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Hire Your Own Personal Shopper; Woman Recalls Out-of-Body Experience; Parents Want Adopted Boy Back; No Confidence in U.S. Economy.

Aired November 29, 2013 - 11:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So awesome. Find out if Dale Beatty is the "CNN Hero" of the year. Watch this Sunday evening to see all of them at 8:00 eastern. And plus, there is one unbelievable moment, an act of generosity that brought everybody in the audience right up to their feet. I'm not going to give it away. You've got to watch on Sunday. It's really well worth it. It's a great night.

What a treat. How about hiring your own personal shopper this holiday season. We're about to introduce you to an 86-year-old woman who is personal shopper to the stars. And she's so not afraid to tell you what exactly your butt does look like in that tight set of jeans. She's unlike any other. You've got to meet her. Coming up next.





BANFIELD: Yes, let the games begin. That was the scene at Macy's in New York just hours ago. And the Black Friday shopping frenzy is officially in full swing right across the good old U.S. of A. We love it. We love our traditional.

And we've all been through this, browsing through a store where the giddy sales clerk won't leave your side and fauns all over everything you pick up even when it's hideous.

Not Betty Halbreich. Betty Halbreich, it's taken her 40 years, but she's going to let you know exactly what she thinks, even if she blows the sale. I'm not kidding.

Richard Quest donned his Kevlar and he went shopping with the legend. And he joins me live now from London.

My guess is this, you did this shopping and then you just scooted right across the pond because it was a tough ordeal. How did you survive it?

RICHARD QUESTION, CNNI CORRESPONDENT: This is a woman who redefined the whole art of shopping. You've seen the pictures that we saw earlier this morning. You know, those fist fights in stores across the United States where people are being -- dragging and trying to grab anything they can, that quick bargain. Look at them go for it.

Well, when you go shopping with Betty Halbreich, it is a completely different experience. You transcend yourself into another world. And you better have some money to spend.



BETTY HALBREICH, PERSONAL SHOPPER: Come hither into la-la land.

QUEST: Wow. This is -- Betty Halbreich and I have something in common. Not just any Christmas crackers. Christmas crackers from Hortmans (ph). We both love holiday shopping.

HALBREICH: As a little girl, I loved snow globes, the old-fashioned snow globes. This is the beautiful part of it.

QUEST: Oh, a letter knife. What are the basic principles of buying gifts?

HALBREICH: I think we sometimes become so entranced with what we like. I noticed when you were picking up things, sometimes we don't think about whom we are buying for.

QUEST: This is the spicy stuff.

HALBREICH: But you can't smell three at one time. Nobody's nose can take in three at one time.

QUEST: Three in the bottle.

HALBREICH: One lifts them out.

QUEST: I think I've just been told off.

(voice-over): Over the years, Betty has built up her own personal shopping empire. It's not difficult to see why.

(on camera): You found an honesty about price and packaging and you're not afraid to tell me when you don't think something is right.

HALBREICH: I'm glad you found it out so early.

QUEST (voice-over): If she's honest in gift shop, wait until you see her in women's wear.

(on camera): This is nice, isn't it? This is nice.

HALBREICH: Feel it. You wouldn't wear it.

QUEST: Well, you're right, I wouldn't wear it. But that's not the point.

You won't tell me who shops with you?

HALBREICH: Absolutely not. I can't. They know who they are.

QUEST (voice-over): They certainly do. Betty was worked with the likes of Cher, Meryl Streep and Sarah Jessica Parker. It's quite a feat for a woman who only started this job in her late 40s.

(on camera): 37 years ago, you came into this building. Why?

HALBREICH: I was brought here by someone.

QUEST (voice-over): At the time, Betty's marriage had ended and her children were broken up.

(on camera): What did you want to do?

HALBREICH: I wanted someone to rescue me. And they did.

They're too short and too skimpy, I would pass.

QUEST (voice-over): She's never used a computer or a cell phone. She doesn't even ring up her own sales. When it comes to fashion, Betty is never left behind.

HALBREICH: I can foresee what's going to happen. I can tell you now what we're going to go into in a year from now. They're going to drop the skirts and we're going to go into a simpler more contemporary look.

QUEST (voice-over): So it's with some trepidation, I let her loose on my own ensemble.

(on camera): Tie.

HALBREICH: Yes, blue.

QUEST: What did you think?

HALBREICH: It's OK. I would put something else with a print on myself.

QUEST (voice-over): Whether it's the little black number for the office party or an unusual gift for the boss --


QUEST (on camera): No, toast.


QUEST: Toast.


QUEST (voice-over): -- you can be sure of one this will.

HALBREICH: I have one. Bills.

QUEST: -- Betty knows best.



QUEST: I'm telling you, that was a toast rack, and she says it was for bills.


BANFIELD: Hey, I was wondering what the worse present you ever got. My sister is here off camera and she got a garage door opener for her anniversary.


And to me, that's about the worst it gets. What about you?

QUEST: I'm pretty good on that. I can honestly say -- I suppose the worst present I've ever got is not getting a present at all.

Are you ready, Mrs. Banfield, for skirts to get longer?


QUEST: And outfits to get simpler?

BANFIELD: Yes. I'm not ready for it but I'm welcoming it with open arms. As I get older, I like the hems longer.

Richard Quest, I miss you already --


QUEST: I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised, yes. Cover up more, that's what I say.

Now, look. I'll bring you back some London treats so that when I'm back in New York next week we can feast on the set.

BANFIELD: Oh. I was actually going to suggest that perfume that you got me last time. I really like that. It was really expensive, though.


Richard, happy holidays. Come on back soon. We miss you.

QUEST: Thank you.

BANFIELD: My dear friend, I love you.

OK. So an intriguing story I want to share with you. A woman drowns in a tragic river boat accident. Wait. She has no pulse, she's not breathing, she's clinically dead. But then what she says happens next is out of this world. Quite literally, you're going to hear a surgeon's account of a near-death experience and how she says "I went to heaven and I came back to tell you about it."


BANFIELD: So the big question we all sort of think about at one point in our lives, do you believe in heaven or some kind of a heaven or afterlife? Ever had an experience where you think you might have died and saw heaven, but resumed your life, came back to earth or however we put it? Mary Neil says this happened. She experienced heaven after an accident in which she nearly died.

Here is what she told CNN's Randi Kaye.


MARY NEIL, HAD NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE: I could see them on the river bank and pull my body to the shore. I could see them start CPR. I had no pulse and I wasn't breathing. One fellow was yelling at me to come back.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You were unconscious. How do you know that all of this was happening?

NEIL: I felt my body break free and I felt my spirit break free and I was greeted by these people, or these spirits.

I could be with them and be going down this incredible pathway and simultaneously look back at the river.

When I saw my body, I will say that was the first time that I actually thought, well, I guess I am dead, I guess I've -- I really did die.

KAYE: In the book, you write about dancing with them. Were you celebrating something?

NEIL: Yes.

KAYE: What were you celebrating? You had just died?

NEIL: It was a great homecoming. And I was really surprised by the fact that I had no intention of going back.

KAYE: You didn't want to return?

NEIL: No. And I had all the reasons to return. I had a great life. I had a great job. I had a great husband. My children are wonderful. And I love them more than I could ever imagine loving something on earth. But the love that I felt for them in comparison to God's love that was absolutely flowing through, everything was just pale in comparison.

And then at a certain point, one of the people, or the spirits, told me that it wasn't my time and that I had more work to do on earth and that I had to go back to my body.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: I have goose bumps. I don't know about you. But you've got to find out what happened to Mary Neil. And you can watch this Sunday in Anderson Cooper's special report called "To Heaven and Back," which airs at 7:00 p.m. eastern right before "Heroes," which airs at 8:00. And it is good, I'll tell you that.

This not so good. Parents adopt a baby they raise until he's nine and then they decide they're not so sure about that anymore. And they want to return him. Now not only are they accused of giving up that baby, now they say they want him back. Should they get him? And what about the abandonment thing in the first place? This is an accusation, but the story and the letter that they wrote will give you chills. It's coming up next.


BANFIELD: An Ohio couple accused of abandoning the 9-year-old son they adopted as a baby, Lisa and Cleveland Cox, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of nonsupport of dependents. The mom says her son was showing some aggressive dangerous behavior, and she says it got so bad she had to call 911.


LISA COX, MOTHER OF ADOPTED BOY: He got a steak knife and he said, I'm going to kill you. He's on medication. He's seeing a psychiatrist, but he's just kind of -- this is the first time he's gone like this. He's ransacked my house.

911 DISPATCHER: Sounds like he needs some help.

COX: He does and I can't get it. I've tried everything.


BANFIELD: And so now the couple is accused of leaving their son with children's services, abandoning him with some clothes and a bag and this letter that reads in part, "It breaks my heart that you can no longer be a part of our family. I love you so much. From the very first day I have always loved you. I am praying that God will continue to take good care of you and that he will find the perfect family to love you. And I believe he will." And she signed the letter, "Your mom."

CNN's legal analyst and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos, is back to talk about this.

First of all, it's an unbelievable story. Second of all, what is a woman to do, what is a dad to do when they say they've done everything that they to cope, perhaps not getting the help that they need. My guess, Danny, is they can't just drop a child off.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You got it, Ashleigh. The law in Ohio does allow for the commitment of what's called an unruly child to the custody of the state. The problem here is the parents just didn't follow the proper procedure. You can't return a kid like he's a pair of khakis at The Gap. You have to go to the agency. They will set up an intake and have a court hearing to determine whether or not your child is in need of services and can remain in the home. That can ultimately result in the state taking that child back, in this instance, it would be back, if he's unruly and incorrigible and in need of services and help. But the problem here is the parents took it upon themselves to drop the child off with, as you said, some clothes, and that is a no, no. It's not following procedure.

BANFIELD: So the charge, I was a little dumb struck by misdemeanor charges of nonsupport of dependents. How serious is that charge? Is it possible they could face more?

CEVALLOS: Yeah, these charges are, typically in Ohio, there's brought along with other charges for failure to support. In other words, maybe a dad who moved to Florida with the cocktail waitress and isn't sending the money. So the idea is these parents failed to essentially pay the bills or otherwise support. But could potentially bigger charges be coming? Maybe, but ultimately, that is -- I mean, the failure to support is what the parents are doing at this time. At the same time, though, I would expect that what's called a dependency petition, not a criminal action, but there's going to be dependency petition because the state is going to want to know whether or not these parents can continue to be parents because they've expressed interest in getting this child back. Now the state may not be too convinced that these are appropriate parents, that this child is, number one, safe, and, number two, that his needs are being met in the present home.

BANFIELD: This whole thing is heart breaking.

Danny Cevallos, thanks for your insight. Appreciate it.

So the markets, have you been watching how well they've been doing lately? Because they've been blowing the doors off all of the, you know, the top numbers in history. And even though the numbers are going through the roof, the holiday shoppers are out there today and excited and spending money. Turns out, we're not all that hot on our economy right now. You got to see the polls to see the numbers. What's wrong with us? Why don't we think that the economy's doing well? Tell you next.


BANFIELD: Stock market is up. Home prices are up. So why isn't confidence in the economy up? It's headed down.

Joining me now CNN's business correspondent, Alison Kosik.

Why are people so bah-humbugging the economy?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A lot of it, Ashleigh, has to do with jobs. You look at housing prices, they're doing very well. You're looking at people's portfolios. People's portfolios are doing well. The Dow is up 23 percent. The NASDAQ is up 34 percent this year. The S&P up 27 percent this year. But you nowhere the disconnect is? Jobs. 11 million people are out of work. The kinds of jobs they're getting are low-wage paying jobs. It's hard to pay your bills on that kind of salary. And that's where the loss of confidence comes from -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: It's surprising. But I hear you. We always wait on those Fridays to hear those jobs numbers. They're never as exciting as we hoped they're going to be, and yet Christine Romans and you go on record every day to say we're breaking records left, right and center.

Happy holidays to you. You're also working so I'll have to send you a virtual kiss.

Thanks, Alison.

KOSIK: Back at you.

BANFIELD: Ah, Sweetheart, I'll see you later.


And thank you, everyone, for watching. It's great to have you with us on this holiday. I hope you enjoy your weekend. In the meantime, we have a lot more to tell you throughout the day. Stay tuned because AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: They lined up, they camped out, and they rushed into the stores across the country, all for a deal. Oh, yeah, it's Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Black-Eye Friday in some places. It's not just happening in the U.S., by the way, deals being offered in other countries, too. Take the United Kingdom, for example. We also saw some pretty frenzied shoppers doing anything they could for a discount there, as well.

GORANI: And this is an AROUND THE WORLD Black Friday. I'm Hala Gorani. Suzanne Malveaux is off today.

HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for being with us.

We are now 12 hours into Black Friday, 12 hours into the official start of the holiday shopping season. Well, at least it used to be the official start.

GORANI: Well, many stores, of course, as we've been reporting actually opened on Thanksgiving Day. You'd think that might have stolen some --