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Remains Found in Desert Belong to McStays; Chris Brown Leaves Rehab

Aired November 15, 2013 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight`s big story, breaking news in the case that has baffled everybody for years. Remember the beautiful McStay family, mom, dad and two little boys from Southern California who vanished into thin air?

Cops say -- I`m very sad to have to report -- they have found four sets of skeletal remains in shallow graves in the middle of the Mojave Desert. And they`ve just confirmed, minutes ago, that those are the remains of Joseph and Summer McStay. The two other bodies are believed to be their young sons.

So the question tonight, who viciously murdered this family? Who tortured their relatives for years?

Good evening, I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. Thank you for joining me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This family has disappeared. What happened and where they went are now agonizing puzzles for friends and relatives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to find them. I worry about those babies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neighbors remember them as a loving couple devoted to their children. But on February 4, 2009, Joseph, Summer, 4- year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr. vanished without a trace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The skeletal remains of four people were located in a remote desert area of Victorville, inside and outside of two shallow graves.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joseph McStay`s brother broke down in tears at the news conference that was held just minutes ago, talking about his family`s murders.


MIKE MCSTAY, BROTHER OF JOSEPH MCSTAY: It`s not really the -- the outcome we were looking for. But, it gives us courage to know they`re together and they`re in a better place.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say the remains of the McStays were 160 miles away from where their car was found abandoned at the Mexican border on the U.S. side and about 100 miles away from their home. All this happening in California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From an off-road motorcycle rider identified that he found what he believed to be human remains excavating the site and through the use of dental records were able to identify the adult victims as Summer and Joseph McStay. We believe the other two sets of remains are that of the boys.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The McStay family disappeared without a trace in February of 2010. The house looked like it was frozen in time. There was food on the table; popcorn, OK? The family dogs were in the backyard. They were left without food or water. Cops thought they might have taken the kids on the run and went to Mexico, because surveillance video shows a family that closely resembles the McStays crossing the border very near where their car was found, on the American side.

So, police say they still don`t know what happened after the family left their house. Who murdered this loving family?

We have a fantastic Lion`s Den debate panel tonight. And I`ve got to start with Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some."

You have been involved in so many of these complex cases. The fact is that this woman talked to a friend of hers, Mrs. McStay. She was painting the kitchen on the same day or the day before. They were doing a remodel. There`s popcorn on the table. It doesn`t sound like they had any idea that something horrible was going happen. What`s your theory?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. And there`s no question they were not planning a vacation. I think t here`s no question they were not anticipating being kidnapped and killed. They may have been in fear. I mean, it`s certainly possible they were the family on the video and that they were fleeing to Mexico out of fear, someone had threatened them.

I mean, I`m always suspicious that there`s more to the family`s lifestyle than we are being told. You know, questions about who would have a motive to kill? It`s either money or drugs.

I mean, this was an execution, it looks like. An entire family executed. That`s punishment, usually. Punishment for what? We don`t know. It`s even possible they went to Mexico and were alive there and perhaps were killed there and the bones and the bodies brought back to the United States. We just don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. And let`s show a Google map as we talk during this conversation because they live here. Then they go down and drop their car off right near the Mexican border, and then they`re found halfway to Las Vegas, Nevada.

So it`s like a triangle. That`s what doesn`t really make a lot of sense. What was going on with this family that could have led to murder?

Their relatives originally thought maybe they were somehow being held for ransom.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I originally thought that someone was holding them against their will. But there`s been no ransom. So and, you know, for him to just up and run and not tell anybody, it would have to be something pretty heavy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, what could have led to them being targeted for murder? Well, there are a few suspicious things, it turns out. The wife, Summer, had apparently, according to some reports, a slew of aliases and name changes and that she had recently changed her name from Lisa to Summer.

And remember, her husband, Joseph McStay`s job involves importing decorative fountains, like little mini-water falls, from Mexico where they were often created.

So I`ve got to ask, and I don`t say this in any way to condemn the victims. These are the victims, no matter what was going on. Look at this beautiful family, raising these two gorgeous kids.

Greg Kading, former LAPD detective, author of "Murder Rap," what do you deduce from the idea that she had name changes, he had this business that involved importing something where it could have contained something else in the packaging?

GREG KADING, FORMER LAPD DETECTIVE: We`ve seen that drug dealers have been very ingenious in the way that they get drugs across the border. And they - - you know, they put them in pinatas. They put them in dogs. They put them in all types of things.

So potentially, there is some plausibility to that. But at the same time, we`ve got to not read too much into that. That can be a distraction that takes us off the course. More often than not in these cases, it`s the simplest explanation that turns out to be the true one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what is that? Wendy Walsh, psychologist. Here is what I find exciting. Somebody on the McStays` computer was looking for information about a week before they disappeared on passports to Mexico and travel for kids. How do kids get passports and how do you travel to Mexico? Do you need passports?

If they were not in fear, why would they so coincidentally be looking for that information a week before they vanished?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: OK, Jane, so far, your guests have been looking at blame the victim kind of soliloquies here. The truth is, let`s think about it now.

Here`s a lovely middle-class family. She goes on the computer because maybe spring break is coming up and they want to have a family vacation. So she does a little investigation.

I investigate trips all the time that I don`t take, because I don`t go because I can`t afford it. And then you have a crazy home invasion robbery guy who takes them out at gunpoint, because he wants to take their car. And he`s a psycho and a crazy person. They left with food on the table. They left their dogs without water and food. There was no luggage. There was no clothing taken. They were taken from that house.

So then they`re shot and buried in the desert. Whoever it was makes a run for the border in their car. Did authorities not think to try and look for fingerprints all over that car that was abandoned at the border?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman, jump in.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Here`s the thing, Jane. I`ve covered the case since it started when I was at "America`s Most Wanted." And today is day one of a quadruple homicide investigation.

And Wendy was alluding to it: cops are now really in the very early stages of investigating these murders now, because as recently as April, Jane, the bureau, the FBI came out and said, "This family left voluntarily. Those are our findings."

And this family, from the beginning, has said -- the family members -- this family did not simply walk away. When the car was found abandoned, the little boy`s asthma medication, the medication that he couldn`t live without, was found in the car. And that was a warning sign to the other family members, they said, that this family did not simply leave voluntarily. Something happened to them.

And unfortunately, in a lot of ways, that was borne out by this motorcycle rider finding the remains today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And interestingly enough, where they were found, that is kind of the main road when, you know, in those movies, road trips, people are driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and they end up stuck in the desert somewhere? That`s the very area where these remains were found: on that trajectory. Is there significance there? Could Las Vegas be involved in some way?

Stay right there. We`re just getting started.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to find them. I worry about those babies. And are they fed, are they warm, are they, you know, happy, are they sad? My nights are a shell. You know, you pray, and then -- I`m sorry -- you cry yourself to sleep.




M. MCSTAY: It`s been a tough road, so we would ask that you would, you know, give the family members their space and let us go through the grieving process.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, that poor man, dealing with the loss of his brother, his sister-in-law and two nephews. The remains found in the desert. The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. McStay positively identified, and they believe the two little boys, yes, their remains, as well. It`s stomach- churning.

And we covered this from the beginning, and everybody was just hoping that these -- that they went away voluntarily. And that`s what it seemed like law enforcement believed. And then to find their remains buried in the desert, obviously, this is a murder. So who killed them?

Now, we`ve been talking about how they were in the middle of a remodel. So people who are planning on, like, forming new identities don`t start a remodel project. She was painting. She was painting the house the day they went missing. You don`t paint the house when you`re in fear of your life. The dogs were left without food. They love their dogs. Without even water. Everything was left: popcorn on the table.

So, you know, Greg Kading, did the FBI, law enforcement everybody who had concluded that they left voluntarily, screw up?

KADING: Well, in hindsight, it certainly appears so. You know, one of the biggest mistakes we make in criminal investigations is the mistake of presumption. And when you have circumstantial evidence such as the car being at the border and a potential family that matches the description crossing the border, and then get locked into that presumption, you start to forget about all the other probabilities. And I think that`s where we went wrong.

And that`s probably where the new investigation now is going to be tasked, with trying to start from scratch and going back and trying to recover evidence that should have been looked at from, you know, from the onset. This should have been handled as a potential homicide from day one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go out to the phone lines. Ron, Iowa, what do you have to say? Ron, Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s such a tragedy when the officials look at a case without objective eyes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I mean this screams murder to me from day one. At least abduction and hostage taking. I did not believe for a second that they were -- that they went off on their own.

If you take a look at the surveillance video, you can see a family with two children crossing the border. This is the same place the family`s SUV was abandoned.

Now cops say it`s very possible now that you can`t see who this is. Maybe this wasn`t the McStays at all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not confirming whether they did go to Mexico or not at this point. There`s evidence to suggest -- video evidence to suggest that a family matching that description crossed the border at one point. But whether or not they actually crossed the border and then came back, we`re not sure yet.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, let`s take another look at the map. The McStays` family home is about 60 miles north of the Mexican border, where the car was found, at the Mexican border. That`s where the car was found.

The bodies, OK, are nowhere near that. They`re 160 miles away on the road to Las Vegas.

Joseph`s brother -- let me throw this to you, Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor. Joseph`s brother obtained the cell phone records and says the last call that his brother Joseph made was to one of his business associates after 8 in the evening on the very night they vanished. The call lasted for one minute, and there have been no more phone calls, no more pings, no more phone usage after that. What does that tell you?

MURPHY: You know, I just think that there`s no doubt somebody was after them, and they knew it. I mean they got scared; they got spooked. They either left in a hurry because of that phone call that was a warning of some sort or, you know, they knew that they needed to get out fast, which is why the house looks the way it does, or they wanted it to look like they were kidnapped, but they weren`t.

I mean, all of these things are possible. But there`s no question there was some sinister behind-the-scenes activity, whether it was drugs or they burned somebody or they didn`t pay their debt. They made somebody very angry, and it`s somebody who doesn`t run, you know, a legal business.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you 100 percent. And I think that law enforcement has to know something more that they`re not saying. And that something more would have to, I think, lead them to they didn`t just go there on vacation voluntarily and decide, oops, we don`t want our names and our lives anymore.

So I don`t know why we had to wait for this discovery to realize there`s a very sinister, sinister crime here.

We`re staying on top of this story. We`re not going anywhere. So stay with us. We`ll keep you posted.

Up next, Chris Brown, you will not believe what he`s doing now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chris Brown checks himself into rehab in order, some would say, to avoid going to jail, because it could be a probation violation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he should have to do some time if he did violate his probation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many breaks can one person get?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How many breaks can one person get. Good question, thank you.




A.J. HAMMER, HLN ANCHOR: A Chris Brown bombshell. Out of rehab in just 16 days? That he was doing it to avoid getting into even worse trouble just after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting a fan in D.C.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that he`s still on probation for the incident with Rihanna.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A judge reduced the charges against the 24-year- old singer. He could still face a lot of legal trouble.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chris, Chris, Chris, what are we going to do with you? In tonight`s "Buzz," superstar Chris Brown stirring up more controversy. Check him out from RCA Records.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: The talented but troubled singer walked out of rehab yesterday, but he insists he`s going to keep working on his issues as an outpatient.

But get this: just last night, Chris was spotted leaving a club around midnight. Got to make you wonder. If he`s partying, is he taking his rehab seriously?

Let`s go back seriously. Brown announced he was seeking rehab in what many called a classic celeb legal move after being charged with simple assault. He`s accused of punching a man in the face in D.C. last month.

At the time, his rep said he needed treatment to gain focus and insight into his behavior. Well, I`d say his temper is no secret. He`s still on probation for severely beating his then-girlfriend Rihanna four years ago. The simple assault charges in D.C. could trigger a probation violation, and that could land him in jail for four years.

The singer`s going to face the judge next week.

Straight out to addiction specialist Howard Samuels, founder and the CEO of The Hills Treatment Center.

Howard, do you think Chris`s rehab visit for about 16 days was a ruse just to sway the judge into leniency?

HOWARD SAMUELS, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Well, unfortunately, Jane, I do believe that. I mean, a lot of people get arrested and want to go into treatment, not only to beat a court case, but they also want to change. Because they realize their behavior is out of control.

Well, Chris went in, obviously for the court case. In about, you know, two weeks, the hard work really starts to occur to the individual. Because it`s starting to get real. The drugs are wearing off, you have to be deal with issues and feelings. And then Chris couldn`t handle it and left.

To me, that signals the fact that he really wasn`t willing to do the deeper work, and he wanted to do it the easier, softer way. Now that he`s done that, now he`s out at the club, doing an outpatient program. I`ve got to tell you, this guy`s not really serious, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got ten seconds, Rolonda Watts. Do you think he should get a break from the judge or go to jail?

ROLONDA WATTS: Oh, gosh, I am hoping whoever he was out with at that restaurant last night -- I hear it was his girlfriend here in Los Angeles - - I hope she`s talking some sense in him. I hope the people around him are saying you hit the wall a couple times here, you have to turn this train around. Let`s hope that`s what`s happening or else he will end up in jail, and that may be what may turn him around.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. Rolonda Watts, always great to talk to you.

Toronto`s crack mayor still in office, but you won`t believe how they`re coming after him now.



ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: I did not use crack cocaine.

Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.

I`ll rip the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) throat out. I`ll poke his eyes out.

Have I drank? Have I done drugs? Yes, I have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We demand that he resign from the position of mayor of Toronto immediately.

FORD: Let`s just pretend that I`m caught doing drugs.

I`m happily married. I`ve got more than enough (EXPLETIVE DELETED) at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband already said enough.

FORD: I`m not perfect. Maybe you are, but I`m not.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, it is D-Day in the ferocious battle to drop kick out-of-control, crack-using Toronto mayor Rob Ford. In an overwhelming vote, the city council up there in Toronto just decided to strip the mayor of his ability to govern in an emergency. Basically, they`re trying to turn him into a mere figurehead or bobblehead, as it were.

Despite admitting last week that he smoked crack cocaine about a year ago, despite charges that he`s driven drunk, snorted cocaine, had visits from prostitutes, Ford has defiantly said he is not stepping down as mayor.


FORD: I`m most definitely keeping this job and October 27, the people have the right to decide, do they want a mayor that watches every dime, that saves millions and millions of dollars, or do they want someone else? That`s their decision. I am not leaving here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was a couple of days ago. But today, the city council made that move that might have caused the mayor to finally, sort of, realize that this is serious. This is a serious global humiliation. Look at him now.


FORD: If I would have had a mayor acting the way I`ve conducted myself, I would have done the exact same thing. I am -- I`m not mad at anybody. I take full responsibility.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it looks like he`s got his tail between his legs today. But he`s still not waving the white flag completely. Ford says he`s planning on challenging the council`s decision in a court of law -- this, as the mayor`s brother supposedly has a change of heart, and as the two brothers get a new gig on TV.

This is an insane situation and I have to start with Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some". If there`s anything in the world that illustrates how selective we are in prosecuting people about drugs, it is this mayor. I mean what is it going to take to force him out?

MURPHY: You know, I don`t think he should have to be prosecuted for him to be forced to leave. And you know, I hope people appreciate that the fact that he`s responding the way he is, is ample proof that whatever his drug problems, he`s mentally deranged because no normal person stays as mayor in these circumstances, you know.

I keep channeling Drew Carey and picture this guy living in a box by the river, you know. He`s just not normal. He needs to go because he can`t think straight. If you can`t think straight, you can`t run a city, even as a big fat figure head.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, Toronto`s city council may want Mayor Ford out, but he still has plenty of supporters. That`s right. At one point, his ratings were going up.

Here`s my rant. There is a cultural hypocrisy and double standard in terms of our tolerance for drug use based on who the user. Now we here in the United States and up in Canada have zero tolerance for drug use by the poor or young male minority. But when we come across a middle class guy in a suit and a tie, all of a sudden, there`s all kind of excuses for this guy.

There`s selective prosecution based on profiling. That is just a fact. Just today, the "New York Times" came out with an article that showed how a middle-aged white man can walk around the city carrying a bunch of pot and not get arrested. But young, black, Latino men are much more likely to be stopped, told to empty their pockets and then hauled off to jail, charged with possession and getting a criminal record, even though the studies show that pot use is more likely to occur among non-Hispanic whites.

So, there are many people who smoke pot, but only some people are arrested for it. The "New York Times" says between 2002 and 2012, almost 450,000 people were charged for openly displaying or burning 25 grams of pot or less. 87 percent of the marijuana arrests have been blacks or Latinos.

I went out on the streets and I found this young man who agrees with me that it is selective prosecution for drugs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should I be the one caught with it when they are not? That`s what -- that`s the double standard.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: By the way, that young man told me he doesn`t use drugs. But he`s more likely to be stopped than this guy, who has admitted he smoked crack, who has admitted he has bought illegal drugs while in office, who has been caught on tape jumping up and down in an intoxicated or God only knows what rant rage.

Rolonda Watts, host of "Sundays with Rolonda", blog talk radio, should this open up a national conversation about our two-tiered system of justice which is created at prison industrial complex stocked overwhelmingly with African-American males and other minority.

ROLONDA WATTS, "SUNDAYS WITH ROLONDA", BLOG TALK RADIO: Well, you`re looking at two entirely different drugs, the crack and the pot but in both cases, Jane, you are absolutely right. There`s a tremendous disparity between the arrest and the attention put on this.

And yet you look at marijuana, for instance, the ACLU did a report recently and found that black Americans are four times more likely to be arrested than whites. And in Middle America, in places like Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, that number goes up to eight times more of a chance of getting arrested than whites.

I`m not sure if this means the police, in terms of their stereotyping is not keeping up with the attitude of America, which, quite honestly over the past few years have kind of lightened up on the idea of marijuana and marijuana use, 18 of our states having it legal.

But you are right, there is a difference. There is a difference particularly as seen in arrest rates.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen Wendy Walsh, psychologist, what we have are, if 80 percent, you know, being stopped are young black and Latino males for something that a middle-aged white man can`t get arrested for in the city of New York, then those young men have records. Then those young men are going to have hard times getting jobs. They`re going to have hard times establishing careers. They have been branded with a Scarlet letter from the get-go. I mean that is outrageous.

WALSH: It`s absolutely outrageous. And most of these searches seem to be illegal searches in the sense that they began with a kind of racial profiling and then they`re forcing them to commit a crime by exposing their pot by saying empty your pockets.

Now if a middle-aged white man or woman gets pulled over in a car, no one asks them to empty their pockets and then commit a crime by then having their pot visible. And it`s also important to remember that there`s so much mixed messages across the nation because different states have different laws.

I`m here in very liberal California when it comes to that where there`s a pot shop on every freaking corner, Jane, including around schools, my kids` schools. So if someone comes from California and goes to New York, they might not realize it`s a whole different world there. And you can get arrested very easily.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Howard Samuels, founder and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center. You are an addiction specialist, you`re also in recovery. Do you think that this is, perhaps, an opportunity, this fiasco going on in Toronto where this middle-aged married man has admitted using crack, which is not normally associated with crack users -- Middle ages white men who are mayors and crack use -- and that it`s opening a door for us to have a dialogue about how stereotypes of drug users are quite often wrong and that the people who are using crack look like you and me.

HOWARD SAMUELS, FOUNDER/CEO, THE HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: Well, Jane, you are absolutely correct. I mean, you know, I deal with, you know, all types of ethnic, you know, people. And crack cocaine is very white. It`s very black. It`s very Latino. You know, it crosses everything. And it`s all about upper middle class, middle class.

I mean what we are seeing happening in Toronto is a classic example of alcoholic denial that everybody internationally is able to sort of see what an active alcoholic and how crazy and lack of impulse control occurs. It is with all of us. It crosses all ethnic lines, Jane and we need to have an understanding of that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We need to have a national dialogue, Rolonda because these stereotypes do exist. And what I found is quite often it`s because on reality shows, sometimes when they get people from very poor communities, they don`t know they can say no to signing a release. But of course, somebody who is perhaps got a lawyer or can afford a lawyer knows, no, you don`t have to sign a release so you don`t have to be on that reality TV show that focuses on cops arresting bad people. So those people never get really covered.

And the impression that`s left with the nation is that there`s a certain type of person who is a drug user and it`s totally out of line with the stats. First of all, most people who are overdosing on drugs are overdosing on legal, prescription drugs. And the people using legal prescription drugs are primarily middle class people using them in their homes.

WATTS: Well, that`s one of the things that raises such a flag here, Jane, is because if you are talking about marijuana, which this whole country has, you know, most of the country is looking at with a much lighter fair. It makes you wonder, why are 87 percent of the arrests blacks and Latinos? Why are we looking at another situation where we are talking about profiling racially? Why is the ACLU, the civil liberties union coming out saying hey, folks in some parts of this nation, a black child under the age of 25 has an eight percent chance, eight times more of a chance of getting arrested over pot than any.

And you are right, it does affect a young person`s chance and many people are concerned that, like the young lady pointed out before, where did the pot come from? Probably from stop and search and who says that was a legal stop and search? Who says --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, the mayor`s brother, Doug, brought this up unintentionally. He`s trying to defend his brother. And here he is, basically challenging the city council members. Listen to this.


DOUG, TORONTO CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Have you ever smoked marijuana? It`s a question. A yes or a no? Have you smoked marijuana?

Seeing another counselor misbehave -- let`s just pretend they got caught drinking and driving. Let`s just pretend. No one likes drinking and driving. So everyone gets ticked off and want to get rid of a counselor. Can they do that?

1940 pretend they are caught drinking and driving. Let`s pretend. No one likes drinking and driving. Everyone getting ticked off and want to get rid of a counselor. Can they do that?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, there he is asking other council members, have you ever smoked pot? Nobody answered, I don`t think. The obvious implication is that yes most of us have smoked pot. If we are in our 40s, we probably have smoked pot. Most people, I don`t have the statistics in front of me, but the bottom line is to arrest a small segment of the population for something that everybody has done virtually is absolutely unfair and it is why our criminal justice system is rancid.

Stay right there, we have an incredible story about dogs coming up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Crazy Video of the Day. Remember action star Jean Claude Van Damme? Check out the insane stunt he did in a new Volvo truck. His feet are perched on the side mirrors of two trucks going in reverse. They slowly move apart until Van Damme is in a complete split. Yes. This stunt is totally legit, Volvo says.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, little Foxy, Rico is still recuperating. So tonight in our Animal Investigations Unit, We are talking about America`s dogs in crisis. Dogs just like little Foxy here, my great rescue.

There are about 65,000 dogs in experimental laboratories in America right now as we speak. An astonishing 96 percent of them are beagles. Beagles are bred to be sold to labs because of their calm and trusting personalities. These dogs are experimented on which often means they`re tortured, essentially. Their brains cut open, electrodes put inside, toxins forced into their little bodies. And they face countless other atrocities.

But one group, the Beagle Freedom Rescue Project is fighting back. Beagle Freedom Rescue Project is basically rescuing hundreds of dogs, more than 150 dogs including six big dogs from a lab in the American west. These six beautiful animals, look at them, they were pets at one time. Yes, that`s right. They were beloved family pets who for one reason or another, ended up in animal shelters and then they were victims of something called pound seizure. That`s when laboratories are allowed to go in and take dogs from shelters to use to work on them. This practice is illegal in just 18 states. It is still legal in 32 states, most of the states in this country.

Straight out to one of my heroes, Shannon Keith, president of Beagle Freedom Project -- remember that name. Go to our Facebook and look it up - - Beagle Freedom Project. Or just go online and Google it.

Shannon, tell us about these big dogs that you rescue from labs.

SHANNON KEITH, BEAGLE FREEDOM PROJECT: These amazing, adorable dogs, these huge dogs, these pound seizure dogs were rescued in October by our Beagle Freedom Project. As you stated, unfortunately, they are the victims of pound seizure, which means that at one time, they were somebody`s beloved companion animal. They ended up lost. They ended up abandoned. They ended up at the local pound where they were then sold to research -- horrific things were done to them.

Luckily, we were able to get them out, but we were only able to get six out. This happens nationwide and hundreds upon hundreds more are actually seized and things are done to them. What we want to let people know is to make sure, please, microchip your dogs. Make sure that they are wearing collars and tags, you know, they end up in the shelter and they`re not pulled to research.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Microchip your dogs -- little Foxy here is microchipped. And so God forbid on some fourth of July fireworks she runs away and she ends up at a shelter, the worst -- I can`t even imagine, it`s unthinkable to me. I can`t even imagine, I`m sure most of you at home, the idea that your precious dog would end up in a research lab being experimented on is beyond comprehension.

Now let me tell you something. It`s not just dogs. Last month, the Beagle Freedom Project rescued three pigs from a laboratory. I want you to take a look at these animals. They are so intelligent.

You know, pigs are smarter than dogs and they were being sprayed with toxic chemicals. Their skin was horribly irritated. Their skin was burned. They suffered painful wounds. Thanks to Beagle Freedom Project, they were rescued and now they`re recuperating.

Guess what -- this isn`t saving lives. This is all in the name of beauty products. How are these pigs doing -- Shannon?

KEITH: They are doing amazingly well. As you said, they are so smart. They are smarter than dogs. They are so adorable. I had never been around pigs myself. When I was around them, I was overwhelmed by how smart they are.

And it is so sad they are being used for cosmetic procedures that are not needed by anybody. The research industry claims that their skin is like human skin, that`s why they use them for all kind of things. Things that we hear of day in and day out that people do to their faces and bodies. It is not necessary and it needs to stop.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. There`s an easy way. Before you buy any beauty product, make sure it has a little tag that says, it`s a rabbit and that means that it`s not experimented on.

And what I do is I go to the health food store to buy all of my products. Because this is happening, also, these experiments for household cleaners - - imagine an oven cleaner being tested on your precious pet -- ok.

More on the other side. On the other side, we are going to tell you how you can save these lives.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Pet of the Day. Send your pet pics to

Pele -- you make my heart like jelly. And, Eve, oh, you`re very mysterious and very magnificent. Mitzi, you`re hanging on your favorite couch, I see. We love you, Mitzi. And Chase -- I would chase you around the block to have some fun with you. Play some frisbee -- I know what you like.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s one of about half a dozen dogs who used to be somebody`s pets rescued by Beagle Freedom Project. Beagle Freedom Project goes into laboratories, and get these animals out, and they save lives. So how can you help save dogs and other animals who are being experimented on in laboratories all across the country?

The Beagle Freedom Project has drafted a bill that would legally force all tax-funded research institutions to give their dogs to nonprofit organizations when their experiments are over. Right now once animals are considered, quote, "spent", they are usually killed. So if you`ve got a pet at home, if you love animals at all, support this bill. Get involved in animal rescue. These animals cannot speak for themselves.

Go to Or you can go to my Facebook, JaneVelezMitchell/Facebook or my web page And we`ve got all the information because imagine you have a little Foxy at home? Can you imagine if your precious dog ended up in a laboratory having electrodes put in her brain? Cut open and sliced open?

It`s -- Shannon, what -- what -- people don`t know. They don`t think about laboratories. They think, oh, well, it`s life-changing research. We`re saving lives. Usually it`s not.

KEITH: Exactly. The majority of research is done simply in the name of vanity and scientific curiosity. So, you know, your makeup that you purchased was most likely tested on the animals which is like so important. When you use your consumer dollar, you are making a statement. Look for products that are not tested on animals. There are so many of them. The more you do it, the more message you`re sending to companies that test on animals to get them to stop.


KEITH: Same thing with our legislation. Hop on board. Hop on board, make a statement.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cruelty-free. Let`s get involved. They can`t speak for themselves.

We`ll be right back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now for your Slice of Happiness, the make- a-wish foundation and the city of San Francisco teamed up to make this boy`s dream come true. This afternoon the Bay Area was transformed into Gotham City and Batkid came to the rescue.

That`s right. Five-year-old Miles Scott was diagnosed with leukemia at just 18 months of age. His favorite superhero is Batman. Naturally, his dream was to be Batman for a whole day. San Francisco made it a city- wide event. A local Lamborghini owner supplied the bat mobile. Check out the crowd cheering on Miles.

The city`s mayor, the police chief, even a dancing flash mob made this an incredible day for a young man named Miles "Batman" Scott. That is what I call coming together for a good cause.

Nancy`s next.