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Police Seize Computers in Hot Car Death; Police Talk to Boy Found in Detroit Basement; Interview with Team USA's Goalkeeper, Tim Howard

Aired June 27, 2014 - 08:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What did he know? New twist in the case of the father told live on TV that his missing son was found in his own basement. Well, now, his wife has been arrested, but on separate charges, and neither is being allowed to see the boy. What's going on?

Nancy Grace joins us live.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking new details in the case of the father charged for leaving his son in the hot car. Was he searching the Internet for how to do just that?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Best loss ever. Team USA moving on to the next round of the world cup. The nation rallying like never before. The anchor of that team, goalkeeper Tim Howard joining us live this morning.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Friday, June 27th, 8:00 in the East.

An Internet search providing possible new clues for Georgia police investigating the death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris. He was left alone by his father for seven hours, strapped in his car seat inside a sweltering SUV. On one of the computers seized from the father's office was this search, "How long does it take an animal to die in a hot car?" So strange.

CNN's Victor Blackwell is in Marietta, Georgia, with much more on the story.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. Initially, there was substantial public support for this father, but with this latest revelation, that is starting to wane.


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 computer 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll be entering a plea of not guilty at this time.

BLACKWELL: Witnesses 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, you know, 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 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 day care 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 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.


BLACKWELL: Well, we have tried several times to contact Harris' attorney. This attorney has not called us back. We've seen asked to visit Harris at the Cobb County jail. That visit was refused, and thus far there's no indication that Harris would be let out just to attend this funeral in Tuscaloosa, a few hours away, although there is precedent.

Again, no indication there's been a request made to allow Justin Ross Harris to attend -- Chris.

CUOMO: Boy, I hope they figure out what happened here as quickly as possible, Victor, because if they have the wrong guy, it would be really another layer of terrible tragedy. Thank you for the reporting on this.

We also have new information for you this morning in the case of a missing Detroit boy, he's been found safe after being barricaded in his own father's basement. Now, today, police want to talk to 12- year-old Charlie Bothuell again. The news he was alive, you'll remember, came with a truly bizarre twist. Charlie's father was told live on TV by HLN's Nancy Grace about the situation and now some are questioning the authenticity of Bothuell's reaction.

We're going to talk with Nancy live in just a moment about that and what she has learned since, because the father is certainly denying any wrongdoing.

However, his wife, Charlie's stepmother, is in police custody on an unrelated charge.

We sent Alexandra field out to Detroit for the story.

Alexandra, what are the latest developments? Here's her package.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Chris, most importantly, Charlie is in a safe place now. He's been checked out and also seen by a team of child psychologists.

But he's also spending a lot of time talking to police. He's given them a lot of good information. Now we'll see if prosecutors decide whether that information could lead to charges.


FIELD (voice-over): Twelve-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, FATHER OF BOY FOUND IN BASEMENT: We have not done anything wrong to my son, nothing but to try to help him.

FIELD: On Thursday, Charlie's stepmother was taken into custody for a probation violation on an 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: Why won't police let you see the boy? Where is he? BOTHUELL: You know, I'm breaking a no comment rule but I was briefly

on the phone with him when he called my mother, and I need to go now because I'm not listening to the attorney.

FIELD: Police found Charlie in his own basement. The boy crouched down, barricaded behind a stack 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 --


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


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

BOTHUELL: I -- I -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I have no idea. I --

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

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

FIELD: Police say a PVC pipe and bloody clothing were found in the home. They have 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 I somehow knew my son was in the basement it's absurd and it's wrong. I love my son.


FIELD: Right now, police here in Detroit are refusing to comment on whether or not they have seen any signs of physical abuse. Charlie's father and his stepmother have two other young children, both of those children we're told are now in protective custody -- Chris.

CUOMO: The question is why they did that.

Alexandra, thank you for being there live for us on the scene.

Let's bring in Nancy Grace right now.

Nancy, thank you for joining us this morning.


CUOMO: Everybody wants to have a take on what happened between you and the father on TV. I'm more interested in your take on the situation.

Do you still believe the father with the newest information that we've learned?

GRACE: Well, I still believe what I originally said, and that is that the father had nothing to do with the child disappearing.

Now, that begs the question, why did the child disappear? We are also learning that the child reportedly said the stepmother was helping him, possibly giving him food.

This is what else we have learned. We talked to the father, and when all of this was breaking, he said something which at the time I didn't realize was significant. He said that the stepmother had texted him the day the boy went missing and sent him a photo and that he was going to have to deal with it when he got home.

You know what that was, Chris? It was a photo of the elliptical machine. Why? Because allegedly the father had the little boy on a very strict physical regimen of 4,000 steps a day on an elliptical, and if the child didn't do it, he would be punished. And remember, the child was in his workout when he went to the bathroom and disappeared.

So, that is leading to the possibility and the investigation of child abuse. Was the father just too hard on the boy? You know, they found the bloody clothes in the home, and the PVC pipe in the home. There have been some reports the father has stated that he would spank the boy with the PVC pipe.

And then you've got the mother, the stepmother following along with it, sending the picture of the elliptical like look --

CUOMO: Hold a second. Hold on. Sorry.

So, let's unpack this for a second. So, you're saying that 4,000 steps on the elliptical abuse or not, I don't know. Let's put that to the side for a second.

But then it becomes the people pointing the finger at the stepmom saying that, oh, she's got the unrelated weapon charge, oh, the kids are taken out of the house, must have been her. But you're saying it may have been the stepmom was helping the boy avoid the father's punishment?

GRACE: Some reports are -- yes, some reports are that the stepmother was giving the boy food.

Back to the stepmother, all these unrelated charges, I can tell you what the cops are doing. This is the unrelated charge. She was driving, she got pulled over for something and she said oh, I have a suspended license for a gun and I've got a gun in the car. They arrested her for that, FYI, word to the wise. That was her first arrest.

Then, they come in the home to do the search, there's a gun in the home, and she is arrested on a probation violation. That's the whole story to that.

But I'll tell you this. They've got her behind bars to make her talk. That's why she's behind bars right now.

Obviously, she did not give them the information they're looking for and they're going to let her simmer behind bars until she's ready to talk. That's what's happening, whether they will admit it or not.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's get back to the father because you don't spank with a PVC pipe, OK?

GRACE: Well, first of all, I don't spank period, number one.

CUOMO: But put that PC stuff to the side. You have PC and then PVC pipe, OK?

If you have a PVC pipe, this takes us to an entirely different level of what we may wind up learning about why this kid ran, if he did run.

GRACE: Chris, we should have seen that. You and I should have seen that at the get-go because when the police say we've recovered bloody clothes and PVC pipe, we should have put that together. What does that mean these two are seized together? We have to wait until it unfolds in court. The father has not been charged with child abuse.

He had the backbone, or the guts or craziness to come back on my show last night and I learned this, he did speak with little Charlie, but little Charlie called his grandmother and then the dad got on the phone.

I find that significant, that he did not want to talk to his father.

CUOMO: So very interesting.

GRACE: Why are the children taken out of the home?

CUOMO: Yes, tell us.

GRACE: The 4-year-old boy and the little girl, they're taken out of the home because there's nobody, they can't see the father because he's under investigation, and the mom is now in jail. Charlie is back with his biological mother, so there's nowhere for them to be.

CUOMO: What about other family?

GRACE: That's why they're in custody or child protection.

You know, I was wondering that, too. And speaking of other family, now that you brought it up, in the same townhouse connect -- you know, they're all interconnected is the uncle, the stepmother's brother is there, who coincidentally is running for office, did he know the boy was hiding out? And it begs the question, why didn't the dogs that the police brought in find the boy?

So, it's all a jumble this morning. But I can guarantee you this. I am going to make sense of it.

CUOMO: Well, I think you're starting to get there. I mean, there are a lot of different clues here about what the situation is. The father also said something else. I'm not sure if it was to you or in his ad hoc press conference, where he said, "I love my son. We've done everything we can to help him."

That's an unusual thing to say about your kid, you know?


CUOMO: Does this kid have some type of issue that was something that was pending in the family? Because just hearing that he had run away, in quotes before, a lot of kids at that age start pushing back against authority and do little things like that.

GRACE: Well, he didn't really run away, Chris, and that disturbs me, because that's what I thought at the beginning, too. But now, I found out the previous runaway, we were told hours to days. It was just about two to three hours he was gone, and he was over by his mother's house, about two miles away, going to his mommy. I don't consider that a runaway.

So, I uncovered he's not really a runaway. He's not unruly. He's not a bad kid. The father took him away from the mother to home school him and put him on a physical regimen which I've never heard of putting a 12-year-old child on an excessive physical regimen.

I mean, I'd like to see you and me up there on an elliptical doing 4,000 steps, Chris, please.

CUOMO: Well, every time you use air quotes I know that means that you find something suspicious and you got plenty of use for air quotes in this story. We're going to keep watching you.

GRACE: But I'm standing by the fact that the dad did not know the boy was in the basement because I don't think he would have called in the FBI and the police, but I've always been extremely suspicious as to why that child ran, was hiding for two weeks when I heard about the bloody clothes, I'm fearing the worst. I'm hoping for the best, though.

CUOMO: Look, you can feel confident about the best, because the kid's alive and well and that's so rare already.

GRACE: Amen. CUOMO: So, we're dealing with that, but very interesting. So you

shifted from, it's not a shift. You shifted my focus, not the father did it but was the father the cause of it in another way. We'll look for the next chapter of what certainly is turning into a novel of epic proportions except it's true

GRACE: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: So, we'll check your show tonight, Nancy. Thank you for staying with us on it, we'll talk to you as we get the latest developments.

And, of course, all of you can watch Nancy Grace on HLN, weeknights at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.


PEREIRA: All right. Great conversation there, Chris. Thanks so much and our thanks to Nancy as well.

Here's a look at more headlines now.

The U.S. looking to strike a delicate balance as it tries to slow the ISIS surge in Iraq. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to meet with the king of Saudi Arabia. This is all in part of a push to get nations in the Persian Gulf to rally behind Iraq. This as we learn Iraq is now turning to Russia for fighter jets, saying that the U.S. wasn't moving fast enough.

The suspected mastermind of the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi is nearing American soil. Ahmed Abu Khattala could arrive as soon as this weekend, according to a senior law enforcement source. He has spent about two weeks being interrogated by the FBI on the USS New York. Khattala was captured earlier this month in Libya.

Police had to remove actor Shia LaBeouf from last night's performance of "Cabaret" on Broadway. The NYPD said "The Transformer" star was drunk and disruptive while watching the musical. He was charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. The 28-year-old is expected to appear before a judge this morning. Members of the audience said they thought his outburst was some sort of an act.

Quite a tale here. Look at this, five-time national champion Alysia Montano competed in the 800-meter run Thursday in the U.S. track and field championships. It was a normal race for the 28-year-old other than the fact she is 34 months pregnant.


PEREIRA: Weeks. Did I say months? That would be a really, really long pregnancy.


PEREIRA: She had been running for days and the doctor gave her the OK to go ahead and do the race. Her goal was to -- not get lapped. She accomplished that, she finished 35 seconds slower than her personal best, considering she was 34 months pregnant.

BOLDUAN: That's amazing.

PEREIRA: You clap. The crowd apparently gave her a standing ovation.

BOLDUAN: As well they should.

PEREIRA: You have a new bar, my dear.

CUOMO: I know. You are a slacker.



CUOMO: And she ran that much faster than most people would be able to.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that is amazing.

Right now, I can't remember how many weeks pregnant I am, because that's blowing my mind.

CUOMO: She came in last but the baby didn't.

PEREIRA: No, the baby didn't.

BOLDUAN: The baby came in second last.

CUOMO: Came in second last.


BOLDUAN: And always will before her.

CUOMO: Absolutely, well done, well played, you're back.

BOLDUAN: And I'm back. Off the rails. It's Friday.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Team USA will get us back on the rails, still alive in the World Cup, thanks in part to the leadership of veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard. He's talking to us about the team's run so far. Stop that ball!

CUOMO: Through the legs, still safe.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY and indeed it is the new day Team USA was looking for. After a 1-0 non-win to Germany, the U.S. will advance to the knockout round on points. This is World Cup, different rules and stuff.

Germany attacking from the start. They did all right, but the continued heroics of goalkeeper Tim Howard kept the first half scoreless as he made save after save in horrible conditions against arguably the best team in the world.

Earlier this morning, we got to speak to Tim about the challenges ahead. Here you go.


CUOMO: We all watched the match yesterday. Take me back to it, the conditions, terrible. Rain coming down, the NASA-designed ball like a speeding bullet, you facing arguably the best team next to the USA in the tournament.

You wind up being Berlin Wall. Where was your head facing this team in these conditions?

TIM HOWARD, TEAM USA GOALKEEPER: It was focused. The conditions were tough. We played in nasty weather before. We got thrown for a loop a little bit and not being able to warm up on the field, but that's happened and we've been in that position before.

So, it was just trying to refocus and make sure that little things like that didn't throw us off.

I thought we played well. Although we lost, we played well.

CUOMO: You had unusual intensity. Is there an equivalent of being in the zone as a goalkeeper? Did you feel you were on yesterday?

HOWARD: Yes. I think there is -- the zone isn't sports specific. When you're a competitor and when the game starts to slow down and you read things quicker, I think I think you feel like you're in the zone. I felt like all season, I've been in good rhythm, you know, with my club team, and I feel like that's carried over.

So, hopefully, it can last a few games longer.

CUOMO: The best save of the day. By the way, Tony Meola says you're one of the five best in the world, right? And he should know, that's high praise.

And he pointed out a goal where I think you were looking at Besler, and the German player kicks the ball through his legs and you were somehow able to pick it up and make the save.

Were you impressed with yourself on that play?


HOWARD: Again, I was just focused. I remember the play. It's high praise coming from Tony, one of the -- one of the greats. So, I appreciate that.

But, you know, that was something that happened in the game and you see it 1,000 times and that's what happen when you're experienced or old like I am. You start to see things quicker.

CUOMO: Well, you didn't look old when you were jumping around like a puma in the goal yesterday for all the world's eyes to watch.

So, let's talk about the one goal that was scored. You made a great save. You punched it back out in. Did you see that shot from Muller or was it just give him his due, a perfect shot? Was it on you or on him?

HOWARD: It was definitely on him. It was a brilliant strike to keep it inside, keep it low, hard, to the back post. It came through a couple of bodies as well, but to finish that the first time was excellent and from a player of his caliber, no surprise.

CUOMO: Now, when you look at Belgium, how do you look at them, how do you think you size up against them?

HOWARD: I think we match up really well with them.

Having said that, they are strong and they're powerful, defensively rock solid. In the attack, they have some dangerous and some very tricky players. Very much like Germany. So, we'll have our work cut out for us, but we feel like we're strong, we're powerful and we've been playing some of the best soccer that this team has seen.

So, hopefully we'll give as good as we get.


BOLDUAN: Love it.

CUOMO: I know. What's so interesting to me is the game has really been taken off the field. The U.S. has gotten behind soccer in a way I've never seen it before, even in previous World Cups, something special about this team. He's a big reason for it. They're just seen as very cool and they're getting a ton of support.

PEREIRA: So many of them have experience. They play in European leagues so they're playing against these very teams all the time, these very players. They have the experience and it's showing on the field.

BOLDUAN: He was really cool about the game which is exactly what you want. Not like we understand that everyone's watching but we can't handle --

CUOMO: And, you know, turns out that Tim is running low on socks. I said I will take some socks and I'll actually head to Brazil this weekend, hook him up with extra socks. Don't want him to get any blisters and I will cover the game for CNN because I'm going to be down there anyway because of the socks. Maybe I'll get him to pick up the tan.

I will go, pay on my own dime, for the love of country.

BOLDUAN: Rubbing it in. Coming up next --

CUOMO: No, I'll be there. Yes, you stay here. It's nice.

BOLDUAN: You stay there. You just stay. Just kidding.

CUOMO: It's what I do, dedication. Thank me later.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, he publicly revealed he was one of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. He's now a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Jose Antonio Vargas brings us an incredible story, in A CNN film. We're going to talk to him about the issue and why it's so important, ahead.