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WHDH: Teacher Killed, Teen In Custody; Sebelius To Testify On Obamacare In Congress; Teacher Killed In Danvers, Massachusetts; White House Fires Twitter "Mole"; Court Convening For Mistakenly Released Inmate; Sentencing For Drunk Driver In Viral Video; Interview with Sheila Jackson Lee
Aired October 23, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. We do start with breaking news. This is out of Massachusetts, police in Danvers, Massachusetts, that's near Boston, has now confirmed that a teacher's body was found in the woods near Danvers High School. Now all the schools in the district are closed while police investigate what they term a murder. CNN's national correspondent Susan Candiotti has a little more information for us. Tell us, Susan, what happened?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. What shocking and stunning news, especially for the people who live in Danvers, which is about 20 miles or so north of Boston. Police revealing in the District Attorney's Office that a 14-year-old young man is now charged with murder in connection with the death of a math teacher at Danvers High School.
Let's tell you what we know about the victim. Her name is Colleen Ritzer. She teaches math. She is only 24-years-old and as you indicated authorities says her body was found in the woods behind the high school last night. Now at the same time this 14-year-old apparently had been missing since yesterday, they had been looking for him.
And they spotted him about 6:30 last night at a movie theater about five miles or so away from the school. And eventually found him overnight walking on a road somewhat near the high school as well, and picked him up. He is now in custody. How did they find him? We're told through the use of social media including Facebook and Twitter.
But they're not releasing dames about exactly how that social media was used to locate him. Very few details as well about how this murder happened. Other than to say blood was found in a second floor bathroom, I think it was, in the high school.
In any case, they're now trying to piece all of this together. Authorities know the identity of the young man but are not releasing it at this time because of his age. He's a juvenile. Because of his age, he is juvenile and we will keep that name under wraps for now -- Carol. COSTELLO: Unbelievable. Susan Candiotti, I know I know you are going to continue to in our law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks. He's on the phone. So Mike, they closed every single school in this district. Why would they do that?
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): They're going to go ahead and close the high school because it still possibly a crime scene, Carol. They decided to shut down the five elementary schools and one middle school and this one high school where the crime apparently took place in the second floor bathroom.
And they're going to be serving a search warrant on the 14-year-old's house and they want to know if he was acting alone. That's one of the other things. While they're conducting the investigation, they probably decided to go ahead and shut all of the schools down out of an abundance of caution in case this kid was not acting by himself.
Out of an abundance of caution, while they sort things out and have an active crime scene there at the high school, they just decided to close all of the schools.
COSTELLO: We've seen so much violence taking place in schools across the country. This one is striking since it seems to be so planned and targeted.
BROOKS: Yes, it does. And we don't know the relationship, also, between this 14-year-old and the 24-year-old teacher. We don't know the relationship right now. But you're right, Carol, we're seeing so many of these incidents in school. Is it because of associate media? We just had the one in Nevada.
In fact, I was just in Philadelphia last week at the International Association Of Chiefs of Police conference, and this is one of the issues that they're dealing with, violence in schools. We keep seeing this and hopefully we're going to see, you know, see some of this not happen anymore, but you never know. It just seems every day there's something new. But the main thing in this case is finding out what the relationship was between this 14-year-old student the math teacher two and if he was acting alone.
COSTELLO: Lots of unanswered questions this morning. Mike Brooks, thank you for joining us.
And just a recap, 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer was found dead behind the high school and they found blood in the second floor bathroom inside the school. They placed under arrest a 14-year-old student and since he's a juvenile, they're not releasing his name. And we don't know the relationship between the 14-year-old and the 24-year-old teacher. We don't know if he was in her class and we don't know anything. So we are trying to find out more information for you. Susan Candiotti is on the case. When we get more information, of course, we'll pass it along to you.
Intrigue and another embarrassment for the White House, this morning, a national security official is out of work for Twitter attacks on Republicans and even his fellow Obama insiders. Jofi Joseph is booted from his job as the director for the National Security Council. He tweeted his insults under an alias including this shot at President Obama's senior adviser, quote, "I'm a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me," end quote.
And she was not the only target of his venom. CNN's Jim Acosta is at the White House with more for you this morning. Good morning, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. That's right. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of social media and firing off on Twitter, and probably a cautionary tale about not being a very nice person. And Joseph was immediately fired, White House officials say, once his identity was learned that he was behind this fake Twitter account or this account this was being operated by him.
Let's show you some of the other tweets that he was putting out there. Not just about administration officials, but also about Republican and Democratic figures, but one about ambassador power over to the United Nations. It says, she was tweeting about how she was wrapping up a busy day at the United Nations General Assembly. And he modified that tweet and added to that, tweets like this are why so many people are soured on you.
And then another one about Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide who was also married to -- . Was she wearing beer goggles the night she met Anthony Weiner? It appears that he had a very important job here at the White House. He was the director of nonproliferation for the National Security Council. It reads, it's a privilege to serve in the administration. I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed -- I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologize to everyone I insulted.
This has been going on for a couple of years, Carol, according to the daily beast which broke the story. And it is offering a brief temporary distraction from the glitches and technical problems with the Obamacare web site. We should point out that later on this afternoon, Kathleen Sebelius and top administration officials will be meeting with representatives from the insurance industry. Again, one of those meetings basically has to deal with making sure that the process in implementing Obamacare is a little smoother than it has been lately.
COSTELLO: All right, Jim Acosta, many thanks.
One of those Florida inmates accused of using fake documents to get out jail made another appearance in court following his capture this weekend. Charles Walker had been serving a life sentence for murder when he was mistakenly released. CNN's Ed Lavandera is at the courthouse in Orlando with more. Good morning, Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Ironically this is the very same jail where these two men had come following through the charade after they were released from the prison mistakenly several weeks ago. This is the prison they came through to go through the charade and registered a felon. They spent time here in Orlando before realizing that investigators were trying to track them down again and then they went on the run before being captured over the weekend in Panama City, Florida, up in the panhandle.
But now investigators are still continuing the process of trying to figure out how in the world they were able to use forged documents to get out of the prison system and have their sentences reduced. Investigators say they have removed computers from the prison area where inmates could use them and had access to them. They're going through that.
And also talking with family members and say that some of the family members are cooperating. Investigators say that Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins are not cooperating. And they're still trying to piece together how all of this was pulled off and how it could have happened. And they acknowledge that this isn't the only time this has happened.
Five other instances where inmates have used forged documents to either try to have charges erased or have those charges and punishments lessened so quite an issue and quite a problem that -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Ed Lavandera reporting live from Orlando this morning.
A lot going on this morning, I want to take you live to Washington right now. The House speaker just finished speaking. Now the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor from Virginia is talking about Obamacare and why we don't know how many people have enrolled in the program. Let's listen.
REPRESENTATIVE ERICK CANTOR (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: It doesn't make any sense to impose this 1 percent mandate tax on the American people. That is why we Republicans remain committed to delaying the mandate tax of Obamacare so that finally we can get the answers that so many people are seeking and we can try and reassure the millions of Americans who are growing in their fear about what this all means for their health care.
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: It's another day and a new glitch for the Obamacare roll-out. That's why only 12 percent of Americans, the latest CBS poll, says that it is going well. Listen to the president do the press conference, we will handle it and fix it, it just rings back to the moment when he was proposing Obamacare and said if you had your health care and you liked it, you could keep it.
It's not a glitch when American citizen receives a letter and says, their current health care, they will no longer have it, many of the constituents that I have come out to see the frustration, that it is not fair and they don't have the health care and they can keep it. And if they go on to the web site, they cannot see what they have now.
So when you look back and look at the arguments, complaints, none of that goes away. I think the focus will now be on where is the account ability in the process and where are the answers.
REPRESENTATIVE CATHY MCMORRIS RODGER (R), WASHINGTON: Moms, dads, seniors, young people continue to struggle all across this country whether it is those that are out of work trying to find a job and the economy that continues to struggle, or those that are trying to get health insurance or losing their health insurance or having trouble getting health insurance. As leaders here in congress, our commitment is to continue to work on issues that are going to create jobs and opportunities.
And also to make sure that people have access to quality and affordable health care. Concerns are coming in every day right now. And the concern that actually this health care law is going to make it harder and worse for more people than it's going to help. That's why we're launching the www dot gop.gov to share your story.
So that we can go to work to ensure that moving forward we can take the action to help individuals, give them the protections that they need with this -- the delay of the individual mandate, the tax, the fee that they are facing that employers have been given a pass on, we need to provide that fairness to vimds (ph) and families all across this country.
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: Conan said the other night Obama is now urging Americans having trouble with the website to call a 1-800 number. And that was 1-800-we didn't think this through, all of the jokes go on and on and on, but nothing is funny about --
COSTELLO: We're going to step away with this. But you hear the house leadership talking about the problems that Obamacare, at least the exchanges are experiencing. And how possibly the GOP could either fix Obamacare or get rid of it. We'll hear much more about this throughout the afternoon. Told you a lot was going on this morning, I'm going to take you now to Columbus, Ohio. You are looking at live pictures inside a courtroom there where a man who confessed in a viral video to killing a man is being sentenced.
Remember Matthew Cordle? He made the violent video and take full responsibility for killing a man in a drunk driving incident. Well, he also begged others not to drink and drive in that video. He told a judge in the court hearing he couldn't even remember that night because he blacked out after too much drinking. There he is. He faces a possible 8-1/2 years behind bars. Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to give you a chance to make a statement, but I want to proceed with the video at this time. So if you're making a statement relative to sentencing, I'm going to ask that you withhold that. Is there anything that you would like to add?
COSTELLO: All right, we're going to step away from this. We'll continue to monitor this for you. But we have to take a break. We'll be right back
COSTELLO: All right, I want to take you back to Washington because the House Speaker John Boehner is addressing the problems with our economy right now in a news conference. Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan to bring up immigration legislation?
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed and I'm hopeful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaker Boehner, as you know your party took quite a hit after the polls and you just personally came from a meeting with your members. How concerned are they and you about potentially losing the House?
BOEHNER: As long as we stay focused on the priorities of the American people, I think we're going to be fine. They're concerned about their jobs, income, and concerned about their own health insurance and how they're going to be able to afford it and navigate through this bizarre plan that they now have to deal with. So our job is stay focused on the issues that the American people are most concerned about. If we do that, we'll be just fine. Thanks everybody.
COSTELLO: All right, we're going to step away again and talk a little bit about what John Boehner just mentioned. Today Kathleen Sebelius heads to the White House to meet with insurance executives on Obamacare. But next week, Sebelius will head to Congress to testify before a House committee on the Obamacare website roll-out.
Spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner noting that Sebelius, quote, "Has a lot of questions to answer and one question that's on a lot of minds is whether or not President Obama will fire Sebelius or if she will step down in the wake of this fiasco. In an exclusive interview with CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Sebelius had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, there are a lot of frustrations. If this persists or at this point now, would you consider resigning over this?
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I think my job is to get this fully implemented and to get the web site working right. That's really what I'm focused on. I work at the pleasure of the president. He is singularly focused on making sure we deliver on this promise that's what I'm committed to doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas joins me now live from Washington. Good morning, Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Good morning, very glad to be with you this morning.
COSTELLO: Glad you're here with me. I know you've said we need to stop talking about firing someone and start talking about fixing the web site. But I mean, come on, shouldn't Kathleen Sebelius be fired?
LEE: This issue is about saving yourself. Last week 144 members of the republican conference, the Republicans voted to keep the government shutdown and as everyone in American knows that was a Republican shutdown of the government for 17 days. Now with the light shining, Republicans want to make a political stand on whether Obama care is helping Americans. And Americans now are growing steadily more --
COSTELLO: If I could interrupt. I'm talking about Kathleen Sebelius and the dreadful roll-out of the Obamacare exchanges. Shouldn't someone be held accountable for that? And the woman at the top would be Kathleen Sebelius.
LEE: And I think the president has the faith in the secretary of HHS in spite of the mountains and valleys that we had to go through. The 45 percent of the American people are beginning to see in a positive view of Obamacare. That number is going to grow. California has enrolled already 94,000 people. Governor of Ohio, Republican governor, has now gotten his wish with expanded Medicaid for Ohio. Celebrate him. That means more poor people will be able to get health insurance. This program is not about politics, carol. It's about helping people get --
COSTELLO: I'm not talking about politics. I'm saying, it's been a dreadful roll-out of these exchanges. It's made Obamacare look bad. Why shouldn't someone's head roll for that? Really, shouldn't anyone be held accountable?
LEE: You know I'm not going to step away from the word "accountable." we're going to do that. Right now I believe it's important that the task, the team that is working around the clock or working at night to fix these problems, I think that's a good news story that we should talk about. And with respect to a roll-out, there was a roll-out of a number of navigators and outreach efforts, all that is going well. People are learning more and more information about the decisions that they to make -- the 1-800 number is just buzzing with 30,000 calls, 20 seconds in wait. There are many ways to be able to engage and find out about the affordable care act.
COSTELLO: But wouldn't it send a message to the American people that he has this under control if someone pays a price for the dreadful roll-out?
LEE: I think he was very much in control when he was in the Rose Garden and indicated how mad he was and that he wanted people to jump and really stay in the air until this got fixed. I don't think anyone doubts the president's sensitivities about what is happening. And he is the president of the United States. He's head of this nation. He'll make those decisions maybe ultimately down the road.
I don't think the secretary should be fired. She's out on the road and helped bring in a task force. I'll be sending a letter adding additional names and recommendations of people I've run across so that as many people as we can find to focus their attention on this issue. That's the crux of this issue, not about who is going to be fired.
COSTELLO: Let me put it this way. Kathleen Sebelius told Sanjay Gupta that President Obama did not know about the problems until a few days into the launch. How can that be? If I was responsible of putting my boss' signature program on line and I didn't tell him there were problems and I left him in the dark, my boss would be really angry at me and maybe even fear my.
LEE: What I would say to you, is you're absolutely right. And President Obama was adamant (ph) as he could possibly be. And I would imagine that the thought processes, right or wrong was, we can fix this for the boss. The boss is focused on the government shutdown. As you well-known, it started being shut down between September 30th and October 1st.
So I imagine what they thought was, we can fix this, we've been working on this. We know technology problems will come about, but we're ready to fix it. And the boss has a lot of other issues. I don't think it was a hide and seek game. It wasn't anything to keep the president from knowing. He's enormously engaged with his cabinet officers.
But if you don't have anything to talk about, as my good friends, all you have to talk about it is the bad, bad, posture you're in as known as the government shutdown, then you've got to find something that will uplift you. And frankly the American people have moved on. The 45 percent are having a favorable view.
More are going to get online and use the phone calls. I know my seniors and others in my community, everyone I went over the weekend they were raging and excited about the opportunity for better health care for them and their families.
COSTELLO: I'll have to leave it there. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much for being with me.
LEE: Thank you for having me. Have a good morning.
COSTELLO: You too. We'll be right back.