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Teen Reveals Chilling Plot; Father Charged in Toddler's SUV Death; Wendy Davis One Year Later

Aired June 25, 2014 - 08:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Police in Minnesota just prevented what could have been the next school massacre. Listen up to how they found out about the plot and what it teaches about preventative policing and continuing the struggle to identify deranged potential killers. CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us with this story.

Very interesting, Miguel, that they were able to do this.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very interesting and it's a peek into a very, very dark mind. This is a kid who says that he had no targets in mind, that he was not bullied, but comparing himself to Adam Lanza, who killed elementary school students, he told police, "one has to have some dignity."


JOHN LADUE: I really want to get out of this place.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In a chilling interview with investigators, 17- year-old John LaDue is heard revealing why he wanted kill himself, his family and as many victims as possible at his high school in Minnesota.

LADUE: I was not bullied at all. I don't even think I've ever been bullied in my life. I have good parents, I live in a good town. I think I'm just really mentally ill. And no one's noticed and I've been trying to hide it.

MARQUEZ: Yet it's those good parents and his older sister LaDue allegedly wanted to murder.

LADUE: They did nothing wrong. I just wanted as many victims as possible.

MARQUEZ: LaDue calmly detailed step by step plans to set off bombs inside the hallways of his school.

LADUE: Then my plans were to enter and throw Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs and destroy everyone. And then when the SWAT comes, I would destroy myself.

MARQUEZ: In the hours long interview, LaDue claims to be different from the rest of the mass school shooters, especially Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff at Sandy Hook Elementary.

LAUDE: I didn't want to prove that I was a wuss, like all the other recent shooters, like Adam Lanza who shot himself. I wanted to like get taken down by the SWAT just to show that I wasn't a wimp and not like willing to fight with equal force.

MARQUEZ: Prior to his arrest being made, the 17 year old posted videos to YouTube, testing bomb material. Explosives were found in a storage unit police say he was walking to when someone saw him acting suspiciously and called 911.

In this interview, LaDue claims his father had no idea what was going on.

LADUE: He thinks I'm just a good kid because I - because I lie pretty well and persuade him that I'm just ordinary.

MARQUEZ: He said he planned to shoot students with guns he stole from him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I don't think he wants to lie. I think he wants -- he knows he got himself in a strange place and he wants out.


MARQUEZ: Now, that 911 caller actually saw LaDue breaking in -- what he thought was breaking into that security - the storage facility. When police showed up there, it looked like somebody was living there. And from then, the entire plot rolled out. Just absolutely chilling and thank God they got him.

Back to you guys.

CUOMO: And how. How becomes so important, Miguel, thank you for that. Somebody saw something, they said something, and what could be dismissed as a cry for help was taken more seriously and wound up potentially stopping -

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and law enforcement followed up.

CUOMO: Because it started to look more and more like a plan.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank goodness for that.

All right, time for the five things to know.

Here we go, at number one, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran defeating Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in the GOP runoff. And in New York, Congressman Charles Rangel declaring victory in his primary race. Both of their opponents refused to concede.

This morning, Iraqi officials say 57 civilians have been killed by air strikes carried out by Syrian war planes in the Anbar province. This as more U.S. military advisors arrive in Iraq to help against the ISIS surge. House Speaker John Boehner threatening to sue President Obama for misuse of executive authority. The president has used executive orders to push initiatives without approval from Congress.

A federal judge says the U.S. no fly zone violates the Constitution. The list, as you know, bans people suspected of ties to terrorism from commercial flights, but the judge said it gives them no real way to challenge that designation.

And at number five, the original lyrics of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" sold at auction for how much? $2 million. That is a record. An anonymous buyer bought the only known final draft of the 1965 classic apparently written on hotel stationary.

We always update the five things to know, so be sure to go to for the very, very latest

CUOMO: Pretty cool.

PEREIRA: Isn't that cool?

CUOMO: Yes, it is.

All right, coming up on NEW DAY, this man's almost two-year-old child died -- died because he was left in a car for hours while the man went to work. His father. So the question is, was it an accident? The police don't think so. But why? We'll tell you.


CUOMO: We do have breaking news this morning about the economy. We just learned the U.S. economy declined at a rate of 2.9 percent in the first quarter. That is steeper than previously reported. It is believed that the nasty winter weather is responsible for much of the decline. If you want to know more, we'll be developing this story throughout the morning. Go to

BOLDUAN: All right, let's turn now to a troubling story. New details this morning in the case of an Atlanta father charged with murdering his son, Justin Harris. He says he mistakenly left his toddler inside his SUV for hours while he was at work. The boy died as temperatures outside the car approached 90 degrees. That's outside the car. Now police say they have reason to doubt his story. Victor Blackwell is at the CNN Center with much more on this story.



In just a few hours we're expecting to learn the manner and cause of death for this child from the medical examiner's office. And now there are reports that this father actually had not forgotten about his son.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): Evidence shows Justin Ross Harris knew his 22- month-old son was in his sweltering SUV, sources tell CNN affiliate WSV, and two search warrants have been issued for Harris' home address a Cobb County court official tells CNN. Detectives are also searching Harris' SUV for clues to determine what or who killed this little boy one week ago.

Harris told Atlanta area investigators he had forgotten to drop the toddler off at a day care center on his way to work and only realized the boy was still strapped into his car seat while driving home from work more than seven hours later. "Much has changed about the circumstances leading up to the death of this 22-month-old since it was first reported, according to a Cobb County officer.

Sergeant Dana Pierce would not give specifics, citing the ongoing investigation, but he tells CNN, "what I know about this case shocks my conscience as a police officer, a father and a grandfather." A woman who claims she is the child's mother told CNN she's been advised not to speak with the media. Witnesses say last Wednesday afternoon, Harris veered into this parking lot -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopped out of the driver's seat, opened the back door, pulled his child out, laid him on the concrete and tried to resuscitate him.

BLACKWELL: But it was too late. Cobb County patrol officers were in the area when the 911 calls came in. According to the sergeant, questions began to be asked about the moments that led up to their arrival at the scene. Some of those answers were not making sense to the first responders. Pierce tells CNN, Harris began cursing and screaming at officers. Harris was then handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, taken to police headquarters where he was questioned, then arrested and charged with cruelty to a child and felony murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's fully aware of what he's charged with and he'll be entering a plea of not guilty at this time.

BLACKWELL: Calls to Harris' attorney have not been returned. Harris is being held without bond.


BLACKWELL: Now, if Harris is convicted on the child cruelty charge, he could face five to 20 years. Now, on that felony murder charge, in Georgia, if you're found guilty of felony murder, there's a minimum of 30 years behind bars, although this could be upgraded to a death penalty case.

Chris. Kate.

CUOMO: The question will be -- hey, Victor, did they tell you what the predicate (ph) felony is in that felony murder?

BLACKWELL: Well, we're hoping to find out exactly what that is today. If there's a narrative released with this autopsy, if the full autopsy report comes out and we get more from investigators in an incident report we'll be able to report that as well. CUOMO: All right, I appreciate it, Victor. It becomes important

because felony murder is different than regular homicide. It's that you committed a crime let's say like burglary or kidnapping and it wound up resulting in a death. So it suggests a theory that something else was going on and the kid died as a result of it. It's an important distinction in terms of what police think happened in this situation.

BOLDUAN: It sure seems like - it sure seems like police think that there is something more going on for sure.

CUOMO: Right. So we'll have to know what that predicate felony was and we'll tell you as soon as we find out. And we've got Victor on the case, so we're in good shape on that.

Let's take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, a year after bursting on to the national stage, Wendy Davis, remember her, she's looking to raise her political profile. She's running for Texas' governor. She's going to sit down for an in-depth interview with the one and only Gloria Borger.

BOLDUAN: And also ahead, don't mess with this four-year-old. How she stopped her babysitter from pulling off the perfect crime. That's the good stuff ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Her defiant campaign catapulted her to political stardom and now, a year later, Wendy Davis' abortion rights filibuster in Texas is being brought into the national spotlight. You remember that, she became a national figure because of it. Well now she's trying to harness that energy in a new challenge to recapture - or actually she wants to recapture the spirit because she wants to become Texas' next governor. CNN's Gloria Borger has an in-depth interview with the gubernatorial hopeful. Take a listen.


WENDY DAVIS (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I could hear literally the Capitol roar.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Wendy Davis knew it might be the longest day of her life.

DAVIS: And I -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You read the news.

DAVID: Am in town to speak for an extended period of time on the bill.

BORGER: What she didn't know was that her first against an anti- abortion bill would go viral.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wendy Davis -- BORGER: And make her a Democratic phenom.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis almost killed the vote single-handedly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people knew the name Wendy Davis.

BORGER: Even her pink sneakers would become iconic.

DAVIS: I almost didn't wear them, and at the last minute I ran back in and grabbed my running shoes.


BORGER: It was war. Davis was the target and opponents maneuvered mightily to shut her down.

BORGER (on camera): Were you angry when you saw what was going on?

DAVIS: I started becoming angry, yes, and that - that anger strengthened my resolve quite honestly. It helped me to be able to really focus on the issue that we were fighting for.

BORGER (voice-over): Davis' fight was about stopping a bill that would end late term abortions and impose stricter guidelines that could close clinics. She won.

DAVIS: When you brought the house down --

BORGER: The victory was short-lived. Republicans undid it a month later. But Davis herself had been launched as a potential governor, like another famous Texas Democrat who took on the good old boys, Ann Richards. Davis has none of Richards' bravado.

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Poor George. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.

BORGER: Davis is a careful lawyer.

DAVIS: I'll also share observations.

BORGER: But she does share some of Richards' grand ambition.

DAVIS: I wish she were still with us because I would have her on speed dial.

BORGER: Because Richards was the last Democratic governor in the state of Texas.

DAVIS: I've yearned for her advice actually because I know obviously she went through a really tough race and she was subjected to some very unfair scrutiny, but she survived it.

I am proud to announce my candidacy --

BORGER: Davis' plan? Not running on what made her famous, but on her memorable life story told by her daughter in this campaign video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was raised by a single mother with a sixth grade education. She married young and by 19 was divorced and raising me as a single mother.

ROBERT DRAPER, JOURNALIST: Davis and her people had figured that the best way to introduce her was as this sort of quintessential Texas bootstrapping story of a young woman who, by a den (ph) of hard work, had moved from the trailer park of Ft. Worth all the way up to cum laude of Harvard Law School while raising two daughters on the side.

BORGER: Journalist Robert Draper is a longtime observer of Texas politics.

DRAPER: All of that happened to be true. It just wasn't the full truth.

BORGER: "The Dallas Morning News" found the errors, raising questions about just how much help Davis got in footing the bill for Harvard or the exact age at which she got divorced, which was 21.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By 19 was divorced --

BORGER (on camera): Would you just say they were mistakes, they were oversights?

DAVIS: You know, most women, and I've had so many women say this to me, the date of their divorce is the date they ceased to live together as man and wife with their husband. I was a struggling, single, on my way to being a single mom when I was only 19.

BORGER: What do you say to those who say you were shading the record to play into your overall narrative?

DAVIS: What I say is that I'm proud of my story. My story is my story.

BORGER (voice-over): Another part of the story is the struggle of a young mother whose children were in Ft. Worth as she commuted east to law school.

DAVIS: It was very difficult, as I was commuting back and forth from school. There were some pretty tough nights leaving my girls, but I was doing what I felt was best for them and for me.

BORGER (on camera): Is there some undercurrent here about a woman's appropriate role particularly as a mother?

DAVIS: I think were I a man, this would not even be a topic of conversation.

BORGER (voice-over): Davis' battle is uphill. Her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, has a double-digit lead in the polls.

DAVIS: Our path to victory --

BORGER: Trying to turn out her voters and turn a bright red state blue makes Wendy Davis a guarded candidate.

BORGER (on camera): And she can't be too liberal. She can't be too feminist. She can't be too conservative.

DRAPER: Yes, it's extremely difficult. She must as well, however, speak to suburban mothers and to single women. And these are people who routinely, when they voted, have voted Republican.

BORGER: What if you don't win?

DAVIS: I just don't think like that, Gloria. I went into this race believing that I would win it. And I have been accustomed to being counted out before. But I would imagine a lot of folks would have counted me out way back when I was living in that trailer on my own, wondering how I was going to survive. I'm a fighter.

Thank you for standing up for me. Truly, I really appreciate your (INAUDIBLE).


BOLDUAN: A fascinating look, a fascinating interview by Gloria Borger. You don't often - you haven't heard much from Wendy Davis. This is the one year when she had that famous filibuster. Haven't heard much from her. She's been on the campaign trail. It's good to hear from her.

CUOMO: An interesting interview for sure.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Much more to hear from her to be sure.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, though, this little girl is four years old. She's also a crime fighter. How this brave little one stood up to the bad guys and got them. Police are calling her a hero.


CUOMO: Well, if you held out, you got one. It's time for "The Good Stuff." And out of the mouths of babes indeed. A very special little girl just foiled a robbery and cleared her neighbor at the same time. Here's the story. Abby Dean, right there, gorgeous, four years old. Her babysitter, 17 years old, along with her boyfriend and another man, rip off the house while they're supposed to be babysitting Abby. Yes, listen.


ABBY DEAN, FOILED HOME INVASION: They told to us get out of the house because they wanted to steal stuff. The bad guys stole my kitty (ph) bank and they stole my iPod. I thinked about, that was really - that was really her being bad. She's not a good babysitter.


PEREIRA: No, she's not.

CUOMO: Yes, that is exactly right. It gets worse. Who does the babysitter say robbed the house to the cops? Abby's neighbor. She says he did it. The cops bought it. Cody Oakes (ph) was the man you just saw, put in handcuffs, questioned.


CUOMO: That's when Abby took the stand as she told the cops, Cody couldn't have done it because --


DEAN: It wasn't the right skin color.


CUOMO: She saw the guys who were doing it, who were friends with the babysitter. They had light -

PEREIRA: She's like listen to me. I may be four, but I know things.

CUOMO: She said, you know, isn't that interesting.

BOLDUAN: Oh my gosh.

CUOMO: So the babysitter's story quickly unravels. She confesses. And as for all the stuff they stole?


DEAN: They got it back because of me being a superhero.


PEREIRA: Well, duh. She's a super hero.

BOLDUAN: I am obsessed with her. She's amazing.

CUOMO: Well stated.

PEREIRA: I love Abby.

CUOMO: First of all, I've got one of those at home.