updated 1/9/2006 10:43:53 AM ET 2006-01-09T15:43:53

Guest: Bill Wright, Ana Figueroa, Larry Kaye, Clint Van Zandt, Wendy

Murphy, Marina Chavez, Janice DeLong,, Pat Brown, Anna McCloy, Richard

Wood, Curt Dubost

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  We're LIVE AND DIRECT from the Miami marina, across from the Royal Caribbean headquarters tonight.  New details about how the cruise handled the investigation into missing honeymooner George Smith.

And also, the shocking murder of an entire family.  Tonight an eyewitness who saw their home go up in flames joins me live.

Plus, the wife of the sole survivor in the West Virginia mining tragedy joins me to receive a very special message from one of their favorite country music stars.

But first, another major development that we have on our hands in the case of missing honeymooner George Smith.  We have new details tonight.  Now the attorney for Jennifer Hagel-Smith says that his client may have been drugged the night of her husband's disappearance, this after it was revealed that Jennifer was found sleeping in a hallway around the time that her husband may have gone overboard.

We are now joined by Captain Bill Wright of Royal Caribbean cruises.  He is the Royal Caribbean senior vice president of operations.  Captain, I thank you for being with us.  This new development that her attorney—this is Jennifer Hagel's attorney—saying she may have been drugged...

CAPT. BILL WRIGHT, ROYAL CARIBBEAN SR. VP OF OPERATIONS:  Right.

COSBY:  Is there any evidence that there was drugs on the ship, legal or illegal?

WRIGHT:  Absolutely none.  From our perspective, we have heard nothing that indicates there was any drug usage by the Smiths or there were any drugs on board the vessel.

COSBY:  No evidence at this point at all?

WRIGHT:  Nothing we're aware of.

COSBY:  Would you know if there was something in there, even if it's, say, in the bathroom, in the room, in the cabin?

WRIGHT:  We did not collect the evidence from the cabin.  So whatever was in there that the police have collected, that's with the police.  But there was nothing that we indicate that we have had any forms of drugs on the ship and being used.

COSBY:  There is no evidence at all, at this point?

WRIGHT:  No evidence at all, at this point.

COSBY:  OK.  There's also some other information that just came through.  Two witnesses are saying that Jennifer Hagel-Smith kicked George in the groin, that they saw it, that they were drinking what's called absinthe, and this is something that is called legal, I'm told, in Europe and other countries overseas—not legal.  It's a very, very strong liquor, right?

WRIGHT:  Yes.

COSBY:  Do you have evidence that they were drinking absinthe?.

WRIGHT:  Yes.  We have—I shouldn't say evidence, but we have also heard that there are individuals, guests who were on board, who observed them drinking absinthe.

COSBY:  Did you—now, how—to what degree?  Were they drunk with this stuff?

WRIGHT:  No, that I have no opinion on.  But we know that they were, from the comments that the guests have come with, that they were drinking absinthe.  And it needs to be emphasized that the absinthe is a liquor that is not sold on board our vessels, although it is legally available in many European countries.

COSBY:  So are you saying that they probably brought it on board?

WRIGHT:  They would have to have brought it on board.

COSBY:  And that is legal, though, because the ship went overseas, right?

WRIGHT:  Ship is overseas.  It's cruising in the Mediterranean.  But it's not sold on our ship and not served on our ship.

COSBY:  So they would have had to bring it on...

WRIGHT:  Correct.

COSBY:  ... individually.

WRIGHT:  Correct.

COSBY:  How do you know that there was absinthe involved?  Were the—just from eyewitness reports?

WRIGHT:  Simply from the eyewitness reports.

COSBY:  What about word, too, that there was fighting, contentiousness?  I'd heard this before, that there were some sort of arguments earlier in the night.

WRIGHT:  That I have not heard.

COSBY:  You have not heard that at all.

WRIGHT:  Have not heard that.

COSBY:  Let me show also—this is a comment from Jennifer Hagel-Smith.  She's been making some comments recently, as you know, to the press.  And she has been, you know, pretty critical of your cruise line, Captain.  She even has said some comments, particular comments pointing specifically about why they maybe didn't do certain things, your cruise line.  She said, “It's so close in time that it's haunting to think about it now, if the security had talked to each other, maybe they could have figured it out.”  What she's suggesting is that earlier in the night, the timeline of events—earlier in the night, essentially, there was obviously that report of a noise in the room.

WRIGHT:  Right.

COSBY:  Crew members apparently went by.  What, it stopped right at this point?  But then, as we're looking at it now, at 4:30 in the morning, less than half an hour later, she's found sleeping in the hallway.  The two crew members go to the cabin, no one's inside.  Then they go get her.  George isn't there, basically put her to bed.

In hindsight now, you look at the event, loud thump on the room or loud noise or whatever we're hearing in the room, different accounts, then we're also hearing later also other accounts that she's picked up in the cabin.  Sounds like it was minutes later, possibly, had they really checked in the room and really looked at what that noise might have been.

WRIGHT:  Fair enough.  Fair enough.  The facts are is that the complaint regarding the noise was from the guest in the adjacent cabin, was a specific noise complaint.  The guest described that there's a party going on, a loud party on.  When the security came up, the party was over.  There was no noise.  There was no indication that anything was amiss, OK.  That's the first...

COSBY:  Did it appear to be sort of just a standard...

WRIGHT:  Absolutely.  It was a completely normal cabin, or at least from the outside because they did not go in.  When Jennifer Hagel-Smith was found sleeping, unconscious on the corridor floor, the same deck that her cabin was on, by two maintenance workers, they called immediately security, according to procedure.  Security came to the scene, was immediately in touch with the medical facility.  Medical facility said, Well, try to wake her up.  They touched her shoulder.  They took a cold rag.  She immediately woke up.  She was conversant.  She was saying from—immediately that, I'm OK.  I'd like to go back to my cabin.

By procedure, we said, Well, wait.  You know, just let's—you've been sleeping.  Let's—let's—we'll go up and see if there's somebody in your cabin that can perhaps help you.  That's when we sent the two security guards up to the cabin, thinking that perhaps there was another occupant who could come down and escort her up, with respect for her.  They went to the cabin, knocked on the door, no answer, went into the cabin.

COSBY:  Did they turn the lights on?

WRIGHT:  Nobody was there.

COSBY:  Did they turn the lights on, do you know?

WRIGHT:  I don't know that specifically.  I would...

COSBY:  Because it's been reported...

(CROSSTALK)

WRIGHT:  I would assume that they did.  I would assume that they did.  But they went to the cabin, went in, looked, nobody's there, came back.  As a result of that, then we escorted her back to the cabin with two security guards, one of whom was a female security guard.

COSBY:  Obviously, you know, there's been a lot of comments in the last week or two from Royal Caribbean, from your company, including the captain, who was on the ship.  He did an interview with Dan Abrams.  I want to show what he had to say about why he's no longer a captain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, “THE ABRAMS REPORT”:  Did this have anything to do with your retirement?

MICHAEL LACHTARIDIS, FORMER ROYAL CARIBBEAN CAPTAIN:  No.  My retirement was planned two years ago.

ABRAMS:  So you didn't get pushed out?  You didn't...

LACHTARIDIS:  No, no, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Is that right?

WRIGHT:  Yes.

COSBY:  Was he pushed out?

WRIGHT:  No, absolutely not.

COSBY:  And it's a little suspicious...

WRIGHT:  He's...

COSBY:  ... when this high-profile thing happens...

WRIGHT:  Captain Lachtaridis has been with us for, I believe it's almost 30 years.  And this was a planned retirement.  I think he was not looking forward to it, having a whole life at sea.  But this was absolutely nothing that was a result of this incident.

COSBY:  Do you believe the captain handled the investigation correctly?  He right away, and according to logs that we reported earlier this week, said, It's an accident.

WRIGHT:  No.  I think he absolutely handled the investigation correctly.  If you look...

COSBY:  Saying it's an accident right away, not even (INAUDIBLE)

WRIGHT:  No, he filed a report to the Bahamas that's a required report.  It's called a Maritime Casualty Report.  In that report, you have a series of checkboxes, where you can try to explain what happened.  And he has—it's a required report.  He has to file it, and it has to be filed by the master (ph).  At the time he filed that report, with the information he had available, that was his best opinion of what took place.

COSBY:  Blood on the canopy, it's an accident?

WRIGHT:  That was his best opinion of what took place.

COSBY:  Is he on a professional investigator?

WRIGHT:  That was at that point.  He's required to file the document. 

That was his best opinion at that point in time.

COSBY:  So you think he made a mistake, clearly.

WRIGHT:  No.  I think that right now, we don't know.  We do not know today—certainly, we do not.

COSBY:  It was an isolated accident.  Shouldn't he have said unknown?

WRIGHT:  We certainly—no.  We certainly do not know today, nor did he know at that time, what the cause was.  There is not an “unknown” category on that form.  So he made his best guess, and that was—that form, I believe, was filed also on July 9.

But going back to your question, as far as did he follow correct procedures?  Absolutely.  Within—the bloodstain was noticed at 8:30 by a guest.  The captain was immediately on scene.  He secured that area because he didn't know if it definitely was blood, but it was close enough, so he said, This needs to be secured.  He's thinking, OK, we have cabins above here with balconies.  Somebody could have fallen over.  Let's check these cabins.

Through that process, that's how he was able to determine that George and Jennifer Smith, at that point in time, were missing, could not account for them, along with another guest.  We were paging them and everything.  When they identified that the Smiths were missing—and their cabin was directly above that stain—he secured the cabin.  The cabin remained secured for six more days.

COSBY:  But the blood was removed pretty quickly.

WRIGHT:  For six more days.  I'll get to that.  At 9:45 -- again, first indication, 8:30.  At 9:45, the ship, the captain, informed the Turkish police and informed the United States Embassy.  They continued searching, continued paging.  One hour later, a little after 10:00 o'clock, they informed—through the Miami office, our Miami office, they informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and they remained in contact throughout the day and up until this day, in fact, with the federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Turkish police came on board.  They conducted a full forensic investigation of both the canopy with the stain and the cabin.  There was, coincidentally, a vacationing federal FBI agent...

COSBY:  Who's in Turkey.

WRIGHT:  ... in Kusadasi - in Kusadasi.  He, together with the U.S.  counselor (ph), participated and liaisoned with the Turkish police department in both what—the interviews that they conducted with both Jennifer and other guests and crew members, and also in the fact of the investigation that was ongoing.

COSBY:  You know, now that you look at it, though—now that we have more information available...

WRIGHT:  Right.  Right.

COSBY:  ... and of course, hindsight's 20/20, but is it possible you let a murderer go free?  You let the ship sail.

WRIGHT:  There was nothing—there was nothing at that point that indicated a murder.  There was blood, yes, and there was a missing person.  But the Turkish authorities, the FBI were fully aware that the ship was departing at 7:00 o'clock that evening.  They finished their forensic investigation at 2:30, and they said, We're finished.  We turn the site over to you.  The captain inquired, What...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Did Turkish police say it was an accident?  Did they...

WRIGHT:  No.  It would have been inappropriate to draw a conclusion at that point.  They had gathered the evidence that they felt they needed.

COSBY:  Then how could the captain make that conclusion?  I would think he doesn't have as much experience as Turkish authorities.

WRIGHT:  The captain did what he thought was correct, OK?  It's a required form that has to be filled out.  He filled it out, and he put in “accident.”  This was on the 9th.  And that was his call.  It's not a form that the company should fill out.  It's not a form that the Turkish police should fill out.  He had to fill it out, and he made his best guess.  And that in no way impeded the expensive investigation that the Turkish police conducted.  The fact that the FBI had been informed virtually immediately, along with the United States embassy, that an FBI agent liasoned with the Turkish police, and at the end of their forensic investigation, they turned, with the FBI's knowledge, the site back to the ship.  The captain inquired several times, Well, what does that mean, turning it back to me?  Well, can I clean it?  Can I clean the cabin?  I mean, do we have to preserve anything?  We are finished.

COSBY:  That was according to Turkish authorities.

WRIGHT:  That—We are finished—with the liaison of the FBI.

COSBY: Do you think now, in hindsight—in fairness to your company, do you think the Turkish authorities dropped the ball?

WRIGHT:  No.

COSBY:  Because they closed the books (INAUDIBLE) wash the evidence.

WRIGHT:  No.  No.  The evidence is there in the FBI.  All of that evidence has been given to the FBI.

COSBY:  What do you think if—and again, we don't know what happened to George, and of course, his family desperately wants answers, like any family would do.

WRIGHT:  Of course.

COSBY:  What do you surmise, at this point, may have happened?  Do you believe more likely it was an accident?  Or do you think he may have been targeted—did he win money at the casino?

WRIGHT:  It's clearly not my position or our company's position, and it never has been, to speculate on what happened to George Smith.

COSBY:  Did he win money at the casino that night?

WRIGHT:  I don't have that information.

COSBY:  If he were to have been murdered, is there any motivation that you could see at all, based on any of the other passengers or anyone else on board?

WRIGHT:  Nothing I know of.  And again, it's not appropriate for me to speculate on that.

COSBY:  Thank you very much.  And we appreciate you being with us, Captain.

WRIGHT:  Thank you very much.

COSBY:  Captain (INAUDIBLE)

WRIGHT:  Sorry Miami is so cold.

COSBY:  No, I know!  I thought I was coming here for warm weather. 

Thanks a lot.

WRIGHT:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Captain Wright, thank you very much.

And still ahead, everybody, new clues on the shocking murder mystery.  A family killed, their house set on fire—as we have another windy night, as you can see here, in Miami tonight.  A witness who saw it burn down is going to join me live, talking about that horrible tragedy there.

Plus, big news in the West Virginia mining tragedy.  The doctor treating the sole survivor joins me live, along with his wife and one of his favorite musicians, Hank Williams, Jr., with a big message.  It's all coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If he was strong enough to pull through 41 hours in the mines, he's strong enough to pull through this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And do you believe this will be solved?

BREE SMITH, GEORGE SMITH'S SISTER:  Yes.  Yes.  It's just very painful to have to wait this long, you know, but we've been told by the FBI that they're 100 percent committed and they will bring us answers.

COSBY:  So you are 100 percent certain it will be solved?

BREE SMITH:  Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, a lot of revelations coming out of the case of missing honeymooner George Smith, but does it bring us any closer to knowing exactly what happened to him?  We continue here live in Miami.  We're right by the marina.  In fact, we're right by Royal Caribbean's headquarters, just a few yards away.

And we're now joined by our panel of experts to talk about all of this.  Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, maritime attorney Larry Kaye, who has represented Royal Caribbean in the past, and also Ana Figueroa.  She's the cruise editor for “Travelage West.”  Plus, we also have former prosecutor Wendy Murphy.

Larry, I want to start with you because last night on our show, we had a very passionate and very angry Maureen Smith.  She's the mother of George Smith.  She was very, very upset particularly at some of the things that you even had to say.  Here's what she said when she called in to our show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAUREEN SMITH, GEORGE SMITH'S MOTHER:  I have another thing I want to say about the maritime lawyer, Larry Kaye.  He—I'm absolutely appalled by my dead son's character assassination today.  My son's not here to defend himself.  And how can he attack somebody else's character when the law firm that he represents, they defend corporate felons?  And he's turned around today and he said my son's marriage was a marriage gone awry.  How dare he make statements like that!

And you know what?  I have a message for Mr. Kaye.  My son would have made 10 of you, Mr. Kaye.  And I'm—but then again, this is Royal Caribbean's common approach, to blame the victim, whether dead or alive, to detract attention from their wrongdoing, their cover-ups.  And you know, we're not going to let it go this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Mr. Kaye, is there something that you want to say to Maureen Smith and others tonight?

LARRY KAYE, MARITIME ATTORNEY :  Yes.  Very much so, Rita.  And thank you for giving me this opportunity.  I want to give my deepest heartfelt apology to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their entire family for this tragic, horrible, loss.  We all want to get answers here.  And unfortunately, in shining the light of day on the possible explanations, that light has to shine rather brightly in order for us to determine what happened here.  And it means that everyone involved, everyone in the cabin, everyone who the Smiths spent time with on the ship—we have to understand their movements.  We have to understand why they were where they were.  And it appears that Mrs. Smith was the last person in the cabin.  So if there was blood in the cabin, if there were signs of foul play, she would be in the very best position to tell us that.

But it was certainly never my intention, and it is not my intention and it is not Royal Caribbean's intention, to in any way denigrate the memory of George Smith, to in any way attack the wife.  I think there's been a lot of allegations in the media today about, Well, this is common, for corporations to attack the victim.  I don't think that really is what is happening at all.  I don't think that's fair.

Royal Caribbean, we have to remember, remained silent about this for many, many months, trying to take the high road, trying to be discreet.  And it was the lawyers for the Smiths and the lawyers for Mrs. Hagel-Smith who have gone on every media outlet in the nation, accusing the cruise line of foul play and cover-ups and conspiracy.

COSBY:  Mr. Kaye, I got to get some other folks in here, too, real quick.  I'll get back to you.

KAYE:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Ana Figueroa, though, look, in all fairness, this family—certainly, a lot of things still look suspicious.  There are still so many unanswered questions.  And don't you think the cruise line should have come out sooner and given this family an explanation?

ANA FIGUEROA, “TRAVELAGE WEST” CRUISE EDITOR:  Well, I am sure that that's what the cruise line did.  I mean, just because the cruise line didn't come on television and give the public an explanation doesn't mean that the cruise line wasn't in contact with them.  And that's what happened, according to the cruise line.

COSBY:  Although—although, I will tell you, the family has told me that they feel like they have not gotten very many answers at all from the cruise line.  Do you think it might have helped even the cruise line from a PR perspective if they came out sooner?

FIGUEROA:  Well, look, I think they probably should have come out publicly sooner, once it became clear that there was some public interest in this case.  But just because the family didn't get answers—the cruise line doesn't have the answers.  No one has the answers yet, at this point, from what I could tell.  So there's no way the cruise line could have given them more answers.

You know, this attempt to demonize the cruise line because they're not getting the right answers I think is somewhat is counterproductive on the part of the family, quite frankly.

COSBY:  You know, and Clint, of course, the bottom line is to find out the truth, whatever it is.  One of the things I thought was interesting, Clint, today—and this is coming from Jennifer Hagel's own attorney, suggesting that she may have been drugged.  And we just got it confirmed from the captain, Captain Wright, that, indeed, the couple was drinking absinthe.  It's a very strong—very, very strong liquor that's not even legal in the United States.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Yes.

COSBY:  How does that change the equation at all?

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, as you suggest, Rita, what really counts right now is that the FBI and the federal prosecutor—that's the team that needs to understand what everybody did, not the lawyers, the doctors, and the Indian chiefs, just the investigators and the prosecutors.

But with this new information that Jennifer was found in the middle of the floor—now, the ships say she was found laying in the hall, sleeping.  Her attorney says she was found unconscious and suggested she might have been under the influence of drugs.  For the purpose of the investigation, it's, Where did those drugs come from?  Was that something she ingested willingly, or could someone have given her a drug, trying to separate her from her husband?  Now, that would play into some type of a conspiracy, perhaps, concerning her husband that night.

That's why it's important for the FBI to understand the entire chain of events and what Jennifer Hagel-Smith knew or didn't know and where she was that night.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  In fact, Wendy, last night, we also had another representative from Royal Caribbean here in Miami, and she was saying about the rape, that now these boys—there were some boys that were hanging around, remember, three Russian guys and a guy from California, that were sort of last seen.  And now there's word that they—you know, they're accused of rape.  And again, it's just an allegation at this point.  But they are accused of rape, so much so that they were actually kicked off the ship.  And she said to us on our air that it's these same guys.  Given that, Wendy, did Royal Caribbean let a murderer go free, or murderers?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Well, not only that, isn't that proof positive that they didn't handle the situation responsibly?  I mean, I almost fell off my chair when that guy said—what was the question you asked him?  You know, didn't they know this was a murder?  And he goes, Well, I guess there was a little blood.  There was, like, a bucketful, gobs of blood on the side of the ship, and he drove—he said the cruise ship drove away not thinking it was a murder.

Now, look, with regard to this rape, that was three or four days after this incident.  What does that tell you about whether they were doing their job?  These were three guys known to have been with the guy who's now missing and presumed murdered—not just dead, murdered—and they allowed those three guys to roam free and so unsupervised that one of them was allowed to rape another passenger on board?

Look, the cruise ship has a huge financial interest in not telling the truth, number one, because they don't want to take a hit financially.  But they also have an interest for the same reasons, saving money, in dirtying the victim and Jennifer.  Wasn't it the cruise ship who distributed the information about her being, you know, curled up outside on the floor like some drunken bum, which she isn't, although she may have been drunk that night.  She was on her honeymoon.  Leave her alone.  It has nothing to do...

COSBY:  Wendy, let me get...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  Why did they put that out there?  It was gratuitous!

COSBY:  Ana Figueroa...

FIGUEROA:  Yes, you know, I...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  What are your final thoughts, as we look at this?

FIGUEROA:  Look, there is no presumption of murder.  Who presumed there was a murder?  I mean, to say that they let murderers go free—these three young men obviously were not well behaved.  They got asked to leave the ship.  Was there—had there been enough evidence to ask them to leave the ship sooner, I'm sure that's what would have happened.  And there's no indication that...

MURPHY:  Did you see all that blood in the picture?  Did you see...

FIGUEROA:  Well, look...

MURPHY:  ... blood in the picture or not!

FIGUEROA:  ... people bleed—people that fall over the balcony are going to bleed.

MURPHY:  No!

FIGUEROA:  We don't know how they fell over the balcony.

KAYE:  Absolutely.

FIGUEROA:  No one does.

KAYE:  Absolutely.

MURPHY:  That is not—that amount of blood happened before he plopped, or he would still be laying there.  He was not bleeding as a result of the fall!

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Let me give Larry Kaye the last word.  Larry, you have literally 10 seconds.

KAYE:  I just wish I had the crystal ball that some of your other experts have.  That's clearly blood from impact.  That canopy is 21 feet below the cabin.  You don't—that blood is from the impact of the body, so we don't know if it was an accident or a murder.

COSBY:  All right, Clint...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  ... in the ocean, if you're right!

COSBY:  Clint Van Zandt, five seconds.

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  And the question is, did he fall over the side or was he pushed over the side?  Just because of the blood itself, it doesn't tell us how it got down there, Rita.

COSBY:  All right, guys.  Thank you very much.  Spirited conversation. 

I'd love to have all of you back on again.

And on Monday, everybody, stick with us because we are going to continue following the story.  The CEO of Royal Caribbean is going to join me, along with a woman named Marie.  She is the guest relations manager who apparently stayed with George Smith's wife the day that he went missing.  Remember, earlier on, she said that nobody was with her.  But Royal Caribbean did assign someone to spend the day with her literally from the beginning to end.  We're going to hear exactly what she did with her and how they spent that day.  That is, again, on Monday on LIVE AND DIRECT.

And still ahead everybody, shocking new details in the murder of an entire family in Virginia.  Can an eyewitness give crucial details in the case?  And, Hank Williams, Jr.~!  That awesome singer has a message for the wife of the sole survivor of the mining tragedy.  They are both going to join me live, Hank Williams and the wife, two incredible people coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And some new details tonight about the New Year's Day massacre of an entire family in Richmond, Virginia.  New reports claim that the musician Brian Harvey (ph), his wife, Katherine (ph), and their two young daughters were murdered with a blunt object or with several objects that already were in their home.  Police have not arrested anyone and haven't even named any suspects at this point.

And joining us now is a close family friend, Janice Delong, and her 10-year-old daughter, Marina.  Marina, I got to ask you, what did you see that night, the night of the murder?

MARINA CHAVEZ, FRIEND OF HARVEY DAUGHTERS:  All I saw was just smoke coming out of the house.  We heard the fire alarm, but me and my friend didn't know what it was.  We just thought—we just thought it was, like, a construction site or something.  All we saw was smoke.

COSBY:  What time was that, and how far away were you, Marina, from the home?

CHAVEZ:  I was across the street, like, 20 feet away about—around 1:00 or 2:00.

COSBY:  And did it look like the fire had just been set, or did it look like it had been burning for some time at that point?

CHAVEZ:  It looked like it was, like, burning for a long time because it was like—I heard the beeping noise since morning.

COSBY:  Did you see anybody around, anything that looked suspicious in the neighborhood?  Any interesting cars?

CHAVEZ:  No, I didn't see anything.  No one going in there.  But I saw one of their closest friends trying to get in, calling their names.  And my friend was going over there to see if they could (INAUDIBLE) come play.  So he said to go back to your house and call 911, because there was a fire at the Harveys. 

COSBY:  And when you found out what happened, I'm sure you were so sad.  I'm sure you knew the Harvey kids, right? 

CHAVEZ:  Yes.  I'd known them since—I have known them since—I've known me and Stella since we were in day care.  We've known each other for a long time.  I was one of her closest friends. 

COSBY:  You know, Janice, it's incredible.  I'd say your daughter is very eloquent, especially for her age.  Now, when you find out what your daughter saw, that this was sort of the after-effects, what are your thoughts tonight? 

JANICE DELONG, HARVEY FAMILY FRIEND:  I'm pretty much still in shock.  It's been a few days now.  And I think it's only now kind of starting to sink in.  Marina saw more than most children see at 10.  I'm in disbelief.  There's nothing that could have ever led me to even remotely think anything like this could happen to Kathy and Bryan. 

COSBY:  I'm sure they—you know, tell us a little bit about them real quick.  I know that your daughter spoke at the service, too, at the funeral for them. 

DELONG:  She did. 

COSBY:  And do you have any idea—do you have anyone who could have done this to then? 

DELONG:  No, you know, I don't.  And I spoke to someone earlier today.  And we were talking about how they were just kind, compassionate, and very trusting people.  I mean, it was on a daily basis that I would go in their house, I mean, not even knocking, go in, sit down, have dinner with them. 

The girls would play together.  We would just—the girls would kind of just run back and forth to each other's houses.  And, you know, never—they never had a bad word to say or a negative word to say about anyone.  Very trusting, open, you know, kind of very artsy and creative people. 

COSBY:  Well, it is such a tragedy.  And we thank both of you for being here tonight, sharing your thoughts about just a horrible, horrible ordeal that happened there.  Thank you both very much.

And, of course, police are looking into it.  As you just heard, nobody really knows who could have done this.  They're confirming, unfortunately, that the family was bound with tape and their throats were cut.  Remember, the parents and the two kids.

And joining us now with some insight into who could have done it is criminal profiler Pat Brown. 

You know, Pat, let's start with, first of all, what we just heard from Marina, that the fire was burning—what she saw—this is a really incredible young girl—you know, saying that she saw the fire burning maybe 1:00, 2:00 in the morning.  It looked like it had been going for some time at that point.  And we know that they set the fire.  What does that say to you, that someone tried to cover up the scene? 

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER:  It says to me, Rita, that most likely the person was known to the family that was murdered.  It's not likely that a serial killer-type or some crazy person off the street is going to go to so much work.  Also killing the children indicates to me that the children may be able to identify the killer.  And that wasn't the target of the particular murderer, but that he killed them because they could identify him later. 

COSBY:  Pat, what do you make of the fact that we're just hearing today that authorities are saying that they believe that they were killed with blunt objects or hit, at least, with blunt objects inside their home?  Does that say that somebody went in with the intention or that something happened in the house that triggered it? 

BROWN:  My guess is that what happened was there was something—this definitely person had an issue with one of the adults, went there possibly to talk to them about it, to get something out of them, to resolve a situation.  Didn't go his way, he pretty much lost it, became more and more angry, and took it out on them. 

And that would be my guess is it was not a premeditated thing but something that went awry, which would lead you to some kind of assault with a blunt object, where anger is taking that over.  He may have done the taping and the cutting of the throats later, more for the fact, or maybe even staging a scene, to say, oh, maybe it will make it look like, you know, somebody else came in here and did this terrible thing. 

And, you know, this guy may not be exactly thinking clearly at the moment, but trying to figure out bit by bit what he could do, and then covering it up with a fire, trying to get rid of any evidence.  Again, pointing to someone that the family knew, someone that would be identified quite quickly as a suspect, and therefore you want to get rid of all the evidence you can. 

COSBY:  Well, let's pray that this case is solved.  Pat Brown, thank you very much. 

BROWN:  My pleasure, Rita.

COSBY:  Everybody, stick with us.  Up next, the latest on the sole survivor of the mining tragedy, his wife, his doctor, and one of his favorite country music stars, Hank Williams, Jr.  They're all going to join me live. 

And later, has the hot for teacher class for 2006 already got the first members?  We're only into a few days of this year.  A developing teacher sex scandal, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE 1:  You might as well just stand still right where you're at, Gary.  They did find them, and they're all OK, I guess, so, I think we might be transporting them.  I'm not exactly sure, but we're stuck right here.

VOICE 2:  Ten-four, Matt.

VOICE 1:  OK, and what am I telling them?

VOICE 2:  (INAUDIBLE) twelve, and they're bringing them out.

VOICE 1:  And they're all alive.

VOICE 2:  As far as I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Incredible to hear that.  And for the very first time, we are hearing those 911 calls that led many people to believe that 11 dead West Virginia miners were found alive.  Of course, that proved to be erroneous. 

Also tonight, more evidence of lightning at the time of the explosion.  A report in the “Wall Street Journal” says experts detected a strike near the opening of the Sago mine about the time of the explosion.

And we're also getting new information about the sole surviving miner, 26-year-old Randal McCloy.  Joining me now, LIVE & DIRECT, is Randal McCloy's wife, Anna. 

You know, first of all, Anna, our prayers are so much with you tonight.  How is Randal doing? 

ANNA MCCLOY, SURVIVING MINER'S WIFE:  He's done pretty good.  And thank you.  The prayers and hopes is what helps us. 

COSBY:  Yes, how are you getting through this?  I know you've got a lot of friend and so many people, the whole country is rooting for you.  How does that make you feel?  That's got to make you, and I'm sure everyone around, you feel good, huh? 

A. MCCLOY:  Yes, that's makes me feel good.  That's what helps us get through this, plus the family support and the confidence in the doctors.  I know that they're doing the best that they can, and they are going to take care of him. 

COSBY:  We understand that Randal's responding to you? 

A. MCCLOY:  Yes. 

COSBY:  What is he doing?  Is he talking to you?  I understand that he's not at that point yet, he's, what, reacting somehow? 

A. MCCLOY:  Right now, while he's in the clinically coma, he hasn't responded.  But before at the Morristown hospital (ph), he had tears coming out of his eyes when I was talking to him about me and the kids and squeezing my hand. 

COSBY:  How does that make you feel?  You certainly have to be hopeful now that—and as we all are—that he's there, he's with you, and that hopefully he'll make a good recovery, right? 

A. MCCLOY:  Yes.  I'm hoping.  But I'm just glad that he got out of there alive and he's still alive. 

COSBY:  You know, one of the things we're hearing reports of is that they really got him just in the nick of time.  There were some reports coming out today that his lungs were filling up with dust and gases, literally probably in that last hour before they got him.  I'm sure you are so thankful.  And have you heard that, as well? 

A. MCCLOY:  Repeat that, please? 

COSBY:  Yes, we were hearing reports that literally they got him, you know, not a moment too late, too late in the sense that his lungs were filling up with gases, they were filling up with dust.  In that final hour, that in other words, maybe had another hour or two passed, your husband might not be with us.  I'm sure you're very thankful when you hear those reports. 

A. MCCLOY:  Yes, yes, I am. 

COSBY:  Did you—did you...

A. MCCLOY:  I'm actually—

COSBY:  Go ahead, Anna. 

A. MCCLOY:  Actually, I could not believe it.  I was beginning to lose hope there toward the end.  But then something kept telling me to keep believing because he was coming out of there. 

COSBY:  Did you hear anything, too—there's some reports, Anna, that maybe even some of the older miners, because Randal was one of the youngest guys, the youngest one there, that they were even maybe giving him their oxygen, to help keep him alive? 

A. MCCLOY:  That was a thought of mine.  I cannot say that was for definite, that that happened.  But I know one thing.  I know that they thought of each other as a family, not just friends or someone working underground together.  They were a family under the ground.  And, you know, at some point, they probably thought of Randy as one of their sons. 

COSBY:  Well, I'm sure they did.  And I know that there was a lot of camaraderie between all of those people. 

And, Anna, I know that you and your family have been getting a little help, getting by with help from a lot of different people, including one of your favorite singers.  And one of those musicians wants to talk to you tonight. 

Joining us right now on the phone is one of Randal McCloy's favorite singers, and one of my favorite singers, too, Hank Williams, Jr. 

Hank, thanks so much for being with us tonight.  I'm sure you have heard that your music's been being played in the hospital and so forth.  What do you want to say to Anna tonight? 

HANK WILLIAMS, JR., MUSICIAN:  Well, Rita, the first thing I want to say to you and Anna is that, when I got that news this afternoon, I was deeply affected by it.  That reason being, that I was laying in a hospital bed on August the 8th of 1975, and they weren't sure if I had brain damage or if I would survive a 500-foot mountain fall in the state of Montana. 

I feel a closeness to Randy.  I feel a closeness to all the West Virginia coal miners, Kentucky, Ohio, everyone in that area that I have done a lot of shows in.  My father passed away in the state of West Virginia.  This is all family to me. 

And I was just—I was really taken aback.  And it takes a lot to take Bocephus back, when I was told about Anna getting a CD or whatever.  But hopefully, we'll have a few of them show up tomorrow and you won't have to do that again tomorrow, Anna. 

(LAUGHTER)

But my prayers, my family, my children are with you and all the other families that suffered such a tragedy here.  And...

A. MCCLOY:  Thank you very much. 

WILLIAMS:  And I'm just—I'm praying for you.  We have candles lit here.  And I hope to see you in person in a very short time. 

A. MCCLOY:  Well, thank you very much. 

COSBY:  Yes, Hank, when are you going to see her, Hank?  What are your plans?  And I'm sure Randal McCloy's going to get one big hug from Hank Williams, Jr., right, Hank? 

WILLIAMS:  Well, if Anna calls me or—you know, I was going to the Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals game but, believe me, that has very little importance right now.  And maybe we'll have some other friends that show up, too.  But I'm looking forward to walking in that room and seeing Randy in person. 

A. MCCLOY:  Thank you very much. 

COSBY:  Well, Hank Williams, Jr., we appreciate it. 

And, Anna, I'm so thrilled that you have the support of those folks like Hank Williams, Jr.  The whole country is praying for you and your family tonight.  And, hank, thanks so much.  And, Anna, most importantly, we're praying for you and thinking about you and your husband...

A. MCCLOY:  Thank you.

COSBY:  ... and hoping you're going to get a lot more good news even sooner.  Thank you so much.

A. MCCLOY:  Thank you. 

COSBY:  So the big question tonight is, how is Randal McCloy doing at this hour?  Joining us now, LIVE & DIRECT tonight, is Dr. Richard Shannon with Alleghany General Hospital. 

Dr. Shannon, let's first just talk about—forget medicine—power of prayer, and when you get folks like Hank Williams, Jr., and all those folks, power of music, all that helps in the recovery, doesn't it? 

DR. RICHARD SHANNON, ALLEGHENY GENERAL HOSPITAL:  Rita, there's no question.  It's palpable in Mr. McCloy's room when his family is there.  You can feel the power of their love.  And I have to say we've experienced throughout the course of the day such outpouring of support from medical colleagues across the country who have offered their help and from just all sorts of people, from all sorts of walks of life, who continue to call us to ask what they can do to help make Randy better. 

I think that I was happy when we stumbled upon the Hank Williams, Jr., remedy this afternoon.  And I think that we all strongly believe that the power of positive thinking, the power of prayer, and the faith that the McCloy family have is among our strongest medicines. 

COSBY:  You bet.  And Dr. Shannon, we only have a few seconds left, but most importantly, also, how is he doing?  And we heard these new reports that maybe doctors—you know, rescuers got to him really in the nick of time, that his lungs were filling up with dust and other gases.  This was really dire straits, right? 

SHANNON:  Yes.  I think that's right.  One of the problems we've encountered through the course of the day is ongoing inflammation in his left lung that appears to be caused by particulate matter, dust and coal that he was likely to be inhaling as he began to lose consciousness and no longer could protect his airway. 

So we think that's leading to this continuing problem with his left lung.  We believe that we can manage this but, like so many of his injuries, it's going to take a lot of diligence, and a lot of prayer, and the best of the medicine that we can offer.  And hopefully, together, those things will lead towards Randy's recovery. 

COSBY:  Well, I think between good medicine and the woman sitting next to you still, Anna McCloy, this guy, I hope, makes as great, great recovery.  Both of you, thank you so much for being with us tonight. 

SHANNON:  You're welcome. 

A. MCCLOY:  Thank you. 

COSBY:  Thank you. 

And up next, if you thought the teacher sex scandals, those student sex scandals, were so last year, well, think again!  It appears there's already a new case in the new year in one interesting city.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, the hot for teacher class of 2006 may have its first two members, sadly—get this—in the same California county.  Forty-one-year-old Sherry Brians is in custody for an alleged sexual relationship with a 12-year-old male student.  And 31-year-old Jennifer Lynn Sanchez is charged with six counts of unlawful sex acts with a 17-year-old male student. 

Joining us now is Sergeant Richard Wood.  He's from the Bakersfield, California, sheriff's department.  And I do want to talk to you, sir, because I spent a lot of time in Bakersfield.  I know that area.  Were you just astounded about these things in your community? 

SGT. RICHARD WOOD, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA: 

Well, we were.  We've had plenty of cases in the past where adult women have had relationships with teenage boys.  However, two schoolteachers within a week or two of each other is quite surprising. 

COSBY:  You know, Sergeant Wood, I want to talk about sort of the more shocking one, the Sherry Brians' case.  This is the from the Buttonwillow Elementary School.  She's 41; the boy is 12.  What do we know about the allegations?  And what do you know about the nature of their relationship?  What happened? 

WOOD:  Well, apparently, right before Christmas, the mother of the 12-year-old boy was going through his backpack and found a letter from the teacher to this student.  And the tone of the letter indicated that they did have an ongoing relationship. 

The initial investigation by the investigators in that area led them to conclude that there may have been substantial sexual contact between her and the 12-year-old boy.  The investigator went before a judge with an affidavit.  The judge also thought there was some substantial contact.  He issued a bench—or, I'm sorry, an arrest warrant for $100,000 on one count of lewd acts with a child. 

She turned herself in at the Buttonwillow substation, which is the area that covers the school where she works.  She was arraigned this morning in chapter court. 

In the meantime, the D.A.'s office had a chance to review the case.  We had time to review the case and also do some further investigation.  The D.A.'s office reduced the charges to two counts of unlawful intercourse and reduced the bail to $5,000. 

COSBY:  Sergeant Wood, thank you very much for being with us.  We appreciate it. 

And on the phone right now is Curt Dubost.  He's the superintendent of Buena Vista High School, where one of the scandals allegedly took place. 

Curt, talk to me about—this is the 31 teacher.  Tell us about the allegations against the 31-year-old. 

CURT DUBOST, SUPERINTENDENT, TAFT UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT:  Well, first of all, let me correct you.  I'm superintendent of the Taft Union High School District.  And Buena Vista is our continuation school within that district.  And that's where Mrs. Sanchez was employed. 

COSBY:  Tell me what happened.  What's the allegations? 

DUBOST:  I believe it was Monday, November 21st, two of our employees, in accordance with the law, reported to their principal that they had heard rumors that there had been inappropriate conduct or contact between a student and Mrs. Sanchez. 

They reported it, as they're required to do and professionally, so reported that to the principal, who reported it to me.  We confronted Mrs.  Sanchez and asked her if there had been inappropriate contact with the student.  And she subsequently that day resigned from the district.  She's been charged with six counts of felony unlawful sexual contact with a minor. 

COSBY:  Did she have any prior record, anything in her history? 

DUBOST:  None.  A total shock.

COSBY:  None? 

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  What about the students?  Are they aware...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Are they aware of what's going on? 

DUBOST:  Pardon me? 

COSBY:  Are the students aware of what's been going on, of the background here? 

DUBOST:  Yes.  That's where the rumor started, is from the students.  That's how the staff found out about it and reported it to us.  The students probably knew more than we did before we did. 

COSBY:  Curt, thank you very much.  We appreciate it, again, cases there...

DUBOST:  No problem.

COSBY:  ... in that same county in California.

Well, on this show, we promised you, when we started this show back in August, that we would get the big interviews.  Coming up, my interview that everyone's going to be talking about.  Remember that Florida teenager who went to Iraq?  We're going to have the details coming up about a very interesting interview next week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And we have a LIVE & DIRECT exclusive to tell you about tonight.  In his very first interview since returning to the United States, Florida teenager Farris Hassan talks to me about his trip to Iraq.  The 16-year-old traveled to Iraq back in December, saying that he wanted to witness the country's parliamentary elections.  Once in Baghdad, he finally ended up in American hands and was sent back to the U.S.  He told me his trip was not about media attention, but something much more important. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FARRIS HASSAN, TEENAGE JOURNALIST WHO WENT TO IRAQ:  In emerging journalism, the journalist does not become the story.  The story's not me.  The story are the soldiers over there, fighting for freedom and democracy.  The story is Iraq.  The story are the innocent people being blown up every day.  I wanted the media to focus on that, not on me.  So, for that reason, I gave no comments and I tried to give the media absolutely nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  An incredible guy.  And you can catch him on Monday and Tuesday night on LIVE & DIRECT.  That does it for us.  Now, here's Joe Scarborough.

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

END   

Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.'s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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