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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Alleged Scammer Tried To Profit From Newtown Tragedy; $73,000 Missing; Judge: Toddler In Cursing Video Will Stay With Teen Mother; British Police Looking AT Rash Of Burglaries In Area Where McCann Vanished; Murder Cover-up; Landing on the Wrong Airport; New Christie Controversies
Aired January 13, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks.
Good evening, everyone. Tonight, 360 investigates the strange disappearance and suspicious death of a young African-American man in Texas. Serious doubts being raised now about the investigation.
Also tonight, a major scare and screw-up in the skies. Why pilots dropped this airliner on to a runway built for a Cessna. They were lucky no one got hurt. The question is, why did it happen at all?
And later, another alleged scammer accused of cashing in on the Newtown shooting tragedy. He is missing. Drew Griffin is on his trail. We are "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
We begin with that investigation that you'll only see on this program. It starts in rural Texas, with one family's serious questions surrounding a young man's disappearance back in November and the discovery nearly three weeks later of his body.
Questions like, how did searchers miss Alfred Wright's body, even though it was found just up the road from where he vanished. Also, what makes authorities so sure he died of a self-inflicted drug overdose when his family says he did not do drugs. And how can they rule out foul play when one autopsy says that Alfred Wright's throat had been cut and an ear was missing. Why was he undressed when he was found?
Those and other questions are casting doubt on the official version, so is the fact that Alfred Wright was a young African-American in a part of Texas with a history of racial tension and one of America's most horrific recent hate crimes.
Deborah Feyerick begins our report.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sun was just going down when Alfred Wright pulled into this liquor store on a long, quiet stretch of Route 87 in east Texas, not far from the Louisiana border. The 28-year-old physical therapist was on his way to see a patient when his unreliable pickup truck broke down again. His wife, Lauren, who was home with their two young sons immediately sent Alfred's parents to get him.
LAUREN WRIGHT, ALFRED WRIGHT'S WIDOW: Last time I called him, I just heard heavy breathing. He was in distress of some sort. He was not responding to anything that I was saying.
FEYERICK: His parents were still 20 minutes away and Lauren was growing frantic, sending text after text.
L. WRIGHT: After 5:57, "Trying to get to you,. Answer the phone. Answer the phone. Please answer.
FEYERICK (on camera): OK.
L. WRIGHT: And at 6:16, I said, please answer it, and that was after I had already heard him in distress of some sort.
FEYERICK (voice-over): When his parents got to the store, they saw Alfred's truck, but no sign of Alfred. Only the clerk behind the counter.
DOUGLAS WRIGHT, ALFRED WRIGHT'S FATHER: I went in, asked her had she saw a clean-cut young black guy in scrubs. She told me that, yes, I saw him out on his cell phone by his truck. And all of a sudden, he put his cell phone in his sock, took off running, like the truck was going to blow up.
FEYERICK: The clerk did not want to be interviewed on camera by CNN, but told us he left of his own free will, a phrase she repeated several times.
(On camera): Did he have anything to be afraid of?
D. WRIGHT: No.
FEYERICK: Did he have any enemies?
D. WRIGHT: Not that I know of.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Alfred Wright grew up in Jasper and played college football. A musical family, his dad is a pastor and middle school gym teacher. His mom raised five children, including the youngest, Savion, who tried out for "American Idol."
His family says Alfred always seemed happy.
L. WRIGHT: Alfred was a man of great faith. He loved his family, very ambitious, very driven, very hard working. His work ethic was phenomenal. Fun-loving and brilliant.
FEYERICK: So why would he run? Especially alone in the Texas woods, when he knew help was on the way.
This part of Sabine County is about a 45-minute drive from Jasper, the town where more than 15 years ago James Bird Jr. was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to his death by three white men. People who live in this area, black and white, say racial tension is always just beneath the surface and that things aren't always as they appear.
Which is why when Alfred's watch and items of clothing turned up on a ranch near the liquor store where he was last seen, his family raced there to try to find him. His wife was the first to spot a piece of blue cloth, the same color as the medical scrubs Alfred was wearing the last time she saw him.
L. WRIGHT: It was a perfectly rectangular piece of fabric, hanging from the barbed wire fence, and it was -- it was as if it was just cut perfectly.
FEYERICK (on camera): Did it look like it had been put there, that it had been ripped off there? What did it look to you?
L. WRIGHT: It definitely didn't look like it had been ripped off.
FEYERICK (voice-over): For more than three days, sheriff's deputies searched the property where the belongings were discovered. The family's lawyer, Ryan McLeod, says the sheriff's department told him specially trained dogs lost Alfred's scent near a creek.
RYAN MCLEOD, WRIGHT FAMILY LAWYER: If Alfred's boy was there, it is incredible -- it's actually unimaginable to me that dogs would not have found his body.
FEYERICK: Tom Maddox is the sheriff of Sabine County and he was on scene during the search.
L. WRIGHT: Can you show me the circumference of the area? He showed me that this whole circular piece here had been -- had been searched. He also told me that, numerous times, that if he was in the area, that he would -- they would find him.
FEYERICK: The sheriff's daughter and Alfred Wright were apparently friendly and knew each other through their health care jobs. So it came as a surprise to the Wrights when, after four days, without warning, the sheriff abruptly called off the search, telling the family --
MCLEOD: Your son's just a missing person. My guys are tired, we've exhausted our resources and funds. We're done.
FEYERICK: Done with the search and done with any investigation. The Wrights say the sheriff concluded there was no foul play. Even taking it a step further.
(On camera): The sheriff offered an explanation, that this was probably drug related, that he was probably having some hallucination that caused him to rip off his clothes, and so there was no foul play. Does that sound like your husband?
L. WRIGHT: No, not at all. Not at all. After they'd found the clothing and his watch, his I.D., they told me that -- you know, there was still no evidence of foul play. FEYERICK: Did you believe that?
L. WRIGHT: No, I don't.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Alfred Wright had been missing for 19 days, and with many questions and few answers, Thanksgiving week, dozens of volunteers did their own search in the cold and rain.
D. WRIGHT: Everybody, everybody come to me. Come to me. And I knew the sound in his voice, that it was not good. It was not good. I remember asking, is it a body? And somebody said, yes.
FEYERICK: In an area of the ranch supposedly already searched by deputies was the body of Alfred Wright, found nearly three weeks after his truck broke down.
D. WRIGHT: When I first found him, when we found him, I walked up on him. And his spirit spoke out to me and said, daddy, I knew you were going to find me. They say he was in this area.
D. WRIGHT: And his feet were back here. He was neatly laid.
D. WRIGHT: He was neatly laid.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Wearing only boxer shorts, his shoes, and a single sock with his cell phone tucked inside, it wasn't just the position, but the condition of the body that also seemed strange.
D. WRIGHT: This is the first thing I noticed, how smooth his forearms and his back -- this is smooth. No scratches at all.
FEYERICK: But he was missing an ear, two front teeth, and his throat appeared cut. And in an echo of the sheriff's prediction, the coroner's toxicology report described Alfred Wright's body filled with drugs and ruled his death an overdose.
The family had never seen Alfred take drugs. They don't believe the report. And they don't believe that drugs explained the condition of Alfred's body.
(On camera): Knowing that the watch was found here, his clothes are found here, and then the body is found there, what does that lead you to think?
MCLEOD: It leads me to believe that there's a crime scene somewhere and the timing is of the utmost importance. Every single day that goes by, evidence is lost or destroyed.
FEYERICK: Based on what you know, what do you think happened to Alfred Wright?
MCLEOD: I think he was murdered. I really don't have a doubt. My question now, just like the family is, who did it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Brother Wright.
COOPER: A short time ago, I spoke to Deborah Feyerick, who's reporting this story from Jasper, Texas.
So, Deborah, you mentioned drugs were found in his system, what kind of drugs?
FEYERICK: The coroner found a combination of three different drugs. Cocaine, meth, and also amphetamines and concluded that the death was accidental and that it was caused by drug intoxication -- Anderson.
COOPER: In that coroner's report, did it indicate how long the drugs had been in his system?
FEYERICK: No, it did not. And that's a very big question that the family wants answered. They want to know whether in fact those drugs entered Alfred Wright's system during his disappearance, and that's a big part of the investigation that the family wants answered.
COOPER: Has the family done their own autopsy?
FEYERICK: The family hired an independent pathologist to look into this, and their pathologist reached a very different conclusion than the official autopsy, which found that the death was accidental. In fact, their pathologist said that it appeared Alfred's death was caused by severe trauma to the neck and to the head area, and that included what appeared to be some sort of a cut, a gash, across his neck -- Anderson.
COOPER: So -- I mean, was it -- the gash across his neck, what did the first autopsy find about that that differed from what the second autopsy said?
FEYERICK: Well, the first autopsy made no mention of any sort of a slash or gash across his neck, but you look at some of the autopsy photos, and it is very clear that there is a very straight line that has been cut. The lawyers looked at the picture, other -- the pathologist looked at the picture. The official autopsy said that whatever damage there was to the body was actually caused by animal activity.
But we spoke to a couple of people who live out here. They say, if that body had been out in those woods for any length of time, that, in fact, the buzzards, the crows and other animals would have completely chewed it away to the bone. And that's not the amount of decomposition or animal activity that was actually on the body when the body was found.
COOPER: So what is the local law enforcement said about, you know, why they stopped the search, about these discrepancies? Have they made comment? What are they doing about it? FEYERICK: Well, we went -- we went -- we spoke to the sheriff and you'll see that in our piece tomorrow. We spoke to the sheriff and the sheriff essentially said he had handed the investigation over to the Texas Rangers.
Now he did hand the investigation over, but only a month after the body was found. He would not answer our questions as to why he called off the search after just four days. He would not even answer our question as to why he felt there was no foul play involved in this. But the Texas Rangers have taken over this case and they have called in the FBI to assist.
The Texas Rangers, they say that this death is questionable and they're looking at the autopsy, Anderson, as simply one part of a much larger investigation.
COOPER: All right. Deborah, so we'll have more of that tomorrow night. Thanks very much.
Well, as Deb mentioned, we're going to have part two of the investigation tomorrow night on 360.
Of course let us know what you think. Let's talk about it on Twitter, follow me right now @Andersoncooper, tweet me using #ac360.
Up next, something to think about before your next flight. Could it end the way this flight did, at the wrong airport on a dangerously short runway? I'll ask a former top airline pilot how dedicated professionals can get it so wrong. The plane landing at a completely different airport.
Also later tonight, scammers keep trying to cash in on the Newtown tragedy. Hard to imagine, but we're going to tell you about the latest alleged crook and why authorities want to talk to him. We're on his trail.
COOPER: Well, chances are you no longer expect very much when you fly these days, beyond getting safely from point A to point B, so what does it say that a pair of highly trained pilots and a state-of-the- art airliner managed to miss point B by miles, landing at a completely wrong runway on a dangerously short runway, no less, with only a distance remaining between safely stopping and then plunging off a cliff.
Tonight the crew and 124 passengers aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 4013 are safe, thankfully. The plane is in one piece, the pilots have been grounded. And this afternoon with the investigation gearing up, the stranded plane was taking off.
We have more now from aviation correspondent Rene Marsh.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: A new crew, but no passengers onboard. Southwest 4013 is finally back on the right track. Cleared for takeoff after being grounded for 24 hours at the wrong airport. Sunday night, two veteran pilots were at the controls at the time of what some call a rookie mistake, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
The plane with more than 100 passengers on board should have landed at Branson Airport in Missouri. Instead, it touched down at Taney County Airport about seven miles away. The 737 quickly runs out of runway, the pilot jams the breaks, and the plane stops just 300 feet from a steep embankment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had like a really rough landing. We were all like moving pretty close to the seats as we were landing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we braked for a sustained amount of time, and you could smell the burnt rubber of the tires.
MARSH: The runway at Taney County Airport, just over 3700 feet long about half the length of the runway at Branson. Minutes after touchdown, a contrite pilot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rest assured that we're safe and sound here. Thanks again for your patience and again, I apologize.
MARSH: The runways at the two airports are only a few miles apart, a difference GPS technology would have picked up.
Mark Weiss, an experienced pilot, says the pilots cleared to land at Branson must have assumed the first airport they saw was the right one.
(On camera): How does something like this happen?
MARK WEISS, FORMER AVIATION PILOT: Well, inattention. Now whether that was for distraction, fatigue, or what the underlying cause was, because, again, remember, accidents and incidents don't generally happen from a single cause. So what caused these pilots to not pay attention during that final phase of flight?
MARSH: Following the embarrassing foul-up, the airline is trying to make good with the passengers on board, offering refunds and travel credits.
Rene marsh, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: That's incredible. Only 300 feet from the end of that runway.
That's not the only recent airport mix-up. Just before Thanksgiving, you may remember a mass of modified Boeing 747 freighter missed a 12,000-foot runway at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, touching down instead at a small private airfield about 10 miles away. Again, the pilots were professionals. They had every modern navigational tool at their disposal, but they have landed at the wrong airport.
Other crews have gotten the airport right, but chosen the wrong runway. Some have landed on taxiways. The question is why so we want to look into this a little bit more.
Joining us a retired American Airlines pilot and flight instructor, Jim Tilmon.
Jim, good to have you on the program again. So do you agree that this is just inattention? That that's how this happens?
JIM TILMON, AVIATION EXPERT: Well, I think that's the only thing that shows up so far, Anderson. There's a lot we don't know about what happened. And I can only guess that what we are dealing with here is a situation where the pilots were just not part of the flight. They had focused someplace else for some reason. They were distracted. Or maybe they were just suffering from what I call a routine disease.
That's one where you've done the same procedure a thousand times, so you stop thinking about every detail this one time, when you do it once again. Then, again, who knows how they were dispatched. Maybe the dispatcher put down the wrong information, that they -- put to their instruments to tell them where they were.
COOPER: And I mean --
TILMON: Another issue --
COOPER: I'm sorry, sorry. Go on. Another issue?
TILMON: Another issue is the charts that that the -- that are published for Branson have two different airports on it. One of the charts says Branson on the chart and it has the right airport, the one -- where they should have landed. The other one still says Branson. A different chart, for the small airport, and it reads the same way, except for the fact that the name of the airport for the right one is Branson. The other one is another name altogether. So mistakes can be made.
COOPER: How dangerous -- I mean, when -- the fact that this runway was so much shorter than the runway at the correct airport. I mean, what kind of a risk is there? I mean, they were 300 feet from the end of this thing.
TILMON: Anderson, when I heard this story, I got goose bumps. I got to tell you I really feel like we dodged a big one here. Three hundred feet from absolute disaster is what we're talking about. That's far too close. I mean, whatever the purpose that was going down when this happened or the reason for it, it's got to be corrected. Because we dodged a bullet here.
COOPER: Would they have been able to pull the aircraft up, having realized that the runway was that short?
TILMON: Absolutely. That 737 is a very modern airplane, has lots of power. The second they realized that this was -- they were crossing the numbers and realized hey, this is the wrong airport, just push those throttles forward to the far wall and that thing would get out of there. They could have aborted that and gone on.
Some pilots don't like the idea of an abort, for whatever reason, because, I don't know, maybe they think it's embarrassing or it's this or that, or expensive. I believe in the abort. I believe that if something's not right, let's get out of here, fly, and talk about it and get it straight.
COOPER: But can you -- I mean, once you've actually touched down and began to slow down the aircraft on the ground, can you then lift off again, or does the abort have to occur before you actually touch down?
TILMON: It's unlikely, on that runway, that you could really perform that. That runway was so short. It's incredible.
Let me tell you, you know, Anderson, you remember Meg's Field in Chicago?
TILMON: A tiny little airport, kind of downtown?
COOPER: Sure, yes, yes.
TILMON: The airport where they landed is 400 feet shorter than that.
TILMON: That gives you some idea about how short it is. That runway they landed on is considerably shorter than the runways at LaGuardia. LaGuardia is not a super big O'Hare-type airport. We're talking about a very -- I call it a sidewalk. It's not really a place to land an airplane like that.
COOPER: That is scary. Jim --
TILMON: So, you know, we --
TILMON: We can give them credit for getting the thing stopped on the concrete.
TILMON: Give them credit for that.
COOPER: Well, as you said, a lot we don't know yet.
TILMON: They've got to answer for.
TILMON: Oh, boy, indeed.
COOPER: Yes. Jim, great to have you on. Jim Tilmon, thank you very much.
Disaster averted for Southwest. More trouble for the northeast governor once thought a top contender of the White House.
CNN's Chris Frates has learned that Chris Christie is now under federal investigation, specifically for using Sandy relief money to pay for this ad campaign designed to bring back tourism to the storm- damaged Jersey Shore.
Now his office says the ads were part of an action plan approved by the Obama administration. This, of course, comes right in the middle of the George Washington bridge scandal. The scandal where new e- mails came to light today.
Let's talk about it, "Raw Politics," chief political analyst Gloria Borger joins us.
So let's start with this federal investigation. The timing, obviously, could hardly be worse for Governor Christie.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Yes, could hardly be worse. And you know, the real problem for Chris Christie with this story is that Hurricane Sandy was the prism through which most Americans got their first real look at the New Jersey governor on a national stage, and they loved him because he was a truth teller. He's somebody who took control of a terrible situation. And he was somebody who was protecting people.
This is bad -- a bad story for him. The person who is talking about it now is clearly a political enemy of his and the governor's staff is saying, look, this is a routine investigation. And by the way, these ads were a part of getting the Jersey Shore recovered.
But, in any case, it's not good for him. Because you know what, he looks like just another politician in this particular story, using Hurricane Sandy for his own re-election, perhaps.
COOPER: The flipside of that, though, and we should point this out, and there is criticism out there, that the timing of this is related to the bridge controversy. Someone trying to take advantage basically of it.
BORGER: Sure. And I think, you know, and even though Congressman Pallone, who's the one who asked for this investigation, asked for it last August, because it sort of raised his eyebrows that Christie was using himself in these political ads, right? And suddenly, in the middle of this controversy, suddenly, we discover that the inspector general has, indeed, authorized a report.
So I think you'd have to say that the fact that we know about the inspector general report is suspect. You know, everything is politics. He is a political enemy of Governor Chris Christie, and you know, I think there's a danger here, by the way, Anderson, for the Democrats, who are clearly enjoying the trouble that Chris Christie is in, of overplaying their hand, to a certain degree.
BORGER: And the pendulum could swing.
COOPER: And you've been digging into another alleged incident --
COOPER: -- involving senior Christie staffer. It's another New Jersey mayor, also a Democrat.
COOPER: Tell us about that.
COOPER: Yes, a Democrat from Jersey City. Chris Christie -- here's the context. Chris Christie wanted to get the endorsements of as many Democrats as he could, during his gubernatorial race, because it's a prelude to a presidential race. So they went around the state, asking for these endorsements. The mayor of Jersey City, newly elected, decided not to endorse him.
But before he let the Christie people know he had all these appointments with state commissioners set up, important people, that he needed to know, suddenly, like, exactly on the day or the day after that he said, sorry, I can't endorse, all of the appointments were canceled.
It's not as if they even tried to hide it, Anderson. They just said, all right, forget it. You're not endorsing us, you're not meeting with these people. So it's just kind of penny-anty --
BORGER: -- politics that on a national level that doesn't really look very good.
COOPER: All right. Gloria, appreciate that. Thanks very much.
COOPER: As always, you can find more on this story at CNN.com.
Just ahead, Drew Griffin is on the trail of another suspected Newtown charity scam. The guy allegedly behind this one is missing along with $73,000. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also ahead tonight, what a judge ruled today in the case of the cursing toddler, who was taken into protective custody after a video he was in went viral. New information on that.
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, a possible new addition to our rogues gallery of charity scams. You know, we've been covering a lot about charity scams over the last year or so. This one falls into a category that deserves its own hall of shame. Scammers who try to profit off the pain of the Newtown families.
As we're finding out in the year since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the family of the 20 kids and six educators killed are continually fighting against fraud committed in their loved one's names. Now it's allegedly happened yet again, this time in Nashville where what started out as a group trying to do good is now trying to learn where their founder and $73,000 in donations has gone.
Investigative correspondent Drew Griffin tonight in this "Keeping Them Honest" joins me from Nashville.
Drew, what do you know?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you know, after that massacre, so many people across the country wanted to do good especially here in Nashville. And a group got together and formed 26.4.26 Foundation, 26 Miles for 26 Victims. They were marathoners and within a week of the tragedy held an impromptu marathon that raised $30,000, and that money did do good.
They took that check, $30,000, to Newtown and helped pay for some of a youth centre that was built there. The problem is, 26.4.26 kept going, kept holding more events, kept raising more money for these Newtown families and victims, and it raised $73,000 more money, nobody knows where it is right now.
The person who was in charge of the money, his name is Robby Bruce. We're going to show you a picture of him, has virtually disappeared. This guy was a personal trainer. He wanted to raise money for the victims, but now nobody can find him. He's the only person who controlled the money.
One of his cofounders, a woman named Ryan Graney, finally blew the whistle when she figured out that personal items were being bought with some of this money, including a $1,200 paddleboard. She approached this fellow, Bruce. He cut her off completely. For Ryan, this is not only disgusting, she says, but personally embarrassing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN GRANEY, CO-FOUNDER, 26.4.26 FOUNDATION: I would say, personally, I'm sorry, for what happened. If I could have stopped it sooner, I would have and I'm just terribly story for what happened. I took down all the web sites, when I kind of had an inkling of what was going on. I removed all of our web sites, so there was no way for anybody to collect any more money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: This is so infuriating, Drew. I want to put up some more pictures of this guy, just in case anybody has seen him. His name is Robbie Bruce. We have some of these pictures. People should if anybody has any information about him. So when you say he just vanished, what exactly does that mean? He's left where he lived? GRIFFIN: Well, we knocked on the door where he was last registered living, his apartment. We knocked on his girlfriend's apartment door today. We called all the phone numbers we could find, and there was no answer, anywhere. Nobody's seen him for a while now. The Attorney General's Office here in Nashville is also investigating and also confirming to us that they can't find him.
But that may be about to change. You know, the Connecticut Office of the FBI has been very aggressive in these Newtown scams and though the detectives there could not actually confirm an investigation is going on, this is the statement that was sent to us from the Connecticut FBI.
They said, having the FBI investigate these types of frauds thoroughly and with a real sense of urgency because we recognize that legitimate charitable organizations are harmed by fraud, and in the case of Newtown victims, families are, in a sense, victimized. And that is certainly true.
COOPER: Well, again, we should keep these pictures up, because if he's a trainer, if he works out a lot, people maybe at gyms would recognize him. Was this foundation ever really a foundation at all or was it just people asking for money and the public responded?
GRIFFIN: No, it wasn't a charitable foundation in the true sense of the word. Never filed any paper works with the state. We can't find any kind of IRS tax exempts. So it never was. But, you know, when you mention Sandy Hook, people just want to do something. So they just sent this group money, really, without checking it out.
I want to talk about what the FBI said about re-victimizing families. There's one family in particular, the family of Victoria Soto. She was a schoolteacher at Sandy Hook. They have had a devil of a time with people trying to scam in this woman's name, this teacher's name.
And what is so troubling here in this case is Ryan Graney actually volunteered to help the Soto family scour the internet and tell them anytime anybody was using Victoria's name to raise money, to scam money. And then she had to make that phone call to say, guess what, my charity may have actually scammed people too. This is what she told us about that.
GRANEY: The hardest phone call I had to make was to Donna Soto and tells her what was happening. It's one of the most special relationships I have in my life and I had to call her and tell her that a foundation that I helped was using Vickie's name and it's just -- it's incredibly hard.
GRIFFIN: That's what's so troubling about this. It's really not the dollar amount because in the scheme of things, we're not talking a lot of money.
GRIFFIN: But we're talking about money being raised in the name of a bunch of children who were slaughtered in that school.
GRANEY: Yes, yes. That's kind of what the what hurts most for me. Is that I am really close to these people and they don't deserve this. And I wish I could have stopped it sooner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: They don't deserve it, Anderson. If Robbie Bruce is out there, give us a call. We would love to hear what the explanation is. So would the Attorney General's Office here in Tennessee, and perhaps so would the FBI.
COOPER: And again, we're putting his picture on the screen. Drew, where should people contact? Obviously, they can tweet us, @andersoncooper. They can even use the #robbiebruce. Is there a number or anything authorities say?
GRIFFIN: You know, I haven't really gotten to that, Anderson. But if Robbie wants to call me, he can go home and check the card stuck in his door. I'm sure it's easy to find the Attorney General's Office here in Nashville, Tennessee.
COOPER: We'll put that contact information up on our web site, ac360.com. But it's really easy, you can go on Twitter and just tweet me, @andersoncooper is my Twitter handle. Drew, appreciate the update. We'll continue to follow it and keep trying to find that guy.
Just ahead, will the toddler shown cursing in a viral video be allowed to stay with his teenage mom? They were both taken into protective custody and the case is still sparking outrage.
Plus words tonight of a possible major break in the Madeleine McCann case. Hard to believe after all this time that she's been missing for more than six years, what may have cracked the case wide open. Details ahead.
COOPER: Crime and punishment now, new development tonight is in a story that sparked a lot of outrage. It began, of course, when a Nebraska police union posted a video of a toddler swearing and using racially and sexually offensive words while being coached by adults off-screen. Here is some of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say -- my name three times --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, in the video, police union came under fire for even posting the video. The union stands by their decision saying the video highlights a, quote, "culture of violence and thuggery," and basically suggesting they were performing a public service. Not everyone obviously sees it that way. Meanwhile, Child Protective Services got involved, removed the toddler and three other minors from that home, including the toddler's mom, who's now 17. Today, there was a hearing in the case. CNN's George Howell joins me with the latest. So what did the court recommend at this hearing, George?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you mentioned, both the toddler and the 17-year-old mother, both of them placed in the same foster care home. But we've learned there are restrictions. For instance, the mother will not be able to see her son without supervision. And Anderson, we also know that neither of them will be returning to the home where they once lived.
COOPER: So, Child Protective Services stepped in last week, but not, they say, specifically because of this video. Have they been watching the house before?
HOWELL: Right. And that's something we learned in court today. In fact, CPS, they've been looking at this family, tracking this family, concerned for several months. They were concerned about issues of gun violence, allegations of gang members going in and out of the house, and also, recently, we know that the toddler's father was killed in a gang-related shooting, that according to police. So really this video helped to kind of push it over the edge.
COOPER: So what's next for the family?
HOWELL: Well, you know, the question that we've been trying to track down, when will the toddler when will his mother be placed into this foster care home? Will it be tomorrow? Will it be next week? Right now, that's still unclear. But, again, the one thing we do know is that both of them will be in the same foster care home under supervision.
COOPER: All right, George, appreciate it. A lot to talk about with our regular equal justice panel, former federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin and criminal defense attorney, Mark Geragos. So Sunny, what do you make of this? Is this the best thing for the mother and the child?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALSTY: I do. And I think we need to remember that the mother is a child as well. She was only 17 years old. So to have them together and to not rip apart that part of the family is very important. In these kinds of cases, the issue is what is in the best interests of the child and you have two children here. So what is the best interest of the mother and what is in the best interest of the 2-year-old, and I think this is probably the right way to go.
COOPER: Mark, do you agree with that? You and Sunny often disagree on this one. Do you agree?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, this case, we agree on one thing, is that the police the only person who committed a felony here was the police union for being felony stupid. This is nothing more than a racist, clueless union, posting this thing to kind of, you know, resonate with racist overtones. And that's the thing that I take away from this in terms of the people.
COOPER: Well, Mark, let me jump in on that, because I know Sunny actually agrees with you on that. But just to play devil's advocate, the police union, we talked to them on Friday, they say, you know, they were alerting people to this, not just kind of the big picture, but also to this family, that they forwarded the video to the responsible authorities and the suggestion is that would Child Protection Services had acted so quickly, even though allegedly they were watching this family for months, had this video not been made public.
GERAGOS: The only reason they went to Child Protective Services, Anderson, is because of the public outcry that they posted it online. They did not if they, in fact, had actually gone to child protective services and they had not done anything and then posted it, OK, I understand what you're doing. You're trying to use the media to force them to do something. That's not what happened.
They were embarrassed after the fact, after they had posted this, and they had used the term "thug," which is like when people use "urban." We know what they're doing. There's a code words and there are racist code words and they're trying to get people riled up and trying to rile up white people. That's, frankly, what's going on here.
HOSTIN: It's so interesting, Anderson, that Mark and I actually agree on this. We should save the tape this is one of the few times that we agree.
HOSTIN: I do think that the officer that posted it was well- intentioned. Because I looked to the web site, and if you look at the web site, they really have been trying to combat the societal issues that they're seeing in Nebraska, the crime issues that they're seeing in Nebraska.
But, in posting what was clearly child abuse, which was clearly, in my view, criminal, they did no help. They helped no one, right? All they did was sort of I think exploit this child and I think sensitivity training, at the very least, needs to be conducted with this officer.
GERAGOS: Well, you know, you've got there are criminal statutes that they could have prosecuted this guy under. I mean, clearly, you've got contributing to delinquency, child abuse, things of that nature.
GERAGOS: Nobody bothered to do. If they were so concerned about this family, then go in and file an arrest based on applicable criminal charges. They didn't do that. This was, you know, this is where we'll disagree, Sunny. I don't necessarily give the officer a pass on this. I think that there were more nefarious things going on here. I just think these were clueless people that don't understand what they were doing or how, you know, it kind of generally racist they are. HOSTIN: There are both marks. He always has to go over the line. I think law enforcement officers, Mark, have a really difficult job on their hands. And yes, while insensitive and while, I think, exploitive of this child, I do think he was well intentioned.
GERAGOS: I don't know how you get to well-intentioned. What is the purpose of posting this online for and then calling them thugs, if you really are concerned, then go make an arrest! Why would you damage any chance of making an arrest and a conviction by posting it online first and asking later?
COOPER: Just very briefly, Sunny, what is next for this I mean, how long do they stay in foster care. How does that work? Do we know?
HOSTIN: You know, we don't know yet. I think typically what happens is you have a guardian ad litem, a lawyer assigned to each child, and we know that has taken place. What I believe will happen next is some kind of parenting plan. That's what needs to happen here. You need to support the mother you need to make sure she finishes high school.
COOPER: She was 16 when she had the child, she's now 17.
HOSTIN: Exactly, and I identify with this very much, because my mother was a teenage mother who needed the support to get us where we ended up. So I think that will be the next step. But they're in the right place, Mark, because she does have this guardian ad litem.
GERAGOS: Well, that's fine, but what about the ignorant guy who's over there saying this to the kid? You just let him go? If they want to do something, post his picture online and shame him.
HOSTIN: I think you're right about that, Mark.
COOPER: And he's said to be the uncle, I believe. Sunny, we've got to leave it here. Mark Geragos, thanks very much.
Up next, a possible break in the case of Madeleine McCann, who was 3 years old when she vanished during a family vacation, could there actually be a real break in it? We'll have they ahead.
Also ahead, did texting trigger a shooting inside a Florida movie theatre? Details next.
COOPER: Welcome back. For the parents of a little girl who disappeared during a family vacation, it's been nearly a seven-year quest for justice for madeleine McCann. Madeleine was 3 years old when she vanished from a Portuguese resort. Now there could be a break in the case. Randi Kaye joins me with the latest. So what do we know?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this could be significant. On Friday, British authorities sent what is called an international letter of request to law enforcement officials in Portugal. Now Scotland Yard, as you know, Anderson, launched its own investigation into what happened to Madeleine once Portuguese police failed to make an arrest.
A Portuguese law enforcement official is confirming to CNN that British police want to interview three individuals who ABC news reports were burglars. Now, those individuals, the officials say, have not been detained. It's not clear, Anderson, if the arrests are imminent, and they are not releasing the names of these individuals either.
COOPER: Why do they think that these burglars are possibly connected?
KAYE: Well, CNN has not confirmed why these specific three people are coming under scrutiny right now, but ABC News is reporting that police found scores of phone calls made between these three individuals, just after Madeleine's disappearance. Now, there was a lot of phone activity, apparently, in the hours after she disappeared.
The investigation has, for some time, been focused on a rash of burglaries that occurred right in that neighbourhood where Madeleine and her family were vacationing. It happened a little more than two weeks before she disappeared. Now, these men were, according to ABC news, believed to been involved in those burglaries.
Two specific break-ins happened in the very same apartment block where the McCann's were staying, so these guys were close by. And you may remember, in October, police launched a public appeal and released these sketches of a man that they say was in the area, but we don't know if he is among the three that British police want to talk to.
COOPER: It's been nearly seven years since she disappeared. You covered it when she first went missing. It's one of those stories that are every parent's nightmare.
KAYE: Yes. It certainly is. We remember her parents, Kate and Jerry, were even suspects for a time. They were, though, eventually cleared -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Randi, I appreciate the update. Obviously, we'll continue to follow up on that. A lot more is happening. Let's have the "360 Bulletin" with Susan Hendricks -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, thank you. We'll start here. According to the sheriff in Pasco County, Florida, a man was shot to death and his wife wounded after a fight over texting at a movie theatre. The sheriff says the suspect a retired Tampa police officer.
A 360 follow now, water restrictions are easing in West Virginia. Today, at least 5,000 residents were allowed to use their water again, the first of some 300,000 who have been without tap water since a chemical spill last Thursday.
Reuters is reporting that Target and Neiman Marcus were not the only retailers hacked over the holiday shopping season. The news agency says at least three other U.S. retailers experienced smaller breaches, according to people familiar to the attacks. However, details have not been disclosed. And an Illinois family is happy to be reunited with their stolen dog. She was just a puppy when she disappeared five years ago. Well, she turned up at an animal shelter 600 miles away in Greenville, South Carolina, on Sunday and happy to be reunited.
COOPER: Wow, I wonder if she recognized them after so long.
HENDRICKS: I'm guessing she did.
COOPER: Great that they got her back. Susan, thanks very much.
Coming-up, cool, calm, and collected like you have never, never seen it before. "The Ridiculist" is next.
COOPER: It's time now for "The Ridiculist." And tonight, we have just another day at the lovely Bain Berry Golf Resort in Eastern Tennessee caught on security camera in the pro shop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi! Ron.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi! Billy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all Right. Don't move a muscle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm fine. Don't move. Why is there a hole in the ceiling?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't move! He went too far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I said it before and I'll say it again. The staff members are totally unflappable. It's a study in nonchalance, and the part of Ryan, the gentleman who fell out of the ceiling, and Billy, the general manager who reacted to one of his employees falling to the floor with a reaction as cool as a lake in the Smokey Mountains in springtime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi! Ryan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi! Billy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It happened about a week ago. Ryan was up in the rafters to fix some wiring and Billy was trying to guide him by hitting the ceiling with a putter when he crashed through the fiberglass insulation. We called the shop today. I'm happy to report that Ryan is completely OK. There's not even a scratch on him. He didn't get hurt at all. He is, indeed, very lucky, because when you fall into a golf shop like that, there's a pretty good chance that you'll land on some balls.
I also love how at the end of the video, the general manager tells Ryan not to move, and then gets out his phone, and you think he's going to call 911, but he just takes some pictures. When we spoke with someone at the shop today, he said Ryan's a real bright kid and everyone's OK and we should maybe he should get employee of the month. If nothing else, he has proven he's the best golf course employee since the great Carl Spackler from "caddy shack".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to kill every golfer on the course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check me if I'm wrong, Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they'll lock me up and throw away the key.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gophers! The Little brown fury Rodents!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can do that. We don't even have to have a reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I think we've all learned something tonight about staying calm, take things in stride, and realize that sometimes a bad day at work is just par for the course on "The Ridiculist." That does it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for AC360 LATER. We got a good group tonight. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.