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Search For 14 Missing People; Angelina's Decision Sparks Debate

Aired May 16, 2013 - 05:29   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Shocking new details out of Cleveland revealing that one of Ariel Castro's alleged kidnap victims treated as a human punching bag.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And dramatic new video, a baby stroller falls on two train tracks. That mother leaps into action.

BERMAN: Oh, I haven't seen that. That is crazy.

SAMBOLIN: I haven't either.


BERMAN (on-camera): All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. We'll get more of that in a bit. I'm john Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Thirty minutes past the hour.

We begin with breaking news this morning. It's a desperate search right now for 14 people in North Texas. They are missing after a wave of apparent tornadoes. This is what residents of Hood County had to endure. Terrifying funnel clouds bearing down, the hardest hit area, we understand, is Granbury, Texas.

The sheriff said that six people were killed just in one habitat for humanity neighborhood. And most of the 120 homes in that neighborhood are gone. They are destroyed. And emergency medical provider said at least 100 additional people were injured. Victor Blackwell is in Granbury for us this morning. Victor, walk us through what the latest is there.

Well, there are still more than a dozen people with serious injuries in a hospital here in Granbury, the Lake Granbury Hospital, at the height. More than 60 people were transported to hospitals here and in Lake Worth. I'm sorry, Fort Worth, rather. We also know that at the height of this storm, it was a mile wide at some point.

And the injuries come from people being pinned inside their homes. We heard a story from a pastor to church here in town of an 11-year-old boy who was rescued and taken to a hospital. This is all happening, we're told, in a small area called Rancho Brazos. Those habitat for humanity homes, also some single wide mobile homes there. Now, the deputies have blocked off the streets to control the search and also keep people from hurting themselves going to look, but we have a description of that community from the sheriff here of Hood County. Listen.


SHERIFF ROGER DEEDS, HOOD COUNTY, TEXAS: There's about 110 homes in that residential area. And there's a number of them that are fairly new within the last five years that were built from habitat for humanity. I have not been out there myself, but I've been told that most all of that is in heavy, damaged, totally destroyed conditions out there. It was a war zone, I guess, like we saw in the past with hurricanes from the coast. It was bad from what they told me.


BLACKWELL: Just to get an idea of how strong the winds were, the sheriff told us about a county employee who lost his home, but he was physically OK. He wanted to help his neighbors. But he went out to get into his truck and he couldn't find it. A three-quarter ton pickup is gone. They still have not found it. Maybe they'll find it when the sun comes up -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. You know, it's great that the sun is going to come up. We're so worried about, you know, what they're going to find. How much warning did residents in the area get before the tornado hit?

BLACKWELL: Well, it varies. There were sirens, we're told, the warning of a tornado on and on and on for about an hour. There was also a reverse 911 call that went out. But, because we're told this apparent tornado formed and reformed went down and came back up, it depends upon where this -- the families were when they heard this -- were they on the front end of it or the back end of it? That depends upon -- or that would dictate, rather, how much warning they got -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: No. And even this morning, as we hear all the details, it started as a really heavy storm then turned into a tornado, those poor folks, and in the middle of the night, as well. Victor Blackwell live for us there. We're going to continue to check in with you.

But right now, let's bring in Sgt. Nathan Stringer. He's on the phone with us right now. He is the spokesman for Hood County. Sir, we appreciate your time. We know that you are incredibly busy. We want to talk about the people involved here. We understand that there are six people dead. We have 14 people still missing right now. We have a dozen people in the hospital. Are you concerned that, perhaps, there are more people missing than that number of 14?

VOICE OF SGT. NATHAN STRINGER, SPOKESMAN, HOOD COUNTY: No, they're pretty firm with that number of 14 still remaining unaccounted for. You know, they do have the six deceased persons, but they're pretty firm on that 14 people still missing.

SAMBOLIN: Talk to me about the challenges that you're facing this morning.

STRINGER: Well, as daylight breaks, of course, the emergency responders will start assessing the damage and getting back to those places that they weren't able to get to last night. They're still searching for the, of course, the 14 missing persons which, of course, is their priority. And they'll start doing some damage assessment. We'll have a better idea first daylight.

SAMBOLIN: And that habitat for humanity community that we keep on talking about, do you know if they got good warning or, you know, were they totally surprised by these storms?

STRINGER: The sheriff's office sent out a reverse 911 call prior to the storms passing through advising of the severe weather. You know, they had the early warning system. The sirens went off. So, the best information we can get is about 10 to 15 minutes of warning they had.

SAMBOLIN: Somebody earlier called this a war zone. You've had some evacuations. Do you feel that you're getting all the assistance that you need, that folks, you know, have shelter right now?

STRINGER: Yes, the community churches have stepped in. You know, everybody's been very welcoming to the victims of this incident. The surrounding agencies will soon help. You know, we have all the help we need and the sheriff is, of course, very appreciative of that.

SAMBOLIN: It's very good to hear that. One final question for you, the people that are hospitalized, do you know what condition they're in?

STRINGER: I don't have that information.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, we're going to continue to check in. We wish you all the luck in the world. We know that you have a lot of work ahead of you and appreciate you taking the time to talk with us this morning. Sgt. Nathan Stringer --

STRINGER: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: -- spokesman for Fort Hood County, Texas. Thank you.

BERMAN: Thirty-six minutes after the hour right now. Disturbing new information this morning about Ariel Castro, the man who allegedly kidnapped three women and held them captive in Cleveland for a decade. A friend of one of the victims tell CNN that Castro was particularly violent with Michelle Knight, describing her as his main punching bag. CNNs Pamela Brown is in Cleveland with new information this morning. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, John. Five Cleveland first responders were honored as heroes last night after so many years seeing the flyers, the missing persons, posters up here all around the city. They explained the overwhelming emotion of being one of the first people on the scene here and rescuing the girls that Ariel Castro allegedly held captive for so long. There was one first responder who spoke that really choked up during that time. Her name is Officer Barbara Johnson and she was not only one of the first officers here on the scene, but also the first female figure these girls had seen and so long. Here's how she described that unbelievable moment when she first saw Michelle Knight. Let's take a listen.


OFFICER BARBARA JOHNSON, CLEVELAND FIRST RESPONDER: Michelle hugged me first and, boy, you can't describe the feelings. When someone's clutching you and saying please don't let me go. It just rips your heart out of your chest.


BROWN: And she also talked about the roller coaster of emotions she's experienced since that moment. She said at times she feels e ecstatic and then she just crashes, just overwhelmed with feelings of sadness.

BERMAN: Pamela, we're also hearing from one of Ariel Castro's daughters, some brand-new information there.

BROWN: That's right. We do have some audiotape of Ariel Castro's daughter, Emily. She's in prison in Indiana. She spoke about how her father manipulated her. We heard from Castro's brothers in an interview with our Martin Savidge about how they had been to the home and had no idea that the girls were held captive there.

And now, his daughter is speaking out. And according to her, she says that her father did everything he could do to hide what was going on. Let's take a listen to this audio.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The upstairs was blocked off with a big bass speaker. So, I figured that since he lived there alone so long, that he didn't have any need for those, what there's four bedrooms upstairs he didn't have any need for them. So, you know, I was just kind of like, can I, you know, sleep upstairs in my old bedroom? And he said, no, because it's cold up there, it's blocked off, you know, it's dusty and so I just was like, OK.


BERMAN: So, Pamela, any new information on the victims this morning?

BROWN: We've been speaking to family friends of some of the victims and others who are -- and we're learning that they are really getting back to life as one person put it, we spoke to. They're trying to live life with gusto now. We've learned that Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight have communicated by phone at least once.

According to the source I spoke with, one of the girls requested to speak to the other after they were rescued. And then, we're also learning that they're trying to figure out how to use new technology and not so new technology that they may have missed out on over the past ten years. One of the girls, in fact, is just learning how to use an iPhone.

And then also, we have learned, according to ABC News, that Gina DeJesus visited a salon for the first time just recently.

BERMAN: Good for her. All right. Pamela Brown in Cleveland this morning, thanks so much.

SAMBOLIN: You know, can I just remind everybody that when I was there, Michele Knight has a particularly difficult story. We talked to her brother, Freddie. And he alleges that they actually suffered unspeakable pain inside of their home which is why she chose to not have any contact with her family at all.

So add it, all of these gruesome details to her already complicated life then. She's such a survivor. She's the one who allegedly delivered the baby and gave the baby mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That woman is a fighter. She is a fighter.

Forty minutes past the hour. A new search, and hopes of finding the missing Utah mom, Susan Powell, has come up empty. Investigators spent two days searching a property in rural Oregon with cadaver dogs. Powell was reported missing in December of 2009 after failing to show up for work.

Her husband, Josh, under a cloud of suspicion in the case. Last year, he killed his two sons with a hatchet and himself by setting his home on fire.

And the final phase of Jodi Arias' murder trial begins later today with jurors ultimately deciding if she receives a sentence of life or of death. Yesterday, they found that Arias was exceptionally cruel when she murdered her boyfriend, Travis Alexander. That verdict means she's eligible to receive the death penalty. The prosecution hammered home its case.


JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: She made sure that she killed him by stabbing him over and over and over again and then finishing him off.


SAMBOLIN: The defense will try to convince jurors that Arias should not be executed. She could even make a statement asking that her life be spared.

BERMAN: The 12-year-old California boy charged with killing his eight-year-old sister remains in custody at a juvenile detention facility this morning. In the court appearance yesterday, the brother of Leila Fowler repeatedly told the judge that he understood the charges against him. The boy is due back in court on May 29th.

An Alaskan volcano is being watched very closely this morning after spewing ash clouds up to 20,000 feet high. Scientists put the Pavlof Volcano on watch status Wednesday. So, that means there's elevated seismic activity and there is flowing lava. And the mountain's rumblings could disrupt planes that are flying overhead as well. This is the second volcano in the same Alaskan range that scientists say could erupt.

And coming up next, we're going to talk about the debate over preventative surgery. How Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy is giving some doctors pause.

SAMBOLIN: Lot of controversy there.

And Governor Chris Christie opens up about his weight loss surgery. Why he calls the public reaction insane. He also said it's over the top.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 45 minutes past the hour. Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy has sparked a national debate on breast and ovarian cancer treatment. And while every woman must make the personal decision about what course of treatment is right for her, some doctors caution that all the publicity surrounding Jolie's choice may lead to some of us having unnecessary tests and procedures.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Angelina Jolie's revelation about having a preventative double mastectomy may have just had the effect that she intended, to start a conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More on Angelina Jolie's stunning revelation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's had a double mastectomy.

SAMBOLIN: Today, the brave mother of six is again making headlines for the next step she may soon be taking to reduce her chances of getting cancer. "People" magazine reports that Jolie may undergo additional surgeries, this time, to remove her ovaries. In her "New York Times" op-ed, Jolie wrote, "My doctors estimated that I had a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman."

Ovarian cancer is what took the life of Jolie's mother, Marcheline Bertrand, at the age of 56. And much like a mastectomy, surgically removing one's ovaries is not an easy decision. When I sat down yesterday with four women who underwent mastectomies, what they said about ovary removal surprised me.

VICTORIA FLYNN, UNDERWENT DOUBLE MASTECTOMY: I felt like I had control over my breast cancer surveillance. Every six months religiously, I was in New York getting tested. I thought they were doing a great job, I felt comfortable. Ovarian cancer, they're like, well, now we hope -- we'll do our best with what we have. But we really don't have a test to help you. And I'm like, well, that's just really not acceptable. What are we going to do about this? SAMBOLIN: And what was the answer?


FLYNN: And we had our ovaries out.

SAMBOLIN: So, you did --


SAMBOLIN: You're going to?

LUCAS: I'm going to.



SAMBOLIN: Even though you don't have the gene.

LUCAS: Yes. It was funny. I met with a doctor and he said "I have such bad news." And I said, "what." And he said, "when you're 35, I recommend you get your ovaries out." And I said, "that's fantastic." And he said, "why?"


LUCAS: And I said, "you think I'm going to live until I'm 35."

SAMBOLIN: Oh my God.

LUCAS: And he said, "that's never occurred to me." And I said, "well, I was diagnosed when I was 28. I just wanted to hit 30."

SAMBOLIN: Jolie's announcement about her experience will no doubt raise awareness, but it's also sparked discussion in the medical community. Some doctors are concerned that her public op-ed will cause many women to seek out unnecessary testing and aggressive treatment.

ISABELLE BEDROSIAN, M.D., CANCER CENTER M.D. ANDERSON: My greatest concern, really, is unnecessary testing for a woman who is not BRCA, for a woman does not have a family history of ovarian cancer. I really don't think that there is a need to consider removal of the ovaries in that situation.

SAMBOLIN: Genetic tests like the one Jolie had can be expensive. I sat down with the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure who hopes to help change that.

NANCY BRINKER, FOUNDER OF SUSAN G. KOMEN FOR THE CURE: Our view is at Sisan Komen, we'd like to see -- people have access to this as much as possible, and hopefully, in the years -- the near future, people will have access, wide access to this because it is expensive.

SAMBOLIN: When you have a mastectomy, I've chosen to have a double mastectomy, reconstruction, is it covered by insurance companies?

BRINKER: In many policies it is, and usually is today. It's an option for women.

SAMBOLIN: As for Jolie, she's made it clear that her number one priority is to be around for her six children. As her husband Brad Pitt said yesterday, "All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life with myself and our children."


SAMBOLIN: You know, there is so much controversy surrounding whether or not you should have a double mastectomy when you should have it. And as I shared my story, I've had people chime in and say, look, you have an opportunity here to send a message and you may be sending the wrong one by choosing to have a double mastectomy.

And you know, sometimes, you get some criticism and, you know, it's difficult to take, but I read it and I thought what I'm going to do is I'm going to share more details about why I chose to do this. At the end of the day, the more information that a woman has about how to make this choice, this incredibly complicated choice, I think the more empowering it is for her.

SAMBOLIN: And one of the things you said yesterday is you want to support people to make their decisions, the decisions that are right for them.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And for the record, the woman who appeared on "Starting Point" yesterday, Dr. Morow (ph), she tried to convince me to choose another option repeatedly. She made me think really hard about my decision. And I think that's what we need. We need to think long and hard about our decisions, but at the end of the day, as I like to say, respect everyone's choice.

BERMAN: All right.

Forty-nine minutes after the hour. And coming up here, Chris Christie breaks his silence about his weight loss surgery. Why his anger boiled up over clothing, next.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Britain's Prince Harry giving high praise to the U.S. after his weeklong tour. And before flying home, he dazzled admirers with his athletic prowess. Here's CNNs Max Foster.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prince Harry finally gets a chance to play a sport that he's really good at. This polo match will raise at least a million dollars for his African children's charity. High society turned out in force to watch the prince play and also to define his sense of fashion. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He goes out to wear the jeans (ph), the sport when he's outside of being the country side and very elegant when he's in the city.

PRINCE HARRY, GREAT BRITAIN: This is the last day of my tour around the United States. Thank you for a wonderful week. I've witnessed the extraordinary generosity of the people of this great nation.

FOSTER: And it's a nation that welcomed Harry back with open arms after his scandal ridden holiday to Las Vegas last year. It's been dubbed the rehab tour by some.

ARTHUR EDWARDS, ROYAL PHOTOGRAPHER: If he can find a cracking girl like Kate and, you know, settle down, I think you know what, he'd be just away. That's what he's lacking. He's getting to that stage of his life.

FOSTER: And the winner is (INAUDIBLE). Harry winning in more ways than one in America, but come this summer, all eyes will be on Prince William and especially Kate as they and the world welcome the newest member of the royal family.

Max Foster, CNN, Greenwich, Connecticut.


BERMAN: A baby? I hadn't heard.


BERMAN: No one's talking about that.

SAMBOLIN: -- will be so proud of them. So proud.

All right. Fifty-four minutes past the hour. This is a terrifying scene at a subway station in Philadelphia. A 14-month-old baby girl in a stroller rolling off the platform and right on to the tracks.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Look at the surveillance video. You can see the girl's mother standing on the platform, look, oh, my gosh, as the stroller slowly begins to roll. The mother leaps on to the tracks, I'm going to let you watch it. Look at that. She grabs her baby.

BERMAN (voice-over): She grabs the stroller first.

SAMBOLIN: The baby? No, there's the baby.


SAMBOLIN: Yes. And she hands her over to a man standing on the platform. The child suffered cuts on the forehead and is being treated at an area hospital, but the child is alive and the mother's an amazing hero.

BERMAN: Yes. Good for her.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh. Thank goodness there wasn't a train coming by.


BERMAN (on-camera): All right. Fifty-four minutes after the hour right now. In a week after saying he wouldn't talk about his weight, New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, is speaking candidly about it. The governor revealed last week he had Lap Band surgery in February to help him slim down. And at a book signing last night, Christie admitted his frustration over not being able to lose weight.

He says when he changed from professional clothes to casual clothes to go out with his wife, quote, "I'd be changing and then something wouldn't fit. That's when I'd really be angry with myself." But Christie said the public's reaction to his surgery announcement was insane and over the top.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Did he say why it was insane and over the top?

BERMAN: Apparently because it was insane and over the top.


SAMBOLIN: It's been a topic of conversation so much that he cannot possibly --

BERMAN: He talks about it plenty, too.

SAMBOLIN: Right, right.

BERMAN: I mean, it's not like he doesn't talk about it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Coming up, men experiencing labor pains? Seriously? The video going viral this morning in hopes of getting guys to understand how giving birth really feels.


SAMBOLIN: So, a new billboard campaign aimed at preventing teen pregnancy in Chicago is taking a really unique approach. Take a look at this. It shows images of pregnant boys as a reminder that a baby isn't just the girl's responsibility.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, a video that's gone viral on YouTube aims to show men just how painful childbirth can be. Look at this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Awesome. Awesome, guys.

BERMAN: That's two dudes howling as they receive electric shocks meant to simulate labor pains. One of the men says it feels like someone is "taking a saw and just carving up my abdomen" and his fellow sufferer says he just wants to throw up.

SAMBOLIN: Which is actually, you know, quite accurate. You do want to throw up. You have an issue with this, don't you?

BERMAN: I think there's this notion out there that men don't appreciate the pain that you all have to go through in childbirth. And we do. We get it.

SAMBOLIN: No, no, no. I understand that you're sympathetic to it, but you don't know what it feels like.

BERMAN: Of course. How could we? But we appreciate it. We respect you.

SAMBOLIN: I'm not arguing that, but this is an -- this is to simulate what it feels like.

BERMAN: No, you're bitter.


BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.

SAMBOLIN: I'm not bitter.



BERMAN (voice-over): Look at that. Listen to that, breaking news, six people killed, more than a dozen people missing, over 100 injured. This deadly tornado outbreak overnight. We're going to take you live to the scene of this devastation.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And damage control, the White House tries to take control of the IRS scandal sending the head of the agency packing.