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Python Blamed For Boys' Deaths; Corwin: "This Is A Powerful Predator"; Bizarre Medical Mystery; "The Lone Ranger" Effect; Willis "Greedy And Lazy?"; Deen Won't Dance; Queen Bey Debuts Pixie Haircut

Aired August 8, 2013 - 07:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Is this men with hats, men without hats? Men without pants. I like the song, though, anything about dancing. Welcome back, everybody. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, August 8th. I'm Chris Cuomo.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Bolduan. Good morning, everyone. We're here with news anchor, Michaela Pereira.


BOLDUAN: Coming up in the show, disturbing images of two young brothers who were strangled to death, they say, in their beds believed to be strangled by a python. Wildlife biologist, Jeff Corwin, will be joining us to explain how this could have happened. You're seeing those pictures there of the boys inside the tank. We're going talk about that.

CUOMO: And we're going to follow this story that we told about bizarre, a Florida man wakes up one day, no memory, amnesia but also forgot how to speak English. He was just talking Swedish, I believe, and now he's talking for the first time and talking to us, a CNN exclusive.

A lot of news this morning, a lot of bad things happening with weather around the country so let's start off with that -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, let' bring you up to date on the deadly flooding that continues this morning across the Midwest and the southeast. Missouri has been very hard hit, a state of emergency in effect there. A 4-year-old died when he was swept away from his mother's car near Waynesville, Missouri. His mother is still missing.

If you live in New Jersey or Minnesota this morning, you better check those Powerball tickets. You could be rich beyond your wildest dreams, two winners in New Jersey and one in Minnesota. They're going to split the $448 million jackpot. Let's run through those winning numbers one more time, 5, 25, 30, 58, 59, the Powerball number 32.

One month after a runaway train disaster that killed 47 people in Quebec, Canada, the railroad's operators filing for bankruptcy. Montreal Main and Atlantic Railway say its freight business has dried up since the July 6th disaster. It is now filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to preserve its assets for a potential sale.

New perspective on the scale of NSA surveillance, intelligence officials tell the "New York Times," the NSA searches American's e- mail and text communications into and out of the country hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance. A senior intelligence official says the NSA casts a far wider net for people who cite information link to foreigners.

This young lady, check her out, didn't seem to having too much fun as she sat in the passenger seat at an autocross competition, wide eyes and gritted teeth tell the tale, my friends, autocross featuring race cars making their way across an obstacle course. Apparently, this is the other thing when you listen to it, she doesn't utter a sound. It's all about the eyes. Her friends wanted her to take the wheel herself, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm worried about what she's internalizing too.

BOLDUAN: Chris is mimicking the woman.

PEREIRA: Look at how gigantic her eyeballs get.

CUOMO: I wonder if her eyes are getting sucked out with the G forces. I get that face, what did I just say? Boy, she was scared. I like how she toughed it out.

PEREIRA: She really did, not a sound, not a peep.

CUOMO: Not like somebody else we had on the show recently. The guy, not you. It's not always you. No, no, somebody else. I spread it around.

All right, let's get back to this story that we've been handling about the snake and these two young boys, disturbing new images this morning of those two Canadian boys believed to have been strangled in their sleep by a python. It shows the brothers apparently playing inside a snake tank and these where they were when the attack happened. They are shedding light to the mystery behind the story.

CNN's Pamela Brown joins us with the latest. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. You know, we do have some questions answered, but many more remain after the death of 6-year-old Connor Barth and his 4-year-old brother, Noah. Preliminary autopsy results that the boys died from asphyxiation after a 100-pound python allegedly strangled them as they slept in the living room of a family friend's house. Now investigators are still piecing together evidence and snake experts say they are trying to figure out how this could have happened.


BROWN (voice-over): A sombre vigil held last night as family and friends remembered Noah and Connor Barth, the young brothers killed by an African rock python like this one during a sleepover that took a nightmarish turn. Disturbing new photos have emerged of the brothers inside glass cages that held snakes. Family members say the children loved animals.

DAVID ROSE, VICTIMS' GREAT UNCLE: They played with llamas and goats and horses. That's the type they like to have and that's what we're going to try to remember.

BROWN: Jean Claude Savoie is the family friend who was hosting the boys at his apartment. His own son was unharmed in the next room. Savoie also owns the reptile store downstairs.

JEAN CLAUDE SAVOIE, OWNER, REPTILE OCEAN (via telephone): I turned the lights on and I've seen this horrific scene and the snake was gone.

BROWN: The python was a household pet and it was kept in a custom built glass enclosure similar to an aquarium.

SGT. ALAIN TREMBLAY, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: The snake went into the ventilation system, crawled inside and moved on towards the living room where the two boys were sleeping.

BROWN: Snake experts tell CNN that this type of python typically only kills when it's hungry. An earlier statement by police say the snake may have fallen from a vent in the ceiling which also could have scared it into attack mode.

JAY BREWER, FOUNDER, "PREHISTORIC, INC.": If it was a dark house, they'd been handling animals all day, and it may be mistaken the kids as a food item.

BROWN: As investigators look for answers, the Barth family is grieving the loss of their little boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were two typical children. They enjoyed life to a maximum.


BROWN: The Royal Canadian police have launched a criminal investigation into the deaths. It's unclear whether the store owner had a permit for the African rock python, which in Canada are typically allowed only in zoos. The last attack on a human by this kind of snake was in 2002 in South Africa and in the U.S. there have been 34 incidents on record of children being attacked or sickened by constrictor snakes, according to the humane society -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Pamela, thank you.

Let's talk more about this, more on this tragic story, let's bring in wildlife biologist and host of ABC's "Ocean Mysteries," Jeff Corwin. Jeff, thank you so much for coming in. This is such an awful story, but of course, we have to say we know snakes, pythons specifically, they can be dangerous, they can kill, but when you are hearing more of the details of the story, does it make any sense to you that these kids would be killed in their sleep like this?

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: Well, pythons are designed to be good predators and the tool that they use to take down their prey is constriction. So unfortunately, if everything lines up in a worst case scenario, tragedies like this can happen. But we have to remember, human beings aren't the natural prey, aren't the natural foods that are targeted by snakes like this.

BOLDUAN: And so this python from the estimates we've seen between 11 and 15 feet long, weighed around 100 pounds. When I hear that I think did these boys ever have a chance?

CORWIN: Not if they were sleeping they didn't have a chance. First of all, you're a young child so you're easily disoriented and you're not aware of your surroundings and you're sleeping and these features move with incredible silence. And once they latch on and they envelope the prey and the contradicting process, that squeezing process, unless you know what you're doing it's very hard to escape.

This is the tool how they kill their food is through constriction, and normally this is an animal at that size it could be eating a small antelope. So a child that's weighing 20, 30, 40 pounds is not that much off the scale of the weight of a wild creature that these animals would eat.

BOLDUAN: What questions do you have in your mind, what questions would you like to have answers to? We heard one person in Pamela's piece say the snake could have possibly mistaken the kids for food, but as you said, humans are not the natural prey of these pythons. What questions do you want to have answered?

CORWIN: Well, I think it's important to note the process by which a python like this kills, dispatches, and then eats its prey. And I would expect that anything bitten by a python like this or taken would display some sort of bite marks. Oftentimes when an animal constricts its prey, it will swallow it or at least attempt to swallow it.

So all of these factors would need to sort of play into how we deconstruct what happened here, but ultimately it's a reminder to us that we have to really respect these creatures. I love snakes. Snakes are a big part of my life. They've allowed me to do the jobs that I've had over these years and have the TV series that I've done.

And I think in the right situation they're a wonderful advocate to teach us about nature, but we can't forget pythons are incredibly powerful, warrants a tremendous amount of respect, and that's why lots of regions around our country are making it -- putting very strict regulations in place to keep these animals in a private environment.

BOLDUAN: Jeff, we have to go, but I want to ask you, we keep showing the photos of these boys in the actual tank, the enclosure of the cage for this snake, they were helping clean it or the photos we're seeing right now. Could that play into this story at all, the fact that they've been in his cage before?

CORWIN: No. Snakes aren't thinking that way. They're not picking up on a previous memory, an odor, and tracking that forward for a future meal so I don't think that would have played into it. BOLDUAN: OK, thank you, Jeff Corwin, thank you so much. Again, this is a very rare situation but so tragic nonetheless. Thank you for your expertise, Jeff -- Chris.

CUOMO: Just didn't have to happen, Kate. All right, thanks for that. We're going to take a break.

When we come back on NEW DAY, imagine waking up with no memory and only able to speak Swedish. Random, you say? Well, happened to one man and a CNN exclusive, he is going to tell you all about it right here.

And 13 women now accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of unwanted advances. We're going to talk with a woman spearheading a campaign to get him out of office, 13 women.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody. An exclusive update now on a bizarre medical mystery we introduced you to last month. The Florida man who woke up one day with no memory, OK, strange even more strange he'd forgotten how to speak English. Now we're hearing from him for the first time in a CNN exclusive interview.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has that for us. Good morning, Sanjay, always great to have you.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. His name is Michael Boatwright. He is 61 years old. He served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. He actually taught English in China and now says he can't remember anything about his past including his native language. The only language he speaks now he says is Swedish.


GUPTA (voice-over): Michael Boatwright's bizarre story began five months ago when motel staff found him unconscious in Palm Springs, California. The only clues were I.D.s in his wallet and evidence that he had flown from China to Palm Springs a few days prior. Boatwright was taken to Desert Regional Hospital and he was diagnosed with dissociative amnesia.

It's a rare psychiatric condition that's typically associated with a traumatic event. Boatwright awoke in the hospital, insisting he had lost his memory and forgot how to speak English. Eventually it was a hospital social worker who uncovered his years living abroad, in China, Japan, and, yes, Sweden.

This week Boatwright was released from the hospital and he now lives at this homeless shelter. In our exclusive interview, speaking only in Swedish, Boatwright says he has recurring nightmares that are too disturbing to describe. He told our producer, "I'm scared, because I don't know what's going to happen to me next." One bright spot, Eva, an ex-girlfriend who says she dated Michael in the 1980s.

Talking to her on the phone here, he suddenly seems at ease. Even though, he says, he can't remember her. "Eva wants me to go back to Sweden. That's what I want, too," he says. "I feel like a stranger here. Sweden feels like home."


GUPTA: Speaking perfect Swedish there and he's 19 weeks now he's kept this up, no one has sort of caught him off guard because that was obviously the concern. Is this some sort of elaborate hoax, but the doctors there don't seem to think so?

CUOMO: Well, how do you decide these kinds of things?

GUTPA: There are sort of three things, three broad categories when something like this happens, some sort of brain injury of some sort, he doesn't appear to have had that and usually causes a short term memory problem as opposed to a very specific language loss. You think he's malingering or a hoax, and again, no one has caught him off guard. But then this dissociative amnesia usually because of some traumatic event people will literally wall off a part of their lives. He is not the first person to have this happened.

CUOMO: I met one of those. We met somebody right after their honeymoon as they're going to the airport to leave for the honeymoon, they disappear, and they find him in the forest three days later, doesn't remember who is he, getting married, nothing, and three years later, it all came back. He lived all that time with his wife.

BOLDUAN: Could he get his memory back and speak English again?

GUPTA: If you look at the history of people who have these dissociative amnesias, yes, sometimes it's anti-anxiety medications. He eluded again, in Swedish, these very traumatic sorts of things that he didn't even want to talk about. So nobody knows what he's referring to, how long it was, but he has this woman that he knows, who lived in Sweden. She seemed to put him at ease even though he couldn't remember exactly who she was.

PEREIRA: No other symptoms, motor skills, everything fine.

GUPTA: Good question. Is this some sort of stroke, seizure, something else like that, doesn't appear to be.

CUOMO: Sanjay, thank you very much. Appreciate the update and everybody don't forget to tune in to "SANJAY GUPTA M.D." It airs weekends right here on CNN, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and Sunday at 7:30 Eastern Time.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, we'll update you on the manhunt for James DiMaggio and the search for Hannah Anderson. You see her right there. The 16-year-old he is accused of abducting.

CUOMO: And which mega star cut off her luscious locks for this pixy cut? Got to know, right? The answer is in our pop four.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It's time for Pop Four, which means Nischelle Turner is here.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: That music gives you a little tease of our big number one story today. I'll start off with number four. The "Lone Ranger" such a bomb at the Box Office. Disney announced on Tuesday it could force them to take close to $200 million write down into the next quarter. It's so bad is reporting Disney is talking to producer about restructuring his deal for "Pirates of Caribbean 5" and stripping him of his final cut, which he had for every other film. This film did not do good.

All right, greedy and lazy. That's the number three story and that is Sylvester Stallone's tweet after replacing Bruce Willis in the upcoming "Expendables" movie. His rep did confirm the tweet was about Bruce Willis. He means what he says and says what he means.

All right, the number two story this morning, Paula Deen reportedly turning down an offer to be on "Dancing with the Stars." According to "US Weekly," a source close to the chef says the dance floor is not the appropriate forum for her.

Our number one story has me up e-mailing our boss at 2:30 this morning. Beyonce going the Halle Berry route debuting a new pixy cut sending the Twitter verse into a frenzy. She posted a bunch of pics on her Instagram account. Really short, but, come on. The debate in the hair and makeup room, is this a wig or is this a real cut?

PEREIRA: I think it's a real cut, what do you think?

TURNER: Well, Billy says there's a little something right here that makes it think it might be a wig. She has Kim Kimbell who has an amazing hair stylist who makes great wigs so it could be.

BOLDUAN: You can't say this about a lot of women. She can pull it off. I will not be showing up like that.

PEREIRA: Come on.

TURNER: You could pull that off with your face, come on.

BOLDUAN: Chris --

PEREIRA: He stays silent.

TURNER: He didn't say a thing that whole 2 minutes.

BOLDUAN: He knows that is a no-win.

CUOMO: A man without a tongue to say about Beyonce's new hair cut.

Anyway, coming up on NEW DAY, they are in the money. Three winning tickets were sold for last night's $448 million Powerball jackpot and none of them came to us. They were sold and we're happy for people. We'll tell you how much we know.

BOLDUAN: That amber alert we're tracking closing. It's expanded to three states as police search for a missing California teenager and her brother. Police now investigating reports that the suspect right there, James DiMaggio's blue Nissan has been spotted in Northern California and Oregon. We'll have an update for you.