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Mothers Murder Children, Kill Themselves

Aired January 16, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, it`s happened again. Another murder-suicide, with a mother killing both of her beautiful children. Cops in Utah say these two girls -- look at these beautiful girls. They`re dead at the hands of their own mother, who killed them before turning the gun on herself just one day after her fiance moved out on her.

Good evening, I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live.

Across the country in Florida, eerie parallels to another double murder-suicide just four days ago. Again, cops say the mom is responsible. Cops say Jennifer Berman, whose husband had recently divorced her, shot their two beautiful and accomplished children, 16-year-old Alex and his 15- year-old sister, Jackie, before killing herself. All three people in that picture are dead.

The mom had contacted her ex-husband with a threatening e-mail saying, quote, "This is the best thing for our family." The father dashed home. But when he got there, he found to his horror, his two teenage children and their mom, his ex-wife, dead.

Here is the frantic 911 call made by that ex-husband, who is desperately trying to get the cops to save his kids before his ex-wife could kill them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine-one-one. Where`s your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): I`m just about getting there, but it`s kind of concerning me. My ex-wife said she was going to harm the kids, and I should get over there ASAP.

It`s a house, but to be honest with you, I`m afraid to go in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many kids are in the house?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My two children and my ex-wife.

Well, she sent me an e-mail that -- that she did the best -- she did the best thing for our family. And -- and then she sent my -- her cousin a text that she was going to kill the kids and herself.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is absolutely gut-wrenching. How could a woman murder her own children? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to our fantastic Lion`s Den panel.

Investigator Lisa Lockwood, we`re going to start with you. You`ve covered many of these cases. OK, the Florida case, that`s where the ex- husband calls 911. We just heard that 911 call.

Now, they had just wrapped up a nasty divorce. The mom was about to lose -- it was formerly the marital home, but that was the home she just shared with her two kids. The foreclosure had set in; they were set to move out next month. But why would a divorce, foreclosure and desperate financial straits cause a mother to murder her children, who are the innocent ones?

LISA LOCKWOOD, INVESTIGATOR/AUTHOR, "UNDERCOVER ANGEL": Well, I hate to say it, but over and over we have seen cases like this. Hell have no fury like a woman`s scorn. And here`s a case of the ultimate punishment. What is it, the ultimate pain that she can do to her ex-husband is to kill the kids, take away love from him and ultimately just get her revenge in that manner.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So this was an act of hatred. She sacrifices these two beautiful kids, both of them accomplished musicians, to get back at ex- husband, who she obviously had deep resentments against.

The "New York Post" says the killer mom, Jennifer Berman, was working long hours and became unhinged by the pressure of the foreclosure of her home. Other reports claim -- these are published reports -- that she was so desperate she was forced to sell her late father`s watch and could no longer pay her divorce attorney.

But again, why say killing her kids is the best for our family?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): And now, I`m in front of the house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): OK. Is she home? Did she have a car there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car is in this driveway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does she have any weapons in that house?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of weapons have you seen in the house?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I remember she had her dad`s old rifles.

I`m in the driveway, and my neighbor just went in to look to see what`s going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How old are the kids?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen and 16. Oh, geez.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My neighbor went in, and there`s blood up on the wall in -- near her bedroom.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Reports are the killer mom was working long overnight shifts as a nurse but still couldn`t make ends meet. She reportedly filed court documents claiming her husband had not paid the mortgage on the former marital home during the dissolution of marriage. We don`t know if that`s true or not. That`s what she had claimed purportedly in a court document.

This divorce battle had purportedly raged on for five long years. This woman sounds bitter and resentful.

Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist, could, as Lisa Lockwood suggests, that have been the ultimate motive, revenge, to get back at her ex-husband by murdering the progeny?

DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I don`t think it was the ultimate motive. Clearly, she was depressed. She had lost her motive, at the end of her rope, she had guns and was not treated for her emotional discord. Yes, when you kill children, I mean, that is just unspeakable, but her own state of mind indicated that she was going down a slippery slope that I`m sure nobody could have imagined.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In both cases, remember, this is extraordinary in its awfulness in that, in two cases in one week, mothers killed both of their children. It appears these mothers were both distraught over the men in their lives leaving.

In the Utah case the apparent killer mom was 32-year-old Kyler Ann. Cops say her ex-boyfriend moved out just the day before she allegedly shot her two beautiful daughters, stunning kids, and then turned the gun on herself.

You know, they kind of looked like the perfect family. The neighbors say there were frequent domestic issues since the family moved out just three -- well, moved into the neighborhood just three months ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My first inkling was to go lock the front door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just drove past, and there was a moving van; just looked pretty distraught.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had been over there for his property, and that -- they called the police. I was over there, so nothing did happen.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just the day before she killed her kids and committed suicide, cops were called to this house in Utah to supervise and keep things calm as her boyfriend moved out.

So Loni Coombs, former prosecutor, that`s a big red flag, that things were so tense just the day before that cops had to be there in order for her boyfriend to move out.

LONI COOMBS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. Clearly, there was tension going on there. And Jane, in this story there`s another layer added to it that`s a little bit different from the other case. And that is this is a single mom, and she had the responsibility of raising her kids and supporting them financially and emotionally.

And she was also trying to build this relationship with this fiance, which apparently, it was going well. At some point they were living together, but now it had fallen apart, and the ex-fiance had left the home. So you have this single mom seeing this relationship going.

And honestly, I was a single mom for many years. It takes everything to focus on your kid. When you have a relationship going on, on top of that and that person may or may not be happy with your children there, that might add to the anxiety of the relationship, and now that she loses that fiance, she might have, in some way, perhaps blamed her children for the fact that that relationship fell apart and that was part of the reason why she decided to turn on these two innocent victims, the two people that she was supposed to be taking care of and protecting, and killing them along with herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at these girls. These girls are dead. Their mother killed them, according to police. And yet, they look like they were well cared for up until that time. And that`s what confuses me.

Michelle Suskauer, criminal defense attorney, in both of these cases, all the kids were beautiful, high achievers. Straight A students. OK, in both the cases, the Florida case and the Utah case, these are great kids. These -- the kids are not the problem.

The problem is the adult -- the adult female having a conflict with the man in her life, either the ex-husband or the ex-boyfriend. I still don`t get why you take it out on the kids.

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, it`s something that`s just inconceivable. But just so that you know, the Berman case is a case from my community. So this is -- our community is really raw right now. And there are people on both sides of this. And the kids were very, very gifted kids who actually went to school with my kids.


SUSKAUER: It really brings it very close to home. And it really -- our community is really hurting.

And it really -- what do you say to children about a parent who can harm their children? So it`s really -- I don`t -- is it revenge? Is it just complete mental illness that she thinks that she can`t go on because - - and that her kids can`t go on without her? I don`t know. But it`s just a horrible situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This was a very, very nasty divorce. By the way, Michelle Suskauer, did you ever meet these two kids?

SUSKAUER: No. But my daughter, one of my daughters does -- did know and was in class with one of the children. And so I did not know this family. But it`s -- it`s an art school, and everybody knew each other. Really, really good kids.

And so it`s just a -- people are -- in our community, because of this case has just happened, people are really on both sides saying, was this revenge or was it just simply mental illness? There are sort of rumors flying, things being posted online. So it`s really -- I think there`s more information that`s going to come out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. The two kids who were killed in Florida, the ones who your daughter knew one of them, the girl was an accomplished violinist. You`re looking at her. The boy was an accomplished cello player. These were kids who were straight A students. They didn`t deserve to die this way.

And I don`t care, even if you lose your house. I mean, this is America, so maybe you have to rent or you downscale, but we`re still living 100 percent better than most people around the globe. We lose perspective. We lose perspective of how lucky we are in this country, and we think, well, if we lose our house, we lose everything. Nothing is as important as children. Nothing is as important as the love of your offspring. I can`t wrap my mind around this.

We`ve got calls lining up. We`re going to take them on the other side. And we`ve got more details on two murder-suicides, two double murder-suicides, both involving a mom killing both of her kids on either side of the country in one week. Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): Well, she sent me an e-mail that -- that she did this -- she did the best thing for our family. And then she sent my -- her cousin a text that she was going to kill the kids and herself.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): 911, where is your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): I`m just about getting there, but it`s kind of concerning me. My ex-wife said that she was going to harm the kids and that I should get over there ASAP.

It`s a house, but to be honest with you, I`m afraid go in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many -- how many kids are in the house?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My two children and my ex-wife.

Well, she sent me and e-mail that -- that she did this -- she did the best thing for our family. And then -- and then she sent my -- her cousin a text that she was going to kill the kids and herself.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a case of the Florida mom who killed both of her teenaged children. She was facing foreclosure. She would have to move out of the former marital home next month. She had just gotten through a nasty divorce.

And our question is, was she trying to get back against her ex- husband? She e-mailed him and said, "Hey, I`m going to do something." And you just heard his voice and the e-mail warning that she sent him was "I`m going to do something."

And let`s listen to another portion of Jennifer Berman`s ex-husband frantically talking to 911. And I`ve got to warn you, this is very disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): Dad, I don`t know. Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): What`s going on, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he`s not moving in here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who`s not moving?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has blood on his hair. My son.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this can`t be real.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go to the "Lion`s Den." "This can`t be real." Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist, you can hear the just lack of comprehension. It`s surreal, to the father.

You know, as I think about this case, it`s so easy to say, "Well, nasty divorce. She was in foreclosure. She had money problems." But there -- it kind of makes you realize there probably was a reason that this man left this woman, because anybody who`s capable of doing something like this, in my opinion, that`s just not from circumstances. That`s from something that is very, very deeply disturbed, deep within her that was brewing for a long, long time.

There she is on the right. The woman who killed those two children, if we can go back to that. She, you know, is a very pretty lady. Doesn`t seem in any way, shape or form looking at her she she`s -- you can`t tell. That`s the whole point. Dr. Janet Taylor, there she is.

TAYLOR: Yes, I mean, unfortunately that`s the point. You can`t tell who`s going to be violent. And certainly, if you`re mentally ill and depressed and delusional and psychotic, she may have thought that she was doing the best thing for the kids by helping them get out of their misery. We don`t know that. Except that she said, "I`m doing the best for my family."

But all of us has a potential, each of us the potential to have a mental illness. And that and guns and despair and being untreated are a horrible, deadly mix.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It sure is. Let`s go to the phone lines. Ron, Iowa, what have you got to say? Ron, Iowa.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. I love your show.


CALLER: This is just so tragic. It`s just so tragic. I -- it`s so hard to comprehend. You know, they -- don`t the FBI call men that do this family destroyers or something? You know, you hear about women doing this, but mothers it`s just so unspeakable to think about mothers doing this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you raise a very good point. Lisa Lockwood, investigator, author of "Undercover Angel," we don`t like to think of women as being violent. And indeed statistically, the vast majority of violent crimes in this country are committed by men not women. But then, it`s even more incomprehensible that these women are violent against their own children.

LOCKWOOD: Yes, and my belief is that she was at the end of her rope. What happened prior to -- why was the ending so tumultuous? I think the father is going to be revealing quite a bit about the demise of the marriage and what happened and what was her condition, her mental state, through all of that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I don`t think we can blame anybody but the woman who pulled the trigger. She made that decision. As I said, we live in a country, well, OK, maybe you have to lose your house but you can rent somewhere, downscale, better than killing your children. Dr. Drew has so much more on this horrific story tonight, 9 p.m. on HLN.

And another extraordinary story is coming up. Isabel Celis, the beautiful little girl who`s been missing now for almost two years. Remember this face? The entire country was obsessed with finding her. Well, nearly 50 cops have swarmed the neighborhood where she disappeared. Could police be on the verge of a huge break in this case?


SERGIO CELIS, FATHER OF ISABEL: Tell us your demands. Tell us what you want. We will do anything for her. We are looking -- we`re looking for you. We love you. We miss you so much!




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can catch something that might have been missed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does anybody know what happened to Isabel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always dream about her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty to 50 officers walk in the neighborhood where Isabel disappeared without a trace.

REBECCA CELIS, ISABEL`S MOTHER: It`s just really hard. Really hard.

S. CELIS: We want our baby home and we want this nightmare over.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dramatic developments tonight in the case of missing child Isabel Celis.

Nearly 50 cops have descended on the Tucson, Arizona, neighborhood where little Isabel vanished nearly two years ago. This beautiful little 6-year-old just vanished, flat-out vanished from her bedroom in the middle of the night. And right now, cops are in the area. Are they just canvassing, or do they know something? Are they looking for something or someone?


R. CELIS: I don`t know if it`s this neighborhood or not, but somebody out there knows something. And that`s the only way they`re going to -- we`re going to get that person coming up front and saying it. Hopefully this time around they will.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, cops are telling us they`re contacting family members. Not the missing child`s father, mother and brothers, but extended family and, quote unquote, "associates." What does that mean?

Remember, Isabel`s dad says he believes one of his relatives knows something. It`s been almost two years. If they think this person knows something, why aren`t they naming names and turning up the heat to get some answers?

Straight out to Cory Marshall, reporter, KGUN in Tucson, Arizona. What is going on with -- This is an extraordinary number of law enforcement and associates of law enforcement descending on this neighborhood. Describe the scene and what you`re learning tonight.

CORY MARSHALL, REPORTER, KGUN (via phone): Good evening. Jane, we`ve been out here all day. It`s very reminiscent of what the scene first looked like if you looked back and see footage of little Issa, as they called her, first went missing nearly two years ago, as you mentioned.

Police going door-to-door, asking neighbors if they lived here two years ago, what they saw, what they heard, asking them to answer questions on a questionnaire.

One thing that we`re hearing over and over again, as I mentioned right off the top, that it`s eerily reminiscent of what this neighborhood looked like two years ago.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Isabel`s parents say the night she disappeared, she went to sleep in her room at 11 at night. Her dad says he fell asleep watching TV on the living room couch where he says room and then he went back to his own bedroom around 2 in the morning.

Then at about 6:30, a neighbor whose bedroom is just 12 feet away from Isabel, says she woke up because her dogs were frantically barking. Something was odd.


ALICIA STARDEVANT, NEIGHBOR: My dog woke me up. She`s very skeptical of people, and when she heard voices she started barking and that woke me up. And that`s when I noticed the male voices, multiple male voices and I noticed that the Celises` dogs were going crazy. They barked a lot, but this was a different type of bark. This was a very, very frantic barking.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, just a half hour after that odd occurrence, at 7 a.m., the mom leaves for her nursing job and says she did not check on Issa. She didn`t check on her daughter.

An hour later Isabel`s dad says he discovers that his little angel is missing.

Now, cops say there was blood found in the bedroom and a window open with the screen pushed aside. Now Lisa Lockwood, investigator, what do you make of that?

LOCKWOOD: I remember commenting on this case two years ago when it was fresh. The neighborhood canvass, everything that they had done initially was everything they`re supposed to do. The resurgence, what`s happening right now, my hunch is that there`s new information, there`s fresh information.

And they`re going to go out there and try to pick up what they may have missed or hope to spark some notice or some interest to get the case going again.

One thing is certain, somebody knew this child. Somebody knew where this child`s bedroom was. somebody had the intention. Somebody is a close family member or somebody who had worked for the family in some capacity. That`s typically the case with abductions like these.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there had been reports that, A, the father owed money to somebody and, B, that there was a relative that either was staying with them at the time or had stayed with them recently.

And again, you don`t know if that`s urban myth or whether those are facts because they haven`t -- aside from their news conferences and a couple of interviews got into those kinds of details.

And there you see the mother and father have stayed together, which is interesting, because a lot of times in a case like this, the couple will split up. But no, they have remained together, and they are a team. Lynn, California, what do you have to say about this story? Lynn, California.

CALLER: Well, it all looks suspicious, including the fact that the father owed money and it was someone close to them. I believe that there`s got to be somebody, as they said, that knows something. It just isn`t -- it just isn`t a simple case of a child gone missing.

I mean, the window was small, wasn`t it, that they got into? And then the dogs were barking and no one...


CALLER: All the dogs were barking but the mother...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this. When the story first broke, people were skeptical, a lot of them, of Isabel`s father, because he sounded like he had chuckled when he called 911 to report his daughter missing. Listen carefully.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): Is mom there also?

S. CELIS (via phone): She had just left to work. I just called her, and I told her to get her butt home. Ha-ha ha.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You heard that little chuckle. But then, a couple of days later he breaks down and is almost going to the other extreme during a news conference.


S. CELIS: Tell us your demands. Tell us what you want. We will do anything for her. We are looking -- we`re looking for you, Issa. We love you. We miss you so much!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Loni Coombs, former prosecutor, the dad explained, however, when he made the 911 call, he really didn`t think his daughter was missing. It`s easy for us to look at this and jump to conclusions. But listen, if they thought he was a suspect for two years, they would be questioning him, not canvassing the neighborhood.

COOMBS: Right. And the police have been very clear in saying that they are not suspecting him anymore, that they did a thorough investigation of him, and they are not looking at him as a suspect.

However, remember, Jane, even he is saying at this point that he believes he knows someone, a family member, who knows something about what actually happened. And he won`t name who that person is. He says the person has an attorney, the person isn`t talking. He wants this person to talk and while he doesn`t say he necessarily is the one who took the child, he believes this person knows what happened.

And we don`t know what theory he`s talking about or what the police might be thinking. I agree that there`s something going on here to instigate this massive influx of 50 officers coming and canvassing this area. I mean, I think it`s wonderful. But police officers don`t just do that on a whim. There`s got to be something that they`re keeping back from the public that they`re working on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our senior producer, Selin Darkalstanian, has been talking to cops. What are you hearing? What do they tell you, Selin?

SELIN DARKALSTANIAN, HLN SENIOR PRODUCER: The thing that they told me was that they brought some fresh detectives onto the case and that the fresh detectives are going to be talking to extended family and associates of the family. Not the mom and dad but extended family. So that was really interesting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So do you get a sense -- I want to go back to Cory Marshall. Because here`s the thing. This person that everybody seems to be dancing around, why won`t they just name this person? Why don`t they just name this person? And he -- the father knows who this person is and has issued a news conference where he says, please come forward and tell us. Why not say who the person is and flush them out of hiding?

MARSHALL: That`s a very good question. All of them have not been asking the same question when Sergio first made that claim a few months back. One of this interesting things we learned while we were out here today, as you mentioned, everyone seems to think there must be some reason that they`re back out in the neighborhood nearly two years later. What they`re saying is that some of the tips pouring in initially slowly trickled down, they`re looking for new information, even if it`s just the smallest information.

I mentioned that police are going door to door asking neighbors to answer a questionnaire. One of the things that they`re asking along with that questionnaire is police tell me that they have a picture of a partial Nike footprint. They are showing this to neighbors. They say that they`re rather unique footprints.

They don`t believe that it`s tied to a suspect but they that believe whoever it belongs to might have heard or seen something and again they are bringing that door to door.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A partial Nike footprint. We`ll be right back with more.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Casey never wanted to have this child and she felt forced by her mother, Cindy, to have it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was the tug-of-war between Cindy and Casey. There is even a report that after the baby was born, that the first person to hold little Caylee was indeed Cindy, not Casey.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly at first I didn`t think she was missing. I thought actually she might have just been taken by either Becky`s brother or her aunt, gone out to breakfast -- something logical, something logical.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: 50 cops descend on the Tucson neighborhood of little Isabel Celis who vanished almost two years ago. Why? Do they have fresh leads? Isabel`s mother told our affiliate KGUN she is very hopeful this new action -- this drastic action will turn up new leads.


BECKY CELIS, MOTHER OF ISABEL: They`re going and looking at it with fresh eyes. And hopefully that means that they`re seeing everything with a different perspective, a different look, which means that they can catch something that might have been missed. That can only bring hope.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Former prosecutor, Loni Coombs, here`s what I want to ask you, in the days after the child disappeared police learned and they revealed that there was apparent blood found in the missing girl`s bedroom and dark red-brown stains in a car outside the family home. But they never got back to the public to say is that Isabel`s blood or not. There`s a lack of explanation.

And I understand holding back for a while but at a certain point we are almost two years into a missing child case, isn`t enough, enough? Spill everything you know.

LONI COOMBS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. You know, I understand that and I understand that the public can be frustrated with that and want to help and want to have information. But you have to protect the integrity of your case. And what police officers are worried about during an investigation is if they let out too much of the evidence, there may be people who come in and take that evidence by giving information that they really don`t know but they`re working off of the information that the police came. In other words, false reports, false corroboration or it might somehow lead someone to believe that they saw something or did something that really didn`t happen.

So by holding back certain pieces of key evidence, not giving that information now -- and this might be Jane, why they`re not naming the person that they think is involved or know something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go out to the phone lines.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sorry to jump in. We`re running out of time. Kat, Connecticut -- what do you have to say?

All right. I want to go to Cory Marshal, you`re the reporter from KGUN out of Tucson, Arizona. I am holding in my hand a supplementary narrative from the Tucson police Department that I felt was extremely significant. And it says that a man flagged down a cop and said that he had seen a young female, about six or seven years of age, the same age as Isabel running on a street in the middle of the night, the very night that she disappeared.

And he -- it was so odd for a little girl to be out on such a late hour. He made a U-Turn to look for her and he said he found a male that had -- he had seen in her neighborhood, you know, in her vicinity and he was still walking northbound but there was no child next -- this has got to be Isabel. Children are not walking around in the middle of the night by themselves the same age as this child on the night she disappears.

MARSHALL: That`s what you would think -- that`s what you would hope. Yet two years later nothing unfortunately ever turned up from that and that`s the reason that, you know, Police officers are out here again today going door-to-door.

As we mentioned that initially a bunch of leads came in, in the days first following Isabel`s disappearance. What is good about this recanvassing that police really do want to get out there right now is that just since yesterday new leads have poured in.

We don`t know if they`re as significant as the one you just mentioned but new leads are coming in and that`s what they`re hoping for.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. All right. So new leads are coming in as a result of the 50 cops descending on the neighborhood. We`re going to stay on top of this story and we`ll update you the second we hear of anything that they have found.

On the other side -- oh my gosh, the Gosselin family rocketing to fame and fortune with the reality smash hit "Jon & Kate plus 8". Then it all came crashing down in the flames of infidelity. Are the Gosselin kids ok? Or are they suffering from a harsh reality. They`re speaking out -- sort of. Not saying much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have these fabulous things and yes, they have trust funds and are taken care of educationally -- great. But developmentally, they have problems with their peers. They have problems with talking to other people. They have problems with wants and needs and manners and morals and what`s right and what`s wrong, of course.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Who says dogs can`t dance? Is he scratching his back or is he busting a move to "Four Minutes", the tune by Madonna and Justin Timberlake? It looks to me like this dog is dancing. South Carolina`s Bald (ph) is Beautiful Dog Rescue getting the word out that this incredible dog needs a home and his little friend in the back, too.

Oh, my god. These are the most amazing dogs. Please, Bald is Beautiful Rescue.




JON GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: I am asking my children not be on the show. I don`t think it`s healthy for them.

K. GOSSELIN: This is what I do to support my kids and give them opportunities in life.

J. GOSSELIN: I don`t talk with Kate.

K. GOSSELIN: Getting divorced was probably one off the best things I`ve ever done.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a jaw-dropping development in the "Jon & Kate Plus 8" saga. Former reality stars Jon & Kate are apparently clawing their way back into the spotlight and dragging their kids with them. Their 13-year-old twins Maddie and Kara just talked to "People" magazine and said, quote, "We`re not messed up", end quote. But this morning on NBC`s "Today", the kids completely clammed up. Watch this and pay close attention to the twin`s body language.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would you want to say about how you and your sister and family are doing?

Maddie? Your words?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s hard. It`s a hard question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about you, Kara?

K. GOSSELIN: So this is their chance to talk. This is the most wordless I`ve heard them all morning.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Kara, one of the twins did not say one single word during the entire interview. Mom, Kate, jumped in like a seasoned Hollywood publicist and began talking. But my gosh, the awkwardness of the entire thing, it was excruciating. What`s going on?

Well, Father, Jon Gosselin may have put it best with his claims that Kate is using the kids as props. But Jon is not innocent either. After the interview, he told the media, quote, I`m going to handle this as a family matter, I don`t want to affect the children anymore."

Jon, if you want to handle it as a private family matter maybe you shouldn`t be calling up the media to talk to them about how you want to handle it as a private family matter. Just a suggestion.

Jon and Kate have been waging a public war since they divorced back in 2009. Listen to this from TLC.


K. GOSSELIN: We have decided that we will separate.

J. GOSSELIN: I tried to contemplate it and think about it. Would it be better for us? It`s not good for our kids, for us to be arguing in front of our kids.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But here they are years later, still battling it out for the press, as their eight kids and the entire world just stare.

Straight out to Flavia Colgan, correspondent for "Extra". You saw this interview on the "Today" show. What was your analysis? Is this just a case of teenagers getting stage fright or is there something wrong with the kids?

FLAVIA COLGAN, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": Well, I think I`m an expert in the sense that I have five siblings. And if there`s one thing I can tell you being 13 is all about being awkward. So it is much to do about nothing in the sense that these are not actresses and they`re used to doing taped television.

This is live television. That was a pretty profound and personal question and I just think that they weren`t quite prepared. So I think to then extrapolate -- this is a single mother in a tough economy trying to provide for her children.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Please -- I was with you up until you said this is a single mother in a tough economy. We all know how much she makes on reality TV shows. You just heard Jon say all the kids are provided for. There are trusts that provide for the kids and for higher education.

COLGAN: You can`t listen to what Jon has to say. He has a vested interest -- listen, this is not my business, ok? There are people dying around the world. There`s major -- like stories that you cover like unemployment. We are worried about a bunch of semi-celebrity people -- let their family do their family business.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok one at a time. One at a time now. You`ve had your say Flavia.

Pick up.

KENDRA G, ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Ok. I do believe it`s a tough economy. That was not a difficult question. The question was, how are you taking it being in the media. They answered this question for the "People" magazine. They were awkward. They forgot the lines their mother fed them to say in the green room. That`s why Kara didn`t say anything else. Maddie got snippy, yes indeed, Maddie got snippy with her mother on live television.

These girls clearly have an issue but that is normal because all their family business is live on television. They should be awkward.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My question -- my question --

G: Please give it a rest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time, ladies, seriously.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my question. Do you think that this mother is using her children as commodities in order to try to get a reality show again?

COLGAN: Just want to get back on TV.

NOESI: Absolutely. This was a plea and it failed. It bombed on live television. She might as well have been like, like we practiced at home, kids, come on. It was so inappropriate we cringed watching that. It was so awkward and she bombed. Oh, it was a disaster. She wants her own reality show. She wants to get back in. Obviously the kids are not ok. Sorry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, I don`t want to blame the kids. I think these kids are actually given the odd, you know, unusual circumstances of their life growing up on television, I think, you know, they seem like great kids. And I never want to blame the kids.

Like they say, the kids are all right. It`s the mom that we`re talking about, Amy Palmer, entertainment reporter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Amy take it away.

PALMER: You know, Jane, how many years have you and I been discussing the Gosselins? It has been story after story. This family has made millions of dollars from reality TV. Hello, Kate Gosselin wants another show. This was an audition and it failed miserably. I agree with Rosie 100 percent.

COLGAN: Why did it fail? We`re talking about them. They won. We`re talking about them. It did not fail.

PALMER: You`re right.

G: It failed because the kids are not good.

PALMER: The kids are fine.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In a weird way maybe this was good for a future reality show because you need conflict with a reality show and they gave it to us.

More on the other side. We`re just getting started.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Pet of the Day. Send your pet pics to Lulu -- you are stunning. It`s like a cover of "Vogue". Chewie -- you know how to get into those hard to handle spots. BugZ -- you look just like a kitty cat my family just adopted. And Pippa, you are royalty, aren`t you? Pippa.



K. GOSSELIN: I`ve done enough years of TV that I feel like it is a normal, comfortable natural place for me to be. I would love to be in a movie at some point. I would love to be the voice of a cartoon character in a movie for my kids. I think that would be fun.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So many ambitions. "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" became "Kate Plus Eight" after the couple split. Jon was accused of having affairs. But today on NBC`s "Today" Kate trash-talked her ex in front of their daughters. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people think that filming our show has damaged us, but it is only really helped.

K. GOSSELIN: They are more aware of what is out there, the inaccuracies, things said by the general public, their father, whoever in general.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Janet Taylor, we need a psychiatrist. She trashed the dad in front of the girl and when the girl started talking, mom jumped in. It is fascinating. What do you make of their relationship?

DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHIATRIST: Well I think here is the thing. The kids are fine. We need to stop saying they`re not normal. But the fact is this should be a warning to Kate to turn the cameras off. Be a mother to them. Let them grow and stop scripting them. If anything, today shows they do not want to be reality stars. Let them be normal 13-year-olds.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, actually thought, the two kids were asked, would you like to be on reality TV again and they said yes -- both of them. That was the one thing, Amy Palmer, that they both just immediately jumped and responded. One nodded and one said yes. So the kids -- you know, it is very seductive being on TV in a reality show growing up with the cameras. A lot of attention -- kids love attention.

PALMER: Of course, they love that and it they`re 13 and it`s cool and they can Instagram and being behind the scenes and on camera and all that stuff. But don`t you think that their mother told them to say this. "Hey girls, this is our shot, we have to make this happen. You have to be enthusiastic. You have to show the camera that you love them. You have to show the industry that we`re back. We need the money."

Jane, you and I have talked about this for years. Millions of dollars have been brought into the Gosselin family and Kate needs the money. You know, someone on the panel said that she is a single mother trying to support her kids. It is the truth. She is. So if you think --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, she has a lot of kids but I think that she also made a lot of money. But I think beyond that, and I`ll give Loni Coombs, former prosecutor, ten seconds. Once you`ve been on a reality show, you want to keep that and you want to go back to it any way, shape or form you can.

COOMBS: Absolutely, it`s very seductive. But you know Jane, in my ten seconds, I`ll tell you, I see something totally different going on here. We watched her verbally abuse her husband all of those years and now I saw verbal abuse there to the daughters. And I don`t think it is healthy for anyone for her to be talking to her children and abusing them or berating them that way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have two words -- family therapy.

Stay right there.