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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Did Kidnapper Kill Relisha?

Aired March 27, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, breaking news in the massive manhunt to find the man accused of murdering his wife and kidnapping 8- year-old Relisha Rudd.

We are learning tonight jaw-dropping new allegations of child abuse in Relisha`s family. Will this new information help us find Relisha? Will it give us any answers about why her family sent her off with a janitor who works (ph) at a homeless shelter, a man they barely knew. We are trying to find this child before it`s too late.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot ignore the possibility that he may have killed her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just hope we find her. That`s all I`m asking you to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think he would hurt her, but you know, when you get under pressure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several questions about her relationship with Tatum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was at Mr. Tatum`s house. He`s good.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Who lets the janitor take the kid!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: City records show instances of physical abuse and filthy living conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was last seen on March 1, 2014, with Mr. Khalil Tatum.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right now, cops are searching a Washington D.C. park only 3 miles from where Relisha was caught on hotel surveillance last month. Cops just announced brand-new information about this search and the very suspicious timeline of events.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Tatum was last seen in the presence of Relisha on the 1st. On the second, he made a purchase of those contractor sized trash bags and shortly thereafter was in this area around the aquatic gardens for a period of time. We cannot ignore the possibility that he may have killed her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The cops don`t know for sure if little Relisha is dead. We certainly hope not.

It was way back on February 26 that Relisha`s family gave her away to so-called godfather Khalil Tatum, a janitor at the Washington, D.C., homeless shelter where the family was living. He was supposed to take her to his house, but there she is, hours after they gave her away, at a hotel with this man, this monster, on surveillance video.

Cops say Relisha was last seen with Tatum on March 1. But then, the very next day he`s seen buying heavy-duty trash bags, and he spends a lot of time at a local park. Relisha is nowhere to be seen. Did he hurt her and get the bags to dispose of evidence?

Tatum wasn`t hiding. He was seen around town for two weeks after that. But no sign of the little girl. It wasn`t until last week, March 19, that she`s finally reported missing.

Here`s what doesn`t add up. Last night on our show, a family friend told us Relisha`s family claims they spoke to the child on the phone as recently as last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Tatum called my sister and the grandmother at 9:07 in the morning. First, they talked to Mr. Tatum. After they talked to Tatum, then they talked to Relisha. Relisha clarified what Mr. Tatum was telling them at first, that she had cooked breakfast, she had cooked scrambled eggs and toast. They asked if she burned down the place. She said "No, Grandma, no auntie, I did not burn down the place, and actually it was good."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s the real story? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1- 877-586-7297.

We have a fantastic Lion`s Den panel tonight. I begin with former prosecutor, Loni Coombs.

Loni, this is unbelievable that this child was given away, and now there`s conflicting information, cops saying, "Hey, she has not been sighted since March 1," the family claiming, "Oh, no, we spoke to her last week."

LONI COOMBS, FORMER PROSECUTOR Well, Jane, I can only hope the family is right in this case. I`m hoping this that relationship between Tatum and this little girl is so close, hopefully, that he didn`t kill her, whether he wanted to keep her, whether he, you know, has this -- he has this other little girl, they say, this 9-year-old grandchild. We don`t even know if that`s really a grandchild.

So maybe he wanted to have another little girl around. I mean, I`m praying that`s the case, as sick as that is. That she`s still alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sorry, Loni, but I still think that you are just a tad naive. Gaetane Borders, president of Peas in their Pad, advocate for missing children, this man -- and you know, with all due respect to Loni, I appreciate her optimism. But this man murdered his own wife after cops started looking for the child. He`s seen going into a hotel room with the child. I hope she`s alive. But his intentions clearly to me are sinister.

GAETANE BORDERS, PRESIDENT, PEAS IN THEIR PAD: Definitely sinister. I definitely welcome her optimism; we`re all hoping for the best.

But this story has started off negatively from day one. Let`s not forget that this was not a random act. This person was given Relisha, handed on a silver platter. He wasn`t lurking around in the alleyways trying to snatch a child. She was handed over to him. It starts off sinister.

And my heart sank this afternoon when I heard the words the detective said, that it`s a recovery effort. And I hope not. I want to be optimistic. I definitely do. But let`s also not forget that he allegedly murdered his wife, as well. So this is not a good guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She was found dead right after they started looking for him, because finally this child was reported missing.

BORDERS: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to go to an exclusive interview with the aunt of this missing child in a moment. But first, let`s get an update of the Washington D.C. area. Cameron Thompson, All News 99.1 WNEW, you`ve been monitoring the situation. What`s the latest on the manhunt and the search?

CAMERON THOMPSON, REPORTER, WNEW (via phone): Jane, as you`ve been saying and as the clips were playing, today`s development shows that police are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, as they call it, a recovery effort in the aquatic gardens.

They said a few weeks ago Mr. Tatum was in for at least two hours. They know this through cell phone records. In terms of where they are searching, can`t exactly say. But they do say they have expanded the search to the Orlando area.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Cameron, let me jump in here. The theory obviously -- Cameron, let me jump in. The theory obviously -- and this is the sad news theory, so we hope it`s not true. But it seems pretty clear, while police didn`t spell it out, their theory was she`s last seen March 1. March 2, he buys garbage bags, spends a lot of time in the park, obviously. And they even mention the word "recovery effort."

So obviously, their theory is that maybe he did something untoward to her and then tried to dispose of her body in the park. We hope that`s not true. But wasn`t that pretty much what they were hinting at as a possibility in the n the news conference?

THOMPSON: One question that was asked of D.C. police, was, quote, "Are you fearful that she may be dead?"

And Aneer (ph) says, "Well, we`re hopeful she`s not but given the circumstances we`re fearful that we need not to leave any stone unturned, basically without saying it outright; saying it in a roundabout way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Relisha`s family claims they were close to this janitor, Tatum, the janitor, and that they trusted him. Even after cops got involved, Relisha`s mother said that her daughter was in, quote, "a safe place." Well, now, Relisha`s step-dad seems to be questioning the relationship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She tells me she`s at Mr. Tatum`s house. He`s good. She`ll be back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the relationship gets even stranger. According to the "Washington Post" -- I hope you`re all sitting down -- when the school reached out to Relisha`s mother about her daughter`s absences, the family gave the school a number for a Dr. Tatum. Cops believe it was actually Mr. Tatum, who is not a doctor. As we all know by now, he`s the janitor at the homeless shelter.

In fact, according to the family, Relisha actually went with this Tatum character to a medical seminar out-of-state on March 8. I mean, this is -- this is bizarre, but it`s got sinister overtones. What the hell is going on here?

To try to get some answers we`re delighted to be joined right now by Tiffany Young, our exclusive interview with Relisha Rudd`s aunt.

Tiffany, thank you for joining us. I know that you`re in agony right now. I know that you want to do the best for your niece. You have said some very shocking things here. Tell me about what you learned in terms of this man, Tatum, saying that he fell in love with Relisha and buying her an iPad. Tell us about that.

TIFFANY YOUNG, RELISHA`S AUNT (via phone): OK. The first time I heard about him, it was around December. And I got a phone call saying that he went to my sister and told my sister, "I fell in love with your niece, and I want to be her godfather."

The next time I heard about him, I was told he bought her an iPad for Christmas. And when I first heard about it, you know, I didn`t get any signs to throw up a red flag, like, OK. Then, once all of this hits the news, that`s when it, you know, hit me like OK, he did buy her an iPad. Why was he buying her the iPad? That`s something that, you know, her mother wouldn`t even buy her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me stop you right there and bring in Christopher Chestnut, an attorney out of Atlanta. And all of our experts have covered many similar cases. Unfortunately, there are other cases like this. To me, that`s classic grooming behavior. You`re showering a child with gifts. You`re telling the mother "I`ve fallen in love with your daughter"? Are you kidding me? He`s a 51-year-old man, and she`s 8 years old.

CHRISTOPHER CHESTNUT, ATTORNEY: There were definitely some warning signs here, especially for her mother and her parents. But also, I think we have to at least acknowledge some loopholes with the agencies here. I mean, there had to have been greater supervision over the parents, especially given the prior instances. I mean, they`ve been under investigation before by local agencies regarding parenting and negligence therein.

So I`m really concerned about the lack of oversight from agencies. But Jane, I`m with you. I mean, the writing was on the wall this gentleman had problems, notwithstanding the fact that he was very supportive. I`m sure mom was having a tough time. She trying to provide for these kids. Seems like they`re all having a difficult time living in a homeless shelter. But you cannot ignore the obvious.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this, though. We are also getting some stunning new information about the family`s history. And there`s a history of abuse here...

CHESTNUT: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... which we are going to talk about in a second.

But I`ve got to go back to Tiffany, the aunt. And I know this is difficult for you, but I know that you`re courageously speaking out and telling what you know to help find this child.

Now explain to me how, at one point, word erupted that cops finally started looking for this child. It might have been weeks too late but started looking. And then they found out this guy, this character Tatum`s wife, had been murdered from a hotel.

And you try to find out, then, from little Relisha`s mother, like what`s happening with Relisha? What was her response when you, or somebody close to you, goes up to her and says, "My God, this guy that you left your daughter with, his wife`s been murdered and he`s a suspect in the murder. What`s happening with Relisha?"

Can you hear me, Tiffany?

T. YOUNG: Can you say it again? I`m sorry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Here`s the question. When his wife, this man, this janitor, suspected predator, when his wife was murdered, when cops finally started looking for the child, he took off. His wife turns up dead. I understand that you or somebody in your family goes up to the mother of Relisha and says, "My gosh, the guy who took your daughter, his wife has been found murdered. What`s happening with the child?" What was her response?

CALLER: I was told that my boyfriend saw them, and he approached them and asked them, like, "What`s going on with her?" And he told me that they both said, responded three times in answer, "She`s good, she`s good, she`s good."

And he said he asked them, like, "How is she good and this man just killed his wife?"

And he said -- and Shamila said he didn`t kill the wife. It was two other people at the hotel, and that`s who killed the wife.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? Two other people at the hotel who killed the wife? Uh-huh. That`s not what police are saying.

Are you -- I mean, my gosh, Adam Swickle, it sounds -- if this is true -- and by the way, the mother of Relisha and her stepfather, they are invited any time. We would love to speak to them. We`ve been reaching out to them, trying to reach them. You are invited on if you are watching.

It sounds like they`re covering up for this guy after. If the news surfaced that his wife was murdered, they`re saying, "Oh, she`s fine. It was somebody else who killed his wife."

ADAM SWICKLE, ATTORNEY: Unfortunately, I don`t share a lot of optimism in the result of this particular case.

But I`ve got to agree with you, Jane. This is atrocious behavior on so many levels. There is something going on here, and nobody is being able to figure it out at this point. But we`ve got to get to the bottom of this, because as your prior guest said, there are failures on so many levels here. Through the parents, through law enforcement, through so many agencies, we did not protect this child.

And unfortunately, in my practice, both criminal and family law, this is not an uncommon tale. This is something that occurs all the time. But something is not right here, and we`ve got to figure it out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The parents defending this guy after his wife turns up dead, when he`s got their little girl? Are you kidding me? This is what the aunt of this girl is saying to us right now.

Phone lines exploding. More on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relisha is very smart. She`s got a big heart. She liked to make friends. She`s not a bad little girl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that Mr. Tatum was last seen in the presence of Relisha on the 1st. On the 2nd, he made a purchase of those contractor-sized trash bags and shortly thereafter was in this area around the aquatic gardens for a period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s been over three weeks since anyone`s seen little Relisha. Family and friends are pleading that she is found safe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAMILA YOUNG, RELISHA`S MOTHER: Hope they get her back home safely. Just help us find her. That`s all I ask you to do. I miss her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But just a little while ago, cops said their focus is finding Relisha, and charges will be discussed down the road.

You know, it seems pretty clear to me at this point somebody is hiding something. Our affiliate, WJLA, has been talking to sources which tell them when this little girl disappeared, the mother refused to approve the Amber alert. It wasn`t until after Tatum`s wife was found dead that the Amber alert was sent out.

And you`re hearing that the aunt is saying that, even after his wife turns up dead, she`s like, "Oh, the girl`s fine; the girl`s fine." If that`s true, that`s beyond -- beyond incomprehensible, Anna Yum, criminal defense attorney.

ANNA YUM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s so true, Jane. The mom`s behavior. I don`t want to say right out she that she`s involved in this, but the mom`s behavior is not passing the sniff test for me.

How do you not approve an Amber alert when your child is missing? How do you give your child to the janitor, and then the child ends up missing and then you end up defending the janitor. I mean, these actions are not consistent with a mom who is actively trying to search for their child. I just don`t understand it. I think the behavior is very baffling to me.

And I think that law enforcement should look into her behavior and look to see if she knows anything. Why is she so quick to defend the janitor and not approve an Amber alert? It doesn`t make any sense to me. Don`t you think?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And we`re going to talk about the family`s history of alleged child abuse in a second. But first, the phone lines. People are just absolutely outraged by this story.

Donna, New York, what do you have to say? Donna, New York.

CALLER: Hi, Velez. Thanks for taking my call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sure.

CALLER: I am just disgusted. I think that all of them are lying -- the aunt, the mother, the boyfriend -- because when I listened to it on the Nancy Grace show, they were saying that the janitor was approaching young girls in that shelter, giving the money. And I really think that the janitor offered the mother some money, and she gave her her child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? Gaetane Borders, you`re the president of Peas in Their Pod, and an advocate for missing children. It sounds incomprehensible, somebody giving their child way for money, but unfortunately, it happens. Something stinks about this family`s handling of everything. Before the child is given away and then giving the child away and then after the child goes missing and after this guy kills his wife, allegedly.

BORDERS: Allegedly, right, allegedly. I know your previous guest said that she didn`t want to place blame on the parent, the mom, and say that she was involved.

But what we can say is that she was involved on a certain level, was she not? I mean, she`s the one that allowed this to happen. If it was up to her, there would still not be an Amber alert. Let`s not forget that.

But there`s one thing that I`m confused about. Maybe you all can help me. They`re saying today that the last time that Relisha was sighted was on March 1. But wasn`t it just the other day they were saying she was seen on March 7 at her school? So what`s wrong?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s a lot of conflicting reports. But you know what? If I have to choose, I`m going to go with the police. Very rarely will the police hold a news conference and say the last time the child was sighted was on March 1 with the entire nation listening to the news conference if the reports that she was seen in school seven days later are true.

I think that there`s been a lot of talk about, oh, the family says, "We talked to her just last week." We don`t know if that`s credible. Maybe somebody saw a child that looked like little Relisha. So we`re now hearing -- and this is another aspect that you`ve got to really consider. This family has a long history of alleged abuse. OK? While Relisha and her three brothers were in her mother`s care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

S. YOUNG: I just want to know where my baby at. I want to know if she`s safe and if she`s OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. The "Washington post" says back in 2007, when Relisha was a toddler, Child and Family Services reported finding inadequate food and supervision for Relisha and her newborn brother, and that Relisha had an injury that could have been caused by abuse.

In 2010, a complaint because one of Relisha`s brothers wasn`t taken to a doctor`s appointment following a surgery and reports that the small children were living in a home littered with trash and cigarette butts and that they were allowed to bathe unsupervised.

A few months ago, while living at a homeless shelter, a social worker said Relisha`s brother was reportedly thrown to the ground, cut his lip and slapped in the face. Records reportedly showed the mother verbally abusive on a regular basis and would leave the children alone.

OK. To me, Adam Swickle, that about says it all.

SWICKLE: I agree 100 percent. This is what I was talking about before when I say that the system has failed this child as much. As I`ve seen it over and over again, it`s very, very sad.

Going back to the discussion of the Amber alert, somebody`s not telling the truth here. And I`ll bet you that the parents are never really going to come forward or the mother and say really what happened, because to a certain extent, there may be additional abuse and neglect of this child. And more than likely, she may wind up lawyering up, because they`re not telling the truth about this situation, and something has got to be done about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, on the other side of the break, we have another very special guest to give us other insights into this family. What was really going on? Why did they give Relisha to this man? What`s the secret back story here? We not know the truth. Stay right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our primary goal right now is to find this little girl. And that`s what every effort is being made to do.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: They have not been able to nail down exactly when the last time this mother saw her daughter was.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The monitors (ph) would never feed them, because their parents wasn`t available. Mr. Tatum took notice that the monitors (ph) would never give them breakfast, and he started feeding them. And the monitors (ph) told them not do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have an interview now with the missing girl`s grandfather, George Turner.

Mr. Turner, I know this is very difficult for you, and my heart goes out to you. We`re trying to get real answers here. Do you know why your stepdaughter, Relisha`s mother, would have possibly, under any circumstances, given her child away to the janitor?

GEORGE TURNER, RELISHA`S GRANDFATHER (via phone): No, I don`t. I still don`t understand it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we just read a whole litany of alleged abuse of the kids according to the "Washington Post" obtaining Department of Children and Family Services records. Was Relisha`s mom, is she a good mother? Or are these that reports she didn`t provide adequate food and was abusive to her kids, the home littered with trash and cigarette butts, et cetera, et cetera -- did you ever see any signs of abuse?

TURNER: No.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Never?

TURNER: Because I -- because I was there. And she -- I don`t care about trash or anything like that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m going to go to Anna Yum.

We`re putting the pieces together here. There`s a whole bunch of inconsistencies. Everything can`t be right. The cops are saying the last time this child was seen was on March 1. They said that in a national news conference today.

But you have others saying, hey, the mom was talking to her last week. Then you hear about, well, the mom has a history, according to the "Washington Post," of child abuse. Put the pieces together for us.

YUM: Yes. I think the problem here, Jane, is what you were saying before. Is that what the police are saying in their press conference is accurate and all the other information is coming from not-so-credible sources.

I mean, we hear that the mom allegedly spoke to the daughter. But where`s that coming from? It`s coming from the mom, who as we all know hasn`t necessarily been cooperative, hasn`t necessarily come forward and, in my opinion, really made so many efforts to try to find her daughter. So consider the source, first of all. And secondly...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Christopher Chestnut. Let me just go to Christopher Chestnut, attorney out of Atlanta. I want to give you the last few seconds on this.

CHESTNUT: I think this underscores a larger problem with have in America. And that is the divide in income equality. And what I see here is a mother who`s been consistently neglectful of a child, probably because she doesn`t have resources. And I think that`s something we have to deal with in society. And I think she was forced there (ph), but she`s definitely made an error of judgment here with her child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So the question tonight is are you right? Was it an innocent, naive error of judgment, or was there something far more sinister going on? Did she have some kind of deal with this janitor that she handed over her child? If so, what did she get in exchange? What is really going on?

We`re going to keep digging. When we find out, we are going to tell you.

Up next, two Florida teenagers in love are suspected of gunning down a cop before committing suicide. But the mother of the beautiful young woman involved says, no, she`s not a murderer and she`s not a suicide. She, too, is the innocent victim of a deranged boyfriend, a man they -- a teenager they wanted out of their lives.

But unfortunately, their daughter was stuck on him, and they took off together. And now all three people you are looking at are dead. We will try and solve the mystery, up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the UK newspaper "Daily Mail", Hollinghurst originally is from Manchester, England and recently moved to Florida with her family. Posts on her sister`s Facebook page suggest that the family believes she was a victim and murdered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VINNIE POLITAN, HLN HOST: Oscar Pistorius we expect him to take the witness stand on Friday. And he`s got a lot of things he`s got to explain to the judge.

Number one, why he says he couldn`t realize that Reeva was in the bed when he was retrieving the gun from underneath it. Then he`s got to explain to the judge why he goes all the way down the hallway and fires four shots -- four shots through a toilet room door knowing Reeva`s awake but not knowing who`s on the other side.

The testimony of Pistorius is going to be the key to the case and will he hold up on cross-examination?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re supposed to be suicidal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could be misguided and sad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was like always quiet like to herself. But she had friends. And now they were found dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Directed to police officers or just kids that don`t understand authority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: College credit classes to graduate early.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful because he is suicidal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, in a real life case of Romeo and Juliet turned deadly -- murderous even. Chilling new details in these cryptic letters left behind by teenage lovers turned suspected murderers.

Cops say 18-year-old Brandon Goode and his 17-year-old girlfriend Alexandria Hollinghurst wrote these notes to their families and each other before running off together. The girl`s parents called cops saying the teens were a danger to themselves, "Find them."

Well, here`s just released audio of a cop trying unsuccessfully to take these teens in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. He`s fleeing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One Adam West, we`re not following the car. He took off. I got his ID. I`ll call the detective. Just follow the county and everybody, they`re supposed to be suicidal. They left a note. I will call the detective back.

Just so everybody knows, if he approaches -- I was right there, he almost hit me. So just be careful because he is suicidal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: An honest warning considering what happened next. After they took off and ignored that cop`s commands to stop, they ended up in the dead of night in the boy`s exclusive neighborhood filled with multi- million dollar homes and that`s where another cop tries to stop them and that officer ends up gunned down. Cops say the teens executed Officer Robert German with a shot to the head.

Tonight, friends and family of this popular officer gather in a memorial to pay their respects and demand justice for this fallen hero. So who murdered this beloved officer and why? The girl`s family says she`s not a killer and she`s not a suicide.

But published reports quote her grandfather as saying after meeting this boy, Alexandria, who had been a model student suddenly started stealing and getting into drugs. She`s a real beauty. They believe the boyfriend murdered the cop and then murdered Alexandra and then killed himself. Why?

Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to the "Lion`s Den"; published reports claim the girl`s father had a shouting match with this boyfriend the very night before they took off and the father threatened to have this boyfriend charged with statutory rape if he ever came around again. So, my question to Loni Coombs, could he have murdered his girlfriend to get back at her father?

LONI COOMBS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, he could have, Jane, absolutely. I think that perhaps that`s a stretch though because one thing that seems very clear these two young people were very devoted to each other and committed to each other to the point where they turned away from their families.

Even the young boy in his letter says how much he loves his parents but he realizes he`s going to have to go to be with this woman. They were engaged. He says she`s his fiance. They want to be together. So whatever they did they were going to do it together, whether they ran away or whether they end up committing suicide, it was clear they wanted to do it together.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like a typically defiant teenager, in one of her suicide letters, Alexandria talks about running away, getting married to this high school sweetheart and living a super fun life as Mrs. Goode. She writes that in big doodles -- there she is -- "Mrs. Goode". She was counting down the days until this future boyfriend, this boyfriend, right, would be -- well they`d be living together and it`s going to be bliss.

But her boyfriend seemed to have a more sinister plan as outlined in his very ominous letter where he says, "I get to die peacefully with the woman I love, the woman of my dreams, my fiance. Yes, we`re engaged."

Straight back out to the "Lion`s Den". I mean my God, Adam Swickle, it seems like she had this whole life planned out as his future wife. Clearly, he seems much more suicidal and his parents in a statement say "Whether it`s mental illness or substance abuse or something else, we`re searching for answers."

You know, I find that the initial conclusion that she was participating in killing the cop and killing herself, I don`t buy it. I think it was the boyfriend.

ADAM SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, that`s an interesting point but we may never know the answer to that question. But if you look at her letter as well, I think what happened in this particular situation is these two individuals lived a fantasy life. Romeo and Juliet as you pointed out before. They lived this fantasy life and they probably felt in the end after the crime was committed that the only way they could ever be together and not be separated was to kill themselves. I think that is also a plausible scenario.

(CROSSTALK)

ANNA YUM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. But also Jane, if you think about -- Jane, Jane, if you also think about her letters, I don`t even really think that her mother knew to the extent of how much she hated her own mother.

SWICKLE: Very true.

YUM: I mean I read some of the excerpts and I was surprised. It was very, very sinister, very mean.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

YUM: And she even made a reference. She said, "If I have to live here one more day, you would have to clean the blood off the walls of my room. So she did make a reference to possible suicide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go to the phone lines -- Crystal, Iowa. What do you have to say?

CRYSTAL, IOWA (via telephone): Have they checked like their Facebook accounts or Twitter accounts because -- on how their actions because teenagers share everything on Facebook and Twitter.

YUM: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent point. We`re checking that because our producers have looked into that. We`re going to give you the answer on the other side. And we`re going to read you, on the other side, the venomous, vile letter that this young lady wrote to her mother.

My heart goes out to this mother. She has to read this and then find out that her daughter is dead all because this bad influence came into her life.

Stay right there. More on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Landfills across the country are overflowing with garbage and a lot of people are looking for sustainable solutions. Jane`s Green Team challenged an Atlanta family to kick the trashy habit and take the zero waste challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we want to take this and turn it into this.

SUKI JANSSEN: I`m Suki Janssen and I`m passionate about trash, specifically getting things out of the garbage can. I challenge people to reduce the amount of waste they produce.

That`s your trash ready to be sorted. What we need you guys to do is you`re going to start breaking open your trash bags and spreading it out on the tarps so that we can go through it. And we`re going to kind of knock it out and get it in some piles so we can investigate your trash.

The dream with this project is give people an understanding of their environmental impact and how they can benefit financially from making better choices at the grocery store, at any store.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Next week, we go deep into the compost pile with (inaudible) as they sort this whole zero waste thing out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was like always quiet like to herself. But she had friends here and there. She did online classes, college credit classes to graduate early.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is a horror story. Let`s show the three individuals involved. They are all now dead in this Romeo and Juliet story that really went awry. And this is the worst case scenario of a defiant teen lashing out at her parents -- ok.

Alexandria spewed pure venom at her mom writing quote, "When people compare us, I vomit on the inside. You are a waste of space, ignorant and a rotten c word. I wish you were never born." Can you imagine saying that to your own mother?

In these brand new letters, Alexandria is clearly furious with her mom. And Brandon`s relationship with his mother is even worse. Cops say two years ago he threatened his mother with an axe. He apparently painted his face black, covered the windows of his home and when his mom came home he pinned her against the wall demanding she accept his father`s divorce settlement.

So get this, Loni Coombs, former prosecutor, they had something very toxic in common -- rage towards their respective mothers and they both lived with their respective mothers. How does that factor in?

COOMBS: Look, you know, that`s really interesting. Remember, her family is saying before she met him, she was this great daughter. "She loved our family. She was a wonderful student. She graduated a year early. She was working two jobs. She was a happy loving girl until she met him." And that`s when all this venom started.

With him he does this horrible assault on his mother with this ax going after her in a very scary way and he`s arrested and yet she, the mother, refuses to follow through on the charges and the case goes away. And she continues to let him live there at home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go through -- just answers. Do you think - - just yes or no -- did she commit suicide or was she murdered? Loni Coombs?

COOMBS: I say she did not commit suicide. I agree with you, I think she was murdered.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, Adam Swickle.

SWICKLE: Absolute suicide. Take a look at her letter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Christopher Chestnut.

CHRISTOPHER CHESTNUT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the evidence suggests suicide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anna Yum.

YUM: Suicide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. I agree with Loni Coombs. I think she was killed. I don`t think she killed herself.

You know, it`s one thing to say, I want to end it. It`s another thing to actually end it at the same time your boyfriend is ending it. I don`t buy it. I don`t know. That`s my opinion.

Up next, you told us to cover a story and we did. It`s exploding globally -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A healthy two-year-old giraffe named Marius was shot to death, executed and fed to lions in front of an audience of children at the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Monday, the zoo euthanized four lions, a 16- year-old male, a 14-year-old female and two younger lions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This right now is the most abominable, insensitive ridiculous thing I`ve ever heard of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Global outrage again as the Copenhagen Zoo turns into a killing field once again.

Remember this beautiful healthy giraffe that they slaughtered in front of school age children because they couldn`t breed him. Well, now the same zoo has killed one of the lions they fed him to. You are seeing that beautiful male lion right here. They also killed another female lion. Tragically they also killed two ten-month-old cubs.

Why? To make room for another lion. The zoo claims that the new lion would have killed the cubs and that they tried to place them elsewhere but quote, "Unfortunately, there wasn`t any interest." BS, in my book.

Why couldn`t they send them to a sanctuary? I know sanctuaries that would take them. Better yet, they already had lions, why did they need to bring in another one at all.

But the Copenhagen Zoo isn`t alone. This is a shameless operation but it`s out in the open. It`s exposing the dark underbelly of zoos. Other zoos kill animals. You know, they all treat animals like commodities not like the intelligent sentient beings that they are. Zoos should be turned into sanctuaries where animals are treated like living, feeling creatures that they are.

Straight out to Will Travers, president of Born Free -- you know, I don`t say "will destroy", I say "killed", in fact, I would say "murdered". That is how I feel about it. What are your feelings? What was your reaction when you heard this zoo is at it again, killing four healthy lions?

WILL TRAVERS, BORN FREE: Well, Jane, I was absolutely shocked. And not only myself, yourself, but I think millions of people. I mean we all said to ourselves, can this be real, can this be happening again? The global outrage when Marius was destroyed and then as you say fed to the lions -- cut up and then fed to the lions in front of school age children was shocking enough.

But to think that they`re going to do it again and then maybe again and again, I do think that there are some really hard questions that need to be asked not only of the Copenhagen Zoo, but of zoos in general. What are they there for? What are they trying to do? Are they delivering a conservation benefit to species? Are they really educating kids or are they just public display facilities that show animals that they then get rid of when they have no use for them?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well listen. I think all zoos should be transitioned into sanctuaries. Unlike zoos sanctuaries put animals first. Sanctuaries, like the one you are seeing, Shambala in California which I toured. They don`t breed animals. They don`t trade animals for money. They don`t keep them on display. If they want to come up to the fence, they can but there are huge enclosures for them and they can go all day without being seen by any human.

Now, all of this killing undermines the big excuse for zoos. We are preventing animals from going extinct -- species from going extinct.

Nonsense. Mega predators like lions are being decimated in the wild and now they`re being decimated behind bars at zoos.

I want to go to Elizabeth Espinosa, CNN Espanol anchor, the world is changing and zoos are back in the 20th century or the 19th century while the rest of the world is moving forward.

ELIZABETH ESPINOSA, CNN ESPANOL ANCHOR: You think.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

ESPINOSA: Yes, it is terrible. I mean you said it, they murdered -- they murdered four healthy lions. What is wrong with them? And honestly, I want to see PETA activist at their doorstep. I mean I think this is a start because obviously this Danish zoo doesn`t really care.

I meant think about that. They slaughter the giraffe and now -- well nobody was interested. Breaking news folks over at that zoo, here in southern California, (inaudible) if you`d like but it is called the Wildlife Way Station. Oh wait, and there`s the other place called Africa - - their natural habitat. They can go there. There are tons of safari parks I personally went to in Uganda and Rwanda, I could give you a couple of e-mails and names. That`s where they go. No excuse for killing these animals because they need to bring another lion in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Adam Thompson.

ADAM THOMPSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think we have to get into the 21st century like you said, Jane. It is time for animal rights to really be recognized. We are all living, breathing things and share this planet and we should really try to respect all other living things and the problem is we don`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ten seconds. Kirby Clemons (ph), former prosecutor, this should be prosecuted.

KIRBY CLEMONS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Oh, absolutely. I cannot imagine why you would just destroy. I think it`s five -- you got the healthy giraffe and you have the healthy lions. Why would you do that? That is a waste of life. These animals should have. They deserve better than what they got.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Copenhagen Zoo, shame on you. Humans get involved. These animals cannot speak for themselves. Together by not going to zoos, by donating to sanctuaries, by getting involved with groups like Born Free USA, we can change things and evolve.

END