Return to Transcripts main page


Woman Confesses to Serial Killings; Will Florida Man Face Murder Retrial?

Aired February 17, 2014 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I will just continue on. Top of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We begin with this murder defendant opening up about a life of crime so evil, many doubt her confession. Reportedly once a victim herself, this 19-year-old woman said she has victimized many. In this jailhouse interview, Miranda Barbour tells the "Daily Item" newspaper that she has murdered too many times to keep track.

Let me quote her specifically. She says, "When I hit 22, I stopped counting." Then she explains to this Pennsylvania paper why she embraced a life following the devil. She was all of 13 at the time.

National correspondent Susan Candiotti has been following the case for us.

Here she is. She is charged with killing a man she and her husband allegedly found and lured through Craigslist and reportedly it was the answer that this victim, this man gave her, that is what pushed her to stab him 20 times. Yes?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what she is now telling the reporter.

In essence, Miranda Barbour told the newspaper after luring this man to her car, they were supposed to get intimate. She told him that she was a minor and she claims that was the wrong answer because he said, it's OK. She stand him 20 times and said her husband who was hiding in the back seat then moved forward and strangled him. Then she went on to claim -- and she didn't seem rehearsed, according to the newspaper reporter.

She said she killed more than 22 people in four states, Alaska, California, Texas, and North Carolina. The newspaper quoted her as saying: "I feel it is time to get all of this out. I don't care if people believe me. I just want to get it out." She also claims that when she was 13 years old, she was a member of the satanic cult and that the leader of that cult forced her to shoot a man that he was murdering and forced her to participate in that murder and that's what she said helped lead her to the life she led over the years.

She is only 19. We talked to the police chief about, look, does he believe her? Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE MAZZEO, SUNBURY, PENNSYLVANIA, POLICE CHIEF: I don't want to discount her credibility at this point. We are taking her claims seriously. And we are liaisoning with different state and federal authorities to determine whether or not there is validity to her statements.


CANDIOTTI: And the reporters says that in his interview with her, Miranda Barbour showed no remorse -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Susan Candiotti, thank you.

I want to stay on this because we know a source tells CNN that Barbour had encountered with at least 30 men, but is she a serial killer?

Let me bring in Jack Levin. He is a criminologist at Northeastern University.

You have been writing books in this field, sir, for more than three decades. Welcome. Nice to have you on.


BALDWIN: We know that Miranda Barbour, she is charged with one murder and now she is suddenly opening up and talking. She said this was time to get it all out. She is 19 years young. She's obviously making national news, sir. But you are not buying her story. Tell me why.

Well, anything is possible, Brooke. Of course, it's conceivable that she is a serial killer, but I will tell you why I doubt it.

First of all, this would be a very rare case. Now it's true that about 25 percent of all serial killers will kill in a team with a partner. There have been husbands and wives who have killed serially.

But when women kill, and there not many who become serial killers, they tend to use poison, they tend to suffocate patients in a hospital with a pillow. They don't usually stab their victims. They are not 19 years old. Most serial killers are experienced. They get away with murder.

Otherwise, they would be caught right away. And they are in their 30s and 40s. I think the biggest reason why I'm skeptical is the disorganized way that they killed this particular victim, leaving his body in an alley where it was quickly discovered.

If you are a prolific serial killer, you will go out of your way to dump the body in a desolate area off a highway so that people don't find the evidence.


BALDWIN: To cover your tracks, yes. Here is how he said she did it. Let me just quote this local paper. "I would lure these people in. I studied them. I learned them. I even became their friend. I did this to people who did bad things and didn't deserve to be here anymore."

Does that sound like -- if it happened -- I know you write about the whole notion of playing God, feeling powerful. That plays into that, correct?

LEVIN: False confessors lock a lot like serial killers, because they share the same motivation. They want to feel powerful and in charge and like big shots. And so they want us to believe that they have killed lots of people. If they killed one, it will be a big local story. If they kill 22, then they are on CNN. And it's national news.


BALDWIN: Why would she want that, do you think?

LEVIN: Because these killers and false confessors have a profound sense of powerlessness. They want to feel important. They want to feel special and they achieve it through a sense of infamy by becoming celebrities.

BALDWIN: She said she was molested at age 4. Her mother corroborated that. And she says she joined a satanic cult and witnessed a murder and was I think part of a murder at age 13. Might that, sir, have played a part in her story, be it real or not?

LEVIN: It's possible.

I'm hoping that the police investigators will indeed take this very seriously. But let me tell you that there millions of people who have suffered as children, millions of them. And most of them never hurt anyone. They grow up to be healthy, decent, civil human beings. And you can't just take a childhood experience and say that's the reason that she is a serial killer.

BALDWIN: You are absolutely right. You are absolutely right. Jack Levin, criminologist at Northeastern University, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate your expertise.

LEVIN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And now to the Olympics, to the 22nd Winter Games in Sochi. We will give you the medal counts, but hang on, spoiler alert here. Spoiler alert. I feel like I need to wave my arms because I get your tweets and I apologize if we get the news out too quickly.

But let me tell you this now. The U.S. won gold. However, right now, we will talk about an Olympian breaking down, not actually during his performance. In fact, skier Bode Miller won a bronze in the men's super-G.

The breakdown, it happened afterwards as this NBC sports reporter, former Olympic actually, talked to Miller about the medal and his younger brother who died just last year.


CHRISTIN COOPER, NBC SPORTS: I know you wanted to be here with Chilly really experiencing these Games. How much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him and was it for him?

BODE MILLER, U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE: I mean, I don't know if it's really for him, but I wanted to come here and, I don't know, make myself proud, but...

COOPER: When you are looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it just looks like you are talking to somebody. What's going on there?


BALDWIN: Oh, I have seen that now a couple of times and it's like you see the tear come down his cheek and then she pushes on with looking up in the sky and makes you want to cover your eyes. Touch to watch.

LARA BALDESARRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. It's again and again and again that she seems to go at him.

And he did -- Bode Miller did open up the door to this line of questioning being asked, because he did mention his brother in one of his first answers that he gave her, but it was just for there. Why not stop? Why would you keep going after someone at this time when he has won a bronze medal? He has now become the oldest medalist in Olympic alpine history and you just want to see the tears so badly?

He had to stop. You saw him. He held his head down and it just -- it was too much for him. He ended up having to walk away. It's really incredible too. Bode Miller is the guy who is not the most emotional person out there. This guy that was always, he was about feeling his run always, his ski runs and his races, but he had never really showed this kind of emotion.

To see this from him and after the year he had with his brother passing away and with a year off where he wasn't competing because he was injured and he was in court battling for custody over his child, there was a lot going on and this was a time to focus on him winning a medal.

BALDWIN: People have pounced on him, but he has also come to the defense of this reporter whose voice you hear. She was an Olympian, correct, may have had a friendship. She was familiar with the story obviously with the brother. What has he said in her defense?


BALDESARRA: He said that -- he tweeted about it afterwards and he said -- the tweet read -- and I don't want to mis-tweet this. He said: "My emotions were very raw. She asked me the question that every interviewer would have. Pushing is part of it. She wasn't trying to cause pain." Sure, the emotions were raw and, yes, maybe every interviewer of would have asked about the emotional year that he's had, but I know that I wouldn't have pushed like that.

BALDWIN: I understand. I have been in situations where people have broken down taking to me. I understand how you can accidentally or not elicit emotion from someone. But I feel like there is this line and you just have that almost Spidey sense when not to cross it.

BALDESARRA: Certainly. There certainly is. You even see her extend her arm out and she is touching him afterwards and she's comforting him, and at that point I am sure that she looks back on it and she is probably not 100 percent happy.

BALDWIN: Lara Baldesarra, thank you very much. Appreciate it, CNN Sports for us today.

Coming up, you heard this story? Killed by a snakebite. This pastor in Kentucky, this small Kentucky town, known for giving sermons while handling these deadly snakes is killed with a venomous bite. He refused and his family refused medical treatment. We will tell you his whole story here coming up.

Also, a plane is hijacked by the co-pilot and he hoped to get political asylum. That may not work out for him. That story is coming up and also the trial of Michael Dunn. He was convicted on three counts of attempted murder. The jurors couldn't quite decide on that first-degree murder charge. He was not convicted there in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Nancy Grace joins me next. Is there a chance for a retrial? We will discuss. Stay with me.


BALDWIN: It is one day after what would have been Jordan Davis' 19th birthday. But instead of a party, his mother and father are now reacting to the verdict returned by a jury in the trial of the man who killed him.

Saturday night, Michael Dunn was found guilty on four of five counts, but the jury deadlocked on the most significant charge, that being murder in the first degree in the death of Jordan Davis. The teenager was shot and killed in a gas station parking lot over this whole dispute over loud music. This was November of 2012.

And, as you can imagine, look at this, emotions, they were running high Saturday night into Sunday as many in the hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, and beyond were furious with the outcome. Michael Dunn's family is speaking out as well. His daughter choking back tears, talking to ABC's "Good Morning America."


REBECCA DUNN, DAUGHTER OF MICHAEL DUNN: I love him so much. He's my best friend. Like, I can't imagine living life without him. He's going to protect himself if he sees no other way than other to bring out his gun, that's what he's going to do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let me bring in HLN's Nancy Grace.

Nancy, just right out of the gate, your reaction to what happened Saturday night?

NANCY GRACE, HOST, "NANCY GRACE": I have to tell you just playing what you just played, that makes me hurt for her, because we all look up to our fathers or most of us do and we believe what they say and we are always on their side, but that is just not what happened.

My reaction. My reaction is, A., I am relieved he is going to jail. He is either looking at 60 or 90 years behind bars depending on what the judge does. But, other than that, I'm stumped. I don't understand the jury's thinking. If they thought it was self-defense, it would have been an outright not guilty. So, to me, it's more like they found him guilty for missing the youths in the car, not for trying to kill and killing Jordan Davis.

BALDWIN: How does this work? I'm just quite honestly confused, because if you have these jurors and they are going back and forth and back and forth and obviously they are not all agreeing on murder, but they agree on the attempted murder charges, how then are they deadlocked in murder in the first degree? How does that happen?

GRACE: I got to tell you I was up all night just reliving it. When I did doze off, I kept hearing them announcing the verdict again.

I couldn't believe it. We had a fair warning because they told us on Friday night we are stumped on one charge and we have got a verdict on the others. Well, there was only charge that was different and that was the murder charge. We knew what the problem was, but when it came, when it finally came to fruition, it didn't make you feel any better that we had warning.

The only thing I can think of is this. I know this jury really worked hard. All I can imagine is this. He claimed he saw a gun with Jordan Davis. We all know he didn't have a gun. But that's his claim. He never claimed he saw the other three boys with the gun. So, did they think, hey, even if he was wrong, he was acting in imagined self- defense against Jordan Davis, but not the other three, so they convicted on shooting at the other three, and not Jordan Davis? Do you follow where I'm going with that?

It is extremely convoluted. But that's the only way I can make sense of it. I will tell you this much. I do not appreciate people saying there shouldn't be a retrial. You're darn right there should be a retrial.


BALDWIN: You say yes, there should? Because Angela Corey said they want it and she wants it, murder one again.

GRACE: If I hear more person say it's going to cost too much money, B.S. I'm calling foul. When I was prosecuting, here's the deal. That courtroom -- I'm in a trial every two weeks with a new felony. That courtroom is going to be running. The lights are on, we have paid for the sheriffs and the bailiffs and the court reporter with our tax money.

They will be trying somebody. We have got a mistrial on that count. He needs to go to trial. Will it add any years to his term? Maybe not. But I don't want his parents going to their grave saying I never had a trial on my son's murder.

BALDWIN: But then you have, as we saw, a very teary Michael Dunn's daughter and she is losing her father.

GRACE: No, she is not.


BALDWIN: Potentially for 60 years.


GRACE: She can go visit.

BALDWIN: The question has been, is that justice? Let me play some sound, because I would love to hear your reaction.


GRACE: Is it justice? I can't even wait on the sound. Jordan Davis...


GRACE: ... dead.

BALDWIN: Marc Lamont Hill.

Roll it, Roger.



As a practical matter, he has gotten a life sentence and whether we retry or not on that first charge or not, the outcome will be the same. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. There is some modicum of justice there, given what happened to Jordan Davis.

But as a symbolic matter, as a representational matter, and maybe long-term even again as a practical matter, it shows that we were unable to convict a man of killing an unarmed black child. That to me is very disturbing and is very problematic.


BALDWIN: I know you have thoughts and you were a prosecutor for years and years. Just react to that for me.

GRACE: I think he's right and he's wrong.

The jury did not convict on killing Jordan Davis. They did convict on shooting at the other three. You would have to be blind not to see they convicted on those three charges. I don't understand what the problem was with Jordan Davis' case.

But I can tell you this. People that say a trial is too expensive, they want judicial economy, that is all rhetoric. I am a crime victim. My fiance was murdered. And I can guarantee you this. If that case had not gone to trial, regardless of the outcome, guilty, not guilty, I don't care, it that case had not gone to trial and gotten a verdict, I couldn't live with myself.

I know that is how Jordan Davis' family feels. They are torn up and it's still not over for them. I don't think anybody gets it. It will never be over for them. They will live with this the rest of their lives.

BALDWIN: Yes. This whole notion of closure, I don't really believe in it, but maybe they can find a sense of peace.

Nancy Grace...

GRACE: That are sound got me very upset.

BALDWIN: Nancy Grace, we watch you each and every night here on HLN. Nancy, thank you, as always.

Coming up, a plane on its way to Rome is hijacked by its own co-pilot, who then flew the plane to another country. Where he took the plane and why is next.


BALDWIN: A co-pilot has hijacked his own flight, taking over the airliner on this desperate mission for asylum. The plane left Ethiopia last night bound for Rome, but when the pilot left the cockpit just to go to the bathroom, that co-pilot seized his chance and he locked that cockpit door and rerouted the plane to Geneva.

The airliner landed safely and the co-pilot escaped through the cockpit window using a rope before surrendering to police.

Senator John McCain is lighting into the president over the situation in Syria. The way McCain puts it, America is sitting on the sidelines, ignoring realistic ways to end the savage killing and put out President Bashar al-Assad.

Here he is, Senator John McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If there is still viable opposition, we can help and assist. We can do that. And to do nothing, of course, we will see a further deterioration and a regionalization of the conflict.


BALDWIN: Now, if that conflict explodes beyond Syria's borders, then the U.S., says McCain, will have to go in militarily. And that is why America needs to do something now.

Did you know there is a terror group in Syria so brazen, they were expelled from al Qaeda? ISIS, this is the group's name. And you're looking at some of their fighters here. Their speciality, spreading fear through wanton killing and reporting it on videos which CNN has obtained. This is exclusive CNN reporting you are about to see. It is so frightening to watch. Just get the kids out of the room right this very second.

But watch this. This is our senior correspondent Ben Wedeman.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The voice off camera asks, "How old are you?"

"I was born in 1980."

"Are you married?"

"Yes," he responds, "I have two children."

"Do you want to see them again?"

"God knows I do. I have nothing to hide."

A man who calls himself Bassem (ph) and a doctor pauses, collecting his thoughts.

"So talk, answer quickly. Are you cooking up lies," shouts the other?

This video is one of eight interrogations obtained by CNN from Syrian opposition activists. The interrogators speak with distinct Iraqi accents and ask questions about goings-on in the town of Al-Bab northeast of Aleppo. From the questions, it is clear the interrogators are not with the regime of President Bashar al Assad but rather with ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria.

It's not clear what happened to these men. But another chilling video we will show you later may be a clue.

Early last year ISIS emerged as a major power in opposition controlled areas of northern Syria. Since then, the ultra extremist group has exposed strict extremist law, held public floggings and executions and most recently has battled other execution groups in fighting that has left well over 2,000 dead. Even al Qaeda's leader has demanded ISIS leave Syria.

Missing in the interrogation is any mention whatsoever of the Assad regime. The only concern is the challenge posed by other opposition factions and the local populace to ISIS.

"Who is erasing the slogans and symbols of ISIS on the walls," demands the interrogator?

"I swear, I don't know, as God is my witness," responds this man, who identifies himself as Hamed (ph).

Another interrogation: "What were they saying about the Islamic State", he's asked."Say the truth, save yourself."

"I will speak the truth even if I lose my head", responds this man who says he is called Mustafa.

All of these clips were found in the residence of this man known by his nom de guerre Abu Ahmed el-Iraqi or "The Iraqi". Activists describe him as an ISIS amir -- a commander and an intelligence officer. They found the abandoned video in January after he fled fighting between ISIS and other factions.

Some of the clips and still shots show a young woman in the company of Abu Ahmed trying her hand at shooting an AK-47 assault rifle.

"Steady," he tells her, "Steady".

ISIS is imposing the strictest possible dress code on women in the areas it controls. Given that her face is uncovered, clearly this was for Abu Ahmed and this unidentified woman, a private moment.

So what happened to the interrogated man? It is not clear from the videos. But one of the last recordings documents in detail ruthless ISIS style justice, execution by flashlight."Ready," asks the voice off camera. 14 men, some apparently quite young are shot -- one after the other.

The scenes are too graphic for us to show. Some fall into the mass grave, already dug, the new boss in this part of Syria not unlike the old boss.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, (inaudible), Turkey.


BALDWIN: Ben Wedeman with the exclusive reporting for us out of Syria.

Coming up, a Southern preacher is dead after a snake bite. He was handling this venomous snake during his weekly service, as he does.

It's a practice that is actually more common than you think, the deadly art of religious snake-handling, and why this pastor refused medical treatment, next.