Guests: Eileen O‘Connor, Sheldon Chandler, Peggy Chandler, John Q. Kelly, Tim Miller, Beth Holloway Twitty, Al Gerhardstein, Kathy Harrell, James Whitaker, Jackie Kidney, JoJo Gator
RITA COSBY, HOST: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, a shocking piece of videotape catches a police officer terribly being shot in the line of duty. Are officers in one city being purposefully targeted by deadly criminals?
And searchers are back on the case in the Natalee Holloway mystery. But get this. They aren‘t Aruban investigators. What are they doing? Natalee‘s mom is going to join me live.
But first tonight, our investigation into the case of missing honeymooner George Smith. The exclusive photos that we have obtained of George and Jennifer Smith‘s cabin, of what could be a crime scene, have created fireworks on both sides of this case. In a press conference just a few hours ago in Miami, Jennifer Hagel Smith‘s attorney, James Walker, talked about getting mistakenly blamed by the cruise line for the photo leaked us to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES WALKER, JENNIFER HAGEL SMITH‘S ATTORNEY: Two nights ago, Mr. Davis accused me of leaking photographs of crime scene to the Rita Cosby show. I was flying at the time. I didn‘t see the Rita Cosby show. But my dad called me up from Arkansas and said, You‘re being accused of releasing sensitive photographs to the news media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Well, and joining me now is Royal Caribbean co-counsel Eileen O‘Connor. Eileen, before we get started, Jennifer Hagel‘s attorney raised some interesting questions today to the cruise line about where some of the evidence in this case is. Let‘s listen to what he had to say, and then I‘m going to have you respond, Eileen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: What you will find when you find these photographs—although I‘m not going to comment what‘s in them—is you will find that the Turkish police did not take all the forensic evidence from that cabin. They left items in the cabin that had blood on them, for goodness sakes. We don‘t know where those items are. We simply want a straight answer. Do you have them? Have they been turned over to the FBI, or did you throw them away? They won‘t tell us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Eileen, is there some evidence that‘s missing?
EILEEN O‘CONNOR, ROYAL CARIBBEAN CO-COUNSEL: No, there isn‘t, Rita. We‘ve turned over any piece of evidence that could be evidence to the Turkish authorities or to the FBI. There is no evidence that‘s missing.
COSBY: What do we know about blood? We‘ve heard that there was some blood spatterings, even being referred to maybe as fingerprints, under the sheets, which is why Royal Caribbean did not see any blood when they put Jennifer Hagel in the bed. Can you confirm, obviously, the degree of the blood that was in the bed, underneath, on the sheets?
O‘CONNOR: We‘ve been asked, Rita, by the FBI not to disclose information about any of the blood found in the room. And the only thing that I can tell you what we have said before, that when the security officers entered the room, when they were looking for someone to escort Jennifer Hagel Smith back to her room at 4:30 and they looked in her room, at that time, they saw nothing amiss. And then also, when they returned with her a few minutes later, they again saw nothing amiss.
COSBY: Let‘s talk about, if we could—these are just a couple comments about, you know, essentially, what happened, why these photos were taken. A lot of people have been asking you this in the last 24 hours, Eileen, you and Lanny Davis and others, why were these pictures taken, to begin with, of the cabin, 9:00 AM July 5 when George Smith goes missing? If you thought it was probably an accident, which is what the captain said, why would you go to the extent of taking what looked like they were sort of crime scene photos?
O‘CONNOR: Well, We treated it as a potential crime scene from the beginning. I mean, that‘s why we called the Turkish authorities and the U.S. consulate immediately, and then within an hour-and-a-half, we called the FBI in Miami. We had our Miami office call the FBI. So we treated this immediately as a crime scene.
Within 20 minutes after they were looking for George Smith, went into the cabin, were looking for him and then saw some indication that perhaps there was something more going on here, they then immediately cut off access to the cabin, posted a guard to the cabin and called the authorities and invited them in to investigate. They are the investigative authorities.
We did take these photos at 9:30 in order to, again, preserve the scene and preserve it in the pictures the way we actually saw it when we first entered, looking for Mr. Smith. So the idea was, in fact, to take those initial photographs to help the authorities. And then days later, after the Turkish authorities had done their forensic investigation that day, taking blood samples, fingerprints, taking their own photographs, taking out items in—from the room. Two days later, we—even though they released the cabin and said that we could clean it, they‘d done their investigation, we did keep it off-limits to people.
And—but we did allow the staff captain with an FBI agent in on the 7th of July. And at that time, the FBI agent looked at the cabin and came out and, in fact, complimented the Turkish authorities on the thorough job that they had done. And only after that did a Royal Caribbean official and a staff photographer go in and take those additional photographs, which you saw, that were different because, obviously, items had been taken from the room, as well as the fact that the Turkish authorities had been in the room and had done a thorough forensic investigation.
COSBY: It looks pretty trashed. Again, nobody knows where the papers strewn on the floor or any of that came from. The couple we had on the show last night, Eileen—I want to play a little clip from them because they said—you just said, you know, the room was sealed. We‘ve had Mr. Purdy, the security officer from the cruise line, saying that the room was secured, that it was safe. Let me just show their comment and then get you to react.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELDON SANDLER, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: day that we saw somebody with a canister, with a vacuum cleaner. The door was open, and he was in there with the vacuum cleaner, cleaning. He was sweeping the floor and everything like that.
COSBY: He was sweeping the floor when they said the room was sealed off?
SHELDON SANDLER: Yes. It was not sealed off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Eileen, what do you make of their comments, that they say—and again, this is their testimony, but they‘re saying that not only was the room not sealed off but that people were vacuuming, cleaning, going that degree and even washing, scrubbing the carpet, and that these were crew members, they‘re saying?
O‘CONNOR: Well, in fact, Rita, that also in that same show with those passengers, they also said that they were four doors down from the Smith cabin, but in fact, they were not four doors down. They were five doors down from the Smith cabin. So if they‘re wrong about the location of the cabin, they may have been wrong about this. The facts are that that cabin was not cleaned at that time.
COSBY: Never? Never? Never? You‘re saying not until the end of the cruise?
O‘CONNOR: Not until the end of the cruise.
COSBY: You‘re saying that nobody—because Eileen—and we‘re going to have them on in a little bit. They told me that they saw a number of people on there and that they‘re sure they were cruise line personnel, that they also saw investigators. And they say that they do not doubt at all for a moment—in fact, you know, James Walker also alluded to that the crime scene, you know, was, very, very contaminated. Let‘s play what he had to say, and I‘m going to get to you respond to both.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: ... on this day when this cabin was so-called secure, that at least seven people went in the cabin. It‘s a fact. Royal Caribbean knows it. That‘s what we can prove. The captain went in there. Staff captain went in there. The safety officer went in there. Chief Officer Anita Hobson (ph) went in there. Two additional Royal Caribbean employees went in there later in the day, along with the third person. The cabin was not secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, he‘s walking through that, Eileen, and then we hear from the couple. Was this crime scene preserved?
O‘CONNOR: Yes, it was, Rita. At the beginning of the day, when they
were looking for George Smith and also for Jennifer Hagel Smith, there were
the captain and the staff captain and security officers did go in, trying to find out where they were. Perhaps were they injured? Were they not answering their page because there was something wrong with them and they were in the cabin? So they did look in the cabin to try to figure out where they were.
COSBY: Did they have gloves on?
O‘CONNOR: As soon as they saw evidence that perhaps—they didn‘t see them in the cabin and they saw evidence that perhaps something might have happened—and of course they had that evidence outside of the cabin on the canopy. There was blood evidence. They immediately then posted a guard outside the door and called the Turkish authorities and waited for the investigative authorities, as is proper in any crime scene investigation, to come in and do their investigation.
And they called the U.S. consulate, and they also advised the FBI in Miami what was happening, that they had, at that time, three passengers missing, when they first called the FBI, and that they had called the Turkish police and they had also called the U.S. consulate, and they didn‘t know what was happening, but that they would have a thorough investigation.
COSBY: All right, Eileen. Thank you very much. I do appreciate you being back with us.
And I want to bring on now, if I could, back the two passengers who were staying just a few doors away from the Smith cabin. Joining me again are Peggy and Sheldon Sandler. They‘re the two passengers who sailed on that same Royal Caribbean ship at the same time as the Smiths.
You just heard from Eileen O‘Connor, saying that you guys were mistaken about how many doors down, four versus five, that you may be mistaken about everything. Are you?
SHELDON CHANDLER: No. No, we‘re not. We know what we saw.
COSBY: Are you sure that you were seeing George Smith‘s cabin?
SHELDON CHANDLER: Yes. Yes, we are.
COSBY: And why are you so sure?
SHELDON CHANDLER: Well, we saw the gentleman come out of the room with the hazmat suit on the first day. And that stays with you. I don‘t care what people say, it just stays with you. It‘s something that I‘ll probably never forget.
COSBY: Let me walk through again, if I could, just show on camera here some of the things that you told us combined with today and also last night on the show, just to give everybody a sense of the timeline. First, as you said, you know, on July 5, you saw a man dressed in a white sort of hazmat-like outfit with a mask on, taking evidence out, scene (ph) of an investigator. July 6, the cabin door is closed. No yellow tape, nobody stationed outside the door. July 7 -- and I think this is extremely significant—cabin door open, people vacuuming and cleaning up the room. And then July 8, people washing the carpet inside the cabin.
Let‘s first start on the first day. Walk me through, if you could, Peggy. What‘d you see outside the room? You said you saw somebody sitting outside that room, and they were speaking in, what, like, a two-way, like a walkie-talkie?
PEGGY SANDLER, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER: Yes, there was a guard. I don‘t know if he was on a walkie-talkie or cell—obviously, it was a walkie-talkie. And I heard him say—first of all, there was a suitcase open near his feet, and there was clothes in the suitcase. And it was open. And I wondered, Why is this suitcase sitting there opened? And then I heard them talking—Well, went to the room, we came back, and we went out in the hall. And I heard him talking on the phone again, and I called my husband. I said, Come here. There‘s something going on. And I heard him say, Jennifer 445. And I thought, My gosh, something happened in that room.
COSBY: And what did you find out? What do you think Jennifer 445 meant?
PEGGY CHANDLER: We thought maybe something happened at 4:45 in the morning. I don‘t know. That‘s what went through my mind, something 4:45.
COSBY: And now we‘re hearing that, indeed, around 4:00 AM, and then after that time is essentially when they did find Jennifer Hagel Smith lying, that had to be brought back into her room. Then, later in the day, what, you saw outfits that looked like a hazmats or investigators doing forensics, Peggy?
PEGGY SANDLER: Yes. Yes.
COSBY: And what were they wearing? And why do you believe they were investigators?
PEGGY CHANDLER: It was white—we were walking in the hall again.
We came down.
SHELDON CHANDLER: Right.
PEGGY CHANDLER: And they went in the room, and he had his face covered and we—you know, you want to look. You want to see, but you‘re embarrassed. You don‘t want people to think you‘re nosy. And I saw them go in the room, and they were investigating. And we just walked on and we went down the hall.
SHELDON CHANDLER: The gentleman came out with two bags of evidence, evidently. And he put it on top of the suitcase and he went back in the room.
PEGGY SANDLER: And my husband and I kept saying, Why are they—What are they doing? There‘s something that went on in that room. Why are they putting this in the hall? Why is this sitting there? We just couldn‘t understand.
COSBY: Which now may or may not have been evidence, as it turns out. You know, the third day, then, July 7, two days after he‘s been reported missing, what, vacuuming? Describe this to me, Sheldon. How many people were in there vacuuming? And what were they wearing?
SHELDON SANDLER: I saw two people in there. One man had a canister-type vacuum cleaner and he was vacuuming the carpet inside the room. And there was another man in there, and he was, like, dusting the TV and the dresser or whatever. They were cleaning up, definitely. They weren‘t getting any evidence because the evidence, I think, was already picked up the day before, or two days before. So he was actually vacuuming. I could see the carpeting. You know, he was just trying to clean it up.
COSBY: Now, Peggy, you said to me on the phone that this was not even just a normal cleaning crew. We just heard from Eileen O‘Connor from Royal Caribbean that no one was in there doing that. Do you dispute that, clearly, based what you saw?
PEGGY SANDLER: No.
COSBY: You‘re saying that there definitely were people in there.
PEGGY SANDLER: Yes.
COSBY: And also, you‘re sure that it was Royal Caribbean. And you said to me on the phone, what, three times the amount? It wasn‘t just even a normal cleaning crew.
PEGGY SANDLER: Yes. Right, there were—well, there were two, one
one day and then one, two. I think it was a total of three. But they were
it was not—it was Royal Caribbean.
SHELDON SANDLER: I said to my wife, I said, Why are they cleaning this up so fast? This isn‘t a hotel. People aren‘t going to come for the room at 3:00 o‘clock. I mean, it seemed like they were kind of rushing the deal, whatever they were doing there.
COSBY: And last question to the both of you. Why do you think Royal Caribbean, as you just heard from the—you know, the person there, the attorney, one of the co-counsels for that cruise line—they just said that maybe you‘re mistaken about everything. They‘re discounting everything you‘re saying. Why do you think they‘re saying that?
SHELDON SANDLER: Well, I think it‘s good for them if it just goes away, pretty much.
PEGGY SANDLER: Right.
SHELDON SANDLER: I think they‘re trying to say pretty much it was a suicide or he just fell over the edge, but I don‘t believe that happened.
COSBY: Peggy, what do you believe?
PEGGY SANDLER: I just—I just can‘t understand how this happened so fast, how we took off so fast, the ship left, why they didn‘t investigate people around the room. I just don‘t understand. I don‘t know.
COSBY: And again, both of you, this is the same story that you told the FBI. You did report this to the FBI.
SHELDON CHANDLER: Yes, we did.
PEGGY CHANDLER: Yes. Exactly.
SHELDON CHANDLER: Yes, we did.
PEGGY CHANDLER: Yes, we did.
COSBY: And you‘re sure of your story. Nothing‘s changed since.
PEGGY CHANDLER: Absolutely.
SHELDON CHANDLER: Nothing has changed. I know what we saw and—I know what I say.
PEGGY CHANDLER: And we have nothing to gain or anything. We just want to try, if we could, to help the family, something. There has to be some kind of closure, something and—no. No. It just disturbed us so much. That‘s why we called.
COSBY: Thank you, both of you, for coming forward. We appreciate you coming back on again.
PEGGY CHANDLER: Thank you.
COSBY: Thank you.
PEGGY CHANDLER: Thank you.
SHELDON CHANDLER: Thank you.
COSBY: And still ahead: With the possibility of a compromised crime scene, as you just heard, can investigators still uncover the truth? That‘s coming up. And that‘s not all we have on tap tonight. Take a look.
Still ahead, a shocking story caught on tape. A police dashboard camera captured the terrible moment an officer is shot in the line of duty. Now some worry this crime could start a deadly domino effect.
And developments in the Natalee Holloway case. Find out why investigators are going back to Aruba. After more than eight months, what do they hope to find? Beth Holloway Twitty is going to join me live.
Plus, find out why this family is up for sale on eBay. They‘re looking for an offer they can‘t refuse. They‘ll tell me why coming up LIVE AND DIRECT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: The captain on the ship and the staff captain on the ship do not directly call any law enforcement authorities. What they do is they have to, by order of Royal Caribbean risk management, contact the risk management department. Everything is run through the risk management department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And that was Jennifer Hagel Smith‘s attorney, James Walker, from today‘s press conference just a few hours ago in Miami, talking about the case of her new husband, missing honeymooner George Smith. Smith, of course, disappeared from a Royal Caribbean cruise last July, and many still wonder, Was it an accident or was foul play involved? No one knows for sure.
Joining me now is former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt and also former prosecutor John Q. Kelly. John, I want to start with you, and I want to go through again what this couple told us because I think it‘s pretty significant, if, indeed, what they saw is correct. Let me put up again what they say, just sort of the turn of events. July 5, George Smith goes missing, of course. That‘s when he‘s reported missing, at this point. They said that they see a guy in basically a hazmat-like suit around the room. Two days later, they say that they are sure—and you heard, there‘s no wavering in them. They said they are sure that they saw several people from the cruise line vacuuming, cleaning up the room the next day, washing the carpet inside the cabin, all the while, Royal Caribbean says the room was sealed off. And they say that this could not have happened, that no one was in this room other than the people that they have stated before.
What do you make of all of this, John?
JOHN Q. KELLY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You know, Rita, based of the photographs that you‘ve got hold of, based on the passengers‘ statements, based on the fact that the blood on the canopy was clearly cleaned off by Royal Caribbean, it‘s clear that the integrity of the investigation has been severely compromised, and most specifically, the forensic evidence.
COSBY: So what happens, then, John? What do they do at this point? And how badly—you know, Royal Caribbean still says the Turks did a great job, no one else was in there, we sealed the room. From your perspective, were any of these things done?
KELLY: First of all, how would Royal Caribbean know if the Turks did a great job? From what I understand from another Royal Caribbean executive I heard an interview from, he said they were in there approximately an hour-and-a-half to two hours, from about 12:30 to maybe 2:00 to 2:30 that afternoon, when they went in there. And you cannot do an exhaustive forensic examination of a crime scene in less than two hours. That you can be sure of.
Secondly, the Turkish authorities had no, you know, jurisdiction over the case. They had no incentive there to do a thorough investigation. And we don‘t know the results of that. But as I said, based on a lot of the evidence, it‘s very clear that it‘s going to be a tough row to hoe with the forensic evidence that‘s been compromised, especially if a lot of people have been in there.
COSBY: You know, Clint, now that we‘re hearing more details of, like, how many people were in the room—again, based what the couple said, based on what even Royal Caribbean says in their statements in terms of other people that were in the room—we haven‘t heard if anybody was wearing gloves. And yet I still go back to—and I didn‘t really hear a good answer from Eileen on this—you know, why were they taking all those pictures in the morning, treating it like it‘s a crime scene, yet in all their reports, they say it‘s an accident?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, you know, to be begin with, I‘m glad they did take the pictures, even though I think...
COSBY: Absolutely. I agree. Absolutely.
VAN ZANDT: Even though I think they took the pictures to protect themselves, I‘m glad that we have some pictures of what the crime scene looks like. You know, Rita, your show has shown in the last few days significant differences between Jennifer Hagel Smith, witnesses at various places to activities in the bar and otherwise, and what the cruise line is saying. There‘s a lot of holes in these various statements.
It‘s the FBI‘s job to kind of push through all this and put this story together, put a very tight timeline together that explains who came in and out of the room, what their interactions were with George Smith.
Now, as far as the room goes, you know, those viewers of yours who watch these “CSI” programs on television, you know you have to go in—it would take you—I agree with your other guest. It could take you hours just to take the beginning set of photographs in the room, and then you meticulously start to wrap things up. You‘re going to take them back to the lab. You—you might see somebody spraying, you know, luminol on the carpet, trying to come up—you know, is there, in fact, trace evidence of blood? But to do a good crime scene in this room could have taken a couple of days, easily.
COSBY: You know, the other thing we heard, Clint, from these passengers, they were saying that first there‘s this guy sitting out in the hallway with suitcases that were sort of half-way open, with clothes and other things. You know, first of all, you wonder was that OK to go in and even take the clothes, when you‘re not sure what happened in the room. That‘s one.
And two, they also said these bags sort of sitting in the hallway, passengers going by, kicking them—I mean, what do you make of all that in terms of, A, evidence maybe being destroyed and even evidence that investigators may have taken out?
VAN ZANDT: Well, I think this is a very contaminated crime scene, and it makes a real challenge for the FBI because you want that linking physical evidence. If foul play happened, you want to know who was in the room. If there‘s blood in that room, could it be somebody else‘s blood besides George Smith? Could there be hairs, fibers? Could there be a weapon? What might there be in there?
And when you get multiple agencies doing the crime scene investigation, then you start—then you start to lose things sometimes. But the FBI—it‘s their job to concentrate, not get caught up in what the family says, not get caught up with what the cruise line says, but to just be a bulldog, to stay at it, to take the crime scene that they have—that‘s all they have. They have to—you know, good, bad or indifferent, that‘s the crime scene they have. They have to use that. They have to lock everybody in on statements. They have to create this timeline and then find out, Was this homicide, suicide or accident? Those three questions still loom. They still don‘t have answers, no matter what the family or the cruise line says.
COSBY: You bet. And you know, I‘m going to give John, Eileen O‘Connor, the last word. She‘s, of course, with Royal Caribbean. But again, their statement all along is crime scene preserved, nobody was in there vacuuming, Turks did a good job. What do you say?
KELLY: Is that to me, Rita?
COSBY: Yes. Go ahead, John. I‘m going to get you to respond first.
KELLY: Based on that, no, I think it‘s a severely compromised, severely contaminated crime scene. The only thing Royal Caribbean should have done besides taking the photographs, they should have had a locksmith there put a new lock on the door, locked it and kept a log of anybody who ever entered, and there shouldn‘t have been a reason for anybody to go in there except for the wife, to get her clothes, if she was leaving. Other than, it should have been...
COSBY: What about gloves?
KELLY: ... preserved.
COSBY: What about gloves, even? What about even taking the clothes?
KELLY: Forget about gloves. No one should have been in there, Rita.
COSBY: Nobody, not even taking the clothes for the family, right?
KELLY: Well, they should have let the wife go in there with someone accompanying her to take her clothes and nothing else, and even take photographs of before and after she entered in there. Other than that, no one should have been in there, and there was no reason they couldn‘t have kept that door locked and sealed off.
COSBY: All right. Let me go Eileen O‘Connor because I did—I give you the last word. We weren‘t planning on it, but I‘m going to give it to you, Eileen, so we can be fair to you guys. Go ahead. And you‘ve got about 30 seconds to respond, Eileen.
O‘CONNOR: Well, I just wanted to say that I think Mr. Van Zandt is correct. This is the FBI‘s job, and we have left it up to the FBI and to the proper authorities, the Turkish authorities, who, according to the FBI in congressional testimony, do have jurisdiction, did have jurisdiction and were working with the U.S. consulate and the FBI at the time. They are the investigating bodies.
We closed it off. We treated it as a crime scene and an open investigation. We did not know what happened then. We do not know what happened now. And we would like to search for the truth and help the FBI...
O‘CONNOR: ... as we have been, in any way possible...
COSBY: Can I ask you a real quick...
O‘CONNOR: ... to find answers.
COSBY: Biggest regret? Is there something you would have done differently? Everybody has hindsight. I mean, (INAUDIBLE) benefit of the doubt. Is there something now you say, Wait a minute, the Turks left, you know, these balls of paper crumpled all over the place. You know, you know. You‘ve covered a lot of things in the past. You were a journalist for many years. You know, do you say maybe there‘s something that maybe they could have done differently, even things that were out of your control?
O‘CONNOR: There are a lot of things that we‘re reviewing to say, you know, Could you do things differently? I mean, you‘re going to be looking at those things after the fact. But we did what we‘ve been told, and in fact, in many ways, we went beyond by voluntarily reporting to other authorities. And in fact, on the 8th, we actually asked the FBI, Is there anything else you need us to do, anything else you want from that room, anything at all?
And so as far as we can see, we have tried to cooperate and help the authorities as much as possible. And by the way, Mr. Kelly‘s statement about the lock—the locks on those doors are very sophisticated, and in fact, do keep an automated computerized log of people coming and going, and the readouts from those have been given over.
COSBY: All right, guys. Thank you both very much. Thank everybody.
I appreciate all three of you. Thank you very much.
And still ahead, everybody, late developments out of Aruba tonight in the Natalee Holloway case. It involves the prime suspect‘s father. Details are ahead, some new details coming in. Natalee‘s mom is going to join me live.
And a videocamera catches a police officer‘s worst nightmare, a horrible shooting that anyone would be lucky to survive. Are more officers in the crosshairs of would-be shooters? Stay tuned.
COSBY: And now to some new developments in another case that we have been following very closely, the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Tomorrow, crews are headed back to Aruba to search the waters off the island‘s southwest coast. It‘s not the first time divers have searched Aruban waters, but a tip from investigators has prompted a return to the island.
LIVE & DIRECT tonight are Tim Miller with Texas EquuSearch, a group that has helped in the search for Natalee since the very beginning. And also here is underwater specialist James Whitaker.
Tim, let me start with you. Why is this search different now?
TIM MILLER, EQUUSEARCH DIRECTOR: Well, we actually got the information—Dave Holloway, Natalee‘s father, and I got the information when we went to Aruba the last time that they felt as though there was a strong possibility that Natalee was actually put in one of them huge fish traps and taken out three to five miles in the water.
COSBY: And this was near the fisherman‘s hut, where all the guys have said that they were and admitted to being there? And that‘s why—it was also broken into, right? There was a knife missing.
When I was down there, I know Art Wood, the private investigator, and I walked around. He said a knife was taken. That hut that was broken into, as we‘re looking at pictures of it from the sky. There was a net that was a missing, a fishing net. And why does the investigators—why do they now say, “Let‘s look again here”? Is there something else leading this, or is it sort of another wild goose chase?
MILLER: No, they actually said that four months ago, Rita, when we was there. And that‘s when we called in Florida State University. And they came with their equipment. And we did everything in the water to 150 foot deep. And that‘s all the deeper they were capable of doing with their equipment.
So we‘ve been spending, like, the last four months talking with Jim Whitaker and stuff, seeing if we can put something together, because Jim has the equipment, he has the knowledge to go as deep as we need to be going. And out that three to five miles out in the sea, we‘re in 800 to 1,000 feet of water.
So I think if Natalee, in fact, possibly was put inside that fish trap and she is out there, I think that the resources we‘re taken there are capable. And it‘s possible that she will be found. But we don‘t want to build up anybody‘s hopes.
But you know what? With that information, I think that we‘ve got to follow that information. I think we‘ve got to use every resource possible to see if we can locate Natalee. And I think that, again, we‘re taking the best of the best over there to see if we can bring little Natalee home.
COSBY: Well, certainly. And you‘ve got to check everything.
Jim, let me bring you in.
JAMES WHITAKER, UNDERWATER SEARCH SPECIALIST: OK.
COSBY: James Whitaker, you know, in terms of the equipment you have, is it capable? I mean, we just heard, you know, from Tim that we‘re talking three to five miles off the coast. It could be very deep water. Can your equipment still detect something, you know, like a fisherman‘s net, like a cage?
WHITAKER: Yes, it can.
COSBY: It can? Now, why is that? Explain how that sort of works?
WHITAKER: Well, we‘re using two pieces of equipment. One is a side scan sonar, which works on sound, draws a picture of the bottom and all the different anomalies that are there. And something like what we‘re talking about would show up pretty good there.
COSBY: How long could this search take? You know, Jim, based on your experience and based on how big the area is, that‘s a big area.
WHITAKER: Well, it is, but if you look at the topographic map, there‘s basically a trench out there where it drops off. And I‘ve narrowed down an area that we‘re going to search in that‘s reasonable. And we will look in that area first.
COSBY: And, Tim, you know, I know you‘re going down there sort of scouting mission, sort of looking at it. When do you think the actual diving and this actual search will physically begin? How far away are we talking?
WHITAKER: Well, you know what? We just want to make sure that we have everything cleared with the authorities in Aruba, that we don‘t run into any road blocks. This is quite a challenge just getting all the equipment there. And so I believe, when we leave the island Tuesday evening—this coming Tuesday evening is when we‘re planning on leaving—
I think then Jim and I will be able to make that decision, when we‘re going to start packing stuff up and getting over there. But I‘m hoping myself within a week and a half, two weeks we‘ll be over there and be in the waters of Aruba again.
COSBY: Well, we wish you both a lot of luck. Thank you so much for being with us tonight. We certainly hope we can provide some clues.
And just a few moments ago, we learned that the family of Joran Van Der Sloot will be seeking damages tomorrow related to Paul Van Der Sloot‘s arrest back in June. This just crossed the wires a little bit ago. We got it from the Aruban newspaper “Amigo.” They are reporting that Paul Van Der Sloot and his attorney will be in court as early as tomorrow.
And LIVE & DIRECT tonight is Natalee‘s mom, Beth Holloway Twitty. Also back with us is Holloway family attorney and former prosecutor, John Q. Kelly.
Beth, with this news just passing, what do you make of what‘s going to happen in court tomorrow? And how angry are you hearing that now the court sort of cleared the way that they could seek damages?
BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: Well, you know, Rita, just when I think that I cannot be shocked by any news coming out of Aruba, they prove me wrong over and over again. And I think that, you know, with him proceeding forward with this, you know, it—there‘s just no explanation for it, Rita.
COSBY: You must have been stunned. What was your reaction when you first—you just found out about this a little bit ago. What was your reaction, just personally?
TWITTY: Well, I can‘t imagine, first of all, that Paulus Van Der Sloot could ever be cleared as a suspect in Natalee‘s case. I mean, we have to remember, we still have two innocent black security guards, Mickey John and Abraham Jones, who still remain suspects in Natalee‘s case.
And, you know, I just don‘t want to lose sight that his son and Paulus Van Der Sloot are the ones that implicated these suspects. And, as far as to the kidnapping, rape, and possibly murder of my daughter, and now he‘s stepping forward to claim damages? You know, Rita—you know, it‘s just not right.
COSBY: It isn‘t—I will tell you, it is stunning. I want to show a comment. This is Jossy Mansur with “El Diario.” Because someone in his paper, as you know, Beth, did a brief interview with Joran not too long ago. And pretty surprising things that he said. And now, again, in light of what‘s happening tomorrow. But I want to play—these are some of the comments of what Joran apparently said to someone at “El Diario,” according to Jossy Mansur.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSSY MANSUR, EDITOR, “DIARIO”: He avoided, of course, giving any details on the case itself. But he did admit to the reporter that he had sex with her, that it was consensual sex. He also admitted to him that the girl was going in and out of consciousness at a certain period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, when you hear that, Beth, and you hear that tomorrow that the court has cleared the way in Aruba that they could get, you know, damages, when he, himself, apparently is saying these things to reporters, saying a different thing to authorities, you‘ve just got to be shaking your head.
TWITTY: Oh, absolutely, Rita. I mean, we‘ve known as early as, you know, the first couple of weeks in June that Joran was admitting these sexual assaults that he committed against Natalee, as she‘s coming in and out of consciousness. I mean, this is not new information to the authorities or to the family.
COSBY: You know, John Q. Kelly is there anything that you can do to block them from receiving a dime from the Aruban government, you know, for pain and suffering, for Paul Van Der Sloot being arrested?
KELLY: Not at this time, Rita. Paul Van Der Sloot is obviously a shameless individual. When Deepak Kalpoe gave one of his first statements to police, what he said was, “Paul Van Der Sloot advised us to get our stories straight, to not communicate by e-mail, not to use our cell phones, and to get lawyers.” He also made contradictory statements about when he had picked up his son Joran that night.
It‘s very clear that, at the minimum, Mr. Van Der Sloot, in all probability, is, you know, part of at least a cover-up after the fact. And it appears he knows a great deal about what happened to Natalee and the three boys‘ activities that night.
And for him to be going at this point, seeking damages is unbelievable. And I‘ll be very closely watching how the Aruban courts handle his claim as opposed to the way they‘ve treated us, our claims, and the three suspects who clearly admitted to wrongdoing in this case.
COSBY: You know, and, John, as I read it, too, it‘s not just Paul who could actually seek damages. It looks like the whole family could seek damages for Paul‘s arrest. That‘s really surprising, isn‘t it?
KELLY: It‘s very surprising. I mean, it‘s almost shocking what‘s going on over there in the court system. And it‘s unbelievable that this man, his family, are shameless enough and, you know, sort of money-hungry enough to, after what they‘ve put the family through and what they‘ve, you know, made a number of people endure, that they‘re seeking compensation for this now.
COSBY: I will say, it is surprising.
You know, Beth, what about the case itself? We just heard from Tim with EquuSearch saying that they planned to be back in maybe in about a week and a half. He still seems confident that they‘ve got to check that area by the fisherman‘s hut. Do you believe there‘s anything there? And where do you think the case stands now?
TWITTY: Well, I think Tim Miller was exactly right. This is not a new lead. This is something that we have discussed with the FBI since as early as September.
And, you know, I think that it was in the—in October, possibly early November, when Tim Miller was trying to finish this search when, of course, the depth of the water exceeded his equipment. And that‘s when he was needing the officials on the island to contact or pick up the phone and make one phone call to the FBI for some additional equipment. And they refused to do that.
So I think, really, now he‘s just trying to do—you know, just finish this search that he was conducting like I said, in October, early November.
COSBY: Well, let‘s hope he gets some answers. And we will be watching what happens in that Aruban court, if that proceeding does take place tomorrow. We‘ll be all over this.
Both of you, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
TWITTY: Thank you, Rita.
COSBY: Thanks very much. Thanks, Beth, and thanks, John, so much.
And still ahead, does this shocking piece of videotape prove something that some police officers say they already know, that they are moving targets? Some say yes. And it‘s coming up.
COSBY: Well, Cincinnati cops are on guard tonight after a string of police shootings, one of them caught on videotape. In the past six weeks alone, three cops have been shot and a total of seven have been fired at.
The latest shooting, which happened early Wednesday morning, was caught on this dramatic tape. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘ve been shot! I‘ve been shot!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officer down. Officer down. I need help!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And joining us to talk about these cop shootings is Kathy Harrell. She‘s the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Cincinnati. And Al Gerhardstein. He‘s the attorney for the ACLU of Ohio.
Kathy, let‘s talk—you know, it‘s troubling when you hear this videotape and this audiotape. Tell us what happened in this incident on Wednesday.
KATHY HARRELL, PRESIDENT, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: Well, the two officers were beginning to stop a vehicle for traffic violations. When they made that stop for the traffic violations, they made an arrest on the driver. Christine Holtman was getting ready to place the passenger into handcuffs when he fired upon her.
COSBY: How were the officers doing in this incident?
HARRELL: How are they doing now?
HARRELL: I actually spoke to Chris earlier today. She went to the doctor. She had a doctor‘s visit for her eye. She‘s got to go to a plastic surgeon next week. And she‘s having a lot of problems with hearing right now.
COSBY: You know, I mean, the statistics are pretty incredible. Three cops shot there in, what, about six weeks? Seven have been fired at. Is there a rise in shootings? Is this an anomaly? What‘s going on?
HARRELL: I would say that, with our homicide rate what it was in 2005, the amount of gun violence and felonious assaults and the type of weapons that we‘re recovering in Cincinnati, it‘s been very alarming.
However, since the beginning of December, like you‘ve stated, we‘ve had seven officers shot at and three actually have been shot. We‘re very concerned. It‘s very alarming. And it‘s something that the citizens of Cincinnati, as well as the city leaders, are trying to figure out how we‘re going to deal with it.
COSBY: Absolutely. It is troubling.
You know, Al, what are your concerns with the ACLU? Are you concerned that, in response, that we may see police sort of stepping over their bounds, over aggression?
AL GERHARDSTEIN, ATTORNEY FOR ACLU IN OHIO: Well, certainly all of us in Cincinnati are very appreciative of the honor with which our officers serve and the risks they take.
COSBY: You bet.
GERHARDSTEIN: But this is not a time to, like, relax the rules of engagement for use of force. There is a call for that. Thankfully, the FOP is not calling for that.
We know what the rules of engagement are. We have to honor them. We cannot relax them. If we do, if we start pulling the trigger any earlier, we‘re going to result in young, black males again being shot who don‘t have guns themselves.
That‘s wrong legally. It‘s wrong morally. And it‘ll backfire. We‘ve made great progress over the last three years and since the riots in Cincinnati rebuilding our trust in the community. And we want to continue to do that, and relaxing the rules don‘t do it.
COSBY: And we know (INAUDIBLE) that there‘s a history there, too...
COSBY: There‘s a history in Cincinnati with the riots, too. I mean, you‘re referring to, you know, what happened a few years back, right?
GERHARDSTEIN: That‘s correct. And after that, we entered into a citywide, collaborative agreement which has reforms on use of force, reforms on bias-free policing, reforms on accountability, and a huge effort at community engagement. And all of those things are making progress.
I know we have a terrible gun violence problem and a huge murder problem. But overall, under the years that the collaborative has been in place, crime is down, violent and nonviolent crime. Overall, in the years the collaborative have been in place, injuries to officers and citizens during arrests are down. So...
COSBY: Let me get Kathy in, real quick. Kathy, are you guys—you know, are cops now going to take any extra steps, any safety steps? Because the last thing we want to see is another cop shot.
HARRELL: I will say this, in reference to what Al just stated. Of course, the officers aren‘t going to step beyond their boundaries. However, what I‘m trying to stress to my officers is this: Do not second guess yourself. If you have to take your gun out, take it out. Put it at your side. Do not choose to go to a taser when you should pull a gun out.
If there‘s going to be complaints from citizens and myself, the head of the FOP, as well as Cecil Thomas, on city council, has already stated, if there are citizens that want to complain, complain. But our officers are not going to get shot at. Our officers are not going to continue to get harmed.
This citizens of Cincinnati are tired of it. The FOP‘s tired of it. We have a mayor that is backing the police officers. We have a city council that‘s backing the police officers. If citizens aren‘t happy with the fact that the guns are going to be out, then they can complain.
COSBY: All right. Both of you, thank you very much. We appreciate it. And, of course, all those officers, we pray, are going to recover OK. Thanks so much.
And when we come back, a much lighter story. Find out why an entire family is up for sale on eBay. There they are. If you thought indentured servitude was outlawed, well, think again. A very interesting story, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOJO GATOR, FAMILY FOR SALE ON EBAY: It spells out the payment plan.
It spells out medical. It spells out room and board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Well, would you be willing to sell yourself in order to live on a tropical island? That‘s what one Rhode Island family is trying to do, offering their services to the highest bidder on eBay.
Joining us to talk about their very unusual auction is JoJo Gator and Jackie Kidney, and it looks like some of their kids there.
JoJo, are you nuts? People are going, “What is going on?”
GATOR: No, we‘re definitely not nuts.
COSBY: Why are you doing this, then? Why‘d you come up with this idea?
GATOR: Between Jackie and myself, we have five children. And living in Rhode Island and trying to raise five children‘s virtually impossible. So we were planning on a move down south around June.
And during a vacation in Aruba, we were sitting on the beach and said, “Wouldn‘t it be great to raise our kids in this kind of atmosphere. You know, instead of going to the mall and staying inside on the computer, they could go to the beach, and go walk in the woods, and just, you know, have a different experience.” We thought it would be a great experience for the kids.
So we told Jackie‘s brother, Buddy, about it. And one thing led to another, and we come up with this idea. And I talked with an attorney. We put together a service provider agreement, and we put it up on eBay.
COSBY: Let me read, also, what the auction description is that you guys put up. It‘s interesting. It says, “Two families, with eight workers, all over the age of 18, will work for your resort or private facility for five years. They are experienced in cooking, cleaning, construction, auto mechanics, landscaping, business and entertainment.”
Jackie, have you gotten any serious bids? And from where?
JACKIE KIDNEY, FAMILY FOR SALE ON EBAY: We haven‘t—it‘s not actually up for bids. It‘s a buy-it-now price of $1.5 million. So they either have to pay that or nothing. And we‘ve had some inquiries. Somebody today wanted to know if we‘d be interested in going to Europe.
COSBY: What‘d you say?
KIDNEY: That‘s not really the area that we really want to go, so we kind of just put it aside and hadn‘t answered him yet, on if we‘d be interested in going. I‘d have to speak to Buddy to see if that‘s something he wanted to do.
COSBY: You know what? We figured out the total. You‘re asking $1.5 million for all these services. It comes out to—it sounds really good on the service, when you hear $1.5 -- but it comes out to—I‘m sure you guys have done the math -- $37,500 per adult. Are you sure five years of your life is worth it? And what are going to do with your kids? What about their education?
GATOR: They‘re coming—they‘re coming with us.
COSBY: They‘re uprooting?
GATOR: And we‘ll look into it.
COSBY: Don‘t you feel bad you‘re taking them off to who knows where?
GATOR: We were going to be moving anyway. So this was just—our worst-case scenario is that we‘re going to move anyway. And we‘re going to go down south where it‘s more affordable. You know, they‘re all going to come with us. We‘ve looked into a couple of Internet home-schooling programs. And we‘re not too worried about that.
COSBY: And, JoJo, have you, like, screened—will you—have you guys thought about, OK, you‘re not just going to take this offer. I would assume you‘re going to check out who the buyer is and do some searching?
GATOR: Yes, well, we have an attorney that‘s working with us. And we‘re going to check out everything that, you know, that we think is an actual offer or interest. And we‘re going to take them one e-mail at a time.
COSBY: Have you guys thought about...
GATOR: The $37,500 per year, I don‘t know too many people that can make $37,500 a year for five years and not have to pay a rent, or car insurance, or registration, or cable bill, or any other of the expenses that we‘re incurring right now, and trying to save money for our kids‘ education, and trying to put money aside for their financial future. The only feasible way we saw of doing something like this was to group everybody together and do something, you know, extraordinary like this.
COSBY: Well, we wish you lots of luck. And I expect a postcard from some exotic location in the near future.
COSBY: Thank you, all of you, very much. It may be a reality show.
Well, still ahead, a robber picked the wrong clerk to hold up. Wait until you see what the store attendant did. It‘s coming up.
COSBY: A gas station store clerk in Pennsylvania, tired of being robbed over and over again, fought back Tuesday night. When the would-be robber pointed a knife and demanded cash, the clerk used a wooden baseball bat—you can see him there—to beat the feathers out of the masked man. The clerk got hit six times before running off. He was later caught. Apparently, he had robbed the same story four times and was clearly caught on the fifth.
And that does it for LIVE & DIRECT. I‘m Rita Cosby. “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” with my pal, Pat Buchanan, filling in for Joe, starting right now.
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