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At Home in San Diego; The Science of Sinkholes; Weather Update; Egypt on Edge; Racial Profiling or Police Tool; Bill Ackman Backs Down; Steinway Bidding War

Aired August 13, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And baby Veronica's custody battle takes a drastic turn. Her birth mother arrested, refusing extradition. Her adoptive parents beg whoever is holding her to do the right thing.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

It's been an interesting morning already. Everything going wrong.

SAMBOLIN: It's a little cookey (ph) around here. Yes.

BERMAN: It is Tuesday, August 13th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We do begin this morning with the story of Hannah Anderson. The 16- year-old girl is back home this morning. And we're just now piecing together the details of the nearly unimaginable ordeal that she went through. We're finding out more about what happened on the 1,000 mile journey, taken from her home by a family friend who was turned into her captor. Miguel Marquez has our report.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than a week after being kidnapped by a close family friend, Hannah Anderson is waking up this morning, released from her captor, the 16-year-old teen reuniting with her father.

BRETT ANDERSON, HANNAH ANDERSON'S FATHER: I am very proud of her and I love her very much.

MARQUEZ: Her horrible ordeal far from over. Hannah is just learning that her mother and 8-year-old brother Ethan were murdered. Their bodies found in the burning home of abductor James Lee DiMaggio east of San Diego on August 4th.

ANDERSON: The healing process will be slow. She has been through a tremendous, horrific ordeal.

MARQUEZ: DiMaggio is believed to have then kidnapped Hannah, leading to a highly publicized Amber Alert. The international manhunt stretching up and down the West Coast. She was found 1,000 miles from DiMaggio's home. Authorities say he had a rifle when the FBI reached this remote location in Idaho, where he held Hannah under duress.

MARQUEZ (on camera): The only way to access it is by helicopter.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): DiMaggio fired at least one shot at the FBI. Hannah, in close proximity to her captor when he was gunned down by the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is a victim in every sense of the word in this horrific crime.

MARQUEZ: The major break in the case came last Wednesday when a group of horseback riders encountered the pair, later recognizing the teen from an Amber Alert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has a scared look on her face when I first come up the trail.

MARQUEZ: Many details remain unclear, including DiMaggio's motive and the circumstances under which Hannah traveled with DiMaggio. Now that Hannah is back, her father says the family needs to heal and grieve.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Boise, Idaho.


SAMBOLIN: A court appearance today for the suspect in another abduction and murder case. This one was in Rhode Island. Police say Daniel Rodriguez forced his way into his girlfriend's home early Sunday morning, killing her and her daughter. He then allegedly kidnapped a two-year-old boy who was later found wondering all alone and unharmed on a Providence street.

Meantime, another man, initially called a suspect here, has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Malcolm Crowell has a daughter with one of the women killed. A daughter that was left with the state while he was in jail.


MALCOLM CROWELL, FALSELY ACCUSED OF MURDER: Well, you guys took me away from my kid. You know, my kid! My kid! And this is where I am right now. I'm getting out of jail. What am I supposed to do? I got to go to my kid.


SAMBOLIN: Crowell says police treated him as guilty until proven innocent.

BERMAN: Tragedy at Atlanta's Turner Field during last night's Braves/Phillies game. A fan died after falling some 65 feet from the stadium's upper deck. He landed in a parking lot. This happened before the game actually started during a two-hour rain delay. Investigators say the fall appeared to be accidental. Not known yet if alcohol was a factor. SAMBOLIN: And another case of that rare brain eating amoeba. This time it's near Ft. Myers, Florida. His family says 12-year-old Zachary Reyna was knee-boarding in warm water when he became sick. He's now being treated at a hospital in Miami and his family is praying for his recovery.


BRANDON VILLARREAL, BROTHER OF VICTIM: It's just tough to see him like this, you know? I wish I could just touch him and it would transfer over or something or, you know, and it don't work like that.


SAMBOLIN: Wow, boy, it is tough to see him like that. And there is some good news involving another recent victim of the amoeba. Doctors say 12-year-old Kali Hardig is out of the ICU in Arkansas and she continues to improve. She can now even sign her own name.

BERMAN: Terrifying, though.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable. And you're helpless as a parent, right, what can you do?

BERMAN: Four minutes after the hour right now. And on the minds of many of us today, sinkholes, like the one that opened up near Orlando late Sunday. In the blink of an eye, these sinkholes, they're swallowing whole buildings, vehicles, and even people in its path.


BERMAN (voice-over): That's what a sinkhole sounds like swallowing the Summer Bay Resort early Monday morning. The 60 foot wide crater in Clermont, Florida, just the latest incident in this year's string of sinkholes around the country. In July, 60-year-old Pamela Knox plummeted into a nearly 20-foot sinkhole while driving on a busy Toledo, Ohio, street.

PAMELA KNOX, SURVIVED SINKHOLE COLLAPSE: As the car was falling, you know, I just kept calling on the name of Jesus and I just kept saying, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

BERMAN: But some have not been so lucky.

JEREMY BUSH, TRIED TO SAVE BROTHER FROM SINKHOLE: And I couldn't get him out. I tried so hard. I tried everything I could.

BERMAN: in February, a sinkhole opened up underneath a suburban Tampa home killing 36-year-old Jeff Bush, who was sleeping in his bedroom.

This is how sinkholes are formed. A cavity slowly develops in the limestone bedrock. Over time, it widens, eventually breaking the surface. Then, the clay and sand above collapse into the hole, swallowing everything in its path. Repairs can be costly.

JOHN FURLOW, SINKHOLE UNDER HOME: I stepped right here and my foot went down in the hole.

TINA FURLOW, SINKHOLE UNDER HOME: We thought we'd live and die here. We don't have a - we didn't have a plan b.

BERMAN: A plan is what sinkhole inspectors say could prevent destruction.

MASON CHICKONSKI, SINKHOLE INSPECTOR: Behind the stucco, the block could be broken. Just another sign of sinkhole activity, or at least enough for you to know to have your place tested.


BERMAN: You know, the experts who inspect these buildings say look for cracks. Take every crack seriously. That is a sign that one of these buildings or houses may be moving, may be sinking a little bit. In Florida alone, over a five year period, there were nearly 25,000 sinkholes reported. That's like 17 a day. That's an area particularly hard hit.

SAMBOLIN: That is very scary.


SAMBOLIN: There's that little crackling, too, that you could hear that you know, right?

BERMAN: The sound, terrifying. No one - no one was hurt in that building collapse in Florida -

SAMBOLIN: Very lucky.

BERMAN: Which is amazing and very lucky.


All right, six minutes past the hour. Another day of potential heavy rains. This is happening in the Midwest. And that could, of course, mean more flooding. Indra Petersons has our forecast for us.

Good morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Yes, it's so hard to believe we are still talking about the same region as all last week, really dealing with all this heavy rain. Take a look at Oklahoma City right now. We're still dealing with thunderstorms pushing through the area. And, once again, heavy thunderstorms expected today. It will start to calm down a little bit by the overnight hours tonight. But, either way, rain will be a big story today.

We're also looking at another low and cold front making its way through the Mid-Atlantic today. So with that we're going to be talking about some slow moving storms and heavier thunderstorms. Even one to two inches of rain possible in the Northeast.

But pay particular attention to the southeast. I mean, unbelievable amount of rain already this summer. And here we go again where we're seeing that front stalling out. We're going to pull in all this moisture out of the Gulf, also adding some tropical moisture.

And let's talk about some of these rain totals. Very heavy rain expected not only today, but really for the next five or six days. Even all the way through Sunday we're going to be talking about - yes, two to four inches in the next three days. How about five to eight inches of rain possible by Sunday. This is an area that does not need more rain. They've already seen so much of it this summer.

Also want to point out, we're going to be seeing some severe weather potentially out there. So anywhere from pretty much around D.C. area down to the Carolinas, the Mid-Atlantic, some of these thunderstorms could be severe. We'll be looking for some strong winds and even some hail. So hard to believe still rain, still thunderstorms in the forecast, especially over towards Oklahoma, some flooding and flood watches are still a concern.

BERMAN: Serious stuff and for days and days we're talking about here.


SAMBOLIN: Berman is outraged.


SAMBOLIN: He was hitting me through this entire thing.

BERMAN: I am outraged.

SAMBOLIN: Just shocked that -

BERMAN: She keeps on say, why you looking at me? Why are you looking at me?

SAMBOLIN: Stop looking at me, Berman.

BERMAN: Stop looking at me. Who am I supposed to look at?

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Indra.

BERMAN: Thanks, Indra. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: All right, it's eight minutes past the hour and another twist in the story of a native American girl torn between her adoptive parents in South Carolina and her biological father in Oklahoma. Dusten Brown has now turned himself into police after refusing to return three-year-old Veronica to the South Carolina family that has raised her from birth. Several courts, including the Supreme Court, have said he has no legal right to keep this little girl. But he told CNN just days before his arrest, he wants Veronica to stay with him.


DUSTEN BROWN, FATHER: I'm going to fight until I have no fight left in me and until they say you can't fight no more. I mean this is my daughter. This is not a yo-yo that I've missed - you know say, hey, I borrowed it for two years and here - here's it back. This is a living, breathing human being. This is a life that is happy where she's at. To, you know, take her from us is going to be very detrimental to her. I mean it's like ripping her heart out. She's a very, you know, happy child with us.


SAMBOLIN: In a statement to CNN, a lawyer appointed to represent Veronica writes, quote, "Veronica is due protection of her rights and interests, including her best interest as both a "child" and as an "Indian child." Today, Veronica has her own words. Veronica has her own thoughts. Veronica has her own voice. It is time Veronica is heard because it is, after all, Veronica's life."

This is very tough because she was initially taken away from her adoptive parents and then now potentially her biological parents. It's a tough situation.

BERMAN: It is a complicated issue.


BERMAN: All we want, though, is for that little girl -

SAMBOLIN: For Veronica to be happy.

BERMAN: Exactly.

All right, coming up here, another tense, waiting day in Egypt. Protest camps are growing with a government crackdown yet to materialize. We're live.

SAMBOLIN: And, a legal victory for an embattled celebrity chef. Why a judge says Paula Deen shouldn't face racial discrimination claims from a former employee.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

In Egypt this morning, more supporters of the post-president, Mohamed Morsy, are flocking to two sit-ins. Sit-ins the government is vowing to break up. That as Morsy's attention has been extended for another two weeks, that's at least. Arwa Damon's live in Cairo this morning.

Arwa, give us a sense, how tense is the situation right there this morning?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's as tense as it has been since these sit-ins began and the government was promising that it was going to somehow disperse them. But we're seeing quite the opposite effect when it comes to the determination of those demonstrators.

Now, the government is saying that it already has a plan in place, that troops are on stand-by, but it's still trying to find a political way to navigate itself out of this situation. That, of course, is proving to be incredibly difficult because the pro-Morsy demonstrators are so hardened in their demand that the former president be reinstated. That, of course, is a non-starter to begin with.

And they are arriving -- families are arriving by the bus load on an increased basis every single night. But we are seeing these various sit-in sites fortifying themselves, barricades being built up, made out of bricks, sandbags in some cases, piles of rocks at the entrances presumably for people to defend themselves. They say that they want to continue to remain peaceful. The great concern, of course, is the potential for bloodshed that exists out there. And that is what is really holding back any sort of action to forcefully disperse these demonstrators at this stage. But it's very much a waiting game right now.

BERMAN: It is and no sense that it's deescalating, it's just that the conflict really has yet to occur.

Arwa Damon for us live this morning in Cairo. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: Fifteen minutes past the hour.

A possible provocation just days ahead of the next round of Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. The Israeli government has given the OK to another round of homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. An area the Palestinians claim as their own. A Palestinian negotiator called that move "sabotage," and stopped short of saying that they'd skip the next round of talks, which are scheduled for Wednesday.

BERMAN: Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger waking up a convicted felon this morning after a federal jury found him guilty on 31 of 32 counts in his racketeering trial. The 83-year-old Bulger was convicted for his role in 11 murders as the head of the notorious Winter Hill Gang in the '70s and '80s. His lawyers do plan to appeal the verdict. Bulger scheduled to be sentenced in November.

SAMBOLIN: Part of a racial discrimination case against celebrity chef Paula Deen has been thrown out. A federal judge in Georgia has ruled a white former Deen employee had no standing claim Deen and her brother discriminated against black workers. Other parts of this case are still pending. A spokeswoman for Deen said she was pleased with this decision and that Deen believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone.

BERMAN: Some really tough questions for New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner during a question and answer session with BuzzFeed editor Buzz - excuse me, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith. Weiner says he's still in therapy and has not had any contact with his sexting partner, Sydney Leathers. Weiner also dropped a hint about Hillary Clinton's future plans perhaps when he was asked about how the sexting scandal has affected his wife Huma.


BEN SMITH, BUZZFEED EDITOR-IN-CHEF: Do you know what her roll in Hillary's 2016 campaign is going to be? ANTHONY WEINER, NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I do.

SMITH: What will it be?

WEINER: I'm not telling you.

SMITH: Do you feel like you've damaged her place in that world?

WEINER: I feel that what I've done has hurt her, yes. It's hurt her professionally. It's hurt her personally.


BERMAN: And that first question to Anthony Weiner was, do you know what Huma's role will be in a potential Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential race. Anthony Weiner said, I do.


BERMAN: But when asked what it would be, he would not respond. So that's a pretty big, political hit right there. Nevertheless, a new poll finds that 80 percent of New Yorkers have an unfavorable opinion of Weiner. Eighty percent.

SAMBOLIN: The controversial New York City stop-and-frisk program that lets police detain and check just about anyone that they deem suspicious is very much in question this morning now that a federal judge has said it is unconstitutional. As Nick Paton Walsh tells us, even though the program was designed to prevent crimes before they happen, many of those stopped and frisked say what it really did was target innocent people.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Leroy Downs was sitting on the step outside his own home, just like this, when it happened.

LEROY DOWNS, FRISKED BY NYPD: The officers drove past me, went up the street, reversed, came back, jumped out and they approached me. Yes.

WALSH (on camera): What did they say their reason for that was?

DOWNS: You look like you smoking weed. And then I said to them, I said, I'm on a - I'm talking on a cell phone. You know, then they -- they cursed at me and said get, you know, get against the fence and started pushing me towards the fence and commenced (ph) searching me.

WALSH (voice-over): The police found nothing on Downs, no guns or drugs. But New York's mayor and police commissioner say police have to continue to stop people just like that to save lives and reduce crime. They plan to appeal the ruling.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: We go to where the reports of crime are. Those, unfortunately, happen to be poor neighborhoods and minority neighborhoods. RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: There were 7,363 fewer murders in New York City compared to the 11 years prior to the mayor taking office. And if history is any guide, those lives saved were overwhelmingly lives of young men of color.

WALSH: A federal judge said police reasoning didn't add up. Police stopped 4.4 million people from 2004 to mid-2012 and 87 percent of them black or Latino. Just 12 percent were charged with crimes. The reasons given for the stops? So-called (INAUDIBLE) movements, being in high crime areas or having a suspicious bulge. The judge found the searches unconstitutional and noted one NYPD official said, "it is permissible to stop racially defined groups just to instill fear in them." In fact, it did instill fear in David Alec (ph), who was sitting here when he was surrounded by nine officers who rushed him with guns drawn. They, too, found nothing. The judge's ruling made him weep.

DAVID ALEC: It's hard to explain. I think, actually, there is something I have to say (ph). I think it's a - it's a -- it's a really good picture of what's going on in society.

WALSH: Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: Really epic changes in law enforcement happening all around us right now.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. I'm glad to hear it, actually.

BERMAN: All right, 20 minutes after the hour. And coming up, legendary piano maker Steinway up for sale. Steinway and Blackberry the same day. Who would have thunk it? A bidding war could mean sweet music and profits for shareholders. That's next.


SAMBOLIN: Just behold that. Isn't that lovely?

BERMAN: Behold that.

SAMBOLIN: New York City. Good morning to you.

BERMAN: Behold that. That is New York.

SAMBOLIN: All my stuff is falling apart here, Berman.

BERMAN: As Zoraida's microphones and earpiece fall to the floor, a beautiful morning in New York City.

SAMBOLIN: It is gorgeous.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Hey, what time is it?


BERMAN: It's money time.

SAMBOLIN: I'm loving that. Let's make some money.

BERMAN: Christine Romans is here.

ROMANS: Good morning, you guys.

Well, an ugly and very public battle at JC Penney between a rich and influential board member and the rest of the board there. It looks like the board member, Bill Ackman has blinked in that battle. Ackman will hold off on his demand to remove JC Penney's interim CEO Mike Ullman, as the board prepares to name a new director with retail experience. "The Wall Street Journal" says this announcement could come as early as today.

Did you know the battle between Ackman and JC Penney has really been so ugly. Escalated last week when the hedge fund manager, a billionaire, demanded that both the chairman and the CEO of JC Penney be replaced. Ackman owns an 18 percent stake in the company. The stock down 35 percent this year. So if you're a shareholder in JC Penney or a shopper at JC Penney, you have certainly been seeing this battle firsthand.

This story should be music to investor's ears. The financial times reports that hedge fund manager John Paulson has entered into a bidding war for the grand piano maker Steinway Musical Instruments. The cash offer for $38 a share or $475 million tops an offer from rival bidder KKR back in July.

Steinway has been in business for 160 years. Its pianos are, of course, status symbols for concert halls and musicians worldwide. And the stock has been rallying on the idea that this company would be bought. Had a rough go in the recession, a really rough go in the recession, but strong demand from China, where Chinese consumers love brand name labels like a Steinway, that -

BERMAN: They're beautiful.

ROMANS: Absolutely. So it looks like there will be a second act, if that may be the right metaphor for this company. So we'll watch that.

And we are officially uncrunched. For the first time since the financial crisis, banks have more money -- lent out more money than they did in July to that late July 2008. In mid-July, according to the Federal Reserve, banks have $7.33 trillion in loans outstanding. It's slightly more than the $7.32 trillion banks had extended back in October of 2008 the last time credit peaked.

So we're back. We're back. A lot of you are going to be e-mailing me saying, I still need a mortgage. They're not giving me a mortgage. They're still being really tight on my auto loan. I hear you. But when you look at those numbers, it shows you that the credit crunch is over. SAMBOLIN: The big picture. The big picture's good.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

SAMBOLIN: All right, thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-six minutes past the hour. Coming up, a banking executive accused of trying to kill -- kill his estranged wife. He is in jail this morning. We'll tell you why authorities say he did it.

BERMAN: And Michael Jackson, deep in debt. The latest testimony at his family's wrongful death suit. Were his spending habits outpacing his earnings?