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Mother Admits Holding Sons Underwater in Tub
Aired April 3, 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, shock and outrage as a mother of three admits to holding her two helpless young sons under the water in the tub, at one point sitting on them.
Good evening, I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live tonight.
Her 3-year-old boy is dead, her 6-year-old son is on life support, fighting to survive. It is painfully reminiscent of Andrea Yates, the Houston mom who confessed to drowning all five of her children in the tub. Her ex-husband, Rusty Yates, is my very special guest tonight.
It turns out Michelle Schlemmer has a very disturbing history with her kids. Almost a year ago to the day, the stay-at-home mom backed over her two sons with her van. It was ruled an accident. Four years before that, she left one of her toddlers inside a boiling-hot car.
Tonight, we have to ask were those other two incidents really accidents? Why weren`t these kids ever taken away from this mother?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Charged with murder and attempted murder of her boys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She seems, you know, fine. She seemed like herself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone got kind of a strange feeling from her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She admitted to holding them underwater, sitting on them in the bathtub.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crazy voices were telling her to hold the boys under water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laurel Michelle Schlemmer is described as deeply religious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She felt as though she could be a better mother to her oldest son if her two youngest boys were in heaven.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She got picked on a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claims crazy voices told her to do it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: On Tuesday, 40-year-old Schlemmer, put her oldest son, age 7, on the school bus. She came back inside and told her 6-year- old and her 3-year-old sons, "Get undressed and get into the bathtub." They did as they were told. Mom allegedly said, you know, maybe I`d play - - let them play in the tub a little bit.
Then she gets into the tub with her clothes on and holds them underwater. She admitted to police that she sat on top of her own children until they stopped moving.
Then, cops say, she hid the evidence. She took off her wet clothes. She put them in a garbage bag. She put dry clothes on and pulled their bodies out of the tub. Then and only then did she call 911.
Perhaps even more perverse than killing her 3-year-old and almost drowning her 6-year-old is what mom told police. That she heard crazy voices telling her she could be a better mom to her 7-year-old son if the two younger ones were out of the way.
Mom was denied bail. She is currently on suicide watch. We don`t know whether she`s had any treatment for mental illness, but the family`s pastor acknowledged there were, quote, "concerns" about her mental health. You think?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN HENDLEY, FAMILY`S PASTOR: We understand that, from listening to the father and from talking to Mark, that there were -- there were concerns about Michelle and how she was doing; and they were being addressed by the family in ways that seemed to be appropriate to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think of this mother: insane or a cold- blooded killer? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.
Our Lion`s Den debate panel standing by to debate that very issue. But first, straight out to Liz Navratil, crime reporter for the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette."
What are you learning tonight? What do we -- what do we know about this family?
LIZ NAVRATIL, CRIME REPORTER, "PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE" (via phone) : Right now we are hearing that they are a very religious family. The father is an actuary at Highmark, and the mother had previously worked as a teacher and has been a stay-at-home mother for the past few years.
We heard from the family pastor that she had exhibited some signs of anxiety and that those were heightened after she -- she hit her youngest two boys (ph) with -- with a van in their grandparents` -- outside their grandparents` home. We`re hearing that initially, the authorities thought that was an accident, but now they`re reviewing that in the course of their homicide investigation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And how is the boy who`s fighting for his life, on life support?
NAVRATIL: Sure, sure. The last we heard he was still on life support. There was a bond hearing for the mother this morning, and the prosecutor there said that he had no brain activity and was on life support. And checked again a little while ago earlier today, and that was still the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, these poor little innocents, and they trust more than anyone else on this planet, their own mom. "Get into the tub, kids." It`s just beyond comprehension.
This isn`t the first time this stay-at-home wife and mother, who used to be a schoolteacher, hurt her kids. Just last year, cops say she ran over these same two boys, backing her van down the driveway. Both kids ended up in the hospital, one with broken bones, the other with internal injuries. She, of course, claimed, "Oh, it was an accident. I accidentally ran them over."
And just today -- get ready Lion`s Den panel, just today cops told our affiliate "At the time, they didn`t have any reason, and still right now, we don`t have any reason to believe it was anything other than an accident." She was never charged.
Lion`s Den, oh, my God, I`ve got to start with Simone Bienne, behavior expert. What on earth, how could the cops still think the incident running over the same two boys was an accident?
SIMONE BIENNE, BEHAVIOR EXPERT: Well, Jane, the definition of an adult is being responsible, which I`m sorry, I don`t think the cops are doing right now. If they admit that they were at fault, they have got blood on their hands, and that is why they`re sticking together and sticking to their guns.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean can anybody -- Lisa Bloom, I can understand saying, "Well, we`re going to investigate." But to say, "Still right now, we don`t have any reason to believe that that previous incident," where she backed over the same two kids that she later drowned in the tub -- thank God one is on life support, but she tried to drown them both. One is dead; one is on life support. That that -- oh, that previous incident, we still have no reason to believe was anything other than an accident.
BIENNE: It`s such a heavy level of denial, Jane. You have to wonder about their competence in protecting other children in this community. It`s the same woman who tried to take the lives of the same children, one of whom now is dead. The other is on life support. I mean, clearly this was a woman who was trying multiple times to do this, and now, sadly, she has succeeded.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re not done. Five years ago, Mom got a citation for leaving one of her sons inside her minivan in a mall parking lot for 20 minutes. Cops reported the temperature inside the car at 112 degrees. Her son was a toddler at the time, was not hurt, thank God.
She said, "Well, I made a mistake, Officer." She pleaded guilty to leaving a child unattended in a car and paid a fine. Case closed.
Police were never -- they never felt it was necessary to notify Child Protective Services. Had they done so, panel, Steve Greenberg, criminal defense attorney, the agency might have connected the dots four years later when mom ran over the kids with her car.
STEVE GREENBERG, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Maybe they would have taken the kids away and we wouldn`t be talking about a dead 3-year-old right now.
GREENBERG: These things get a track record, and they build up, so if they had reported the earlier incident, maybe they would have looked at the incident where she ran the kids over a little bit differently. And now they`re going to go back, and they`re going to look at that incident.
But it`s the arrogance of the police. They`re never going to admit that they did anything wrong during that incident.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to debate this. Is this woman insane, or is she a cold-blooded killer? Let`s take a look at the facts and then get ready to debate, panel.
OK, the 911 call this mother made. When the 911 operator asked the mom what exactly happened to her kids, she claimed she let her two boys play in the bathtub, and then she said, quote, "I went to the restroom and, um, took longer than I should have or planned, and then I came back and they were unconscious." But cops say that`s a lie.
The police report also says before she even made the 911 call, she took off her wet clothes, placed them in a trash bag along with two towels. Only then did she pull her motionless kids out of the tub.
Out to the Lion`s Den. Does this prove consciousness of guilt? She hasn`t pled, but she`s likely to plead not guilty by reason of insanity; yet she clearly tried to hide evidence. Now, does lying to the 911 operator and trying to hide her wet clothes ruin her mental health defense? And I`m going to start with -- well, we have a psychotherapist, Robi Ludwig, because it really is about mental health.
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Yes. Well, listen, we don`t have enough information at this point to know for sure. If you talk about
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I disagree. I mean does anybody else disagree?
LUDWIG: Wait a minute, wait a minute. It is possible, if someone is psychotic -- and I don`t know if she is -- that the voices could also instruct her to change her clothes, to lie on the 911 call. We need to really know more information about this woman`s mental health. Now...
GREENBERG: The thing -- but the things they look at, the things they look for are planning ahead of time and covering it up. I`ve done enough of these forensic cases where the psychiatrists come and they say, if you planned it ahead of time and you cover it up afterwards, you weren`t insane at the time of the incident. And then, when she first...
LUDWIG: But there`s a difference between psychotic and insane in the eyes of the law. They`re not one and the same.
GREENBERG: That`s right.
LUDWIG: You can be psychotic...
ROLONDA WATTS, HOST, BLOGRADIO`S "SUNDAYS WITH ROLONDA": Why can`t you be both?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time. Let me go to...
WATTS: It seems like you could be...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead. Go.
WATTS: I`m just going to say, it seems as if you can be both in this situation. I do believe she`s a cold-blooded, psychotic murderer.
I mean, yes, it just seems like as you look back on it, it`s easy for me to say and look back, and maybe there isn`t enough evidence in the backing up over your kids. Maybe there isn`t enough evidence when you leave your kids in a car that`s boiling, but it says to me that somebody needs to go, "Isn`t this a little unusual for a mother who is at least sane and in her right mind?" Isn`t -- aren`t these the major -- these are the red flags. And maybe had there been...
LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: Jane...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa Bloom, Lisa Bloom, what`s the definition of insanity?
BLOOM: What people don`t realize -- Not knowing right from wrong.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. Go ahead, take it.
BLOOM: That`s right. So she`s clearly mentally ill. She`s hearing voices; she`s trying to drown her own children. But probably not legally insane, because the definition is whether you can appreciate the wrongfulness of your acts, whether you know right from wrong.
She`s trying to cover it up. She`s lying to the police about what just happened. That shows that she did know right from wrong. That`s a problem for her legally.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. And you know...
BLOOM: It wasn`t the first time that she did it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Robi...
BIENNE: She tried to run them over.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t care whether she had problems, anxiety, blah, blah, blah. If she knew enough to cover her tracks, OK, to lie to the 911 operator, to take off her wet clothes, put them in garbage bags, hide them underneath other garbage bags, put on dry clothes, and then call 911...
LUDWIG: Not if you are psychotic. Listen, she could be...
GREENBERG: I`ve never -- I`ve never heard a case where they heard voices that say cover it up. Never heard of that.
LUDWIG: She could be an abusive mother who`s lying across the board. She could just be an abusive mother who gets enraged with her children, and her rage gets murderous. We don`t even know that she hears voices at all. But assuming that...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She claims that she does.
LUDWIG: She claims that she does. It`s possible. And it is possible that the voices would tell her cover it up; otherwise, you`re going to get in trouble. So, again, that legally insane, no. Psychotic? Very possible.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what? Sometimes the voices in your head tell you exactly what you want to hear, and they can be basically manifesting your unconscious desires, and that`s what I learned...
LUDWIG: You don`t know the difference between right -- you don`t know reality and what`s not reality.
BLOOM: It`s also an easy thing to lie about. You can always lie and say you hear voices.
GREENBERG: You`ve got to be psychotic to kill your own kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, I don`t know. You know something? People are killing their own kids...
WATTS: I get tired -- I get tired of all the reasons.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Ro.
WATTS: I just get so tired of people. It seems like more and more and more we`re hearing the excuse of people hearing voices in their head. Where are all these voices coming from that are allowing all these mothers to continue killing their children, that allow this war and this abuse on children going on in this world?
This isn`t the first time we`re hearing about psychotic mothers. What`s going on in our nation? And it is the worst thing that we want to believe.
BLOOM: They don`t have access to mental health services for the people who need it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. Let me ask you, Simone Bienne. Do you think the fact that she was a teacher, gave up her life as a teacher to become a stay-at-home wife and mother of three kids might have been a factor?
Remember, the oldest boy she saved. She puts him on a school bus, and then she later says, "Well, the voice in my head said I would be a better mother to that older boy, my first child, if I got these two out of the way."
BIENNE: Yes, look, we know that boys can be troublesome. They fight together; they play together; they`re rough. What was it, too difficult for her?
But we also know that being a stay-at-home mom is incredibly stressful.
However, to watch your children -- and this enrages me, Jane, as much as I know it enrages you -- to watch your children drown, to have to see them suffer for about two minutes. You`ll see them like be resistant. That to me is not like just being stressed or anxious, is it?
We`re just getting started. Up next we have a very special guest. Rusty Yates, the ex-husband of Andrea Yates. She`s the woman who drowned her five children, their five children. There is Andrea Yates. Rusty Yates joins me live to talk about the eerie parallels between this case and the day when Andrea drowned their five children.
And in just a couple of minutes, Nancy Grace has another angle on this story, right here on HLN. Keep it right here. Back with more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laurel Michelle Schlemmer is described as deeply religious, but she`s in jail and her youngest child is dead, her middle child fighting for his life, and police say at her hand. They say she admitted to holding them underwater, sitting on them in the bathtub and claims crazy voices told her to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENDLEY: We understand, from listening to the father and from talking to Mark, that there were -- there were concerns about Michelle and how she was doing, and they were being addressed by the family in ways that seemed to be appropriate to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a 6-year-old boy fighting for his life. His mother, Michelle Schlemmer, 40 years old, stuck him and his kid brother in a tub, a 3-year-old boy, dead, drowned; the 6-year-old fighting for his life on life support.
There are so many eerie parallels between this mom and this case and Andrea Yates, who drowned her five kids in the family bathtub back in 2001. Both women -- just to go through some of the similarities -- used to have jobs. Andrea had been a nurse. This woman, Michelle, had been a teacher. Both became stay-at-home wives and mothers.
They both admitted to drowning their sons in the bathtub while their husbands were at work. They both killed sons named Luke. And they both claimed to hear voices, and both actually made references to the kids being better off in heaven in some form or another.
Both of these families were deeply religious.
So what pushed these mothers other the edge to commit a crime that most people cannot imagine? To get some insight, we`re very honored to be joined tonight by a very special guest, Rusty Yates, the former husband of Andrea Yates. We`re talking about a man who`s lost five children with Andrea but who has now remarried and started a new family.
Rusty, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I know it`s difficult; I know it`s got to bring up old memories. What do you make of the stunning parallels between this case and the tragedy involving your five children and your ex-wife, Andrea Yates?
RUSTY YATES, EX-HUSBAND OF ANDREA YATES: Well, there are some parallels. You know, I mean the obvious, you know, with the drownings and all. And you know, everybody is different. You know, it`s kind of hard to say, you know, what motivates one person to do a crazy act and another to do another, you know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just outline the case a little bit more. Just like Michelle Schlemmer, Andrea claimed to have heard voices telling her to drown her five children. Andrea was initially convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison, but the verdict was then overturned on appeal. Andrea got a new trial. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "We, the jury, find the defendant, Andrea P.A. Yates, not guilty by reason of insanity," signed Todd Christopher Frank, foreman of the jury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ultimately, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a mental hospital.
Now, I just want to talk a little bit about meds, because this other woman, Michelle Schlemmer, she had anxiety that the pastor said they were dealing with through medical assistance. I would be very interested to find out if she was on some kind of antipsychotic or antidepressants because, Rusty, I know you complained about how your ex-wife, Andrea, was medicated. The pattern of the medication and how sometimes she refused to take her medication. Do you think that that medication could be a problem here?
YATES: Yes, I do. You know, people don`t talk about that much. And you know, like in Andrea`s case, she was taken off of anti-psychotic medicines about two weeks before the tragedy, and then her dose of antidepressants was changed significantly two nights before the tragedy.
So from what I understand, sometimes when people go on or off psychotropic medication, you know, it can trigger, you know, really bizarre behavior. And that`s certainly a factor, sure.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Andrea said she was hearing voices, and some call this command hallucinations. And psychiatrists have told me they start out as voices that you can resist, but without the proper help, they get stronger and stronger; and then you ultimately become unable to resist them.
This woman, this other woman, Michelle Schlemmer`s friends recently revealed she was having up and down emotions. Her pastor said there were anxiety issues; they were working through medical assistance.
I`m very interested to know your thoughts, Rusty, on the whole issue of hearing voices. I mean your ex-wife heard voices. How much did you know about that? Did you know that they were command hallucinations? That she was ultimately trying to resist the urge to kill her kids and your kids and ultimately could not resist those commands?
YATES: No, I didn`t know that. And you know, it`s a good point because sometimes you see people who are quiet, and you just assume that they`re quiet, you know; they`re their normal selves.
And -- and in Andrea`s case she was really just trying to maintain control, you know, control over thoughts. And, you know, I agree; I think those thoughts just overcame her.
And, you know, the same thing could have happened here. I mean, there was some indication that, you know, looking back, at least with this Ms. Schlemmer, that she -- she may have tried to harm her kids before, so there`s no telling how long, you know, she was dealing with that. You know, is that something new? Or was that an accident before or was it not? It seems kind of coincidental that that would be an accident, but you know, it`s possible.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You stood by Andrea, and this husband is standing by this woman. Some find it incomprehensible. Children dead, your flesh and blood. How -- how can you stand by somebody who kills your offspring, even if they`re your spouse?
YATES: You know, first, I mean, I really feel for their family, you know. It`s like they`re carrying on a pretty normal life, and all of a sudden, you know, they have these huge losses of their children. You know, they`re thrust into the media, you know, spotlight and -- which is, you know, completely unfamiliar to them.
And you know, but you have to give him some credit, too, because he -- he knows his wife; he knows his family; he knows how they lived. You know, he knows what was going on, you know, in their household. He may not understand it all yet.
But sometimes when things happen where, you know, someone who knows the person looks and says, "Hey, this is completely out of character. How could this have happened?" And if -- if they come to an understanding that it was not that person`s, you know, bad character but it was their mental illness that really led them to that bad act, then -- then you can start to see the person more as a victim than as a perpetrator, you know. You see them as, say, someone who need help, someone who needs help, some -- you know, not an evil villain, you know. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s easy for society to play armchair quarterback and say, "Well, this person should have done this, that or the other." But is there anything, looking back on your tragedy, that you would have done differently?
YATES: Oh, of course, yes. I mean, the little things that, you know, at the time seemed small, you know, today I look back and think, oh, that was -- that was a sign.
You know, when -- when Andrea was worried that Luke wasn`t -- you know, he didn`t know his ABCs at 2, which a lot of kids don`t, you know, well, he -- she kind of got upset about that. And I thought it was kind of out of character.
Or when we called from the mental hospital once and, you know, she talked to Noah. She said, "Hey, I`m sorry I`ve been such a bad mommy." You know, and I thought, "You`ve been a great mommy," you know, but that was her thinking, you know. That was a little sign, a little indicator that, hey, something -- you know, something wasn`t right. She wasn`t thinking -- thinking clearly.
So at any point, you know, you just stop and say, "Hey, there`s something very, very wrong here."
We thought at the time it was just depression, and that might be the same case here, that the family thought she was a little down or had some anxiety. And even her psychiatrist may have thought the same thing and, you know, gave her antidepressants that maybe pushed her into a manic state, I don`t know, you know. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rusty, I just want to say thank you for coming over and joining us and talking about this very difficult subject to shed light on it. And my heart goes out to you and everything you went through. And I`m glad that you`ve managed to, in some way, shape or form, move on with a new family, so thank you for joining us.
YATES: Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really appreciate it.
YATES: Thank you for having me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to talk more about what Rusty said. And again, debate this notion that is this woman really mentally ill? As I was talking to Rusty, I started thinking is it possible she`s a copycat? Studied Andrea Yates` case and said, "I can pretend to be hearing voices, too"?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just seemed, you know, fine. She seemed like herself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But when police arrived at their McCandless home, they found her two youngest children, a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, unresponsive on a bathroom floor. Her 3-year-old son did not survive. Neighbors were shocked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was hoping there would be some good out of this and it was just an accident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just remember everyone got kind of a strange feeling from her, and she wasn`t very social with the other teachers. And she got picked on a little bit, maybe. And it didn`t seem like she had a very pleasant experience as a teacher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle Schlemmer, eerie parallels to the Andrea Yates case. You`ve got to wonder, Rolonda Watts, given that she -- the parallels are just beyond I think coincidence. Could she be a copycat? Could she have wanted to get rid of her kids, looked at the famous Andrea Yates` case and said "I can do it and say I`m hearing voices just like she did."
ROLONDA WATTS, RADIO HOST: First of all, I`ve got to say I give so much appreciation to Mr. Yates, who has so much courage to break it down that way. Maybe it is copycat, but I also think it`s a copycat of a mental imbalance that we need to take a look at. And maybe in that mental imbalance, maybe she looked at another case and decided that she could get away with claiming that. But maybe it --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who thinks it`s a copycat? Who thinks it`s a copycat on our panel?
SIMONE BIENNE, BEHAVIOR EXPERT: I think it`s a copycat excuse for certain. And what we do know research shows us that actually the more you see information on killings, the more you can copy it and the more you can (inaudible), the more you carry these things or can carry these things out. I think it`s a copycat excuse.
WATTS: I think it`s a copycat illness?
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOLOGIST: We don`t know enough. We don`t know enough, that`s the bottom line. From what the other teachers --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I know we don`t know a lot but we`re never going to know enough. We`re never going to have a perfect understanding of this case.
LUDWIG: Here`s one thing that I want to say, Jane, that I think we need look at. When we heard the other teachers who used to be her co- workers talk about this woman, they said that she was odd, she was bizarre, she was disconnected. Those could be signs of negative characteristics of schizophrenia.
We`d also need to look at her family history. Is there any mental illness in her family history? And that would help us know if she was truly psychotic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or the other possibility, maybe Lisa, she just didn`t want to have three children and she shouldn`t have had three children. She should have left it well enough alone with one child, Lisa.
LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVO.COM: Yes, maybe. But, Jane, I don`t think we understand mental illness as much as we should have. And these cases do recur of mothers drowning their babies. Why? Because mothers bathe their children. This is something that I think mentally ill mothers think about when they`re bathing their children, how easy it would be to just hold their head under the water and drown them.
As awful, as disgusting as that is, that`s what happens. And it`s a diseased mind. This is a mental illness. I mean let`s not judge her. Although she`s done a terrible, terrible thing, I think this was obviously --
BIENNE: Lisa, you say let`s not judge her, but what about the father? He should be protecting his children. He shouldn`t be throwing them out literally to the lion`s den. This is absolutely crazy. It`s not an isolated incident. This is the third time she`s harmed her kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, exactly. Steve Greenberg, should the dad have left these kids with this woman?
STEVE GREENBERG, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the dad -- the dad should have seen something, but maybe the dad has his own problems. A lot of times people who have some mental illness are with other people who have mental illness.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s an actuary holding down a job.
BLOOM: Oh, come on.
GREENBERG: He`s an actuary, people hold down jobs all the time. What does that have to do with it?
LUDWIG: With Rusty Yates, do you blame him?
LUDWIG: There`s so much shame surrounding mental illness.
WATTS: I think it`s bigger than a copycat situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time. Let`s do round robin.
LUDWIG: Yes, there`s so much shame surrounding mental illness. I think that`s why we don`t understand it better and that`s why so many people don`t get treatment because they feel humiliated and that they failed in some way. And what`s the result? They become very, very ill and worst case scenarios, very dangerous to those around them.
WATTS: I also think it`s more than a copycat situation or crime, it`s a repetition of one of the biggest crimes is that we don`t know enough about mental illness in our society. I think as a community we`re going to start saying what could we have done? How can we re-educate ourselves with what`s happening in every neighborhood across the country?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want to say one thing. I have covered too many cases this week of innocent children being kidnapped, being murdered, being drowned. Having another human being is a huge, tremendous responsibility. If you`re not up to it, don`t have one.
On the other side, a woman accused of using a stiletto to brutally kill her boyfriend. You will not believe the drama going on in this trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Straddling a dummy with a stiletto in his hand, the prosecutor, John Jordan, demonstrated to jurors how investigators believe Stefan Andersson was killed in his condo last June. The dramatic show-and-tell capped a riveting day in court, as prosecutors continued to lay out their case against Ana Trujillo, the girlfriend who said she killed Andersson in self-defense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A blue suede platform pump.
The bloody blue velvet stiletto with 5.25-inch heels --
Struck Andersson with the stiletto at least 25 times.
Andersson was murdered in his luxury condo. They found Trujillo covered in blood. The girlfriend said she killed Andersson in self defense.
Her bloody hands in handcuffs.
The scene was so bloody it looked like a horror movie.
Quote, "He started beating me up and I couldn`t get away."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all about evil versus evil and whether or not he deserved it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight fireworks and tons of drama in a Texas courtroom as the jury hears Ana Trujillo explain why she killed her boyfriend in her own words. During interrogation, she told cops the university professor and researcher, Stefan Andersson attacked her after a night on the town drinking tequila.
You`re seeing them here caught on surveillance on the way home that night, just a little while before he dies. That is the last image captured of these two, and him. He wrestled her, she claims, to the ground and she says, "Oh, I couldn`t breathe," so she grabbed her stiletto heel, ok, the one you`re seeing right there. I`ve got one here. Still covered in his blood and hit him a couple of times.
Cops say, no, it was more like 25 times -- 25 times. You get a sense of that? Prosecutors say Ana is a cold-blooded murderess who flew into a rage and smashed this high heel into her boyfriend`s head and body 25 times, brutally murdering him. Investigators say the scene was so bloody they thought he had been shot in the face. Jurors were shown never-before- seen pictures of the alleged stiletto killer`s handcuffed hands, covered in blood.
And of course Ana broke down in court sobbing. Oh, yes. But according to the man who knows the defendant, she had long threatened to use her spiky heel on an enemy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM CARROLL, ANA TRUJILLO`S FRIEND: Twice she told me that if anybody ever messed with her, she pulled her shoe off and she said I`ll get them with this and it was a big stiletto heel. I used to tease her how she could walk around on them things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ana can be heard on the 911 call played in court but not released to the public crying for help and saying quote, "He started beating me up," end quote. She also said he was still alive when she placed that 911 call. It takes a lot of force to puncture a human head with a heel. I even had a hard time with a melon.
There she is in better days. Yes, this defendant is a budding TV star.
Straight out to True Crime author Kathryn Casey. You`ve been in court covering this trial, Kathryn. Tell us the most dramatic moment so far.
KATHRYN CASEY, AUTHOR: Oh, it`s got to be when they brought the heels in and they were still covered with Andersson`s hair and blood. There was a gasp in the courtroom.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s horrifying. I mean look at that thing. That is a potent weapon. It`s really like a spike or a knife in a way.
This couple had a very volatile relationship, by the way. Ana`s attorney says the victim -- well, the victim had been abusing her for some time and claims Stefan went crazy because Ana tried to end the relationship that night saying you`re not leaving and slamming her against the wall. But Ana`s friend said as you just heard she often referred to her stilettos as a weapon and was one tough customer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUJILLO: Not a surprise. I mean I`m surprised to see her there, but I could see her doing it, yes, yes. To me she`s always been the aggressor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the "Lion`s Den". You`ve heard the case. Lisa Bloom, legal analyst for avo.com and author of the fantastic book, "Suspicion Nation" is it self-defense or is it murder?
BLOOM: It sounds like self-defense to me. Who would plan a murder with a shoe? If you`re going to plan a murder, you bring a gun, you bring a knife, you push somebody off a cliff. There`s all kinds of ways to do it. I don`t think you do it with a shoe.
What she said before was if somebody tried to hurt me, I would use my shoe in self-defense. I think she grabbed whatever she had around. That`s what she had, that`s what she used, I think it sounds like self-defense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on -- ok, I know Steve -- somebody out there -- Rolonda somebody thinks it`s murder.
GREENBERG: I don`t think it`s murder. I agree with Lisa.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Rolonda.
WATTS: The craziest thing, I was just in North Carolina and my girlfriend has a high-heeled shoe she keeps in her truck as a weapon. It can be used as a weapon for sure.
But was it murder? Did she plot it out or was it a situation where she snapped? They had been drinking tequila. We don`t know what else was in her system. Was it a situation --
GREENBERG: Women are always using heels as a weapon.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. Back down to planet earth with Simone Bienne. What say you, Simone?
BIENNE: 25 times in the face? Can you imagine the strength? Jane, you just said that you were stabbing a melon --
BIENNE: -- you know, with your heel. I cannot imagine the blood. I mean it is just unimaginable.
BLOOM: He`s holding her down and she can`t breathe.
BIENNE: Of course it`s murder.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: 25 times? Can you say Jodi Arias -- 29 times?
The guy was on his back and he was on his back.
GREENBERG: Jane -- would you just walk up to somebody and start hitting them with a shoe because you want to kill them? It`s the most illogical thing I`ve heard of.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s called being (inaudible) and being angry. As a recovering alcoholic --
BLOOM: Jane -- Jodi Arias --
GREENBERG: Angry about what? Angry because he was attacking her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- who just celebrated my 19th year of sobriety on April Fool`s Day and it wasn`t an April Fool`s joke, I can tell you when I drank tequila, my personality changed and I often got angry. And that`s exactly what seems to have happened here.
GREENBERG: So did her.
BLOOM: Jane -- Jodi Arias did not call the police while he was still there alive. She called the police immediately, that`s a big difference. And she told the story immediately, which hangs together. She didn`t bring a weapon to a murder. She used a shoe, which is something that she grabbed in the heat of the moment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s do a little demo. In fact I did one. Investigators say Ana hit Stefan at least 25 times in the face with her stiletto heel. So how hard is it to puncture a head with a heel? Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There it is. This is obviously a substitute for a head. It`s softer than a head. You want to see how hard it is to puncture this? Very hard. It takes a lot of weight for me to puncture this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the prosecution rests, Lisa Bloom.
BLOOM: Jane, really? That`s all it took?
GREENBERG: New meaning to the phrase "melon head".
BLOOM: It could be self-defense and she was being assaulted and she had adrenaline and she was doing anything that she could do to save her life. The number of times, the amount of strength that she used is really not the central issue here.
BIENNE: Yes, but what about the cab driver. He said that she was behaving out of control on the way home after they were drinking. Doesn`t that account for something? Doesn`t that back up the fact that she was out of control?
BLOOM: What does that mean -- out of control?
WATTS: They had also -- they had also had a passionate argument; he was very jealous of her getting a drink from somebody else. Is it a crime of passion? That could escalate things as well between the drinking and whatever else and then the fight.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I can tell you one thing that`s already guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and that`s tequila. Tequila will make you cross the line. Take it from me. Not that I`ve ever hurt anybody, thank God.
The brutal murder of this 21-year-old girl has stunned neighbors and has baffled police. Who killed popular, loving, compassionate Shannon Kleeman? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shannon`s body was found in the basement of the home on Friday by her sister and neighbor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say she suffered gunshot wounds, but the official cause of death will come from the coroner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was so wrong. Whoever did that doesn`t care what human life was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a jaw-dropping murder mystery. Cops say beautiful, 21-year-old Shannon Kleeman found brutally murdered in the basement of her step mom`s home. Shot multiple times, covered in blood. Cops said her family completely baffled. Why would anyone murder this beautiful, clean-cut girl?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What they did to her, I can`t get that image out of my mind.
Someone hurt that child very badly. And they need to pay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shannon was at her stepmom`s house pet-sitting her two dogs and cat while her stepmom was in the hospital. On Friday Shannon`s sister discovered the mutilated body when she went looking for Shannon.
It was just a horrible scene. They called 911. Cops say they don`t have any suspects.
Drew Smith, reporter/anchor, RTD6 Indianapolis, what do you know?
DREW SMITH, REPORTER/ANCHOR, RTV6 INDIANAPOLIS: Well, police are still working all their leads right now. They have not made any arrests. In fact they have not released the names of any suspects. However, we can tell you that some of the neighbors who made that shocking discovery are hoping very soon that police will have something to talk about in this case, a suspect at least or making an arrest because the women that I`ve talked -- yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in and ask you, Drew, do you think it was a home invasion by strangers or do the cops think maybe she knew the killer?
SMITH: People close to the investigation tonight are telling me that probably the victim, 21-year-old Shannon Kleeman, did know the person who murdered her. We`re also being told that half of the woman`s head was pretty much blown off. They did find shotgun shells in the basement where the body was found. So this was a particularly gruesome discovery by the neighbor and then also when the homicide detectives got there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew, thank you so very much for that update.
On the other side we`re going to talk to famed private investigator Vinny Parco and what does he think? What`s his theory?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who killed 21-year-old Shannon Kleeman in the basement of her stepmom`s house? Famed private eye, Vinny Parco -- what say you?
VINNY PARCO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, whoever killed her had such an intense hate for this person. When you kill somebody you don`t usually shoot them in the face like that. It could be an ex-lover. It could be an ex-boyfriend. It could be someone jealous of her.
Someone to shoot somebody and mutilate them that way has to have such an intense, burning hatred for this person. And to shoot somebody in the face, you are destroying them. Shooting somebody in the body and killing them is killing them. But when you shoot them in the face like that, you are destroying them and that is what this person did.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, because the reporter we talked to said that his sources are telling him that it is somebody she knew. So it`s somebody she knew. Who else would have the motive?
PARCO: Right. It had to be -- if I was a police officer working on this case or a detective, I would look for ex-boyfriends, I would look for somebody she works with. It could be somebody who worked with her that is crazy about her and she just spurned this person and this is the way -- this is his way of getting even with her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I think absolutely. She may not even know. There could be a secret crush and she might have said something that he interpreted as rejection and said -- go ahead, ten seconds.
PARCO: That is what I would think. The man -- I wouldn`t think a woman would do something like that. They don`t use shotguns -- only men. I would think he was rejected and just such burning hate that he used the shotgun.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinny Parco, it is always great to get your analysis because you solve cases like this.
Nancy is up next with more on the bathtub mom who killed one kid and tried to kill the other. That`s next.