Video: Child Calls Murdered Dad

updated 1/27/2006 11:45:22 AM ET 2006-01-27T16:45:22

Four-year-old Vanessa Keel left cell phone messages for her father, Sean, trying to sort out the horrible reality that he was murdered apparently for parts from his car in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood early Saturday.

Police say as many as three to four suspects believe to be young, African American males approached Keel as he got out of the BMW he bought for his wife Rosa as a Mother's Day gift.  They shot him possibly with a machine gun.  Keel called the police on his cell phone, was brought to San Francisco General Hospital where he died.

Rosa Keel, Vanessa's mother and Sean Keel's widow and Sergeant Neville Gittens of the San Francisco Police Department joined Dan Abrams on ‘The Abrams Report’ to discuss the tragedy.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, ‘ABRAMS REPORT’:  Rosa, how is Vanessa doing? 

ROSA KEEL, HUSBAND KILLED IN CARJACKING:  She's not doing so good as the last three days.  She is getting more confused as the days go by and Sean is not coming home. She is hanging in there. 

ABRAMS:  When she left those messages, you were just basically, what, allowing her to call to talk about it and let her feel like she was talking to daddy? 

R. KEEL:  Yes, just let her have her moments of feelings, whatever she was feeling.  She'd asked if she could call him.  I just told her to go right ahead. 

ABRAMS:  And how did you hear about what had happened? 

R. KEEL:  Well I got a call about 2:00, a little after 2:00 in the morning by a nurse by the name of Rick that works for San Francisco General Hospital.  And he basically informed me that I needed to get down to San Francisco General Hospital immediately.  That Sean had had an accident, but that's all he could say at that point. 

ABRAMS:  All right, let's get down to the business here of catching these guys.  Sergeant, what do we know? 

SGT. NEVILLE GITTENS, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPT.:  Well what we developed some information last night.  It initially was thought that there were two suspects.  Now we are looking for between three and four suspects.  We are also trying to locate the wheels that were taken off Sean's vehicle.  Additionally, there was a Mac 11 style machine gun that was taken into custody over the weekend.  We are comparing the cartridges that were taken from Mr. Keel's body to see if this gun could have been used in that particular attack. 

ABRAMS:  What makes you believe that the motive was as just incomprehensible as car parts? 

GITTENS:  Well apparently, these wheels were very expensive.  They were very unique.  And when we recovered the car six hours after the incident, the wheels were missing along with the rims.  These are very expensive wheels, so at this point in time that's what we believe is the motive.  Of course, in any investigation as time goes on you develop new information and the inspectors are constantly developing new information in regards to this case.

ABRAMS:  Do you want to tell us—and I ask do you want to because I don't want to compromise the investigation in any way.  Do you want to tell us why you're convinced that there were three to four black males?


GITTENS:  This is based on some information that we received last night.  The story has received a lot of attention in the media and due to that, people have been calling the 415-575-4444-tipline and this was more information that was received last night to the inspectors working the case.  So, originally it was two and now we think it's three to four males. 

ABRAMS:  And we continue, just so you know, to put up that number as we go through this segment because I know that's why both of you are here.  Rosa, this is the car that he gave to you?

R. KEEL:  Yes, he did. 

ABRAMS:  It was for Mother's Day? 

R. KEEL:  It was last year. 

ABRAMS:  Let me get back to Vanessa for a minute.  It's been how many days now?

R. KEEL:  Saturday, it will be a week. 

ABRAMS:  And she's slowly sort of accepting the reality that daddy is not coming back?

R. KEEL:  I don't think she is accepting it.  I think because she is so young, she's very confused at the moment.  Because she's still talking present tense and she's still under the assumption that we can go pick up her daddy.  I don't know if she is not comprehending what I am telling her that he's gone, that he's no longer with us on the earth.

She will say yes.  She confirms it.  However, an hour, two hours later she gets upset and she'll say I want to call him or can we just go to the hospital and go pick him up. 

ABRAMS:  I'm going to ask you about Sean here, but I want to just explain to people and also to you why I think it's important—that these questions are very important.  I think it's important to get people motivated, to get them out there, to get them calling to understand your family a little bit.  And I think that that's, as I think sergeant points out, they're already getting phone calls, which is great news.  So tell me a little bit about Sean. 

R. KEEL:  Well Sean was a very giving individual.  He was a very good husband and a very loving father.  He looked forward to coming home after work.  He actually would go pick up the girls from day care and their day was basically, you know, he'd bring them home, feed them, clean them up, play with them.

Basically he was having having the time of his life at this point right now.  He was comfortable in his shoes and he loved the girls very much.  And we talked about this year, you know what were our plans for this year and we just had a lot of plans.  Excuse me. 

ABRAMS:  No, no please.  Let me go to the sergeant, take a minute.  I, you know, I can completely understand why you feel the way you do.  And I think that's part of the reason I wanted to explain to you why I was asking these questions.  That it wasn't just being done for no reason.  All right, Sergeant, are you getting a lot of tips on this or just a handful? 

GITTENS:  We've received some tips.  What we're trying to do now put together photographs of the rims, the wheels that were taken off his car.  And hopefully somebody will recognize those rims.  From my understanding they're very unusual.  Either somebody tried to sell them or somebody still has them and that I think is going to help us in this investigation trying to figure out exactly who committed this terrific crime. 

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.


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