Guests: Jad Adams, Theodore Breaux, Dave Holloway, Steve Cohen, Joe Manchin
RITA COSBY, HOST: Good evening, everybody. We are coming to you tonight LIVE AND DIRECT from Miami, where there are some big developments in the case of missing honeymooner George Smith. Just a few hours ago (INAUDIBLE) Dr. Henry Lee, well known from the O.J. Simpson case, wrapped up his investigation on board the cruise ship. And see? This is where George Smith was last seen. Afterwards, Dr. Lee suggested there could be a very significant breakthrough in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Something, OK, but I cannot tell what you we found. We did find something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And Dr. Lee was on the ship for about four hours today. That was double the time that he was originally allowed by Royal Caribbean. They gave him twice the amount. And he was said to be able to conduct three out of the five experiments that he was hoping to perform today.
Well, I had a chance to personally catch up with Dr. Lee right after he got off the ship. He told me that he found something interesting on the canopy today. I asked him about that and his overall investigation on the ship.
COSBY: Dr. Lee, what did you think of what you saw on the ship?
LEE: They extend a lot of courtesy, let us check the cabin, gave us free access of the room and the canopy, also. They have security people with us. I think they have some their expert with us. So it‘s a productive morning.
We did not have opportunity to examine the carpet and padding. That‘s probably yield much more evidence. And of course, we was plan to conduct a mannequin experiment. That wasn‘t conducted. So basically, five original experiments I want to do, we was able to achieve three, three out of five.
COSBY: You were taking a lot of measurements out there at the railing.
COSBY: Were you checking to see, A, how realistic it would have been to fall over with a chair, without a chair?
LEE: We check all the possibilities. And of course, we did not—we‘re a little bit disappointed to not do the mannequin experiment and—however, we did measure the distance (INAUDIBLE)
COSBY: Do you think, after all this time, you would still find blood trace evidence or something actually from this?
LEE: We did find some evidence on the canopy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Well, you heard about that mannequin. Dr. Lee explained to me last week exactly why he wanted to use the mannequin as part of his investigation today. Here‘s what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: If it fall off the railing, then we want to see where more likely it landed, whether or not it would cause any indentation or—on the canopy. If someone pick up the dummy, threw, and what more likely the location going to land it.
BILL WRIGHT, ROYAL CARIBBEAN SENIOR VP FLEET OPERATIONS: The only issue with the mannequin experiment was that the request came very late, as recently as last week. The ship is in service. We will be disembarking and embarking approximately 5,000 passengers today, and that type of a demonstration or experiment in this very public setting we just felt was not appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And joining me now is former FBI profiler and criminologist Greg McCrary. He has been hired by Royal Caribbean cruise lines and was on the ship with Dr. Lee today. Greg, first of all, anything going to be solved? Here we are six months later.
GREG MCCRARY, FORMER FBI PROFILER AND CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, that‘s the question. We need to determine—and keep in mind that the phases of the criminal investigation, the very first phases, to determine whether or not a crime has been committed—we‘re really pretty much at that phase, whether this is an accident or whether there might be some crime that‘s responsible.
COSBY: Can anything be ruled in or out after seeing today? Is there anything different in your mind?
MCCRARY: No. No. I—the short answer is I didn‘t see anything earth-shatteringly different today that I wouldn‘t have expected to have seen coming onto a location like that seven months or so after the event had actually occurred.
COSBY: Dr. Lee, who you know...
COSBY: ... and have known for a number of years—I know you mentioned you two have lectured together—he said there was some sort of breakthrough, something interesting he found (INAUDIBLE) on the canopy. Can you say again today that it was not painted over, that there was nothing, you know, untoward happened to it?
MCCRARY: Yes. Absolutely. It has not been painted over. There wasn‘t anything done to it that I could see, other than being washed off, which is reasonable at the time.
COSBY: What do you think he may have found?
MCCRARY: I‘m not sure exactly what he thinks he may have found. I hope, if he‘s found something significant, that he certainly will share that with the FBI, who ultimately has the responsibility for investigating the case.
COSBY: Now, you spent a long time with the FBI.
COSBY: Well known. You were a profiler. Did a lot of work there. I‘ve heard a lot of good things about your background. Why here are you coming on board now? How long have you been with the case?
MCCRARY: It‘s just been a few days, so I‘m still catching up, a little bit behind the power curve. I‘m catching up with a lot of the details at this point. But I‘m here really to, I think, help the people at Royal Caribbean understand law enforcement policies and procedures, especially the FBI, how they work, how they don‘t work. Royal Caribbean has been, I think, very much—very cooperative with the bureau, giving them everything that they wanted, which is a good thing. I mean, you hope for that, having been on the other side of the fence for a while, that people will cooperate. But I want to help them understand what‘s going on, as well, and maybe help them understand what Dr. Lee—what Henry was doing today and what the bureau might be doing.
COSBY: Have they given everything over to the family, do you feel? The family‘s also come out and said the passenger list, the crew list, they‘d love to have access to these people.
MCCRARY: Right. I really don‘t know about that, you know, to be sure. But the investigation really needs to be conducted by the FBI. They‘re the responsible agency. They‘re the ones that need to be going out, doing interviews of passengers and crew members, and so forth, to determine what happened. And it can‘t really be investigated in the media or in the public domain so much.
COSBY: Turkish authorities—we know that Turkish authorities did the first initial investigation.
COSBY: They were on board. We even had the sort of before and after pictures. You‘ve seen the report. Was there anything in there that hasn‘t sort of come out, in terms of how they conducted their investigation, from your perspective and your experience?
MCCRARY: I‘ve read the report. Obviously, I can‘t get into the details. But I think that they did it in a responsible manner. It seemed to be very systematic and a good methodology and all of that. So I think it—and they‘ve turned the evidence over to the FBI. So I think it was done well.
COSBY: Greg McCrary, stick with us. I know we‘re going to have you a little bit later on in the show.
MCCRARY: OK. You bet.
COSBY: Thank you very much.
Well, former FBI profilers—we‘ve got a couple of them on our show today. And MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt was at the ship with me today. The ship would not allow any media on board, but we did observe quite a lot of what Dr. Henry Lee was doing, especially out on the balcony. Here‘s what Clint and I saw firsthand.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST: Henry has this unique ability of finding trace evidence where everybody else says it can‘t be there because he looks in the less obvious places. If you look down under the rail, you don‘t know what you might see there. Now, you and I say, Wait, it‘s six months. You know, Who cares after six months? If there‘s trace evidence, if it hasn‘t been washed away, cleaned away, it still could be there.
COSBY: We see him out there with the measuring sticks. We see him lifting little prints (ph).
VAN ZANDT: Yes. Yes.
COSBY: He seemed to be just a few minutes ago honing in on the center of the rail. Do you get the sense there‘s something that intrigues him there?
VAN ZANDT: Well, I think so. I think he has to, in his own mind, paint a picture. You know, he has to take a step back and say, OK, how would this crime happen? How would George Smith go over the rail? Would he grasp the rail and throw himself over? Would he hop up and sit? If two or three or four people picked him up, might his hands have gone under that rail, and could there be a partial print under there that had never been wiped off?
You know, prints—if you‘ve got oil on your hands or something like that, they have a tendency to stay, unless you really get there and scrub them off.
COSBY: And we saw him out on the balcony, left side, basically, of the room, as we face here.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
COSBY: He seemed to be focused on that corner. What does that tell you?
VAN ZANDT: Well, to me, it says that‘s probably where the chair was found leaning up against that rail. That‘s probably the point of exit, for lack of a better term, where they believe George Smith went over that rail. I think Henry and his team want to say, Is it possible for a man his size to fall over? Would he have to step up on the chair? Is the chair of sufficient height to get him up to that level to go over?
COSBY: As you were looking, the chair seemed very low. I was surprised. It looked like the chair was sort of a lounge chair.
VAN ZANDT: Here you have to say, Is this someone under the influence of alcohol, under the influence of some other type of drug? Is he emotionally distraught? All of this plays into trying to understand his mindset the night he disappeared, to try to figure out was he a victim of someone else or a victim of himself?
COSBY: We also just saw Henry Lee spraying some luminol.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
COSBY: It looked like a chemical. Is that what he was doing?
VAN ZANDT: Sure. Yes, and that‘s probably—luminol is kind of like Xerox. It‘s kind of a term that everybody throws around. But basically, it‘s going to react to blood, perhaps, or other bodily fluids. So even though somebody gets in there and scrubs and digs and everything else, the potential is that there still could be trace evidence there.
If George Smith was a victim of foul play, one party in that foul play‘s going to have to step up and tell us what they did.
COSBY: So it‘s going to be solved by a witness, not forensics?
VAN ZANDT: I think it‘ll take a witness to break the back of the case. It‘ll take forensics to convict.
COSBY: And Clint is with me here live. And I‘m also joined by private investigator Vito Colucci, who has been in touch with the Smith family. Clint, let me start with you because you and I were out there, right in the thick of it today.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
COSBY: What do you think—the tip from Henry Lee? He said there was something with the canopy. What could it be?
VAN ZANDT: Well, you know, there‘s been this controversy whether the canopy had been painted over or not. Forensically, I don‘t know that it makes that much difference for the case, but it makes a lot of difference for who‘s telling the truth in this whole thing.
COSBY: Can he determine it, even six months later, if that was the case?
VAN ZANDT: Oh, oh, oh, I think you could very much. See, you know, you have to think—when he does a forensic exam, don‘t think of it as a pane of glass, just flat, think of it as an English muffin, with little holes and crevices and things in it, a painted surface. And so if that blood gets down in those microscopic surfaces, even though you cleaned it off, there‘s still a potential for trace evidence to be there. And I think that‘s something that Henry may well have found.
COSBY: So maybe blood, maybe hair, maybe something in there?
VAN ZANDT: Yes, something in there. I think it would be more likely that blood or something there to suggest that this is here, and there‘s no evidence that paint has been put on top of it, which would, you know, in that case, support the cruise line and what they‘ve said.
COSBY: Be in synch with what they‘ve said.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
COSBY: Vito Colucci, I know you‘ve been following this case very closely. What do you think was the most significant thing that you‘ve heard today?
VITO COLUCCI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, as we know, Dr. Lee says he‘s come up with something. I‘m not at liberty, neither are the Smith family that‘ll be coming on after me, but what‘s important to remember here is that somebody like Dr. Lee, myself, anybody that‘s involved in high-profile cases, we work parallel with law enforcement, which means that anything of any substance, substantial value, is given to the authorities, which in this case would be our FBI, Rita.
COSBY: Do you get a sense, Vito, that there was something significant, or is it just interesting that maybe confirms or denies something else?
COLUCCI: I think it‘s a little bit of each, Rita. We‘ll see as it comes out. But you know, we were told—and I was with the family earlier, as I am with them now—that it was a worthwhile day, let‘s say.
COSBY: Four hours, Vito. They did get double the time that was expected. How much can you still get done four hours, six months later?
COLUCCI: Well, it was even more than that because I believe his people stayed on, so I think it was probably around five-and-a-half, six hours, is what I‘m hearing. You know, and...
COSBY: In fact, the two attorneys did get to go back on, so it really was six hours, even with them included.
COLUCCI: Right. Big difference than less than two hours that the Turkish authorities—and any expert you had on the show said there‘s no way they could have conducted their investigation in less than two hours. That‘s for sure, Rita.
COSBY: Something—what about the dummy, too, Vito? Would that have been significant? Do you think that they should have just said, Oh, what the heck, why don‘t we let him do all the tests? Henry Lee came on and said he did three of the five tests.
COLUCCI: Yes. I mean, if they allow Dr. Lee to do this at a later date, it would be OK. I mean, he wants to do the trajectory and different things of that nature. And of course, even the pad that was under the original carpet would have been important. But now they have a new carpet down. The other carpet is with the FBI. So that would have been very important, to see what was on that pad, if it‘s still the original pad from the last carpeting.
COSBY: What was the most surprising thing to you, Clint? You know, I was amazed. It was fascinat6ing for me to see.
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
COSBY: Even though we were a bit of distance away, between binoculars and our telephoto lens...
VAN ZANDT: Sure.
COSBY: ... you could them bringing out all the things. It was quite incredibly detailed.
VAN ZANDT: And a lot of what I think was being done was Dr. Lee going in and locking in the dimensions of the room and everything else, so when the Turkish report comes out, when the FBI report finally comes out, the family has an independent standard to hold up against that, so they‘re comfortable that everything the Turks and everything the bureau should have done was actually done. Henry‘s will be that standard that the family uses to look at the other two.
COSBY: And say, A-ha,wait a minute, there‘s a discrepancy, should that come up?
VAN ZANDT: I think so.
COSBY: Clint, thank you very much. And thank you for being with us.
We appreciate you coming down to Miami.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
COSBY: Vito, thank you very much.
Stick with us, everybody. There‘s still much more ahead on LIVE AND DIRECT as we continue right here, live from Miami. After the break, George Smith‘s sister and father are going to join us with their reaction to today‘s big news that some forensic evidence has been found on board the cruise ship. Will it help break this case or not?
Plus, some major developments in another high-profile mystery. We‘re going to tell you about new searches and new witnesses in the Natalee Holloway investigation. Is this the break that her family has been waiting for? What are these new witnesses saying?
And 14 miners from West Virginia killed in just three weeks. The governor of that state takes aggressive and tough action in order to prevent further tragedies. He‘s going to tell us what he is doing. That‘s ahead LIVE AND DIRECT.
COSBY: And you are looking at live pictures from the port of Miami, where just a short time ago, the cruise ship Brilliance of the Seas set sail after world-renowned forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee searched for clues in the case of George Smith, who vanished from his honeymoon cruise back in July.
The attorney for George‘s wife, Jennifer Hagel Smith, was also on the ship today with Dr. Henry Lee. I asked attorney James Walker what he thought of today‘s big developments.
COSBY: Mr. Walker, this was your first time on the ship. What did you think?
JAMES WALKER, JENNIFER HAGEL SMITH‘S ATTORNEY: Well, it was exciting. It was exciting to see Dr. Lee work. I can see why he has such an outstanding reputation. He was out in the hot sun for a couple of hours today in the Miami heat. And it was exciting to see probably the best forensic scientist of all time working on a case of ours, in this very important matter.
There‘s not a lot of information we have from Dr. Lee, but we know that he was working hard, and he seemed to have a very productive afternoon.
COSBY: When you saw the railing—we saw that there was a small chair. It looked like lounge chair. Does it look to you that he could have fallen over on his own?
WALKER: No. You can‘t fall out of a chair like that. You can‘t fall off the ship with that railing at that height. You simply can‘t do that.
COSBY: What did you see down in the canopy, just from your vantage point? What did it look like?
WALKER: Well, it was—it looked kind of like the—some of the photographs that have been provided to us. And you know, we‘re not going to be commenting actually on any of the evidence that has been provided to us, but it was a—you know, it was a distance down. And it was pretty much what I expected.
COSBY: Do you still believe foul play somehow was involved?
WALKER: We‘ve always thought that this was something other than an accident. We‘re still trying to obtain a lot of information from the Turkish authorities, from the FBI. There‘s certain evidence that the FBI has that Dr. Lee needs to see. We‘re making requests of the FBI, and we‘re going to try to get to the bottom of this.
COSBY: So what‘s the family‘s take on today‘s events? Are they a step closer to getting answers as to what really happened, answers they desperately deserve? Let me now bring in George Smith‘s sister and also father, Bree Smith and George Smith. And also with me live is their attorney, Brett Rivkind.
Bree, let me start with you. What‘s your reaction to what happened today?
BREE SMITH, MISSING GROOM‘S SISTER: We‘re very pleased that Dr. Lee managed to get on board with his crew. And I have to say that we very much appreciate all of his efforts in trying to find out what happened to my brother. We‘re very hopeful that his investigation today will result in some answers for my family.
COSBY: Do you think you got any closer to that, George, today? Do you feel like you got some inkling? He said to me afterwards, I found something of significance, something related to the canopy.
GEORGE SMITH III, MISSING GROOM‘S FATHER: Well, I do hope we get a breakthrough. You know, we‘re really looking forward to a breakthrough to bring this, you know, investigation to a conclusion. And I think he‘s the right man to do it. His reputation precedes him.
COSBY: George, what (INAUDIBLE) biggest questions regarding the canopy? What do you think has been the biggest, you know, issue nagging at you on that?
GEORGE SMITH: Well, you know, I know that American embassy, one of the members from the American embassy was in Clete Hyman‘s room the day after George went over. And his description and the way indentation is on the canopy said that there was definitely foul play involved. And we‘ve been going from that from the beginning, and—that and some other things.
We think that the Turkish police did good forensics, but they never really talked to any passengers on the boat. So I don‘t know how really you can do an investigation in two hours. Every professional person I‘ve talked to said that it takes a day to two days to do a proper job. And you‘ve got to talk to people, just not just do fingerprints and bloodstains and everything else.
COSBY: You know, Brett, as you‘re sitting here next to me, you did get more time today. And I know that was a nice, pleasant surprise. You were there for what, six hours. But was that still enough time to do—do you still feel like you have a lot more to go?
BRETT RIVKIND, SMITH FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes, you know what it showed today? We did get some extra time at the last minute. The cruise line let us stay on there longer, and we spent six hours. Dr. Lee there was for over four hours. He had a team of forensic experts. And you have to understand, by the time he‘s on the ship, the blood‘s gone, the room‘s changed, and there‘s no carpet, and he‘s only able to do three out of the five experiments he would like to do, and we were still on that ship for six hours.
Also, there‘s an issue as to he would have liked to have seen the cabins of the people who were last seen with George also forensically inspected, which goes back to the very beginning and our premise that that ship was at a port, and it could have stayed there. It may have inconvenienced some passengers, but they could have done a complete forensic. I mean, two hours obviously is just the tip of the iceberg. They interviewed six witnesses out of 3,000 passengers. When that ship was in port Turkey, that was an investigator‘s dream. He had 3,000 potential witnesses in one place, the blood, and from Dr. Lee, you can see, he tried to recreate the blood today with some chemicals because the pattern, the dimensions, all those provide invaluable information to somebody really experienced at forensics. And you can‘t do all that in two hours—ear witnesses, eyewitnesses.
I think we‘re losing sight here, too, that forensics is one aspect of an investigation for a potential murder—you know, ear witnesses, eyewitnesses.
COSBY: I notice you were next door at the cabin, as we‘re looking at a picture here, saw you and James Walker come out at one point. And you were looking sort of what could the other passengers have seen? What could the neighbors have seen? Did you get a different sense from just what could have been heard or what was maybe missed?
RIVKIND: Well, you know, it gave us a sense that the passengers on each side of that cabin probably had significant information that could have been obtained that very day and locked in that very day by the authorities. And one has to ask you—ask—you know, the Turkish police didn‘t interview either of those people, on either side of the cabin. That‘s pretty incredible to us because those are major ear witnesses that tie in a timeline and things that they saw. And as time progressed, you know, memories are different. And they had that opportunity that first day, when the ship was in port to lock in not just them but other key potential witnesses. The Turkish police never visited anybody else‘s cabin or interviewed all of the guys who were last seen with George.
And I‘m just getting to the tip of the iceberg of things they didn‘t do. And seeing Dr. Lee today and talking to him makes me appreciate what really could have been done had Royal Caribbean allowed that ship to stay there a day, a day-and-a-half, and you know, allowed a proper investigation to take place.
COSBY: You know, Bree, as, obviously, someone who loved George very much, do you feel that, here we are, six months later, Dr. Henry Lee may find this nugget and really push it forward?
BREE SMITH, MISSING GROOM‘S SISTER: Well, we‘re hopeful, Rita. You know, we‘re just troops hoping that someone will bring us answers, whether it‘s the FBI or Dr. Henry Lee. We are just desperate for answers, and any way we can get them, we would appreciate them.
COSBY: What concerns you the most? And what did you learn today, Bree, as you sort of looked at what Royal Caribbean did allow Dr. Henry Lee to do? What still bothers you, and what are you satisfied with?
BREE SMITH: Well, I‘m glad that the pressure we‘ve been putting on Royal Caribbean through the media has resulted in extra time for Dr. Lee and his crew today. We‘re appreciative that, you know, Royal Caribbean finally did cooperate with us in some manner. And we‘re hopeful that, you know, the three out of the five experiments that he was able to conduct will be fruitful.
COSBY: Do you believe that there‘s still some major issues? Does it sound like there was some movement—and I know you can‘t say exactly what it was—I don‘t even know what you‘ve been told or not. But do you get the impression that there‘s still something major or something that‘s not quite right, based on what you heard from Dr. Lee?
BREE SMITH: Well, I think that from what Dr. Lee said in his press conference—and I don‘t have a lot of additional information—that he did have a discovery that he is delighted with. So we‘re just hopeful that that discovery, in addition to the other experiments he conducted, will be enough to provide my family with some answers, which is what—all we want. All we want, Rita, is to know what happened to my brother.
COSBY: And George, closing thoughts from you, George?
GEORGE SMITH: You know, Rita, Royal Caribbean can say they‘re cooperating with the family, but I go back and say it again. We don‘t have a passenger list. We don‘t have a crew list. You know, they‘re leaving us in the dark out here. You know, they can say what they want, but they don‘t want to turn over important information to us. That‘s very, very important for us to get on.
COSBY: And George, real quick, have you gotten the passenger list at all yet? Have you gotten any information from Royal Caribbean?
GEORGE SMITH: The only passengers list that we have are people that contact us. That‘s why we‘ve been going out into the media and asking people to contact us through our Justice for George and some other sites we have. That‘s the only way we‘re getting any information now, Rita. And it‘s—Royal Caribbean really is not cooperating that much. They‘d like to say they are, but they keep spinning and spinning and they‘re really not giving us what we want.
BREE SMITH: Additionally, Rita, as I mentioned on your show, I believe it was last week, there is a public statement by the FBI saying that my family has fully cooperated with the FBI, but there isn‘t that statement for Royal Caribbean. And they can put in all the press releases and say all they want on television that they‘re fully cooperating, but do we know that for a fact, Rita? I don‘t think we do.
COSBY: Both of you, thank you very much. And our prayers are with you. I hope that we are one step closer to finding out what happened with George. Thank you both very much.
GEORGE SMITH: Thank you.
BREE SMITH: Thank you.
COSBY: And let me now bring back in with me the former FBI profiler and criminologist who was hired by Royal Caribbean, Greg McCrary. Greg, you know, you heard from the family, and they still feel very frustrated that they‘re not getting enough information from Royal Caribbean.
COSBY: Will you—I know you just came on board.
COSBY: Will you make a vow to at least go through and see what you can get to these people?
MCCRARY: Well, the important thing is to cooperate with the authorities. Certainly, they have compassion for the family, and so forth, but I really don‘t know about lists of, you know, passengers and so forth. FBI has all of that. That‘s for sure. And I‘m sure they‘re doing the investigation and the interviews and all of that, which is the way it should be done.
The other thing, as far as the ship moving out of port in Turkey—they were there, and they would have stayed, I‘m sure, had the Turkish authorities wanted them to stay to conduct a further investigation. So to say that they should have overruled the Turkish authorities or the FBI and made that decision to stay and demanded they do more really is something I think that‘s out of their hands, out of the cruise line‘s hands.
COSBY: Do you think, if this had happened in the United States, that ship would have stayed docked? I mean, everybody has different rules. Do you think it would have—you know, FBI would have said, from your experience, they would have said, Stay here on the port?
MCCRARY: I—there‘s no way of knowing that for sure. The one other issue I want to address is the Henry Lee with the dummy thing. One of the issues there, I think just from the forensic and scientific point of view, that would make that, sort of hoisting the dummy over the railing, of questionable value is that there‘s quite a difference between doing that with a dummy on a ship that‘s docked at port versus one that‘s at sea, going 15, 30 knots, maybe pitching, maybe rolling. So to replicate that really would be very difficult to do. Plus, I know that Royal Caribbean has made an identical ship for Henry to do that in the near future. He can do it as much as he wants, so...
COSBY: So he will be doing it at some point in the future.
MCCRARY: He‘s certainly welcome to do it. He knows it, and he can do it if he‘d like.
COSBY: All right, Greg McCrary. Thank you very much.
MCCRARY: You bet.
COSBY: Appreciate it very much.
MCCRARY: Happy to do it.
COSBY: And still ahead, everybody, as we continue here live right from near the port of Miami, it is called “the green fairy” and “the devil in the bottle.” But did the illegal alcohol called absinthe play a role in George Smith‘s disappearance? We‘re going to take a closer look at this dangerous and very potent drink.
Also, new witnesses coming forward in the Natalee Holloway case. What are they revealing? And why did they wait eight months to talk? The answer‘s ahead LIVE AND DIRECT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m glad they‘re investigating for the family. It doesn‘t really affect me. I don‘t think it‘s—it wouldn‘t stop me from going on a cruise ship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And those were passengers that were going on the Brilliance of the Seas, right before they took off today. You‘re looking at a live picture of the port of Miami tonight, where George Smith‘s cruise ship was docked before it set sail on yet another trip full of new passengers.
Just a few hours ago, investigators boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Brilliance of the Seas to look for new clues in the disappearance of the missing honeymooner.
Tonight, there are also new questions about the role that a potentially dangerous drink may have had in this case. A passenger on Smith‘s Mediterranean cruise claims that Smith was drinking absinthe the night that he vanished. The drink, known as the Green Fairy, is banned in many countries, including the United States.
Royal Caribbean says that they do not stock it, they don‘t sell it onboard, they don‘t condone the drink. It causes, and many people believe it does, hallucinations.
With us on the phone tonight is the author of the book, “Hideous Absinthe: The History of the Devil in a Bottle,” Jad Adams.
Jad, tell us about this drink‘s reputation. How dangerous is it on the body?
JAD ADAMS, AUTHOR, “HIDEOUS ABSINTHE”: Well, the main dangerous from absinthe is it is very highly alcoholic. It‘s up to 75 percent alcohol by volume. So that‘s 150 proof. That‘s the most important danger from it, is that you‘re not likely to drink that much strong alcohol normally with any other kind of drink.
The other thing that it has is a chemical called thujone, which is a mind stimulant. And this was the stimulant that the artists of the 19th century were interested in taking because it gave them new and different ideas and bizarre fantasies. And that‘s the other factor that makes absinthe a different kind of drink from any other kind of thing.
COSBY: Yeah, Jad, you were hearing about these reports of hallucinations. How wide-ranging are they? And how severe could they be?
ADAMS: Well, that depends on the strength of the thujone. Now, you can buy absinthe in a lot of countries in Europe, but the European Union restricts the amount of thujone, the active ingredient, to 10 parts per million. So that‘s not very much. However, there is available a lot of black-market absinthe with people make in their own private stills, producing this stuff for sale on the black market, and that can be five or 10 times stronger. So you can actually get a much more strongly hallucinogenic product.
COSBY: Well, you know, Jad, I want to—this is from a passenger who was on the ship with George Smith. He claims that a bottle of absinthe was purchased in Italy. Remember, the cruise ship went all over in Europe. You can buy it in Europe. It‘s illegal in the states. In fact, this is how the passenger described how the group, including George Smith, was drinking this: “They drank the whole bottle. When I got there, the bottle was empty.”
Is there any way to tell how potent that would be and how much affect that could have on maybe someone who hasn‘t had this kind of drink before?
ADAMS: Well, unless you actually have the bottle or some of the substance to test, not really, I‘m afraid, though certainly someone who‘s not used to this substance, drinking a lot of it, will find it rather surprising and unusual. They‘re going to have different kinds of ideas.
What absinthe really does, what its active ingredient does, is to take the brakes off the mind, and so the mind is over-stimulated, it‘s having lots of fresh and unusual, strange, bizarre ideas. So that‘s the sort of thing it does.
COSBY: Jad, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Interesting, because a liquor I‘d never heard about this until a few weeks ago.
Well, with more on the potential dangers of this very strong liquor, we are joined tonight by the coauthor of the book “Absinthe: Sip of Seduction,” absinthe historian and also chemist, Theodore Breaux.
Mr. Breaux, you say that it‘s not as dangerous. You have a bit of a different take. Why is that?
THEODORE BREAUX, ABSINTHE HISTORIAN AND CHEMIST: Well, first of all, I appreciate what Mr. Adams says, but his science is about 30 years behind. You see, the thing is, is that was a longstanding belief about absinthe containing lots of thujone and that caused hallucinations. But nowadays, we know that that‘s not true.
Personally, I‘ve studied absinthe for about 13 years. And when I say studied absinthe, I‘ve studied absinthe from 100 years old, such as this bottle that I‘m holding up, which has been unopened, except for the removal of samples for scientific analysis, as well as new absinthes, which are made—some of them which are made exactly like the old ones were.
And the one thing we know is that absinthe, old and new, does not contain a lot of thujone. And what we know, from certain scientific studies, which have been published in the past year or so, is that, first of all, thujone is not present in any absinthe in sufficient concentration to cause any type of deleterious effects in humans. For me...
COSBY: You‘re talking about hallucinations, right, in layman‘s terms?
BREAUX: Oh, there are no hallucinations, so the only hallucinations that one will find is in reading 19th century romantic literature. In reality, it doesn‘t exist.
COSBY: But, Mr. Breaux, let me read you also—this is interesting.
We‘re looking at the alcohol content, at least of absinthe, versus beer. Absinthe has an alcohol content of about 68 percent, while beer is a little closer to 4 percent or 5 percent. When you look at that, that‘s a pretty big difference!
BREAUX: That‘s correct. And that‘s the thing. You take any high-proof alcohol, whether it be a high-proof rum, absinthe or anything else, and you just imbibe it with, you know, without reservation, well, something‘s going to happen. I mean, you take two people and sit down to a bottle of 80-proof tequila, I guarantee before you get to the bottom of that bottle someone‘s going to be dancing on the tables. You know, I mean, there‘s nothing...
COSBY: You know, we hear now that the bottle was empty. Do you think it could have played a role in this case somehow?
BREAUX: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
BREAUX: And any absinthe that is sold in Europe does not contain enough thujone to cause any hallucinations. I would have to consume about three liters of absinthe at the European limit to have any clinically discernable effects from thujone, and I‘d be long dead from the alcohol by that point.
COSBY: All right. Thank you very much. Very interesting. We appreciate you being with us.
And still ahead, everybody, right here on LIVE & DIRECT, Aruban police are heading to the U.S. to re-question Natalee Holloway‘s friends. We‘re going to look at what they are hoping to find out. What was maybe missed the first time in questioning them?
Plus, another mining tragedy in West Virginia. Two more workers found dead over the weekend. The governor of that state says these tragedies could have been prevented. And he‘s taking tough action. He‘s going to tell us what he just did a few hours ago when he comes up.
COSBY: A developing situation at Ft. Lauderdale Airport, which is just about 25 miles away from where I‘m standing right now here in Miami. A passenger is in the hospital tonight after getting out of his plane and jumping onto the tarmac. Officials say the plane was waiting to take off when the man became agitated and opened the plane‘s door. Police chased him down and tasered him. It‘s unclear what condition he‘s in tonight, but officials say he may be facing some possible charges.
Aruban authorities are now taking their investigation into the disappearance of Natalee Holloway right to the missing teen‘s hometown. Investigators are on their way to Alabama this week to talk to some of Natalee‘s friends who were with her in Aruba the night that she vanished back in May.
LIVE & DIRECT right now is special adviser to the Aruban government, Steve Cohen. Also with us on the phone is Natalee Holloway‘s father, Dave Holloway.
Steve, why are they doing this now?
STEVE COHEN, SPECIAL ADVISER TO ARUBAN GOVERNMENT: Well, I think it‘s just a matter of a process of elimination. You know, we go through a lot of these scenarios. Finally, we get to the point where we say we need to talk to some of those who were with Natalee the day and then the night that she disappeared.
We have to go through a process through the FBI in Barbados to get access to these individuals. And by the way, the FBI will be questioning them and the Aruban authorities will be the observers in keeping with the covenants that we have with the United States government.
COSBY: What do you think they could provide, though, Steve? Is there a question of Natalee‘s state of mind? Is there a question of something else, speaking to them, maybe they heard or saw? Where do you think it‘s headed?
COHEN: Well, all of those things are important. Let me talk first about just the circumstances surrounding that evening. Anything that investigators can find out about what it was like that evening just generally is important and then specifically, what was Natalee thinking? Was she in a good mood or a bad mood? And then, of course, what was her physical state? All of these things will add into the puzzle of what these teens say versus what the Aruban authorities collected from other witnesses.
COSBY: Dave, what do you make of all of this? Do you think this is going to get any step closer to finding your daughter? Or is this sort of just grasping for straws?
DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S FATHER: Well, I think it‘s going to close some of the holes in the investigation. You know, when I met with Paulus early on in the investigation, he was pointing the finger back towards the Mountain Brook kids. And I think it‘s just a way of just closing that gap and putting that to rest.
COSBY: Is there anything there that was significant to you when—
I‘m sure you‘ve talked to Natalee‘s friends. I‘m sure that they‘ve talked with you immediately after, you know, her disappearance. What did they say her state of mind was? Did they have any idea where she was headed and where she was going with these guys?
HOLLOWAY: Well, I think there was some early confusion on what some of the Mountain Brook kids reported and what they said. I did speak with one individual. And he said that they all came out of the establishment, and they were all talking, and everybody appeared to be OK. And then suddenly they saw Natalee look around as if she was looking for someone and walked back into the establishment and was back in there approximately 15 minutes. And then, when she came out, Deepak had her by the arm, leading her out of the bar.
COSBY: And that was the last thing that they saw?
HOLLOWAY: Well, that was one of the individuals‘ witness statement was, was that Deepak walked her out. Some of the others indicated that she walked out with Joran. So I think that‘s a matter of clearing that issue up.
COSBY: And, Steve, I want to continue. You may hear the car alarm in the background. And we‘re, of course, outside in the thick of it here in Miami. But, Steve, in terms of these students, they‘re probably all over the country, right? A lot of them went off to college. Are they coming back to Alabama? Are investigators going to them?
COHEN: My understanding is that some will be in Alabama. And then there will be a few that they will travel to meet with. I don‘t think we‘re talking about an extensive list. It‘s a fairly limited list that the Aruban authorities and the FBI, as well as with help of the district attorney in Shelby County in Alabama put together.
COSBY: And, Steve, of course, everyone—we‘ve been talking about the sand dunes. Any movement in what‘s happening in the sand dunes? Because there was so much focus that another—we were hearing somebody close to Joran, a friend, insinuated something to point them back towards that area. Have you heard if there‘s any progress, any movement there?
COHEN: Yes. You know, the original information there is part of the
re-look at the investigation, as well as new witnesses that have come
forward. So the investigators felt that they should begin to dig in the area by the sand dunes.
That went on for a few days. It has now ceased for a moment, as they begin to sift through what they‘ve got, figure out where they are. I also understand that they are awaiting something special dogs who also can go out and help them in the search.
COSBY: All right, both of you, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
And, everybody, there‘s still a lot more coming up here on MSNBC tonight. Let‘s check in, if we could, with Joe Scarborough and “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”
Joe, what do you have coming up in a few minutes?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Hey, thanks so much, Rita. As you know and everybody else knows, obviously, Middle America‘s hurting today. Ford Motor Company announces they‘re going to be slashing 30,000 jobs. That‘s one out of every four workers for Ford in Middle America. They lost $1.9 billion dollars last year.
And with these job cuts, a lot of people believe the American worker in Middle America is an endangered species when it comes to manufacturing jobs. Big question is: Is Main Street paying for the sins of Wall Street? And are these jobs all going to go overseas and never come back?
Unfortunately, Rita, I think we know the answer to those questions, and they aren‘t good for American blue-collar workers. That and a lot more, coming up in “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” in just a few minutes, Rita.
COSBY: We‘ll be watching, 30,000 workers. That‘s a lot of jobs.
Joe, thank you very much. We‘ll be sure to tune in.
SCARBOROUGH: Sure is.
COSBY: And still ahead, everybody, what is being done to protect miners? After a deadly series of accidents in just the past few weeks, we‘re going to talk to West Virginia‘s governor next, who took some major steps tonight. Find out what he did.
COSBY: And 14 West Virginia coal miners have tragically died on the job this month. Just a few hours ago, state lawmakers took a step to make sure that these deadly accidents don‘t happen again. The West Virginia legislature passed a series of reforms designed to help protect miners in the future.
Earlier, I spoke with Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia. I asked him if this was just the first step in changing the nation‘s coal industry.
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I‘m going to Washington tomorrow to meet with my entire delegation, my Senators Rockefeller and Byrd, Senator Byrd, and Congressman Mollohan, Rahall, and Congresswoman Capito. And then, later on that day, I‘m going to meet with the president and his staff.
So I really truly believe that all of us can work in a bipartisan effort to make the mines safer, to produce the energy this country needs, but most importantly put the human safety first, no matter what it all costs. They‘re priceless. I just—I can‘t tell you. And you were there, and you saw what we‘d gone through at the Sago mine. And I made a promise to 14 families that we would make changes in West Virginia, that no other families would have to endure what they did or go through the heartache and the gut-wrenching pain. We‘ve kept that promise.
COSBY: You know, as you look back, Governor, do you believe a lot of things that happened at Sago could have been prevented? That‘s what Senator Byrd and some others were saying today. You know, now you hear 14 deaths since beginning of this year in your state alone. You‘ve got to be outraged, too.
MANCHIN: We are outraged. And the only thing about it is that, you know, people say, “Well, last year was safe, or the safest we had.” One accident or one tragedy, losing the life, is one entirely too much for us to accept or for me to accept as governor of this great state.
We‘re going to have the safest mines in the nation in the state of West Virginia. We‘re leading. We‘re leading the charge. We are serious. We have rapid response. If you don‘t call us immediately and get the proper people on the road to help save a life, that‘s $100,000 fine.
Second, we‘re going to have electronic tracking. We know and you know we wouldn‘t have had 14 grueling hours of looking if we‘d have known right where to go to put all of our resources.
And third, additional oxygen. No miner should ever have to worry about suffocating in a mine. These are three basic things that they could do across this nation tomorrow if they want to.
COSBY: You know, you talked about the oxygen. We know right now, basically, they have one hour of oxygen in their tanks. Are you astounded, Governor, you know, that all along, that we thought that one hour would be sufficient? And we know that certainly that can‘t be enough to save these men, especially when they‘re so far into the mine, like they were in Sago?
MANCHIN: This has gone on for far too long. I‘m not blaming anybody. We‘re all at fault for not being more vigilant, everybody, in the mining industry, the workers, the owners, everybody for not bringing it.
So I can‘t bring back these 14 brave men. But I can make sure that we don‘t go through sitting at churches, wondering, “Have you found them? Where do you think they are? Are they OK? Do they have enough oxygen?”
I can tell you now, in West Virginia, we‘re not going to have to endure that. We still have an inherent danger as far as in mining. We know that. West Virginians are tough. And I don‘t need to tell you about how tough they are. And we can pull together, and grow together, and pull from the strength of each other. But basically, we have said we are going to make our mines, committed to making our mines the safest in the nation. We started today.
COSBY: And, Governor, real briefly, how are your communities holding up? When I was there with you at the Sago mine, I mean, that community was devastated.
MANCHIN: Let me tell you, as you told you before, what we had done after this horrible tragedy, we put a senior staff person with every miner‘s family and we‘re staying with them. I told them. When the story moves on, Rita, I‘m not leaving. These are my people. These are the people I‘ve grown up with and who I love. And we‘re going to stay there and make sure that we put their lives back together the best we can without their loved one.
Now, with that being said, these are strong people. They‘re starting to pull their lives back together. We had Sago family members driving all the way down three hours or more to Logan County to encourage, to give strength, to our friends down at Logan County in the Aracoma mine. It‘s just unbelievable how our state comes together.
COSBY: Governor, thank you so much for being with us.
MANCHIN: We‘re a very grateful state, and we just love all of you for helping us the way you have.
COSBY: And some good news to report tonight about the sole survivor of that mining accident three weeks ago at the Sago mine. Hospital officials say that Randal McCloy has been upgraded to fair condition today. They say he is showing some physical and neurological improvement. He is now able to react to visitors and doctors, though he is still unable to speak.
And right ahead on LIVE & DIRECT, police need your help finding the suspects behind a daring robbery attempt caught on tape. That‘s next, LIVE & DIRECT.
COSBY: And the hunt is on for two suspects accused of a brazen robbery attempt, all caught on tape. Fort Worth police say two suspects tried to steal an ATM machine after smashing through this store window, but they had to flee the scene empty-handed.
That does it for me live here in Miami. Let‘s now go to Joe in
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