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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Mom Who Drove Kids into Ocean Free on Bail

Aired June 2, 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. Growing outrage as the pregnant mom accused of hearing demons and trying to murder her three young children by literally driving them into the Atlantic Ocean is walking free tonight. Ebony Wilkerson is out of jail after posting bail. But is she a ticking time bomb?

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mom took her vehicle and accelerated towards the water. She put her family and herself in danger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need a wellness check.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She thinks there`s demons in the house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two in the back seat was crying with their arms out, saying, "Our mommy is trying to kill us. Please help."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three counts of attempted first degree murder. You`re also charged with three counts of child abuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they saying "help?"

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just a few days ago, a judge reduced Ebony Wilkerson`s bond from a whopping $1.2 million down to just 90 grand after Ebony gave birth to a baby boy behind bars. Then she told the judge she was, quote, "feeling normal again."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EBONY WILKERSON, ACCUSED OF TRYING TO KILL HER CHILDREN: I feel like I`m back to my normal self, and I`m feeling like my old self, like old Ebony, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Normal? Really? Just three months ago, this woman was hearing demons and hallucinating. That kind of mental illness, in my humble opinion, doesn`t just disappear overnight.

And Ebony`s own sister dialed 911 at that time, telling cops her sister was acting crazy. And that was just hours before this troubled mother drove a minivan full of her own children into the Atlantic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t understand why you need a well-being check.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she`s, like, having psychosis or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like, what is she doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s talking about Jesus and that there`s demons in my house, and that I`m trying to control her, but I`m trying to keep them safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She thinks there`s demons in the house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ebony`s sister was worried the mother was having postpartum psychosis when she tried to kill her oldest three children. And she just gave birth, a few weeks ago, again. Is Ebony a loaded cannon?

I want to hear from you at home. Please call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1- 877-586-7297.

Our Lion`s Den fired up and ready to debate. Got to start with Joe Gomez, reporter, KMLD. You have covered this. The notion that Ebony, who drove her kids into the ocean and literally fought off people who were trying to save them -- thank God they did -- that she suddenly, "Oh, I`m fine. I`m fine. Now I can go"? Isn`t that crazy in itself?

JOE GOMEZ, REPORTER, KMLD: It is bizarre, Jane. You`ll recall when this first happened, this incident first came out, it made international news. That video went viral, from doing a belly flop out of the minivan when she drove into the rough surf on Daytona Beach with her kids inside.

Now she`s been bailed out of jail, her bond reduced from $1.5 million to $90,000. We presume that the father of the child that she had while she was behind bars was the one that helped bail her out of jail.

Now, if she did indeed suffer from postpartum depression, if that played a role, Jane, there is concern out there for the child that she just had. Because we understand that child was in the custody of its father, which was the one -- the guy that bailed her out of jail.

So hopefully, that kid is staying with, you know, family members that are going to be away from this woman, if she is, you know, going to be staying with this man. There`s also concern for the other kids that were involved, who were clearly traumatized by the whole incident. Though we understand that they`re staying with a foster family at this point, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Wendy Murphy, this entire thing is crazy. First of all, the idea that she thinks she`s OK. When you`re insane, you think you`re OK. OK? That`s...

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s part of the insanity. And then, yes -- remember, when she originally drove her kids into the ocean, she claimed that she was fleeing the husband, the very one who now has custody of the infant child.

MURPHY: Yes, and it turns out while she`s talking to the devil and fleeing her husband, half of her story was actually correct. I`m sure there was no devil in the van, but the husband was a monster.

And what kind of a country is this, where, you know, we who wonder about the well-being of the children are forced to choose between the father, who`s apparently a molester, who the court has already said isn`t a good enough father or fit enough father to be with the children already born, but somehow he`s fit enough to be with the newborn, who he has custody of because the mother tried to kill all of them while she`s giving birth to a kid she clearly can`t handle. What? You know, that`s the craziness of this story, that we`re choosing between crappy and crappier.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. We don`t know. This woman absolutely has no credibility with me. And I absolutely do not doubt that she may have lied through her teeth about why she was driving her kids into the ocean and what she was doing.

Because remember, she went from one state to another with these kids before she drove them into the ocean. So I certainly don`t want to convict the father. We talked to his attorney. He said he had really no comment at this time. And we invited that father on the show, and he declined. So the person who`s the bad guy, in essence, here is Ebony. Ebony`s three older kids are now in the care of the state.

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: Jane, I disagree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

WALSH: Jane, this is Dr. Wendy. I`m telling you, this woman clearly showed signs of postpartum psychosis and pregnancy psychosis. Having so many children so close together can make your hormones really drive you crazy. And it`s a very small portion of the population that have these extreme kinds of symptomatology.

But it is very possible that, after giving birth, that her hormones would have calmed down a bit, and she would be more stable. She`s also probably medicated.

This isn`t a criminal. This is a mentally ill woman who needs our help and support. And we need to circle the wagons around her entire family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Wendy Walsh, do you know that she was involved in a deadly car accident seven years ago? And that there is a man who doesn`t have a wife and a little baby, who doesn`t have a mother because she made an improper lane change? This woman has been involved in a deadly incident before. Go ahead.

WALSH: Jane...

MO IVORY, ATTORNEY: Let`s go with some truth to that. Let`s say that that even has some merit, that you would say you have compassion for her and that she`s mentally ill. Then why are we allowing her out, where she could clearly have access to not only the three children that she tried to kill, but the one that...

WALSH: She doesn`t have access to her children.

IVORY: Well, no, they say...

WALSH: She doesn`t have access.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has direction -- she only has direction...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time. One at a time. Anna Yum, go ahead.

ANNA YUM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What`s the harm, Jane, in the judge evaluating her a little bit longer? That`s the problem I have.

You know, Jane, normally when I`m on your show, I`m defending people all the time. But I have to say that I don`t necessarily agree with the judge`s decision in this case. It`s just way too soon. Three months and all of a sudden she`s saying that she`s OK?

What`s the harm in evaluating her a little bit longer, as opposed to drastically reducing the bail? Ninety-thousand-dollar bail for these types of crimes is very low, in my opinion. And it`s very, very unheard of.

IVORY: Also, why not just give more time for her to recover, where this is a very short time she`s been in jail. Give it more time to make sure that she is correctly rehabilitated.

YUM: Oh, yes, jail is a great place to recover.

IVORY: Better than her having access to killing -- trying to kill her children again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me set the stage here, because Ebony`s three older children are now in the care of the state. I want to make that clear.

But as we`ve been talking about, she gave birth while in jail to a little boy. That baby is living with her husband. The very same husband that Ebony and her sister had claimed was abusive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her husband beat on her. She came down from South Carolina to my house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t understand how -- I don`t understand why you need a well-being check.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she`s, like, having psychosis or something. Or postpartum.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, OK. The husband, again, has denied all claims of abuse.

But in a very shocking twist, Ebony allegedly wrote him a note after the birth of their child, a note from behind bars, saying, "I love you and keep him safe. Look out for the family. Keep me in your prayers. Remember 529." I don`t know exactly what that means. I think that`s the date of the hearing. "You`re a great father and husband, God bless."

So, you know, Wendy Walsh, I have to go back to the psychologist. She`s all over the map.

IVORY: It`s proof positive that she`s crazy.

WALSH: Of course, she`s all over the map. She`s not well. She needs to be in the care of mental-health workers, not prison guards. She needs to be given the proper care. She`s not going to get well sitting in a jail cell.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, frankly, I`m not so worried about her. I`m worried about her kids. Listen, she drove into the ocean with her kids. A person capable of doing that is capable of defying court orders. The court says you`re not supposed to go anywhere near your infant child.

YUM: Absolutely. Right, right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who knows if she has the ability to track this child down?

Let me go out to the phone lines. Kiana, Kentucky. Kiana, what do you have to say? Kiana?

CALLER: Yes. Honestly, I feel like it`s ridiculous. They might as well let her own a daycare, in my eyes. I think it`s really stupid, that the judge`s decision was dumb. I feel that the kids might be in danger. I feel more sorry for the newborn baby. I mean, what -- how does it go? Just because she feels normal now? How might she feel, you know, like some of the kids the next day? I feel like it was a dumb decision, if you ask me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mo Ivory, attorney, radio personality out of Atlanta, what should the judge have done?

IVORY: I think -- I don`t really disagree that the judge might have put her somewhere where she can conceivable get some mental health care. I don`t altogether think that`s a bad idea.

I think it`s a terrible idea to release her into the public space. It`s a terrible idea for her to know where her children are. Yes, the court order said do not go anywhere near your children. But one of the very children that she just had is with the husband that she just basically wrote a love letter to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And who bailed her out.

IVORY: And who obviously bailed her out. I just think it`s bad supervision by the judge. I think it`s a bad decision. And I would like to see her get some more help. But she still has to face a court trial. So this woman is going to be there every day, facing a court trial. She has to stand up for what she did. And I think you`re endangering the children by allowing her to be in the same place, the same city, where they are, and...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not necessarily. Listen, even -- just because he bailed her out, we have a statement from her attorney, who says, "She`s been visiting with me. She`s staying inside all the rules that were set by the judge." So we can`t make any leaps.

I honestly don`t know why this man would have bailed her out, because she accused him of being abusive. She accused him of raping her. She accused him of touching the kids. Let`s -- let me go to Wendy Walsh.

WALSH: I know why he bailed her. He bailed her out for control. He bailed her out for control, Jane. He bailed her out because, if what she`s saying is true and abusive. It`s all about the control. He wants to be able to dangle it over her head and say, "Look, I bailed you out. You have to do whatever I tell you do, because now you`re indebted to me."

And these D.V. relationships are so toxic. We always know that the abuser and the D.V. victim have this toxic type of relationship.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But again, Wendy Walsh, we don`t have any knowledge other than a crazy woman saying, "My husband beat me." He is denying those allegations. In fact, he said he didn`t know about it until he heard the media reports.

WALSH: Yes, we don`t know the truth. Because she made those comments while she was under pregnancy psychosis. So we don`t know what she was hallucinating about.

MURPHY: Wait, wait. Wait, wait, wait.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let Wendy finish. Let Wendy finish. Thanks.

WALSH: I just want to say one thing. You know, this would be a very different situation if the phone call that was made from the sister was white, more educated and had good health insurance. She was really dismissed by the 911 operator.

The 911 operator was saying, "So why are you calling? What does she need?" She just said that she was potentially attacked by her husband. That sounds to me like call the police. It`s a domestic violence request.

And then we need a 5150, because she`s having a mental health breakdown. But she was really dismissed and didn`t get the care she needed from the beginning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this. That in response to that 911 call, which occurred approximately two hours before she tried to drive her kids into the ocean and did drive her kids into the ocean, in response to that call, authorities did visit her. They interviewed her.

And she said, "I`m headed to a domestic violence shelter." She didn`t say, "I`m going to the ocean to drive my kids into the ocean." She told the cops what would appear to be, unless she did a quick stop at the domestic violence center on the way to the beach, a lie.

Later, a frantic search for a beautiful model who has vanished, and cops suspect foul play. It`s a total mystery. She seems to have disappeared into thin air. I`m going to talk to her very best friend in an exclusive interview.

But first, we`re just getting started on this -- well, now the world knows her as Ocean Mom. And she is walking free somewhere right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She definitely tried to kill her children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ebony Wilkerson drove a minivan filled with her children into the Atlantic Ocean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought it was just a joke, you know, hey, they`re having a good time. And it became clear they were screaming for help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had this look on her face. I can`t even describe it. It`s just an awful, blank look, like spaced-out look.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When Ebony Wilkerson drove her kids into the ocean, witnesses said she looked like a zombie. And she actually fought efforts of those heroes who got in there and pulled those kids out. But over her objections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid on her lap, fighting her for the steering wheel. And the two in the back seat was crying with their arms out, saying, "Our mommy is trying to kill us. Please help."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. There`s a ton of conditions with Ebony`s release. No contact with her kids. With kids at all. Taking meds. She has to stay in the county. No drugs, no alcohol.

But Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, I`ve got to ask. Is that enough? I understand what people are saying, that she`s mentally ill, and she needs help. Listen, you can`t have to both ways. Either you`re mentally ill or not. She`s saying, "I`m fine." They let her out.

Now her attorney -- public reports indicate that her attorney might go after the insanity defense. How can she say, "Well, I`m OK now," and then come back later and say, "Oh, I was insane"?

MURPHY: She was -- she`ll say she was insane for a few minutes that day, I`m sure.

Look, to me, if you`re unsafe because you`re mentally ill or you`re unsafe because you`re a jerk, I don`t care. You can`t walk free in society. That`s just the way it is.

When you want to live in a civilized world, and you need a tune-up or you`re just a bum and an evil person and you can`t stop yourself from hurting others, you can`t walk free. That`s how I feel. So I don`t have a lot of sympathy for her.

However, if the question is, will this keep her stable? The answer might be yes. Why? Because she doesn`t want to go to jail. So what does she got to do? Pop some Thorazine, or whatever it is that she`s taking. If that keeps her safe and free, I`m OK with that for now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Gomez, here`s the problem. And we`ve covered so many stories of mentally ill people. They don`t take the drugs they`re supposed to take. We know that with Andrea Yates. She was on all sorts of medications; and she didn`t want to take them and she stopped taking them. And so, you know, but once they get out, then it`s a totally different scenario. Who`s to say?

GOMEZ: Exactly, Jane. Who`s to say? And the fact is, she could be in a very volatile situation if she`s back with her husband, who she alleged had raped her, had molested all these -- molested her kids, then all these other horrible things.

We understand that they`re going to give her blood testing to make sure that she takes her medicine. But, again, who`s to say that she`s still going to follow up on it?

If she is in such a fragile mental state, Jane, and she`s going back with her husband, isn`t this just going to make it worse? Could this not make her snap again?

I mean, how can you suddenly just drive your car into the ocean, with one of your kids strapped into a child seat in the back, and then, you know, some months later say, "Oh, I`m fine. Everything is OK"? It doesn`t make any sense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I mean, come on, Wendy Walsh, psychologist.

WALSH: If you`re a man, then you can have this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand. I`m not a man. It doesn`t make sense to me. Listen, I`ve done therapy. I`ve done many, many self-help...

WALSH: Never had psychosis.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, I`ve never had pregnancy psychosis. But I think that she just gave birth. She just gave birth. She could have postpartum psychosis again.

WALSH: My point is -- but my point is, this woman is really -- we`re not doing the right thing for her anyway. If we want to do what`s best for her family, Jane, then we need to give her the mental health services she needs. We need to give the social services to the kids. We need to work on either trying to put this family back together or finding a better place for these kids permanently.

IVORY: Wendy.

WALSH: But just putting her in jail to rot because she -- did someone call a new mother a bum and an evil person? Did I hear that on the show?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I guess you did, because she drove her three kids, ages 3, 9 and 10 at the time, into the ocean and fought people who tried to rescue them.

WALSH: While she was having a mental health event.

IVORY: Wendy, Wendy, you keep saying...

MURPHY: Being a woman doesn`t mean you`re not a bum. Come on.

IVORY: You also -- you also keep saying that...

MURPHY: She could be a bum!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

MURPHY: Doesn`t mean she`s not a bum.

IVORY: She keeps saying that she needs the mental care help. Obviously, she was getting that in jail. Because she then came right out of jail on to the stand and said, "I`m back to my regular self. It`s worked. Whatever they gave me, it`s working."

WALSH: The jail is well-known for their good health services and their mental health services. Talk reality.

(CROSSTALK)

IVORY: She got on the stand and she said she was back to her regular self. So obviously, the medication that they were giving her in jail helped her go from "driving my kids into the ocean," to "I`m back to my regular self." So something was going fine there that they could have kept on doing and kept her behind bars.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me go to crystal, Georgia, for a second, because phones are just lighting up on this one.

Crystal, what have you got to say?

CALLER: What I`ve got to say is, I think she fooled the judge. I think she told the judge what he or she wanted to hear.

It`s clear that this woman is not sane. She should have been released to a mental health facility of some sort. She shouldn`t even be allowed to even have children. The baby shouldn`t have been placed back with the father. Because obviously, there is something going on in that home.

So I don`t understand how the judge came to the decision to give the newborn baby to the father when there`s questions there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anna Yum, the other three kids are in foster care. Why not put the little infant in foster care? And just take every precaution, even though, again, the lawyer for the father says none of that happened.

YUM: Do we know it`s the same father? There needs to be some kind of CPS investigation to see if these allegations are substantiated.

I mean, the children, obviously not the newborn, but the children can speak for themselves. They can indicate whether there`s any kind of abuse here. Why automatically trust the father when there`s these allegations that are flying in the air? I just think that`s really irresponsible. And I think that there needs to be better precaution that are -- that take place so this newborn is safe. We can`t just take the father`s word for it. There has to be some sort of investigation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to hear from somebody who says this woman destroyed his life and his entire family seven years before she drove her kids into the ocean.

Stay right there. This is unbelievable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She actually told them to close their eyes and go to sleep, because she was taking them to a better place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ebony Wilkerson drove a minivan filled with her children into the Atlantic ocean. The dramatic drive on

Florida`s Daytona Beach caught on tape as the kids inside cried for help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILKERSON: I feel like I`m back to my normal safe, like old Ebony, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she seems very lucid talking to the judge there. The judge who lowered her bail, and now she`s out and about.

Now her three children and the child that was in her belly when she drove into the ocean weren`t her first alleged victims. Ebony Wilkerson was in a car crash seven years earlier that killed a young mother. I spoke to the dead woman`s husband. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG KRANE, FAMILY VICTIMIZED BY `OCEAN MOM`: What comes around goes around. And if you do something wrong and you try to lie about it and not take responsibility, then obviously someday soon you will get what you deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, he was very bitter about the accident that caused his wife, the mother of his infant son, to die.

Now, Ebony told the court she had no prior criminal history, according to published reports. She mentioned a few traffic tickets. You know, I`ve got to say, I don`t know if the judge was told about this deadly car crash where all she was cited for was an improper lane change but the man you heard from believed that it was her action that killed his wife.

Wendy Murphy, I don`t know, again if the judge heard about that. But isn`t that a game-changer, in a sense, or is that just coincidence?

MURPHY: You know, look, the fact is, no judge is so stupid that they`re just going to believe what a defendant says. Most defendants lie all of the time. You think the judge said, "Oh, she told me she was tuned up and that she had no record so I think I`ll just give her a walk." That`s not what happened in this case.

It`s a complicated case. She`s not safe. I think she deserves to be punished. She`s lucky the kids aren`t dead. Had they been dead, she`d never see the light of day again.

But let`s not forget, we keep not saying this. The father is not a nice guy. I know, his lawyer said, blah, blah, blah. The judge in the family court proceeding forbade him to be with the kids, OK? That`s a court order. That`s not she alleged and she`s cuckoo. The judge had said he can`t go near the kids. Maybe he made her crazy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s invited on our show any time. Any time. Because, you know what? He didn`t get in a car and try to drive his children or any children into the ocean.

Let`s go to John, Louisiana. John, Louisiana.

CALLER: Hey, hey. How are you all doing?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good.

CALLER: OK. OK. My feeling is, honestly, you`re dealing with two psychos right now. And to hear him talk, you`re dealing with two real psychos right now, you know?

And I don`t think they should have let her out. She`s definitely, you know, into some type of drugs. I don`t know what it is. But I think it`s clear that she is definitely using some type of drug, and she needs a lot more than a mental hospital right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what? You make an important point.

CALLER: She needs (UNINTELLIGIBLE) time right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Gomez, you know, so many of these stories that we cover -- remember, Shaky Mom, the mom who killed her kids for being mouthy. You know, oh, mental illness. But it turned out she also had a severe drug and alcohol problem. Just so happens.

GOMEZ: That`s true, Jane. Especially with that Shaky Mom case. I mean, we found out that, yes, she was abusing her antipsychotics and with alcohol. She was going to the bar. She was concealing alcohol from her husband.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But getting back...

GOMEZ: She was doing this in secret.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... this case. Getting back to this case, there might be more to it. I`m going to give Wendy Walsh the last word. You know, I find 90 percent of evil, unfathomable behavior, usually there`s drugs and/or alcohol involved somewhere along the line.

WALSH: Well, if that from true, Jane, then her children would have had fetal alcohol syndrome. They would have been taken away earlier, by the Department of Children Services. There would have been more investigation. She had three healthy children as far as we know and a fourth healthy one in jail. That`s all I`ll say.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I don`t know. I don`t know. I`ve seen people slip and slide past those hurdles, and we don`t know. But something to look into.

On the other side, this woman you`re about to see could be in very grave danger. Cops say she hasn`t been seen for ten days. She is a model. She lives in Nashville but she has disappeared.

Her very best friend is our exclusive guest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We worry that we`ll never see her again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have new information about a Hermitage mother who has been missing for a week now.

SKY ARNOLD, CORRESPONDENT: This is the type of disappearance where foul play might be involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would never leave her child, she would never leave her dogs for that matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seemed like someone worked hard to sever her communication with all of her friends and family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burgess simply disappeared.

ARNOLD: She was well-known in the pin-up modeling community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hope is that beyond anything -- hopefully she is still alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a city on edge after a strikingly beautiful model vanishes into thin air. What happened to single mom, Nikki Burgess? All the evidence in this case -- deepening, deepening mystery is pointing to foul play. Was she kidnapped from her Nashville area home?

Ten days ago, Nikki sent a disturbing text to a friend. Nobody has heard from her since. Police will not say what that message was. The day she disappeared, a neighbor saw a suspicious car in Nikki`s driveway. So did somebody drive off with her in that car? Investigators found Nikki`s car at home with her purse inside the car. Who leaves a purse inside the car? Also, she left behind her two dogs. Friends say she would never, never leave her dogs alone for days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: cops are still searching for more leads; a neighbor says he saw a mystery gray vehicle at Nikki`s home the day she went missing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a number of things about this particular matter with Nicole Burgess that greatly concerns the police department.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could Nikki have fall victim to some obsessed fan. Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586-7297.

I want to start with my exclusive guest, Shannon Million, a very close friend of missing mom Nikki Burgess. Thank you so much Shannon for helping us spread word about your friend. This is so sad, and my heart goes out to you and all the people who care about Nikki. What`s your gut sense of what may have happened to her?

SHANNON MILLION, FRIEND OF NIKKI BURGESS: I think -- my gut sense is not good. Nikki is a strong-willed, fiery red head personality, and somebody who would survive something if there was a fight, if she was -- if she had to fight for her life. It`s -- it`s really frightening right now for her to have been gone for this long and for no one to have heard from her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It certainly is. And now, there are so many things that are disturbing. First of all, her friend is now taking care of her two dogs, and you have been quoted saying she would never leave her dogs alone for any length of time. They were alone for a couple days. It was the Friday before last she was last seen or heard from. And then the cops came in, I believe, on Sunday before last.

Nikki left a disturbing text message, and it could actually be the key to solving this mystery. Police won`t say what message Nikki sent. It`s interesting, though, that she was able to send a message at all, if she was being attacked or kidnapped.

So I want to go back to you, Shannon. Were you the one who got this message, and I know you may have concerns about saying exactly what was in that message. But can you give us a hint of why it was disturbing and what time it was sent?

MILLION: I`m not the individual who received that message. I think it may have even been one of her close friends who she is currently in contact with. Nikki went off of all of her social media almost a year ago and slowly and progressively started to lose contact with a lot of the friends and family that were close in her life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why do you think that was?

MILLION: I think that she had some pressure from someone in her life to not be a public figure. That happens sometimes with people who are in the modeling industry, or in Nashville -- we have a lot of entertainers, performers, dancers, singers. And sometimes if you are dating the wrong person or you`ve got the wrong support system in your life in terms of your family or your friends, sometimes people will try to pressure you out of being in the limelight and in that industry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Nikki shared custody of her 10-year-old son with her ex-husband. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, about three hours from her home. Police had said he was with the son. In other words, they have talked to him -- the boy was with his dad -- several hours away when Nikki vanished.

Nikki`s boyfriend told local reporters he last talked to her at about 2:00 p.m. the day she was last seen, again the Friday before last. He says Nikki was about to leave the Nashville area, and head to the town of Sparta, Tennessee, which is over an hour away, or Knoxville -- or Crossville. Crossville, Tennessee, which is about 90 minutes away.

Now, do you have any idea, Shannon, why she would have been getting ready to leave for those two other cities which are a couple of hour drive away?

MILLION: What I understand is that the current guy who she is dating, who I have not met, but who people say they get a really good vibe off of him, that he -- I think he lives in one of those towns. I think that he might live in Sparta. She`s originally from Crossville. But somebody had reported that she was considering moving to Cookeville at one point in time. And I don`t know anything about that --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in very quickly. She had an ex boyfriend who was bothering her? No names, please?

MILLION: She had a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend -- that`s correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So was she scared of this guy? Obviously, she got a restraining order.

MILLION: You know, in those situations I think that what happens is you end up filing for a restraining order even when you don`t want to, when you know it`s in your best interest. And the best interest of the people around you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to bring in our panel, if you could stay. Thank you for that very important information.

MILLION: Sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A man that lives directly across the street from Nikki`s home says he saw something suspicious the day she vanished the Friday before last. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were in the car that backed up in the driveway, which nobody backs up in their driveway over here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Joe Gomez. You`ve covered a lot of these cases. A car that backs in -- what do you make of it, and what do you make of the information Shannon gave us?

JOE GOMEZ, REPORTER, KRLD: Yes, the car that backs in, that`s pretty suspicious. Why wouldn`t the car just pull up to the front if somebody was going to pick up Nikki or if they were friend, why back in? That suggests that they`re going to take something from the house, load it into the trunk, load it into the back seat -- something like that.

What Shannon talked about, an ex boyfriend, this makes me think perhaps jealousy may have been a motive. Maybe he was jealous of the fact that she was getting all this attention. Maybe there was an obsessed fan with Nikki. Nikki is a beautiful woman. She is a beautiful woman, she`s a pinup model. She has been out there. There could be somebody that was just so obsessed with her that he had to have her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, the house is normally tidy, it was unusually messy. Her car in the driveway with her purse inside with her two dogs inside the house. What do you make of it?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. I mean, I hate to sort of add to the fear that people have that she may have already suffered her demise, but the fact is, if there was a wreck inside the house and that`s where there was some kind of fight, maybe perhaps even a strangulation death where there would be no forensic evidence, but it might have been possible then to secrete her out of the house and use the drunk to keep it -- to keep it away from any visible observations by the neighbors that there was any kind of ruckus.

I am very worried. I would like to know what that text said. That might help all of us solve the problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And we don`t know. And the authorities are not telling us.

Now, at the top of the hours, Nancy Grace has a whole lot more on this story. That`s in just a couple of minutes. Keep it right here on HLN.

And on a much lighter note, as we pray for Nikki`s safe return -- guess who is back? Yes, so are her kids. Kate Gosselin and her brood have a new reality show, and you will not believe what`s on one of the preview clips. Critics are slamming her. We`re going to show you what`s making them so angry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reports of Kate`s difficult behavior behind the scenes didn`t endear her to the masses.

KATE GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: Can you just show me? We don`t have enough time. I`m stressed.

TONY DOVOLANI, DANCING WITH THE STARS: Really? Then why don`t you start paying attention to my teaching then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Backstage video shown on "Dancing with the Stars" portrayed Kate as a less than pleasant student. At one point her dance partner Tony Dovolani even quit.

DOVOLANI: I quit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOSSELIN CHILDREN: We`re back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We missed you.

K. GOSSELIN: Every mom runs themselves ragged. I just -- I`m really ragged.

I would love to be in a movie at some point. I`m getting older, tireder, more worn out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Gosselins are back. Three years after TLC cancelled "Jon & Kate Plus Eight", mom Kate Gosselin bringing her brood back to cable TV for a two-part special. But is it good for the kids? When the show premiered, Jon and Kate -- of course, they seemed to be a loving couple. They were raising eight kids -- a set of twins and sextuplets. Since then they have gone through a very nasty -- very, very nasty, very public divorce.

Jon has repeatedly said he doesn`t want his kids on TV again. But Kate has continued to march them in front of the cameras. Her quest to cling to the spotlight included a stint on ABC`s "Dancing with the Stars". Remember?

(MUSIC)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The special "Kate plus Eight: Sextuplets Turn Ten" will air later this month. We have gotten a sneak peek as one of the oldest twins, 13-year-old Maddie, gets into a fight with her mom. Watch this from TLC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

K. GOSSELING: A lot has changed since you last have been here. It`s all still happening with or without cameras. We`ve all been through a lot. We`ve learned what`s important, and I`m getting older, tireder, more worn out.

The kids are getting older and smarter and giving me a run for my money daily and hourly and moment by moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. All right. Amber Ryland, news editor RadarOnline, in a second we`re going to play a very scary clip of her having a big fight with her 13-year-old daughter. But I`ve got to talk about her looks. She has got the long, blonde hair, not a wrinkle. I mean the woman is 39. She looks like a teenager. Is she working overtime in the self improvement department?

AMBER RYLAND, RADARONLINE: I think so. I think instead of mothering her eight children, maybe the way most of America would think she should be she has clearly been focused on herself. She has had a dramatic makeover from, you know, the early Kate Gosselin with the spiky hair, frumpy outfits. She is very focused on herself. And I think she`s sort of using her kids as a way to keep the focus on herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, to that end, let`s show you the promo clip that`s got everybody talking, and some people outraged from TLC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

K. GOSSELIN: It`s spring break. We have fun things planned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No fun things.

K. GOSSELIN: Ok, goodbye. That was as easy as that.

MADDIE GOSSELIN: I didn`t do anything.

K. GOSSELIN: You don`t get to choose.

M. GOSSELIN: You never trust me.

K. GOSSELIN: That`s mine until further notice.

I got those girls cell phones and iPads so I could take them away. Yes, indeed. And I have learned I`m not the only parent of teens who has discovered that little gem. Find their currency and that is it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Walsh, we need a psychologist desperately. What is going on with this woman? She seems like a drill sergeant and not just humiliating this child privately, she`s doing it on national television.

WALSH: Jane, she is making good TV, as the producers expect her to. I don`t think any of this is good for the kids. But I do like the idea of removing technology as a consequence. But you don`t have to do it in anger. You can do it softly. You can say, oh, I`m sorry, we`re going to lose it for a day, and I promise you can earn it back earlier with good behavior.

o I think that her parenting is maybe not the best. But the fact she is doing it on TV is the worst thing of all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You think? Maybe not the best. Honestly, this is frightening to me. First of all, Jon, the ex-husband, has said he doesn`t want his kids on TV. I don`t understand it, Anna Yum, criminal defense attorney, why are these kids on TV if the dad doesn`t want them to be on TV? Do they have a say? Does this 13-year-old who is fighting with her mom have a say as to whether she wants to be scolded on national television?

ANNA YUM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They do. They do have a say through their father. Their father, Jon, can march into court, try to seek an injunction and try to basically stop this behavior. This is ridiculous. Kate is just exploiting her children, putting them in the national spotlight, only to reprimand them and scold them. This is not the best interest of the children.

And Jon has every right being their father to go into court and say look, we need to put an end to this. Like give it a break, Kate, move on. We understand you need to make money, but to do this to your children -- that`s ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He didn`t do that, though.

YUM: That`s what Jon should do. He should seek legal counsel. He should seek legal counsel and go to court and tell the judge we don`t want this. Not for the sake of the children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re going to be talking about his problems on the other side. You will not believe the job that he`s held recently -- quite a fall.

Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you let Kate have your kids participate in another reality show?

JON GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: No. I`d fight it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ll fight it.

J. GOSSELIN: I fought so hard to get my kids off of television. It didn`t work with civil court. It didn`t work with TLC. It didn`t work with anyone. So I had to go to family court and try and stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But apparently, he didn`t fight it hard enough because there they are back on TV. Amber Ryland, Radaronline, what`s happening with Jon?

RYLAND: Jon`s struggling right now. I was going to bring this up earlier when you talked about fighting to keep the kids off TV. As Radar reported, we have really good sourcing that tells us that Jon actually made a secret deal with Kate. He`s struggling with money. As we know, he was working as a waiter in a local pub in Pennsylvania, which is quite a step down from reality TV, trying to make ends meet.

So he made a deal with Kate that he wasn`t going to pay child support anymore, and in exchange he no longer has a say with Kate as to whether or not the kids appear on TV.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable.

RYLAND: So sources tell us --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s all about the money. I want to go to Brittany, Delaware. What do you have to say? Brittany, Delaware.

BRITTANY, DELAWARE (via telephone): Hi, Jane. I just want to say you are amazing and Kate needs to get in the unemployment line like other Americans in the country, you know, who aren`t working. It`s crazy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I love it. Wendy Walsh, I agree entirely.

WALSH: Well, I don`t know whether we want to completely reduce these poor children to being hungry and starving. She`s probably making -- these parents are probably making some really tough choices about how to support the kids. I don`t think it`s the best choice out there but I don`t think the unemployment line`s any better.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I see what you`re saying. All of this then forces her to think about the choices that she made. You know, she said she`s exhausted, she`s getting older, she`s tired, she`s worn out. She made certain decisions in her life and those decisions are irrevocable. Now she has to live with the consequences.

Jon and Kate`s life is a cautionary tale for all of us. You know what I`m talking about.

Nancy`s next.

END