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Missing Girl`s Clothes Found at Creek; Was Missing Jet`s Disappearance Planned?

Aired March 19, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, breaking news. In a news conference that ended moments ago, police admit they are stumped by a chilling mystery. What happened to this beautiful 15-year-old girl, who seemingly vanished without a trace?

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not discounting anything. You know, if I said -- we do not know where Danielle`s at. Or anything like that. And that`s -- our hope is to find Danielle. And we`re exploring all possibilities.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Popular high school freshman, Danielle Locklear went missing just a week ago. Two days later, her mom made an eerie and frightening discovery. She found some of Danielle`s clothes on the banks of a creek near her North Carolina home. Did something horrible happen to her at that creek? And if so, who did it?


ROWNA FOWLER, MISSING GIRL`S MOTHER: If you please know where my daughter is, any information, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her 15-year-old Danielle Locklear has been missing for a week now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m really scared. I want her to be found. But I`m also preparing myself if she`s not.

FOWLER: I want my baby to come hope.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. What a horror for this parent. Danielle lives with her grandparents, however, outside Fayetteville, North Carolina. The grandfather said about 9:45 p.m. last Tuesday, she told them she was walking over to a friend`s house up the street. She never made it there. The grandpa did not report her missing until the following afternoon, more than 14 hours after she was last seen. Why did it take him so long to call police?

And what about the startling discovery of Danielle`s clothes found at the local creek where lots of teenagers go to hang out. Do the clothes hold the clue to what happened to her?

Danielle posted this video of herself on her Facebook page. Listen to the missing teen`s own voice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m treating myself with cake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, we get to eat a cake without taking it down to the church. Oh, my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s my birthday, too.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is that young woman tonight? Danielle`s mom says she is no runaway. Cops call her a good girl. She was a good student. She has plans to go to the beach with her mom for spring break.


FOWLER: Danielle, come home, baby. I love you. Just come home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is Danielle? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877- 586-7297.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den and our Selin Darkalstanian, who`s working the phones tonight. Selin, what are your sources telling you?

SELIN DARKALSTANIAN, HLN PRODUCER (via phone): Jane, the sources are telling us there are no suspects at this point. We do know she had a boyfriend. Her boyfriend is a high-school student. We`ve seen her, you know, posting photos on social media with her and her boyfriend. But -- but police are telling me that he is cooperating with them. And that he is not a suspect at this point.

They also tell me that she was a good kid, well-liked, good student. And that this is very out of character for her.

Now we don`t know what -- the police say they don`t know what she was wearing when she went missing, but that they do know that she did have her cell phone on her, which means, Jane, as you know, we cover all these stories all the time, they can trace her with the cell-phone pings. So the detectives are definitely looking at that today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s take a look at the timeline right now. As you mentioned, she had her cell phone with her. She was last seen at her grandparents` house last Tuesday night, March 11, at around 9:45 p.m. Her grandfather said she told him she was going to visit a friend. She never made it there.

It was almost a full day until Danielle`s grandfather called police to report her missing. Two days after Danielle vanished, March 13, Danielle`s mother said some of her daughter`s clothes were found in a creek. Allegedly the same creek where kids from the high school go to hang out. Could there be something suspicious?

And I`ll throw this to Marc Klaas, founder of Klaas Kids Foundation. Could there be something suspicious waiting more than 14 hours to tell cops your granddaughter`s missing?

MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, in the best-case scenario, it`s a grievous error. He needs to notify law enforcement as soon as he realizes she is missing, which would have been after he contacted the friend and found out that she wasn`t with the friend.

I`m very concerned, Jane, about the fact that they found her clothes near this creek. And this is a hard running creek. This looks like rivers that I`ve seen. And this wouldn`t be the first time a child has fallen into a river, or a hard running creek, and been washed down shore.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but there`s so many aspects to this. And I want to go out to my panel. But first, let me give you another very important fact.

Danielle`s mother, as you mentioned, found her clothes along the creek where the kids hang out. The creek is less than a mile from her grandfather`s house, where she`s been living. But police say they have information that Danielle may have been in an RV campground about five miles from where she lived. Now they won`t tell us when she was there, or who told them that she was seen there. In fact, local police aren`t giving us much information at all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not know at this particular time what has happened to Danielle, or where she is.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: If she was at an RV camp at some point last week, she probably didn`t walk there. It`s five miles from her home. So Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, you`ve covered so many of these cases. She could have gotten a ride from somebody. My question is, was that ride from a friend or a stranger? Should they take that whole campground apart to see if she`s there?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, I mean, you know, the problem with that bit of evidence, Jane, is we can`t connect the timeline, dots between when she was at the RV campground and when she disappeared and when she was at the river`s edge, if ever.

I mean, we don`t know whether she was at the water`s edge ever or just her clothes were found there. We don`t know whether the clothes were found in a condition that adds suspicion. You know, were there any biological materials, DNA, blood? Were they removed? Are they torn in any way? There`s so much that we need to know to be able to connect those dots.

But make no mistake: if she was seen anywhere in the days around the day she disappeared, you can bet the cops are talking to everyone who saw her. As well they should be. And they`re really pushing this grandfather, because the amount of time spent between when he knew she was missing and when he reported her missing, that is creepy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say something in the grandfather`s defense.

First of all, you say you`re going to go visit a friend. Maybe he just took her word for it and figured that she went to visit her friend and had no idea that she was missing until the next day. This was a week day. She disappeared Tuesday night. So maybe the timeline is that sometime on Wednesday, she didn`t show up at school, and that`s when the grandfather realizes maybe she didn`t come home from school. That would make a lot of sense.

So Elizabeth Espinoza, CNN Espanol anchor, you`ve also covered so many of these kinds of cases. They always have to start close up. From those who last saw her. Should they, for example, ask the grandfather, and both grandparents -- the grandfather and the grandmother -- "Take polygraphs. We`ll get you out of the way and then we can look further"?

ELIZABETH ESPINOZA, CNN ESPANOL: Well, they probably will do that. You`re absolutely right, Jane.

And thank you, as well, for covering these stories. Because I think part of the message here tonight should be for girls to be empowered and know that, if you`re in a situation -- let`s assume she was abducted, kidnapped by someone. There`s also that shame, like you can`t go back, because I raped you. I did something bad to you. And so there`s a threat of, we`re going to kill your family if you run away or do something. You know what? You`ve got to do whatever you can to get out of that situation.

Again, hopefully that`s not the case. Maybe it was just a bad time; she was upset at her grandpa.

But also, you know, how old is this grandpa? I mean, like you said, Jane -- I totally agree -- I think he probably thought she went to her friend`s. And you know?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say that it`s an odd family setup.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s not to say anything nefarious. It`s simply an unusual setup. But there are so many families that are blended into different things today, that there is no stereotypical classic, all- American typical family unit anymore, to a certain degree.

So cops say they are looking into all possibilities. You know, again, as I mentioned, the investigators typically start close to home. Let`s listen to Danielle`s Facebook video once again and study it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sunday, I`m treating (ph) myself to a cake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Talking about wow, we get to eat a cake without taking it down to the church. Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s my birthday, too.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: So there you see. Happy well-adjusted young lady. The girl is living with her grandparents in Hope Mills, North Carolina. But her mother lives in another state. She lives across the border in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, about a two-hour drive away. Cops say her father lives in a third state, down in Florida.

So that puts Danielle`s family essentially floating between three different states, three different locations. That could be odd. You`ve got to wonder, could there be a family dispute? They`re obviously going to have to check in and make sure that Dad, if he`s in Florida, was not visiting North Carolina on this particular date.

Let`s go to the phone lines. Suzie, Pennsylvania, what do you have to say? Suzie?

CALLER: Hello?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi. Suzie, what do you have to say about this case?

CALLER: I wanted to say I don`t believe any of the family. I think it was all set up. And the way the mother found closing (ph), the way she was crying on camera, I didn`t see any tears. And why doesn`t she live with the mother in the first place?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there`s a story to that. And I really feel like these people who are suffering, I don`t know. I can`t tell whether I`m looking at tears or not. She -- you know, people grieve differently.

Fred Tecce, former prosecutor, the story is that the mom has a job in Myrtle Beach. And that she is planning on moving to the area where her parents, the child -- the missing child`s grandparents live in North Carolina. And so the child went first, perhaps to get settled in school. She already has a boyfriend in a local high school.

And so the mom is a hard-working woman trying to do, you know, get it together, to make that move across state lines. That`s the story. That`s why.

FRED TECCE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Right. And look, I`m not going to run this family down, because of their living arrangements. I`m sure they`re completely legitimate, and I`m sure there`s a good explanation for them. And as you say today, families look different.

I am going to run them down for this. Because in addition to being a former prosecutor, I`m the father of four boys, Jane. And my sons -- 18, 16, 14 and 12 -- don`t go anywhere without having to text back in and tell me when they`re there. So how can this grandfather let this young woman just kind of go off the reservation and disappear for two days?

And then the fact that the mother came from Myrtle Beach all the way up here to find the clothes is very suspicious to me. I mean, I may be a little bit overly suspicious as a prosecutor, but why didn`t she tell the police to go look there? Why did she go there herself?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And why didn`t the police just look there on their own immediately? And maybe they did.

We`re just getting started. We want your help to find this beautiful 15-year-old girl.

Later, no sign of Flight 370, not a trace. And new information coming in, that to a lot of eyes, really increases the possibility that this was hijacking. We don`t know that for sure. But hear the new evidence and decide for yourself. And give us your theories. Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Theories about what caused Flight 370 to vanish abound.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The aircraft`s movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could hijacking, a renegade pilot or terrorism explain what Malaysian authorities say was a deliberate decision to turn the plane off course?



FOWLER: What a mother goes through -- I feel it in my heart. If you please know where my daughter is, any information, please, tell her to come home. Come home, baby, I love you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is freshman high-schooler Danielle Locklear? We are going to go to Chuck Williams, psychologist. You know, we had a caller who heard that mom, and said, "I don`t buy her tears." What`s your analysis?

CHUCK WILLIAMS, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think that that caller, Jane, has been pretty savvy. We`ve been down this road before, unfortunately, where the parents cry wolf, so to speak, and it turned out they had everything to do with the disappearance of the child. So I get that.

But like you said, very appropriately, we all grieve differently. Some people cry a lot; some people don`t cry at all. You know, there`s so many scenarios here.

The fact that she was in a blended sort of family situation there, nontraditional family, we don`t know if there are child welfare issues. Like you said, if the father visited the state. I think the police are being somewhat cagey. It seems like they know more than they`re letting on. Let`s just hope that this kid is found and that she`s safe and alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s look at her. She seems so happy-go-lucky. She`s popular; she`s good in school.

Marc Klaas, founder of Klaas Kids Foundation, people say well, "I find the mother suspicious." Supposedly, she`s in Florida [SIC] at the time this girl goes missing. And we`re talking about a two-hour drive, OK, across state lines in Myrtle Beach -- I`m sorry, I didn`t mean Florida, Myrtle Beach. So if she`s in Myrtle Beach, she`s not -- she`s not in the area where she could have anything to do with her daughter`s disappearance.

KLAAS: No, she`s not. First, I`d like to address something. If she was taken by a predator, if she was kidnapped, her first job is not to escape. Her first job and primary goal is to survive and bide her time, and then find an opportunity to escape.

But I you made -- I think there have been some very good points made. First of all, there are millions of families throughout the United States who are grandparents who are raising the children. That in and of itself should not be a red flag.

But one certainly needs to find out the whereabouts of the father during the disappearance of this child, to see if this might be some kind of a custody situation, because that`s always a possibility. But then again, finding -- her finding the clothing at the creek, I think probably is kind of a red flag. That`s a real anomaly. And when things like that happen, what it does...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But red flag that points to who?

KLAAS: Well, it would point somewhere to the mother. It would point somewhere to the family. But it also could be misdirection. Couldn`t it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It could also be at school.

KLAAS: Family members...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It could also be -- oh, OK. I was going to say, because the kids hang out there when they`re skipping class. It could also be somebody at the school. But what you`re saying is, it could have been purposely -- the clothing could have been purposely dropped there to misdirect investigators, to look at, oh, this is where the kids hang out.

KLAAS: Oftentimes in these kinds of cases where family members are the ones, or somebody inserts themselves in the search and they are the ones that come up with evidence, that evidence is put there for the purpose of misdirection. That`s what I`m saying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Wendy Murphy, by the way, I just want to say, we`ve been reaching out, trying to reach this mom. We invite her on anytime. And I want to stress that authorities have no suspects. We`re talking hypothetically, all in the effort to do what this mother wants, trying to find her child.

As you listen to all of this -- now we talked about, she had a cell phone when she left. They haven`t found it, apparently, because they didn`t mention anything about that. Maybe they did, and they`re still holding that close to their vest. But what I find most astounding is how little police know at this point. They held a news conference that essentially said nothing.

MURPHY: Well, they may know a lot and are not telling us. Look, here`s why I`m suspicious of the mother, aside from Marc`s theory, which makes sense, although we don`t know. In part because we don`t know the condition of the clothes. If they were fine, and you know, not torn, and no blood. Then it`s really weird. And it makes sense that they were placed there as a distraction.

But this is a mom who purports to care about her child so much she drove, and she was hunting for stuff and she finds the clothes. Why isn`t she on your show? Why isn`t she on your show?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve been trying to reach her. We`ve been trying to reach her.

MURPHY: I`m saying, she should...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you something, I want to give the final word to Steve Greenberg, the most patient criminal defense attorney in America. She`s invited on anytime. Steve?

STEVE GREENBERG, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I don`t know why she would want to go on. I don`t know how that would help.

Look, I don`t want to be the pessimist, but kids have cell phones. If they had cell phone pings that they had any solid leads, they`d be on them. It sounds like she`s disappeared, and it sounds like foul play to me. It doesn`t sound like the family; it sounds like a stranger.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s -- stranger abduction is a very real possibility here. I think they need to go through that RV park. I think they need to go and ask every person who lives in that neighborhood. Because it`s often a neighbor, a weirdo neighbor. We`ve seen that in so many cases. The John Couey case, for example. Get in, into all those homes, and see whether she`s being kept in some closet somewhere.

We`re going to stay on top of this, and we really want to find Danielle Locklear safe and sound.

Now, we`ve got so much to tell you about. The plane mystery. We`ve got new conspiracy theories.

Also, is "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," Kris Jenner in the middle of a sex tape scandal? She says a man is threatening her, allegedly, purportedly, to expose all if she doesn`t pay up.

But next, missing Flight 370. Does somebody have control of the plane? Or will debris from the jet finally be found? And if it isn`t, well, we`ll have the latest conspiracy theories for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ocean is huge. And I simply don`t think that they`ve found it yet. I don`t know that all the ocean has been looked at yet. I kind of doubt it. My guess is, and it`s strictly a guess, that they will find pieces of this airplane somewhere soon.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many questions surround Flight 370.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI is assisting in the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoever has done this, they`ve been successful. I mean, they have fooled all the experts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is never supposed to happen. There`s just no explanation for this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Frustrations are boiling over.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to the plane, and why it happened.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, startling new clues in the mystery of what happened to Flight 370. It has been 12 days now, and we are in a criminal investigation. To some eyes, it`s appearing less and less likely that this plane crashed due to a mechanical failure and more likely that somebody intentionally took control of the Boeing 777. Although we don`t know for sure.

What we do know for sure is that, for the families of 239 people onboard, the waiting is torture.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: As that mother twists in agony, waiting to find out her son`s fate, waiting to get an answer to this riddle, we`re learning tonight that somebody in the cockpit drastically reprogrammed the route before air traffic controllers heard those last words from Flight 370: "All right, good night." So we`re talking about a crucial 12-minute gap. OK?

So from the time the course was changed to when those last words were uttered, CNN`s Martin Savidge explains how it`s virtually impossible for somebody in the cockpit not to notice that a change in direction was programmed into the computer.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the navigation display. Now, let`s show you what should be. She`ll put in what would look like the route to Beijing. This dotted magenta line, that`s the way to Beijing. But anybody looking at that screen, even me, what do you see? This huge and very obvious turn. That turn is a major deviation away from the course.

What we`re seeing here is that it was clear for at least 12 minutes, from both perspectives, that change was coming. It`s a red flag. It`s a flare in the night.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we want to know what your theories or questions are. We`ve got experts with us tonight. 1-877-586-7297. Call us.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. Brett Larson, CNN technology analyst. You`re the expert. Explain to us. You program a change right into the flight simulator, and they showed us how it`s right there. And then there`s a little line that shows there`s the change. And the 12 minutes go by and then they say, "Good night" -- "All right, good night." And that apparently was the co-pilot who said that.

There`s no -- there`s no way that either the co-pilot or the pilot or whoever got control of that cockpit would not know that, hey, I`m one guy, you`re another guy. Somebody programmed something totally different, and I`m staring right at it.

BRETT LARSON, CNN TECHNOLOGY ANALYST: That`s right. I mean, it`s why there are two people in that -- in that cockpit. Sometimes three on longer flights for rest breaks. But it`s very obvious that something was done in that cockpit.

Now, there`s a lot of theories out there, Jane. And we`ve heard all of them. Some of them dealing with the supernatural. Some of them as simple as this could have just been a simple mechanical problem, perhaps a fire onboard that they were trying to deal with.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me stop you right there. OK?

LARSON: Go on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is what I have a problem with. OK. There`s a fire. You`ve got 12 minutes. In that 12 minutes, why not get your walkie- talkie and say, "Hey, base, we`ve got a problem here? S.O.S.," whatever they say when there`s a problem. Why not communicate for 12 minutes, or even after you say -- why say, "All right, good night," if there`s a problem?

LARSON: That -- I mean, and that`s the question that makes that, when you go down that theory of maybe there was a mechanical problem that led to them rerouting this airplane, then that`s the red flag that comes up immediately of, like, why didn`t they say, instead of "All right, good night," why didn`t they say, "Actually, we`ve got to turn around. We`re having a mechanical problem"?

And I know that the list of things that they`re supposed to do in the cockpit, the last thing is to communicate, is to tell the ground what`s going on. The first thing is to deal with the problem at hand. An electrical fire is very bad. It can be very serious and burn very quickly. So they`re going to want to handle that as fast as possible. But you would still think that they would need to communicate that they would communicate that something was definitely wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I absolutely agree with you. I just can`t understand -- look, you`re the expert. You`re the expert. You know all this. But at a certain point, it becomes like deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning.

OK. Anybody who has logic at their command can realize that, if you program something in -- I mean, it could be me and somebody else driving on a freeway, and we`re headed to Pasadena, and suddenly the person in the passenger seat programs in, no, we`re going to Malibu. I`m going to figure that out, OK?

LARSON: Very quickly, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to figure that out very quickly.

Now, every new piece of information is fueling speculation, at least to me, that this jet intentionally vanished. OK. And making the chance of it being an accident seems less and less likely.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The change in course was not due to something that happened spontaneously, it wasn`t a spontaneous reaction to some emergency in the cockpit. It had been planned out. There was this careful planned navigation that was taking place. This is not something a plane would do on its own. This is something a human being had to be telling it to do. This had nothing to do with where it intended to go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fred Tecce, you`re a former prosecutor and a commercial pilot, do you think that we`re getting to the point now where if these things are true, that`s a big if, because things have been changing that, hey, this is no accident?

FRED TECCE, FORMER PROSECUTOR AND COMMERCIAL PILOT: Jane, I`m going to tell you right now it wasn`t an accident. I`ve got over 30 years. I have over 5,000 hours flying some very sophisticated equipment. I`ve investigated and prosecuted federal fatal jet crashes. Let me tell you right now, there was no fire.

In order to change the course in this aircraft, you have to use what`s called the FMS, which is on the pedestal between the two pilots. The co- pilot and the pilot are sitting right there. You have to punch in a bunch of different numbers into the thing. The minute you do it, the magenta or the course line shows up. There are five tubes, five big screens in a 777, one for the co-pilot, one for the pilot. It would show up in every one of those.

And I will also tell you that if there`s a fire on a commercial airliner, you hear about it. There were two major airline crashes involving fire. The Value Jet crash in Florida, where the pilot tried to get back to the airport and the plane burned in 11 minutes and everyone died. And an NV11 going into Nova Scotia --


TECCE: -- and in both of those cases when there`s fire, the pilots have quick-donning mask and they can call for help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Here`s another thing. We`re also learning the at-home flight simulator found in the captain`s -- main captain`s home, not the co-pilot`s home, had data deleted from it, reportedly in the last month. Ok? One pilot told me -- or actually told the Boston Herald he doesn`t know any pilots who are packing flight simulators in his house.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I happen to know quite a few pilots. None of us have an elaborate simulator in their home. Some of the correspondents say that`s normal, I would completely disagree.

That captain who has a simulator has 18,000 hours of flying time. He probably flies 80 hours every month. He`s not going to come home and then go back to work again. The question is, what was he doing with that. And so that leads us to believe he`s doing something he doesn`t want people to watch him do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody, including the FBI, is working on trying to figure out what files he deleted. And if those deleted files happen to be the route that this jet ultimately took.

Now, take a look at these families. Marc Klaas, you`re one of my heroes, your daughter tragically abducted and murdered and you turned that into a force for changing the world for good. What are these families going through? It looks like sheer hell.

MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER, KLAASKIDS FOUNDATION: Of course it`s pure hell. Number one, nobody knows what happened to their loved ones. And number two, everybody`s loved one at this point is a suspect. What a horrible situation for these people to be in right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And not only that, but as horrible as it is to find out your loved one dies in a plane crash, there`s no closure on that -- the possibilities are endless. Could this plane have landed somewhere? Could these people have been taken hostage? We have no idea. But it`s a possibility until we learn more.

I want to know what`s on those deleted files. And why does he have that flight simulator in his house? But I have to stress, that everything that anybody has said about this pilot indicates that he is nothing but a wonderful guy. He`s never had an ounce of trouble. And so we don`t want to cast aspersions on him. He may have been the hero trying to save all this. We don`t know. His family`s looking for answers, too.

All right. The world`s been asking for seven years -- speaking of unanswered questions -- where is this beautiful child? Madeleine McCann. Now, cops say they have a brand-new suspect that can finally, finally, finally break this case wide open.


KATE MCCANN, MOTHER OF MADELEINE MCCANN: We`re doing everything we can, Madeleine, to find you. There`re so many good and very kind people helping us. Be brave, sweetheart. Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again. And we`re hoping and praying that that will happen.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the last place three-year-old Madeleine McCann was seen alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police have identified a series of 12 crimes, potentially linked --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s likely that the apartment was broken into by a burglar or burglars.

MCCAN: I`m Madeleine`s mommy. I know she was taken from that apartment and she`s out there. And I want her back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if it`s just a 0.1 percent chance she`s alive, we will continue to fight for her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, blockbuster new developments in the mysterious disappearance of little Madeleine McCann. This case has baffled the world ever since the three-year-old British girl was snatched from her parents` hotel room in Portugal seven long years ago.

Tonight, a brand-new suspect and the shocking revelation that he assaulted five other young British girls who were also on vacation with their parents -- just like Maddy was. Why are we just learning about this now?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These matters are very serious. And it`s very important, primarily for us to understand and identify who this offender is. Firstly because clearly nobody`s been prosecuted for these horrible offenses against these young people. And secondly once we`ve identified this offender, we need to be able to prove or disprove whether these offenses and that offender is connected to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is what little Maddy would look like now. Well, this is what she looked like back then. And we`re also going to show you what she would look like now, if she were still alive. She would be almost 11 years old.

Tonight, British authorities say they have a brand-new suspect, a man they believe broke into 12 vacation homes, where British families were staying. During those break-ins cops say he sexually assaulted five British girls between the ages of seven and 10. And this is all happening in the region, the very area where little Maddy was abducted.

Most of the girls were attacked in bed. Maddy, who was about to turn four, was tucked into her bed when her mom and dad went to dinner with friends at a restaurant within the resort, just about 150 feet away. The attacks on these British girls ended a year before Maddy was snatched. But was her abduction, this suspect`s final crime?

These stunning new developments have all the world buzzing especially England. It`s where she was from, and where her devastated parents have continued to fight for justice.

Tonight, the very latest from Erin McLaughlin who`s covering this case from London.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Jane, police have identified a series of 12 potentially linked crimes that took place between 2004 and 2010 in the Western Algarve area of Portugal. In all of these cases, a male intruder entered the holiday apartment of a British family. In four of the cases, little girls between the ages of seven and 10 were sexually assaulted in their beds, while their parents were home. None of the children were abducted.

Now, police are trying to find this suspect who they describe as having tan skin, short, dark, unkempt hair. He spoke English with a foreign accent. His voice slow, possibly slurred. He had a pot belly and an unusual smell. In two of the cases, the family saying that this man was wearing a distinctive long burgundy shirt. Police releasing an (inaudible) of that shirt to the public today in the hopes that more information will be brought forward, that they will identify this man and determine if he in any way is linked to Madeleine`s disappearance -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That is the very latest. Straight out to the "Lion`s Den" -- we`re going to begin with CNN`s Elizabeth Espinosa. You`ve covered so many international stories. I`m about to pull my hair out in chunks. Why the hell are we just hearing now about a crime wave that should have been the big reveal seven years ago during the first police news conference?

ELIZABETH ESPINOSA, CNN ESPANOL ANCHOR: Jane, you hit it on the nail, ok? I mean are you kidding me? This is like police work 101. If there are other kids who were attacked similarly in that area, and now, this is in 2007, and now we`re putting together two plus two is four? This is ridiculous.

And again, it really reminds me of what`s happening in Malaysia as well. It`s a botched investigation. You need an investigation of the investigation.

So I`ll tell you, Jane, if you and I are involved in a crime or were victims of a crime, I sure hope it`s in this country, truthfully. This is ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh well, this -- I mean this has been a botched investigation. I want to believe this is a good lead. Cops keep changing their story, however.

I don`t know if you remember, but just about five months ago we covered the story. Cops had a totally different theory. They said Madeleine`s disappearance could be linked to two break-ins that happened just a couple of weeks before her abduction, not years. They released these sketches of a totally different looking suspect, a pale, possibly German man between the ages of 20 and 40, reportedly carrying a blond child around Maddy`s age near her hotel room.

Ok. So Wendy Murphy, now we have -- that`s the old guy. Now we have the brand-new suspect. Ok? Those are the ones who might be German. Now we go to the totally new suspect who`s got much darker skin, short hair, slurred speech, smells. I mean at a certain point, it`s like, do they lose credibility?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, wait. Let me start from my own perspective instead of buying into what I think is a PR bunch of nonsense about these other suspects. Cops did not botch this investigation. Ok? They focused on the parents, for good reason, in the beginning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, come on.

MURPHY: There was a cadaver hit in the parents` car. And Madeleine`s mother, who I suppose we can expect would have wanted to help solve the crime --


MURPHY: -- took the fifth. And refused to answer key questions like these parents --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: These parents have been through hell.

MURPHY: -- until the mother in this case answers some damn questions and stops taking the fifth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you ever been grilled -- have you ever been grilled in a foreign country --

MURPHY: That`s her child. That`s her child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- by police who you say are absolutely, like clueless at best? Marc Klaas, we`re going to debate more of this on the other side. But briefly, respond to what Wendy just said.

KLAAS: I think Wendy is totally and completely off-base. I think there`s now way that the McCanns were involved in this. If they had been, they would never have advocated for their daughter for the past seven years with the kind of vigor and enthusiasm that they have.

MURPHY: Oh please.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to debate this on the other side. We`re not done. We`re just getting started. And there`s other new clues.

Stay right there.



MCCANN: I just think Madeleine (inaudible) must be sitting there laughing. Just thinking how (inaudible) this and how I`ve committed this crime. And police don`t seem to be that concerned I`m still out here.

GERRY MCCANN, MADELEINE MCCANN`S FATHER: There are many avenues which have not been explored. And law enforcement aren`t doing anything about it. They`ve essentially given up. It`s too hard and that is simply unacceptable.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, those are the parents of missing Maddy McCann. And now there`s a new suspect being talked about. Because, you know, after years of bungling this case, Britain`s Scotland Yard took the case over, took the 30,000 documents and analyzed them, and this suspect actually popped up, and they even discovered the girls -- the other British girls who were sexually assaulted by the suspect. They said he smelled bad. Some of the girls heard a garbage truck outside.

So before we get back into our debate, Steve Greenberg, could this be as simple as this sicko is smelly, because he was the local garbage collector?

STEVE GREENBERG, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It could be simple. But you can have no confidence in anything that`s going on here. Because if it took them all this time to figure out that from 2004 to 2010, there were similar crimes going on, right under their nose, and everyone missed it, all the evidence will be gone from that.

And these are the same police that Wendy says the mother should have been cooperating with? I don`t think the original police had a clue what they were doing. I think the police now are doing a great job, and they`ll find the guy because there will be clues, if there`s this commonality.


MURPHY: That`s comedy. That is pure comedy. The police now are doing a good job? When the police originally on the scene are saying to these parents, your child is missing, can you please answer some questions like what did you see when you walked into the room? What did you see? And she goes, oh, no, I take the fifth. Excuse me? Excuse me?

GREENBERG: Well, she didn`t take the fifth.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to give --

MURPHY: Shame on you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marc I want -- I want to give you a chance to respond to that, Marc.

KLAAS: Well, yes. First of all, missing child cases are among the most difficult cases to investigate. And when they`re investigated by an incompetent agency, and you then have seven years between you and the time that crime was committed, I mean, I think it`s a testament to Scotland Yard`s organization, and ability to look through the BS to be able to come up with these various suspects.

I think they`re doing an absolutely marvelous job. And we need to let them keep doing what they need to be doing. Yes, it`s true, he could have been hiding in plain sight all the time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side, we`re going to ask our psychologist on our panel, what does he think of the parents` affect?



K. MCCANN: We`re doing everything we can, Madeleine to find you. And there`s so many good and very kind people helping us. Be brave, sweetheart. Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again. And I hope and pray that that will happen.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chuck Williams, psychologist, what do you make of the parents` affect?

CHUCK WILLIAMS, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think that, as you can imagine, they are grief-stricken. Their child is gone. She`s been missing for seven years when they went on vacation. You go on vacation to have a good time and now they had this terrible tragedy sort of take place.

But just quickly, I think that the reason why they didn`t see what was happening before is because this girl was three years old when she was abducted. The other kids who were attacked were between 7 and 10. They could have thought that psychologically because there was so much attention and police were really looking for someone, that maybe he took this three- year-old girl, maybe he wanted to raise her up like Jaycee Dugard or Ariel Castro in the Ohio case. He could have somebody homegrown -- as sick as that may sound -- so therefore he won`t have to be out doing these horrible things.

But I think it`s a good thing that Scotland Yard is involved. I hear they`re pretty good and maybe they`ll find something new.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fred Tecce, where is this child at? I mean if this happened, it raises even more questions. He didn`t apparently commit any crimes past 2010. Is this child alive? Where is she? Is she dead? The questions are mind-boggling, almost as mind-boggling as the 370 flight questions.

TECCE: They are mind-boggling, and this raises just as many questions as it answers. This guy as Dr. Chuck pointed out dealt with 7 to 10-year- olds and pedophiles are very particular about that kind of stuff. Secondly, he was interrupted on three or four cases by parents returning home. He never became violent. He never tried to abduct anyone.

And so his conduct is not consistent with what happened in this case. So, you know, it raises a lot more questions like this case. It answers some and raises others.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it right there, but my heart goes out to these parents subject to this witch hunt hell.

Nancy Grace is next.