CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Student Suspect in Court; Arming Teachers with Guns; Stranger's Body in Dad's Casket

Aired October 23, 2013 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Two days, two math teachers killed, allegedly by students. What these murders say about security in our nation's schools.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

The White House fires a national security staffer for tweets insulting President Obama's cabinets and advisers, but he didn't stop there.

A family opens a father's casket only to find the wrong body.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I turned around and just said to myself three times, it's not him, it's not him, it's not him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Plus, McDonald's overhauling its menu. And somehow the dollar menu is getting pricier.

And, hundreds of dogs and cats killed after a mysterious outbreak involving treats. We're on the case.

Top of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

First Nevada, and now Massachusetts. Another school in crime scene tape instead of in class today after a second case in two days of a student allegedly killing a teacher. Just a little more than an hour ago, prosecutors outside of Boston charged a 14-year-old student with murder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your honor, this is the man named (ph) Philip Chisholm, by way of arrest, docket 3470 (ph) (INAUDIBLE) in Danvers. It is alleged on 10-23-13, Mr. Philip Chisholm did assault and beat Colleen Ritzer with intent to murder such person and by such assault and beating did kill and murder such person in violation of general law Chapter 265 Section 1.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The teacher killed was Colleen Ritzer, 24 years young. She taught at Danvers High School. And these are pictures we're getting from her social media pages. Investigators say they found her body in the woods near the school. The suspect attends Danvers.

And lest we forget, it was just Monday when a 12-year-old boy police say shot and killed middle school math teacher Mike Landsberry in Sparks, Nevada. Danvers is just about a half hour drive north of Boston and we can tell you that all seven of its schools were shut down because of this investigation. The prosecutor says both the teacher and this young teen went missing Tuesday, and that led them to her body and ultimately his arrest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN BLODGETT, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: At approximately 11:20 p.m. last evening, Danvers Police received a report that a Danvers High School teacher had not returned home from work and was not answering her cell phone. As a result of that report, Danvers Police initiated a search for the teacher and discovered blood in the second floor bathroom at Danvers High School.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Alexandra Field is live for us there in Danvers.

And, Alexandra, we saw these first few pictures of this 14-year-old inside this courtroom. What happened today there?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, it was just about an hour ago he was arraigned on the murder charge. He was ordered held without bail. He has since been taken to Essex County Correctional Facility. Now, that is an adult facility and, of course, the suspect at the middle of these murder accusations is a 14-year-old. But we are told that the district attorney will now present this case to a grand jury. If the grand jury indicts Philip Chisholm as an adult, he will be tried as an adult. Again, a 14-year-old.

Students here at Danvers High School are telling us that he was a student here, a freshman student, who had been at the high school for just about two months. They say that he transferred from a school in Tennessee. They tell us that he played on the junior varsity soccer team. They say that nothing seemed out of the ordinary about him. Of course, he wouldn't be a well-known student at this point, having only been at the school for the last two months. But they tell us, indeed he was a freshman.

It isn't clear if he was a student of Colleen Ritzer. Colleen Ritzer was a math teacher teaching geometry and algebra. We are told, though, that she taught students who were freshman about the age of 14. Again, that connection has not been made definitively by investigators. We do not know if she was, in fact, Philip Chisholm's teacher. That's a question that a lot of people have out here. As students come out, they are asking questions about Philip Chisholm and they're here to mourn their teacher, Colleen Ritzer, a much loved teacher.

Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. I just go back to the fact she is 24 years of age. I know you're there at the school. As you mentioned, a beloved teacher. What more are you hearing about her from folks you're talking to?

FIELD: She had only been here for two years. The students tell us that her favorite color was pink. They've already starting putting pink ribbons on the trees around the campus. They plan to dress in pink and come out for a candlelight vigil later tonight.

These students are stunned. The loss of a teacher is always stunning. The circumstances that seem to surround it are simply shocking. Difficult things for students to comprehend. We're talking about 14, 15, 16-year-olds. Tough for them, tough for their parents as well. And, of course, bear in mind that these students were kept home from school today, all seven schools in the Danvers district were ordered shut down. These students never went to class, but they have been gathering outside of the high school, some of them leaving flowers in a spot not terribly far from where the body of their math teacher was found.

BALDWIN: Let's take a listen to some of the comments they've been making to you today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just thinking back on it, it's just surreal that -- how quickly someone can go and how much we take for granted every day. She was, like, the nicest teacher you could ever really - like ever have and it's just - it - I don't - I can't believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Alexandra Field for us in Danvers, Massachusetts, thank you.

And now, really, just these unbelievable realities of what has happened over the course of two days this week, both in Massachusetts and in Nevada, is renewing a heated debate when it comes to campus safety and arming teachers. You know, not just for students, but for faculty, for members of staff as well. Has the time come to give teachers guns?

Joining me now on the phone is CNN commentator LZ Granderson and live in studio, CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson.

So, LZ, I want to begin with you because I know that, you know, you have written that you are not anti-gun. You know, you have a gun in your own home. So tell me why teachers shouldn't be armed.

LZ GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR (via telephone): I can certainly appreciate the conversation in terms of wanting to do all that we can to protect our students. And as a - you know, as a father of a young man in the city of Chicago, I definitely want us to do all we can to protect kids.

But with that being said, I don't believe we have done all that we can to protect kids yet. I see arming teachers as the second to the last resort in terms of keeping kids safe in school. I would like to see more police officers around campus. I would like to see perhaps security within the schools before teachers -- because teachers have enough going on.

We're looking at a situation now in which a man has been shot at 15 times by police officers who are trained to handle crisis situations. A man who was without a weapon and in his own driveway, shot at 15 times. So you're telling me now a teacher, who is actually trained in something else, is going to be able to differentiate friend from foe in a crisis situation with a gun? I don't think that's fair for the teachers and I don't think that's really respectful to what police officers and security guards are supposed to do.

BALDWIN: Ben, as I want to get to you, but, you know, as I was sitting here thinking about this, I wondered what teachers were thinking. And so there was something I found from the American Federation of Teachers. This was just about a week after Newtown. This is what they're quoted as saying. "Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses. Anyone who would suggest otherwise doesn't understand that our public schools must first and foremost be places where teachers can safely educate and nurture our students." What do you think?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree that they should be safe places, but I also know that we've tried the gun-free zone policy and every one of these schools where we see these shootings and massacres are gun-free zones. We tried the, let's all just play by the rules. But as soon as someone walks onto this campus and decides to break that rule, everyone's life is at risk in these schools, even at the hands of a 14-year-old that we've seen now in the last 24 hours.

And I don't want every school teacher to be armed. I want to make that very clear because some people imply that if you're in favor of arming teachers, you want to mandate it. I do not want to mandate it. I think there are certain people in every school that actually are willing to go through extensive training. Many people that teach in schools come from backgrounds in law enforcement and also in military. And those are the first people that I would be interested in.

My sister, she teaches in an inner city school. They've had multiple lockdowns in her career. And that -- the problem is, as soon as one person doesn't play by these rules, their -- all of their lives are at risk. And we see teachers every time, we see the heroes come out of these situations where we hear about teachers literally using their bodies as a human shields. If that teacher --

BALDWIN: The math teacher earlier this week. He was approaching the 12-year-old, you know.

FERGUSON: Yes. And that's my point is, if that guy's willing to use his own body as a human shield, I trust him. If he wants to go through extensive training to carry a gun, I trust him to be able to figure out in a crisis situation friend from foe because he did it then. We saw the same thing in Littleton. We saw the same thing in Newtown.

BALDWIN: Yes.

FERGUSON: We see it every time where these teachers, they know who the shooter is and they take bullets to save kids' lives. And I think it's time for us to look at the reality that these gun-free zones, it is only as good as the paper and the sign it's on until someone decides to break that rule.

BALDWIN: Our nation is so split on this, but I hear both of your sides and it's just saddening to have to report on these. Two in two days this week. LZ and Ben, thank you both very much.

Coming up next hour, do not miss this conversation. This woman, a teacher, who actually confronted a student holding a loaded gun. That's at the top of next hour. Do not miss her compelling story.

But coming up, the White House fires a national security staffer for insulting tweets about President Obama's advisers. How the heck did he get away with that for two years? That's what I want to know.

Plus, a family grieving at their own father's funeral opens the casket to find the body isn't dad. More on that case.

And this incredible story behind the most inspiring moment of the day. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATY PERRY (singing): Got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire, because I am the champion and you're going to hear me roar. Louder, louder than the lion, because I am -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A twist in the Steubenville teen rape investigation. The 20- year-old daughter of a school employee has been indicted in connection with this case. She is Hannah Rhinaman. She is accused of receiving stolen property and grant theft. Her indictment is separate and unrelated to a previous indictment against her father, this man, William Rhinaman. He is the technology director at Steubenville High School, and he is accused of tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, and perjury, among other charges. You remember this, two Steubenville football players were convicted in March of raping a West Virginia girl during an alcohol fueled party last year.

And a family funeral for a 72-year-old Seattle man went from sad to just down right horrifying because his grown children go to lift the top of the casket to say their final good-byes and who they saw inside was a stranger's corpse dressed in their father's clothes. And it gets worse because the family -- can you blame them -- outraged over what happened to their father's remains. Richard Thompson with our Seattle affiliate KIRO has this story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD THOMPSON, KIRO REPORTER: Jerry Moon's loved ones tell me at the end of an emotional memorial service, his casket was opened so they could say one final good-bye, and nobody could believe what they saw next.

BRIAN MOON, SON OF JERRY MOON: When they first opened the casket, the body had a plastic bag over his head.

THOMPSON (voice-over): Brian Moon was sickened, thinking Brown Mortuary had left the bag on his father Jerry Moon's head, but then his brother realized it wasn't even their dad's body in the casket.

RANDY MOON, SON OF JERRY MOON: And I turned around and just said to myself three times, it's not him, it's not him, it's not him.

THOMPSON: The family found out a 97-year-old man died in hospice care at the same time as their father and somehow the bodies got mixed up and the wrong man ended up in the casket wearing Jerry Moon's clothes with a photo of Jerry and his wife Jan tucked under the photo of the coffin.

CHERYL MOON, DAUGHTER OF JERRY MOON: This makes me feel like he was treated as a number and not a person.

THOMPSON: And then came another shock when they were told what really happened to their father's remains.

B. MOON: It has been confirmed that my father has been cremated on accident, and my father was terrified of being cremated.

R. MOON: On that level of mistakes, there is no excuse. I just can't believe that that can happen. I just can't believe it.

THOMPSON: The family has hired an attorney to find out what went wrong and to confirm the cremated remains really are those of Jerry Moon. Right now, the only thing they can believe in is their faith.

R. MOON: The only other thing I can say is that we know where he really is. We're a believing family. And we believe that he's in heaven.

THOMPSON (on camera): Hospice officials tell me they believe the body mix-up happened after the funeral home took possession of Jerry Moon's body. We wanted to speak with officials here at the mortuary, but they declined comment. Reporting in (INAUDIBLE), I'm Richard Thompson, Cairo (ph) 7 Eyewitness News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Richard Thompson, thank you very much. Can you imagine? Unreal.

Coming up, the man who confessed on YouTube to drunk driving gets more than six years behind bars, but that's not all. Is this fair? My legal panel weighs in.

Also, the White House fires a national security adviser for insulting tweets about President Obama's advisers. What does this really say about the culture and our nation's capital? We'll talk about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Starting tomorrow, efforts to fix the troubled Obamacare website will be made public in a daily briefing. The White House made that announcement just a short time ago. And in this CNN exclusive, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, you know this woman here, smack dab at the center of this Obamacare firestorm, she is opening up about the insurance exchanges tough launch. This as Republican calls are growing louder for Secretary Sebelius to resign. Today, House Speaker John Boehner did get specifically -- did not specifically say whether or not he believes Sebelius should go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I think the biggest part of Congress' job is to provide proper oversight of the executive branch of government. And whether it's Obamacare or issues over at the Department of Defense, it's our job to hold them accountable. And when it comes to Obamacare, clearly there's an awful lot that needs to be held accountable.

BALDWIN: So that was Speaker Boehner. But let's hear from Secretary Sebelius in her own words because she sat down with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to talk about the rollout, to talk about the problems, and the path forward. Here you go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, according to congressional investigators, just weeks before the launch, about two thirds of insurers had some concerns, specific concerns, that the website would not be ready. Just days before the launch, a test was conducted and the website crashed with just a few hundred users at that time. How was a decision made to still go forward?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: Well, Sanjay, there are people in this country who have waited decades for affordable health coverage for themselves and their families. I see them all over the country. You probably saw them on your recent bus tour, people who are so eager for this to happen. And what's clear is, we have a product. The product really works. We have created a market where there wasn't a market. People have competitive private plans at affordable prices. They have the advantage, if they don't have an employer paying a share of their coverage, they are going to have some tax help paying a share of their coverage.

GUPTA: The president did say that he was angry about this. I mean do you know when he first knew that there was a problem?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days, that -

GUPTA: So not before that, though? Not before October 1st?

SEBELIUS: No.

GUPTA: There was no concern at that point either in the White House or HHS? SEBELIUS: I think that we talked about having testing going forward. And if we had an ideal situation and could have built a product in, you know, a five-year period of time, we probably would have taken five years.

GUPTA: How many people have signed up?

SEBELIUS: We'll be doing what we've done with every other program, Medicare Part D, we've done it with C.H.I.P., we will give monthly enrollment figures. We've said that since the beginning. But what we can tell you is that we have 500,000 plus accounts right now with people who have established that or are in the process of shopping for affordable coverage.

GUPTA: It seems like an important thing to know, I imagine, especially given all the problems with the site. I mean how well is it working? Can you say right now how well healthcare.gov is working? We know there's problems, but what can we say about it?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think what we can tell you is that thousands of people have signed up. We know that people are getting through every day. It is not where we need it to be. It isn't as smooth as we want it to be for the volume of people who want this product.

GUPTA: There's a lot of frustration, obviously, in the country, and no one probably knows this better than you and the president. Did you ever talk about resigning to the president?

SEBELIUS: What I talked about is doing the job that I came here to do. This is the most important work I've ever done in my life, delivering on an historic act, making sure that we have health security for the millions of Americans. This law was passed three and a half years ago. I've been working day in and day out to implement this law.

GUPTA: But, again, there is a lot of frustration, as you know, madam secretary. I mean if this persists or even at this point now, would you consider resigning over this?

SEBELIUS: I think my job is to get this fully implemented and to get the website working right. And that's really what I'm focused on. That's -- 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)

BALDWIN: Dr. Gupta, thank you.

Coming up, brand new images of Prince George right before his christening. We'll see what happened after this. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)