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Police Talk To Boy Found In Detroit Basement; Police Seize Computers In Hot Car Death; Team USA Advances to Round of 16

Aired June 27, 2014 - 06:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. A beautiful picture of the city. Welcome to "NEW DAY. TGIF edition, June 27, 6:00 in the east. We have details on a story that just still doesn't make sense. A bizarre family drama, a 12-year-old boy in the middle of it all. So, today, Detroit police once again plan to talk with this beautiful young man you're looking at Charlie Bothuell. He was missing for almost two weeks. New questions swirl around his father and stepmother.

Let's take a step back. This story became truly bizarre when the father was told live on TV by HLN's Nancy Grace during her show that his son was found, he'd been missing for two weeks, remember, found barricaded in his own basement. People have been questioning the father's reaction and investigators say they are not ruling out abuse.

So now the police have arrested his wife, the child's stepmother not his biological mother, but on an unrelated charge. What does this all mean? Alexandra Field is in Detroit with the latest. This has a lot of twists coming us very quickly.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really does, Chris, and police are relying on this 12-year-old boy, Charlie Bothuell, to help them understand how he could have possibly wound up in this basement here in Detroit. We know that Charlie's been checked out by a team of child psychologists. He's also been speaking to investigators. They say they are getting good information from him, but there's a lot more that they still need to know.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD (voice-over): The 12-year-old Charlie Bothuell is with his mother this morning after suddenly being found in his father's home Wednesday, 11 days after disappearing.

CHARLES BOTHUELL, CHARLIE BOTHUELL'S FATHER: We have not done anything wrong to my son, nothing but to try to help.

FIELD: On Thursday, Charlie's stepmother was taken into custody for a probation violation on unrelated weapons charge as the boy's father, Charles Bothuell, tells Nancy Grace over the phone, he has not yet seen his son. NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST, "NANCY GRACE": Why won't police let you see the boy? Where is he?

BOTHUELL: You know, I'm breaking the no comment rule. I was briefly on the phone with him when he called my mother, and I need to go now pause I'm not listening.

FIELD: Police found Charlie in his own basement. The boy crouched down and barricaded behind a stock of boxes and a 55-gallon barrel. Items so heavy, officials say he couldn't have constructed it himself. The 12-year-old seemingly excited to see police who say he was hungry.

GRACE: Out to the father of the --

FIELD: HLN's Nancy Grace broke the news to Bothuell that his son was found live on air.

GRACE: We're getting reports that your son has been found in your basement. Sir? Mr. Bothuell, are you --

BOTHUELL: What?

GRACE: Yes. We are getting reports that your son has been found alive in your basement.

BOTHUELL: What?

GRACE: We're getting that right now from -- how could your son be alive in your basement?

BOTHUELL: I have -- I have no idea.

FIELD: Charlie's father says the basement was checked repeatedly.

BOTHUELL: The FBI searched, the Detroit police searched. We've all searched. God, they brought dogs, everything. Everybody has searched. What -- God, my son.

FIELD: Police say a PVC pipe and bloody clothing were found in the home. They had not elaborated on the significance of that. Police have not ruled out child abuse, but no charges have been filed.

BOTHUELL: For anybody to imply that I somehow knew that my son was in the basement, it's absurd and it's wrong. I love my son.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD: Right now, Detroit police will not comment on whether or not they have seen any signs of physical abuse. They do want to speak to Charlie more today. They say that whatever information they are able to get from this 12-year-old boy. They will take it and pass it along to prosecutors who will help determine whether and what kind of charges we could potentially see in this case -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just more and more questions. Alexandra, thank you so very much. Let's turn now to another troubling story this morning. We're learning more about an internet search on a computer belonging to the father of a 22-month-old boy who died after being left for hours in a sweltering SUV.

The search, according to police, was, quote, this was an internet search, "How long does it take an animal to die in a hot car?" The boy's father, Justin Harris, is being held on charges of murder and child cruelty, but he does maintain his innocence.

CNN's Victor Blackwell is live in Marietta, Georgia, with the very latest. Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. Initially there was significant public support for Justin Ross Harris, but with this latest revelation that appears to be fading.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL (voice-over): A startling discovery in the case of the Georgia father whose son died after being left in the back seat of a blazing car for about seven hours. Investigators now say someone searched how long does it take for an animal to die in a hot car on Justin Ross Harris' work computer? A source tells HLN's Nancy Grace that police found the search history on computers seized from Harris' office.

Though it is unclear when the search was conducted or whether Harris did the search. Harris is charged with felony murder and second- degree child cruelty in the death of 22-month-old Cooper. Last week, he pleaded not guilty, saying the whole incident was a horrifying mistake. Witness describe Harris' reaction to discovering his son's body still in the car as distressed, and police say he had to be physically restrained at the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could feel his sorrow and his hurt because of the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just screamed "what have I done" loudly. Obviously it was a bit dramatic, hands in the air, looking up towards the sky, "what have I done."

BLACKWELL: Police say on the day of the incident, Harris strapped Cooper into his rear-facing car seat and drove about a half mile to work after having breakfast at a local Chick-Fil-A. According to authorities, when Harris arrived at work, he left his son in the car instead of taking him to the on-site daycare center as usual.

Investigators say Harris returned to the car at lunch, opened the driver's side door to put something inside. After work police say Harris left, and a few miles away, he pulled into a local shopping center and called for help, but Cooper was already dead.

According to the medical examiner the cause of death is likely hypothermia. The temperature in the car potentially soaring above 130 degrees on that hot summer day. Public sympathy for the father is waning as organizers behind a change.org petition urging authorities to release Harris withdrew their petition saying, quote, "I think that based on the recent developments this petition is no longer relevant."

Harris is currently in jail waiting on a hearing set for next week. In the meantime, a funeral will be held for Cooper this weekend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Let's talk more about this internet search. If this is true, that he conducted this search and if, as police say, Justin Ross Harris, is responsible for his son's death, consider what we've learned about him. He has a Management Information Systems degree from the University of Alabama. He's a web designer. He works in the I.T. Department of the largest company in Georgia, a Fortune 50 company.

Would he not expect police to search his computer? Would he not know that that search would be retrievable, and if anyone, he knows computers, if anyone could get rid of it, could Justin Ross Harris not get rid of it as well? We've reached out to his attorney, and we've actually asked to speak with him, visit with him. We're told he's refusing visits. We're hoping to get more from his side, his family, as we follow this tragedy -- Kate, Chris.

CUOMO: Victor, you're asking the right questions. The problem is the answers, and that's why we'll keep putting out information as we get it. Nobody wants to get ahead of the conclusion on this one, especially when no one loses more in a situation like this than the parents. Victor, thank you for staying on it with the latest.

Let's take a look at what we now understand. Let's bring in Mel Robbins, CNN commentator and legal analyst. Mel, I'm still plagued by what we do not know. Victor was teeing it up well. What was this man's mental condition? Was there a situation at work? Was there a situation with his wife, anything that would lend credence to a motive for this type of action, but most importantly at this point speak to the idea of timing. There was a search done. Victor is all over that, but when?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR AND LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Chris, you've been really good about kind of cautioning all of us to not rush to judgment in this case, despite the fact that this new piece of information about the search is extremely troubling, but let me offer this.

There is a scenario under this set of facts that he did mistakenly leave the kid in the car, Chris, and at some point during the day realized his horrible mistake and went out to the car, checked, realized, my gosh, did a search and it was in the cover-up of his mistake that he botched so terribly that he actually made it look like murder in the cover-up.

So we don't know just based on the fact that this search was done. Let's presume that the search was done. Unless this search was done as soon as that kid was left in the car and he was trying to figure out how long he needed to leave the kid in the car in order to kill him, unless that's what the facts are here, it doesn't necessarily mean that this wasn't a mistake -- Chris. BOLDUAN: And that actually was going to be my question. How important is the timing of the internet search, if they can connect it to him, to the father himself? What if the search happened, just a shot in the dark here, what if the search happened two weeks before hand, does that mean it has nothing to do with this situation then?

ROBBINS: No. I think if it's beforehand, it's very troubling for the defense, Kate, you're absolutely right. The timing of this search is going to be the most significant piece of evidence. The second piece of evidence that we're all waiting for, of course, is a toxicology report. You know, let's say there was something in the kid's system that might have knocked him out. That would go to intentionality here.

So we've got to do exactly as Chris has been saying which is to kind of sit back and to look at the facts as they come out. We haven't heard from the defendant. We haven't heard from the defense attorney. The family did make some sort of a statement, you know. Yesterday we were talking about the mom and she hasn't come forward yet, but in the obituary, it said very clearly that Cooper was loved by both parents, and that is a statement to the public.

CUOMO: And also there's just this big assumption you're making -- not you, but it has to be made to forward this intentional argument about when he gets to the car at lunch time, he opens the door and closes it almost as quickly so in that moment, he realizes the mistake, initial reaction is to cover it up. What parent would do that, a long list of assumptions that have to be there in understanding why? We got to wait for more information.

Your breakdown is perfect on that, Mel, so let's shift from a story about why something happened to a story about who made something happen. Now we look in Detroit. Thank God this boy was found. We've all fallen in love with him and his smile and we can't wait to hear his story, but who made him disappear to be found in his own basement that had been thoroughly searched by all accounts. What do you make of this latest twist of the stepmom, not biological mom, arrested but on separate charges?

ROBBINS: This is a crazy case, Chris. I mean, you're right. The kid is so darn cute, and what we do know, according to some of the reports out there this morning, is that when he disappeared or ran away it was after a fight with his stepmother over chores. The other thing that seems implausible is that he was in the basement for the entire time, guys. So we don't know at this point.

Do we have a situation on our hands where we've got a 12-year-old who can't stand his stepmother because she's too strict, who runs away to prove a point, or do we have a situation of something much darker here in terms of child abuse or in terms of somebody trying to do something to this kid?

BOLDUAN: We're talking about a very different age cognitively. We're not talking about a 22-month-old boy. We're talking about a 12-year- old boy. Should this not be not an open and shut case, but shouldn't the boy be able to lay out pretty quickly, what happened when and why he was down there and if he had been down there the whole time.

ROBBINS: I'm sure he. Is he was taken away from his father and stepmother. They haven't even seen him yet. He was put into the care of other relatives? Not at all. There were two other kids in the house this they took out of house. You've got somebody who is being arrested on unrelated charges that have nothing to do with this, and then you have a situation where this kid has been missing for 12 days, and there are other suspicions about whether or not there's child abuse.

CUOMO: I don't get how the unrelated charges will wind up being unrelated because if they had other kids in the house taken out that means they believe they have an emergency situation, that they have a situation where they think those kids are at risk. If those kids are at risk, how is not related to this kid? I think there will be a connection over time and in the other case in Georgia, they reduced the charges, the prosecutors, gave me a lot of pause for understanding that and this one they seem to be stepping up the charges.

ROBBINS: Do we have a second for this, too, because you a lot of people are making a lot of noise about the dad's reaction on live TV, and I want to put something in perspective here. First of all, if you listen to it closely. Nancy Grace tells him we found your son in the basement. She doesn't say we found him alive first time. So you've got a guy on remote camera who is not present with Nancy Grace hearing through an ear piece that they found the son after 11 days of searching for him.

He's processing, wait a minute, what did she say? And Nancy also doesn't make it clear that the kid is alive. It's not until the second time that she asks him, that she -- she actually specifically says he's alive at which point the guy exhales and starts reacting.

CUOMO: Sure.

ROBBINS: So I don't necessarily think that his reaction on television is weird. I think if you understand how television works, particularly if he's on remote from Detroit and the way she asked the question, that he's shocked by the news and also probably terrified that the kid might still be dead because she hasn't said anything, if he's not in it.

BOLDUAN: And also worth noting, you never know how you're going to react to something like that, a shock.

CUOMO: True.

BOLDUAN: You don't know how you're going to react in any of these situations you haven't planned for as well.

CUOMO: Fair point, strong point, but nobody ever gets to see this play out. That's why it's so bizarre and hypnotizing for an audience.

Mel, thank you very much.

ROBBINS: Amazing. Thanks, yes.

CUOMO: We'll come back when you have more.

ROBBINS: Yes. You got it. Great to see you guys.

CUOMO: All right. A lot of news this morning. Right to Mick for that.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's give you a look at your headlines. Good morning, everyone.

The crisis in Iraq growing more complicated as Iraqi officials are now turning to Russia for fighter jets and other supports saying the U.S. wasn't moving fast enough. Secretary of State John Kerry's headed to meet with the king of Saudi Arabia as part of a bold push to get nations in the Persian Gulf to rally behind Iraq.

In the meantime, the White House is looking to expand its role in Syria's civil war in a major way as unrest bleeds into Iraq. It is now proposing a $500 million program that would train and arm moderate Syrian rebels. The half a billion dollar push is a larger amount than many expected and a big about face for the Obama administration which wanted to take more of a back seat role in the conflict.

Today, a congressional delegation will tour an overcrowded immigration facility in Texas. It is one of the several swelling with thousands of unaccompanied children, mainly from Central America.

Speaking with ABC News, President Obama warned the parents of those children about the dangers of sending them north.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, that is our direct message to the families in Central America, do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: A programming note for you, CNN Films "Documented", the journey of Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist living illegally in America, it will air Sunday at 9:00 Eastern. But stick around right here on NEW DAY in our 8:00 hour. Jose Vargas joins us live here.

Life was not a cabaret for Shia LaBeouf last night. Police removed the actor from the Broadway musical's audience, saying he was drunk and disruptive in the theater. In fact, he was escorted out and charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. Members of the audience thought his outburst was apparently an act. The 28-year-old is expected to appear before a judge this morning.

The people probably not impressed, the actors of "Cabaret".

(CROSSTALK) PEREIRA: Right.

CUOMO: Starting to cross over into the everything he does gets him a slap now.

BOLDUAN: He didn't even walk down the red carpet once with a bag over his head and said I'm no longer famous, or something like that.

CUOMO: Which made him more famous.

BOLDUAN: Drew him more attention.

PEREIRA: Doing some things.

CUOMO: Maybe I should try that.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's right. I think that's

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: The news guy with the bag over his head. I know that guy.

BOLDUAN: We support that. Kidding.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, we lost, we got shut out. Hooray, how can these things be cause for celebration?

Welcome to the World Cup, friend. Team USA is moving on the "we're going to tell you how it all works and what comes next."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it. The United States will be playing in the last 16 of the World Cup. The job is done, even though there is no reward today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: As we said, best loss ever.

Welcome back.

The United States may have lost the battle but could still win the war. Team USA lost 1-0 to Germany at the World Cup but had enough wins to advance to the knockout round.

Germany controlled most of the game in those soggy conditions we heard about there. They had a big fan cheering them on, President Obama, watching from Air Force One.

Back home, Americans exploded when the team advanced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: USA! USA! USA!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: Team USA taking this selfie after learning they had survived. I think we're going to show it to you, there it is.

They are now preparing to take on Belgium.

Joining us right now, Greg Lalas, editor-in-chief of MLSSoccer.com.

Good to see you. Are you excited or are you one of the poker-faced guys watching the game?

GREG LALAS, MLSSOCCER.COM: Are you kidding? I was shouting through the offices. It was amazing.

PEREIRA: Never has a loss been so amazing. I think I'm going to get the highlights to play here a little bit.

Talk to me about some of the things we didn't see that you as a professional soccer guy saw during yesterday's game.

LALAS: Well, I think that it's important to realize that the U.S. actually played a pretty good defensive game in this one. They were very compact. They dropped a little too far I think everyone would agree to that, but they were very compact, forcing the Germans out wide which is really what we wanted to do, because that's not what their strong suit is, and we were able to cut off the crosses that would come in from the planks for the most part.

And even the goal itself, it came on a set piece, a broken play and a beautiful shot from Muller. So, ultimately, you give that one because ultimately this didn't matter, a victorious defeat and you accept that.

PEREIRA: And is that a hard thing for a soccer player?

LALAS: No, no.

PEREIRA: You're thinking down the road, not thinking just about this game.

LALAS: You look at this. This is a tournament and you just need to get through. It's the result that matters ultimately, and they knew exactly what was going on in the other game.

PEREIRA: All right. So, now, we look forward to Tuesday taking on Belgium. I want to talk a little bit about what we're going to be facing with this team.

LALAS: Well, we're facing what everybody calls sort of the everyone's dark horse.

PEREIRA: OK.

LALAS: Ultimately, you can't really be everyone's dark horse, but that's what they are. This is a young team, a lot of talent. Most of their players are playing on big clubs in Europe, a lot in the Premier League, in particular. They're Man United, they're Chelsea, they're Arsenal, guys like that, and they have a lot of talent but they have sort of underperformed so far.

PEREIRA: Interesting.

LALAS: Three wins in a row but have not been convincing, 1-0 victories late that they have had to sort of squeak by.

PEREIRA: So, you say that and I think maybe they are just laying back in a cut to just pounce.

LALAS: Except that their own players have said it's not been good enough. We need to play a little bit better.

PEREIRA: All right. Well, one of the things on our side that we have to look at is the fact that we have one of our stars injured, Jozy Altidore, not looking like he's going to play or is it?

LALAS: Yes. No, it's not looking like he's going to play. I think, you know, they are being very cagey about his availability which is smart because you want the Belgians to be unsure as well because of what Jozy Altidore could bring. He would be very helpful but I don't think we would see him unless the U.S. were to advance a little further into the World Cup.

PEREIRA: What happens with these teams you fill in the gaps. You see other players rise to the challenge.

LALAS: You do. You see other players rise to the challenge, and you also see shifts in the way the team plays because if he were available they would play with two forwards. Instead, they are playing with one.

PEREIRA: You've given us with a great idea of the people we need to watch form. Let start with Kyle Beckerman. Tell us about him.

LALAS: Well, we mentioned him a little bit earlier in the tournament when we were talking, and he's only gotten better and I think he's proven that he's a world class level, not only at the club level where he plays for Real Salt Lake, taken it international. His best game continues against Germany and if he continues to improve in the defensive midfielder role, he's going to be very key in this game.

PEREIRA: This man right here is a beast. Tim Howard in our goal is almost unstoppable.

LALAS: And he had a very good game against Germany, probably the best game so far in the tournament, I think. He'll be important in controlling the back line.

PEREIRA: And you told us about Clint Dempsey, we've been watching him and he's been performing.

LALAS: He's been great, the first two games really good. Obviously got the goals. I think he was really tired going into the third game against Germany.

PEREIRA: How about the Belgians? Got to watch out for these guys, midfielder, Hazard.

LALAS: So, Eden Hazard is a player for Chelsea. He's incredibly fast and incredibly quick and likes to get out wide on the planks and take on a defender. He's the most dangerous player I think.

PEREIRA: But don't forget about the forward.

LALAS: So, Lukaku is a player. He plays in England. He's big. He's like they're Jozy Altidore.

PEREIRA: Oh, interesting.

LALAS: He's a little bit angry right now. He's pulled from a game and he kicked the water bottle when he came off the field, which, of course, got the coach and him complaining. And so, it'd be interesting to see what he does against the U.S.

PEREIRA: All right. This is Kate's favorite thing. What are the odds? I want you to tell us first off, what are the odds that the U.S. team can beat Belgium, give us our odds.

LALAS: I think that most people would say that Belgium are the favorites in this.

PEREIRA: Yes.

LALAS: But again, I'm going 50/50. The U.S. has a very good chance of getting out of this, as good a chance with Belgium.

PEREIRA: OK. K.B., how about you? What are your odds?

BOLDUAN: I'm a genius because I follow those who are smart. I'm going 50/50 as well.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: We'll put there you.

Mr. Cuomo?

CUOMO: Either they win or they don't.

BOLDUAN: They have a 50/50 chance to win.

CUOMO: I believe that we will win.

PEREIRA: All right. There you go.

CUOMO: Ninety-nine percent, I leave 1 percent for human doubt.

PERERIA: Human error, OK.

BOLDUAN: And a blank slate when they go into the next group. PEREIRA: Me?

CUOMO: What do you think?

BOLDUAN: Where's Michaela?

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: You know why, I'll tell you why.

CUOMO: Mickey is an Americant.

PEREIRA: I'm not an Americant.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: It's not that I don't think that the Americans can't do it. I think that Belgium is a sleeping beast. That's why.

LALAS: They are. They are a very, very good team.

CUOMO: Bold prediction.

PEREIRA: Did someone just say go back to Canada.

CUOMO: That's right.

BOLDUAN: No. But some people were thinking it. Just kidding.

PEREIRA: I know who you were.

CUOMO: She is good looking but she's an Americant.

PEREIRA: Greg, thank you so much.

Cuomo, I'll deal with you later.

BOLDUAN: That's with you, two.

And then I will win.

All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY, a war of words not just happening here on NEW DAY. It's also happening here between Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney over the Iraq crisis and it's now getting personal. Our political panel will discuss.

CUOMO: And then let's see what Mickey has to see to Team USA, solid wall, goalkeeper Tim Howard, team captain.

BOLDUAN: You tell that to Tim Howard.

CUOMO: He was a game-changer yesterday. I know they lost 1-0, but it could have been like 4-0 if it weren't for him. He's man. He's going to talk about where the team is and what he thinks happens against Belgium. We'll go live to Brazil.

BOLDUAN: Brazil. Greg, can we just say --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)