updated 3/7/2006 11:27:36 AM ET 2006-03-07T16:27:36

Guests: Jeremy Travis, Carol D‘Auria, Amy Short, Joani McCullough, Wendy Murphy, Veronika Belenkaya, Jonathan Dienst, Bill Majeski, James Fox, Larry Kobilinsky, Addie Harris

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  I am LIVE AND DIRECT from The Falls.  It‘s a busy bar in downtown Manhattan, full of New York‘s young professionals.  But tonight, it is at the center of a gruesome murder investigation.  It was the last place anyone saw 24-year-old Imette St.  Guillen alive.  After she was last seen leaving this bar just over a week ago, she was savagely tortured, sexually assaulted and brutally murdered.

Tonight, police say they are zeroing in on a possible subject.  Right now, they are grilling an ex-con bouncer who worked at this very bar.  Today, LIVE AND DIRECT has learned that police headed over to Queens, New York, a few miles away from here, with a warrant to search the bouncer‘s home.

Joining me now live is WNBC reporter Jonathan Dienst, who‘s been following this case from the very beginning.  What do we know, Jonathan, about this search warrant?

JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC-TV:  We know that police got it late this afternoon around 5:00 o‘clock, and they entered the building.  They‘re searching the entire premises, both the basement, the ground floor.  This is where this bouncer lives.  As you said, he is an ex-con.  He‘s a man with past convictions of robbery, of drugs, and of an armed robbery case out on Long Island.  He is out on parole, and that is what police are holding him on right now, a parole violation, as they continue to investigate.

Police caution no one has been charged yet.  They are not naming him as the key suspect or a key suspect.  They are calling him a possible suspect.  This because they are searching for forensic evidence, some sort of key clue that could either link him or clear him in connection with this murder.  But they certainly want to know a lot more about his whereabouts the morning of the killing.

COSBY:  And walk us through a little bit, you know, in terms of some of the evidence, Jonathan.  We know that, what, there was duct tape found in the basement of the bar not too far behind me, some cat hair that may match the quilt.  We know also that they traced his cell phone at 6:00 in the morning.  What do we know about this quilt?  Do we have any idea exactly where it came from?

DIENST:  Well, we don‘t know where—whether the police can place this mystery quilt from the building where the bar is located.  But what we do know is they‘re trying to match forensics from that quilt, whether it be hair, blood.  Remember, this was a vicious rape, a vicious attack on this poor woman, and police are going over that blanket and other evidence to see if there‘s linkage to any possible suspect there.

And these forensics, these tests, do take time.  There‘s DNA testing involved.  There‘s, like you said, testing of hair, of fibers, of other materials, and that is really what police are waiting for.  There are several veteran detectives who are optimistic that there will be a key break in this case, that they will be able to answer some of the questions we all have.  But it is waiting on the forensics, waiting for these key clues to come in, the science to do its work, before they can provide any answers one way or the other.

COSBY:  And Jonathan, do we know if he has scratches on his body?  Because we did hear that Imette had some DNA, that she was scratching, it sounds like fighting for her life desperately.  Do we know if he submitted to any DNA tests, if he‘s submitted even to a body search?

DIENST:  What we do know is that he was questioned and in custody for many hours today, and we do know—this afternoon, we learned that he has asked for an attorney.  Funny that you bring up the question of a scratch.  There are now rumors, if you will, in the media circles about whether he had some scratches on his neck.  That is not at all verified.  We are trying to solidify that tip that we‘ve received.  But there‘s nothing to indicate DNA-wise or material-wise that, you know, he has any injury that might link him to this case.

But you‘re absolutely right, Rita.  There was evidence that

investigators are trying to deal with from under her fingernails, from this

vicious crime scene to see if it is at all connected.  You have to remember

how did police first get onto this bouncer?  An apparently, someone, an employee or a manager at the bar, apparently tipped police off, saying, Hey, she was leaving the bar.  He was there at the door.  And we didn‘t see

hear or see from him or her again as they left out onto the street.

So again, detectives are running all of these leads down.  They did a thorough search of The Falls bar, of the offices above.  There are questions whether this bouncer or someone else might have had access to a side entrance, so that they could have—somebody perhaps could have grabbed her and quickly shuffled her off the street and up those stairs and into that bar.  That is one avenue.  That is why police were there all day yesterday, looking for forensic evidence.

Now they‘re at the house of this gentleman, looking for evidence.  Remember, this woman‘s hair was cut.  Did the killer take her hair as a trophy?  That is one thing detectives are trying to look for and answer.  You know, remember there was masking tape over her face.  Why that was done?  We are hearing that the tape that was found in the bar, in that location, may not be the same type of tape that was on the victim‘s face.  So there‘s a lot of forensics, a lot of testing that still needs to be done, a lot of leg work the police need to do.  And they are working.

One last point.  You brought up the phone call.  We were able to confirm today that, yes, it appears that the bouncer‘s cell phone was used in the Brooklyn area where the body was found the morning that this murder happened.  Now, whether that is just a coincidence or whether that leads police to have more suspicion, that is among the various leads police are following at this hour.  But certainly, they want to know a lot more about this bouncer tonight.

COSBY:  Jonathan, thank you very much.  Please keep us posted.  If you hear anything else, we‘ll come back to you later in the show.

And we also have with us “Daily News” reporter Veronika Belenkaya.  She actually spoke to this possible suspect, this bouncer.  You know what I can‘t get over—we‘re here—that that side door is a only few feet away from actually where—but you actually talked to the guy...

VERONIKA BELENKAYA, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”:  Right.

COSBY:  ... what night, Friday night?

BELENKAYA:  Friday night, yes.

COSBY:  And what did he say to you?

BELENKAYA:  I just bumped into him.  He was (INAUDIBLE) in the doorway, and I was trying to see if anybody (INAUDIBLE) possibly seen her.  So I spoke to him, and I—he was nice and friendly, so I started chatting with him.  And I said, you know, Do you remember this girl Friday night last week?  And he said yes, you know—you know, he didn‘t really realize it was her right away, but then later on (INAUDIBLE) it sort of, you know, kind of clicked in together for him, seeing all the news reports, is what he said.  And then, you know, he just kind of described a few things about what he remembers from her—about her from the bar, and that‘s it.

COSBY:  Yes, what did he remember about her from the bar?

BELENKAYA:  He remembered her sitting down in the middle of the bar, having a few drinks.  He said that, you know, she didn‘t really stand out much from everybody else.  And then, you know, he said, you know, We walked out of the—she walked out of the bar, stood in the front, and then we went back inside.

COSBY:  What about what she was doing?  I heard earlier that you were saying something that she was drinking—he remembered what she was drinking.

BELENKAYA:  Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... but not what she looked like.

BELENKAYA:  Yes, he seems to remember that, you know, she was having, like, a (INAUDIBLE) drink, but he couldn‘t remember what she was wearing, which seems to me a bit odd, but...

COSBY:  So then—OK, time goes by.

BELENKAYA:  Right.

COSBY:  And you hear from him again.

BELENKAYA:  And then—again—I gave him my card, said, you know, Please give me a call, if you hear anything, anything more comes up.  And he gave me a call on Sunday, like, 10:50-ish.  And you know, just called and said, you know, Do you remember who I am?  Sounded a bit apologetic.  And said, you know, Can you talk to me?  I‘m hearing—you know, like, the cops are harassing me.  They‘re following me on the train home from work, et cetera, et cetera.  So...

COSBY:  And what was your reaction at that time?  Did you think, OK, this guy‘s a suspect, he‘s trying to cover his trail, or did you think he wanted publicity, trying to call a journalist, or what do you think his intentions were?

BELENKAYA:  I mean, to me, it seemed like, you know, he‘s this freaked-out guy who‘s, you know, getting followed by cops, and, Hey, what am I doing?  What‘s going on?  How do I avoid this?  So it seemed like—you know, to me, it seemed like he was trying to reach out for somebody.  Again, you know, I had no idea he was a suspect.  He told me he‘d been questioned before, but so has everybody else at the bar.

COSBY:  And real quickly, what was his—what were your impressions of him personally?

BELENKAYA:  You know, to me, he seemed like a nice guy.  He seemed like, you know, nice enough for me to give him my card (INAUDIBLE) my cell phone and say, Hey, give me a call if you hear anything else.  But he didn‘t scare me.  He seemed, like, pleasant.  So I mean, you know, I don‘t know if he‘s, in fact, the guy who did this.  You know, I can‘t speculate to that.  You know, time will tell.  But you know, he seemed trustworthy enough to me.  And you know, I‘m not that far off in age from her and everything else.  So it just seemed she could have very well trusted him, as well, I guess.  I don‘t know.

COSBY:  Interesting.  Veronika Belenkaya, thank you very much, with “The Daily News.”  We appreciate you being here tonight.

BELENKAYA:  Sure.

COSBY:  And please keep us posted—If you hear from him again, of course.

And what does this phone call mean to a reporter like Veronika and others?  Joining me now is former New York police detective and also private investigator we have with us here, Bill Majeski, and also criminal justice professor at Northeastern University James Fox.  We also have—he‘s also the author of “Extreme Killings: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder.”  And we also have with us Dr. Larry Kobilinsky.  He‘s a professor of forensic science at John Jay College.  That‘s the school that Imette was attending.

Bill, what do you make of this call that we just heard from Veronika that she got from now the possible suspect?

BILL MAJESKI, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE AND PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Well, you know, sometimes the best defense is a strong offense.  But then the other side to that coin is he doesn‘t seem to have been too concerned about talking to her about the whole situation.  One thing that he didn‘t say to her, whether or not she was drunk when she left, what her condition was.  You know, that would be, you know, crucial in terms of...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  He did bring up, though, that she was drinking.  Apparently...

MAJESKI:  She was definitely drinking...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... she drank two dark drinks quickly, was sort of...

MAJESKI:  Yes.

COSBY:  ... the way he described it to her.

MAJESKI:  But did she tipsy (ph) outside the door?  Did she need a cab?  Did he got out?  Did he say anything about assisting her to a cab or assisting her to the subway?  You know, allegedly, he left the bar with her and he never returned.  You know, the thing is that there‘s a sufficient amount of forensic evidence out there that‘s going to be materializing within the next 24 hours to identify this guy as the guy that did it or say that he wasn‘t the guy that did it.

COSBY:  And we‘ll talk about forensics a little bit later.  Let me bring in James Fox, if I could.  James, let me read one of the quotes.  This is from the conversation that Veronika had with the bouncer.  The bouncer says, quote, “Do you still want to talk to me?”  This is when he called her.  “Am I going to see this in the paper tomorrow?”

Is this a cry for publicity or is this—how do you read this?  Could a—could a killer say, Look, I want the attention.  I wanted the attention of the body found with that 911 call, and now I want some more attention.

JAMES FOX, PROFESSOR OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE:  Well, let‘s look at one of the possible obvious reasons why he may be calling her.  Perhaps he was just hitting on her.  Veronika, being an attractive journalist, gives him her car.  Maybe that‘s why he called her.  So let‘s not rule that out.

But of course, he‘s nervous.  You know, he—the police have been focusing on him, and he‘s trying to reach out to find out perhaps what they might know through her.

COSBY:  You know, Larry Kobilinsky, let me read a quote, if I could.  This is another from their conversation.  It‘s kind of mocking the cops, as you heard from Veronika.  “Anyone who‘s seen two TV shows could figure it out.  They were cops.  A child could figure it out.”  He‘s referring to sort of cars following him.  What do you make of the statement, sort of, I‘m smarter than they are?  And is there anything to read into this, from your experience?

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST:  Well, I must say there is something called the “CSI” effect.  And many people talk about the effect on jurors, holding the prosecution to a higher standard.  But there‘s another “CSI” effect, where criminals learn from watching TV about how to evade detection.

Now, in this case, we have no fingerprints.  I‘ve heard that there is no semen.  There may be a condom involved.  So it could very well be that this is a smart criminal, but again, you know, criminals make mistakes, and forensic science, the evidence will reveal a lot.  We have the tissue under her fingernails. We know she fought.  She scratched the perpetrator.  That‘s got DNA.  There may be body fluids of the perpetrator on or in her body.

And we have the cat hair on the comforter.  There are now tests for animal hair, where we can not only tell what kind of animal the hair came from, but we can now actually do the same testing that we do on humans so that we can actually say that hair came from that cat.  Put it all together, and the science is there.

FOX:  And if you—if we‘re talking about someone who‘s intelligent and cunning and maybe even challenging the cops, that would tend to lead attention away from this bouncer.  I mean, here‘s a guy who has a long arrest record.  He hasn‘t been very successful in the past in evading the police.  And it doesn‘t seem like he would be that kind of person, either.

KOBILINSKY:  Well, you could be right, but people do learn from mistakes and learn from people in prisons.  And they do watch television and watch the moves, and they learn.   Unfortunately, it‘s a school for criminals.

FOX:  Yes, except this is looking at the crime scene, or at least the dump site and the body, it seems like it‘s probably someone who‘s done this before.  This was not the act of someone who‘s a first-time novice killer.  Now, of course, we can‘t rule out the bouncer.  And you know, bouncers tend to be aggressive people anyway.  I don‘t want to paint all bouncers with a broad brush here.  But still, it‘s a man who has a record not of rape and murder, but a record of robbery and drugs and property crimes.

KOBILINSKY:  One last thing.  There may be another...

COSBY:  And you guys...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Guys...

KOBILINSKY:  There may be another person...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  In fact, we‘re going to talk about that after the break, guys.  Stick with us, if you could, because we want to get into could there be other folks out there.

And in fact, everybody, we did some digging—we were just talking

about the rap sheet that we heard from James Fox—found out more

information about the man that police are describing as a potential suspect

remember, just a potential suspect at this point in Imette‘s murder.  It turns out he has a criminal record.  It dates back 25 years.  According to information listed on the New York state Corrections Department Web site, the bouncer‘s record includes armed robbery and also various drug-related arrests that kept him in and out of prison.

And we‘ve also learned that he is currently in violation of parole.  We‘ve also been told that over the years, he may have used as many as four different aliases, which makes things a little tough to track him down.

We‘re going to talk more about the rap sheet after the break.  Plus, I also talked to the aunt of the possible suspect.  We‘re going to have that.  What did she say?  That comes up after the break.

And LIVE AND DIRECT is also going to take you up close to the scene of the crime.  We‘re going to take you on a tour of the neighborhood, so you‘ll see exactly what the cops see as they try to solve this gruesome murder.  And later, find out how one of Imette‘s good friends is using the Internet, hoping the World-Wide Web will help solve this case.  Some interesting messages she has received.  She‘s going to share those with us.  She joins us next in LIVE AND DIRECT.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And I‘m here live at The Falls bar.  It is the last place that Imette St.  Guillen was seen alive.  It has now been over a week since Imette‘s brutal murder.  Some of our LIVE AND DIRECT producers got close up and also retraced Imette‘s last hours.  They started out their night at the Pioneer bar, just like Imette did.  And then they took a 10-minute walk to The Falls.  As you‘re about to see, the streets of New York at 3:00 in the morning aren‘t someplace that a woman should be walking alone.

At around 3:00 AM, my producers left the Pioneer bar.  You can see that there‘s basically no one out in the streets except for a few cabs and also cars that are driving by.  Now, my producers describe the street as being very sketchy at that time.  Only one or two cop cars were sort of seen driving by, scoping out the neighborhood.

But then they turn of the main street and walk down basically an empty and desolate street.  Those are a lot of the side streets off that (INAUDIBLE)  As you can see, there‘s really no one around, and barely any cars in sight.  What is usually a bustling area during the day really becomes a ghost town at night.  This is not a route to take if you‘re alone, especially a woman.  One wrong turn, and you find yourself down a dark street.  My producers mentioned that they ran into only two people during their 10-minute walk.

And finally, after spending about half an hour at The Falls, my producers say that they encountered other journalists, of course, looking for clues into her disappearance.

This is what the street looks like at closing time.  It is 4:00 AM.  It‘s not empty.  There are actually quite a few cabs driving by.  But once again, it‘s late enough and not enough people are around to really notice a young girl, unfortunately, disappear.

Let me bring back in, if I could, my panel of experts—Bill Majeski, also James Fox and also Dr. Larry Kobilinsky.  Bill, as we‘re sitting here...

MAJESKI:  Yes.

COSBY:  -you know, you see the side door.

MAJESKI:  Yes.

COSBY:  We can‘t really see it, unfortunately, too much from the camera.  but there is that side door.

MAJESKI:  Yes.

COSBY:  And because of that, right next to this...

MAJESKI:  Exactly.

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) had access.

MAJESKI:  No question about it.

COSBY:  It could be anybody.

MAJESKI:  Absolutely.  She came...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  It could be this was a homeless guy walking by, right?

MAJESKI:  She came out that side door.  He was the bouncer at the door.  He even took her outside.  What happens after that?  No one really knows because he never went back into the bar.  So it‘s a question of, Where was he?  And as I said before, it‘s the forensic evidence that‘s going to be coming into play here to make the determination as to whether or not this is the guy or not.

COSBY:  Bill, you also have a theory...

(CROSSTALK)

MAJESKI:  I do have a theory.

COSBY:  The tape...

MAJESKI:  It‘s a very unusual...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... coming down vertically on her face.

MAJESKI:  Very, very unusual for a victim to have tape put down vertically, as though someone had held her head, and a second person perhaps put strips of tape on the face.

COSBY:  Meaning that...

MAJESKI:  Otherwise, this would...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... someone‘s hands were on the side.

MAJESKI:  Absolutely...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... wouldn‘t be able to wrap it around.

MAJESKI:  Exactly.  Normally, if it was one person, they would wrap it around.  Now, I‘m not saying there‘s a second person, but that‘s certainly an issue that has to be explored in terms of what‘s going on here.  Is this the guy?  Did he do it alone?  If it‘s not him, is there someone else involved?

The other issue is, coming out of that side door, it‘s 4:00 o‘clock in

the morning, clearly, the condition, her physical condition is a big issue

here.  Did he just—if it was him, did he just pick her up and put her

into a car, or did he pick her up and push her into the doorway, take her

down into the basement?  If he took her down into the basement, then that

begs another issue.  How does he get her out of the basement to take her to

into a vehicle to then take her to Brooklyn?

COSBY:  Without anybody else...

MAJESKI:  So that‘s a major...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... and so forth.

MAJESKI:  So you know, it‘s a greater likelihood that when he took her out, or if, indeed, he‘s the one that did it, whoever took her, took her into a car almost immediately and drove out of the area, and the crime was committed either in a vehicle or someplace else.

COSBY:  Dr. Kobilinsky, too, one of the things we can‘t forget—and Bill and I were just talking about this before the show -- 911 call.  They got that voice on tape.  You would imagine, if they‘ve got that bouncer, they‘re trying to do some checks, right?

KOBILINSKY:  Well, I think that‘s a very good point.  You know, we have some skills in audio and video evidence.  The crime lab does have a unit that can address that issue.

And I just agree with Bill.  This is very suspicious.  There may be more than one individual involved.  And I don‘t know how much you can read into that voice print.  There are some indications that it would take two people to commit this kind of crime.  And there have been other crimes of a similar nature that have been committed by two males, relatives or friends working hand in hand.

FOX:  You know...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  You know, Dr. Fox...

FOX:  Yes.

COSBY:  ... I got to bring you in because you also covered the Hillside strangler.  You‘ve looked at that case in 1977.  What, it was two cousins, if I remember correctly, right?

FOX:  Right.  And that...

COSBY:  Is it possible there could there be more than one person?

FOX:  Absolutely.  From the very beginning, I‘ve been indicating that it‘s a good possibility here that there‘s more than one.  It‘s—

(INAUDIBLE) what kind of individual would do this?  Well, it‘s a lot easier for two individuals to do it.  On a practical level, to carry a body alone, if she‘s wrapped up in a comforter, it‘s a lot easier if there‘s two people taking—one taking each end.

In terms of the kind of crime, the brutal, sadistic, multiple rapes that we saw, it‘s also suggests more than one person.  The fact that she was tied up—it‘s a lot easier for two people to control the victim than one.  So there‘s a lot of reason why this may, indeed, be two perpetrators and not just one.

COSBY:  All right, both—all of you, I got to thank everybody. 

Thank you very much for your insight, some of the best in the business.

Well, today, I visited the home of this potential suspect, this bouncer, just a few hours before New York City police arrived with their search warrant.  The 41-year-old man is said to be living alone at a Queens house.  This is the house that you‘re seeing here.  Earlier, I spoke to the man‘s aunt, Addie Harris.  I asked her how she felt about her nephew‘s possible connection to this horrible crime.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADDIE HARRIS, POSSIBLE SUSPECT‘S AUNT:  I think it‘s a bit unfair because they should have interviewed other people and not just singled him out.  I think, being that it was a business establishment, they should have either interviewed other patrons from the business that—fellow workers, owners, whomever.  I think all of them should have been interviewed and not single him out as a result of him having a previous record.

COSBY:  In his record, he has robbery and drug charges.  Is there any assault, anything about women?

HARRIS:  To my knowledge, there‘s no indication of any kind of brutality or anything to that effect, violence or anything like that.  I don‘t have any knowledge of that.

COSBY:  Would your nephew do such a heinous crime?  Have you ever seen any violence or anything at all in his nature?

HARRIS:  To my knowledge, that‘s not a part of his character.  I‘ve never seen him demonstrate any type of violence at all.  At all.

COSBY:  Does he keep to himself?

HARRIS:  Basically, he does.  Basically, he does.  He does.

COSBY:  Does he have a lot of friends?

HARRIS:  Not to my knowledge.  Not to my knowledge.

COSBY:  What does he—like, what type of interests does he have?

HARRIS:  He—basically like an ordinary person.  He listens to that music, and he does what he needs to do.  He does his laundry.  He‘s a very meticulous person.

COSBY:  There was this call at 6:00 AM in Brooklyn.  Does he have any reason to be in Brooklyn at 6:00 AM?

HARRIS:  Well, I feel this way.  You can go wherever you want.  It‘s not any particular time that you can‘t be a certain place.  I don‘t think pinpointing him in Brooklyn, because the crime was in Brooklyn—that‘s a bit far-fetched.  There‘s a lot of people in Brooklyn.

COSBY:  When was the last time you saw him?

HARRIS:  I saw him on Friday.

COSBY:  Did you see anything unusual about him, any scratches on him?

HARRIS:  I didn‘t notice anything, no, because it was in passing, you know, so I didn‘t really get very close to him.  So I don‘t know.

COSBY:  Is there anything that you noticed unusual about his behavior or anything (INAUDIBLE) anything different?

HARRIS:  No.  It was his normal behavior, you know.

COSBY:  Which was what?

HARRIS:  He just passed by me, you know?  Other than that, we didn‘t really converse with each other, but—that was it.

COSBY:  And how would you react if they do—indeed, do charge him at some point, how will you feel?

HARRIS:  I think the family has my deepest sympathy, if it happens.  If he‘s charged, then what should happen is what should happen with anyone, not just him.  They should be taken to court, tried, given a fair trial.

COSBY:  Would you be shocked if it turns out to be him?

HARRIS:  Nothing shocks me.  Nothing shocks me.  I take it as it comes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And still ahead, the president of John Jay school—that‘s the college that Imette was attending—is going to join us live.  And find out how one of Imette‘s friends is using the Internet, hoping to help solve this gruesome murder.  That‘s all coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY:  The best detectives in the world are working full time on it.  And when they have something to announce, they will announce it.  But we certainly all want to have a resolution as quickly as possible. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And that was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just a few hours ago commenting on the gruesome murder of 24-year-old graduate student, Imette St. Guillen.  Tonight, there are some big developments in the investigation. 

If you‘re just tuning in, just a few hours ago, the focus turned to Queens, New York, just a few miles away from here.  Police executed a search warrant at the home of the man that they say is a potential suspect. 

And joining us now live with the very latest on this case, which is breaking, it seems, every day, is 1010 WINS reporter Carol D‘Auria.

Carol, good to see you, actually, in person. 

CAROL D‘AURIA, 1010 WINS RADIO REPORTER:   Thank you.

COSBY:  You know, walk us through what authorities are looking for in this bouncer‘s house? 

D‘AURIA:  Well, remember, they still don‘t even have a crime scene yet.  They‘re going to be looking for a number of things.  They need evidence, something to tie this crime to this man who they‘ve been talking to.  So they‘re in his house.  One of the things they‘re looking for, the cell phone, I don‘t believe they‘ve found it. 

COSBY:  Her cell phone, you‘re referring to?

D‘AURIA:  Her cell phone. 

COSBY:  Also, her other—you know, you bring up a good point, because we haven‘t heard anything about her belongings. 

D‘AURIA:  I was told that she was partially nude, when she was wrapped in that floral blanket.  And so they‘re going to be looking for that.  They need hard evidence to tie to this man. 

They have been questioning him for almost 24 hours, and when I spoke with the police last, they said they really were not ready to arrest him yet.  It‘s possible they won‘t arrest him, but the police said they are very, very interested.  What they have right now is some circumstantial evidence. 

COSBY:  What do you make of it?  You have been a reporter in this town for a while.  You know, they‘ve been holding him, though, for a bit, questioning him.  And we understand now the latest word is we‘re hearing that he wants to get an attorney.  But are you surprised that they‘ve been holding him this long, given the fact that they got the 911 tape, given the fact that they can hold him on the parole violation? 

D‘AURIA:  Right.  He‘s got a parole violation at this point.  Because as a convicted felon, he wasn‘t supposed to be working in a bar.  Also, as a bouncer, you‘re supposed to have a security guard license, and you can‘t get a security guard license as a convicted felon. 

So he now has parole violations, just for the very fact that he was at the bar.  It has nothing to do with this murder scene. 

COSBY:  It gives them a reason to hold him?

D‘AURIA:  It gives them a reason to hold him, because they‘re not ready to arrest him yet on this.  And, indeed, we‘ll see if, in fact, they do arrest him.  Sources say there is the cell phone, his cell phone that puts him in the area, the cell phone that he used the morning when she disappears. 

And so there are a number of things.  Remember, there was a cat in the basement of the bar.  There were cat hairs on the blanket.  And so there a number of things that they‘re looking at.  He lives right nearby. 

COSBY:  That‘s a lot questions tonight. 

D‘AURIA:  A lot of questions.  But, you know, one key question, he‘s got an extensive criminal record, but none of that involved sex.  He was convicted in ‘81 on a robbery.  He was convicted in 1985 on a drug charge, 1989 on a drug charge, 1993 again on a drug charge, and then in 2000 on a robbery.  There are no sex crimes. 

COSBY:  Very interesting.  And, in fact, that‘s what his aunt was pointing out, nothing violent, so far, that we know of in his background.  Carol, thank you very much.  Good to see you here. 

And the tragic death of Imette St. Guillen has left the students and staff at John Jay College shaken and questioning why this senseless tragedy happened.  That‘s the school that she went to.  She was studying criminal justice there.  LIVE & DIRECT tonight is Jeremy Travis.  He is the president of John Jay College. 

Mr. Travis, how is the school reacting, students and teachers? 

JEREMY TRAVIS, PRESIDENT, JOHN JAY COLLEGE:  Well, the school is in a state of shock and sadness.  And we are responding in a very profound and personal way.  This is one of our own who has been murdered and murdered quite brutally. 

COSBY:  And now, separately, have they been on the campus?  Have investigators been in there, questioning individuals, just in case there is some possible lead there?  Have you seen any on the campus? 

TRAVIS:  Well, we‘ve told the police if there was any need for them to be involved on the campus, that we‘d make ourselves available to them.  But their leads have obviously taken them elsewhere. 

Our focus has been on the students who are dealing with trauma, and shock, and just the sense of disorientation that comes from knowing that one of their own has been murdered in such a brutal way.  So we‘ve opened up counseling services for students. 

The Alpha Phi Sigma honor society has brought together a scholarship in her name.  The school has worked with an anonymous donor and the family of Ryan Kocher, who is Imette‘s former boyfriend, to offer a reward.  It now totals, I‘m told, $47,000.  So we‘re trying to find ways in which we can honor her memory, come together as a community, and, in the case of the reward, hopefully help to find elusive information that will help solve the case. 

COSBY:  You know, you talk about counseling and so forth.  I‘m sure this has just got to cut right to the bone of her family and friends, who obviously loved this beautiful, bright woman.  How many folks are taking advantage of the services that you‘re offering? 

TRAVIS:  Oh, there are scores of them.  I don‘t know her myself, but everyone who knew her described her as somebody who was just effervescent and would light up the room every time she walked in.  And even if people didn‘t know her, you know, her sort of record, the way in which she was known at the school makes us feel a great sense of loss. 

So the senseless murder, this brutal murder, has just left people shaken.  So it‘s one thing that we can do is to help our community come through a difficult time.  And we‘ll also be having a memorial service at the college later that we‘re in touch with her family about holding that for some of her New York friends and fellow students, too.

You can never get full closure on something like this, but you want to provide opportunities for the community to come together. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Well, thank you so much.  And our prayers, of course, are with everybody there on the campus.  Thank you, Mr. Travis.

TRAVIS:  Well, thank you.

COSBY:  And family and friends, of course, paid their final respects to Imette over the weekend near Boston.  Hundreds of people turned out for her funeral, where they remembered the graduate student for her infectious smile and also her love of people.  Imette‘s mother, sister, and also friends took turns honoring her during the emotional service.  Sister Alejandra St. Guillen says Imette will always have a special place in her heart. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEJANDRA ST. GUILLEN, SISTER OF IMETTE ST. GUILLEN:  I can‘t say goodbye to you.  I just can‘t find the words.  I‘ll be saying goodbye to you every day for the rest of my life. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And LIVE & DIRECT right now is Amy Short.  She‘s a friend of Imette‘s.  She also attended her funeral over the weekend and also launched a new Web site designed to help catch Imette‘s killer. 

It‘s great to have you.  We really appreciate you.  And I‘m sure what is just such a difficult time. 

AMY SHORT, IMETTE ST. GUILLEN‘S FRIEND:  Words can‘t express. 

COSBY:  Yes, you‘ve got a beautiful poster here, too.  In fact, if we can zoom in a little bit on this.  These posters are all around town.  We just saw that on the pole over there.  How does it make you feel, to know, like, everyone is looking for whoever did this horrible crime? 

SHORT:  Well, you know, that‘s all that we can hope for right now, is that everyone in the city and everyone across the nation gets behind finding the monster that did this to our friend. 

COSBY:  How did you find out, the news, you personally?  And how just

it must have just—stunning? 

SHORT:  Someone forwarded me a link to a newspaper article early in the morning on Monday.  And I have been leveled, you know, since reading that, and so has everyone who knew Imette.  She was such a wonderful person. 

And, you know, grief turns into action, you know, for some of us.  And so I just thought, well, what can I do?  And what can we as a community of her friends who cared about her do to try to help, and to try to help each other grieve, and to try to help find the person who did this to Imette and to give everyone a resource where they can go to take a look?

That‘s why we created the Web site, which is www.JusticeforImette.com.  Our intention is for that to serve as a clearinghouse of information for things on the investigation, benefits, memorials, sort of current events, and a tribute in loving memory to our good friend who we lost so tragically and so untimely.  

COSBY:  What kind of messages—I bet you‘re getting such—you know, just at the funeral, you could just tell.  We interviewed, you know, her mom and her sister. 

SHORT:  Sure.

COSBY:  I don‘t think there‘s anyone who had a dry eye in the place after hearing... 

SHORT:  No, no, certainly not, no one I saw did, anyhow.  How can anyone? 

COSBY:  And what kind of messages are you getting on the message board?

SHORT:  Sure.

COSBY:  Just lovely tributes?

SHORT:  Definitely lovely tributes.  We‘re certainly getting messages from people who didn‘t know Imette but who are so shaken and so moved by what‘s happened that they‘re willing to help however they can, or they‘re volunteering to distribute posters just like these, or volunteering to put together memorial services and benefits in her honor.

I‘ve heard from people who haven‘t been in touch with Imette for a year or more who don‘t know who else to reach out to, and so they found they site.  And they want to just touch base and say, hey, that they‘re here, and that they care, and that they‘re as brokenhearted as anyone can be, and that they‘re at anyone‘s disposal and, certainly, at the family‘s disposal to do what they can. 

COSBY:  Tell us again the Web site, too, if anyone‘s watching at home, please.

SHORT:  Sure.  It‘s www.JusticeforImette.com.  There‘s all sorts of information on there.  Anything that we find out, we‘re putting up immediately.  There‘s also a donation link so some of those funds can go towards the scholarship funds and towards the reward money to help put this monster behind bars and make us all safer. 

COSBY:  Well, we will do what we can.  And best of luck to you...

SHORT:  Thank you very much for having us.  Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... and, of course, everybody so close to her.  We‘ve all been so shaken by this. 

SHORT:  I know.  And if anyone knows anything, please, please, please call the police immediately. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And, everybody, make sure you do call 911 or also Crime Stoppers.  Also get on that Web site.  And there, again, is the Crime Stoppers number, 1-800-577-TIPS.  If you have any information, be sure to call. 

You know, if you saw something, you‘re not even sure if it‘s related or not, absolutely call.  Let authorities know, and put this monster behind bars. 

We are going to continue to follow the case of Imette St. Guillen out here live in New York City.  We‘re going to also bring you the very latest developments throughout tonight‘s show. 

And also coming up, a baffling case of a wife who vanished into thin air.  She called into work sick and has not been seen since.  We‘re going to have that startling case and the startling evidence that has her family pointing fingers.  Details on this cold case, next on LIVE & DIRECT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And I am coming to you LIVE & DIRECT tonight outside the Falls Bar in New York City.  It‘s the last place that anyone saw Imette St.  Guillen alive.  Tonight, also the scene of the latest police investigation into who brutally killed this beautiful graduate student. 

We‘re continuing now to follow the developments in this case.  And if we get any developments at all, we will break in at the rest of the hour.  We will, of course, continue it throughout the week, until there is a resolution. 

And there are also a lot of other stories coming up tonight on MSNBC.  Let‘s check in, if we could, with Joe Scarborough to see what‘s coming up on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”—Joe? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Thanks so much, Rita.

As you know and most Americans know, George Clooney and “Syriana” won big last night at the Academy Awards.  What Americans may not know because very few went to see the movie is that Hollywood praised this movie, which was an angry, anti-American rant, that one Pulitzer Prize-winner wrote “could have been written by Osama bin Laden.”  So why exactly is Hollywood praising anti-American propaganda?  We‘re going to be talking about that. 

Plus, my interview with Michael Brown.  He‘s back, and he‘s getting even.  That and much more, straight ahead, Rita.  Now, back to you. 

COSBY:  Look forward to seeing that.  Joe, thank you very much. 

Well, now to a family working to put some heat on that case that has gone cold.  Thirty-eight-year-old Amy Sher has not been seen in nearly four years.  She vanished without a trace after failing to show up for work.  She left behind a young son who may be one of the only people to know what happened to his mom.  Police suspect that she may have been murdered, but they have few clues. 

MSNBC‘s Alison Stewart has more on this unusual cold case. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOANI MCCULLOUGH, AMY SHER‘S SISTER:  It‘s devastating.  I mean, it‘s a really horrible, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. 

ALISON STEWART, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  These are the last known images of Amy Sher, taken in October of 2002, in the parking lot of the Boston-area hospital where she worked.  Just days before Amy‘s disappearance, she was contacted by a private detective who wanted to reunite her with her estranged family.  She hadn‘t spoken with them in nearly 10 years since marrying her husband, Robert Desmond.

MCCULLOUGH:  He had threatened to wipe out the entire family. 

STEWART:  Amy‘s family and her boss believed Robert was physically abusing her.  Her supervisor even kept a log of Amy‘s many visible injuries. 

MCCULLOUGH:  She would come in on a very regular basis with black eyes or swollen hands, broken glasses.  At one point, they thought she had a broken leg. 

STEWART:  When Amy called out sick two days in a row, her boss was suspicious.  That suspicion increased two days later when her husband called saying Amy was resigning.  Her boss immediately feared that she had been killed and called police, who in turn called her husband, Robert.  He told them Amy left town, but was safe.  The cops never stopped by the house to check out his story. 

JOEL PICCHI, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Amy was nowhere to be found.  We had looked at all types of records, you know, in an attempt to locate her.  And she was just off the grid.

STEWART:  It wasn‘t until 18 months later that Amy‘s disappearance was ruled a possible homicide, but by then the trail had gone cold.  And still today, no one has been charged in the case. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And I‘m joined now by Amy‘s sister, Joani McCullough, and also attorney Wendy Murphy, who is representing the Sher family. 

You know, Joani, let me start with you.  What do you think happened to your sister? 

MCCULLOUGH:  I don‘t know what happened to my sister; I do know that we want to find out. 

COSBY:  Do you think she may have been murdered? 

MCCULLOUGH:  Yes.  I think that, given that she had been physically and emotionally abused for so many years, there‘s no doubt in my mind that she was murdered. 

COSBY:  Now, you hadn‘t had communication with your sister for a long time.  It sounds like there was a bit of an estrangement with her and the rest of the family.  When did you know that something was wrong? 

MCCULLOUGH:  We were estranged because her husband chose to isolate Amy.  We were not estranged because of any other reason.  He was threatening to us and quite a scary figure.  And he kept Amy away from all her family and all her friends. 

COSBY:  You know, Wendy, let me play a comment from her husband.  This is Robert Desmond.  This is what he had to say.  And I‘ll get you to react. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why didn‘t you file a missing persons report? 

ROBERT DESMOND, HUSBAND OF MISSING WOMAN:  Because she moved out under a sad, but amicable separation.  She‘s not a missing person, in our view. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, Wendy, how outraged are you when you see this, that authorities sort of bought it?  I mean, she‘s been missing, what, since October 2002? 

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Yes.  And, you know, that‘s just one of the statement that this guy made.  He‘s actually made a lot of inconsistent statements.  Oh, they had a fight.  They had an amicable separate.  She left and moved to Michigan.  You know, he‘s made so many stories at this point. 

I mean, frankly, Rita, the most shocking thing is this little boy was living with his mom and dad at the time.  He was six years old.  He‘s now nine.  There‘s no doubt in my mind he knows something.  And guess what?  Robert Desmond, this man who claims to have cared about his wife, that she left under amicable circumstances, he refuses to let the child be interviewed by police or investigators.  What do you think of that?  Hmm, maybe the child knows something.  So suspicious. 

COSBY:  Very interesting.

MURPHY:  Very suspicious.  Lots of smoke in this case. 

COSBY:  Very suspicious.

MURPHY:  Lots of smoke.

COSBY:  All right.  Both of you, stick with us.  We‘re going to have a lot more with our two guests in this real-life mystery in just a minute.  Stick with us, everybody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA COAKLEY, MIDDLESEX COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  We‘re treating it as a potential homicide investigation.  Resolving this case is going to be difficult; I don‘t pretend otherwise.  It‘s a cold case. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And welcome back, if we could, to LIVE & DIRECT.  Tonight, we‘re on the case of missing Massachusetts mom Amy Sher, who vanished without a trace nearly four years ago.  Her family is asking anyone out there with information to come forward.

And I‘m joined again by Amy‘s sister, Joani McCullough, and also attorney Wendy Murphy, who is representing the Sher family. 

You know, Joani, I want to show these pictures.  This is your sister. 

MCCULLOUGH:  Thank you.

COSBY:  This is when you knew her.  I am just—this is striking, the difference.  This is when, you know, you were in communication with her.  I know that she lost touch when she married, you know, her husband and lost touch with you guys.  You know, looks very gaunt, looks a lot different. 

What do you make of the difference?  How do you read into that, Joani? 

MCCULLOUGH:  I read that, at one time, she was a happy, vibrant, loving young women and that she became a very gaunt, frightened, pale individual under Robert Desmond‘s living situation.  And the Amy I remember was kind and sweet. 

COSBY:  You know, I‘m amazed, Wendy, when we look at the resignation letter, because she had first called in sick a few days.  And her husband, Robert Desmond, then called in sick for her.  Then she suddenly vanished. 

I want to show—this is the resignation letter, where it‘s signed. 

And it looks sort of, on the surface, like it could be the same signature.  But then a private investigator—you can tell there‘s some fine differences, if you really look up close.  What do you make of the fact?  Do you think that her husband actually signed for her?

MURPHY:  Yes.  I mean, this is really one of the most important pieces of forensic evidence, Rita.  Thanks for putting it up there.  We know that the resignation letter was initially sent by e-mail at her husband‘s request.  He called her boss and said, “I‘d like to send you Amy‘s resignation letter by e-mail.  Could you give me your e-mail address?”

Now, of course, if Amy had been alive at the time, he wouldn‘t have had to call the boss to get the e-mail address; Amy could have given it to him.  So that‘s already suspicious.

But the boss, thank goodness for this guy—he‘s been a real saint here—he was suspicious.  He said, “I can‘t just accept it by e-mail.  You have to mail me a signed—Amy has to sign her signature and send this to me hard copy.” 

So, a few days later, that hard copy arrived.  Amy‘s signature is at the bottom.  And, boy, not only does it look practiced, as if it, in fact, is not only a forgery but someone who tried to make it look good, when you compare it to Amy‘s regular signature, there‘s no doubt this is not Amy‘s signature. 

I‘ve been a prosecutor of these kinds of cases, used handwriting experts.  That is not Amy‘s signature, meaning she was probably dead and he signed it. 

COSBY:  And you can see some pretty distinct differences.  Both of you, thank you very much.

MCCULLOUGH:  Thank you.

COSBY:  We‘ll do whatever we can to help this case.  And we attempted, by the way, to contact Amy‘s husband, Robert.  But we were unable to reach him for comment. 

And, again, if you have any information on this case, please call the

local police department—that‘s the number you see there on your screen -

978-671-0900.  And we‘re going to be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And before we leave you tonight, as you look at a live picture of the Falls Bar, which I‘m standing in front of, we have the very latest information of a search that is under way right now just a few miles away from us in Queens, New York.  New York City police detective and investigators are searching the home of a possible suspect in the Imette St. Guillen murder case. 

The 41-year-old man is an ex-con who has been working at the Falls Bar where Imette was last seen alive.  His rap sheet includes armed robbery and also a number of drug-related charges dating back about 25 years.  This potential suspect is now in police custody on a parole violation. 

Also, cell phone records have placed this man in Brooklyn around 6:00 a.m. last Saturday morning.  And that‘s about where her body was found in Brooklyn just 14 hours later.

And that does it for us here live outside the Falls.  We will continue to follow this case.  That does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT.  Let‘s now go to Joe Scarborough and “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”—Joe?

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

END   

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

transcripts

Watch Rita Cosby Live & Direct each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,