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Aaron Alexis's Mother Apologizes to Victims; New Details on Navy Yard Shooter; Interview with Rebecca Musser

Aired September 18, 2013 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, a mother's anguish.


CATHLEEN ALEXIS: Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that, I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.


MORGAN: I'll talk to the spiritual advisor who's been by the side of the shooter's mother all day today. Also, you heard Rick Warren tell me this last night.


RICK WARREN, FOUNDER SADDLEBACK CHURCH: There is no way a gun should ever get in the hands of a mentally ill person.


MORGAN: Tonight I'll talk to a woman whose life changed forever because of a disturbed young man with a gun. Nelba Marquez-Greene's six-year-old daughter Ana died in the massacre at Sandy Hook. She tells me what she went over and through her mind when she heard about the Navy Yard shootings and how we can try and ensure it doesn't happen to other families. Plus, escape from polygamy. A beaten teenager forced to marry the 85-year-old head of a religious sect and she broke free and her fears for the others that she left behind.


REBECCA MUSSER: I knew that there were other young girls who were still and are still being violated. He is still running that place from prison through phone call.


MORGAN: It's a quite extraordinary interview there and that's coming out in the show. We'll begin with our big story, the investigations of the Navy Yard shootings. Here's what we now know. Aaron Alexis made mysterious etchings into the shotgun used in the attack. They read, "Better off this way" and "My ELF weapon" according to a source. Tactical officers with the US Capitol Police were told by watch commander to stand down even though they were just seconds away from the scene and might have stopped the shootings sooner. The agency is investigating and the autopsy in to Aaron Alexis is expected to be completed at any moment.

Meanwhile, the shooter's mother made a heartbreaking statement today.


ALEXIS: Our son, Aaron Alexis, has murdered twelve people and wounded several others. His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the families of the victims.

I don't know why he did what he did, and I'll never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.


MORGAN: Here now is the clergyman who was by her side when she said that, Bishop Gerald Seabrooks of the Rehoboth Cathedral. He joins me on the phone.

Bishop Seabrooks, thank you so much for joining me.

It was a heartbreaking statement. Obviously, everyone's focus is on the relatives of those who were slaughtered in this massacre but as with all these things, there are other victims too, not least, this poor woman whose son committed this atrocity.

You've been with her all day. How would you describe her feelings today?

BISHOP GERALD SEABROOKS: She's very, very depressed. She's very bothered. She's saddened. However, very strong woman and wanted to convey the message that she's tremendously sorry about what happened to the victim, her son who did this atrocity.

MORGAN: You've obviously spent a little time talking to her today. Do you get a sense that she knew how disturbed and how depressed her son was?

SEABROOKS: Absolutely not, no. If you just would talk to her and then you talk to relatives, you talk to friends, that's not -- he didn't display any kind of bizarre behavior. He was a very jovial person, life of the party. So no, she didn't have an indication of, you know, any kind of problem with her son.

MORGAN: Despite what you just said, obviously, we do know that he was having some psychological problems. This year he had been receiving treatment to this. He'd reported the fact that he was hearing voices, hearing microwave noises in his head and so on. We know there have been previous gun-related incidents.

I mean was all this completely knew to his mother?

SEABROOKS: Yes, it's completely new because she resides in Brooklyn. He was in several locations so I mean I don't know if that was made known to her.

MORGAN: She was very moving in her statement, but not emotional in a way that perhaps some may have been in that situation. Has she been emotional with you today?

SEABROOKS: Yes, she was sobbing and she was weeping. She's very sad, very sad and very, very depressed.

MORGAN: What can you say to her? You're a man of great experience in dealing with people who've been through awful things in their lives, this is particularly awful. She's lost a son and her son committed this awful massacre. What kind of advice can you give her from a spiritual sense?

SEABROOKS: Well, you let her know that God loves her. You let her know that she's a victim also and she has the right to grieve but she's not at fault in here and I hope that your viewers and listeners will understand that our children, they're adults and they're responsible to make prudent decisions and if they make poor choices it's not the parents' fault. It's the child fault. So, her heart goes out to all of the victims and their family.

But right now, she's a victim herself and she's grieving herself, isolated, suffering from insomnia and grieving in her spirit. So, I think that all of us, what we can do is just pray for her and pray for the victims that God will help them come to a speedy recovery.

MORGAN: Bishop Seabrooks, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

SEABROOKS: Thank you. Bye.

MORGAN: As the horror of the Navy Yard shootings was unfolding, I sat down with Pastor Rick Warren, his youngest son, Matthew, shot himself to death after a long struggle with mental illness. Listen to what he told me last night.


R. WARREN: If you want to care about the homeless, you got to care about mentally ill people because most of them are probably mentally ill. So, whether they got alcohol and drugs, they're masking, they're self medicating their mental illness. If you want to care about soldiers coming back from overseas, you got to care about mental illness because of the trauma and things like that.

So, it affects a whole lot more areas than we realize.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Turn it now over to Charles Sophy, a psychiatrist and medical director of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services and psychologist Xavier Amador with the LEAP Institute, he joins me via Skype. Welcome to both of you.

Dr. Sophy. It's a very complex double story here. On the one hand, you have the mass shooter, on the other, you have a young man who took his life because of mental illness. The link is the mental illness, isn't it?

DR. CHARLES SOPHY, PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, and the link is probably corded anger. One anger is self, directed in suicide and another anger is directed toward others, outwardly.

MORGAN: When you look at the shooter in the Navy Yard shooting, what we now know about it. All the warning signs and red flags that should've been picked up, isn't that about that now?

Is this the classic build up to somebody then committing something bad, obviously not on this scale but something? Is this -- will you look at what's happened here?

SOPHY: Yes, absolutely. Because when you have the warning signs even in as late as August, this past couple months ago -- couple weeks ago, you know someone who is hearing voices, they're not in reality, whether they stay in that frame of mind ongoing or it comes and goes, there are red flags that they're going act out because they're not thinking properly.

So yes, I mean, it is. It is going to connect those dots.

MORGAN: Dr. Amador, this guy goes to a Virginia gun store and he passes a background check to buy the shotgun that he then commits the outrage with. You know, with all the controversy over background checks, it seems absolutely extraordinary that all this stuff that was in his background simply didn't show up at all and CNN was able to find most of it within a few minutes.

What is wrong with the way that the criminal and mentally ill paternity of America just not picked up when they're buying these killing machines?

XAVIER AMADOR, PSYCHOLOGIST: You know the problem is that, we are not identifying and treating him. Had he been identified as mentally ill and in treatment that would have come up in a background check.

So, you know, a big -- a theme that you and I talk about often, you know, the gun control debate in Congress is just stalled and nobody is moving forward. But now, we've got Representative Barber who took Gabby Giffords' place at Arizona cosponsoring a bill, the Mental Health First Aid Act which is all about identifying people like Aaron Alexis and getting them into treatment.

Five weeks ago, the Newport Police Department memorialized, I mean they wrote down very clearly. I'm looking at the police report right here. Symptoms of what can only be described most likely as schizophrenia, bizarre illusions, hallucinations. They've reported it to the naval officer-on-duty that night. There is ample warning.

So, you know, gun control is important. I'm going to get political for the first time on your program and give an opinion. But I have to say that we know how to fix these problems. We get police officers who are trained to assess and deal with mentally ill people and identify the risk.

The warning signs for someone like myself and for thousands of police officers I know who are Crisis Intervention Team, CIT team police officers in this country, the warning signs were abundantly clear. This was somebody who was at risk for violence.

MORGAN: Right.

AMADOR: Not only to other people but to himself.

MORGAN: Right. There's no doubt to my mind that the whole issue of gun ban in America is multifaceted and mental health is a crucial part of what has to be dealt with here.

I want to play a clip from the interview with the Warrens house. This is Kay Warren taking about what happened to her son in terms of his psychological profile.


KAY WARREN, CO-FOUNDER, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: He was so desperate to end the pain. That's the most important thing is that Matthew was in such excruciating emotional and physical pain and he just wanted the pain to stop.


MORGAN: Sorry, that was actually another clip. I want to play another clip with that, which is the one where she talks directly about the kind of problems that he was enduring.


K. WARREN: Borderline personality disorder is a -- it's a pervasive attachment, if you will, to mood wings, suicide ideation, it's a dysregulation of emotions which is usually a lot of difficulty in interpersonal relationships. Many times people cut or burn themselves, also have borderline personality. And it's pervasive, meaning it's just really hard to deal with, but there is hope for it, but it's a little note. There are more people who have borderline personality disorder than schizophrenia.

MORGAN: Now, Dr. Sophy, there are millions of people in America that suffer from some form of mental illness, some form of personality disorder. There are also as we know 300 million guns. You put the three together, because, you know, a whole set of people Britain, Australia, Japan, these countries all have mental health issues, they all have the same violent video games. The problem in America is when you link the mental health problems with easy access to guns as we saw, you know, Rick Warren's son was able to easily buy one on the internet and you saw the Naval Yard shooter who just went to Virginia and went to a gun store.

SOPHY: Right, but I mean I think that we have to be really clear about that fact that in both cases when you have a child that's now not a child, after 18, they're an adult, you have no access to their medical records or their mental health records.

Those parents they don't have the ability to say no, you can't buy a gun.

MORGAN: And unlike the Warrens, in the Naval Yard shooter's case, according to the bishop who've been with her all day, the pastor there. You know she had no idea about any of his problems. He was the life and soul.

I mean, Xavier Amador, is that a familiar thing that you hear when people get as Dr. Sophy said to adult age that they can mask these problems of even their closest family?

AMADOR: Absolutely. It is very, very common because half of all people with the most serious psychotic illnesses, in other words people who hear voices and have delusions like this man did, don't understand they're ill and then they see that other people react to them as looking a bit off, it's not "crazy." And so, they learn not to talk about it with certain people like family members.

Let me say something, mentally ill people are not more violent peers than the general population. It is a smaller group of mentally ill people with serious psychotic illnesses like he apparently obviously had who are untreated, who are not in treatment. We have the solutions in place. We have a legislation currently being developed in place. This is nothing new. This has been going on for 20 years that we know how to intervene with people like this, especially when they encounter the law enforcement setting.

As you know, I worked in the Jared Loughner case. He had an encounter with law enforcement. He had an encounter with law enforcement, another lost opportunity to avert tragedy. James Holmes, another opportunity to avert tragedy. We have the solutions and you know what, it's not as controversial as gun control. I'm sorry but it's not.

We can pass...

MORGAN: Well, actually I -- by the way, you're going to tell me that...

AMADOR: ...the situation.

MORGAN: Yes. You haven't got to tell me that. I mean totally, where the gun control debate in America is unique in my experience of being so political. When the debate happened in other countries like Britain and Australia, when they brought in gun control, it was never political. So the issue with mental health is not political and it should be the absolute bedrock of how you try and deal with these things.

Dr. Sophy, our time's up. I've got to leave it there but I'm sure we will discuss this sadly again. It's a fascinating issue.

When we come back the woman who knows how tragic it can be when a disturbed person gets hold of a gun. She lost her daughter in the shooting at Sandy Hook, now she tells what this country needs to do about mental health.

And later, how a beautiful young woman risked everything to escape a forced marriage to an elderly leader of religious sect.



K. WARREN: You know I've said almost from the first moment that we learned that we're devastated, but we're not destroyed. And when people ask that question of how are you. I -- there's no good answer. And so, I finally just settled on I'm terrible, but I'm OK. In other words, we're going to survive.


MORGAN: Kaye Warren talking about the lost of her son. He shot himself after struggling with years of mental illness.

My next guest knows all too well what can happen when a disturbed young man gets a gun, Nelba Marquez-Greene lost her six-year-old daughter Ana in the Sandy Hook shooting. She's a mental health and wellness director of the Sandy Hook Promise.

Nelba, thank you so much for joining me. My heart goes out to all the families at Sandy Hook and Aurora and all these massacres, wherever there's another shooting, because it must just bring back such awful memories for you.

NELBA MARQUEZ-GREEENE, LOST DAUGHTER IN SANDY HOOK SHOOTING: Thank you for having me. Absolutely. But I first like to express my condolences to the families of those that were lost this week.

MORGAN: When you hear a different kind of story, but no less tragic, the Warrens talking to me about their son and how he found a gun on the internet and killed himself after years of depression and so on. It just brings back again the focus to the lethal cocktail of mental instability, illness and the ready availability of guns. What can be done about this, do you think?

MARQUEZ-GREEENE: You know, I'm here today as Ana's mom. I have, you know, I'm also a licensed marriage and family therapist. It's a complicated question, this one of mental health. I think there are two things that we can be looking at. We can be looking at identification later when we already know there is a problem, but we can also start talking about prevention in the early years.

When we talk about physical health in America, we focus on prevention. We tell people what they can do to be well and we need to be doing that with mental illness as well.

MORGAN: And what is your view of the whole gun debate? What do you think is the most practically realistic thing that can be achieved given the way the politicians so far completely, in my view, showed any responsibility for this issue?

MARQUEZ-GREEENE: I think it might behoove us a nation to put aside bipartisan politics and petty disagreements and agree that no one else wants to be fitting in my shoes right now.

I am the mom who has an empty place at her kitchen table. I am the mom who has a bed her daughter no longer sleeps in. No one wants to be that mom.

MORGAN: That's absolutely true. It's -- when you hear the mother. I wanted to ask you this because I was thinking it when I was watching her interview. When you hear the mother of the shooter at the Navy Yard shooting, talking at such a heartbroken way herself about what her son have done. Obviously, in your case, Adam Lanza's mother wasn't there to tell that kind of story because she was killed herself, but are you able to feel any sympathy or empathy for people in her position, for the families of these shooters?

MARQUEZ-GREENE: Of course, she's a victim herself and it's time that in America we start looking at mental illness with compassion and start helping the people who really need it. Obviously, this was a family that needed help, this was an individual who needed help and didn't get it. And what better can come of this of this time in America, than if we can get help to people who really need it.

MORGAN: Ana grew up in a very musical family. Your husband there was Harry Connick Jr.'s sax player. I know that because Harry told me all about it on this show. We've got this very moving video. This is of Ana and Isaiah, her brother, playing the piano together, let's watch this.



MORGAN: It's so heart breaking to see something like that. I don't know how you have the courage, I really don't. I don't know how any of the families from Sandy Hook have the courage to even continue but you have. One of the reasons was Isaiah, your son, who had to go back to school within a month of what happened to her sister. He was at Sandy Hook that day. He heard the shooting going off. How has he been coping and adjusting to life without his sister and also to going back to school?

MARQUEZ-GREENE: I thank his teachers and the staff at Sand Hook Elementary School for saving his life and for making school a safe and fun place. I do live in an incredible community even though this terrible thing had happened to my daughter, and there are so many heroes in this that never get talked about, and those teachers who went back to school at Sandy Hook Elementary, and quite frankly, those teachers who go to school everyday and work in America are all heroes and should be commended.

MORGAN: Would you feel any better if the school that your son was now at had arms guards outside it?

MARQUEZ-GREENE: You know, right now, I feel better that he is laughing, I feel better that he is enjoying it, and he tells me his favorite subject is lunch. So, right now I'm happy he is having fun.

MORGAN: That was my favorite subject, funny enough. There's a very touching note that she wrote to all teachers across America and clearly it's obvious why he responds to do that, but it also you respond by Ana's own work and we're looking here at the pictures, the picture that she drew with her puppy, and it's again, heart breaking, but very inspiring too. She was a talented young girl. How would you like her to be remembered?

MARQUEZ-GREENE: My daughter loved food, she loved music, and she loved God. And that's why I'm standing here today. I believe that it's important for me to be doing something productive and to remember Ana and how she lived and not only how she died. She was a child that was loved and incredibly cared for.

MORGAN: President Obama, when he met with the Sandy Hook families, promised that he would take action. He would get things done to try and prevent another Sandy Hook happening. So far, he's been unsuccessful and persuading Congress to get things done. What is your message to him and indeed to the members of Congress?

MARQUEZ-GREENE: My prayer for Congress is to put bickering aside and let's stop arguing about the small thing and let's get to it on the big things. No one else wants to be me right now. No one else wants to lose a brother, a mother, a child. We have a problem, let's get to work. Let's do it.

MORGAN: Nelba Marquez-Greene, it's been such a privilege to talk to you, thank you very much indeed.

MARQUEZ-GREENE: Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: Still ahead, how a beautiful young woman broke free of an oppressive sect and forced marriage. Her incredible story coming up. But next CNN's inside man, Morgan Spurlock. He went in a gun store in Virginia, the same state where Aaron Alexis bought his weapon. Morgan joins me live coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really since Obama got reelected. Making sure I get one before I can give one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's really exactly what I'm looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's it man. Sold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All you need is two-forms ID with same name and address and a credit card or some money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't even got to ask for permission?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh man, I'm giving you a punch in your name.



MORGAN: Showing how easy it is to buy a weapon in America. CNN's Inside Man, Morgan Spurlock at a gun store in Virginia, the very state where Aaron Alexis both his gun. All the questions all about the issue, in the chair is Morgan Spurlock, also director of One Direction, This Is Us the movie and Super Size Me.

Someone has tweeted me, Morgan, and said America's right to possess guns has given Americans the right to be easily killed by somebody which is a, you know, it's one we're looking at it.


MORGAN: What I feel is this really disheartening sense of Groundhog Day with these gun massacres and no desire, no strong enough desire by the politicians, all the people of America to do anything constructive about it?

SPURLOCK: Yeah. Well, I mean the bigger question is, is since Sandy Hook, there have been probably about 20,000 gun death in the United States, you know, 60 percent of those were suicides. So you got 8,000 homicides that have happened since Sandy Hook but it takes something like this for us to really have a conversation about it.

And for me, I think the complacency, kind of the apathy that we have towards this issue is kind of disturbing.

MORGAN: You know, I mean, you know, we do have the conversation when these things happen but I've been on air at CNN in three years and it's the same conversation. You know, I joined, I was on air a week after Gabby Giffords, we have the same conversation then.


MORGAN: She had it after the Sikh Temple shooting and after this. There have been, I've read today, in total over 17 mass shootings involving four or more people killed. SPURLOCK: That's right.

MORGAN: ... since the start of 2012. I mean this is so exceptional for any of the other rich, so called, civilized countries of the world. It's ridiculous. But where do we get some kind of movement? I mean I want to try and stay calm about this debate.


MORGAN: Emotion doesn't seem to work. Where do we try and get a meeting of minds to get things (inaudible) done so that poor woman who lost her daughter at Sandy Hook can actually see that somebody is reacting to it?

SPURLOCK: I mean I think you have to have a -- you have to have a mass movement of the people. You have to have the populace finally say, "Enough is enough. We have to do something. This has to change," you know, whether that's universal background checks, whether that is opening up databases for mentally ill people so we know exactly who we are selling these types of weapons to.

So this has to be some -- something has to move forward so that we're not making the same mistakes over and over and over again.

MORGAN: But I remember after the Aurora movie theater massacre where 17 people were shot, people -- I think Michael Bloomberg came in and he's -- you know, what will it take? If it's not this, what will it take? And four months later, with Sandy Hook, 20 kids blown to pieces. And even that, they couldn't even get background checks ...

SPURLOCK: That's right.

MORGAN: ... passed in Congress.

SPURLOCK: That's right.

MORGAN: They were more than happy to allow 40 percent of gun trades in America to simply have no check on them and we saw you in that clip there from your extraordinary documentary.


MORGAN: The ease with which people can get firearms and the lack of any checks that go on.

SPURLOCK: And it's even simpler as you're just, you know, having guns sold from a person to person, peer to peer, where there is even less checks. You know, at least in the gun shops, or the one where I worked in the store here in Virginia, you know, they do a very substantial background check on every single person that comes in. And if somebody doesn't pass, they don't get a gun. They don't, you know, they are forced out without one.

But, you know, but there's plenty of other places where you can buy one just from your neighbor and nobody will ever know if you have a problem or not. MORGAN: But also, and I've interviewed two parents whose son seven times had been voluntarily admitted to mental institution. And because he'd never been admitted involuntarily, in other words, ordered by court, he was able to go to Wal-Mart and buy an assault rifle.


MORGAN: It didn't show up on his background check. To me, that's not an effective background check ...

SPURLOCK: Well, that's ...

MORGAN: ... and that only applies to 60 percent of the current gun sales.

SPURLOCK: That's right. Well, this is why the medical establishment needs to be working with the federal establishment to make these medical records be widely accessible.

You know, you need to know if people are mentally unstable. These are people who shouldn't have access to firearms who, you know, shouldn't be able to purchase a weapon that could kill themselves or hurt other people.

MORGAN: Why is it political, Morgan? Why if you're pro-gun do you have to be a right winger? Why if you're ...

SPURLOCK: Listen, I'm -- listen, I'm ...

MORGAN: ... serious gun control safety, you have to be a libtard as they call it. I mean why are these ridiculous extremes you have to be politically when it comes to guns? What is in it ...

SPURLOCK: I mean I don't -- you know, I am somebody who I think, you know, most people would say is incredibly liberal. But I am also very pro-gun. I still like guns. I own guns. I mean I think that you can own guns and not be a nut job.

I think that we have drawn a line in the sand in so many ways with this issue that we forced it to be political. We forced it into this idea because it's always about banning. Everything is about, "We're going to ban them. We're going to take them away." All you hear is about, like the assault weapons ban, we're going to get rid of AK47s.

But the majority of gun deaths in the United States are done with Revolvers. They're done with pistols. They're done with semi- automatic handguns. Nobody ever talks about banning these weapons yet they cause the majority of deaths in our country.

MORGAN: Well, good point. You've also taken America's waistlines, a new iPhone app.

SPURLOCK: That's the best transition I've ever heard. That is a fine transition. MORGAN: I was told -- well, I was told you'd sent me an iPhone app then I realized to my joy, you know, he sent me a whole iPhone. So, thank you very much indeed.

SPURLOCK: See that's just -- I'm looking out for you.

MORGAN: But why are you sending me a waistline app?

SPURLOCK: Well, I'm looking -- I'm concerned about your health. You do a lot of -- you do, you spend a lot of time sitting around, you know, I'm worried that you don't get enough movement. So I want to make sure you know what you're actually like putting in your body.

And so, we've come up with this incredible app. It's called the Super Size Me, What Are You Eating app. And what it does, it tells you restaurants all across the country. There's over a hundred restaurants that are in here. There is a search tool so that you if you know where you're going, you can find something that's close by.

So if you end up going to a place like, say, say, you went up going to like a Chuck E. Cheese, God forbid. But if you end up in one, here you go, you can start looking at the things on the menus. Say, you pick up the Canadian Bacon Pineapple individual pizza for 542 calories, it tells you everything that's in there. You can slide to feed and then you feed our fat clown that's in there.

And you -- we keep track of all the calories that you put in your body over the course of the entire day. It tells you the health ramifications, the problem that you can have as a result of eating so many calories.

MORGAN: Can you press Send on that immediately down to Los Angeles?

SPURLOCK: Can we do what?

MORGAN: And then tell me, Morgan, I mean, if you are a betting man, it's a bit like the guns issues, isn't it? Do you really feel -- you've made documentaries about guns, you've made them about food. Do you feel that these actually have an effect on Americans or do people who watch your documentaries feel horrified and then just carry on (dazzling) them buying more guns?

SPURLOCK: No, I think it's both. I think that there are people who watch things and sometimes it reinforces their belief. I think there's other times where you do start, you know, chip away at what people, you know, may have not thought about before, whether that's about what we, you know, put into our mouths or what we buy at the store. I think that, you know, these type of shows, these types of movies do make a difference and, you know, little by little, I think you can start to sway the tide.

MORGAN: Well, Super Size Me. What Are We Eating? The iPhone App by Morgan Spurlock is available in the iTunes App Store now. I'm going for a Big Mac and large fries.

Morgan Spurlock, it has been terrific as always to talk to you. Thank you very much.

SPURLOCK: Good to see you, Piers. Cheers.

MORGAN: Coming next, surviving polygamy from the star witness against Warren Jeffs. Her life is a wife of a polygamist cult leader and her harrowing escape. (inaudible) coming up. It really is fascinating.


MORGAN: Tonight, a remarkable story of strength and courage from the woman who was forced to marry a polygamist sect leader. Rebecca Musser was a teen when she became the 19th wife of 85-year-old, Rulon Jeffs, the ruler of the FLDS.

Incredibly, Rebecca escaped the marriage, the abuse and the secretive world of polygamy to then testify against Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the FLDS. Rebecca is the author of The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Leaders to Justice. And she joins me now.

Rebecca, it's a quite extraordinary story. When you look back over what's happened to you, are you surprise that you've emerged so relatively normal as you appear in the interviews that I've seen?

REBECCA MUSSER, AUTHOR, THE WITNESS WORE RED: Relatively normal. I think that's relative, exactly. You know, I am so grateful for my journey. I think that everybody can look back over their life and realize, you know, it was tough, I went through some really hard things but I'm a better person for that. And I'm deeply grateful for, you know, where I am today. I realized it's kind of like being able to, well, if you die and then you live again in the same life time only you remember the past and it makes me that much more grateful and that much more open to opportunity, open to, you know, the grace of peace that I have now.

So, I'm very happy with where I am at.

MORGAN: You have this extraordinary existence inside. Your father was a college educated engineer. He didn't grow up in this world. He was aware that polygamy was illegal and yet he wanted to get involved and to take his family inside that. Your mother was your father's second wife, so you grow up as the second family in the basement of the home with your mother, obviously, very surreal existence in many ways. At what point did you, yourself then become victim to the abuse?

MUSSER: As long as I can remember, there was unrest in my father's home. His first wife was extremely jealous of my mother. And I imagine it would be hard for any grown woman to grow up in the outside world, marry her high school sweetheart, and then have another woman later after you've had kids and awful family.

A woman 20 years you're younger and then have her marry your husband, her jealousy was extremely painful for all of us and she was suffering in it. She made sure that my mother and her children suffered as well. There was a tremendous amount of physical abuse; there was some sexual abuse in my father's home. And, you know, that was just simply the world that we knew.

MORGAN: When you were 19, you've spent your entire life in this weird bubble. You were forced to marry the 85-year-old father, Rulon Jeffs, the Prophet, as he was known, Warren Jeffs' father. You were his 19th wife. What is your recollection of the moment that you heard that was what you were going to have to do?

MUSSER: When I find out that I was going to be placed by Rulon Jeffs, there was all of these years of everything I've been taught how this was right, this was holy, this was good, and yet inside of me, there was a tremendous amount of disappointment, confusion, and overwhelm. I was scared. I was terrified of marrying this man and yet I could not say no because it would bring a tremendous amount of shame to my family. So, there was a tremendous amount of pressure on me to do my duty that I had been raised my entire life to perform.

MORGAN: In the end, he had 60 wives. You were one of them. You were number 19. What were these duties? I mean even at his advanced stage, did you have to perform sexual duties to him, was that part of it?

MUSSER: Yes, it was. In their marriage covenant, a woman vows to give herself to her husband, and that refers to everything, her body, her mind, and her soul. And they do require that Rulon Jeffs did and they tell you that it's for God. It's in God's name.

MORGAN: How did that make you feel? I mean this guy is 85 years old and in fact died at age of 92 and you had to just keep doing this, is it (revolting) of man? Is it pedophile? Everything about him is disgusting. You're a beautiful young woman who's been thrown into this. How did you feel emotionally about that?

MUSSER: I was overwhelmed and I was very angry. I was terrified and felt extremely violated. And that's the thing. I think that there are, you know, so many women, globally, who experience this kind of violation. My story is witness to me but it also speaks to the one and for women who are sexually assaulted. And that's why it's important. I'm willing to have an honest conversation about this. It's not easy and it's not fun but it's time to face the fact. The time to have the reality brought forward of a society like the one I was grown up, that I grow up in, but also, globally, we can no longer turn a blind eye to this. We can't change what we don't know is going on.

MORGAN: How did Warren Jeffs and his father rule this compound? What was their style? What kind of men were they?

MUSSER: They were interesting because, on the outside, they seem to be so kind. They would convey that they cared about you and they would say, "God bless you." However, they were very calculated. Warren picked up where his father left off and he was very cunning in how he managed the people. He looks for opportunity and would leverage every single thing that he could to be able to put himself not only personally but socially as his father's mouthpiece and his father's right hand then so that he was in a very prime position at that time of his father's death to take over the ruling part of the FLDS people.

MORGAN: What kind of relationship did you have with the other wives?

MUSSER: Fortunately, for me, you know, I had actually 64 sister wives and I got along with them all. We were all thrown into a very unique situation. It was hard but, you know, I think that human beings have this gift and this ability to adapt. We cared about each other, plus the fact, I was not a threat. I did not go out of my way to try and have time with Rulon Jeffs. So, there was a number of us that felt the same way. I was the most vocal. But I can honestly say I really dearly cared about my sister wives. Oddly as it sounds, but, you know, I was not in love with my husband. I did not want to spend time with him. So I was more than happy to let someone (home) to do that.

MORGAN: OK, understandable. I want to take a short break. And Rebecca will come back and talk to you about the moment that you've made your flee for freedom and how you become the chief prosecution witness against Warren Jeffs and expose his horrendous, horrendous regime.



MUSSER: He would tell me that under no circumstances do you ever, ever, ever tell your husband no. And he read to me part of section 25 where a wife's duty is to comfort her husband at his time of need. And if she did not, that she would be destroyed in the flush.


MORGAN: A dramatic moment in the trial against polygamist sect leader, Warren Jeffs, is Rebecca Musser. As the star witness of the prosecution, Rebecca was forced to marry Jeff's father and escape the world of the FLDS. She's back with me now.

Rebecca, dramatic testimony indeed there which brought an end to the saga -- not just for you but for everybody else involved in this. But just going back to the moment that you escaped, what was the tipping point for you and how did you get out of there?

MUSSER: The tipping point for me was when Rulon Jeffs died, 56 of his 65 wives were between the age of 17 and 34 and Warren Jeffs was forcing us to be remarried. Warren came down very hard on me and said, "I will break you. You will be married in one week," and I beg him not to and he said, "You know this is what God wants."

And even at the time that I left his office that night, leaving was not an option. I wrestled with that for two days, wondering what am I going to do. And finally, it hit me, this aha moment that I could leave. And I tried to make different plans in the most amazing chain of event. I was able to get in touch with my brother who was living on the coast of Oregon.

But for me to get out, I couldn't tell anybody goodbye. I left a note on my bed. I was able to get pass security guards, security cameras. I'm over a fence in the middle of the night. And a friend drove me up to where my brother was living in Oregon. And it was terrifying to walk away from every single thing that I had ever known into a world that I was trained to believe that if -- it was an if, it was when they would hurt me. It was up to that point in time when the most terrifying things I had ever faced or done.

MORGAN: Eventually, Warren Jeff was caught and he was brought to justice, brought to trial, you were the chief prosecution witness. And you, as we heard earlier, gave this extraordinary brave testimony. I want to play a (inaudible) on what you said outside after you gave evidence?


MUSSER: Whether the (currency) is God or greed, the trafficking of women and children for sex is a form of slavery. As it continues to happen in the FLDS, it continues to happen in our nation. But I am grateful for everyone who strives to give freedom of choice to each and everyone who has been affected.


MORGAN: Suppose there that Rebecca (inaudible). What were you feeling, were you feeling a great sense of elation when Rulon Jeffs was finally jailed for life or what were you -- what was going to your mind?

MUSSER: It was a very emotional time for me. As you can imagine, it was very hard to face him in the court room. However, the sad reality is he himself is imprisoned for life.

But it's not over. There are still young girls right now in that group who are being violated today. And that's the thing. It's not just a matter of -- not just Warren Jeffs or the other men who are now in prison because of this. I think that it really speaks to the fact that we can step up but it takes everybody and every single society to look at the behavior that's going on.

It doesn't matter what tradition is says is OK or what tradition says is holy. We have the responsibility to look at that behavior and make our decisions based on that. So facing Warren Jeffs, it was (strangely) storm of emotion going on. It was liberating. But I also knew it was a sad day because I knew that it didn't end. I knew that were other young girls who were still and are still being violated. He is still running that place from prison through phone calls.

So, it's not over. But I would like to think and I definitely hope that we've made it end, that we've brought forward evidence that they can look at that they can then look at the behavior and make that decision from.

MORGAN: So, Rebecca, what kind of relationship do you have with your family? Where is your mother, do you speak to her at all, and what about your siblings? And for you, personally, is there marriage on the cards going forward, a real marriage to somebody that you love, children, perhaps?

MUSSER: I do have two young children. You know, to begin with, in regards to my family, I have not spoke to my mother since 2006. She told me over a phone call that she would rather see all of her children dead and laid in the grave than to see anyone of them stand out against their prophet.

And as you can imagine, it did not fit will with her that I did testify. They -- I have no contact with her. She's not one of my children when he was very young but she hasn't met my other child. And as far as my siblings go, as you can imagine, with a childhood like ours, there's a tremendous amount of feeling that needs to take place and I honor each and every single one of us on that journey.

I have siblings who are still in the FLDS, siblings who are out of the FLDS. And I am just so astounded at the resiliency of those that I have seen come out and their journey to get up another day and to face it because it's terrifying. It's hard to make a new life on every single level. So we are moving forward and finding, you know, healing in our own way on our journey.

MORGAN: Well, Rebecca, it's been a great pleasure to talk to you. You're such a delightfully positive person given all you've been through. And it's a very inspiring book as well as very harrowing one in many ways. But thank you very much indeed for joining me. I wish you all the very best with your life in the future. You deserve a lot of happiness.

MUSSER: Thank you so much.

MORGAN: Rebecca Musser's book, The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice, that is out now. And it's an extraordinary read. We'll be right back.


MORGAN: That's all for us tonight. Tomorrow night, Billy Ray Cyrus. AC360 Later starts right now.