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Mother Accused of Poisoning Son, 5; Mommy Blogger Accused of Killing Her Son; He Hurt Mommy`s Face; Michael Jace Pleads Not Guilty
Aired June 18, 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. Outrage as a young mother is accused of the truly unthinkable. Cops say she poisoned
her adorable 5-year-old son.
This 26-year-old mother blogged about her son`s chronic illnesses for years, gaining a following as a doting mom, apparently basking in all the
sympathy and attention she got. But doctors say circumstances of the boy`s death add up to thing one and one thing alone: murder!
Cops believe the mom intentionally and repeatedly slipped salt into his feeding tube, ultimately killing him, as she played the part of a
devastated mom for sympathy, even asking friends to pray for her son.
Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. Thanks for joining me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most unthinkable crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Lacey Spears?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medical examiner now says 5-year-old Garnett Spears was murdered.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The young mom would tell people Garnett required a feeding tube.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: High levels of sodium in his system.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators say the 26-year-old poisoned her son with sodium.
MATT UPPERBRINK, MOTHER`S FRIEND: It does not sound like the Lacey that we know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now in shackles for killing her own son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lacey used to write about her son`s health battles on Facebook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s tragic when the caregiver of any child does anything but protect it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pleads not guilty to both counts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Little Garnett Spears spent much of his short life in and out of hospitals. Mom, Lacey, documented his every ailment online,
from ear infections procedures to G.I. problems.
She insisted, for example, he need a feeding tube, though a lot of people say they saw him eating regular food without problems.
When little Garnett was raced to the hospital this past January, doctors confronted his mom, telling her it was, quote, metabolically
impossible for her son to produce such high levels of sodium, adding, "Something isn`t right." Four days later, Garnett was dead.
The mom`s pleaded not guilty. But prosecutors say they have evidence she deliberately put deadly levels of salt into his feeding tube bag.
Now former friends say they feel duped and betrayed. We`re going to be talking exclusively to one in a second.
Should doctors and cops have intervened sooner? Could they have stopped this before the child died?
What do you think? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.
We have a fantastic Lion`s Den panel ready to debate it tonight. But first, straight out to CNN`s Elizabeth Espinosa, who`s been all over this
Elizabeth, isn`t it true the little boy may have actually been afraid of being alone with his mother?
ELIZABETH ESPINOZA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It is just unheard of. This is so awful, this story. So sad.
This little boy, Garnett, 5 years young, was begging authorities. We learned today that he was begging doctors, nurses, hospital staff not to be
with his mom. He didn`t want her in the same hospital room with him. I mean, this is the very thing that is a red flag.
However, Mom had unrestricted access to her son while he was in the hospital. And of course, this is even after doctors and nurses reported
Mom to Child Protective Services because of those unstable numbers, things that did not make sense biologically speaking when they looked at his
sodium levels that they said was unreasonable and unrealistic. Also we`ve learned...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, continue, because I have something to say about that. Yes, go ahead.
ESPINOSA: Well, you know, Jane, we also learned that, while her son is dying in the hospital, she calls her friend, a neighbor, and says, "Hey,
can you go to my house, please, and get rid of the feeding tubes and the bags?" And when the neighbor found out, wait a second; there`s an
investigation going on here, she didn`t throw it away. She gave it to cops.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And cops though -- and there were extremely high levels, extremely high levels of salt in that bag.
And you know, this case makes me want to scream, Mel Robbins, legal analyst and CNN commentator. The reason is, Department of Children and
Families have been contacted way back in 2011 by people who were suspicious of her behavior. There were many, several contacts, DCF.
So why do we not have a system when the doctors then confront this mom in the hospital and say, "There`s no way that he could naturally produce
all this salt. Something`s wrong, lady," where they could pull up this record and see, DCF has been called?
That didn`t happen. So they allowed her to remain in the hospital room overnight with her son, and then within two days, he`s sick, and
within a couple of more days, he`s dead?
MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Jane, I hear your roar. And I am just as furious. And I think that`s the detail.
I think if you take a step back, and you see that this is a mommy blogger who`s doting over her son, most of us from a distance feel
sympathy. We`re thinking, "Oh, my God, this poor woman. She`s got a 5- year-old that`s in and out of the hospital." You don`t immediately think - - it`s not human nature to think, I bet she`s got some sort of psycho thing going on where she`s causing it.
But when you`re a doctor and you have the authority to, first of all, say, "Wait a minute. I`m calling child services," and you also say to
yourself out loud, "This is impossible metabolically for your kid to have this level of salt, there is something going on. And we are going to keep
him safe until we figure it out."
That doctor, Jane, as you know, could have easily picked up the phone, even without looking at the record of whether or not DCF had been called.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I want to bring in Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, famed forensic scientist who has really studied so many of these cases, and
I want to ask you about this.
This little Garnett, this precious and adorable, handsome child, dying in the hospital, a neighbor says the mother calls her and says, get rid of
the boy`s feeding tube bag. Police recover it and they test that they find extremely high levels of sodium.
So my question to you is, Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, how is this trial going to play out? She`s pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors obviously going
to say, who else would have opportunity and motive to pack salt into this feeding tube bag and pump this child`s stomach with salt?
DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST (via phone): Well, I completely agree with everything you just said, Jane. And I think the
autopsy results on the child are going to demonstrate brain edema, maybe pulmonary edema, a hemorrhage in the brain. These are the kind of symptoms
that you see when you get such an imbalance of sodium, which is one of the major electrolytes in the body.
I mean, and all the symptoms that were shown by the child -- the seizures, the twitches, the muscle cramps, the headaches, the neurological
problems -- these are all a result from heavy sodium, you know, over -- over-ingestion.
So I think that once the autopsy report comes out, it`s going to add to all of these other observations. And it leads to one thing, and that is
the mother gave this sodium chloride to the child.
Now, why would she do that? I think you seldom see salt poisoning in a healthy adult. But you sometimes see it in the elderly, and you
sometimes see it in children. And when it happens in children, the first thing that people -- at least medical examiners think about, is Munchausen
by Proxy Syndrome.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want to get to that in a second. Thank you, Dr. Kobilinsky. Stand by, because we`ve got a very special guest right
now. And we`re going to call her Anonymous. She`s a primetime exclusive, a former -- emphasis former close friend of Lacey and this little boy,
Thank you for joining us, ma`am. I know this is very, very difficult. But this child is deceased, and he was voiceless; and hopefully you can
speak for him in a sense, because he really couldn`t say what he wanted to say, even though he said to one friend, "Don`t leave me. Don`t leave me
alone here." He couldn`t say what he wanted to say, which was, "Mommy`s doing something bad to me," allegedly, according to cops. I`ve read
reports that so many people were duped by her.
ANONYMOUS (via phone): Yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Were really taken in by her. Tell us about how you were taken in by her.
ANONYMOUS: Well, she basically -- I feel like she`s lied to me the entire time that I`ve known her. She has lied to me about everything in
She told me she had absolutely no family, nobody that would help her. So she tried to befriend me. So I befriended her to try to help her take
care of her son. She did not know how to be a mother. I thought that maybe I could help her, you know, care for her child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well -- well, let me say this...
ANONYMOUS: But everything I have found out since, just about everything she told me has been a lie.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you are absolutely right, because she portrayed herself to friends, including you, and online as a helpless, abandoned,
struggling single mother, heroically fighting to protect her sickly son, and that she had no family. Well, it turns out she does have a family,
because her dad was the one who was walking with her as she turned herself in.
ANONYMOUS: I saw that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She said that she didn`t know who the dad was, and that he -- excuse me, was killed in an accident, a motorcycle or a crash, a
vehicle crash. Turns out, the guy`s alive and well and had wanted to be involved, and she pushed him away. So essentially, do you get the sense
that she was just a pathological liar?
ANONYMOUS: She is absolutely a pathological liar if there has ever been one in the world. Yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this. You knew this little boy since he was about 6 months old. She blogged that he was in and out of the
hospital 23 times by the time he had his first birthday. So do you believe that she may have been slipping him salt throughout the five years of his
life, the whole five years?
ANONYMOUS: I don`t know that it was salt. But I do really believe that there -- that she tried different things throughout his life to put
him in danger.
ANONYMOUS: He had -- he had massive ear infections that kids don`t get. He had ear infections for staph in his ears where -- I mean, it
sounds, you know, kind of gross -- where pus and blood would leak out of his ears. I never in my life, you know, heard that. They had to put
towels and stuff under his ears to catch the pus. So I mean, I don`t know what she was doing. But that child was the sickest, you know -- was the
sickest child I`ve ever seen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me bring in Dr. Alduan Tartt, psychologist. If I could ask you, Anonymous, to stand by. We want to get back to you.
But Doctor, whereas authorities are saying essentially she poisoned him with salt, whereas if he hadn`t had the salt, he would have been an OK
child, is it possible that she did other things to make him sickly? Because just by sheer coincidence he wouldn`t have all these ailments and
then also on top of that have her do these other things to him.
DR. ALDUAN TARTT, PSYCHOLOGIST: The No. 1 thing that people should realize is that mental illness is real. This is a very rare case called
Munchausen by Proxy, you know, named after the German nobleman who was known for telling tall tales.
And what Munchausen by Proxy is, is where you make someone sick, in this case, you make your child sick to get attention for yourself. So
based upon what we know, is that this kid is coming in and out of the hospital. And what happens? Poor mom. You must be going through so much.
And she gets all of this attention from the doctors, from the nurses, obviously on social media.
And so she feels alive, and she feels like she has more attention by making her child sick. So we`re actually talking about mental illness with
the mom and the child not being able to articulate it, or maybe he wasn`t able to see it. Or if he did see it, he didn`t know how to explain it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at that: "Pray for my little prince. He has another bad ear infection. My sweet angel is in the hospital for the 23rd
time." These are her posts.
Doctors, can they figure out what`s going on? And authorities are now saying she was the one making her kid sick. She was the one who ultimately
OK. We`re just getting started. Phone lines exploding over this.
And I want to also have the conversation on Facebook. It`s also exploding. Head over to Facebook.com/JaneVelezMitchell [SIC]. We`ve got
behind-the-scenes photos, exclusive content from our guests, and a great conversation about this. I mean, this is scary, scary stuff.
On the other side, did doctors and cops drop the ball? Why did they leave this mother alone in the hospital room with him after they confronted
her, reportedly, and said, something`s wrong here. He can`t be getting this salt on his own? Stay right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 5-year-old suffered from digestive problems and used a feeding tube. It`s alleged Lacey may have placed salt in his
tube in order to sicken her son and gain sympathy for herself, a psychiatric disorder known as Munchausen by Proxy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UPPERBRINK: It does not sound like the Lacey that we know. We`ve seen nothing but love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say, however, she`s a pathological liar who killed her child and is now being held without bail as we speak.
You know, again, Facebook lighting up. Here`s what my Facebook friend Annette says. "This little boy asked not to be left with his mom. Red
flag. Why didn`t anyone pick up on that?"
And Adam Swickle, criminal defense attorney, it`s an excellent question. The two days before he`s dead, he asks a friend, he says,
"Please don`t leave me in the hospital room. Don`t leave me. Don`t leave me."
I mean, given everything, given the fact that the doctors had already confronted the mother about the weird levels of salt, how could they have
left him in there alone?
ADAM SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, let me tell you something first, Jane, what burns me up more than anything as a defense
attorney is when I hear these leaps of logic about everything that`s gone on in the case. We already know what the results are. We`re already
diagnosing her. And this is all the stuff that we have.
But let me tell you something. This child`s been in and out of the hospital for five years. Some of these ailments must be real. And if not,
to answer your question, the doctors, DCF and once again, our society has failed a little child, Jane.
ROBBINS: Give me a break, Adam. Give me a break, Adam.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whereas, the child has bizarre levels of salt that he could not get on his own, wherefore he did...
SWICKLE: Why are we waiting five years? Why is it taking five years?
SWICKLE: Why is it taking five years?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on. I get it. You`re a defense attorney.
SWICKLE: Why are we sitting here five years later?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what you`re paid to say.
ROBBINS: I don`t even understand who Adam`s upset with. I mean, one of the things...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: yes, exactly.
ROBBINS: One of the red flags is that in this particular type of illness, 95 percent of people with this illness are women with a medical
background, just like this mother had. And a feeding tube is always a red flag. And so why are they putting a feeding tube in a 2-year-old?
TARTT: Well, when you look at it...
SWICKLE: Because they don`t know what they`re doing, that`s why.
TARTT: let`s look at it. I mean, how many times do kids come into the hospital, and they are sick. So when we start talking about...
ROBBINS: A feeding tube is different...
TARTT: No, you`re right. Wait, wait, let me finish. Let me finish, OK?
So when we start talking about Munchausen by Proxy, and we start talking about social services, they`re not psychologists. They`re not
trained to even diagnose that to be able to see what`s going on.
The child said he didn`t want mom in the room. They don`t know why that is.
Now, looking back, I agree with the attorney. Looking back, they were able to piece it together -- oh, no -- were able to piece it back together
and say, why didn`t they do it? But a doctor in the room, nurses in the room, we had no evidence of Munchausen by Proxy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. You`ve said your point. Listen, we`re not talking about Munchausen by anything. We`re not talking about it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What I`m talking about is that a child has bizarre, weird levels of salt in his body. He`s 5. He can`t get it on his own.
Mom`s in charge. So they confront Mom, say, something`s wrong here, and then they leave, according to published reports, and she takes him into the
And then two days later, he`s very sick and then he dies shortly thereafter. What is wrong with that picture, Elizabeth Espinosa?
ESPINOSA: Absolutely. Listen, I can`t tell you how many stories I`ve gone on that a kid comes in with a little bruise, and they`re like, wait a
second. We`re going to separate him from the parents.
This case is so obvious. It`s so obvious that this child has a medical condition that is not -- it`s obvious that there`s some foul play
here. And if the child is 5 and saying, "I don`t want to be with my mom," then you need to listen to that voice, and you need to call a social
worker, a therapist.
And OK, you`re not a psychiatrist. Well, then call one. You`re in a hospital. So you can figure this out. Not figure it out when the kid is
ROBBINS: I`m not actually sure he said, "Don`t leave me with the mom." I think what he said was, "Don`t leave me here alone. Don`t leave
me in the hospital." Which, if you`re a 5-year-old, we would understand.
But you make a great point. Which is my daughter shoved her hand in a car door, and right after they did the X-ray, guess what they did? They
kicked me out of the room and had a private conversation with her.
If this kid`s 5 years old, and he`s in and out of hospitals; and a doctor is like, "Holy smokes, your metabolic system is impossible. There`s
something going on. Ma`am, could you leave the room please."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
ROBBINS: I think you understand I need to talk to your son. Hold on one second...
SWICKLE: That leads one to believe that some of these things may have been legitimate medical problems, not that she didn`t do it in the end.
But some of his ailments may have been legitimate problems. Otherwise, we`re saying that these doctors for five years had no idea what
they`re doing. And now we`re going to label it something, because we can`t explain the behavior...
TARTT: We can definitely...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But when you hear about a child going to the hospital -- 23 times was what she blogged, you know, it`s got to raise a red flag.
Listen, let`s go to the phone lines for a second. Blair, Texas, you`ve been waiting a long time. What do you have to say?
CALLER: Oh, my God, I`m so furious about this whole situation. This mom is sick. Everybody knows that. Everybody should know that. Why on --
why on earth would she give her 5-year-old son salt in the first place? No wonder his sodium was so dadgum high. Where in the hell was the father...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`ve asked so many questions. The father wanted to be involved, but she was pretending to all her friends that, oh, the father
died many years ago in a car accident, and he wasn`t around. That was a lie.
She also said she had no family. Another lie.
I want to go back to Anonymous and our exclusive interview with a woman who was close friends with Lacey and Garnett.
Was this woman an incredible actress? I mean, she is obviously capable of getting a huge following on social media. You saw a lot of the
posts, you know, "Pray for him, my little angel, my little prince." Was -- what was it about her that allowed her to snow you, in your opinion?
ANONYMOUS: Yes, in front of people, she was the perfect-looking mother. She bought the kid -- you can see pictures on Facebook. She
bought him toys. She did take him to parks. She did things. But I think behind closed doors, she did bad things.
And as far as him going to see so many -- you know, being in the hospital so many times before his first birthday, she went to multiple
hospitals. It ain`t like she went to one hospital, and they admitted him 23 times. She went to multiple hospitals, got multiple doctors to do
different things because one doctor, you know, would not do all that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this, Anonymous. I know it`s easy to play armchair quarterback. And now you obviously feel betrayed. But
looking back in retrospect, were there signs? Were there suspicious things that now you go, "Aha"?
ANONYMOUS: Yes. There was one incident that, yes, that happened and I regret not calling CPS. I just took the child out of the situation, left
with him, went back in a few hours and thought the girl was overwhelmed. I hate to get into exactly what that was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Say that again. You said -- say it again.
ANONYMOUS: There was an incident where she kind of lost control with Garnett. I intervened, took Garnett away, left for hours, come back. She
apologized to me, to him. She sincerely seemed sorry. So I did not call CPS or anything. And she never did anything out of the ordinary...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She lost it. How did she lose it?
ANONYMOUS: I hate to say. She was giving him a bath, and basically, he was crying, because the water was cold. And she was dumping it on his
head, and she held him down in the bathtub and...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God! OK...
ANONYMOUS: I told her to get her off of him and get him dry and left with him, left for hours with him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was almost like she was trying to drown him there, according to you?
ANONYMOUS: Yes, and she told me at that time, she said, "You cannot tell me that you`ve never lost it with your kids."
And I said, "Yes, ma`am, I can tell you I`ve never lost it with either one of my kids like that. That`s not normal."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, of course, we can`t independently confirm this story. But it`s very scary what you just said. And this is new
information that is just coming out now. And thank you for your courage in telling that story, because I know that you`re -- you`re nervous about
talking, and I understand that.
But that is something I think that prosecutors should know. That`s prior bad acts, possibly, if true, if they could confirm it. I think it`s
something they should certainly look into.
Stay right there. We`ve got more on the other side. Check in with our Facebook, too. We`re having an extraordinary conversation on my Jane
Velez-Mitchell Facebook. Back in a sec.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The young mom would tell people Garnett required a feeding tube because of a chronic G.I. condition. Lies, according to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s -- you know, it`s tragic when the caregiver of any child does anything but protect it at all costs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took us across five different states, hundreds of interviews, examination of thousands of documents and
significant manpower commitment by a number of different agencies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are many, many, many hospitals involved. You`re just looking at one. This woman, Lacey Spears, 26, accused of
murdering that adorable, precious little boy, age 5, Garnett.
We`re talking exclusively with a former friend who feels that she was snowed. She`s devastated. She feels betrayed, and she just revealed to us
here for the first time that she witnessed this woman putting her son`s head under water when she, quote, lost it. And you jumped on him and saved
him, it sounds like.
Now we can`t independently confirm that, obviously. But you heard it here just a second ago. And I want to go back to Anonymous.
You had something else you were telling our producer in the break about the son and food and how he trusted you, apparently, with food but
not his own mother. Tell us about that.
ANONYMOUS: Well, her claim was that he would not eat, you know. Therefore, the feeding tube.
But the boy never, ever had problems eating with me. He ate everything from chicken nuggets, French fries to -- we`re country. So we
eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes and okra. And never, never, never did I feed him through a feeding tube. I -- he ate food in his mouth.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: and what about the mom? Would he eat the mother`s food? Did she prepare food and would he eat it?
ANONYMOUS: I don`t think she tried to give it to him. I think she always wanted to just give him, you know, the feeding tube stuff.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In other words, she only -- you`re suggesting that she only wanted to feed him through a feeding tube? I mean you`re a close
friend. Did you ever see her whip up food for him or was it always -- did you ever see her do this feeding tube thing?
ANONYMOUS: Yes, I saw her doing the feeding tube thing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she`d stick the tube down his throat?
ANONYMOUS: No, honey, it goes straight in his stomach. You can either do it one of two ways. You can do it with a plunger or you can do
it with a machine. And she`s done it both ways. And just to be real honest with you, she did that correctly in front of me.
But as far as giving him food-food, like you know, you would give a toddler or a child or whatever, the only thing that I ever -- I never seen
her like prepare a meal for him. She would give him like maybe snacks or finger foods or something. But not like me. I would go out and get -- you
know, fast food is not the best thing to feed a child. But I would go and get fast food for them or we would eat with my family and we would eat, you
know, a regular dinner and he would eat.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did he appear afraid of his mom?
ANONYMOUS: He didn`t, no. In the days that I knew him, he didn`t. No. You have to realize, the last couple of years, we didn`t talk.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, you had a falling-out of some kind?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have to say the story that you told and I want to get our panel`s reaction. Dr. Alduan Tartt, psychologist, you heard this
woman who`s a former close friend of this woman who`s now accused of murdering her son and also was almost like a godmother you might say or
grandma to this little boy saying that she watched this woman lose it and stick the child`s head under water. We can`t independently confirm it.
But if true, oh, my God.
DR. ALDUAN TARTT, PSCYHOLOGIST: You`re absolutely right. I mean that was devastating. I didn`t expect her to say that. That`s rage. That
shows that there`s, you know, there`s more going on than Munchausen by proxy. I don`t know if there`s bipolar illness. We don`t know what`s
But I can tell you if we want someone to blame, we have to expand the training and the funding to social services, they are understaffed in
almost every state. And we start talking --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I get it. I get it. But you know what -- let me -- before we get into a wonky diatribe on that, with all due respect --
TARTT: A wacky diatribe about how to save --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wonky -- wonky.
TARTT: Wonky? About how to save a child? That`s wonky.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m talking about how to save a child right now. I`m talking about the fact that the doctors allegedly, purportedly confronted
this woman in the hospital and said, there`s no way in hell that this child could naturally get that salt and then according to published reports --
and I`d be happy to have anybody involved in this subject, including the attorney for this woman on at any time -- we did try to reach her -- they
left her there with the child. That`s all I`m saying.
Now we hear this back story, Mel Robbins?
MEL ROBBINS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. And there`s more back story, Jane. I mean there`s a report that when they lived in Florida she
was investigated by Child Services because people saw her slapping the kid until he would cry and she was also accused of medical neglect for failing
to feed him.
I think part of the problem here is that when the kid is sick, you as a friend feel funny interjecting or questioning what`s going on because you
don`t really know the background about what this kid`s ailments are.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, Doctor Alduan Tartt, I meant no offense by saying wonky.
TARTT: Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean actually that`s a compliment in my book. I love wonky.
TARTT: I receive that. I receive that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I guess my point was that in every single case that we cover involving children, almost every single case, Department of
Children and Family somewhere dropped the ball or somebody in authority did not speak for the voiceless children.
We do have to completely revamp our system. I mean we`ve got a high- tech world where you can track -- you can tell me what I want to buy in this phone. But we can`t monitor the fact that this woman had Department
of Children and Families called on her several times and the doctors don`t have that information at their command so that when they see something
weird, they can connect the dots? That`s wrong.
We have to have high-tech coordination between Department of Children and Families and hospitals and cops so that we all see all the information
to make intelligent decisions. So I agree with you Doctor.
Stay with us. At the top of the hour, Nancy Grace has more on the woman now being known as "Salt Mom", 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on HLN.
That`s in just a couple of minutes.
But first, breaking news in the search for a missing mom -- could her three-year-old son hold the key to this mystery? What is he telling cops?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 31-year-old Bianca Tanner, a schoolteacher from Greensboro, disappeared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have elevated this case from a missing person to a natural homicide investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People living in this usually quiet North Charlotte community are worried. Some of them are even afraid.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope they find her and she`s all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would really like for my daughter to come home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s why his close-knit family has been going door to door handing out fliers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s just tearing us apart that he`s crying himself to sleep every night wanting his mommy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What he said was used to convince a judge to allow officers to search Angelo Smith`s Red Ford Mustang. The search
warrant says officers wanted to recover a belt, clothes worn by the victim during an assault and evidence such as blood, hair or other body fluids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable new developments tonight in the search for that beautiful North Carolina elementary schoolteacher, a woman who was
studying for her PhD and already had gotten her masters. Bianca Tanner mysteriously vanished a week and a half ago -- what started out as a
missing person`s case has turned into a homicide investigation.
And we have just gotten our hands on a new search warrant with jaw- dropping new information on it. It says her boyfriend -- we`re going to show you this man -- Angelo Smith, claimed they got into an argument over a
text message from an unknown person and that Bianca got up and left the apartment intoxicated carrying a bag with her, never to be seen again. Why
would this beautiful intelligent mom walk away from her home when she just moved in about a week earlier leaving behind the love of her life, her
three-year-old boy, who is now crying for his mommy?
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CERISE RICHARDSON, SISTER OF BIANCA TANNER: She has a three-year-old son and it`s just tearing us apart that he`s crying himself to sleep every
night wanting his mommy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now in a shocking new twist, that little boy is potentially the star witness in this case. According to the search
warrant, this toddler told cops, quote, "Mommy got a spanking with the belt. Angelo kicked mommy`s butt and made her cry and Angelo is mean to
mommy and hurt mommy in the face.
Angelo has not been charge, has not been named a suspect. We tried to reach out to him, haven`t heard back. He`s invited on our show anytime.
What did this little boy see and does the boyfriend`s cell phone hold clues to the case? We`re going to tell you about that in a second.
But first, we have a very special guest, Bianca`s sister, Cerise Richardson. Good evening. I know you have been going through hell ever
since your sister disappeared. What`s your reaction to this new news that your three-year-old nephew told police that your sister`s boyfriend
attacked her and hit her?
RICHARDSON: It`s absolutely devastating for us. We had no knowledge of what Jared witnessed. So we found out just as everyone else did
publicly. So we were actually just heartbroken that he even had to experience and see his mother go through such a horrific thing like that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me bring in some more information I want to get your reaction to. Police have said they believe there are people who
are hiding crucial information from them about this case. Listen to this - -
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of those that we have interviewed we do not believe that they`ve been forthright with us in providing accurate
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than one person?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, it has now blossomed itself out to more than one person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the search warrant says Bianca`s boyfriend, this guy, voluntarily went to speak with detectives who then promptly asked him
for his cell phone. Before giving them consent, the search warrant says he started deleting information from the phone. They don`t know what he
deleted. But I`m sure they`re going to find out because -- got to go to Mel Robbins on this -- as an attorney, obviously he can`t erase that
information permanently. They can get access to it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But given he`s doing that, you`ve got to wonder, could they have even arrested him right there on the spot for destruction
ROBBINS: You know look, not only is he a batterer, he`s a moron, because technically when you delete something, America, Verizon still has a
copy. So he hasn`t actually destroyed it -- legally. But Jane what he`s doing is he`s showing behavior that displays guilt.
And in this case what I find to be so frustrating is that we don`t have a body. We don`t know where she is. We don`t have -- other than what
the three-year-old unfortunately has witnessed, we don`t have any other testimony or any other witnesses about what happened that night and that`s
why they haven`t arrested this guy.
Hopefully as he`s making or other people are making inconsistent statements, they`re going to come from an investigation like this and
narrow down on him. But, you know, destruction of evidence, that`s not what they want him for. They want to nail him if in fact he`s involved for
being involved in her disappearance.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to go to Dedrick Russell, reporter, WPTV. Again, he`s not considered a suspect according to authorities but
let me go through a bit of his rap sheet and we`ve got it. Here let`s put it up because it goes on and on. I could spend a long time going through
the rap sheet.
An outstanding warrant for domestic battery in Arkansas where he`s accused of throwing his then girlfriend onto a bed, covering her face,
mouth and nose and smothering her. According to a search warrant in 2011, he was charged with assaulting a woman. Ten years ago, he was charged with
simple assault. I want to stress those charges were ultimately dismissed.
The state.com says he`s also been accused of domestic violence by two women. It goes on and on.
Dedrick Russell, what have we learned about this guy and the investigation?
DEDRICK RUSSELL, REPORTER WPTV: Well, we know that no new leads have come so far and police have not given up. They want to close this case and
we do know that Angelo Smith, he has hired a lawyer. We understand that he is no longer cooperating with police. And if police need to talk to him,
they must go through his attorney first before they can go to him.
We went by his home today. His car was there but no one answered the door. We tried on his cell phone and no one has picked up the phone. So
we`re still waiting to hear his side of the story as police try to close this case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he`s not being called a suspect. So I want to make that very clear. He or his attorney are invited on our show at any
time. We want to hear all sides of the story.
And I will say Cerise Richardson, the sister of the missing woman; we`re going to stay on top of this story. We want to find your sister and
bring her home to her three-year-old. And (inaudible) Savannah, Facebook say "Got to believe that three-year-old. Why would he be lying?" Very good
On the other side, the dramatic rise and fall of a Hollywood star. You will not believe how one actor who had it all is now in court looking
like a completely defeated and destroyed man and accused of the worst crime imaginable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Smiling and seemingly in love, pictures of actor Michael Jace and his wife from her Facebook page, now in stark contrast to
the explosion of gunfire in their home. It left 40-year-old April Jace dead, her husband under arrest for murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Los Angeles police have arrested and charged the actor Michael Jace for the shooting death of his wife.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a well-known Hollywood actor accused of murdering his wife pleads not guilty. Cops say Michael Jace, he`s one of
the stars of the hit TV series "The Shield" plugged his wife full of bullets in their home, killing her, murdering her while their two young
sons were home inside that house. It all happened a month ago. There he is right outside the house.
Jace is the one who actually called 911. He was arrested right at the scene and reports claim he confessed to cops that he shot his wife, April
Jace. The wife`s father also called 911 right after the shooting.
Listen to this. It`s extraordinary.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me exactly what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son-in-law called me -- texted me and said come get the kids because he shot April, our daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, are you at that location?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. We`re on the 405 headed there now from Long Beach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got police and paramedics on the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, I`m going to stay on the phone with you, ok?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. Godspeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So there you see the victim`s father says that this guy confessed to killing her. Alan Duke, CNN digital producer, you were in
court. To me this guy looked broken and bent like he had aged, what, 20 years in a month?
ALAN DUKE, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (via telephone): Yes. He`s not looking good. He`s a tall man, but he was slumped down in that yellow
jumpsuit that he`s wearing inside the jail. They kept him in handcuffs today. What I found interesting was he`s not having his lawyers fight very
much for him. He did not challenge the $2 million bond when it was set, and he did not challenge the domestic violence stay away order when it was
imposed by the judge. He can`t have any contact with his two young children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok now, listen. Elizabeth Espinosa, Facebook, Michelle says "He was alone with her when it happened. Who else could have
done it?" Good question.
ELIZABETH ESPINOSA, CNN ESPANOL ANCHOR: Yes. I mean, honestly it really begs the obvious here. But let me say this actually, Jane. One of
my LAPD sources from homicide says that he was very cooperative that night. So it is a little stunning to hear that, ok, he pled not guilty which I
guess is protocol because he`s going to have to defend himself some way or the other. But truthfully I think if you have access to all that evidence,
I think he`s done. I think this is just protocol. But clearly --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what, they said Casey Anthony was done. She got off scot-free.
More on the other side.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is the actor Michael Jace in "Forrest Gump" with Tom Hanks. Tonight, that man -- not Tom Hanks -- the other one, is accused
of murdering his wife. Now, "why" is the big question? He has pleaded not guilty, by the way.
There are accusations that he had previous accusations of domestic violence in a prior relationship. He also had some severe money problems.
He had declared bankruptcy. He had defaulted on his house. So we`re going to stay on top of that one. Wow.