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Two Convicts Escape from Jail; New York Doesn't Give Up in Its Search for an Autistic Boy; New Government Crisis Can Come in 90 Days; Computer Glitches for the New Health Insurance Still Persist; Unusual Sea Animals Spotted in California

Aired October 19, 2013 - 07:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Two convicted killers on the run this morning after an embarrassing blunder sets them free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those inmates were released based on those court orders that we received.

CABRERA: Now, the manhunt is on to get them back behind bars.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A 14-year-old teen with autism vanishes in New York. Now, the desperate search to bring him home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people feel my pain. A lot of mothers, a lot of families that have autistic children. It could happen to them.

BLACKWELL: Can his mother's voice help police track him down?

CABRERA: Back in business, and ready to fight, Republicans rail against Obamacare with a new target in their sights.

BLACKWELL: Secretary Sebelius has had three and a half years to launch Obamacare and she's failed.

CABRERA: Good morning, thanks for waking up early with us. I'm Ana Cabrera.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, and you could exhale because you've made it to the weekend. This is "NEW DAY SATURDAY." Good to be with you. We're going to start this morning with the search for two convicted killers on the run in Florida. Prison officials say two inmates sentenced to life, Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins gained their freedom by gaming the system using fake release papers that included a forged signature from a judge. But the men played the dupe so well, they even went back to the jail to register as felons after getting out. CNN's Nick Valencia joins us now for more from that prison that mistakenly released the men. Franklin Correctional Institution in Florida. Nick, how long have the prisoners been free now?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ana and Victor. One of these men has been out since September 27th, the other since October 8. And the common denominator between the two, as you mentioned, Victor, is that they were both housed at this correctional institution. We don't know much more about the relationship beyond that. Neither do authorities, that's part of the investigation. But it all started about one week ago today when the mother of Charles Walker, he's one of those men that's on the run. The mother received a letter from the Florida Department of Corrections notifying her that her son's killer had been let out early. That struck her as bizarre because she knew that her son's killer was not eligible to be released from jail early. We interviewed her yesterday. Take a listen to what she had to say in her reaction when she found out her son's killer was on the loose.


EVANGELINA KEARSE, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: We're in shock, we're frightened and we feel let down that the system did let us down for letting the murder go free. I understand that the state attorney didn't pick -- the state attorney and the judge had nothing to do with it, but somebody, I don't know if it was an inside job besides -- because I don't think Charles did this. Whoever did it helped them, I do believe that. They had to help him.


VALENCIA: Now, Miss Kearse also said that she received a call from a family friend notifying her that Charles Walker was seen walking around in an Orlando area mall, free just like everybody else. Ana, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Wow, all right. That manhunt continues. Nick Valencia, in Carrabelle, Florida. Thank you.

CABRERA: 15 day, that's now how long a mother and father have been searching for their lost teenage son. Avonte Oquendo has autism. He was last seen running out of school in New York. Now hundreds of police officers and volunteers working all around the clock have been hunting through tunnels, sewer systems, subway stations for any sign of the 14-year-old who is unable to communicate verbally. CNN's Alexandra Field has more on this extensive search.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Avonte, it's mom. Come to the (inaudible).

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the search for Avonte Oquendo, a missing 14-year old with autism, a mother's voice blares from police cars condensing New York City. There's hope it will be the siren call that finally brings the boy home. VANESSA FONTAINE, MOTHER OF AVONTE OCUENDO: It's been two weeks, I mean, if he was in the water, I'm sure he would have been found by now.

FIELD: Divers are using sonar to try and find him, but in an interview with CNN's Don Lemon, Vanessa Fontanne said she believes her son is still alive.

FONTAINE: I think someone has him. I think they are holding on to him. And they just won't let him out.

FIELD: Avonte can't communicate using words. He was last seen October 4th when a surveillance camera caught him walking out of his Long Island city school and then running down the street. A source close to the investigation tells CNN within hours of Avonte's disappearance, bloodhounds hit on the boy scent in a marsh near the school and later in a subway station.

JAMES O'CONNELL, CITYWIDE DISASTER SERVICES: No one's giving up, that's a fact. New York's a big place.

FIELD: Two weeks later, Avonte's picture is plastered throughout New York's transportation system. The search for a missing child seems to have obsessed the city that rarely stops for just one person.

COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: I think people emphasize with the parents with the condition of this young boy, he's autistic and I think people can, you know, feel for the parents and the family here, particularly as a result of that.

FIELD: More than 100 police officers are on the case. Volunteers keep working around the clock. The reward for finding Avonte is now more than $77,000.

DANIEL OQUENDO, FATHER OF AVONTE OQUENDO: I think he's somewhere in this area. I'm praying that he is. And I'm praying whoever has him just let him go. Let him go.

FIELD: Avonte's father is holding on to hope after two weeks his mother is holding her breath waiting for someone in a city full of people to find their son.

FONTAINE: He's a special boy. He's a loving boy. He's a caring child, whoever has him out there please be kind to him and let him go. Let him come home to his family.


FIELD: Because of how long Avonte has been missing our source says that police have brought in cadaver dogs to help with the search. But Ana, Victor, the family does not want that to deter anyone from trying to help them find their son alive. So, they will appeal to the public later this morning asking people to help them find that boy who cannot ask for help himself.

CABRERA: Of course, Alexandra, they're keeping up the hope. Where are they focusing the search right now? Any leads?

FIELD: Well, Ana, we know that Avonte has this love for trains. So, our source says that the focus of the investigation right now is a railroad yard in Long Island City. Police have already searched 468 subway stations. That's every subway station in New York City.

CABRERA: All right. Alexandra Field, live in New York, we're all hoping for a happy ending, thank you.

Congress acted just in time to keep the country from going over that fiscal cliff. But without a second to spare.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, the problem is, we could face another budget crisis in just a matter of months. And it's going to take a whole new attitude in Washington to avoid that.

CABRERA: Chris Lawrence has more. Chris?


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The federal government's back open for business. But for how long?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is just for 90 days. After the 90 days, then what?

LAWRENCE: All the last deal did was set new deadlines. Early next year, to come to a real agreement.

(on camera): Do you think there's any chance that the folks in that building are going to do a better job of compromising this time?


LAWRENCE (voice over): Analyst Steve Ellis predicts there won't be any grand bargain.

ELLIS: I'd be happy to see a petite compromise.

LAWRENCE: Not the huge deal that rewrites the tax code or finds a way to fund Social Security for the long term.

ELLIS: They clearly can't deal with these big issues, and so we need to do this in steps.

LAWRENCE: Like closing small tax loopholes, or reducing farm subsidies, and unemployment insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're 33 organizations.

LAWRENCE: Worried veterans are pushing to have all their benefits funded a year in advance.

KATHLEEN MOAKLER, NATIONAL FAMILIES MILITARY ASSOCIATION: We need a permanent fix. Not the temporary Band-Aid of budget deals or to face this again in a few months.

LAWRENCE: Americans are skeptical.

PETER DIANCALAN, DISCOURAGED WITH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: I think they're playing the same games. I don't think that anything's going to change.

CAROL FISHER, DISCOURAGED WITH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Both Republicans and Democrats, just - they cannot get along. And honestly, I have no faith in them. LAWRENCE: But in January, both sides may have more incentive to deal. That's when across-the-board spending cuts kick in especially at the Pentagon.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Combination of sequester and the shutdown has hurt our national defense.

LAWRENCE: And the clock is once again ticking.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let's negotiate. What are we waiting for? Let's get this done.


LAWRENCE: The Republican-led House of Representatives passed a budget with nearly about $4 trillion in spending cuts. The Democratic-led Senate passed its budget with about $1 trillion in new taxes. The key now, those sides have to come together, on mark your calendars, Friday the 13TH. December, Friday the 13TH, to try to bring those two ideas together and get something that the president can sign. Victor, Ana.

BLACKWELL: Friday the 13TH, they've got to start again. Chris Lawrence live in Washington for us. Thank you.

The longest serving House Republican has died. Florida Congressman Bill Young passed away yesterday in Maryland. He was surrounded by his family. Now, according to his chief of staff, Young died from complications related to a chronic injury. His 22 terms spanned more than 40 years on Capitol Hill. Bill Young was 82.

His starring role in the government shutdown has urged Senator Ted Cruz at least one enemy. U.S. Capitol police confirmed. They're looking into threats made against the Texas Republican. They say someone tweeted Ted Cruz needs to be taken out. And Ted Cruz -- or rather, take down Ted Cruz at his home.

CABRERA: We learned overnight that NBA hall of famer Bill Russell was arrested at Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle. Now, police say the 79-year-old was cited for carrying a gun into a prohibited area of the airport. This happened on Wednesday. The gun was found during the screening of carry-on bags. The former Boston Celtic star has been released. He could still face a fine of $7500.

BLACKWELL: ... two plans. How insurance companies are handling all this chaos.

CABRERA: And massive fires burning out of control. More than 100 of them right now, blazing. Details coming up.


BLACKWELL: We've heard a lot of that over the last couple of weeks "I can't go for that." But a deal has been hatched. The president signed it. Good morning, Washington, D.C. Live look at the Capitol dome. The sun tries to peek out on this Saturday morning. It may not get much nicer today. 68 degrees, cloudy on this beautiful day in October.

Hey, every member of Congress got paid during the 16-day government shutdown. The paycheck is protected by the 27th amendment to the Constitution. Now the website has tallied the earnings. The total pay to your lawmakers during the shutdown topped a little more than $4 million. Most federal workers are still waiting for back pay.

CABRERA: Let's look forward now, Republicans in the House, they're now ramping back up for hearings over that Obamacare website and the glitches that have come from it. Some are even calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Brian Todd joins us now. Brian, good morning.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, Victor, we've been speaking to those on the receiving end of all of these applications online for Obama care. The insurance companies. Insurance industry sources are telling us there are widespread problems with the applications coming in, and now they are having to track back to solve them.


TODD: Signing up for Obamacare is now a problem not just for potential customers, but for the insurance companies processing their applications. Listen to Joan Budden of the Michigan Insure Priority Health.

JOAN BUDDEN, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, PRIORITY HEALTH: We've talked to one gentleman who had not received the confirmation that he anticipated on the exchange website. So he had submitted a couple of times and ended up with concern that he had enrolled in multiple plans.

TODD: Another company tells us soon after enrollment started they had one customer mistakenly apply three times for two different plans. Insurance industry sources tell CNN, insurers are getting duplicates, missing information, data without a time stand.

We did speak to other insurers who told us they had no problem with the data, got complete applications, but for those who've had problems?

BUDDEN: We're calling each member and just going over their enrollment information with them to make sure it's accurate.

TODD: For response to those issues, we called and emailed CGI, the private contractor, which got tens of millions of dollars from the government to design this system. We didn't hear back. The Department of Health and Human Services said as individual problems are raised by insurers, we work aggressively to address them. As for customer's problems, we first interviewed Luke Chung who runs a database company a week into the enrollment, he'd been pulling his hair out with all the glitches. Now, he says there are still too many screams on the Web site for those applying. LUKE CHUNG, PRESIDENT, FMS INC.: I had to enter a previous screen that gave me my name and e-mail address, then I had to come to this screen to provide a user name and password. And then the next screen, I have to provide three secret answers to questions.

TODD (on camera): And should it all be on one screen?

CHUNG: It should be on one screen. I mean why bother having three screens?

TODD: How would you fix it?

CHUNG: The way I would fix it would be two levels. First of all, I'd have a change in management. Technically, I would try to get people through the system as quickly as possible asking for as few pieces of personal information as possible to expedite the process.


TODD: To be fair, Chung says he has seen some improvements. On some pages on the Web site they've added more questions to save people having to answer a question, save a screen and then go to the next screen. And administration officials continue to say they're hammering away at these glitches. Ana, Victor.

CABRERA: Nothing simple about this. Brian Todd covering Obamacare glitches this morning. Thanks.

TODD: Still to come on "NEW DAY", Apple may still be the word's tech giant, but was their latest release, this iPhone C, just a big old flop? Details on how this candy-covered smartphones are actually selling.

CABRERA: Plus, how much would you pay for a designer crocodile-skin handbag? How about $150,000. That's what some are shelling out. Details after this.


BLACKWELL: Hey, if you drive a Toyota, listen up. There's a major recall involving more than 850,000 2012 and 2013 Camryes, Avalons and Venzas.

CABRERA: The problem is with the air conditioner and it can be caused by spider webs. The webs have been found to cause blockages in the system. Officials say that could cause air bags to deploy without warning and a loss of power steering.

They may be the world's most valuable company, but no thanks to the iPhone 5C, Apple's new candy colored smartphones were supposed to appeal to customers with their low price or at least lower price. But early signs quite - it's kind of being a flop. Independent analysts estimate that the fancier 5S is outselling its cheaper cousin by three to one right now, in some cases even more. But only time will tell, I guess, if the 5C is a success in the long run. BLACKWELL: Al Gore is admitting that he once tried to buy Twitter. He confirmed the offer with Bloomberg TV this week. Hatching Twitter first reported that Gore made the offer in 2009 while having more than a few sips of wine and tequila with Twitter's co-founders. Well, of course, Gore denied end up buying it, the company doesn't currently make a profit. But it has filed for an initial public offering, so maybe that will change.

CABRERA: All right, some of our business talkers this morning. We begin with the business of handbags. Take for instance, Hermes, the maker of the popular Birkin handbag is known to keep supply rather low while they do that to keep them exclusive, they also do it for this reason. These guys right here, crocodile skins are among the hardest to get. Farming the crocodile's dangerous, time consuming. However a used Hermes handbag can go from anywhere from $39,000 to $150,000 on eBay.


CABRERA: A purse.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, I mean you can buy a house for $150,000.

CABRERA: I'm sorry, ladies, I just don't get it.

BLACKWELL: I know, these crocodile farms, there was a company that recently bought one for like $2.6 million because they're so few. And people really don't want to deal with crocodiles for obvious reasons. But to get that inventory even for their low inventory is tough.

CABRERA: Well, and then not mention, you walk around with this crocodile handbag and people are talking about you for a number of different reasons, very controversial aspects of that.