updated 12/27/2005 10:54:12 AM ET 2005-12-27T15:54:12

Guest: Dr. Stephen Greenberg, Lauren Newman, Christine Newman, Scott

Perkins, Patrick Stethem, Joe Tacopina, Stacey Honowitz, John Rivera,

Robert Parker

CATHERINE CRIER, GUEST HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, manhunt.  Day two of the massive search for a Miami man accused of seven rapes, and now new information.  Was he left alone because of budget cuts?  Plus, did a popular TV show help teach this man how to escape? 

Then, a hero home from the Gulf gunned down in cold blood.  Reports tonight that his wife may have confessed to the crime.  Tonight, are police getting close to solving this case? 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

CRIER:  Thanks for being here.  I'm Catherine Crier, in for Joe tonight.

We are going to have those stories in just a minute. 

Plus, he killed a U.S. Navy diver in cold blood during an infamous seven-day hijacking siege.  Now he is free, and the diver's family is outraged.  We told you about them last night.  Tonight, another member of that family tells us if they have gotten any help from the government. 

And all I want for Christmas is a nose job?  Well, that's the startling new trend for teens.  Why more and more people are getting plastic surgery gift certificates in their stockings. 

But, first, tonight, there is a massive manhunt in Miami for a man accused of raping seven girls and women, ages 11 to 79.  His name is Reynaldo Rapalo.  He's an immigrant from Honduras.  And he was supposed to go to trial in February.  But, on Tuesday night, he crawled through a ventilation shaft in his cell, then used ropes made from bed sheets to lower himself six stories to the ground and vanish into the night. 

Well, joining me now is Robert Parker.  He's director of the Miami-Dade Police Department. 

Robert, I want to start with you, because this kind of case is one that just sends chills down the spine of that community.  This guy was about to go to trial in February.  Everybody was relieved.  Can you give us any details about the investigation?  I understand some people think he is going to be captured within the next day or two. 

ROBERT PARKER, DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE DEPARTMENT:  Sure, Catherine Good evening. 

It's certainly our intention to get him into custody as soon as possible.  The fact is, he has been out there far too long already, nearing more than a full day, 24-hour period. 

Absolutely, we have a massive manhunt under way to locate this individual.  He is a danger to the community.  As we know, he has been involved in sexual offenses of victims as young as 7 years old and as old as the later 70s. 

CRIER:  Well, Robert, let me direct you, though.  You said, gee, we hope we are going to bring him in.  There have been reports that, we think we are close, which seem to indicate some things are coming in, in terms of information, some progress is being made.  Is it true that you actually feel like success is around the corner, or are you just trying to, frankly, placate the public? 

PARKER:  Well, I do feel that success is close. 

CRIER:  Why? 

PARKER:  We are very optimistic because of, one, leads are coming in. 

CRIER:  OK. 

PARKER:  And some of the leads that have come in have been very productive. 

The only problem is that some of the leads that do come in are a little bit late.  Obviously, this individual is on the move, on the run.  There's some conditions and factors that make it—well, it should be a little bit easier to identify this guy, as he is like 5'4“, which is a little bit short for an individual, has very distinctive facial features, that along with the fact that you, the media, and the public is cooperating, and they do understand the seriousness of this being out there. 

CRIER:  Yes.  There are some reports that the guy got away with a .22-caliber handgun.  Any confirmation of that?  Do you expect he is armed? 

PARKER:  No.  There is confirmation of the fact that he is armed.

CRIER:  OK.

PARKER:  There has not been verified.  However, we are treating him as if he is armed, a very crafty individual. 

The feat that he accomplished is no easy feat.  He did escape from a maximum security facility, one that is designed to avoid escapes.  In fact, this is only the second escape from that facility in its existence of almost 20 years.  So, it is a very secure facility.  Unfortunately, he did escape.

CRIER:  OK.  No doubt in your mind whatsoever that he had help doing this, right? 

PARKER:  No doubt in my mind that he had help.  I am not certain of as to where the help came from.

And interviewing more than 20 inmates in the facility, a number of them indicate that they were aware, they heard rumors of the plan to escape.  The problem, though, is that none of those individuals told staff.  All of those individuals were inmates and kept the information to themselves. 

CRIER:  All right.  Well, he got ahold of some items that it would be hard to get from other inmates, unless they were wandering outside of a wood shop somewhere. 

He obviously got ahold of some sort of saw that could literally go through steel, because that ventilation area had bars on it, had locks.  He had other equipment.  He got ahold of additional sheets.  He had black clothing, so it sounds to me much more like someone possibly on the inside within the corrections facility—and I am not talking about inmates—or someone was let in from the outside with some sort of complicit behavior. 

PARKER:  Well, you know, that it is a very valid point, and a very valid consideration, and we are looking at the possibility that that occurred, but we have not drawn any conclusion that any of this involved any correction staff.  We would hope that it did not. 

CRIER:  Certainly. 

PARKER:  And that what occurred was the result of a lapse in policy or procedure, the fact that perhaps an individual was not as attentive as they should have been, as opposed to a deliberate conspiracy to help this individual escape. 

However, we are not dismissing the possibility that it could have involved individuals assigned there as well. 

CRIER:  All right. 

PARKER:  We hope that that is not the case.

CRIER:  People are talking about this show, the “Prison Break” television show, that there were scribblings in his cell, something that is leading people to believe maybe he actually watched some of this on television that helped him concoct the break? 

PARKER:  No, that's one of the points that we are interviewing when we interview other inmates, to make a determination in terms of what they were allowed to see and whether or not they did see the movie “Prison Break,” whether or not that played any role whatsoever in giving him ideas or methods of how to escape from the facility. 

This individual, as I mentioned, is very crafty.  He managed to elude police for quite a period prior to his initial capture for the rapes that he perpetrated. 

CRIER: 

PARKER:  He operated in a area of the city of Miami for quite a period long enough to perpetrate a number of rapes, as I mentioned earlier. 

CRIER:  Absolutely.  Robert Parker, thank you very much. 

PARKER:  My pleasure. 

CRIER:  Now, very important point that we have been talking about in this case, were funding cuts to blame for this predator's escape?

Authorities say six out of 247 cameras at the jail needed servicing, two of 23 roof cameras were not working, and the Dade County Police Benevolent Association has filed numerous grievances against this prison this year for lack of staffing. 

We want to bring in the president of the Dade County PBA, Sergeant John Rivera. 

Sergeant, I have been reading through some of the e-mails and communications about the concerns there in the facility.  I want to read one that we got our hands on.  It says: “Miami-Dade County government needs to wake up and realize their continual personnel shortage is bound to blow up in their faces.  They are playing with fate, as they always seem to manage by crisis.  It's bad for inmate safety, care, and control, as well as safety to our correctional officers, who are confined to this modern-day dungeons.”

That's pretty tough stuff that has been going back and forth.  What kind of responses have these e-mails and complaints brought? 

SERGEANT JOHN RIVERA, PRESIDENT, DADE COUNTY POLICE BENEVOLENT

ASSOCIATION:  Well, sadly enough, it has fallen on deaf ears, as it has for many years. 

Corrections is a place where funding and resources have not been received.  It's a tough thing.  I—certainly, I know all governments suffer budgetary constraints, but keeping the public safety is paramount for government to do, and it has a price tag.  And, sadly enough, we have been saying this for many years.  It was a matter of when, not if. 

(CROSSTALK)

CRIER:  I understand.  I understand the facilities 180 to 200 officers short right now?  Is it understaffed? 

RIVERA:  Those were the reports that we heard this morning, that upward of 200.  There actually might be more than 200 positions short. 

And what they are doing is, they are overworking the staff that they have now.  They are fatigued.  And they are giving more responsibilities day by day.  And they just can't cover—imagine, in this particular cell, it was one officer trying to keep an eye on 51 inmates. 

CRIER:  OK.  Tell me something.  The two individuals have been suspended, one individual who was on the particular security floor, another who was walking around outside. 

We found out that, in fact, it wasn't even a prison official that saw the sheets draped down from the roof, but it was a guest, if you will, at the facility, a visitor there at the facility.  But some of the monitoring cameras were out. 

I would like to know if the cameras were even being monitored.  We find out a lot of times in apartments and offices and shopping areas, the cameras are out there, but nobody is watching. 

RIVERA:  You know, that's a very interesting question, and we find it offensive that two officers were relieved of duty. 

We think it's just so that they can appease the community and the media inquiries.  If anybody, we have been saying maybe the director of corrections should be relieved of duty until the investigation is over.  How can we relieve people of duty, when investigations haven't even been conducted?  I think it's nothing more than to make people feel good.  It's a little show-and-tell game. 

CRIER:  All right.  I also understand that a lot of times corrections officers are replaced with civilians that may not have the same kind of training. 

Maybe they are saving dollars.  Maybe they are saving some sort of government pension, but what's the result? 

RIVERA:  Well, that's it.  There we go again.  They cut back on positions.  They civilianize positions.  Civilians don't have the same training in the area of care, custody and control of inmates.

Even the classification of inmates is something that they are trying to privatize and civilianize, and these folks don't have the same level of training. 

CRIER:  All right.  If you could speak out to the county manager and those that you have been trying to communicate with, what are you going to tell them today? 

RIVERA:  Well, we have spoken to the county manager, even as early as this evening.  Sadly enough, I hate to say this.  I want to be more optimistic, but I think that once this individual is captured, the Band-Aid approach will go back, and it will be business as usual.  Until the commitment is made to provide the necessary resources and staffing, it's going to be another—a matter of when again. 

CRIER:  Well, I think your complaints would be echoed over the country.  We have seen an enormous increase in escapes in just the last six months or so.

And I hope government officials are paying attention all over. 

Thank you, Sergeant John Rivera.

RIVERA:  I hope so. 

CRIER:  Now, when we come back, a major development in a case making headlines.  Why was a hero home from military service murdered?  Did he get caught in a love triangle?  His wife is now telling cops a very disturbing story.  And we have got the latest.

Then, last night, we told you about the terrorist who killed a Navy diver and is now walking free, thanks to the German government.  Tonight, the steps his family now plans to get justice—that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  She had her whole life ahead of her, until this beauty queen was brutally murdered.  Tonight, a stunning break in the case. 

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  A Navy reservist home for the holidays with his family gunned down at a city park just days after returning from the Middle East.  At first, it appeared to be random violence.

But, as NBC's Ron Mott reports, authorities say the motive was much more sinister. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  A chilling 911 call from this park in Raleigh, North Carolina.  A couple out for a stroll in the early morning hours of Sunday is attacked.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MONIQUE BERKLEY, WIFE OF NAVY RESERVIST PAUL BERKLEY:  Hello?

911 DISPATCHER:  Hello.

BERKLEY:  I've been shot.

(END AUDIO CLIP) 

MOTT:  Forty-six-year-old Navy reservist Paul Berkley, just back from the war in Iraq and happy to be home for the holidays, was shot in the head.  He can be heard gasping for breath and later dies.  His 26-year-old wife, Monique, wounded in the shoulder, survives. 

People in the Berkleys' neighborhood are shocked by the news. 

MARY AYCOCK, NEIGHBOR:  It's hard for me to believe that he could be overseas protecting our country, and he comes home, and he's shot and killed. 

MOTT:  But that was only the beginning.  Hours after the shootings, police arrest two 18-year-olds.  Then, in a stunning move, Monique is charged with helping the men murder her husband. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Ma'am, you are here today charged with first- degree murder. 

MOTT:  Reports say she and one of the men arrested were having an affair and that the other man was dating Paul Berkley's daughter.

KEVIN MILLER, WPTF MORNING SHOW HOST:  We have people calling in and they say, please, don't tell us anymore.  And, yet, we have others that are just so glued to the story.

MOTT:  Online, condolences from a host of well-wishers for a man who died not at war in a strange land, but, rather, too close to home.

Ron Mott, NBC News, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CRIER:  Now, before we bring in our all-star legal panel, we are going to hear some of Berkley's extraordinary 911 call. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DISPATCHER:  911.  Location of your emergency?

MONIQUE BERKLEY, WIFE OF NAVY RESERVIST PAUL BERKLEY:  Hello?

DISPATCHER:  Hello?

BERKLEY:  Hello?  I have been shot.  I have been shot.  And my husband, he's...

DISPATCHER:  You have been shot?

BERKLEY:  Yes. 

DISPATCHER:  What is your address?

BERKLEY:  I'm in a park.

DISPATCHER:  All right.  The paramedics are on the way, OK?

BERKLEY:  OK.

DISPATCHER:  I want you to stay quiet and stay out of sight and tell me immediately if you see anybody moving around or anything.  OK?

Can you tell me anything about the people, what they look like, that shot you?

BERKLEY:  No.  They—no.

DISPATCHER:  Other than it was two people?

BERKLEY:  I heard two voices.  They were male.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CRIER:  Joining me now to talk about the case, Florida prosecutor Stacey Honowitz and defense attorney Joe Tacopina.

Stacey, I want to start with you.  This case seems to be falling apart for any sort of defense relatively quickly.  The two young men, that, one, her apparent lover, and, the other, dating Paul, the deceased's daughter, were picked up less than 12 hours from the time the 911 call occurred.  And they were out there looking for these guys.  Somebody was talking early in this case. 

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY:  Well, obviously, that's what happened in this case.  Someone is talking early, and someone is talking about the wife, and they are saying that she is the mastermind behind this whole love triangle, and that's what it is. 

The husband came home.  She was having an affair with this young guy.  They set up this whole thing.  They are in a park 3:00 in the morning, when it's raining and it's cold, a perfect setup.  She claims she doesn't know who shot them, and we all know that one person is talking and flipping and hoping that he can get a better deal, because he is going to finger her as the person who was directing this whole scheme. 

CRIER:  All right.  Joe, it looks like there may be the I-question,, and that is insurance.  People are beginning to talk about financial being the motive here.  What do you do with the client? 

JOE TACOPINA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, one, you see how it plays out. 

Is there truly a financial motive?  When was an insurance policy procured? 

But, Catherine, I mean, Stacey, if you listen to what was just said, we don't need even the trial.  The verdict has already been had, and there's a sentencing date that should be scheduled. 

You know, just because someone is talking doesn't mean that someone is credible.  I mean, when you bring a case that is—and we don't know what the prosecution has as evidence yet, so let's preface everything with that, Catherine.

But when you bring a case that's based on the word of someone that was caught committing a horrific crime like murder, and that person, you know, has a motive, has an incentive to try and get out from under by pointing a finger elsewhere, if they just did this because they wanted to off this guy, so they could be with this—the dream of their life here, this woman, or the boyfriend wanted to be with her so badly, he wanted to kill the husband, and he got caught and is now turning and pointing the finger at her, the prosecution better have more evidence, corroborative evidence, than someone who is just trying to get out from under a death penalty count.

HONOWITZ:  Joe, there's so much stuff here.  How do you look at it and say they better have stuff?  You have motive.  You have opportunity.  Why were they in a park at 3:00 in the morning on a rainy, cold night?  You try to figure that one out.

TACOPINA:  Therefore, she is guilty?  Therefore, she is guilty of murder.

(CROSSTALK)

HONOWITZ:  ... not the perfect, perfect setup.

CRIER:  Well, Joe, but better than that, is how did these two young men know?  These guys went to dinner.  They went to a movie.  Word is that she had sort of enticed him to have a romantic rendezvous in the park.

And at almost 3:00 in the morning, these two guys just happened to find them at this particular location? 

TACOPINA:  Catherine, I am not saying circumstantially there's not certainly the finger pointing at Monique here, at the wife, but all I am saying is , there needs to be—trust me.

I was a homicide prosecutor, Catherine.  You do not bring a case based on solely the word of an accomplice without corroboration.  You need more than they were in the park at 3:00 in the morning or—what if the guy was following her? 

CRIER:  Well, I got a rumor for you. 

(CROSSTALK)

HONOWITZ:  I am telling you. 

(CROSSTALK)

TACOPINA:  I will take all the rumors, Catherine.

CRIER:  No, this is a good rumor, Joe, that she has confessed. 

HONOWITZ:  Yes, that's what we heard.  She confessed.  She's behind it.

TACOPINA:  OK.  But, but, but...

(CROSSTALK)

HONOWITZ:  Now are you going to say that maybe the confession is coerced? 

(CROSSTALK)

TACOPINA:  We also heard that the boys down in Aruba, when they were looking for...

CRIER:  True.  True.

TACOPINA:  ... the missing woman, confessed.  That turned out to be a false rumor. 

Rumors aside, let's wait to see.  If she confessed, hey, that's—then we don't even have to have this debate, but let's put aside what we have heard as rumor. 

Let's wait to see what happens in the well of the courtroom with evidence that has to pass the test of cross-examination.  And let's see if it's really as strong a case as it appears to be. 

HONOWITZ:  Spoken like a true defense attorney. 

TACOPINA:  Well, I am also a recovering prosecutor, Stacey. 

HONOWITZ:  Oh, my God.  Those words are unbelievable.  Spoken like a true defense attorney.

TACOPINA:  I'm a recovering—oh, yes.  They're consistent with the presumption of innocence.  Imagine that insane concept. 

CRIER:  All right.  Well, let's talk a little bit about something else, another angle, Stacey, since some say we have already tried and convicted her. 

HONOWITZ:  Right. 

CRIER:  But if in fact there is a confession, and if these two, the two young men, are trying to talk to basically save their skins, what are they looking at here?  Because if you are talking about solicitation of murder, the financial gain, all this on the part of the wife, if, in fact, that's the case, what is she looking at? 

What sort of deal would you expect a prosecutor to be offering one of those young men to get the kind of tale that a jury would want to hear? 

HONOWITZ:  Well, certainly, if there's aggravating circumstances, if the court finds or the jury finds that there were financial reasons or a motive behind this, she is certainly eligible for the death penalty. 

And I think one of these co-defendants, who is going to try to flip and get a better deal, is looking for something less than life, anything less than life, because that's what they are all facing.  And that's what happened, Catherine.

And Joe knows this.  In cases like this, where there's three co-defendants, someone is going to do their darndest to try to get out of getting life in prison.  Get the mastermind.  And that's what's going to happen in this case, especially if you hear a confession... 

(CROSSTALK)

CRIER:  How do you work around that, Joe?  You are representing one of these guys, and you expect one of them at any minute is going to try and make a deal.  Are you hustling in there to get it first? 

TACOPINA:  Well, look, if my client—if I believe my client is guilty, and my client expresses that, he or she is guilty, I run that option by them, of course, because, look, there's an expression.  You either could get on the train or get under it. 

And if you are going to be run over by an avalanche of evidence and you want to do something to sort of try and preserve, I guess, what's left of your miserable life, you try and do that.  But you have to be on guard, Catherine.  You know this as someone who was in the criminal justice system. 

And I was—I'm on both sides of the fence here.

CRIER:  Sure.

TACOPINA:  So, I understand and appreciate, you cannot just take the word of someone who is caught with a crime and just because they want to flip and got out from under possibility a death penalty case or at least life in prison case, that person has a greater motive than any human being in the world to tell a false tale about another. 

Now, I am not saying she didn't do it.  I am not saying she did it, but I am saying that you do not take the word of a shooter in a homicide case, because that person wants to get out from under, and let that person get on the witness stand, point their finger at someone else, and walk away from it.  You just don't do that.

CRIER:  Yes. 

Joe, let me ask you something that I—I wonder how concerned you would be if you were representing this client.  You have got a man that was over in Iraq.  The reports are that his daughter basically spilled the beans to him and said, this guy has been living with your wife, with Monique.  He started talking to the daughter about divorce.  She relayed that back to Monique.  And, of course, the prosecution would argue that's the reason she worried about the insurance, the divorce, the rest of this, and all this unfolded.

But particularly at this point in time, you are not going to get a lot of sympathy from a jury for a woman like this. 

TACOPINA:  No.

But if you could cast a seed of doubt in that juror's mind that she was involved, because, again, it has to be more—look, she was shot, too. 

(CROSSTALK)

TACOPINA:  I understand maybe she was shot as part of the staged incident, but she was shot.  OK?

So, there's someone who—if she was doing this as a setup—decided she was going to take a bullet to be part of this setup.  And you know what?  That is a tough pill to swallow.  And there has to be more than some guy who shot her ex-husband, or husband, to try and get.... 

(CROSSTALK)

HONOWITZ:  Joe, you know, in these cases, these women that are desperate women, that want—first of all, the idea of wanting to off your husband who is coming back because you have a teenage lover living in the house, that, in and of itself, if you don't think she would take a bullet for that, that's ridiculous. 

(CROSSTALK)

HONOWITZ:  Look what she was doing.

(CROSSTALK)

TACOPINA:  How about divorce?

CRIER:  Let me ask both of you to hold those thoughts, because we have more to talk to you about. 

And it's the case of the beauty queen murder.  Well, now her body is laid to rest today.  There's a possible break in the case.  Police are zeroing in on one person of interest, and it's a shocker.  We are going to get the latest.

Then, 'tis the season for surgery, why more and more young people are asking Santa for a new nose, a face, or even a body. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  And his murder shocked the world.  Now the terrorist who killed a Navy diver on board a hijacked plane is free.  How could this happen?  Tonight, a family demands answers from Washington. 

But, first, here's the latest news from MSNBC world headquarters. 

(NEWS BREAK)

CRIER:  Terrorist who killed a U.S. Navy diver in the infamous TWA hijacking now a free man.  Tonight, new details and new demands that he be brought to America to face justice. 

And we will investigate a growing holiday phenomenon, plastic surgery as a gift.  Why are so many young people asking for a nip and a tuck as a present? 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  I'm Catherine Crier, in for Joe tonight—those stories in just minutes.

But, first, the brutal murder of Nona Dirksmeyer shocked her hometown and the nation.  Last week, the Arkansas beauty queen was found murdered in her apartment.  Today, friends and family came together to celebrate Nona's life, this as police now say they have a suspect. 

Joining me with the latest details on the case is Scott Perkins, editor of “The Russellville Courier.” 

Scott, thanks so much. 

First, let me start with the funeral.  I understand obviously a heartbreaking affair, but demonstrating how much this entire community really loved this young woman. 

SCOTT PERKINS, EDITOR, “THE RUSSELLVILLE COURIER”:  The Arkansas Valley community is in shock, and she was beloved by the friends and relatives and acquaintances that knew Nona Dirksmeyer. 

We observed today during the funeral and the burial what you would expect, consoling groups of people, definitely a catharsis of emotions.  Heartbreak is what this community is dealing with right now. 

CRIER:  All right.  Her body was found.  It was reported by her current boyfriend, his mother.  Were they at the funeral? 

PERKINS:  We do not have that confirmed.  We did not notice the boyfriend at the funeral. 

CRIER:  All right, obviously, the reason I am asking is because I understand he was questioned extensively last night, and there was a press conference by police today.  What did you learn? 

PERKINS:  We learned that, through investigating about 50 persons who might have known what Nona Dirksmeyer's whereabouts or the activities she did in the last hours of her life, have been eliminated to one person.  They did not release that name. 

However, investigators did add that this murder was not a random act. 

CRIER:  All right.  And they did say this particular—whoever their primary person of interest, or suspect, whatever term you want to use, is, they gave this person a polygraph, and didn't give the answers, but indicated this person was still at the top of their list, correct? 

PERKINS:  That was the indication.  We—we did not receive any hard information as about a name, but you can fill in the holes. 

CRIER:  Well, yes.  I can say this because I am not going to get in trouble.  It's my understanding that the person of interest, my understanding from reports, background reports, may well be her current boyfriend.  Have you heard those rumors? 

PERKINS:  We have heard those rumors.  I would like to add that investigators have not alluded to that statement as of yet. 

CRIER:  OK. 

At this point in time, they are releasing some information about the autopsy report, died from multiple blunt and sharp force injuries, stab wounds to the back right side of the neck, some cuts on the front and right side of the neck, shoulder, ear, and have not recovered a weapon as of now. 

Does all that seem to jibe with what you are hearing? 

PERKINS:  That's exactly what we are hearing. 

And she was discovered nude, and investigators also informed us today that there was no sign of sexual assault. 

PERKINS:  OK.  All right. 

Scott Perkins, thank you very much. 

Let's get back to our panel, Florida prosecutor Stacey Honowitz and defense attorney Joe Tacopina.

CRIER:  All right, Joe, I will start with you on this one.  We know that the significant others are the first places that officers look.  You would be surprised that they were looking very intently at the boyfriend? 

TACOPINA:  No.  They should start there.  Any good investigation starts there. 

The problem, and the distinction between a good investigation and an investigation that sort of follows the lost scent of a seeing-eye dog is that, you know, Catherine, you could start with that person.  That's the right person to start with, I guess.  But you don't want to start with that person and assume the guilt of that person and then look for evidence that matches that conclusion. 

CRIER:  Yes.  Yes. 

TACOPINA:  And that's the danger when you start out with a suspect before there's any evidence pointing to that person. 

I would start there, but make sure that you start there and be objective.  Look everywhere else.  Discover her life.  See who else had reason to want to hurt her, or is it some random thing?  But you don't want to just say, OK, it's the boyfriend.  He is the natural suspect.  Let's try and find reasons why he would want her dead. 

TACOPINA:  All right.  And to—to support Joe's position, the defense attorney's position, her father has come out and said that there were—there were guys that sort of seemed to—to somewhat stalk her. 

Obviously, she is a beautiful young woman, very high-profile in that community, so probably attracted a lot of attention, but officers at this point in time are saying this was not a random event.  So what does that say to you?

Joe?

TACOPINA:  To me? 

CRIER:  Yes. 

TACOPINA:  Oh.  Oh, to me.

Well, what it says is that someone who knew her probably wanted to do something with her, wanted something from her, was obsessed with her.  When you have beauty queens, and you hear all these horrible stories about people who are mentally defected, Catherine, who will do anything to want to be with that person, and they think, if they are losing that person, will do something as crazy as this.

CRIER:  Yes. 

TACOPINA:  But when you have something who looks like this, and who is a beauty pageant winner, and her—like her father said, there are people who are boys who wanted to be with her, you just have to be careful that you don't decide, here's our main suspect.  Let's find evidence that fits his guilt, because you may let a true killer go. 

(CROSSTALK)

CRIER:  Yes.  Well, Stacey, you wouldn't want that kind of case handed to you as a prosecutor.  You would want to make sure it was the right case and the right evidence to support it.

But word was that she might have been considering leaving this current boyfriend, so you would agree that that is certainly the first place investigators should turn their attention? 

HONOWITZ:  Yes, that's 100 percent right, as Joe mentioned.  And I agree with him on this point.  You are always going to look at the significant others first, and there's a reason to look at the boyfriend.

But in a high-profile case like this, or in—really, in any murder case where you don't have an outright confession or a DNA match right off the bat, you do have to do a thorough investigation.  You start with that person.  You eliminate everybody else that you possibly can.  And if the evidence matches up, then, of course, you do have the person of interest.

And, certainly, that's why now the investigators, the police, aren't coming right out and saying it.  They don't want to jeopardize the investigation.  You always run that risk.  They have this person of interest.  It's my understanding they did interview 50 people.  They interviewed people that maybe had a relationship with her, knew about her, knew about her life.  She was high-profile, because she was a beauty queen and knew a lot of people. 

CRIER:  OK. 

HONOWITZ:  So, I think they are conducting the investigation in the proper manner. 

CRIER:  Absolutely.

And sources are telling us there could—could—be an arrest as early as tonight. 

Stacey Honowitz, Joe Tacopina, thank you very much. 

HONOWITZ:  Thanks, Catherine. 

TACOPINA:  Thanks, Catherine. 

CRIER:  OK, now I am joined by Tucker Carlson, host of “THE SITUATION

WITH TUCKER CARLSON.”So, Tucker, what's up tonight? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”:  Well, Catherine, one of the most troubling developments in international relations in my lifetime has been a turn in the last couple of years where the government of Mexico has been encouraging its citizens to break our laws, to become illegal aliens. 

Well, tonight, we have an exclusive interview with the Mexican ambassador to the United States.  We will put the question to him, is Mexico still an ally when it's encouraging its citizens to break U.S. laws?  It's going to be a terrific interview. 

CRIER:  OK.  I will be watching.  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Catherine.

CRIER:  “THE SITUATION” next at 11:00.  You need to tune in.

Well, coming up next here, more questions about the release of a terrorist who killed a young Navy diver.  We first brought you this story last night.  Tonight, what needs to be done to bring this killer to America and to justice?

And 'tis the season to get a new body?  Why plastic surgeons are seeing a surge in customers.  We ask one woman who is getting plastic surgery as her gift this year. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  Welcome back. 

Last night, we told you the disturbing story of this terrorist, convicted in the brutal murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem during the hijacking of a TWA flight in 1985. 

Stethem was severely beaten and tortured, his unrecognizable body dumped onto a Beirut tarmac.  And now the man responsible for that murder is walking free in the Middle East, after the German government paroled him. 

Last night, we heard one of Robert Stethem's brothers pleading with the administration to find this terrorist and bring him to the United States. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNETH STETHEM, BROTHER OF MURDERED NAVY DIVER:  The most valuable national treasure that this country has is the blood of the men and women that serve our country to protect our way of life and preserve our freedom.  We need to show how much we value the sacrifices that have been made, are being made, and will be made, period. 

Bring Hamadi to the states now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CRIER:  Joining me now is Patrick Stethem—he's another of Robert's brothers—and MSNBC military analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs. 

I have got to ask you right off the bat, listening to your brother, Patrick, listen to Ken last night, he made a very compelling argument, a very compelling plea.  And I would think, I would like to believe that officials in the State Department were on the phone to your family talking to you today.  Did that happen? 

PATRICK STETHEM, BROTHER OF MURDERED NAVY DIVER:  Catherine, I would like to believe the same thing.  The fact of the matter is, we have yet to hear from the State Department. 

CRIER:  I am astounded.  I really am, because it's one thing to say, well, Condoleezza Rice was unable to pick up the phone and call, but that the department itself, which I understand did not even notify you about the parole of this individual—you found this out on your own.  So, they basically—and I hate to say this at this point in time, but we are fighting terrorism around the world. 

We are going after this with guns blazing, if you will, and to watch a guy like this walk out, be turned loose on the streets of Beirut, and we basically throw our hands up, and the family is not dealt with, is almost unimaginable to me. 

P. STETHEM:  The FBI notified us late last Friday evening.  And the State Department, we have been trying to contact them as a family over the last six months, because we knew of Hamadi's impending parole hearing scheduled for January. 

CRIER:  Now, Hamadi's parole hearing—you early on were concerned that the Germans might release him.  Why was that? 

P. STETHEM:  Past experiences. 

Hamadi's own brother was in a German prison, also a Hezbollah terrorist.  And he only served half his term, and he was traded for two German businessmen that were held hostage.  So, this wasn't a surprise, but it was our worst fears realized. 

CRIER:  All right. 

Were you hoping to, you know, hear from someone at the level of secretary of state, possibly even the president of the United States, making public pronouncements, condemning even the consideration of parole for this man? 

P. STETHEM:  Yes, ma'am. 

From my understanding, the Department of Justice, Attorney General Gonzales, had been in contact with the German government to ensure that Hamadi served out his full sentence of 25 years. 

CRIER:  And do you know what sort of response they gave Gonzales? 

P. STETHEM:  No, I don't. 

CRIER:  All right. 

Well, before I go to Jack, I want to play a sound bite.  This is from the cockpit recording there in the summer of 1985. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He has pulled a hand grenade pin and he is ready to blow up the aircraft, if he has to.  We must—I repeat—we must land at Beirut. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CRIER:  All right, Colonel, this man, not only did he participate.  People were held for 17 days.  This young man was murdered.  But when he was captured in Frankfurt, he was getting on a plane with liquid explosives in Germany.  Why in the world would this government parole this man and put him on a commercial liner and ship him straight back to Beirut? 

COLONEL JACK JACOBS (RET.), NBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, there are a lot of reasons why. 

One of the most significant ones is that Germany brought in a large number of Muslim workers some years ago, and now they have got a very large Muslim population, like a lot of countries in Europe, and they are working very, very hard to mollify these people.  They are now unemployed.  They're disaffected.  And we saw what happened in France when they ran amuck. 

All of Europe, Italy, Spain, Germany, and France in particular, have a very serious problem with their Muslims, and they are working very, very hard to mollify these people and to satisfy them that they are looking after their—after the Muslim population, but...

(CROSSTALK)

CRIER:  OK.  Maybe that argument makes sense in some—on some level, but we know what was going on in Paris having to do with jobs and some other major concerns there. 

And I can't imagine that Muslims in Germany are looking through the paper every day to find out if Hamadi has been released, while he's sitting there for 19 years.  I can understand the notion that this man was traded for a German citizen.  I think it's abominable, but I can still understand that.  I don't understand the appeasement argument. 

JACOBS:  Well, I don't understand the appeasement argument either. 

It doesn't change the fact that they do it.  I am reminded of Churchill's observation of his opponent in an election, where he said that his opponent is an appeaser.  And he said, you know what an appeaser is?  It's somebody who feeds a crocodile, hoping he will get eaten last. 

CRIER:  Yes.  Yes. 

JACOBS:  And that's exactly what is happening here. 

CRIER:  All right, so what happens now, Patrick?  What can you possibly do?  We don't have an extradition treaty with the Lebanese.  They are all sort of pointing fingers back at the Germans, going, if you wanted this guy, why—why didn't you talk to them?  So, it's a little bit of the, you know, three in a circle pointing at each other. 

P. STETHEM:  You're right

And, at this point, all we can do with Germany is hold them accountable and let the world know that they are no ally to the United States on the war on terror.  They are an enabler. 

As far as looking forward, we have to hold Lebanon accountable to delivering not just Hamadi, but Mughniyeh, Izz-al-Din, and Atwa.  And if they are not with us, they are against us.  And if they don't cooperate, we need to add them to the list of countries that sponsor terrorism and stop giving them appropriations in the sums of tens of millions of dollars every year. 

CRIER:  All right. 

In this war on terrorism, I do think it's appropriate to get a public statement from our leaders on this story.  And we will certainly be following this. 

Patrick Stethem and Colonel Jack Jacobs, thank you very much. 

P. STETHEM:  Thank you, Catherine.

CRIER:  A new body for Christmas.  Well, see why plastic surgeons are busier than ever this holiday season—coming up next.

But, before we go to break, this week's SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge: 

What was the first state in the USA to declare Christmas an official holiday?  Take a look at the choices and we will have the answer when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  Welcome back.

Here's the answer to tonight's SCARBOROUGH challenge:  What was the first state in the USA to declare Christmas an official holiday?  The answer, Alabama. 

All right. 

This holiday season, the latest trend in gift-giving is plastic surgery.  That's right.  'Tis the season for cosmetic surgeons to be as busy as little elves.  What is going on?

Well, joining me now to talk about it, plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Greenberg, and Christine and Lauren Newman.  Christine just gave her daughter Lauren $20,000 worth of plastic surgery for Christmas.

So, I got to start with Christine. 

What exactly did you think you were giving her?  Obviously, breast augmentation and some other stuff was in there, but, on a more esoteric level, what were you giving her? 

CHRISTINE NEWMAN, GAVE DAUGHTER PLASTIC SURGERY GIFT:  I was giving her a gift to love herself. 

CRIER:  OK.  Had she been dropping hints?  Was this sort of a, gee, mom, I would really like your help on this one? 

C. NEWMAN:  Actually not.  She actually wanted to get this done several years ago.  She didn't have the money.  And I surprised her with the gift. 

I knew it was a great deal of money, and I knew she couldn't afford it, so I surprised her.  And...

CRIER:  OK. 

Were you worried about the health?  Were you worried about possible adverse consequences?  I mean, this is your kid going under for something like this. 

C. NEWMAN:  Well, actually, I did a lot of research on this, and I just wouldn't send her to any doctor. 

And I found Dr. Greenberg to be one of the most renowned plastic surgeons, and I thought that—I actually didn't think.  I actually realized that he was the best doctor for my daughter. 

CRIER:  OK. 

All right, Lauren, I sound like an old fogy saying this.

(LAUGHTER)

CRIER:  But you look really young to be doing this sort of thing.  What got you so concerned about your appearance that you would go under the knife? 

LAUREN NEWMAN, UNDERWENT PLASTIC SURGERY:  I was just—I don't know.  I was just uncomfortable with myself, so I decided that this is what I wanted to do to make myself comfortable. 

CRIER:  OK.  Well, why would you be uncomfortable with yourself?  Is it sort of the images that we have in the fashion magazines, the revealing clothes nowadays, and you wanted to look better?  What's the deal?

L. NEWMAN:  It was more for me, not for the clothes or the fashion, just to feel comfortable in my own skin, basically. 

CRIER:  OK.  All right. 

Doctor, I understand you have seen something like a 60 percent increase in plastic surgery, the gift card that keeps on giving, I guess. 

DR. STEPHEN GREENBERG, PLASTIC SURGEON:  Absolutely. 

What is happening is, not only is plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery increasing substantially over the last several years, perhaps because it's more out there and more out in the open than it's ever been before, but I have seen the number of gifts that we are giving increase tremendously over the past couple years, including a huge increase this year, everything from just giving a breast augmentation to a complete makeover. 

One of the most important things and one of the things that we have to deal with, with someone like Lauren, is, we have to make sure that they are good candidates, that they are both psychologically and physically mature enough to handle a cosmetic surgery.  So, it's not for everyone.  Even though someone gets the gift of cosmetic surgery, I turn down a lot of these patients and say, you are just not a good candidate. 

CRIER:  Well, let's say they are mentally and physically prepared for this, but you look at them and go, honey, there's nothing wrong here; you know, we don't need to add another cup?

GREENBERG:  Absolutely. 

CRIER:  Or whatever. 

Do you ever say, stop? 

GREENBERG:  Yes. 

We turn down—I turn down—in my practice, about 30 percent of patients who come to me with the gift of cosmetic surgery, I turn down for one reason or another.  And that's a reason.  I mean, it's...

CRIER:  And how many really young people, say, under 22, 23, 24? 

GREENBERG:  Oh, it's exceptionally common, 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds, more common than ever before. 

And those are the patients we have to be very careful with.  We have to really make sure that they are mature enough.  Just because their parents or a significant other gives them the gift...

CRIER:  OK.  All right. 

GREENBERG:  ... we have to make sure they are mature. 

CRIER:  Dr. Stephen Greenberg, Christine.

Lauren, you look great. 

L. NEWMAN:  Thanks. 

(LAUGHTER)

CRIER:  Thank you very much. 

We will be right back with more.

Plus, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” just minutes away. 

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CRIER:  That's all the time we have for tonight.  I'm Catherine, in for Joe.

“THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON” starts right now. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Catherine.

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

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