Jeanne Moos has the story of a famous psychic who looked into the Cleveland kidnappings and got it very, very wrong.
BLITZER: CNN Jeanne Moos says this week's rescue in Cleveland shows you can't always believe psychics.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one thing to be a psychic predicting love or the lack thereof.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell me where my love life is going?
SYLVIA BROWNE, PSYCHIC: Nowhere.
MOOS: But there's nothing funny when it comes predicting life or death.
BROWNE: She's gone, honey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where she's at?
BROWNE: In the house or under the house.
MOOS: In that case, psychic Sylvia Browne was right, but now she's under attack...
ROVER, HOST, ROVER'S MORNING GLORY: What a horrible human being.
MOOS: ... for being wrong about this girl.
AMANDA BERRY, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: Help me! I'm Amanda Berry.
MOOS: Almost nine years ago Amanda Berry's mom went on "The Montel Williams Show," where resident psychic Sylvia Browne spoke of Amanda.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will I ever see her again?
BROWNE: Yes. In heaven. On the other side. MOOS: WMMS morning show in Cleveland reenacted the transcript. The host read the part of the psychic.
ROVER: "I hate this when they're in water. She's not alive, honey."
MOOS: Not alive? Then who's this?
BERRY: I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for ten years and I'm here. I'm free now.
MOOS: Amanda's mom is the one no longer alive.
She came home from the psychic's reading telling the "Cleveland Plain Dealer" she was devastated. She died a little more a year later after being hospitalized with pancreatitis.
Now Sylvia Browne is getting ripped on social media: "Browne is a grief vampire." "Nothing short of evil."
(on camera): You wouldn't have to be a psychic to predict what Sylvia Browne would say about her mistake.
(voice-over): "I have been more right than wrong. If ever there was ever a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time. Only God is right all the time. My heart goes out to Amanda Berry."
(on camera): There was one part of Sylvia Browne's prediction her supporters say turned out to be accurate. The radio host read the psychic's words describing the man who took Amanda.
ROVER: "He's this sort of Cuban-looking, short kind of stocky build, heavy-set."
MOOS: Turns out the suspect is Latino with the last name Castro. One commentator posted "Psychic Wins Lottery Again, the headline you will never see anywhere."
Instead we saw this headline and even we could predict what that could do to a mother's head.
GRAPHIC: "Amanda Berry is dead, psychic tells her mother Montel Williams' show."
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: You can always follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. You can tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show, @CNNSitRoom. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.